Whether it is age, or the cognitive failings that come with multiple sclerosis, or the 'executive functioning' challenges of running a small fabric / quilt shop ... it little matters WHY learning is more difficult for me in this century ... what matters is HOW to move beyond the obstacles I find along the way.
For many years, I taught my elementary and middle school students to overcome their learning challenges by being patient with themselves, and daring to ask for patience from others. I was able to show them the benefit of hearing themselves repeat direction, or even re-phrase the directions in their own terminology, as long as it was still accurate. And I celebrated with them whenever they had that "Aha!" moment.
I learned to sew when I was nineteen; my then mother-in-law-to-be taught me to use her Brother zig zag machine. Her son and I were married, and had a baby girl a year later. I sewed most of her childhood clothes and many of mine as well. When she went to school, I went to teach, and the sewing time diminished,
I became a quilter when she was quite young, and continued with that work through my teaching years. I'm retired now, and have a small fabric/quilt shop. And only recently, I've had the desire to begin to sew clothing again.
And so I'll write here the Saga of Terry's Shorts ... I've been sending these updates via email to my stitching friends, and they suggested I share more widely.
Part 1: Simplicity and Other Old Friends
Somewhere up in the attic I must have a box or two full of sewing patterns ... McCalls, Simplicity, and maybe even a few Vogue ... children's sizes and my sizes, along with men's ties and shirts...
I went to the online Simplicity.com last week rather than tackling the attic heat and obstacles ... and I was astonished at how many patterns are now offered as 'downloads' to be printed out on home printers ... yuck! I would have to buy tissue paper for the printer, and heaven only knows what that might do to our printer's innards...
I wanted to make some simple shorts and Capri-length pants. I was amazed at the helter-skelter arrangement of patterns at that site ... Halloween costumes mixed in with retro-forties-dresses, children and adults mixed together, men with women (not that there is anything wrong with that, said Seinfeld...) And the price of the patterns - well, look at the price of real estate. It is all relative, isn't it?
I did find one REAL, already printed on pattern tissue, pattern for shorts. Of course, it says "below waist" fit, but I will adjust that. I don't really have a waist measurement ... I've become the age appropriate tree-trunk, but all the more reason to at least try to establish where my waist once was...
The pattern I chose is marked "NEW LOOK" from Project Runway ... and was on sale for less than $4.00 ... plus, of course, an equal amount for shipping. I know I ought to have gone to JoAnn's, but traveling there and sitting in their plastic chairs and paging through books and books and books ... the postage was worth it.
My pair of shorts will be longer than the pattern calls for ... and somewhat higher at the top edge... a draw string waist rather than an elastic one, so I can let it out with the whims of the weather and humidity and fluid retention ... and they will be made of quilt quality 100% cotton fabric, perhaps a floral print ...
Now if i can just remember to use a 5/8" seam...
I am re-learning clothing construction. I opened the Simplicity envelope, unfolded the pattern pieces, put those of short-shorts back into the envelope, and proceeded to trim the extra paper off the edges and separate the pieces. My cutting table in the shop was a perfect height and size ... though I did have to turn the AC to low so the papers would stay on the table. I chose a dark blue small floral inexpensive cotton bolt. And I began:
It's probably not a coincidence that I stopped at step thirteen ... it's usually my lucky number... I'm obstinate that way.
Laura will be so happy to hear I'm working with her Featherweight.
I distinctly remember making matching shorts and midi-blouses for Trish and me in an evening's time. Granted, she was only two years old and her outfits took barely a yard of fabric and an hour's time (I really could make her something to wear faster than I could wash her clothes and get them dried outdoors... and I knew what size I was then, too, and life was somehow simpler all around.
But here's what I got done today:
Continuing where I left off on day 2, I did the stay stitching across the top edge of the fronts and backs, it always seems a waste of thread to do that, but I'm following the directions like a re-born beginner.
If you recall, I'd finished through step eight of the pattern; the front and back were sewn together at the right side, with the center seam closed as well.
The puzzle had then become ... where are the directions for the elastic or drawstring? All I had left were cut pieces for the yoke's facing and interfacing...
But so am I. Imperfect, I mean. For I also learned, long ago in the seventies while sewing outfits for Trish and myself (and with those matching accessories for Rick,) that one must not only read the full pattern before beginning a project ... one must read the full back of the envelope before leaving the fabric store ... I turned to the back of the envelope, and read down, down, down to the bottom ... after the fabric measurements for style A, and those for style B ... and the measurements for the lightweight interfacing (for the waistband facing) and there, at the very bottom, I found the words: " 7 inch zipper."
Back to the two sheets of instructions ... I must have missed it! I did not miss it - there is, truly, no mention of a zipper ANYWHERE in the pattern. Not in style A's instruction. Not in style B's instruction. Apparently, the world has progressed beyond my re-born beginning life cycle stage. Apparently, when it comes to a zipper,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__n5Bgxx-68 (video of “You’re on your own.”)
Fortunately, I have nylon zippers in the shop that can be cut to any length. And I did find a navy blue one, to match the fabric. Sheer luck!
I'll work on installing that later. Right after I find a You-Tube video to walk me through the once-so-familiar process. It's a new century, and video instructions are far superior to the written word.
And I'll let you know how it goes.
Truly, how hard could it be to get pattern makers like Simplicity and Vogue begin designing and modeling clothing patterns for the tree trunk generation?
Yes, we're probably not their intended audience. We're on fixed incomes, quite out of line with the inflationary prices of patterns and fabrics,.
We have, in our "one closet holds all sizes and seasons" lifestyle, plenty of clothes from decades past that we cycle in and out of as our body mass changes at will. And the patterns would need to be in large print for our fading eyesight which, of course, would mean additional tissue paper expense, however steep that might be now-a-days.
So I say, let's do it ourselves! We can call ourselves the TREE TRUNK DESIGNER LINE OF SEASONAL PATTERNS ... OR ... THE ARBORISTAS~FASHIONISTAS~
All it would take is someone willing to become (anonymously, of course) a chalk-line drawing on a 60" x 60" piece of black felt, to begin. Say, some of a 42"-42"-42" moderate proportion.
We could then lay some lightweight (of course, doesn't that sound inviting and appropriate) interfacing over the black felt and begin adding multi-colored lines ... perhaps at one inch intervals, labeling the lines to match the sizes ... by tree names rather than the arbitrary numbers currently used by clothiers today. After all, if today's size 0 is actually fifty years ago's size 6, which was eighty year's ago size 10, what is the point of those numbers?