Well, it’s been a while! I decided to take a break over the holidays and the first part of 2015, for a few reasons, but mainly this
The self-authorised blogging break allowed for some rest during the months when I was feeling ultra-tired and somewhat nauseated. I never really appreciated, before, that the period of pregnancy when you are likely to feel the worst coincides with the period when most people opt not to make the news public yet. So instead of bouncing around in the sunlight with your happy husband and 99% accurate pregnancy test (I guess I’ve seen too many TV commercials), it’s more like the onset of a secret illness, which you must try to hide, meanwhile the sudden gain of what feels like 10 pounds, which you must also try to hide. Even though, to me at least, all my clothes now made me look like I had a beer belly!
Which brings us to maternity sewing
Now, there seem to be a few different opinions on whether you should buy maternity clothes. One train of logic runs like this:
Maternity clothes are a rip-off! You only wear them a few months of your life. The big clothes are too big for your early trimesters, and the clothes that fit you early on are too small for the last trimester. You can easily make it through with normal clothes. Belt them differently. Or raid your husband’s closet. Cut and splice your clothing to make it work!
I will admit that, quite early on, I was rubbing my hands together excitedly at the opportunity to buy some new clothes, and even to try some new styles that might not ordinarily be my thing. However, I reeeeeeeealy tried to hold off from buying anything new for quite a while. Well, buying non-pregnancy clothes seemed silly, since I would soon be unable to wear them. Meanwhile, there actually wasn’t much in my closet that I physically couldn’t fit into – indeed, most of my clothes (barring a few slim dresses) will still, technically, cover me up. So buying new maternity clothes also seemed frivolous.
BUT. Long before my clothes stopped actually fitting, they stopped looking good or, perhaps more to the point, stopped feeling good to wear. Perhaps I am overly-attuned to this, since I do make clothes and generally pay attention to shape and fit, but the styles that flattered my former figure (ah, the days!) very quickly stopped flattering the current belly situation. (Think overhanging beer belly, like I said above.) And, since I was already feeling less than excited about getting up in the morning, facing a closet full of old favourites that I no longer enjoyed wearing became surprisingly soul-destroying.
At a point, I simply decided not to bother trying to ‘work with’ things that I didn’t like to wear anymore. And, once I started feeling less nauseated, I decided to try reworking a few charity shop items to fit me. I aimed to buy things a few sizes too big, to give me fabric to work with.
This (above) was simply a too-big tee shirt. I took it in along the side seams up at the top, but left the original fullness at the bottom, and gathered it up with some elastic at the centre front. It probably makes me look more pregnant than I am now, but I’m hoping it will allow room for growth! I also have some fabric I can use to lengthen it later, if I need to.
This (above) was a too-big tunic, although actually not as too-big as I would have expected, given the size. I cinched up the saggy neckline and narrowed the sleeves. It already had a nice empire waistline and a back tie to make it adjustable in width, and was a nice tunic length and blousy shape. I love this more than I expected. The blue and white reminds me of old china and a sunny kitchen.
I’ve done a bit more than this, including making a few items from scratch (not just refashioning), but I’ll share that in a later post. For now, I just have a final thought, especially if anyone reading this is also pregnant.
The mindset of spending my pregnancy making do actually became very depressing, not just because I didn’t enjoy my clothes any longer (something I normally love), but because it creates a perpetual feeling of limbo. It puts everything on hold. And indeed, I think it exacerbated any negative feelings I might have about being pregnant – like missing my waistline, missing caffeine, missing being awake past 9 p.m., being paranoid about using nail polish too often (the fumes, you know). There’s plenty you can’t do when you’re pregnant, but adding additional self-imposed prohibitions, ‘I can’t have new clothes/shoes/tights/pajamas/anything pretty because I’m pregnant’, can make you feel like an aberration from normal humanity. And, to me, belting an old dress higher up or raiding your husband’s closet (unless you already do that and it suits your style) isn’t the solution. Because, again, in my skinny days I’d never think that wearing my husband’s clothes was the answer to having none of my own that fit. So I don’t think it has to be the answer now. Ultimately, I’ve come to the conclusion that adapting my clothing to my body isn’t just for the purpose of making me feel better (though it does), but is part of accepting this phase of life and its distinctiveness. I can definitely say that just because I am pregnant I haven’t lost the desire to feel pretty in what I wear, nor indeed (so far) the ability to feel that way in clothes that are comfortable and that I like. I felt that I needed permission in some way to get new clothes and not just continue making do; so my advice to others would always be to give yourself permission, from the start, to adapt your wardrobe according to what you enjoy wearing.
And, you know, if it helps, think about it this way: when else in life will you want to wear clothes that accentuate your belly? We spend a lot of time trying to make our waistlines look smaller, so much that it’s enjoyably subversive to do the opposite. Make the most of it!