How Sewing Changed My Thoughts About Age

My husband turns 40 today, and popular culture would have us believe that it’s the start of a downhill slope. I’m so happy that the sewing community is full of role models who prove that this is utter crap!

For years my sewing friends have been telling me, “You will love your 40s! It’s the decade of not caring what people think of you!” On the flip side, just yesterday my coworkers were talking about the horror of milestone birthdays, and how they dread them.

So, in honour of birthdays and getter better year by year, here are a few of the sewing friends over 40 who inspire me!

1. We have to start with SewOver50, right? It’s never been so cool to 50+! I appreciate their inspiration, representation, and fascinating discussions so much.

2. My Sewcialists co-leaders, Becky and Chloe. Two years ago I didn’t know them, now I talk to them daily and they know more about my inner life than almost anyone else! They are only a few years older than me, but both are well beyond me in strength, resolution, and resilience. I’m far more worried than them about what people think of me, and I’m more likely to change course because I’m flustered. May I be as awesome as them in a few more years! (OK, might take me longer.)

3. The person who knows even more about me than Chloe and Becky? It’s Kristin. Not only does she leave comments on every Sewcialist post and every one of my blog post ramblings here, at times we email almost daily. She is wise and informed, and always has the right way to frame things so that I see them in a new way. She is also funny, fabulous, stylish AF, and the first person I ever heard talk about perimenopause and what to expect. I’m honoured to be friends with her in real life as well as online!

4. My original online sewing gang, founders of Sewcialists back in 2013: Leila, Katie, Heather and Elizabeth! When I move into a sewing commune for retirement, it will be with these ladies. (You are all invited too!)

5. There are so many other sewists who inspire me and happen to be over 40! I really appreciate that online, age doesn’t matter. In the work world, these ladies would all be my boss, and I’d be so polite we would never get to know each other. Thanks for being awesome, Carolyn, Kate, Lara, and Mac! (There are so many more I could add <3)

I’m smiling just writing this post! What an amazing community we have online!

Of course, I’ve got amazing older role models in real life too. My mom is celebrating 70 in February with a charity walk (click here to donate!). She does 10k plus hikes year-round every Wednesday with a group of retired friends, and also goes to climate change protests every Friday. My Dad is 70 in August, and right now he is planning an 3 week hike through southern England in May, which you can read about in his own lovely words. My aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws are all remarkable in their own ways too.

Has being part of the sewing world changed how you view aging too? Does seeing folks of all shapes and sizes looking great at all ages help you feel like life just gets better? I’d love to hear your thoughts below, and perhaps also some shoutouts to people you admire!


28 thoughts on “How Sewing Changed My Thoughts About Age

  1. Kristin is fabulous! We’ve gotten to know each other better online this year (and e-mailed a bit privately). I’ve been following her blog for years, and I so enjoy her perspective on life, her wisdom and general bad-assery. 🙂

    This list is so great! I turned 40 over the summer, and it has been a wild (but really great) ride so far!!

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    1. xoxoxo I love bad-assery! And I also love that the internet connects us to women at all ages and stages so that we can learn from each other about what we haven’t yet experienced and laugh about what might have traumatized us (so that our sisters don’t have to bear the same burden).

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    2. I miss the days when Kristin blogged about all her fabulous bras! I love seeing people nerd about about what interests them… and then I was lucky enough to have her take me bra shopping once, which was transformative!

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  2. Thank you, Gillian, for all your wonderful contributions to the sewing community. I am an avid follower both here and on the sewcialists site. I am much older than 40, but I still feel like 35 most days. I like being the age I am. I am grateful for my health, happiness, friends, and family. I am retired from a fulfilling career, so I get to sew more often, too! Bloom where and when you are planted! Let the rest take care of itself.

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    1. Such excellent advice, Kathleen! Health, happiness, friends and family, and bloom where you are planted – those are words to live by. ❤

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  3. When you have a common passion it doesn’t matter as we are all the same inside. I recently had a strange experience with my age. I like to think of myself as a bad-ass, stylish 50 year old but a couple of weekends ago I went to a sewing weekend. Everyone was really friendly and chatty, complementing my Persephone pants and asking to try on my Tamarac jacket, but about half way through the weekend I realised that 90% of the group spoke to me slightly differently, more polite and less casually than the rest of the group and I became aware that it was because of my age and I felt something inside of me die, I was so sad about it I nearly didn’t go on the second day. The point of telling you this is not to feel sorry for me but to say please don’t ever think of people being “different/out of tune with you” just because you’re younger… we all get there.. quicker than you think. Thankfully I work with secondary kids and I love banter with them so I know what’s cool and they tell me what’s what! 😄

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    1. Oh damn, that must have been so uncomfortable! Thank you for sharing – I’m going to remember that anecdote. I will henceforth make sure I swear as much with people over 50 as under! (Yeah, that’s the part of my personality that doesn’t come out as much online as IRL 😛 ) Three cheers for working with students – I find a ton of my fashion sense influenced by 8 year olds with cat hairbands and sequin tops, and my husband is a high school teacher like you, so he always has to teach me whats cool these days.

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    2. Aw…thanks for sharing this. I’ve been there too….feeling awkward at sewing socials and a bit sad after them. I felt like I was with my people, but somehow I felt like I didn’t fit.

