Practice make perfect, sometimes a perfect mess.
I’ve been stuck at home this week because of a COVID exposure. I’m feeling just fine, but until the results of the PCR test come in, I’m stuck here. I decided to use the time on a sewing project I’ve been working on. I took up sewing again a few weeks ago as something I’d like to pursue during retirement. Retirement is still two years away, but I’m practicing.
My best friend, Rhonda, is always telling me that I shouldn’t shop so much. She’s probably right, especially as I approach retirement. Anyway, that also seems like a good reason to pursue sewing again.
I haven’t sewed in more than 25 years but I figure my eyes won’t last forever and if I’m going to do it, I’d better get started now. My first project is a free-flowing blouse with a sharkbite hemline that I envision will make a lovely impression as I waltz across the floor at the next dinner dance.
I chose a silky paisley print of navy, black and teal–colors I can coordinate with several other items in my wardrobe. I first planned to wear them with my black chiffon dance pants, imagining the graceful flow of the fabric as I whirl, dip, and twinkle in my husband’s arms. My favorite thing about ballroom dance is you get to play dress-up with sparkly clothes, glittering shoes, and plenty of shiny jewelry and no one thinks you’re eccentric for it!
Anyway, I cut the pattern out a few weeks ago, but have been procrastinating on it. I guess I expected it to be challenging. I can be wise like that sometimes.
So I had this time at home and there the project was still sitting on the dining room table where I left it. I decided to stop procrastinating and chalk up problems and mistakes I might have with the project to education. I believe in education!
So I unpinned the fabric from the pattern, ran it up the machine, doing my very best to stitch straight, finishing every seam, and taking every small step to produce a fine garment.
Then I got to the sleeves.
Something was wrong. Did they put the wrong size pattern in the envelope? Had I cut on the wrong size line printed on the pattern? Had I inadvertently placed the sleeve pattern in a fold on the fabric?
I checked all these details but could find no problems. I ended up re-cutting the sleeves again, this time a little bigger than the original sleeves.
But again, it didn’t fit.
I checked Youtube videos for pointers. More mess and no luck. Sewing seemed a lot easier when I was a size five. Around 7:30 that evening I decided to call it a day and put the mess away for another time.
The next day I decided to focus my attention elsewhere. Sometimes taking a day off from a problem helps you find the solution to it.
So I decided instead of sewing I was going to clean only one shelf in the pantry, a more daunting task than it sounds. For one thing, one shelf in our pantry seems to run right into the one below it. With three adults in the house who love their snacks, it’s a wonder I can even see the shelves. But I figured cleaning that one shelf would surely bring me more success than the blouse that mocked me from the sewing table.
And it did.
Bolstered by my success in the pantry, the next day I decided to tackle that blouse again. While taking time off from the project, I had come up with a solution I thought would work.
I cut the sleeves out again, for the third time. This time I used a sleeve from a different pattern and I made it about six sizes larger than the original pattern. I accept that maybe my arms have grown heftier in recent years. I can make adjustments for that.
And I did. I had just enough extra fabric to cut that large set of sleeves. I followed the pattern directions exactly, basting a line in the seam allowance of each sleeve so I could ease the sleeve into the armscye–the armhole, for those of you who don’t watch youtube videos on sewing.
When I pinned the sleeves onto the blouse, it really seemed like it was going to work out. Things seemed to be fitting. Finally! I was getting very excited. I pinned the sleeves in place and carefully basted them onto the body of the garment. Then I slipped it over my head and looked at myself in the mirror.
It didn’t exactly look like the graceful, elegant garment I had envisioned in my waltzing fantasy.
Somehow it looked more like a very fashionable straitjacket. My shoulders appeared to have been pushed upward toward my ears and I couldn’t quite move my arms up high enough to form a proper dance frame. I turned to see what the sides and back looked like. The straitjacket theme was going on back there as well. The back of the garment puckered up between my shoulders and the full body of the blouse looked like a tent. I appeared to strike more of a hulking figure than the thing of grace I’d imagined.
I know I would have started crying if I hadn’t given in to laughter first. What a vision I made! Two days of work, all that beautiful fabric, and it wasn’t fit to wear! Tears of laughter blurred my vision as I ripped the stitches from those blasted sleeves. What an expensive, time consuming mess!
I’m not sure what to do now. The fabric is so beautiful, I hate to throw it out. But I see no way to salvage it. I would like to say it was a good learning experience, but the only thing I learned is that it didn’t work. I have no idea why the garment didn’t fit me in the sleeves or shoulders. But I guess I can dig around and find out eventually. Either that or give up on sewing. There’s still drawing and writing after all.
But no. I can figure it out. I have an entire planet of knowledge at my fingertips. If there is one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s that failure is inevitable when you’re trying to learn something new, or in this case trying to relearn a former skill.
One thing is for sure: I need to go shopping for a new blouse to wear with my chiffon dance pants for the dinner dance next month!