27 June 2013
We are one lesson away from the end of term at the "soft tailoring" class. One three hour lesson to put in an invisible zip and turn up the hem before I wear this frock to a wedding party. Take my word, it will be done and there will be pictorial evidence.
I cannot believe how long this project has taken, or more to the point the wretched neckline. I made a muslin so that I could adjust the pattern before I cut out the fabric. The back was adjusted (who knew I had a narrow back?). Measurements were checked to make sure that it would fit snugly and I would sew carefully so it would all be perfect. After all, I had plenty of time. Three hours weekly in a well equipped classroom, top notch Berninas, industrial overlockers, professional cutting tables, a steam presser fit to compete with a dragon, a knowledgeable teacher who could remember exactly what you were up to and what the pitfalls were, encouraging co-students. All was exactly as it should be.
But, but, but.... somehow, those little sweetheart curves weren't loving me, weren't quite prefect. Eventually they looked fine and I thought it was safe to put in the lining. This time the three pleats at the neckline weren't quite even, just a slight extra fullness on one side. It just wouldn't do. Do you know how irritating it is to adjust neckline pleats when the lining has been sewed in? You start unpicking; you put it down. You realise you need to pick out some more. You mark the spot where the tailor tacks should be. You tack. You undo. You re-tack. You sew awkwardly. You measure one side against the other. You realise one of the seams is half a centimetre too short. It needles you. You finally get it right. And you learn that next time round when one side doesn't look quite right, it really will not magically work once you have put the lining in.
My mum would scoff at all this. I still tense up at the thought of her commanding insistence and my tears when, up against the clock, she would adjust a wonky neckline with a pair of cold, heavy, not to say sharp, shears against my skin. Looking back I realise that the results, measured by eye, without a pattern, were amazing. Unfortunately, I have neither her intuition or experience when it comes to creating a confection of frills and pleats and embellishments from a flat piece of cloth. So I conscientiously examine layouts and instructions, carefully measure and mark, laboriously follow seam allowances, sit up in bed reading the Colette pattern book and Adele Margolis, lurk around sewing blogs.
It takes 9000 hours of practice to become a genius I hear. Three hours a week, 30 weeks a year. Only another century of classes then. And I still haven't finished the dress I started last term.