There’s so much I embrace about getting older – where I once longed for a homogeneity with my peers, I now celebrate my difference and the freedom of a life unfettered by the pressure of conforming to conventional norms. If a vast amount of money were to come my way, there’s not much I would change. I’d probably switch to home ownership, to remove my biggest financial outlay, but have no desire to upscale in any way – I’m an advocate of tiny living and drawn to the minimalist aesthetic. Oh and I’d go part-time to afford myself a four day sewing week – now that’s what I call work/life balance.
But that’s about it … otherwise I’d pretty much keep things as they are. I don’t hanker after days gone by – behind my youthful facade hid a multitude of existential angst I have no wish to revisit. Approaching middle age, I’m the best version of me I could be and if that comes with visible signs of age, so be it. But what I’ve been finding increasingly challenging since I turned 40 is the multitude of minor illnesses that keep coming my way. Nothing life threatening or sympathy worthy – just bloody inconvenient and impeding my resolve to become fitter and stronger.
Having lived in a Buddhist community for many years and working with people with life-limiting illness, my thoughts are often framed by the inherent suffering of existence. I’ve always been a glass half full person, with a propensity towards depressive thinking – overthinking, overfeeling, overanalysing. What saves me from being the most draining person you’ve ever met is a dark sense of humour and lack of self-importance. I’m painfully aware of how short life can be, which has propelled me to make the most use of this form – despite feeling like I am the mere caretaker of its decay.
I’ve explored many approaches in my quest to live a more meaningful life and since discovering sewing, cannot wax lyrical enough about its benefits. I’m sure it’s old news to the initiated but the therapeutic effects are bountiful. And what I’ve found most interesting is how my approach to the craft is becoming inextricably linked with my desire to live in harmony with the environment and my ideals. I stumbled across Fashion Revolution thanks to In The Folds and Emily’s thought provoking Instagram feed. It was a timely discovery as I was on the brink of being swallowed into a vortex of compulsive making.
Since then, I’ve adopted a more considered approach, thinking about what I need along with what brings me joy. Which brought me to the conclusion that there was a gaping hole in my burgeoning handmade wardrobe – slouchwear. But addressing this meant conquering my fear of knits which was no mean feat. The vehicle for my tentative first foray is the Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt – a pattern I’ve resisted for some time, as I wasn’t sure how it would marry with my wardrobe staples.
And then I came across these lovely interpretations which convinced me to take the plunge. Inspired by Cut Cut Sew, I opted for a hybrid with a cropped body, slightly shortened hem band, long sleeves and cuffs with thumb holes. I’d first seen the cuffs on Punktyodniesienia’s Instagram feed and managed to fashion them thanks to an excellent tutorial from Johanna Lu over at The Last Stitch. Here’s me failing in an attempt to strike a pose in them Madonna style but having a laugh nevertheless.
I originally cut on a 10 based on my waist measurement but was underwhelmed with the result. After an hour or two with Google, I discovered other bloggers had cut on their bust size – particularly when opting for the shortened version. So I cut on a 4 and graded out slightly to a 6 at the hem but I’m not entirely sure this was necessary. Apart from that, the only adjustments I made were to shorten the arms by an inch to accommodate those glorious cuffs. The material was sourced from my beloved Abakhan fabric bins for less than a tenner. I couldn’t find any suitable ribbing so I went for a contrasting colour of stretchy knit.
Linden is described as a beginner’s pattern and I would concur, even though a lack of confidence and expertise made my journey a tad fraught. I serged the body peices together and then switched to a stretch stitch on my machine to attach the cuffs and bands before finishing with the overlocker. On several occasions the material got swallowed down my machine’s throat plate and I struggled to keep control whilst serging. I’ve since discovered a mine of informative sewing with knits tips, including this cracking post by Serger Pepper and have resolved to put some time aside to get to know my machinery better.
However, for my first attempt with knits I’m more than happy with this very wearable Linden toile. I predict numerous iterations with very little departure in form. Grey is my new colour of choice and I see it teamed with teal and green in the non too distant. Viva la slouchwear.