Easing into Motherhood

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Today I’m writing about something a little different, motherhood and sewing. I regularly read Seamstress Erin‘s blog. She has a fun and eclectic style that I admire even though it isn’t my style. This month Erin (along with Jodi from Sew Fearless and Monserratt from Mexican Pink) are hosting a celebration on motherhood, our bodies, and sewing called Easing into Motherhood. So I thought I’d write up my own story. I’m sure to many women parts of it will be so familiar as it seems like many mothers experience similar stories even if we many only hear about them through the magic of the internet.


Sewing came into my life a long time ago. I have few memories from the days before I picked up a needle and thread and started creating. I felt like as oddball child with my interest in girls lives from previous time periods both historical and fictional. My early sewing days were filled with making costumes such as a Victorian dress made with table clothes and something resembling a Southern belle.

As a young adult sewing continued to be a for fun activity. Even though my hips were a different size from my bust I could still shop for clothing in regular stores as long as I was careful to select dresses with gathered skirts or separates. I was also very scared that if I didn’t dress trendy enough I’d never find a boyfriend. Silly, but true.

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My pre-marriage sewing consisted of 1950s and 1960s dresses made with quilting cotton. I didn’t make a lot of dresses as I was super super broke. I also didn’t know anything about buying fabric aside from wandering the aisles of JoAnn’s and picking up things I liked. Some times my dresses turned out awesome, sometimes they did not. As long as I picked styles with full skirts I could cut a straight size and sometimes I would design my own styles. Everything was still purely for fun or for a specific purpose (like Halloween).

Then I had baby #1.

By the time I was pregnant with my first daughter I had discovered sewing blogs, local sewing stores, and started buying fabrics other than quilting cotton. I distinctly remember getting pregnant and searching the internet for vintage maternity dresses. I was SO SURE I was going to make all my maternity clothes. I’m sure you can see how this turned out…I made 2 elastic waisted skirts for work and that was it. Morning sickness was unrelenting for the first trimester, I lost a lot of weight, and then I spent the rest of my pregnancy sick from undiagnosed gallbladder issues.

I also spent my pregnancy dreaming of the perfect breastfeeding wardrobe I was going to create. I even commented on the (now discontinued) blog 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World. Here’s a screen shot of my comment. I’m laughing at how naive I was back then. Also, the comments section on that blog are absolutely filled with people I recognize today. Hilarious blast from the past.

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After having Lu I was hit with so many issues. I mostly got my waist back, but my breasts were huge so none of my pre-baby clothing fit right. I also continued to have gallbladder issues that lead to surgery at 3 months postpartum, issues with creating enough breast milk, a full time job, a baby who never slept more than 2 hours, and a husband who was working on the road when Lu was 6-12 months old. Somewhere in that first year I managed to fit in a sewing class on making your own custom sloper. I squeezed myself into my me-made pre-pregnancy clothes for sewing classes, but I can’t remember really sewing myself any everyday clothing to fit my new body. My husband bought me a fabulous new Janome and I retired the Brother my parents bought me as a teenager.

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I did manage to make multiple historical dresses. How crazy is that? I was too out of it to make myself a work dress, but I made a 1930s dress, a full bustle gown, and a few other things for when I volunteer at a local museum.

And while I wasn’t doing much sewing when Lu was a baby, I was doing a hell of a lot of knitting. In 2013 I knit 35 projects (14 accessories, 8 baby items, and 13 sweaters for myself). I knit while I breastfed, while I was pumping milk at work, while I was between tours at the museum, in line at the post office, when I was a passenger in the car, and basically anywhere and everywhere I could hold the needles. Sewing meant setting up my machine and finding my place in the project. Knitting could be picked up and put down at nearly any point in the process.

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I knit this while I was in labor!

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During pregnancy #2 I didn’t even bother trying to sew maternity clothing. I bought a few things and wore them on repeat. Instead of sewing clothing I took up quilting starting with a quilt for the new baby.

After Charlie was born sewing came back into my life full force. Only this time I wasn’t sewing for fun, I was sewing for a purpose. Two children had left me with a body that no longer fit well into any clothes I could buy. I stumbled through 10 months of breastfeeding with a combination of Cake’s Tiramisu pattern, and Sewaholic’s Yaletown dress. Wrap dresses were my jam. So practical for nursing and those endless pumping sessions.

