The community brought together by the Sew Over 50 account on Instagram has amassed over 46,000 followers in a little less than 5 years. Their posts highlight garment sewists as well as bringing attention to the lack of representation of this age group, and seeking to gain visibility for this sizable group.
For March, the challenge was to sew patterns in which the pattern model is 45 years old or more. If you have a collection of patterns from the Big 4 companies – Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls, and Vogue – you likely won’t have a single pattern that qualifies for this challenge. Many of the independent pattern companies do better, although their patterns are sold mostly in pdf form, and do not rely on a single printed cover like the traditional patterns.
I own the Old Mexico pattern by Folkwear. The image is from their website.
These are 3 free patterns featuring mature models: Harper, a cardigan by Sinclair Patterns, Athina Top for wovens and the Mandy Boatneck Tee, both by Tessuti Patterns.
What do these models have in common? Gray hair! Gray hair is an obvious sign of maturity, and it can be hard to discern age from a photo without it. This is why gray haired models are used to represent the older woman, and why so many women dye their hair to look younger. We’re not all naturally gray, either, post fifty.
I decided to sew the Sparky Top from Designs by Heidi.
The model is the designer.
It’s an ambiguous photo as for age. I didn’t contact Heidi and ask her age, but I have a general idea of how old she is by reading her blog on WordPress, Designs By Heidi.
I was first attracted to the Sparky pattern because it was named after my dog. Well, Heidi’s dog, actually, if you want to get technical, ha. It’s a good name!
Last summer, I worked on a dress made from this beautiful rayon sarong, but I had problems with it and put it aside.
The Sparky pattern works well with combining fabrics, and I had a thrifted shirt in mind to combine with my already cut up sarong. The palm print is subtle, and reads like a solid light lilac from a distance. They go great together!
I didn’t use the serger at all in the construction, preferring to make flat felled seams for a clean finish. There are a lot of curves in the pattern, and the back panel is gathered. I shortened the length, and through careful placement, made use of the border print of the sarong. I had a problem with the top pulling to the back, with the shoulder seam sitting farther back than my shoulder. I’ve had this problem before without being able to solve it.
My Sparky top is lightweight, cool, and perfect for the spring and summer. I also made the well worn jeans in these photos a few years ago, and the denim is fading nicely. Since I usually only show newly made clothes, here is proof that I wear what I make.
Do you like seeing older models? I do. There has been an awareness of racial diversity and size diversity, and age diversity is another important consideration. I like pattern companies like Love Notions and Itch to Stitch that show their pattern testers as models for each pattern on their websites, so different body types as well as different ages are represented.
Many women have felt invisible and devalued as they age as society puts an emphasis on youth. Regardless of their accomplishments, women are judged by their looks. I was stunned by the stupidity of a host on the cable news station CNN who said women are in their prime in their 20s and 30s, and maybe into their 40s. The context was about a 51 year old woman, Nikki Haley, running for President of The United States. Since the age requirement for this position is 35 years old and there has never been a president younger than 42, his statement makes no sense and just shows his bias. Haley is absolutely in her prime, and is young for the job.
I started this blog 10 years ago writing about my sewing journey to discover my style post fifty. I am one woman among many, continuing to learn and create in our mature years, and I am visible.