Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New machine!!!

I had been using a teeny, tiny little Kenmore sewing machine - one which is marketed as a beginner machine and cost me only about $30 at Sears. It was fine for starting out, but it had a hard time handling more than a couple layers of fabric, so I figured I had to get a new machine sooner rather than never.

Thank god for Amazon Prime, because once I had read 80 million reviews and picked my model, I was able to get it the next day. I really hate waiting. Of course it arrived on a day when I had no baby-sitter AND I had promised to take care of a friend's baby for 5 hours in the afternoon, so there was no playtime for Mama yesterday.

Today, however, the sitter came, and I headed out the door to Joann's to buy crappy fat quarters and thread. Along with my machine, I also ordered a rotary cutter and a mat, hoping that, along with a straight edge, I would surely be able to cut my own quilting squares in nice, neat, straight lines.

HOLY FREAKING FUCK - WHAT DOES IT TAKE, LASERS??? I swear, not one square ended up, you know, square. I haven't even approached the topic of sewing in a straight line, but I keep figuring that will be easier when I have straight lines of fabric. Which will apparently be never. At any rate, I took four, roughly-square pieces of fabric and sewed them together. My thread is a mess, my corners don't meet, but it's the rudimentary beginnings of a quilt, goddammit!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

And that other thing...

Yeah, so, I haven't actually started talking about the diet thing yet.

I am 38, soon to be 39, years old. I weigh approximately 197 pounds. I am 5'4" and I have really tiny wrists and ankles and nearly half of my body weight is fat. I wasn't always like this.

I was one of those skinny kids who never ate anything. Then I became a skinny teenager, and a skinny college student. I started to gain after college. Just a bit each year, nothing major. I had finally discovered food, but I still wasn't, you know, pathological about eating it. I was simply willing to eat more of it than I had been as a picky kid.

Then the first baby came. I can't even recall what my weight was when I went back to work after her birth, but I do clearly recall the woman who asked me when I was due. She had been a total bitch even before that, so I took great pleasure in getting really upset as I told her that my baby was already FOUR MONTHS OLD. Work was awful, and got worse each day, and eventually I responded to the stress by not eating. I got down to about 130 through sheer starvation, and I looked gooooooood.

Then I quit. Got a new job, one that let me sit at a desk instead of chasing after bitchy, rude customers all day. A desk that had ample room for snacks, and a padded chair that had ample room for my increasingly ample ass.

By the time I got pregnant with my second child, roughly 18 months later, I was about 165. The pregnancy was awful, and I developed a problem with my hip joints that made walking agonizing, and so I left work and stayed home for the last half of my daughter's gestation. I was about 200 pounds when she was born, and she was a 9-pounder herself.

I started dropping pounds during breastfeeding, but both those things were derailed by multiple bouts with mastitis and a bout with postpartum depression.

Between stopping breastfeeding and going on antidepressants, I gained back all the weight I lost after her birth.

I am fat, and I am miserable. My feet and my knees hurt when I walk. Nothing fits except stretch pants and t-shirts. I even need wide shoes now. I wheeze when I carry may baby girl up the steps, and I sweat profusely from the slightest effort. My belly has been stretched beyond its capacity to rebound, and it hangs from my torso, as do my breasts. I am uncomfortable and embarrassed and my blood pressure is rising, and god only knows what my cholesterol level is. I used to stop eating when I was stressed out about something, and now I turn to food for comfort.

I want to change, just like I want to learn to sew and I want to stop burping out loud all the time and I want to save money so we can take the kids to Disneyworld in a few years. But nothing good is ever easy, and all I can do is try.

And write about it on the internet so random strangers will email me misspelled insults!

Second project

The second project was a bit more ambitious than the first, but still within the skirt genre (apparently, I have a thing for skirts even though I can't wear them anymore). This was a wrap skirt from a pattern I got out of this book. Though I know damn well that I need plus size patterns, and I ain't nowhere near ready to alter a pattern to fit my unholy dimensions, I made it in the largest size and prayed.

Now, i have a question. How do you cut fabric in a straight line? I have a very sharp pair of scissors. I cut slowly and carefully. I held the fabric down tightly so it wouldn't slide all over the table. And yet the edges still look like I must be suffering from some sort of palsy. What's the secret here?

The best part about the skirt was the skull and crossbones bandanna fabric I managed to dig up at JoAnn's. The worst was the waistband, which had some sort of pull-through thing going on and the instructions on how to create this particular hole were kind of obtuse, so I ended up just kind of cutting a hole and shoving the tie through.

Too big for Cherie the Wonder Torso, but you get the idea:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

First project

Okay, second project. My actual first project was a tiny pillow made from a bit of fabric from a fat quarter I picked up at my local JoAnn's. It sucked. Let's move on.

I found instructions for making a simple skirt out of a sheet, and the one on the blog I read was soooo cute that I ran right out to the thrift store and picked up a pretty neat bedsheet with a black and white pattern. It turned out pretty good - at least on my mannequin. Somehow, when I take my measurements and attempt to apply them, or have them applied, to a custom made garment, the end result is gi-fucking-normous. I once had someone on Etsy custom make a dress for me, and she somehow decided that what I think is an 18/20 - maaaaaybe 22 - size, is more like a 48 extra wide. The v-neck went down to my pubes AND she put in a zipper. As though my head were clearly as freakishly large as the rest of me and I would need to open that baby up nice and wide to squeeze it on.

ANYWAY. Skirt huge. Looks stupid on my weird, apple-shaped, no-waist, no-boobs either body. But check it out on Cherie the Wonder Torso:

Monday, July 21, 2008

It begins

So, I'm trying to learn how to sew — God only knows why. I have two small children at home, we just moved from an apartment into a 3-story duplex and we are STILL not done unpacking, and I work part-time as a magazine editor and writer. I have decided to spend the little mad money we have on a sitter for 4 hours a day, 3 days a week, but even that time has been swallowed up with my other pursuit: losing 50 pounds in the next year.

Nevertheless, I am determined to learn this craft. My mother and my sister are incredible seamstresses—quilts which they have made for me and my family are among our most prized possessions. My mother is getting older, and both she and my dad have been after us kids to tell them what we want of theirs when they die. I used to find this a morbid activity, but I've come to see it as a way to start coming to terms with the fact that they may not be around here much longer. It got me to thinking about my childhood, and what things have stuck with me. My parents were not able to have much of their own parents' possessions after their deaths, and this seems to have haunted them in a way, particularly my father. As a result, they have amassed a huge houseful of things, which they now expect us to want and treasure and possibly fight over.

But I can't say that I really want to go to court with my siblings over my dad's netsuke collection. Interesting though they are, they represent a brief whimsy on his part, a year or two of collector's passion, which then was abandoned for something else. But there are things which represent not just what my parents collected, but who they were, the passions which were always there and never left them. For my dad, that was books. For my mom, quilting.

Maybe I want to do this to find some connection with her, to keep her with me once she's gone. Maybe I want to tap into that seam (ha!) of creativity that runs within my whole family.

Or maybe I just wanna make some cool shit.