Saturday, May 31, 2014

In Which the Writer Muses on Clothing

Sometimes I think I see clothing differently from the way some others do.  I don't know why, really.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that I grew up poor.  Shopping at second-hand stores, I learned that I wasn't always going to find exactly what I wanted, and some adaptation would be required.  For instance, I once found a lovely blouse, but the sleeves were slightly too short and the cuffs were too big.  It fit everywhere else, but the sleeves were an awkward length.  So, I unpicked the cuffs, cut off a couple of inches of the sleeve and sewed the cuff back on.  Voilà!  Three-quarter-sleeved blouse!

Now, I know people who never think about this.  If they try on a blouse in a department store and it is just slightly small in the chest, they will go to the next size larger, even if the larger one is too big in the shoulders.  For me, it's a lot easier to look at the seams and see if there is any extra to let out.  Letting out a seam is easy.  I just run a line of stitching at the base of the seam finishing and unpick the original seam.  Easy peasy.

I just bought a new pair of fat pants, and they were (wonder of wonders) too big.  They had elastic in the back, stitched firmly enough to survive Armageddon.  I cut the waistband entirely off, took in the side seams a couple of inches, folded the top down to make a waistband and ran elastic through the whole thing, instead of just in the back.

I kind of feel badly for people who don't have the ability to do these things, but I know that there are only so many hours in a day, and most people really don't have the time to sew...or learn to sew.

For me, it was self-defense.  My mom sewed, and made me the most god-awful clothes.  She never did figure out how to adapt a pattern, so nothing ever fit.  Nothing she made for me ever fit.  Too big in the waist, too big in the hips, too big in the shoulders, too big everywhere.  I was skinny as a rail.  Once, in high school, I made myself a shift out of a single yard of fabric.  I got many compliments on that thing, and that encouraged me to make more of my own clothes.  The blouse I made in that ill-fated Home-Ec class was the start.  By the time I was a senior, I had made three dresses (besides the shift), a jumper, a gored skirt, a "granny" dress and the formal for my Graduation Dance.  I had also learned how to take things in and hem them up.  I was much better dressed in my senior year in high school than I was before that, and I had much more confidence.  I could do things like go to the thrift shop and adapt the blouse that went so well with my home-made jumper.  I was wearing that outfit in this picture (fifth from the left in the back row):

...And here's the dress I made for the Graduation Dance.

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