I’m really fed up with the tortured artist trope. People have said it about me since I was a teenager, and while it’s true that I am kind of a bit artistic and also depressed as fuck, the latter does not positively affect the former. If this were the case I’d be a lot further along in my artistic practice and career.
My craziness has affected me to the point where I can’t leave the house most of the time, let alone go to ~cultural events~ and network with local art people. Making connections is incredibly difficult for me. It’s not that I’m shy, I actually really resent being called shy, it’s that I am overcome with panic whenever I try to do certain social/ professional things. When I say panic, I don’t mean butterflies in my stomach. I sweat. I don’t perspire. Sweat rolls down my face, I get flustered, I forget how to form words and I get disoriented and dizzy. People don’t tend to react favourably towards a leaking, bumbling mess, and so I end up compounding panic with the fear of looking ridiculous. And so on and so forth. I only found out there was a name for this a few years ago, and it’s called Social Anxiety Disorder.
So I don’t go to art events, I don’t hang around with arty types, and I rarely get to immerse myself in discussion and critique. It’s frustrating. Every few months I descend into despair over my worth as a person who creates things, in addition to my worth as a human; but it’s balanced out by hypermanic episodes of frenzied sketching and creating. So it’s ok I guess. My psychiatrist says I might have Bipolar 2. I was put on Lamictal (lamotrigine) and for the first time I felt almost balanced, but now I am experiencing very familiar depths and all creating has halted.
This is my life since 15 and from now on, and that’s very difficult to come to terms with. I don’t wish to receive advice when I talk about my health (I want to emphasise that mental health IS health), I just think it’s important to talk about it instead of feeling ashamed. I try to talk about it, but it’s a struggle, because people’s responses pretty much always fall into one of the following:
* unsolicited advice (try this diet! meds don’t work!)
* redundant platitudes (chin up! be positive! it could be worse!)
* conversation terminated awkwardly (and usually the relationship)
So don’t do that. Thanks.
What I am trying to do is be gentle with myself. I have started to learn ACT techniques, and it’s challenging remembering them but I’ve made a start. I wrote a list of steps I want to take towards sorting some of my drawing feelings out, and that made me feel less hopeless about my creative situation. My plan is to focus on research as well as technique, and to draw every day. Even if it’s simple.
So that’s what I’ve done for the last few days. I hope I can keep it up. These vector illustrations aren’t super slick or fully rendered but they’re something.
People seem to like this one. You can download it to use as a desktop picture if you like!
My Nana died on the weekend. She has always been an exceptional woman, and an exceptional Nana. Her love and support for me and my creative work have been unflagging, and she helped me a lot with setting up my shop.
I still don’t really know what to say. I spent yesterday scanning photos and making a slideshow for her funeral. She still feels alive! I can still hear her chuckle and feel the way she’d grab my arm when she wanted me to listen to her.
She was a cool lady. You should have known Nana.
This has certainly turned into a sewing blog of late, and shall continue to be one for at least this post because I want to show you the fruits of my labour on the Burda Style Dart Dress. Firstly I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kate for sharing this pattern with me, mwah mwah! Secondly, this is a pretty good pattern but I strongly advise sewing a muslin first because I had to grade the largest size up four sizes to EU 60 instead of my regular 56. I probably could have done with the 58 but more ease in garments is a bunch comfier!
Burda made this in a polka dot fabric which is so cute, but I couldn’t find anything besides rough-as digital print cotton at Lincraft (yeh I bought some what of it?) and I’d rather have something a bit nicer with more weight. The original pattern has 18 darts, so yes it is aptly named, but I eliminated the darts at the hem because on my muslins they restricted my ability to walk comfortably. That’s the beauty of a muslin too, you can edit the pattern to suit your body as well as the way you move.
I made two dresses from this pattern, the first was a wearable muslin made out of some brown gabardine I had metres and metres and metres of, and the second was made out of purple ponte. The ponte is super soft and easy to wear, probably not the best choice for the structure in the design but whatever!