      I just love what you said, ‘When you have a common passion it doesn’t matter as we are all the same inside.’

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  4. What an uplifting post Gillian…I think especially because I am almost sixty myself.

    You’re much younger than I, but boy have you made a big positive difference in my sewing life! I remember the conversation you started that became the start of Sew Over 50. I hadn’t thought about it much until then, but I was feeling somewhat ‘age-invisible’ in the sewing community…the S-O-50 IG account helped me feel a part of something so enriching!

    Happy Birthday to your hubby!

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    1. Thanks Sue! I always love seeing how you hack patterns and your utterly fabulous sense of style! I wonder what community is going to come next? I’d rather love to see a SewOver70 or a more radical version of the Sewcialists… there’s always more room in the community!

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  5. Gillian – thank you for mentioning me but I would be the crazy older work friend who told you interesting things about getting old and how freeing it would be. I would be inappropriate and fun and you would text me at night to tell me things or talk about TV programs. How do I know this? Because that’s what I am to some of my younger co-workers at my current job! So you would definitely know me and there would be no need to be polite! *LOL*

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    1. DEAL! I feel like finally in the phase of my career where I don’t have to pretend to be older and more mature than I am (for years I was the youngest teacher in every school, then suddenly people ten years younger than me had jobs! :P) I’m loving dressing more boldly, sharing opinions more freely, and pushing harder for what I think is right.

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  6. I am deeply honored to be on your list of inspiring women! The older I get the more I realize that age is just a number to put on a form, and not at all reflective of who I am. Sewing continuously reinforces that message as I watch woman after woman over over 50 show pictures of themselves wearing whatever they feel like and what makes them happy. No more do I ask myself if this is an age appropriate make, but rather I ask does this make make me feel the way I like to? Does this add to my confidence, inner happiness, and contentment? Does this reflect who I am and what I want to present to the world? These days it’s a pretty solid yes as far as sewing is concerned and that makes this 50-something very happy indeed. I say look forward to your milestones! The rewards will be exactly what you make of them.

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    1. I just read an article about happiness increasing rapidly after the age of 50 – and continuing the trend for decades after that. (I have a stake in the game cuz I’m 49 and a half :-)) So I am very looking forward to exploring my creativity in the upcoming decade, refining my style to suit my many moods with so many awesome role models.

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    2. YES YES YES! And I”ll add to that list, “Sewing what you want to wear, not what is trendy and new”. You and I both love a good t-shirt, and that means we get to enjoy wearing our sewing every day!

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  7. Oh G – I just read this and totally started to cry!! Thank you so much for your wonderful words. I cannot wait to see how you rock the 40s. And then I’ll probably be excessively know-it-all about the 50s 🙂 xoxoxo

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    1. Love you Kristin! Seriously, i think you were one of the first people I knew who insisted on quality and holding out for just the right thing BECAUSE WE BLOODY DESERVE THE GOOD STUFF! You are a fabulous blend of endlessly kind and generous and also confident enough to take up space in the world. Love it.

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  8. 1. I love being in my mid-forties. Forty is amaze. 2. you balance me out. I think we 3 (and 4 with Anne) are better together. We are more than the sum of our parts. ❤

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  9. I love this post and its positivity! I’m not staring 40 down yet but I’ve definitely grown more comfortable in my own skin as I’ve gotten older. I really like the way that you’ve called out people who are inspiring you for the next decade(s) of life.

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  10. I never really thought about age related to sewing as each year just seemed to make me “more me”, along with the development of ,or emergence of, an “I really don’t care” attitude. That has been the discovery of ageing for me. In relation to sewing, age has made me more accepting of my physical self. I’m not as critical. I’m honest about my measurements and accepting of size. I’m discovering my style and embracing myself.

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  11. Sewing has hugely helped me NGAF about looking like “mutton trying to look like a lamb” (thanks, mom). Overalls and jumpsuits do NOT solely belong to those under 30. I’m in my mid-40’s and feel like I’m just finally starting to embrace wearing whatever the hell I want, regardless of whether it’s considered “age appropriate” by others or not.

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    1. YESSSSSS! I was more worried about that mutton/lamb shit at 27 than I am now at 37. Stepping away from RTW to beautiful diverse sewing world is so good for us all!

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  12. I just turned 57. The great thing is that I think of myself as somewhere between 30 and 35, but I’m much less stupid than I was then. I’ve learned to love myself more, and appreciate what really matters in life. Money isn’t as tight as when I was young, so I don’t feel guilty if my belly just doesn’t fit something, and I get rid of it.
    Your clothing is beautiful, and I love to see you glow in your pix!

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  13. I just discovered your blog and have read a ton of posts because I love your sewing style! (Comfy knits and bright colours…yes please!) I haven’t commented on a post yet but just had to ask if you’ve seen the Locker Room sketch from the Baroness Von Sketch show on CBC? (Fellow Canadian here.) It fits exactly with what you said about not caring what people think once you’re over 40….except I suppose it’s the opposite of sewing 😂

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  14. Oh yes! I turned 50 in the end of last year and I have to say that I feel more good about it than I thought (I thought I would feel neutral). I think the sewing community is great. I love to see people with different bodies, ages, genders in normal, self confident poses (not for the male gaze). Even if you know that it is “okey” to be over 20, both in age and BMI, you do get affected of the constant media flow with young and beautiful women.

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