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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Auditioning patterns

I have a thought for you - a thought based on a few things I have done right and a whole lot I haven't.

Let me explain.

I have made another version of the London jacket and I just love it. So much so I wonder where this pattern has been all my life, mixed with regret for all the time and trouble I took to find something like this.

I would show you a picture now but resident photographer is putting some corner bead around the kitchen window and it is against policy to interrupt a husband when they are doing something you have been wanting them to do for nearly a year.

And might have mentioned once or twice.

And he could be down in my sewing room creating utility items couldn't he?

Well I have a weakness for patterns. 

I buy too many of them, usually late at night when that mouse is so damn easy to click. The thing of course is that with random fabric purchases you can always use it for something else (and usually each piece of fabric I have has been mentally sewn into about 45 different ideas before I actually get to it - and invariably what I end up making is not what I had thought I would use it for when I bought it).

But with a pattern you are sort of stuck.

Stuck with that dumb idea you had one night after seeing a sharper-thinner-younger person dressed up in it on some blog. Stuck with it because it was this season's shiny object and it turned your head so you forgot you lived in a ranch house in the suburbs and drove a van and read library books in the bath while you drank Ovaltine, but for a brief moment thought you lived in Manhattan or London or Paris and wanted to wear really high heels and ate in boutique restaurants and had Martinis with friends who not only owned but actually wore long over the elbow leather gloves and coats without closures or collars to keep their necks warm.

Patterns that you bought when it was too late at night and you sort of thought maybe you should be dressing like that and if you did you would become that person with that life, forgetting that you really like library books in the bath and that the love of your life doesn't wear cashmere coats, and in fact wears Tennessee Vols T shirts and plaid pajama pants after 10 at night, although he will get up and let the dog out if you pretend you are asleep.

If you forget all of that you can collect quite a lot of patterns that you never sew and they just stalk you and make you feel guilty.

It is as if they are auditing you and you have failed the test.


If you look at your pattern collection from a TNT point of view and you are the decider and decide say that you need a jacket or a blouse that you can make up a hundred ways because you trust it and it trusts you, well then you can look at all the patterns that swirl by and just decide which one are worth auditioning for you.

Recognizing that once you have the role figured out you might have to deal with a few walk ins from the street to find the stars but that at last you are in charge. And it's your show.


Relynn said...

Great post! I really need to look at my patterns with that TNT perspective. I have made a lot of late night binge purchases, for sure.

Janine said...

Exactly so . I see such alot of lovely clothes sewn on blogs but I do wonder wear people where all those silk, satin,lace whatever fancy dresses to especially when they have sewn another 20 or 30 such spectacular similar cocktail dresses etc in the past . I have to bring myself back to reality that that is not my lifestyle .

Kay said...

"Stuck with it because it was this season's shiny object and it turned your head..." and "it was too late at night and you sort of thought maybe you should be ... like that and if you did you would become that person with that life..." Seems like I had the same experience with men, many years past. Glad that's over.

But what I find interesting is the patterns that choose me, and end up being my TNTs quite to my surprise. Vogue 8786 picked me this summer. I immediately saw it color-blocked, and haven't made it in a single fabric yet, but I find myself turning to it for knock-about linen dresses, a Kate Spade knock-off, and even a very dressy satin and lace dress for a wedding. For all but the first dress, I looked at other patterns first. But this pattern just works for me. I've gradually added more shaping to the center panel with each iteration. I recently made it in ponte, a Fall colored print for the yoke and center panels, and solid espresso for the side panels. It made good use of a 1 yard remnant and a couple yards of 16" wide scraps. Next I'm going to try it with sleeves for winter.

Other patterns I thought would be good basics don't seem to work as I thought they would, even if I liked them when first made. I have a couple of tee shirt patterns like that.

So, I guess I'll continue to buy patterns that catch my eye in a weak moment (see, I'm really glad I'm talking about patterns and not men now), and let the right ones pick me once they're in my sewing room.

LinB said...

Amassing paper patterns is cheaper than collecting diamonds, genuine antiques, or (usually) cookbooks. That's how I justify my habit, anyway.

me said...

Oh, can I relate to your comments. About 3 weeks ago reality set in - that's what happens when you get into the 70's - and I realized that I really need to depattern. My goal is to have that completed by the 2nd of Dec. I'm taking a coat making class and the gal doing the class said I could donate/gift all of my patterns at class and she'd take the remainder and find good homes for them!!

Martha said...

I too am a collector of patterns. And if I find a guilty thought intruding on my day-dreams with patterns, I just use the tissue to wrap a present.