On grey & being miserable

OK peeps, so this is actually a discussion piece, interspersed with photos to illustrate the point.  You might be forgiven for thinking I am talking about our seemingly endless winter (which has had a few rare glimpses of sunshine to be fair & how awesome those days are…).  But no.  I am talking about something else.  I am talking about moods, sewing & what we wear.  In particular I am going to relate this to a garment that I made a good six weeks ago, but have had issues about blogging because of what it represents…..

So let’s get stuck in!

I am embarrassed to say that I have misplaced the dress pattern that started this process.  It’s an awesome winter dress from the 70s that I won from a giveaway that the lovely Amanda at Symon Sez ran.   Can I find it?  But no! It’s Simplicity 9576 – image from Vintage pattern Wiki

Source

When I saw it on Amanda’s blog I have to say I was taken with it – it could be the perfect winter (work or not) dress & it’s possible to make out of knit.  You know me well enough by now to know how appealing that was to me.   And look at the cute possibilities when playing around with colour & ahem, fringing!!

This was to be my March dress.  As you know I have an allowance of twelve frivolous dress makes this year, but guess what, this doesn’t count, by virtue of the fabric I chose to make it out of & the rest of the story that surrounds this particular garment.  I chose some grey knit that I acquired at, you guessed it, Birmingham Rag Market.  It was SO cheap.  I bought a dress length.  It’s charcoal with a slight woven stripe in its wales (apparently that’s what they are called, the vertical lines – mebbe).

Grey1It’s a poloneck dress with a back zip & a wrap skirt.  I kept it plain, just adding some grey buttons to the front wrap as a bit of personality.  I like the position of the darts: back shoulder, back waist darts & the bust darts rise diagonally from just above the waist at the side seam.

grey 2I didn’t do my usual lapped zipper (don’t ask me why – far too long ago now) but I did interface each edge before inserting the zip centrally ( as suggested by Solvi in the comments in this post – lots of great tips).  I thought that with a stretch fabric it could only help – I mean whenever I sew knits I never sew patterns that require zips!  This was a first for me.    I used my overlocker as much as I could but forgot to stabilise the shoulders with tape…never mind.

grey4Fit-wise it’s not perfect – the back is a little large & could do with less at the centre back, but I’m not willing to undo a zip in a knit! Maybe a bit of a sway back adjustment needed too.   Also, the polo neck is split at the back, but I prefer wearing it closed & need to add a hook & eye to replace the safety pin cunningly hidden.  It is another useful dress to wear to work as it doesn’t need ironing & is great for changing out of into gym kit & stuff into my rucksack at the end of the work day.

Now onto the hard bit.  Talking about this dress & what it represents to me.  I’d started this dress but finished it whilst incredibly miserable, I mean, you don’t want to know how miserable.  I forced myself to make it thinking that sewing would cheer me up/ get me through my misery.  This dress will now forever be branded with those memories.

grey3It is grey, OK, so not the most jolly colour, but it has become impregnated with negative emotions.  And guess what?  It has become the dress I wear to work when I want to feel even more miserable, when I want people to not even bother to ask me how I am, because it is pretty obvious (to me ) that when I wear this dress I am miserable as sin.   This is how I’ve been wearing it: no make up, no jewellery & wow, even the belt is unremarkable.

But hey peeps.  Blogging about this dress means that I have to make an effort.  I realise that recently this blog hasn’t been reflecting a word that’s key to the essence of this blog: “silliness”.   C’mon girl, time to make an effort.  Get some slap on & for goodness sake accessorize.

grey5

Now isn’t that better?  But can you try a bit harder?  You know you’ve got something bought in January , bought especially with blogging in mind….

grey 6So grey doesn’t look that dull now, does it?

grey 7So, the discussion is, do you have any garments that you’ve made that have a profound effect on your mood, or how feel?  I know that we might often talk about how clothes make us feel bright, happy, cheerful, attractive, but sometimes they can do just the opposite.

And with that in mind

Link to So Zo’s blog explaining it here

I, Scruffy Badger, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’13. I endeavour to wear only me made clothes, promising brighter outfits & with make up each day for the duration of May 2013 (to include PJs, knickers & running clothes as much as possible ) ‘

Now I’ve got to be off – something bright & cheerful awaits me at my sewing machine 🙂

Happy weekend everyone x

76 thoughts on “On grey & being miserable

  1. Katy

    What’s Carol Vorderman doing in the photo?! It’s amazing the difference your smiling and accessorising have made to the dress (which is lovely by the way).

