Saturday, September 26, 2015

Battle of the Bulge

WOW, I really didn't mean to disappear for so long! It was a combination of illness and procrastination. I also had a few mending projects to do for a friend, and then made a spectacularly failed UFO.  In fact, that UFO revealed a problem that I apparently had been ignoring for quite a while.

A few months ago, I had to buy a new pair of work pants because I had outgrown the first ones. The thighs were straining and the stitches were about to give up! I also, for the first time experienced my thighs rubbing together when wearing my summer skirts. I was SO not happy.

Since I moved here two years ago, apparently I have gained a large amount of weight and didn't really notice. To put it the only way I can at the moment, I found out that I am now 11 and a half stone. A stone, a unit of weight measure in Britain, Ireland, and Australia; is equivalent to 14 American pounds. It's just easier for me to say it in stones. This is 15 lbs more than when I was weighed 2 years ago.

I was a very thin child in my teens and always susceptible to anemia. In high school, I hated being skinny and in particular did not like my arms. Around that time, I became aware of female bodybuilders like Rachel McLish, Carla Dunlap, Cory Everson, and Gladys Portugues through the 1985 documentary Pumping Iron II: The Women and that resulted in a subscription to Strength Training for Beauty (1984-86) magazine. I ended up purchasing an 110 pound weight set and remember arriving at college with what could be called a decent "six pack."

More than 20 years later, I am now battling a tummy and love handles, along with the aforementioned rubbed thighs and some unattractive underarm flab. There was a warning sign last May when I tried on this muslin and saw this:

I noticed I was bustier than I had ever been and had a visible roll of blubber right below my belly button. That was a year ago and obviously I have gained more weight since then. As a result, my body image is completely different than it has been for the past 95% of my life. This is hard to reconcile. 

My measurements have obviously changed but in cutting out my last sewing project, Simplicity 6145, I hadn't grasped that fact yet. While I altered the bodice of Simplicity 6145, combining it with the fit of the Grainline Scout, I still thought I would need to engage some darts in the back to accommodate my swayback. Trying on the basted muslin was such a shock! I could barely shimmy it on. I had not once thought of enlarging the waist area and below. 

So for the last few weeks, I have put off sewing and more importantly taking new measurements for the future. I have succeeded in losing 5 pounds somehow and would love to know that I could remove the other ten just as stealthily but alas diet and exercise must rear their heads for that to happen. I seriously could handle getting used to this "new me" however, I have a wardrobe of delicious clothing that I can't afford to replicate or that have adequate seam allowances for me to alter to fit.

So my dilemma is: sew new clothes in the new size or wait and see? What would you do?


Robin said...

Weight is relative. I smiled when I read about your dilemma. I am more than twice your weight. Because I love to dress, if I went up another size, I would go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. I knew how to sew, but I didn't want to take the time to make several new outfits at the same time. A few months ago, I decided to do healthier food choices -- it's working, slowly -- but it's working. Part two of my life style transformation is to make one garment at a time--for three reasons, 1) I don't want to keep wearing my old stuff waiting for the pounds to drop off and 2)As I lose, I can make the decision to take the garment in or give it away. I already have a pair of pants that need adjusting--great feeling. 3) Sewing skills gives me the advantage of being able to make something new, custom sized to my current shape. I'll have a new outfit 1-2 times a month. This way, I'll always have something new that fits. Congratulations on your progress--success happens one step at a time.

SewTypical said...

I think it's all so relative and just depends what you are personally comfortable with. I've seen very heavy people that look great and skinny people that look great, too. I think it sort of depends on how you carry your weight, your overall fitness level, age, and happiness, too.

Me, I like to stay at a "normal BMI" weight or lower. I realize it's an imperfect measurement, but it's a quantity I can relate to.

If I gain a lot of weight (and I have been 40 lbs heavier than I am now) - it all goes to my hips and legs. I have narrow shoulders and then there is a 4 size difference between my upper torso and lower body.

So, I have spent the last 6 months losing 25 lbs. (1.78 stone) and my body is balancing out, with only one size between upper and lower.

So, since the jelly roll bothers you, maybe just work on losing it. You'll feel better and more confident if you don't always have to hide it in public.

