Friday, August 19, 2011

Relearning -- sewing for myself

After 25 years in which the only sewing for humans was mending, I am seriously sewing-impaired. I have distant memories of being able to cut a patterns and sew the item within hours. 

In the early days of my return to sewing for people, I created neatly sewn items for small, young relatives. This didn't help me adjust to my larger size. Then, threads were trimmed and facings were neatly in place. Now I sew with basting stitches and slash and whack with abandon, more or less creating my garment as I go along. The result is clothing that fits, but don't look at the seams. And don't look in my trashcan, because there are far too many broken needles scattered among the shreds of thread, tissue paper and fabric. Oh, don't look too closely that the clothing either, because threads dangle and there may be a pin somewhere.

I'm averaging 1.2 needles per zipper. If I remember to change the needle position in time, then I hit the metal glide stops. It is possible that with care and attention to detail, I will move beyond my current role of Doom to Sewing  Needles. It is possible that if I follow the instructions in the zipper package enough, they will begin to make sense. It is also possible that I will go back to hand basting every zipper the way I used to when I was 12.

I should not complain. If you don't ride bicycles for 25 years, it takes awhile to get your balance. I can't expect to sew nicely for myself after 25 years of sewing only for dolls. Dolls are one fifth my height, and made of plastic. They don't complain about fit. They have yet to demand that I use  invisible zippers. We won't even talk about comparative weight.

My expectations are out of whack. I want my home sewn creations to fit better than store bought.  I've achieved that. But I also want them to be free of dangling threads, and I want all the thread snarls to be invisible. This is not going to happen, because often I get entranced by a fabric and want to use it regardless. My gauze shorts have more seams than they ought to, and each seam is double sewn and zigzagged.  My Eddie Bauer wrap skirt became shorts, and yes, there are pieces left over, but Oh, it was close. I had to piece the rear. Well, I won't see the rear when I'm wearing the shorts, and they do feel good.

I know I ought to fold and pin and use the machine hemstitch on hems for my shorts. Instead I  folded and topstitched. Twice.

I wanted a waistband that would accommodate  normal expansion when I sit. It does. It stands out around me when I stand, though, and must be hidden under shirts and  blouses. The jury is not in on whether a comfortable waistband that looks like hell is better than a waistband that looks good as it strangles one.

My pockets are patch pockets that I don't even cut out until the side seams work properly. Someday this will bother me.

What bothers me at the moment is that it took a revolution for me to get back to sewing for myself, as if sewing for myself were somehow selfish. In fact, it is necessary. The feeling of accomplishment that comes from finally getting something to fit is good for my soul. I may be a better human being because I have a visible result. I am a happier one, now that I no longer have to settle for the least offensive commercially manufactured clothing.