    Reply
  2. CGCouture

    Actually, I know exactly what you mean. I made up a dress a couple of years ago and wore it to my grandpa’s funeral…I haven’t worn it since, and I’ve taken the fabric off to use for muslins, but every one of the muslins fails…almost like the fabric itself is cursed or something. I should probably just throw the rest away, but it has a full tricot lining and tricot isn’t cheap….

    But, I say if the dress helps magnify your misery, maybe it would be best to just give it away. Let it make someone else happy, and that can help brighten your mood a bit knowing you made it possible for someone else to have a beautiful dress that was carefully made. Because I’m not sure forcing yourself to cheer it up is going to work.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Wise words…def something to bear in mind. I could forsee this dress leaving me as a symbol too! Thank you. Interesting what you say about the jinx on your muslins….reckon there s karma going on here?

      Reply
    2. maggie

      It was not a dress I made, but one I bought for a dear, funny, tragic friend’s funeral. It hung in my closet for a few years. Then my wonderful Dad died. I wore it to Dad’s services too. After that I could not bring myself to wear the lovely, flattering, black knit dress. I passed it on to a neighbor whose brother had died, for the widow to consider. It is a lovely, neutral, flattering dress, but if it is too sad, it is too sad.

      Reply
  3. sue

    I know its a sad dress but it is a beautiful dress…needs a bright/neon thin belt and fab coloured boots.
    It will now be a ‘was sad now happy dress’ for when days can only get better xxxx

    Reply
  4. didyoumakethat

    Oh, Scruffy, even when you’re feeling blue you manage to give us all a big smile. Katy’s Carol Vorderman comment is hilarious! I do know what you mean. I can’t look at the photos of me from my Apronalong without remembering how miserable I was back then. This too, in time, shall pass. In the meantime, there are wigs!

    Reply
  5. Lauren

    Oh boy, I totally understand what you are getting at here! I made a Beignet whilst waiting for bad news, I rarely wear it now. Something about the worried energy that went into grading the seams really messed it up for me. Saying that though, I made a coat last year after my father died, and I really threw myself into it with determination and some sort of will to survive and get on with things. Sounds very dramatic, but the background emotion of a project can have a profound effect, even in the future. As for the coat – I love it and have worn it tons.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Hello Lauren, thanks for sharing your experiences too. It seems to me as if there is some karma going on here, that our feelings are transferred into our makes. I’m glad that your coat was made with determination and served to help you through. That attitude is such a positive one to help take you somewhere else from sad times., and that’s what your coat means to you now.

      Reply
  6. Jane

    I second what Karen says. You’re a real trooper Winnie, even feeling miserable you still manage to whip out a wig and make us laugh (and damn fine you look in it too lady). I actually LOVE your dress in its plain grey state but that’s me and my weird grey taste.
    I haven’t got an item of clothing that makes me feel sad but I can’t even look at a copy of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth without being plunged into gloom. I read it during the worst week of my life, hoping it would take my mind off it, but it didn’t, it just became a constant reminder. Time is a great healer though – I say go forth and buy more wigs my love. xxx

    Reply
  7. Catherine Daze

    I think you’re right and some garments have a powerful psychological effect. I’ve got a shirt dress that’s synonymous with having a bad day.

    Stick the hook and eye on and give it a second chance. If it still feels bad, give it away. And I hope things are getting better now

    Reply
  8. Allison

    I understand – I made a dress for a funeral, and could never wear it again. I ended up cutting it up and turning it into something new. I think the accessories are working for you – I particularly enjoy the wig.

    ::hug:: ::hug:: ::hug::

    Reply
  9. Lynn

    I made a pair of curtains after my mother passed away to help dress up the house to sell it. Even though I liked the fabric and I could have made something else from it, I left those things right where they hung when the house sold. Just could not bring them out of there. The fabric would have continued to represent that loss and the subsequent turmoil. I agree that giving the dress to someone else might just be the ticket.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Lynn, I can understand. I think you made the right choice, & the next owner had totally different associations with them & was probably able to enjoy them far more than you ever could.

      Reply
  10. Sabs

    I completely get you Scruffster, it’s not related to things we make either, just things. I absolutely love that dress on you, think it looks brill, but if it makes you feel bad, then you should get rid of it. Give it to charity. There’s no point in making yourself miserable on purpose every time you wear it. Make yourself a happy dress instead. Much hugs over the airwaves x

    Reply
  11. liza jane

    Always love the wigs. Grey or not, it’s a very nice dress! Clothes can most definitely affect my mood when I wear them but I never thought about it the other way around- that our mood can affect how we feel about clothes we have made. Very interesting!