PS I used to go to the gym 5 or 6 days a week when I was young and those weightlifting women you mentioned were my heroes!

Faye Lewis said...

You are not alone in this. I need to get 15 pounds of as well. Exercising is not one of my favorite things to do, but, alas is something I must do to get back where I want to be. We both can do this, I know we can.

Su-z said...

Good timing. I was just trying on an older dress of mine 5 minutes ago and was very dismayed at the view in the mirror. The dress fit, but it just didn't look as nice at it did 5 years ago. Like you, I was an athletic teenager and young adult and have a hard time being happy with any extra weight. Here's the tough part for me: I HAVE been exercising and eating healthy, but I guess I need more exercise and less eating as I enter my fifties.

I've been through a few ups and downs. The ups always sneak up on me and the downs are so hard to achieve. As your other commenters mentioned, weight is relative, and it's about what you are comfortable with. For me, I would prefer to whip myself into the smaller size instead of buying new clothes. Sometimes, you do have to buy a few things that are comfortable. Or sew them. Also, it is hard for me to sew for myself when I am unhappy with my weight, because I have to face the tape measure!

Thanks for making me feel more normal. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. I will be adding some exercise.

K.Line said...

I'd sew a couple of chic things that can work over a couple of sizes (things with stretch) so that, you have clothing that will be versatile and fit for longer.

Aodhnait said...

I've been having some success with an LCHF diet ( and also doing weights and HIT (

Anonymous said...

Mother Nature plays some cruel tricks on us as we age. I'm a former skinny mini (my sisters called me bird legs growing up) who went through the same experience as you. Get clothes that fit you now, then think about where you want to go from here. I am more successful when I approach diet and exercise from a health standpoint. I guess that after a certain age my looks weren't sufficient motivation, but thinking about not having to haul around the equivalent of a sack of potatoes was.

KimP said...

I hear you; I've gain a half a stone since I got married three years ago. I think you should see three garments that fit now, and keep your smaller sized wardrobe as well. Both will allow you to measure your progress!

Mugsy's in Stitches said...

Skinny during teenage years...check. Prone to anemia...check. Recently gained weight...check. My excuse / reason is both Celiac disease and finally catching up to my chronological age physically *cough* 44 *cough* . Fear not - you will do well doing the exercise and (I HATE the term diet, but for lack of a better term...) diet route. Don't forget, you've been through a heck of a lot over these past 2 - 3 years, so a little comfort eating was bound to slip through. However, weight is just numbers. Now that you're feeling better, do you feel good in general? Has the extra weight actually been beneficial (I was normally 125 lbs on a 5' 8" frame - bony! - but now that I'm 160lbs I look like a real person and not the shadow of one. I need to lose a bit more, but by doing the right things (exercise, changing up the general diet) I tend to think "...if I lose it, great, but if I don't, no real biggie..." As long as I can climb stairs, walk long distances, and remain taller than I am wide, I'm good! :)

Take care, be well, and don't sweat it too much. You'll be back on track and rockin' it sooner than you think! :)

Mugsy's in Stitches said...

Doh! I also meant to say to buy a few key pieces if you need them, as you can always re-fit them later. You tend to stay with the classics so you have nothing to fear about being "out of fashion" later on down the road... :)

Linda said...

I could have written this! I even weigh the same as you! I was always an OK weight until I had my second child, and since then I have yoyo'd between 10 stone and 12 stone, with 11st 4lb being my 'normal' weight. But last year I lost a lot of weight so my lovely summer dresses and fab winter mini skirts don't fit now:(. Good luck with losing some weight. I think it's a good idea to make a couple of things that fit now, and then try to lose the excess. That's what I am going to try and do! Popping in as part of my blog comment challenge 300 in 30 days!

katie said...

That magazine cover is amaaaaazing! I love the idea of you getting body-building magazines as a teen :)

If you did enough work then to get a six pack, I bet you can slowly work off this weight once you get a routine you like. You're right - you've sewed so many beautiful things and I bet you're wanting to wear them again.

Sewing a few stretchy things - or just working on holiday gifts for others or something - might be a way to keep up the creative juices in the meantime.