Yesterday and today I'm feeling pretty good, and I've been wanting to work on my sewing. I worked on some planning when I first starting feeling better after surgery, and now I have the energy to do some harder work.
But not actually manipulating fabric and thread with my machine just yet. I've been working on tracing patterns and fitting them to my size and shape. This is an important step and one I've been working on learning to do better since I first made a blouse back when I was a teenager and then couldn't button it up the front because it didn't fit.
Because I'm fat I have trouble anyway--lots of patternmakers just don't make very good patterns for fat people. Some don't make any at all. The ones that do often make shapeless clothing or styles I don't like (I've had a lot of trouble finding a jacket pattern in a style I like). Then because of where I carry most of my fat (bust and abdomen) I'm also not a good match for some of the "plus-sized" patterns because they aren't cut for my body type even if they are my "size." I can never make a new garment "straight out of the envelope." (Most sewing patterns come printed on very thin tissue paper, carefully map-folded and stuffed into an envelope; others are overprinted onto a giant sheet folded and stapled into a magazine, then you trace off all the purple-lined or red-lined pieces to make the dress or skirt you want.) I have to compare measurements (mine to the pattern pieces) and usually need at minimum what's called an FBA - full bust adjustment - to any tops. Sometimes I need an inch or so more at the waistline (since I don't really have a waist, just a torso with a belly in the front), or half an inch less at the shoulders (I have slightly narrow shoulders compared to my other measurements). And Just because the designer wanted the hem of the top or skirt in a certain place doesn't mean that's where I want it! Sometimes I want more length, other times less; I know what length top looks the way I want, and where I want my skirts to end. I also add pockets to any skirts, pants, or dresses that don't have them.
So I trace. I have tracing paper, I unfold the pattern tissue or pull the paper out of the magazine, and I adjust as I trace. I might trace over the smaller size at the shoulder and then ease the line out to the larger size at the bustline, or the waist. I might trace the sides of a shirt longer so it's more of a tunic (using an architect's T-shaped straightedge to extend the lines). I might shorten a sleeve, or change the curve of a hem (I like shirts slightly shorter at the sides and longer in front and back, and I have a French curve ruler that helps me do that). I've lowered and raised necklines depending on what I need: work-appropriate versus party clothes (but it always has to cover the top of my industrial-strength bras). I might need to slice down a bodice from top to bottom and insert an extra wide piece of paper (you can't always get the extra room you need just by adding to the side seams).
Then I compare the traced, adjusted pattern pieces to either a similar piece of clothing I already have, or to myself--I might pin pieces together into a mock-up. Sometimes I go so far as to make the garment up in cheap fabric, either real muslin or an old sheet (I keep old, ripped sheets just for this use). I might need to make more adjustments to the pattern pieces. I write the changes right onto the traced pieces, and cut off some or tape on some paper so things fit better.
All this before I ever lay out the fabric, find my scissors, and start cutting! In the last couple of weeks I've traced two new patterns. One is a lightweight jacket and the other is a tunic. There's a dress pattern I'd like to trace, too; may work on that later today.
Later this week I go back to the surgeon for the post-operative check up on my left ear surgery, and a discussion about whether I need surgery on the other side. I'm voting yes. Despite feeling a lot better, I still have some symptoms that I think are attributable to the problems with my right ear. And on the specialized CAT scan, my right ear was actually in worse condition than the left--I chose to have the surgery on the left first because that's where I was having the most symptoms.
I'd rather have the surgery and be sure it's fixed. I don't want to find out a year from now, after working my way back to normal strength and stamina, that my right ear is messing things up still or again. Of course if the surgeon adamantly insists I don't need it, I won't have a second surgery--but that would only be because he thinks I'm as healed as I can get, and that would be great news.