Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Patience, persistence and a good seam ripper

I told my mother several months ago that being in a recession means that more people will want to start sewing their own clothes. She didn't believe me. She also doesn't read the New York Times.
I came across this article this morning and read it with a smile because I have walked down the same road as the author. When I got my first sewing machine, I also bought a dress pattern. I didn't even bother with the home decor process of wanting to make pillows and dish towels. I wanted fashion damn it! This was before Project Runway, mind you, and I just KNEW I could not only make my own clothes, but make enough one of a kind designs to open my own shop in the very tiny little town of Murray, KY. Looking back, I know that Murray probably wouldn't totally embrace my style, even if I had mastered a self taught "fashion degree" (a lofty aspiration all on it's own). But I loved living in that small town, and hated my job. So I was dreaming big. Actually I was completely delusional.
But I was also persistent. I bought a dress pattern, fabric, thread, and a zipper. My aunt, who was visiting me at the time, chipped in on the cost of my materials because what's family for if not to support your crackpot ideas and then slip out of town before the results are in.
I had a plan. I was going to make my first dress, and I was going to wear it New Years Eve! I was certain it would take no longer than a few hours the Saturday before.
I remember the weekend I laid all the materials out in my living room. I carefully cutting out the pattern pieces out of the thin tissue paper. I pinned pieces to some plain white practice fabric. After I cut all the pattern pieces, I pinned them all together and very carefully slipped on my "practice dress".
It was too tight. Way too tight. The little pins were three inches from even reaching. I had failed to take my own measurements before I started cutting.
That's when I learned a very important lesson. Just because you wear a certain size at the store, doesn't mean you actually are that size in sewing patterns. Now, I might know how to handle that situation. Anything was better than what I actually did do, which was sit in my living room and cry. I never even sewed a stitch.
Now I know better. I have bought several sewing books. I have learned to measure twice and cut once, and I have gained an amazing amount of respect for the people who put together something so many people take for granted - our clothing.
I don't really sew dresses. I have made several quilts, pillows, placemats and other small projects that can get done in a weekend, but clothing construction takes an amount of patience that I have yet to develop. But I am getting closer with every stitch.

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