The other day I read this article from Little Lamb Studios about finding a home in your body. I’ve been thinking about the craft/DIY community lately, and how a huge part of it is making things that no one wants to sell you anyway.
I’ve spent almost my whole life in a struggle with my weight and appearance, but I know that’s not a unique experience. Most women (and some men) experience body dysphoria at some point in their lives, or throughout their whole lives. While most people would now label me as average(ish), I was much heavier at various points in my life. Finding clothes was a nightmare (still is, but for different reasons), and learning to knit was a big step forward in making things that fit me properly, that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, and that didn’t look like mass-produced circus tents. I didn’t sew then, not really, but I did knit.
I moved to another country (four times), I changed my habits, I lost weight, my shape changed. (Note: I did not go on some crash diet with the intention of losing weight, I made slow, sustainable changes like eating healthier, drinking more water, and being active. Weight loss shouldn’t be the end goal, health should be. Don’t bounce into the comments here telling me about obesity as an epidemic etc etc because I assure you I’ve heard it all before and I am 500% not interested.) I still have trouble finding clothes, and a lot of that is rooted in practicality and identity.
I’ve never been comfortable in short shorts, and you know why?
I could go on some crash diet and lose 60 pounds, and I still wouldn’t have a thigh gap. It’s not how I’m built: I’m from the stock of farmers and pioneers, and I have LEGS. Those legs get hella angry when you subject them to high temperatures and friction. Ouch.
Whyyyy is finding knee length shorts SO IMPOSSIBLE? Yes, I’ve bought from the men’s section before, but men do not have hips. I have hips, wide ones, and by the time I find men’s shorts big enough for my hips, I could easily smuggle kilos of yarn in the legs of the shorts with all that extra room. It looks odd and unbalanced. It seems like women’s shorts are almost always waayyyy shorter than the men’s, and I’m just like,
CAN WE PLEASE GET VARIABLE INSEAM LENGTHS ON SHORTS PLEASE?
If you like short shorts, that’s awesome, truly. You do you! But I don’t want to spend my summer nursing heat rash thighs and walking like John Wayne.
And yes, I tried ordering online. I got sent IKEA short-overalls, with sewn closed buttonholes and nothing was attached. Tres bizarre, I know.
I didn't order my newest pair of dungarees from IKEA, so why have they arrived like this? pic.twitter.com/z3ZrJJgwwO
— Angelina Panozzo (@AngelinaPanozzo) June 10, 2017
And then: a Pinterest idea, a sewing machine, a friend, and some old jeans.
I’m no stranger to turning jeans into shorts, but it usually involves sloppy hacking with old scissors out of heated desperation right around now, the third week in June. I wanted something else, something that wouldn’t fray or look like garbage.
I found this tutorial on Pinterest, and I had a EUREKA moment. That eureka moment was to ask Jess from my stitch & bitch group to help me, because I am a helpless baby bird who needs constant hand holding when it comes to sewing.
Jess brought her impressively huge Mama-Jama fancypants sewing machine, since mine is garbage and won’t hold tension, and sure af will not sew through denim.
With Jess’ help and guidance, I did an actual thing, and I didn’t mess it up! It’s like MAGIC. These shorts fit well (having been recommissioned from an old pair of jeans with fraying hems at the bottom), it let me use some of my animal print fabric that I got from Liberty last year, and it’s simple enough that I can probably attempt it again on my own with less hand holding and guidance.
I know it’s not A BIG DEAL, especially to experienced sewers, but it is to me! Seeing as I’m headed to Madrid next month, you can bet I’ll be hacking apart many pairs of jeans to be made into funky new shorts. Aw, yes.