a bit about sewing, a bit about not-sewing

This week we got the news officially: those of us working from home will continue to work from until at least January 2021.

Which includes me. Which means, at a minimum, I will have no need for tailored work clothes until at least late winter.

I’m also not social dancing. Some classes have started up again, but with asthma and diabetes, and Frances’s surgery coming up, it’s just a risk I feel I can’t take. When there’s a vaccine, when we’ve both been vaccinated, and when she’s recovered from her surgery, I can get back to dancing.

What with March-May’s flurry of pandemic sewing, I have few gaps in my work-from-home wardrobe at the moment. I’m sure I’ll still make myself some things, but not often, and certainly not fancy. I know lots of you love to wear dresses at home, but not me, not with our little puppy and the aura of shedding black fur that hovers around her like Pigpen’s cloud of dirt. My work-from-home clothes are constantly laundered. They need to look ok on zoom calls, but they can’t be too precious.

But I am going to have a sewing challenge this fall, and I don’t even know where to begin: Frances will need clothes for her recovery. We don’t know if it’s going to be a few weeks or several months; we don’t know if she’ll be up and walking around some in a week or forbidden to use her feet for three months. Given supply chain issues from covid, the latter seems more likely, and we’re starting to make some plans for things like making the house accessible and how to get around to follow-up appointments and what-not, but she is also going to need clothes.

But what kind?

I’ve already been tackling some pre-surgery accessible clothing: pullover knit dresses, mostly, since pants and shorts are becoming harder and harder for her to put on. I’ve got some tunics planned for the colder weather, and hoping that with long socks, she can be comfortable and warm.

After surgery is a whole different thing. I’m looking at websites that sell clothes for hip replacement surgery recovery for adults, and they’re full of things like side zippers on pants and wrap-backs on shirts, and I can see how some of that is useful, but is it useful when you are in a wheelchair and not allowed to put weight on your feet? Or is it useful for the standard kind of recovery? There’s almost nothing for or about kids, and all that’s out there for hip replacement with any kind of skeletal dyspalsia is “it works great when you have custom prostheses!” Which we probably won’t have, thanks to covid, and which is why I’m looking for information in the first place.

This is one of the downsides in having a literally 1/750,000,000 kid: there are no templates and there is no map. I don’t know what she’s going to need. All I know is that whatever’s available in the stores isn’t going to fit, so I’m going to have to make it based on patterns that will need substantial altering. Which means I need to get started. But on what? How much is Frances going to be able to use her hips? When will she be able to help again with getting things on and off, and in what way? All of the adaptive clothing websites make assumptions about recovery and function that are likely not to be true for her.

I’m still solidly in the floundering stage of this sewing project, as you can see. I’m not sure how much I’ll be writing about it here; I don’t imagine it’s too exciting to read a bunch of iterations of “I tried this, and it didn’t work either,” plus it’s of pretty limited interest to 749,999,999/750,000,000 of you. But we’ll see.

On the not-sewing side: This has never actually been a sewing blog (the name should be the first giveaway), though I’ve always written about sewing here to some extent. I’m equally impressed and confused by people who have single-interest blogs: how do you do it? Doesn’t the sewing, the mothering, the working, the volunteering, the creating, the social barriers, the lay-offs, the elections, all get tangled up together? It’s one life; how do you cut it off into little pieces? Is it a marker of privilege, to be living a life where you can chop off bits and act like they don’t influence each other? I sew clothes because it’s how my kid gets something that fits and doesn’t cause pain, and I sew clothes for me because I need to spend a lot of time at home available in case she needs me and it helps me cope. Ableism, mothering and sewing are all the same thing for me, and have been for over 15 years. When I try to pretend otherwise, I just feel like a liar.

Basically, I’m not sure what I’m going to be writing about, but it’s probably not going to be a whole lot of sewing, and certainly not sewing for me. I’m reading a lot (I finished my 101st book for 2020 yesterday), so there may be more books, and I’m doing a whole lot of thinking about what it means to build a career on making a better world for people who insist that you leave your kid behind.

(She has no community. Do you understand that? There is no room in this world that she can walk into, and be surrounded by people who share her experiences and perspectives. Your community(ies) may be based on privilege or disadvantage or some combination, but I guarantee you that having a group of people you can talk to who understand your life and where you’re coming from is a privilege all on its own that Frances will never have. Look at the sewing chunk of this post: getting a double hip replacement is hard! Do you know what makes it a million times harder? Having no idea what to expect because there is no medical record of anyone like you ever having had a hip replacement in human history.)

(Scratch that: there is a brand new medical study alluding to one person with Frances’s condition having had a single hip replacement in their twenties. So assuming we can find the operating surgeon and connect them to Frances’s, there might be a single case study to go on. And there are now 16 diagnoses so I guess Frances is officially 1/500,000,000.)

I don’t know where I’m going with this, except that what’s likely to preoccupy me for the rest of 2020 will be my kid’s hip replacement, both in logistical terms and in more sociological terms. How much of it shows up here I can’t say, but I’m willing to bet my life savings that I’m not going to be writing a lot about dress patterns.

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