    Reply
  12. Ginger

    I’m so sorry that you’re going through a tough time. Hopefully there will be a break in the clouds soon and you’ll have some good reasons to cheer up. But I understand what you mean about clothes. I’m in a sad spell right now and noticed just yesterday that I was dressed in all black, which is very un-me. It just feels sort of inauthentic for me to slap on a happy yellow dress and try to pretend like I’m feeling chatty and vivacious when really, I just want to blend into the background and withdraw a little. But when it’s time for you to cheer up, you’ll know, and I have to echo some of the other commenters– if this dress is too steeped in sadness for you to disengage from the memories, you should find it a new home where someone can wear it proudly and without lingering shadows.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Ginger, sorry to hear that you are not in a happy place. Yes, sometimes you just have to be dressed down as you’re right, it would be inauthentic, not genuine to force a bright outfit. I know exactly how you feel …
      Hope you find yourself veering towards your brighter clothes soon xx

      Reply
  13. Kelly

    The dress looks versatile and easy to wear, and it looks great on you, but there is enough in life to bring us down that you really don’t need a dress that magnifies negative feelings. I agree with everyone else – either give it away or put it away for a year or two, and see how you feel about wearing it when you are distanced from your current sadness.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      I’m getting a really strong message here & it’s making me feel resolved about that dress. You know I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t get worn again this season, then I can put it away/ bin it/ send it to charity…thanks Kelly too

      Reply
  14. sylkotwist

    Oh Scruffy, hope you’re feeling better now. I know exactly what you mean about feeling sad and wearing clothes that reflect the mood. Silly aren’t we? At the end of the day, clothes that make us feel sad aren’t good. Someone else will be delighted to wear it and you go make yourself a happy dress x

    Reply
  15. JodieK

    Hey de-lurking to share my story. More than 25 years ago now (eeps!) I made a lined blazer/jacket for my sr. high school sewing project. Beige twill….Vogue pattern, didn’t have a lining pattern so had to create one. Everything that could go wrong did….man by the time I was done I hated that jacket. And beige – BEIGE! What was I thinking….Of course that was the mid-90’s so the big shoulder pads, oversized thing was in…I’m 5 ft tall on a “big” hair day. Just so not my look. So I’ve never worn the thing. EVER! But I still have it – dragged it every move. Luckily I now teach Home Ec and can share the story and the project with my students.
    But I’m a believer in karma and feel. If you are not feeling the ‘love’ – pass it on. Or make it again in something bright and fun. Create a new vibe if you will.

    love your blog!

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Hi JodieK,
      Thank you for de-lurking & telling your story about fabric/ creative karma is convincing me that it’s true. And also that your blazer clearly was not meant to be! It fought against you as much as it could but you persisted. I’d say that was an achievement in tenacity, but you have the distance to also see it for what it was. Hurrah for insights & wisdom!

      Reply
  16. Philippa

    Yes. A skirt I wore to my friend’s funeral. I could never wear it again – it went to the charity shop as just looking at it in the wardrobe filled me with sadness. Personally I avoid grey partly for the reason it makes me feel grey as you have mentioned, but the leopard belt works wonders and I bet the dress would look super with red too. Furthermore I agree it’s a great style for work. A little bit unusual with the front wrap but still professional! I hope spring fills you with a renewed sense of happiness and purpose! X

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Thank you Philippa,
      It is a great pattern, I agree. So maybe for next winter (as long as I find it!) I could try to banish the bad spirits & make a more positive version that makes me feel cosy & warm (not grey!)

      Reply
  17. Jacq

    I do know what you mean, I was making a blanket for somebody and was ill during the process. By the time I was feeling better I almost couldn’t bear to pick it up, as if I’d worked unhappiness into the stitches. Took me forever to finish. Fortunately they loved it so it did go on to make somebody else happy. I do hope things get better, I think you’re absolutely marvellous, loving the wig 🙂

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Thanks Jacq,
      And I’m sorry to bring back sad memories too, for everyone. It’s good to also know that the bad karma you feel in something doesn’t pass on to the next owner! That at least is positive & I’m glad that your blanket was much loved. Only you knew what it represented to you .

