Saturday, January 15, 2022

Making Allowances for Age

I've been sewing since I was 11 years old. In the last couple of years, I've noticed some things related to my age that affect my sewing and what I make.  I understand if you're in your 40s this probably won't pertain to you but as a sewist that's aging I'm determined to write about MY sewing journey. Honestly there aren't many of us out there doing so.

There have been some adjustments made to what I create and how I sew.

First let's start with lighting:

I have ALOT of it because it makes completing tasks easier. Moving my sewing room to the dining room with the huge window and all of it's light is the first plus.  I have overhead lighting and my sewing machine has amazing lighting (a reason to upgrade your equipment right there) and I have task lighting behind both my sewing machine and my serger.

Behind the sewing machine...

The light above the cutting table

All of this lighting is necessary for me to see the small details. I mean I know I need to upgrade my glasses but lighting is essential to me being able to see and sew well. 

Saw this meme on Instagram and thought it was appropriate to share cause it emphasizes my point.

Buttons, Zippers & Closings:

I've been making a lot of shirts & tunics lately that button down the front and have cuffs that button. There are two things I've changed.  One I now use a bigger button than the pattern suggests because it's easier for my hands to button and unbutton. Age gives some things - wisdom and takes some things.

I rarely put buttons on my cuffs anymore. It's easier to slip my hand into the cuff than it is to button and unbutton it.  Just don't care what really constitutes a proper shirt - comfort and ease is king in my world.

I realize that some of us are challenged by back zippers and prefer side zippers. I haven't reached the stage yet where I can't undo back zippers but understand the necessity for a side zipper.

I don't do button and loop closures at the back neckline for the same reason. Especially since I have no one to help me dress...and once it comes undone it's a total PITA to get it rebuttoned. It's why I change things to zippers.

Zipper lengths are longer than the pattern suggests.  If I can step into a dress or a top and then zip it up, it works better for me. I get lost in clothing that I have to slip over my head to get on and off. That's a firm NO for me.

Looser Garments:

I honestly am more comfortable in looser garments for ease of movement than tighter garments. Again ease of movement, ease of getting into and out of are the reasons why.

I like knit pants for the same reasons. Pulling them on and being done is preferable to a button and zipper at my belly. Especially after I had surgery, pants were a real challenge and since I've always preferred a dress, ease of movement again is the reason why.

Using the same silhouettes over and over:

At this stage of my life, I know what works for my body and flatters it. I've sewn for years and made just about everything so that's not the challenge for me anymore. Making stylish comfortable clothes in pretty colors, prints and stripes is my concern.  I'm standing firm on this one. Cause what's the point of creating if I don't make things that work for me.

I will probably touch on this more this year on the blog because it's important to me that our demographic, older sewists and our needs are addressed and available for anyone seeking that information.


...as always more later!







50 comments:

  1. These are the kinds of posts I love to read and why I love the online sewing community. When you've been doing something for decades, you notice changes...it's so great that we can share them with each other. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for this post. I only started sewing again a few years ago, in my 60's, and while my skills have advanced I have realised I don't like fussy or complicated techniques. As I age I want to make interesting but above all comfortable clothes. Unlike you I can handle a back zip but find the twisting required for a side zip quite difficult, so I avoid those.
    J

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for touching on this, it's absolutely relevant to many of us sewists, and will possibly even make younger people think about sewing what works for their figures instead of following trends. I always enjoy your blogs and appreciate the work you put into them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Loving your words. I am in the same boat. I need comfort, lots of ease, and still remain stylish... Just do you, Carolyn.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So much of what you've said is familiar!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I so appreciate you, your voice, and your blog. I can only say yep and ditto to all of the above. Jean

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post. What type of extra task lighting do you have for your sewing machine and serger? I just bought my first serger and it's really hard to thread it without good light.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bought my Ott lite from HSN and it's presently on clearance. What I love about this lite is it gives a lot of light in both warm and cool lighting. Here's a link: https://www.hsn.com/products/ottlite-wireless-charging-desk-lamp/9485367?query=9485367&isSuggested=true

      Delete
  8. I love your blog always and I really appreciate this post (I relate *hard* to that meme!)
    I have never thought of you as an Older Sewist but I guess over the last ten plus years we’ve all aged :-)

