I tried my hand at, arguably, one the most popular indie patterns of the moment: the Persephone Pant and Short Pattern by Anna Allen.
As I’m sure you know, positive reviews of this pattern are a plenty. It is a trendy sailor pant wide leg cut, with a high-high waist and without a side seam. The pattern (one with a decently inclusive size range) seems universally flattering on all sorts of body types–except, as I currently feel, mine.
Now, I bring this up not as a way to ask to be reassured, but to acknowledge one of the harder sides of making ones own clothes. I seek to achieve a good fit with the garments I make. Even if this doesn’t always work, my homemade clothes fit in a way my old RTW garments never did. I’m aware of this as I write this post. However, the process of creating my increasingly comfortable wardrobe has a flip side. My attention to fit has made me hyper aware of minor fit issues, and has since opened up into a sprawling terrain where my creative anxiety runs wild with my insecurities. Sometimes I miss my previous ignorance of the ambitions of topstitching and aspirations of the wrinkle free garment.
A hyper awareness to fit or image is an unfortunate consequence of the many wonderful aspects of sewing and blogging. And, that is what’s going on with my Persephone pants. This is a classic case of “I loved it until I saw the photos.”
My pant version is the third-ish time I put the pattern together. First, I made a muslin. Next, I made shorts (in a white denim I found to be a little thin and unforgiving). Then, I got to the pant version. By this time I had ironed out a few of the issues that troubled me the most–a gaping fly closure, getting the right crotch curve. I tried on the pants and, to be honest, I was decently pleased. But by the end of the day, after my husband took some photos of me, I changed my mind and began doubting whether the style was for me.
Although I’m very fond of this style and had achieved a decent fit, the photos made me feel like these pants emphasize all of the parts of my body I dislike. Since the photos brought a whole new (negative) perspective to these pants (and which really clashed with how I felt after they were finished!), I now feel stuck. Do I love them? Do I hate them? Am I ultimately “body-negative” because I still remain sensitive to the tense issues of size, weight, and clothes?
Body positivity is a sewing community mantra that, for all its good intentions, sometimes leaves little space for us to acknowledge that we remain very sensitive to how our body looks in clothes. Or, it may allow us understate that sharing photos can make us too conscious of what (we think) our bodies look like. A selfie is a personally curated image where we can select what we want to see, while a photo taken by another may reveal what we are so often trying to hide. Yet, both of these forms of amateur fashion photography are our means to communicate image to self and other, and it can be painful when our hopes are contradicted by our fears.
I’m not sure being “body positive” means only showcasing what we can easily accept. Nor am I convinced that it is idealizing what we are personally uncomfortable with as a means to prove our “strength,” or the ability to “overcome” beauty standards. There is something violent about constantly going against oneself in the name of “empowerment” when we could also just take an alternative route all together.
These pants stir up all these contradictory thoughts–I like them (they are fun, they swish, they go with SO MANY of my other garments) at the same time I think they are unflattering for my size–too tight, to revealing, too high. I think they are unflattering for my personal size and shape at the same time I feel guilty for not wholeheartedly “accepting” and celebrating my body. I fear they make me look ridiculous at the same time I think they are very cool, and even represent something I value in myself.
I won’t pretend I’m totally comfortable in them, but I will wear them. And I won’t pretend sewing has made me “love” my body, cause it doesn’t and I don’t. But sewing does make me grateful I can create and the flow of the creative process is something I find more valuable and worthy of my physical energy and mental space than trying to convince myself that I’m totally comfortable in the world. I appreciate how sewing my clothes ultimately makes body image less important to me because I now prefer to focus on experimenting with shape, fabric, and thread.
To wrap this up and to get back to how of feel about the Persephones as a pattern–I had other issues, too. I’m not one to complain about PDF patterns usually, but this one drove me nuts. The pieces are not optimally organized. Rather than being embedded within the same pieces, the short and pant are unnecessarily separate. The same can be said for the waistband and waistband interfacing pieces in addition to the fly pieces which are all separated into individual sizes.
To be sure, there are no more adjustments to make on this pattern then on any other pant pattern. With the exception of the fly gaping, the drafting is nice. My reflection on the Persephones is mainly based on how they make me feel. But because of that, I think I will enjoy the pants I did make (cause despite my current issues, I know I will enjoy them often), and move on to another pants pattern.