I love clothing, I love silky, velvety, satiny, soft material and I have had a weird relationship with clothing for YEARS.
Basically when I was young I did not know how to sew and I knew what I wanted but I could not find it to save my soul, we were broke (we still are) and the few catalogs for big women had HORRIBLE clothing made for matronly women, not young women who love dark colors and nice material. I wore some damn ugly clothes because even when I could sew at first we didn’t have access to decent material, I did not trust my skills and I thought since I was so big I did not deserve anything but huge shirts and boring floor length skirts with no shape or style (I still wear long skirts but they are not boring anymore)
In my late 20s I started to find the Size Acceptance Movement via the now sadly defunct Radiance Magazine and learned the truly bizarre concept that regardless of my weight I deserved to be happy, healthy and to treat myself well (this is not to be confused with the FAT Acceptance movement)
My world view changed and I started looking at the catalogs again and saw that there were a few random items that were decent and that I could stand and we began to stock up when they went on sale. An example of this was crushed velvet knee length dresses with princess necklines that we bought in every color and when they went on clearance we later bought doubles in green, black and purple. I found that I could also find decent sales at the Lane Bryant and Fashion Bug Plus in the mall and I went into debt to buy more clothing, some I have held on to for over 15 years. It didn’t hurt clothing wise anyway that I have been over 400 pounds since I was 29 and that I had bought the dresses a few years earlier big since I did not know my exact size and they ran large.
I began to make tank dresses in silky material and then learned to put on sleeves often out of contrasting or sheer material, I made evening gowns out of all kinds of material and once I turned an artistic eye towards clothing I began to collect material and even find it in odd places. I hunted through the $1 -$3 a yard clearance bolts at Joann’s and Walmart, I stocked up, I checked every clearance of window treatments I could find and often found amazing window panels/scarfs big enough to make dresses out of. I now have 5 large rubber totes and some space bags full of material, some for decorating and some for making clothing.
I have made costumes, dresses and altered other items such as shirts into dresses over the years. The year before I started to lose weight (08-09) I found out that Walmart had started to carry shirts up to 6x and then I discovered if I kept checking those same shirts would go on sale for as low as $3. I went insane. I had maybe a 10 new tops that were 5x and 6x out of the fall and winter collections…I hate summer and spring fashion colors… I even had some things I would never have worn before like dark rose pink.
In late 09 I started losing serious weight on my way to getting my weight loss surgery and I found a HUGE fall clearance where most things were $3 and with help from my grandmother we spent $65 of 14 shirts in sizes from 2x to 5x, hoping I would fit them (I only have one of those shirts I can’t wear by now) and since they were fall fashion the colors were great.
At one point I had at least 3 BIG black garbage bags full of clothes plus some. And here is the thing, I never gave anything up, I had clothing I wore all the time but I was careful with them and kept them in great shape, I had stuff I wore only a few times, and a few sweaters I never wore cause they were not what we wanted but I still kept. I wasn’t being greedy, I just remembered so well those days when I was stuck wearing tie-dyed t-shirts (even though I hated them after a very short while) because the only shirts we could find large enough were long men’s white undershirts and I have never been good with white.
Since I have lost nearly 200 pounds from my size 5-6x days I had to take some of the clothing in, my velvet dresses, a few of my tops and all of my homemade leggings which I was lucky enough a few months ago to find replacements for at Walmart when they clearanced jersey leggings and I got about 12 pairs in sizes 2 to 4x (right now I can wear the 3-4x ones)… you guested it $3.