    I appreciate your voice in the sewing world so much. I think the advice about sewing what works for us to wear applies across the board, too. It’s so easy to get carried away by fashion or technical challenge or just following the pattern, but thanks to your wisdom and that of other members of the sewing community, I too have learnt some things. (I’m never going to button the collar, so it doesn’t need a buttonhole. I like dresses that pull over my head, so why bother with a zip?)
    Thank you for being so generous with your experiences.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yes! Lighting. I need more and more. I’ve bought reading glasses in a stronger magnification because needle eyes are smaller. I moved my sewing space into a different room to get more natural light. Thank you for making me feel part of a community vs aging in solitude.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Exactly! It’s so affirming to hear your words! Thank you. I am glad to hear what you have learned, especially about buttons and zippers. I put lights on the wall behind my (oldish) sewing machine, but they were too glaring and prevented me from seeing what I was sewing, so people might want to think about having the lights in front of the machine be stronger than the ones in back. But yes, definitely, I need much more light than I used to!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Totally agree with you Carolyn. I'm disabled, in my 50s and decided a while ago to put snap closures on shirts instead of buttons as my fingers find them easier. Extra lighting is also needed. I also choose to make clothes which are comfortable and easy to put on and take off!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Everything you say is so RIGHT!!! I rarely sew with dark colours and when I do I find as many light sources as I can,even sewing outside. Comfort and ease is my call card.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh, this all resonates with me too. Thank you for articulating what we older (75 in my case) sewists begin to experience. Like you, I put back zips in nearly everything so that I can step into my dresses. This year I plan to try the cuffs without buttons, which sounds easier and much less fiddly to make. After recent surgery, I am about to give away all my fly front pants because they now hurt me. Loose waists for me from now on :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Most women figure out what works for them by age forty. Those who don't/can't are in big trouble and end up just looking foolish. I'm with you on the comfort thing. No need to wear tight clothing and show off what absolutely no one needs to see. Thank you for all you do for this community.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love you! I feel like you could be my clone! Everything you say and make rings so true with me. Navy and black can now only be used if no detail work is needed. Enjoy reading your blog. 😊

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes - navy and black are much more difficult and if you have to unpick - argh!

      Delete
  16. I am nodding my head because what you just said is me. I'm almost to 70 now and I go for comfort and a neat appearance. And I find that I want to sew for others just so I can explore those patterns I know will not work for me and to sew down the stash. I keep my eye out for patterns for limited mobility, not that I need them now, but for the future. Older stitchers need to invest in a light with a magnifier and swap out incandescent bulbs for 100 Watt LED equivalents. Needle threaders are now a must as are special glasses just for the computer. Keep doing what you are doing, Carolyn. Too many other bloggers have stopped so you would be sorely missed if you stopped to.
    Theresa in Tucson

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought I was the only one wanting to sew for others only to experience beautiful fabrics an fitting beautiful young bodies. It truly is a pleasure working on garments for my granddaughters on clothing I will never wear again but still have the experience to make and fit well.

      Delete
  17. Lights, lights and more lights. I use led daylight spectrum everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yes to all of these! Lately I've been appreciating all the sewing tools available for aching hands and lower vision - and I'll do just about anything to avoid hand-sewing these days!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you for this post. It is what I have discovered in my years of sewing as I age, but I also suffer from vision difficulties due to a progressive eye disease. Light is the most important thing for me.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This is perfect for me! I also have amped up my lighting and are looking for tools and tricks to work with arthritic hands and bad shoulders! I think as we age we have to allow ourselves the freedom to say "this doesn't work for me anymore" and discover what makes our ability to do what we love possible! Thank you for reminding us it's all OK to do what works best for you!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Really enjoyed this post from you. A few years ago I too discovered the joy of making knit band cuffs for my shirts and love it. It makes wearing them so easy especially if I'm washing or something when I can push it up my arm. I now try to do this with every sleeve that needs a cuff. Lighting yes - so necessary. Getting my new machine with bright light made everything so much easier to see and do. I find myself looking at patterns these days and thinking about practical stuff first such as seam position, tight fitting areas that may become uncomfortable as the day wears on, comfort and ease. I still want clothes that are stylish but practical - I think that so many of the current crop of patterns are rather ugly and impractical. I'm finding myself looking at my stash and making small changes to update them. I still love sewing and find it gives me such joy to wear something I made and feel proud of.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I totally relate to your changes. I too have been sewing for over 40 years. Another things I have modified is I have made my cutting table higher so less bending. I will continue to tweak as necessary as I have no plans to ever stop sewing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Naomi - I've been thinking about this one too! Just have to come up with something that works for me!