      Reply
  18. Susan

    I think you should take the hem up above the fabulous scruffy knee and accessorise it with yellow ! Or a big fat patent leather (or pleather) belt. It’s a beatiful dress.
    It’s all about how clothes make you feel so… as the other ladies have said if it doesn’t make you feel good don’t go there!
    One smile at a time.

    Reply
  19. Pat

    I agree with you. That you misplaced the pattern seems to magnify the negative connotation of the dress. I would give it to a charity shop and be done with it. I did the One Week One Pattern challenge when I was very very sick. None of the tops I made appealed to me after that. I ended up giving them away to charity. I’m hoping some woman is enjoying a one-of-a-kind homemade top.

    Reply
  20. Manju

    Haha loved the voderman shots! Well, no, personally I have yet to make something which I associate with a bad period. Maybe because I associate sewing with being in a positive frame of mind (otherwise I don’t sew). I think it’s interesting you chose grey for the colour of this dress…I wonder if you would feel the same if if had been yellow? Or green? Or red? Hmm..anyhow hope you move to a brighter phase soon!

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Colour is a thing here, you’re right. It happened to be the rare dress length in my stash. And I started it before I became miserable. It is a lesson, fill your stash with cheerful dress lengths & keep smaller lengths of greys, blacks etc for separates! Is that a plan?!

      Reply
  21. Kbenco

    I have an art piece in my sewing room which is a representation lots of dresses. The whole exhibition was dresses in different media, and the catalogue blurb was all about how garments, particularly for women, can have emotional significance and evoke memories. It is the only proper art thingy from a real exhibition that I have ever bought, because it made perfect sense to me 😉
    As another person who threw away a formerly favourite and perfectly good dress after wearing it to a funeral, I agree that clothes can be imbued with sadness, especially if you make them, so there is a longer period of sadness association than merely wearing it can cover. I actually think that is sort of fortunate, because if you get rid of such a technically innocent item, it might take away a lot of those stale unhappy feelings as well…..
    Of course if you can successfully transform the emotional content with delightful silliness, that is even better! I love the new wig photos.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Really interesting! The exhibition sounds fascinating, I’d have been really touched by that at the best of times.
      And your thoughts about how the making process can deepen the emotional associations are also interesting. I do feel there will come a time for this dress to become a symbol, you’re right! Especially seeing Mrs C’s comments below!

      Reply
  22. MrsC (Maryanne)

    Oh Winifred the Great, you are loved and appreciated in many ways and I am so sorry you’ve had a miserable time. Whatever the fate of the dress, it is just a dress, but if you fancy the idea, it could be a token of its time. Do with it what will most empower you. Wear it proudly as a sign that the funk is passed, burn it in a ritual of cleansing and completion, take it to the priest and have it exorcised – whatever appeals to your sense of humour and/or sense of what is appropriate.
    Whatever you choose to do with it, make it count!
    And we love you. I hope the sun comes through a lot more and helps lift your mood oxxoxoxo

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Mrs C, you are a darling, thank you for your brilliant options! Reading them made me chuckle, truly! When the time comes to do something symbollic I shall make sure I enjoy it too! Thank you xxx

      Reply
  23. colleen

    I made a Wiksten Tova out of my favorite Liberty print while my mother was dying in my home in my site while I was sewing it. I can’t even look at it nor can I bring myself to make another. I don’t even associate clothing I don’t make with much but I guess it’s the process of making something that imprints the events into the process.

    Reply
    1. colleen

      I meant “sight” not ‘site.” Oh, brother. And, of course, I didn’t mean the post to sound as casual as it did.

      Reply
      1. scruffybadgertime Post author

        I didnt think it sounded casual & it made me sad thinking about it – I’m sorry to have brought back these memories. I am right with you that sometimes you need to keep busy whilst you are going through deep emotional processes. I also find decorating comes naturally at certain times when you need to refresh, nest, make a clean start but without having to disengage yourself from your thoughts & feelings…

        Reply
  24. Lizzy

    I loved this post. If you can’t be honest here, where can you be? I’m sure you have just as many shades of personality, happy,sad,kooky,cross, and they are all perfectly valid.
    I’ve got a pair of shoes that I adore but after one incident I can’t bear to wear them. Ever. Sad but somethings ate like that. I’m ad you have stamped Scruffy on this dress. You can ‘own’ this emotion & conquer it.

    Reply
  25. Gemma

    This is a great post – I definitely have clothes that I’ve made that are ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ because of what was going on in my life when I made them – something I hadn’t really realised until I read this post and thought about it.

