I’ve been sewing like a machine this summer, partly because trying on garments in front of those three-way fun-house mirrors in store dressing rooms makes me want to weep or scream, but mainly because I wanted new stuff.
I used to be able to always find something I liked at Winners, but for the last few years, the quality has cratered and the selections are boring – grey, black, dull blue and in patterns that no one I know would ever wear.
It struck me as I was doing the seasonal clothing switch in the spare room closet that I’ve always had a huge stash of fabrics bought (and folded into plastic bins) over the years. Eureka – why not make those up? In university, if I was going to a party on Saturday, I was usually whipping up a new frock on Thursday or Friday. I often smile when I think of the little old lady who taught our class in 4-H Club how to stitch aprons and dish towels. My mother sewed our clothes. When we were starting out and poor, I sewed all of my children’s clothing.
I’ve taken pattern drafting recently ( the amazing instructor Maria says, ‘clothes have to fit the body, not the body fit the clothes’). So I know what I’m doing. Now I have a dozen dresses that fit my unique body, shorts and shirts in colours and patterns I love. And it’s terrific. Now I can shop from my own closet. It helps that my good friend, Sandra, is also a sewist.
Marie Kondo, the Queen of Tidying Up, suggests that we cruise our possessions regularly to discard those we don’t like or that don’t make us feel happy. I’ve been doing that bit by bit, donating to charities that help women get back into the workforce. But it’s hard to throw some items away because they still have some sort of emotional resonance or memory pull. It’s been 20 years since my mother passed away, and I have finally gotten rid of almost all of the things I’ll never use – embroidered handkerchiefs, lace gloves, cards of safety pins and bias binding in colours I’ll never use.
She also has a neat way to fold clothes.