And then as my mom watched me put away laundry in my over stuffed closet one day she mentioned that I had 2 bins of winter clothes at her house and said one of her favorite lines “you have more clothes than anyone I know, you have more clothes right now then I have had in my life.” I had started to lose weight and at that time had lost maybe 45 pounds (this was before my surgery in April of ’10) and she asked if I had any dresses I could donate to a lady who lived in her nursing home who had mild dementia and who was around 425 pounds and whose family never brought her anything decent or even in good shape to wear (scary thing was she had had WLS but had the mental capacity of a child when it came to food and would at all day if she could)
I thought about it and realized I had clothing I had not worn in a long time and that I knew what it was like to have nothing good to wear so we began to dig through my closets and then my mom brought over the winter clothes and we went through them. I got rid of the baby blue and pale pink eyelash sweaters that had been a “let us choose” sales item, I gave away a embroidered brown hippy dress someone gave me, I gave away the silver gray and bright blue versions of my favorite crushed velvet dresses because I disliked the colors and we had bought one of each. and even some old bras for her.
That was over a year ago and my mom tells me to this day how the lady will pull out her “favorite clothes” (all of them) and put them all on her bed so she can look at them and choose something to wear. This still makes me very happy. So when I shrunk out of a lot more of my tops and I had a friend who was very large and mentioned she wished she had more t-shirts and underwear I gathered everything I had that was either too big, that had never fit right to begin with or was really not my style/color, stuff i had gotten on impulse when they were $3 at walmart or collected over the years. And she also loved them.
Let me tell you sharing is addictive and when I got under 300 pounds I realized one of my other friends who unlike me doesn’t have access to sewing stuff or doesn’t have family who can help her get clothing was wearing some pretty worn out stuff so I gave her a box of shirts that were either too big for me, getting a tiny bit worn (pilling a bit) or tank tops. Mind you even though I had worn tank tops for so long I thought nothing of wearing them (even at my top weight), I have lost so much now I can’t stand the way my arms look in them and if I can’t wear a cover up over them I dont wear them.
I kept quite a bit of tops but as the weather has gotten warmer I have come to realize that what I have the most of is my velvets that will soon be too big to take in anymore (I have plans for the material) and a bunch of light weight sweaters I love but can’t wear in the desert heat. I also have a lot of VERY long skirts I was wearing over 180 pounds ago that I have taken in at the waist so that they are now way too long and way too full for me and are now very warm over fitted jersey leggings when I am use to wearing loose tricot (think nightgown material) leggings. I love my skirts but they need to be really taken in, shortened and have panels of material removed from the back or sides.
I also have realized that half of the light to medium weight shirts I still have are too big for me but not long enough to cover my belly apron so can’t be worn right now without a skirt.
I dont feel like taking in all my skirts when I will just have to do it again when I lose another hopefully 80 to 100 pounds (a girl can hope) and I absolutely can not afford to buy new clothes at this time unless they are foundation garments (support under garments and bras) I also dont want to make a ton of clothing from scratch that I will have to alter later.
So what am I to do?
Well first off I am putting aside all of my lovely soft light weight sweaters in the hopes that come next fall I can take them in for at least one more winter. I am going through my skirts and getting out and storing the ones that are now way too long (some were made too long to begin with and are now WAY too long) also the ones made of heavier material and as I store them I will note what needs to be done to them so I can start altering them come early fall. I am storing my sweet old workhorses of velvet dresses in the hope that I will someday be able to make something with the material, remember some of them are 15 years old and most of them are in great shape still and I’ve worn them every fall, winter and spring since I got them. The ones that are starting to show too much wear or are getting a bit thin I am using the material for throw pillows (they all deserve one last incarnation) and the others will be made into skirts and possibly Gothic evening dresses (I have done this before)
Finally I will sort through my jersey shirts and pick out about half of them and turn them into Babydoll dresses using this tutorial (I have done this before and made one today and this tutorial for a kids babydoll t-shirt dress but it was the only tutorial for this style I could find… I will do my own tutorial when I upcycle the next top)
Here is the one I made today to try out my ideas and figure out lengths, like I will make the top shorter as well as the shirt (about 3-4 inches total) and the sleeves longer. I will also take in the waist more possibly with the use of thin elastic on the skirt to keep it fuller and more evenly spaced.