I tried to make a shirt on the weekend, but all I have to show for it now, Monday morning, is mess.
I bought the sewing pattern the other day – in fact, two for the price of one. (see note)
Previously, months ago, I’d tried to make my own pattern from scratch but had only managed to make a body-form thing out of cardboard (a homemade dressmaker’s model). By the end of that I was so sick of the whole project I gave it up without actually getting any clothes made.
And the problem is, I have only one summer shirt to wear when I go out. (There’s a second one if necessary, but it’s awful.) This hasn’t been a problem because I almost never do go out – only about every two months to the supermarket – but now that’s all going to change. When I move off the farm in December I’ll be out there in public permanently. (The horror of this hasn’t sunk in yet, but snatches of it are scaring me severely now and again.) And I suppose by “in public” I really just mean “in the world of people” – I hadn’t realised that till now. I’ve been living in public here on the farm too, but it’s the world of animals and birds, and they don’t care about clothes. Probably.
Here on the farm I wear King Gee men’s workwear every day, and I’d go on wearing it forever if I could. It’s cotton, it’s comfortable, it’s cool, and it’s roomy. I buy big sizes and make the trousers fit at the waist by tying a ribbon through the back belt-ties. The shirts have big pockets so I can carry a phone and camera and whatever else I want. I love these clothes, but they’re not the thing to wear in the world of people, where there are norms or rules about what you wear, and the only people who wear workwear are manual workers.
Maybe I should become a manual worker just so I can wear the clothes. Actually, I don’t know what sort of worker I should become, or more to the point, what sort of employer could possibly use my help: an unskilled and inexperienced 49-year-old woman who looks 70, who doesn’t want to talk to anybody, can’t dress to save her life, and always considers the worst-case-scenario first. I mean, they’ll be lining up to hire me, right?
Two weeks ago when I was ironing my summer shirt to go to Murwillumbah, the shirt finally tore; the fabric was so old it had worn through. I stuck it back together with duct tape and wore it anyway. The tape was on the inside, but it’s possible that if anybody looked at me there was an area of silver light shining back at them, reflecting from the tape inside the front of my shirt, not far from my heart… which is a pretty sweet idea, really. I hope it actually happened :)
I hadn’t magically aquired another shirt by the time I needed to go to Ballina last week, so I had to repeat the duct-tape trick again. (In the days before that for the trip to Evans Head it had been cool enough to wear my winter shirt… which has had a patch on it for years after I accidentally ripped the hem by catching it on the gate at my grandmother’s house. And it now occurs to me she had moved out of that house roughly ten years ago, so it looks like I’ve been wearing that winter shirt for quite a while too.)
Anyway, clearly I need a new shirt or two… And I hate shopping for clothes, more than just about anything, so I need to sew them. So, I bought a pattern. I couldn’t find any fabric I liked, which is the second problem, but that won’t matter till the pattern is sorted. At the moment I’m using fabric from an old bed sheet.
I can sew, basically, and I have a sewing machine, so it should have been a pretty simple matter of cutting out the pattern, pinning it to the fabric, cutting out the pieces and sewing them up. But the pattern sizes don’t fit my body; I start off small at the top and get bigger on the way down, but the patterns don’t. After some internet searching I can see it’s pretty normal for a human to be a non-standard shape (it’s the patterns that are standardised and thus freakish), but that doesn’t help. I still have to make the pattern fit. One bit needs adjusting, which then affects another bit, which then needs adjusting itself and consequently affects a third bit, or the first bit again, or… And on and on.
In short, I spent the whole weekend pinning and cutting and sewing and fitting and despairing about a stupid shirt, and fearful of my future. And there’s still no shirt. If I give up now there’ll continue to be no shirt, and I need a shirt, so I can’t give up.
But meanwhile, as I’m trying to make the damn shirt, I’m getting nothing else done, and there’s a lot to do. And this week I have set myself the task of drawing up a shortlist of places to move to – a maximum of three – and to find out what people do there and what it’s like to live there and to go to each of those places. This week. And I don’t like any of the candidates. None of them.
One thing at a time, though. First, a shirt. I need a shirt. This pattern has got to work.
– Note 1: The funny part about the shirt patterns is that when I got home I realised they’re almost exactly the same – different brands, but a similar style of shirt, both with princess seams. I should have chosen a different style, or at least one with different darts, to test the best means of construction and fit. And I would have, if I’d been thinking straight. The problem was that I didn’t know there was a two-for-one offer until I went to pay for the first. The lady on the counter asked if I wanted to go back and choose a second one for free, and of course I did. Then I had to go through all the pattern books again – there were about eight books showing patterns from different companies, and all had to be shared with other customers who drifted in and out, so it wasn’t possible to bookmark the patterns and go back to them later. Eventually I found a second pattern, but then at the counter they didn’t have it in my size. Then I had to go back to the pattern books again, for the third time. And by then I’d seen all the shirt patterns several times and was thoroughly sick of looking at them, and was falling into despair over and over, thinking along the lines of “THIS IS NEVER GOING TO WORK!” Just to get out of the shop I chose the first suitable shirt that presented itself, and then when I got home and saw them together, it turned out they were almost the same. Oh well. Dammit, hey?
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– Note 2: I’ve just learned how to do page jumps, and even that they’re called “page jumps” (which is when you can provide a link to a specific part of the page so the reader doesn’t need to scroll up and down). Instructions are here: Splitting Content >> Page Jumps.
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