‘I only do big feelings’ she said and wrapped her arms around me in a maternal cocoon.  Another clue, another piece of a puzzle, I’ve spent a half life trying to solve. Like Icaraus, I’ve always flown too close to the sun, before plummeting the depths and inevitable fallout, of a life lived supersize.  

For the first time since I started writing about my feelings and creative endeavours, I’ve come to an impasse. Where words have previously flown unfiltered from my brain to my fingers, I now stare at the empty screen, paralysed by the thought of writing about how I actually feel. And yet, the more I try to cover up my mental unravelling, the more I realise that trying to feign normality by masquerading in the mainstream, is selling me short of a life I yearn to live. 

Internal turbulence has always driven me to orchestrate an external environment of clean lined simplicity. Increasingly, this propensity is mirrored in my sartorial choices as I gravitate towards bold shapes, block colours and functional beauty. The Apron Dress from The Assembly Line is an ode to the latter, with it’s elegant design lines and gargantuan pockets. I knew instantly which fabric was worthy of its form and returned to the fold of my beloved Denim Studio Collection and this Textured Denim Fabric in bluebottle field.

This pattern comes in four sizes and the first challenge was deciding which to order, as my proportions are wont to dance around the chart. After much prevarication I opted for Medium but in retrospect should have sized down as the design ease is more than ample. Cutting out the pattern pieces was a breeze as this denim is super stable and pure joy to work with. It’s both soft and structured with a slubby finish and an incandescent hue beyond compare. 

I opted for a bias bound finish for the lower edge of the facing, as I couldn’t bear the thought of butchering those curves with my overlocker. Otherwise I stayed true to the instructions and it was plain sailing until I came to the formation of the back pleat. At which point I lost the will to live, never mind sew. I stared at those seemingly incomprehensible diagrams for hour after soul destroying hour and fell down a Google rabbit hole in search of another’s wisdom. Just as I was about to jump ship, I was saved by a logic which mocked the ineptitude of my former self. Like most things, once you know what to do, the misery of not knowing seems laughable. 

The reprieve was was short-lived as I was faced with yet another dilemma. Despite my waist falling below the medium range, I had swathes of fabric for the pleat to accommodate. After numerous try ons and some sketchy calculations, I figured I could lose 4cm off each centre back piece without compromising the apron’s shape. This shearing at the rear significantly reduced bulk but not enough to envisage a fastening featuring either snaps or buttons. The denseness of the denim had me stumped until I remembered a faux leather buckle nestling in my sewing stash. For extra security, I used a 20mm sew in fastener to attach the inner fold of the pleat to the right back. 

I know some have baulked at the price of this pattern but it’s exemplary in both presentation and content and well worth the investment. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome apart from one glaring flaw which has dogged me and my dungarees to date. There must be a way to get the front of the bib to lie flat against my chest but it’s one that evades me, so if there’s anyone out there with the wisdoms, please do share the love.

One motivation to learn how to make my own clothes was a desire to express my inner self outwardly. Creating and writing about my sartorial creations has been instrumental in shaping the confidence to steer my way through a world I often feel at odds with. In others, I celebrate the honesty and strength to expose personal fragility but when it comes to myself, I’ve kept so much undercover. But it no longer feels enough to whisper my story to carefully selected individuals, holding my breath in the wake of a potential recoil. Increasingly people are coming out of the closet and talking openly about their mental health. And whilst I dance around the periphery, unsure of how to navigate this unchartered course, one thing I know for sure - it’s a conversation I want to be part of.