      Delete
    2. Apparently bed risers are great for increasing the height of a table. Or you can part-fill empty tin cans with cement, and put the legs of the table in the tins.

      Delete
  23. Google "Led sewing machine light strip" to see wonderful lighting for your machine; I couldn't sew without it.

    My beloved hand sewing has been sharply reduced because of arthritis. Years ago, Threads magazine had an article about sewing with arthritic hands that might be helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I love your blog but guess what---I can barely see the grey lettering on a charcoal background:) I can see the orange lettering just fine but most of your wonderful writing is practically invisible to these old eyes. So frustrating! I have written to magazines too about pink lettering on a grey background and other things that my eyes just refuse to see.
    Bigger buttons and bigger type with more contrast for me please. Thank you for all the great information you share with us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree about the grey on charcoal. There is not enough light and contrast for me in the world, much less my sewing space. I find I use portable task lighting more than ever, and have a needle threader in every corner of my house. The top threading needles are my new choice.
      Lucky for me, I have always been a prime avoider of hand stitching.

      More more more!

      Delete
    2. Dear Carolyn, I agree with Lisa and SJ. I also find that Threads magazine will often have articles with little contrast and it drives me bonkers. I need to write them about that.

      Delete
    3. Bunny, someone did complain to Threads about the type. They published the letter and promised to change. This last issue was better. Considering that our age group is a big part of their market, I'm glad they respnded.

      Delete
  25. AWESOME article Carolyn. WOW ... I was just talking about this not to long ago to a few friends. Thanks for sharing - FIESTA :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. I am older than you are by about 10 years I think and I am in total agreement about lots of lighting! I bought a new sewing machine about 4 years ago and one of the reasons was good lighting. I upgraded my coverstitch to the Euphoria because I needed better lighting. I'd love to upgrade my Imagine serger for the same reason even though the serger and coverstitch back up to my window wall. It helps but it's just not enough. We both have developed wardrobes that are stylish, look good, in colors we love and are still comfortable. I had shoulder surgery a year ago and boy did I wish I had button up shirts like you do! Pull over knits were just impossible until the bandages came off and even then they were hard for awhile. I've got pretty good mobility now but it took months! I don't have issues with buttons but I also don't have arthritis luckily. It's definitely a difference from even 10 years ago.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Good lighting is so critical!
    And with all of my hand issues, I've mostly stopped adding hook and eye closures to backs of tops or dresses because I absolutely cannot fasten them, if I do get it on, it inevitably comes undone and then I'm unable to close it back. MEH!

    Thanks, always, for sharing and giving us all something to think about.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I have great lighting in my sewing room - 3 big windows - very little to no wall space but I can see to sew!! The main thing I'm noticing about aging (82) my sewing isn't as precise as it was and some things are no longer intuitive. I have to think the process through before I sew. Love your blog and always look forward to the next one.
    Marcia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marcia - I have some of that too. I went to put an invisible zipper in during Christmas and was thankful for my sample that I keep on hand. Definitely understand this one!

      Delete
  29. Great post, Caroline. Like you and many others, light is an issue and luckily I have a space that does not require being attractive and a big old fashioned LED shop light over my various work stations is awesome. I supplement with full spectrum task lighting. So far my hands have stay arthritis free, which amazes me as I watch my mom and grandmother developed crippled hand before they were my current age. Thank you, Lord! I love side zips and always have. When I was a novice sewist in my teens it seemed that most patterns came with side zips and it became my preferred method by simple default. It is still that way, thank goodness. I have sworn off of black fabrics. I can't see a stinkin' thing/thread on them. But on the other hand, I have found pale pastels far more flattering than the jewel tones that dominated my career days and the wardrobe I made for that era. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bunny - I think we all adapt in ways that work for us. I'm not ready to wear only pastels yet and use task lighting to sew darker colors because I still love them!

      Delete
  30. Like someone else said, love you! I just found out this year I have macular degeneration, and am afraid what the future might hold if/when my eyesight deteriorates more. But having just moved, for the first time I have an actual sewing room! But boy, howdy, it doesn't have good light, and I am on the hunt for improving this.