I have a feeling this pattern will be used quite a bit because the darts can be sewn the other way around for a less ~darty~ dress, and the neckline darts can be taken out with a bit of nifty pattern altering. I’m very glad I ended up making three muslins (including the brown dress) in order to figure out the right size for me, because it’s a good basic pattern with scope for flexibility and adaptation.
For interest’s sake I want to list the costs of making some of my clothes. So take for example my recent black dress.
Fatina Plus pattern – USD$4
2m ponti (50% sale) – AUD$13
Cool so that’s easily quantifiable and given a $ value. A $17 dress! Bargain! But there’s also the matter of time and access to resources.
- Tracing paper
- Sticky tape
- Sewing machine
- Sewing skills
- Suitable fabric
- Sundry sewing supplies
- Print pattern and sticky tape it together – 30 minutes
- Trace pattern and make sizing adjustments – 30 minutes
- Dart to princess seam conversion, cap sleeves, side panel slash – 30 minutes
- Cut pattern, pin to fabric, mark seam allowances, cut fabric – 30-60 minutes
- Construction – 1-2 hours
- Pressing – 30 minutes
- Fitting – 30 minutes
- Adjustments – 30 minutes
- Battling with glitchy machine – 1 hr
- Hems and finishing – 30-60 minutes
- Final pressing – 30 minutes
I’m a pretty competent sewer and cut corners here and there, i.e.: I rarely baste things except when inserting a zip or gathering/ easing fabric. I have no idea how to assign a dollar value to my time but that dress took around 6 hours to make. Maybe more. I can’t remember.
A less experienced sewer might spend double the time working on this dress, even more if they follow the often confusing instructions that come with patterns (and they all love telling you to baste ridiculous shit like darts.) Someone with restricted time and ability could be working on this dress for longer than a week. I didn’t make a mock up of this dress (a muslin) but I have with more complex patterns. That’s extra time and material!
It really chafes my bits when people are smart arses and suggest “oh sew your own clothes” to criticisms fat people have about the clothing they’ve got access to. It’s not a skill everyone has, it’s not an activity everyone has the time to do or the physical or mental ability to carry out without barriers.
I am very privileged to have an interest in sewing that has been developed by attending a high school that taught me how to do it, and to have a family that has nurtured my sewing. My mother bought me my sewing machine, my Nana gave me her sewing cabinet, and recently my Granma gave me her sewing machine, overlocker, lots of fabric and another sewing cabinet! I am truly fortunate.
For many people though, they don’t have access to the skills and resources I have access to. When it comes to clothing for fat people, it’s slim pickings and many affordable clothes are produced overseas, sometimes in factories that have poor working conditions. Domestically produced garments, especially in Australia, are way too cost prohibitive for me. It’s a situation fraught with the tension of guilt vs class with the added bonus of being too fat to get an actual choice.
Sewing is political. It’s something I enjoy, and a skill I use to make the things I don’t get an opportunity to purchase in stores. It’s not especially cheap, especially when it comes down to time, but it can save cash money. I would never sew as a job because the honest truth is that most people can not or will not pay the true cost of a hand made garment, but then again… we’ve all got to wear clothes as per our unspoken agreement with society, so what are we to wear if we can’t pay domestic designers and machinists? Criticising and shaming poor fat people for wearing cheap clothing produced in questionable (and often outright awful) working conditions is futile because there are few other options, and telling poor fat people the last resort is to sew their own clothes is flat out bullshit.
I’ve been sewing like a woman possessed by the ghost of a sewing machine lately! My Granma gave me her overlocker, machine and sewing cabinet along with a bunch of fabric so I haven’t really come up for air in the last fortnight. My initial priority was to sew EVERY stretch fabric into booty shorts and leggings but I’ve discovered how ridiculously expensive stretch fabric is so that project has been shelved.
Lincraft had a 50% off fabric sale so I scraped together some money to buy black ponte (and then went back to get some purple!) and made this dress based on the Burda Style Fatina plus pattern. I’d already cut a pair of leggings that were too small and got turned into short shorts, a second pair of leggings that were a little better (ugh I need to perfect the leggings pattern!) so there wasn’t much fabric left to work with. I decided to alter the pattern and converted the bust darts to princess seams, thus leaving me with three front panels that were much easier to accommodate on the fabric I had available. I also dropped the shoulder length for a little self-sleeve. Thanks to my home ec sewing classes and the internet for helping me out with the pattern adaptation skills!
Some of the seams pucker a bit, I’m yet to figure out the best way to sew using an overlocker, but considering many off the rack clothes often have worse construction I’ll deal with it just fine. (I know people who are super picky about puckering seams but I’ve got more pressing things to worry about in my life, such as hastily sewing new clothes before my old ones fall apart.)
Instagram is my new convenient vehicle of choice for my day to day outfit photos, ever since life started going wonky and pulling out the big camera became too much of an effort. Also, these are some of the outfits I wear daily – nothing fancy – but I feel as if they still contribute to deathfatshion visibility and representation all the same.
But really, I started doing these Instaootds because of the full length mirror in my studio. I was going to remove the sliding mirrors to make way for a storage system but now my vanity has consumed me and I’m okay with it. Since I’m not posting here very often these days due to a pretty significant depression relapse and other events, I figured I’d cross platforms for those who don’t have Instagram.
You can follow me on Instagram if you wish! My username is, predictably, definatalie.
On the weekend my family celebrated my youngest sister’s engagement and I ran up a dark grey velour skirt for the occasion. I was almost going to wear the floral dress I made a few weeks ago but I wasn’t feeling especially floral that weekend after spending some quality time suffering discontinuation syndrome after stopping Pristiq. I always wonder whether or not I should share mental health stuff on here, but I figure if I can help one person it’s worth it! (PS: Pristiq is a SHOCKER to quit, set aside a fortnight if you can and unplug yourself from reality.)
Shirt: Domino Dollhouse
Skirt: Made by me
Leggings: We Love Colors
Docs: hand-me-across from Sonya <3
Brooch: Gift from Kathleen, wish I could remember the maker!
Deer antler necklace: That Vintage
This morning I had to hop to it when I realised I had an appointment in the city! So I pulled out my Kermit dress and now compulsory Docs. I haven’t worn another pair of shoes since Sonya so graciously gave them to me! I never thought, after all these years, that Docs would be wide enough for my feet but they are, so when I can save up some money I will definitely be investing in some 1914s.
Last week I wore my new (to me!) Docs with a black and white patterned dress and cardigan and put some Tommy Girl perfume on. It’s like I’m the teenager now that I wish I was in the 90s! If you weren’t a teenager in the 90s do not believe any of the cool young bloggers trying to sell you a 90s revival right now. The 90s was, by and large, pretty daggy. I am your elder. Trust me on this. At my very coolest I wore brown corduroy flares and little velour t-shirts but you don’t see anyone bringing back corduroy flares, do you? (Someone should, I am really into corduroy flares.)
OK back to my outfit.
Dress: Made by me
Black t-shirt: New Look
Black leggings: Asos Curve
Docs: From Sonya
And just because I like to embarrass myself to my very fullest potential… Here are some jumping photos. It doesn’t really work out when your ankle is still tender from being fractured!
~~ YOU’RE WELCOME ~~
I was going to write a big post about my (and Nick and Miffy’s!) appearance last night on The Project but I have compiled a rushed recap instead because I had to get off the couch to do this and we are in a co-dependent relationship. First, here is the video for your viewing pleasure (if you are outside Australia it may not work but give it a go anyway.) I’m anticipating that this embed won’t work, so here’s a link to the video on the website.
We open with the classic fat zinger footage, headless fatties and motorised scooters. Fat people going about their days having their butts filmed without permission, drinking drinks and shopping for food like they aren’t essential requirements for living or anything.
