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Cristy's Sewing Journey

By Cristy

Cristy is a self-taught sewist living in Columbus, OH with her family. She loves blending her love for fashion with everyday practicality while building her handmade wardrobe. You can check out more at her blog, here.

My Sewing Journey by Cristy Stuhldreher | Indiesew Blog

I  remember learning to sew back in junior high home economics class with a drawstring "laundry" bag.  It was such a fun project and I loved every little bit of it...from going to the local quilt shop to pick out accessories to learning all of the mechanics of the sewing machine.  I wanted to learn more and sew more, but household financials wouldn't allow me to have a home machine nor was there anyone to help teach me.  As immigrants, my parents didn't see much value in a "hobby."  They thought all I needed to do was focus on my school work and bring home the good grades...yup, typical tiger parents.

Cristy's Denim Persephone Pants | Indiesew.com

Fast forward to when I moved to Columbus, Ohio to finally move-in with my long-distance boyfriend in 2009.  We eventually got married, got pregnant and like many other sewists, the nesting bug hit me hard.  I was traveling about four days every week as a sales manager and didn't have much time at home to prepare for my first child.  So, when I was home, it was game-on.  I received a great second-hand bamboo framed glider (straight out of the 70s!) that I wanted to have new custom cushions made for.  After a short search, I couldn't come up with anyone to make them for me, so I thought I could make them myself.  Oh, I was so naive!  I figured I would always need a machine to hem little toddler pants and patch up knee holes, right?  I blindly grabbed the first machine I saw at Target (with absolutely no research) and that was the start of my sewing journey.

Reupholstered Glider Rocker | Cristy's Sewing Journey

After watching a ton of YouTube sewing videos, a lot of frustration and even more shredded thread on the floor, I learned to sew and made those cushions.  What I thought was going to be an "as-needed" skill with a growing child turned out to be my saving grace.  Like myself, my husband was also in sales and traveled just as much as I did, if not even more.  After one week home with our first-born, he was off on a sales trip leaving me home entirely by myself with a 1-week old child...with no friends or family around.  I remember trying everything to soothe and calm little baby B at 2? 3? 4? in the morning.  Eventually, I put him into a little vibrating bouncy seat to see if that would work any magic -- nope!  I sat down right in front of him and cried so hard...telling him I really was trying my best.  I had never felt so alone and so unprepared for anything in my life.  Needless to say, caring for a newborn was hard...SO HARD and I was doing it entirely by myself and crying every exhaustive night.  

Eventually, I made the move to resign from my sales position since my baby didn't need two traveling parents...someone had to be the consistent influence.  There was no way I could keep traveling like I did while raising a child.  Someone had to be home and that someone turned out to be me.

Striped Union St. Tee | Sewing Pattern by Hey June

Since I worked in the male-dominated auto industry and traveled almost all week, I didn't have the chance to make deep friendships in Columbus...at least the ones I was missing from back home in Philly.  This was until I joined a moms group at my local hospital down the street.   It took a few weeks to make connections, but I eventually met so many lovely women who are still are close friends now.  We all had the same schedules going on between early baby bedtimes and meeting up for playdates between nap schedules.  Life got a bit easier once I found my people, but with my husband's travel schedule as busy as it ever was, I was still home alone with my son a lot.  I knew I just couldn't watch TV or do another household chore that just left me feeling empty and unfulfilled...everything would just get dirty the next minute.  It was such a hard transition from making power-moves in my former life with multi-million-dollar customers to feeling like I was completely powerless.  I knew I just needed something else - something that didn't involve nursing, sleep schedules, diapers, prepping meals, etc. 

Cristy's Sewing Journey | Indiesew Blog

I had a bunch of old t-shirts that I wanted to upcycle to bibs (after lots of late-night Pinterest-ing) and busted out that sewing machine again to immerse myself in its powers.  The hum of the machine was so hypnotic and it always kept me from thinking about how I felt like I was failing as a mom and how lonely life still was when my husband was gone.  With sewing, I loved conquering a new skill and new projects.  I was fueled with the sense of accomplishment and reveled in the compliments when I showed my mommy-friends my newest baby project.  (My kids definitely weren’t giving me the praise and reassurance I needed in my sleep-deprived state.)  But sewing gave me such a sense of self outside of just being a mother.  I really yearned for the flow to kick in and to get lost in creating.

 Denim Persephone Pants | Indiesew Blog

My husband still travels quite a bit to this day.  My boys are older and much more self-sufficient, but the life of having to parent by myself still isn't as fun.  I do admit it has become slightly easier but also harder in other ways.  I miss out on so many events and social gatherings...especially when flights are delayed or when he gets less than a day's notice to see a customer with an emergency.  But I know I still am blessed.  

The upside is that my sewing blog  and business have grown during all of the evenings on my own.  I still fill up my days with "momming" and some nights with sewing as part of my own relaxation practice.  Even just 10-15 minutes of cutting helps bring me down from anxiety filled moments of kids not wanting to sleep or from just a day of rushing around.  Sewing has been so therapeutic to me and I still love sharing my finished projects with my friends - which has now grown to all of you! <3

My latest make is an update to my mom uniform.  I love fashion and lost it for a little bit in the early years of being a new mom.  But sewing has helped me rediscover that love.   My life right now is crazy busy with two equally busy (and crazy!) young boys.  As much as I can appreciate the newest trends, my uniform will always be a basic tee and a pair of jeans.  

Striped Jersey Knits | Indiesew.com

After doing some (*ahem*) long awaited laundry, I realized how much I love a basic black tee (8 and counting) and also stripes (6 and counting.)  When I'm knee deep in family stuff, it's a black tee all the way to hide any possible stains.  Lol.  But when I need to look somewhat put-together, I will always grab a striped shirt - maybe layer it with a jacket, but always balanced stripes or pinstripes for a touch of sophistication.

Persephone Pants Back Curvey | Cristy's Sewing Journey

I've had many iterations of the uniform over the years, but this particular combination is definitely my most stylish to date, and not just because I made it.  I used the Persephone Pants pattern by Anna Allen Clothing to make a modern pair of sailor-inspired pants with just the right amount of cropping for my 5'3" frame.  These high-waisted full legs are still on-trend and I wanted to make them before that changes!  With no side seams in the pattern, I made the following adjustments with heavy 10 oz rigid denim like this one in the shop.

  • Cut a size 10 in the waist and hips (normally, I would cut a size smaller in the waist, but left the extra room just in case extra adjustments were needed); graded to an 8 in the leg; cut a size 8 waistband
  • Reduced the rise by 1"
  • Scooped out the seat by 1/2" and replaced it by extending the height on the back rise by 1/2"
  • Extended the seat by 3/4"
  • Increased each dart length by  1 1/2"
  • Increased each dart width by 1/4"
  • Took out 3/8" out of center back
  • Shortened the length by 3 1/4"

 Cristy's V-Neck Union St Tee | Striped Jersey Fabric

For my tee, I made sure to use a V-neck pattern since I love to wear them the most.  Surprisingly, I didn't own any basic V-Neck tee patterns and decided to use the Union St. Tee pattern by Hey June Handmade for its ease and shaping.  I used this amazing sold-out Rayon Spandex Oatmeal Stripe Jersey (see available knits).  It has a heavier drape but feels so incredibly soft with really nice recovery. (I hope Allie can find more on her next L.A. shopping trip...hint..hint!)  Based on my measurements, I made a medium.  But, knowing I would wear this tee with the high-waisted Persephones, plus with the weight of the jersey, I took about 1.5" out of each side of the tee.  I kept the sleeves the same size and graded down from there.  This gave me the slim fit which is perfect for tucking into my new pants.

Cristy's Sewing Journey | Persephone Pants + Union St Tee

I'm totally feeling this new outfit.  It's just a new version of my go-to uniform.  I feel like after all of these years, I'm a better updated version of myself as well.  I'm no longer a sleep-deprived zombie feeling lost and alone.  Now, I'm loving every minute of my crazy life...with lots of meditative sewing in it!

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Sewing can be a saving grace. Read more about Cristy's sewing journey on the Indiesew blog. | Indiesew.com

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