    Like you, I am sewing for comfort now. Just recently, I was feeling kind of down on myself thinking that I am not stretching my sewing skills at all. Easy sew, comfortable knits, or loose dresses for summer. But now I'll take heart from your post and realize, this IS what I want to wear! I wouldn't go out and buy clothes that I don't want to wear, why in the world would I take the time to SEW clothes I don't want to wear. Thanks for putting this into blog form!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I stopped wearing clothes with back zips when I had a frozen shoulder; I've always hated the back button as my hair gets caught. I don't mind side zips.

    One of the best things I've invested in is an industrial light, the sort used in sewing factories. They are LED - so not hot - and so wonderfully bright. They're not cheap, but should last for years. I also have a pair of reading glasses just for sewing; they also have the advantage of protecting my eyes if a needle breaks in my machine.

    As fitted garments aren't in my foreseeable future, I'm planning on more embellishment - hand embroidery, beading, fabric painting, and so on - so that my dressier clothes aren't too similar. Although when I look at similar simple linen dresses to those I make they're often around $250, so I don't feel so bad!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thanks for your post on the older sewist! I have similar challenges...and body changes have to be on the list, as well! I now have a more pronounced sway back, curved shoulders and belly...
    I need to appreciate where I'm at, rather than regret that I'm no longer in my 40's.

    ReplyDelete
  33. 100 watt (or equivalent) daylight bulbs are in all the task lights in my sewing room. And in the floor lamp and ceiling light in my cutting/design wall room. And a bright light for stitching and reading by my chair in the living room. I have pretty much lost my ability to take off my glasses and see the finest details, my eyes no longer have the same focal range. Now it's readers over the bifocals, and lots more needle threaders handy. Too much hand work in one session and my wrist lets me know and there's no way I could cut things out on the floor now. As to my garments, comfort and easy to wear takes priority, as does easy to care for fabrics, although that's been the case for me for the last 30 years or so, so I can't credit age for that. Then there's safety, wide cuffs are easy to get in and out of but can be dangerous when a hot pan handle or door handles catch them. Piles on the floor are harder to step over and can be downright dangerous in a rush for the bathroom. So much has changed, some for better, some for worse. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts, and the comments, about it and hopefully pick up some ways to deal with the not-so good things.

    Your top from the last post is very pretty.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thanks for your post. I'm almost 60 and decided several years back that I just don't wear button down shirts. I always reach for a knit, pull over my head top or dress. So, I went through and gave all my button down patterns away. I'm not going to make them anyway. I have a few knit top pattern favorites and I just use those with lovely fabrics I am excited to wear. The days of making a new pattern again and again with adjustments is over for me. I want to sew what I like and what I want to wear!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I enjoyed this post. I identify with many of the changes that are necessary for us older folks! Many changes I made were due to retirement in terms of style. I still do some back zippers because the PITA of loops and buttons or hook and eyes. I like some style trends, but some are not right for me, and some would make me look like older woman trying very hard to young again.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Your posts are always so correct...aging and sewing...we can adapt and still look stylish and comfortable. So glad that my brides all had light or white gowns to sew on, otherwise, I may have had to bring in more lights especially when sewing at night. You insprire us with your garments!!!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hi Carolyn, I identify with all you have written about. I have a really hard time with dark fabrics even with good lighting and I can't stand anything that constricts my waist. Thankfully what hasn't changed is how much I still love to sew and none of the changes I am experiencing will change that. I am just going to adapt and keep going!

    ReplyDelete
  38. I deliberately stopped wearing anything that fastens down the back when I was nursing my baby, 33 years ago. That decision stands me in good stead today. I can still dress myself, even when Dear Husband is away on a business trip. And I can still undress myself while fitting a new-to-me sewing pattern.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Thanks for a very interesting and relevant post, Carolyn. Now I'm questioning why I prefer some styles to others!

    ReplyDelete
  40. I have done much of this. I have raised the height of my cutting table, using wood blocks or cut PVC pipe depending on how high I want it. I re-arranged my sewing room to put my machines in front of the window. Now I can see much better. I also use daylight bulbs. If I sew at night, I use a camping headlight, so it shines right on my work. I have cataracts but they are not ready to fix them yet. So I go to get new glasses every year. The cataracts are making my prescription change and the new glasses fix that. I just did a huge stash clean out giving my "career wardrobe" fabrics to the local technical high school for their sewing program. I'm still working but I've reached the point where I don't need to get all dressed up any more. So I gave it to the youngsters to sew up.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! It is so appreciated!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails