There’s been a terrible conundrum in my world lately. Basically, here it is: I don’t live in a nudist colony, therefore I need clothes. This seems like a simple problem to solve. Go clothes shopping, right? Not so simple.
See, unless it’s for books or art supplies or yummy food, I hate shopping, especially clothes shopping. For one thing, I detest the styles that are out there lately (which could be another entire blog post). I don’t want to dress like a dowdy old lady and I’m well beyond the squeeze-everything-in-regardless-of-what-spills-over junior fashions.
Secondly, the clothes within my limited budget are complete crap in regards to quality, while the high-quality clothes are stratosphere level beyond my budget’s reach. I mean I’d be willing to pay the price if I REALLY loved an item, but nothing on the racks these days is inspiring that level of devotion.
Finally, it’s depressing. Yes, I take full responsibility for the American-esque size of my thighs and belly (perhaps less food shopping would help with that). But while I am fat, I’m not obese and clothes should fit me. Wrong. Apparently if you have hips the size of mine, you’re supposed to be eight feet tall. If you have an average-sized bosom (I love that word), you’re meant to have a waistline about as big around as a teacup.
Needless to say, the numerous shopping trips I’ve taken lately have left me empty-handed and seriously wondering if the nudist lifestyle might indeed be for me.
After about five seconds of thought I realized I can’t stand being naked in front of other people (plus, can you imagine the amount of sunscreen I would go through?).
Instead I said, “Screw it! Why not just try to make my own clothes!?” I could fit things to my weird shape, I could choose the styles I wanted, I could pick the quality and color of fabric that suited me. What an idea!!!
Oh wait, I can’t sew.
The last time I sewed anything was in junior high when I was maybe twelve years old and had to make a pillow in home-economics. Beyond sewing a straight line, I have no sewing knowledge. But why let a little thing like ignorance stop me!?
I wandered over to the fabric store (only a ten minute walk away, which could be dangerous) and found a few patterns in some styles I liked and was especially pleased to see a couple proclaimed “Learn to Sew” and another said “Easy” on the package. Just what I needed! I picked up some bargain basement fabric to practice with and I was all set to become the next Coco Chanel. Well, okay, I was at least set to not be the newest member of the local naturist club.
I remembered my mom making a few dresses when I was a kid so had a vague notion of cutting out patterns and fabric. I thought I’d start with the wrap-around skirt since it seemed pretty straightforward…one long rectangle of fabric, right? Wait, why are there so many pattern pieces for a simple rectangle?
I took my measurements (ugh, no wonder nothing fits me), picked my length and size, and set about to reading instructions, cutting, reading, pinning, reading, stitching, reading, reading again, scratching my head in confusion, saying “Screw it I’ll make it fit,” and stitching some more.
I have to say the basic form of the skirt came together well and I didn’t once stitch my finger with the sewing machine, so I figured I was off to a good start.
Then came the waist band. I don’t know whether to blame my lack of sewing skills or the pattern design, but the waist band kept flaring out at the top like a tulip. I reworked it (kind of like when you force a puzzle piece to fit) and eventually it came out a bit better. Let’s just say this piece isn’t going to be seen on the runways of Paris, but for a first try I don’t think it came out too shabby.
My next sewing attempt is a shirt, which is already requiring some alteration skills (to fit my god awful fat-laden hips), but I’m enjoying learning something new.
I’m also very happy to not have to stock up on sunscreen and move to some strange village on the outskirts of town. Wait, is “outskirts” a pun in the nudist world? I hope I never have to find out.
Oh and kudos to Helen Crawford (of Beastie fame) who noticed the Singer Sewing Book I picked up at last weekend’s book sale. With that tome and the vintage sewing kit I found at a yard sale several years ago, I’m sure to become a master seamstress in no time!
Got any sewing tips for me? Learn anything new lately? I’d love to hear from you!
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Tammie Painter is the author of The Trials of Hercules and an artist who dedicates herself to the tedium of creating Images with colored pencil. Looking for a Father’s Day gift? Be sure to check out this month’s Showcase Items at her Etsy shop.