    But, if the dress is making you really sad and only reminding you of a miserable time, I think it’s time to give it away, find that fabulous pattern (!) and make another dress in a lovely bright colour for spring!

    Love the Carol Vorderman comment too!

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Hi Gemma, Thank you!! Despite the guilt I feel about resurfacing peoples’ sad memories, everyone’s comments have been so empowering, yours included. Thank you Gemma, thank you everyone 🙂

      Reply
  26. Roobeedoo

    Landfill it. You can fly-tip it in my wheelie bin if you are too embarrassed to do it locally.
    Just don’t tell your / my local Sustainability Manager I said so 😉
    It was cheap to make and it drags you down – there is nothing to lose but the bad stuff!
    Onwards with Miss Mary Sunshine clothes, please – that’s an order!

    Reply
  27. Rachel

    Perhaps it is like a chrysalis and discarding it will bring back the (metaphorical) sun? I hope so. Btw, I like it and think it would look ace with electric blue or raspberry accessories. I have had a really tough start to the year and haven’t sewn much as a result. Largely because I am too scared that negative thoughts will take the pleasure away. (My mind has too much time to wander when I sew, which isn’t always a good thing). All things happen for a reason though, so it’s all good and will pass.

    Reply
  28. LinB

    When we are down, depressed, sad, the best therapy to help us escape ourselves, even for a moment, is to go to a beloved activity and practice it. This is a lovely, potentially very useful garment, and the making of it was good therapy for you. But, that said, I feel that some objects do become talismans for us. They attract and hold either positive or negative energy for us. Get rid of the “bad” talismans. You can’t rationalize away your feelings. I made a dress that was pretty to wear, flattered me immensely, and which I initially loved. After I wore it to one too many funerals, I felt nothing but sadness when I saw it hanging in my closet. I “loaned” it to a young friend for a theatrical costume, with strict instructions that it was never to come back into my house. Happiness didn’t rain down upon me because of that choice, but at least I don’t have to see the dress in the back of the closet anymore. Feel better, friend. It does get better.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      So true Lin, as others have said, such things can hold onto sad memories. That’s probably why most people have a ‘funeral’ outfit and only one. Your strategy seems like a good one, at least you know it’s being put to good use!
      And thank you

      Reply
  29. Debbie

    I think the dress looks lovely, elegant and restrained. But it seems it is so imbued with your memories of being sad so maybe you should just donate it. I hope life has perked up for you now. xx

    Reply
  30. Christine

    So sorry you’ve been blue (grey), Winnie. I’ve certainly had the same experience with clothes that I’ve made. I would have no hesitation in getting rid of it, if it’s making you feel sad. I have certain clothes that I made while going through a really stressful time, but they symbolise triumph to me because I got through it. I guess it just all depends. Do what makes you feel happy(er), and don’t look back. Also, because you are usually so madcap and silly, it’s kind of nice for me to read that just like the rest of us you have down times. I suppose that’s not much comfort to you, though! Big hug to you. x

    Reply
  31. Ruth

    What are you thinking? That’s not a March dress. That’s obviously an “oh-God-it’s-November-again” dress. No matter how many lurid wigs you wear as eye-lure, it’s an ill-timed Dress of Doom. Get rid of it. Personally, I’d go for a ceremonial burning in the back garden, preferably with some cursing, gradually turning to whooping, but that’s just me. But that is the kind of ceremony that provides figurative revenge on the fates (and others) and just might bring the Sun back.

    Reply
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  33. Sølvi

    Reading everyone´s stories gives us enough empirical material, I think, to state that there is some crazy karma stuff going on! I think that the things we surround us with are of much greater importance than we think, and the things we wear even more so. So, I get it! But still, it is a good looking piece of clothing – objectively speaking. 🙂

    Reply
  34. Sophie o.

    It’s amazing how simple bits if fabric put together can reflect our mood, whether voluntarily or not. Clothes are, after all, a second skin and that’s probably why they absorb so much if our feelings! Hope you feel better soon..

    Reply
  35. missjoiedevivre

    Gosh, I let my reader build up a backlog and I miss this. Lovely Badger, I am sad to hear that you have been experiencing such sadness and I hope that it passes. Objectively, I think the dress is lovely and once accessorised looks great. But this isn’t about objectivity, it’s all about you and your feelings.I think MrsC had given the best advice. Whatever you decide to do, it should be about nourishing yourself. Do what will make you feel triumphant.

    And thank you for taking time out of your troubles to be so entertaining. You make a great red head!

    Reply
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