The House of Tatterdemalion


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On why I'm not sewing. . .

January 28th, 2007 by tatterdemalion

I have mentioned, in passing, my first attempt at sewing. I bought cheap cotton fabric, whose pattern I loved. I got a simply designed dress pattern. I took my measurements. I prepared to cut out my fabric–and I got cold feet. Suppose I had picked the wrong size? So I started to make a muslin. Size? What did size have to do with anything? It was simply the wrong shape. It was too loose and too tight at the same time. It pulled and twisted. I could not waste my wonderful fabric on that monstrosity.

I tried fitting advice from other people who sewed, and I tried fitting books. The more I looked into it, the more confused I became. Nothing made sense, and by this point it was a matter of principle. I knew if I sewed this pattern, it wouldn’t fit. Therefore, on principle, I oughtn’t sew it. You don’t just go around doing things wrong, deliberately. It’s okay if you make mistakes by accident, or if you learn as you go along. But if you know something is wrong, how can you just close your eyes and look the other way?

So I took up pattern drafting. I found it to be much easier to understand drafting to your own measurements than to take some randomly-generated measurement based pattern and change as many things as necessary to make it behave like it ought. I managed to complete the the sloper, and even went on to draft the dress pattern.

And then I cut out the muslin of it, and tweaked it a little. And then I cut out the muslin underlining for the dress. And then basted it together. By hand. And checked the fit again. (Hm, oddly, it still fit.) At this point, it began to get quite obvious that I was stalling. All I had to do was rip the seams of the underlining, lay it out on my precious cheap-cotton-with-a-nice-print, cut it out, and sew it together. Easy, easy, easy.

So why, why, why has it been weeks since I got to that point? Why am I stalling, what holds me back? The problem is, this has become much more than a dress. It is now a Dress. More than that, really. This is like my graduate thesis, or something. It shows that I’ve learned. And not only am I the student, I’m also the teacher, so I have twice the stress of proving I did a good job. For some reason, I’m determined to prove–whether to myself, or the world at large, it doesn’t really matter–that I did learn, and learn brilliantly. This is the culmination of years of work, and I can’t screw it up. I’m not worried about the fabric. And I’m not really worried about having all my clothes just so. Okay, so maybe I am. But that’s not what’s at stake here, not this time.

The problem is that it reflects so much work and thought and study, that I can’t bear to mess it up. It’s not the dress–it’s putting to shame so much effort. If I put that much of myself into something and it winds up disaster, it’s reflects me, and my inability to learn or to teach. I have to get it right! And as long as I don’t finish it, I still might. The horrible moment of truth is when I do finish it, and put it on.

In other words, pride.

But, not only am I rather proud, I’m also a pretty stubborn. And the stubborn part of me is getting pretty disgusted with the proud part of me.

So what if wasn’t perfect? I still learned a lot. So what if I decide I’d rather it looked different? I can make another. So what if I accidentally cut through two layers at once, and ruin all my fabric? There’s more fabric out there, and I’d like to have a good deal of it. Just sew, already, sew!


This week looks like it might be kind of busy.

Maybe I’ll do it next week.


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