Dr Cat Pause arrives and is cute! I want to be sure to stress that we need to step away from the good fatty/ bad fatty dichotomy. It’s not helpful. Also, some fat people are unhealthy (i.e. live with disability and disease) and it’s not for reasons you might automatically assume by looking at them. Some thin people are unhealthy (i.e. live with disability and disease) and you might dismiss that because their bodies are read as healthy. Quit the oversimplification of body size, health and disability, ok? It harms people.
It’s not really called Fat Pride, or that’s not what Nick and I identify with. We say we are fat activists. There are zero things wrong with being proud of your body (at whatever size) but it’s hard for many fat people to find pride because of the burden of stigma, and “fat pride” doesn’t welcome those folks. We talk about stigma, frustration, ill treatment and at a very basic level, try to reach people with the message that fat people are humans and we have heads.
Nick and I arrive. We talk about stigma against fat people. Dr Sam Thomas arrives, talks about overstatement of risks of being fat.
Anna Peeters arrives, we are worrying her with our fatness, she is part of a society for obesity. I wonder if any fat people are in that society? Probably not. Her testimony about health risks makes aforementioned fatties seem all footloose and fancy free, but fails to consider the non-fat related illnesses they have. Also it’s very nice they care so much about scaring fat people, I wonder if Stephen King advises them on their thriller skillz. Can we get a price check on who is funding the ANZOS please? Considering Peeters worked for C.O.R.E at Monash, who are funded in part by Allergan (A LAP BAND MANUFACTURER), I am highly dubious.
Peeters redeems the case for fat stigma when she says it exists. Unfortunately most viewers probably didn’t believe us when we said that first. Thomas agrees, SOCIETY IS FIGHTING FAT PEOPLE. All we wanna do is have a groovy time and daydream about unicorns — WAIT THERE IS MIFFY. Nick and I demonstrate that we can walk.
Happy music, focus on our blogging! Dramatic music change, I am concentrating very hard on doing up a jump ring on my fat necklace for the 100th time. Peeters bastardises the Sound of Music and stages an elaborate number called, “How do you solve a problem like fat people?”
We return to comments from non-fat panelists because they have feelings and opinions.
Charlie Pickering says we do judge people based on weight. Another thin person legitimising things fat people said first! I would give him a cookie but I ate them all.
Waleed Aly pulls out the concern troll card, which coincidentally wields an internet connection and a false sense of entitlement if you look closely. He thinks we are driven to being fat by stigma. Oh so it’s not like our bodies and personal health, environment, class, race, gender have anything do do with it. Thinking is hard for many non-fat people.
Kath Robinson admirably doesn’t even bother with concern – FAT PEOPLE ARE INTENTIONALLY BEING FAT AND STIGMATISING THEMSELVES. “These people could potentially be unhealthy and risk bad health problems!” Like suicide and death by neglectful health professionals or NOT seeking medical help because they know they’ll be treated awfully! At this stage I am laughing bitterly and bringing fat forehead to fat palm with rapid and great energy.
Lehmo, who only has one name because he is special and important, winds up for his big finish: “if you need a motorised cart to get around then you need to lose weight”. What ableist guff that doesn’t consider the intersection of fat & disability! (Not that I expected that degree of nuance on a light entertainment teev program.) Fat people on scooters don’t do it because they think it’s cool and hip and that people will say “SWEET RIDE YOU ARE COOL”. Fat people on scooters get abused because they are fat and SO RUDELY using mobility tools to move about their lives!
EVERYONE LAUGHS AT A FAT JOKE
If you missed out on the pre-order, quit your fearing because I now have a selection of the most popular prints stocked on Fancy Lady Industries. Horah!
My absolute favourite is Fat Cow, but the people’s choice seems to be between I get what I want and Pastry Queen II. Which one is your favourite?
(It sounds fancier if I call it a boutique, yeah?)
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