My body size is fairly common, but my proportions aren’t— my shoulders, bust, waist, and hips all fit into different clothing sizes. If something fits me in my shoulders, it’s far to loose around my waist. If a dress fits my waist, it’s usually a bit snug in the hips. My proportions are fairly different, and yet … I’m okay with that. Because the thing is, the standard by which my proportions are “different” is pretty arbitrary.
I’m not unusual. Of the billions of people who live on the planet, I imagine very few have the precise proportions found in most garments. But in a world wear ready-to-wear reigns supreme, our only option is to find the things that look and feel the least atrocious. We’d laugh at the thought of all clothing being sold in one-size-fits-all, yet we’re forced to accept one-shape-fits-all.
That’s why I’m learning to sew.
I love fashion, but like most people, I can’t afford to have every garment I buy custom-made to fit my unique shape. Instead, I go to stores where I am inevitably frustrated by the fact that my shoulders and waist should belong to two different people. My shoulders are broader than average by only a small margin. Yet when I try on shirt after shirt with no luck … it can start to feel like the extra couple of centimeters I have on top are hard to dress.
Sewing, though, embraces unique body shapes. Reading sewing blogs and books, there are entire posts and chapters devoted to full-bust adjustments (and small-bust adjustments!) as well as “how to account for a long torso.” All the unique body measurements that I feel so alone in having when I’m in a dressing room are talked about openly and nonchalantly in the sewing community. It reminds me that I am not the only one with my shoulders.
Sewing is awesomely body positive, as well as practical. Though I can’t afford a bespoke wardrobe, I can absolutely afford a needle and thread. I can create garments that fit my unique body, or I can buy clothes that fit mediocrely and alter them.
People frequently refer to “investment pieces,” as the items of clothing they can’t really afford to buy anyway. But sewing is also investment— but of your time, not your money. And given the body image-boosting effects of clothes that fit perfectly, it’s way more worth it.