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When Charlie weaned it was like my body was handed back to me. Knowing she was my last baby I could move forward making clothes I’d love to wear. Things with zippers and made from woven fabrics with no elastic. Magical. IMG_4311

Being a second time mom was also so very different. I was so much less anxious all the time. Charlie slept better than her older sister and my husband did less traveling. I started sewing most nights from 7-8:30pm and with 90 minutes per night plus nap times on the weekends I could actually dedicate my mind to figuring out fit issues. I started making muslins instead of diving straight into a project and it was so worth slowing down to have better fitting clothing.

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I actually use apparel fabrics and the results are far superior to quilting cotton (even if the prints aren’t as cute). At this point I only own one commercially made dress, a leftover from when I was still breastfeeding that still garners lots of compliments. But I think the biggest compliment is that people don’t even suspect my clothing is homemade. These years of blogging and working on my skills have lead to a wardrobe of custom fit clothing that makes me feel confident both as a woman and as a mother.

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16 thoughts on “Easing into Motherhood

  1. OMG, yes! Having babies is what made me get my sewing act in gear. After baby #1, I was determined to muslin out a pair of pants for an ideal fit. I sewed here and there, sometimes having to take a week-long sewing break just cuz of dealing with all the new baby changes to my life. After about 2 months of frustration, wondering why that darn muslin kept not fitting me – despite taking good notes and marking the heck out of it every time I left off – I found out I was pregnant again just three months after baby #1 came. So that’s why it wasn’t fitting!

    When you’ve got two littles, and work outside the home you absolutely HAVE to make your sewing time count. So, like you, that is when I got serious about sewing for the shape I have, not the shape I want. I have less time to sew but my skills have drastically improved because of my babies.

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    • Well yes, another pregnancy would certainly effect the fit on your pants! Parenthood can make you serious about a lot of things. Sewing is a nice place to focus and also good that it can be done at home. Stress relief with no babysitter needed!

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  2. A friend of mine, who is more gifted at sewing than me, was very interested to read this post. She is also a “curvy lady” and makes a lot of her own clothes. She wonders if you have made any trousers/pants or jeans for yourself as she finds it difficult to get them to fit correctly and rtw are a real problem

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    • Hi Rebecca! I’ve never been a fan of pants, even when I was a child. So I have no plans to conquer more than the work out and pajama varieties. But I wish your friend luck. I know sometimes having someone come over and help is very useful.

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  3. Don’t forget that fun experience working for the costume shop in college. So proud of your hard work and increased skills. And, of course, being a wonderful mom at the same time!

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  4. Goodness Jessica!!
    I just found your post through Instagram! I posted the roundup last Sunday and I didn’t see yours!
    Lovely post. I too had a lot of trouble sewing my maternity and my postpartum garments, I too had dreams of things that hardly ever came to completion. Differently from you, I didn’t find any comfort in wrap dresses during breast feeding.

    It takes time to embrace our body after having a baby. Therea re so many changes in a relatively short time and as Jody says, bouncing back is overrated. We should embrace our new bodies the way they are and dress them the way we find most flattering.

    Your knitted garments are adorable and so many!


    M

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  5. Pingback: Ease-in to Motherhood: Week 4 summary – mexicanpink

  6. Wow, I really gave up knitting altogether when my boy was born. Those long pointed needles freaked me out and I constantly lost track of where I was… But then I wasn’t a proficient knitter before, while my MIL is practically a pro and she knitted up a storm for her first grandchild.
    Wrap-dresses are my go-to as well, and wide tunics. Though I really live in shorts and skinny jeans, which would never have happened before baby came, but through all the physical changes, my legs are suddenly the shapliest part of my body and the slimmest since I became an adult thanks to constant squatting with increasing weight. 🙂 So he really changed my style!

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    • Oh gosh, my shapeliest part changed too. Suddenly I was okay with tighter knit skirts. How? I don’t know but it seems to work better all the sudden. So crazy how our children change our style. Of course when my kids were tiny they spit up so much my clothes were constantly covered in muslin blankets so I had some hope of getting to work sort of clean. And thank you!

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