I said something about dresses didn't I?
Four dresses have been made. Four big-girl dresses, as the little girl dresses were already spoken for. But these dresses proved to be the perfect project for me. Three are size 10, one is size 8. Really, they are all the same, only the fabric is different, and one does not have a contrast band at the bottom, but never mind that. It was the first dress, and I messed it up and then, after panicking, and buying fabric for two more dresses (just in case, you know) I figured out how to fix it. There is fabric for one more dress cut out. It is slightly different, but still using the same pattern, and I will finish it this week.
When I started I was nervous. It had been so long since I sewed any clothing. No matter that sewing girls dresses is easier than either Armani-style suits or evening dresses, I was still terrified. Now I wonder why. After I messed up that first dress, I had to go work in the garden and clean out a closet and just do other things, until suddenly, in the middle of the night I knew what to do. Then everything was ok. I went back upstairs and sewed dresses. I didn't follow the directions because I knew what I was doing, as if some deep seated muscle-memory took over, as if some long dormant part of myself had reawakened. I lined the dresses because I knew how to line a dress, because I figured they would be sturdier and would last longer, because I think facings are fiddly and hate them (unless I am attaching them to linings). Whew!
The pattern called for buttons and thread loops, or fabric loops, or something. I opted for little tabs with snaps. I love snaps, although initially I thought I would do buttons and loops. Truthfully, I didn't think it out at all. I just figured something would come to me, and it did. Not a recommended course of action, but it worked this time.
I can't really explain how settled I feel, just making a few simple dresses. I feel at home, like I've come home after a long absence, and I suppose in a sense I have. I've been building up to it, but not actually opening the door, just kind of peering through the crack. The funny thing is that it is easier than I thought it would be. I remembered the years of angst, where I felt that I was doing everything except what I wanted to be doing. I can understand that it wasn't a good place, and the problem was mostly in me, in denial, in frustration, and the way denial and frustration aligned to build an impenetrable wall, a wall ringed by a moat of expectation. I couldn't sew, and I was so cautious, and almost afraid when I did because I was afraid I had lost myself, had lost part of myself, and in fact I had. I think we all risk doing this at times, we all make decisions, and sometimes they don't work out, but we are so invested in our view of ourselves based on those decisions, our view of our place in the world and what we have made it, that we can't even see that we've wandered. We convince ourselves that our former dreams were but illusions and we are different now. But it isn't true. We may have wandered, we may need to wander, but we can still come home.
I sewed. I am sewing. Well, not right now, but regularly. And oddly, even the non-sewing things are falling in place. I am more certain about what is important to me, at least right now, and I am happier in the garden, happier in the kitchen, happier in my social interactions, just happier. Interesting how that happens.
And the odd thing is, the thing that made me happiest, was not sewing dresses, although sewing dresses opened the door. The thing that made it all connect in my head and in my heart was sewing sweatpants, sewing sweatpants for small boys. I didn't expect sweatpants to be difficult, just routinely boring assembly-line sewing. And so it could be. But I reveled in it. Perhaps it was the softness of the mid-weight cotton fleece, perhaps it was the lovely navy color (I have some left over, perhaps a garment for me come fall, or two garments for some smaller person). Perhaps it was just the simplicity of it that cut through to my core self. I love making things, making useful things, that someone will use, just as I love cooking food that will nourish body and soul. Sewing sweatpants make me more myself, odd as that may sound. But I think there is more to it than just that. It is the interaction of the fabric and the maker and the intended recipient. It is the fact that all things exist for a reason, and should not be taken for granted. Fabric is meant to be something, someone is meant to make it, and the two, material and maker, combine. That is how it should be. It is not, perhaps, how it all too often is in this world in which I live, but never mind that. A flat, two-dimensional thing, fabric, cut and sewn to make a three-dimensional garment, sewn with intent and respect, and the thought of a small boy, perhaps a series of boys, running and jumping, until that fabric can run and jump no more. In that there is joy.