Rage Refashioning

Forgive this lengthy introduction:

I have been reading up on different natural-ish ways to handle the mood swings that accompany the hormonal turmoil of menopause. May I remind you that while I may not look like it, I am someone with a very high tolerance threshold for pain, and was quite adamant about having natural childbirth experiences.

I have, over my short forty-three years, had to learn to love and trust my body through all sorts of different changes and miniature crises. These were all fine and dandy, with various degrees of physical pain that I had to face. The physical pain, in many ways, made it seem real. Like something was happening, and, as they say, “No pain, no gain,” right?

Well. Menopause ain’t so satisfying as all that. Menopause hasn’t, so far, caused much more physical pain than the fact that I kinda can’t button my favorite jeans any more (that could be snacking related, but let’s pretend that it is out of my control, okay. Please.) and the sundry night sweats and momentary nausea just before a hot flash.

What menopause is doing is making me the very most short-tempered and ill-humored version of myself. Like, to the point that I don’t think a day in the past month has gone by where I haven’t muttered to myself something that you might hear a sailor shout at a trucker. Not to mention the rage that stirs up like a storm on Lake Erie: fast, nasty and short lived.

I have theories. Lots and lots of theories. I spent the afternoon yesterday expounding on my theories with my sister and I think I might be on to something. I will refine them and share my psycho-philosophical and wholly non-scientific theories another time.

All of this to say: I have only found two things that keep my rage under control and they are: drying my hair with a hair dryer and sewing. It’s as if the roar of the machine channels the roar of my rage and provides some kind of catharsis.

Thus why I have had really good hair lately, and also why I have been sewing like a maniac.

Let’s move on, shall we?

The fabulous stripe refashion

Adorable, wearable. A perfectly innocent victim of menopausal rage

This cute little tee was given to my by my friend Izabela back in December when she did a closet de-clutter. I wore it several times around Christmas time. I even did a sewing project while wearing it: my eldest was running the pedal on the machine and I was running the foot. Somehow my fingers survived. There is photo evidence:

If that face doesn’t frighten you, it should. He finds motor sounds cathartic, too.

First things first: I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, but I have been obsessed with two things lately: Multidirectional stripes (see the bathrobe refashion) and the idea of pleats.

As with nearly all my refashions, they start by making a waist where there was none before. (I do this because I have, as I have learned to love the body I currently am in, that my waist is the one feature that I care to emphasize. This is mine…your refashion project might need to emphasize something else, and that is fantastic!)

The placement of the cut was done to leave a goodly amount to play with from the bottom portion, what we will be calling the “peplum”, but also leave on little red stripe above where the seam on what we will call the “bodice”

“Bodice” and “Peplum” to be

Next, I started deconstructing the top. I knew the buttons, however cute, would have to go. So I carefully (ahem, not so carefully. I am hormonal, thus impatient, too) trimmed the bias trim off…just the front for now, not sure if I would use it later or not (I will. This was a very smart move.)

I sewed straight up the bodice center, with the intention to do a fun 1940’s pin up girl thing later, or at least maybe a bow if I could.

I cut the side seams of the bottom piece, the chopped each one in two at a right angle to the stripe, giving me four approximately equal pieces. There would not be enough fabric to make a decent peplum with this.

I removed the sleeves. I (this time really really carefully) deconstructed the sleeve, to eek out every last bit of fabric I could. I managed to get two pieces the size of the four I already had (with the stripes going the same way! yay!!), two smaller pieces (which I played with to make the center “chevron” for the peplum) and…something I didn’t realize until the very very very end, the sleeve caps from the original sleeve.

I sewed the now vertical stripe pieces together, attaching them with the “chevron” piece in the front center and back center.

The first chevron was an accident, and it is obviously not even. But you know what? This is rage sewing. Perfection is not the point.

Next, I did some trial and error pinning of the pleats. The pleats are deeper in the back than in the front. I did this to create a kind of “bustle” in the back (you’ll see later) but to put an imperceptibly smaller amount of bulk in the belly area. Was this a happy accident that I can now justify in this way, or was it intentional…no one will ever know.

Pleat pinning while listening to MBMBaM. Literally the best afternoon I have had in months.

So here is the moment of truth: I pinned my newly pleated peplum to the bodice and sewed them together.

Then I tried it on:

Me demonstrating my scientifically proven method of making darts (no. no. no. no do not try this at home.)

Darts were needed, and the fit wasn’t quite right on the bodice. So I did some fitting, pinning on the wrong side. I attempted to correct the fit issues, although I did it with some serious trial and error.

Next, the neckline: I ended up removing the rest of the binding, then sewing it into the new neckline, the old outside edge just visible from the inside. It is far from perfect, but it allowed me to reuse a perfectly good binding.

Then the hem (a simple zig-zag).

Lastly, I discovered the remainder of the sleeve cap sitting on my bed, and thought, “huh. There is enough here to do something with it.” I turned the cap upside down, so that the part that used to be at the shoulder was now the free hemmed edge (another zig-zag). I pinned it rather loosily-goosily to the shoulder and sewed it on.

And voilà!

Rage refashioning is a thing, people. And sometimes, it gives pretty awesome results!!!

Yes, yes, I leave threads hanging. My hormones have no patience for details.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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