I bought a blouse pattern recently from Hot Patterns. I’d heard great things about their patterns, and decided that I would try the Classix Nouveau Peasant Blouse. It looked like a simple, straightforward kind of blouse. Most importantly, it looked like one that I could get on and off easily without help.
Now sewing may seem like an odd choice for someone who is disabled enough that I choose clothing for its easy on/off abilities. The reality is that I have lost almost everything that I dearly love in terms of hobbies due to the same disability. Everything is now the abridged version, if I can do it at all. None of it can be done without someone helping me through some of the process. For an independent person, that’s nearly torture.
I waited over four years before even trying to sew. I was terrified it was going to be another thing that I could not do, and not trying meant I didn’t have to face another barrier that was not going to vanish. Finally though, I gathered up my nerve and tried.
I can sew, but I have some serious limits that mean that everything takes a lot more time than recommended, and is far slower than my previous abilities would have allowed me to complete things. A two hour project now typically takes at least two days. There is no such thing as quick and easy anymore.
I discovered that regular scissors were hopeless. Too much reaching, too much hand movement, and it resulted in too much pain and frustration. Special scissors, approved for arthritis patients, made things easier. Electric shears, which I had used before, require too much arm movement and work more quickly than I dare go with an arm that sometimes has its own agenda, unrelated to the rest of me. Greg is also willing to help me with anything I am trying to do. It’s likely much easier to help rather than deal with me during a total melt down.
I have a fantastic sewing machine that nearly sews things for you. It has little vibration and rarely misbehaves. So with that running, I can get to work. For 5-10 minutes, or about enough time to do one seam. Then, it’s break time. It’s aggravating to someone who likes to just finish something now, but I’ve had time to adjust. I only get mildly annoyed at this continual interruption that being me mean I have to have. The payoff of facing that mild annoyance is the ability to create something without excessive pain resulting. It gives me a sense of accomplishment that I can rarely have independently anymore.
So, without focusing on the restrictions that my disabilities have foisted upon me, I can now tell you about the pattern I am attempting to sew.
I’ve learned a lot. First of all, if you want to use Hot Patterns patterns, you had best have internet access or else enough experience that you really don’t need written directions. They have great tutorials on YouTube and they are also on their website, but the directions aren’t written for someone who prefers to see it written down in black and white. Okay, I’ll suffer through trying to watch a video and then translate it to what I’m doing on the table and sewing machine. I am not sure I like that though—it’s a pain to have to go back to the tutorial and then try to find the spot, say for the neck, and replay that portion. I also am one of those people that do not do well with being told how to do something, but rather I prefer to read how to do something. I was told long ago that it is a learning style, and I need to see it clearly rather than hear it. Until now, that had never been a problem with learning how to put a particular pattern together.
The other thing I learned about Hot Pattern is that I should watch the tutorial for a pattern before I buy it. The blouse I bought is put together differently than I am accustomed to, and it hasn’t been easy. That may not be their fault, but rather the old rut thing—doing something differently is probably good for me, but like many other people, I sometimes get into ruts of wanting to do it exactly the same. Nothing about this pattern has been the same.
Including the measurements.
The pattern is multi-sized, and I took my measurements (with help even) and then re-took my measurements, just to be sure. As I checked my size, I told myself it was high time to get a bit more serious about weight loss than I have been, as the size I was going to require was two sizes larger than my usual off-the-rack size. That’s not uncommon with patterns—they don’t use the same sizing as clothing manufacturers do. I think it’s part of a global conspiracy to further erode the confidence of women and ensure they remain ambiguous about their personal body image.
But body image aside, I laid out the pattern pieces, cut out the cloth, and proceeded to start putting this blouse together out of some cheap fabric I had bought out of a clearance bin. It’s not pretty fabric—it’s a rather bleah medium brown with small white dots. It certainly isn’t a slimming or fun print, but it didn’t require pattern matching or fussing a I was cutting it out. I felt like I was sewing a tent together. Not only was the construction method different than the patterns I’d sewn in the past, but it seemed huge.
I felt like I was literally making a tent.
Finally, I reached a point where I could try on the garment, though it was far from finished. Greg laughed.
It was quite obvious that I had been sewing a personal tent. The garment was big enough that Greg and I could both wear it. At the same time.
There is a reason Hot Patterns advocates making a “muslin” (test garment out of cheap fabric with a similar hand to the planned garment). Maybe it is because their sizing chart isn’t very accurate?
So, I was now faced with a choice. I could rip out the seams, cut the pattern pieces down two sizes, and resew it.
That’s a lot of work. I also can’t really see the thread I sewed with (dark brown) to make ripping it out very easy. Greg does a lot of stuff for me, but did I really want to ask him to rip out all of those seams? I thought about the problem for a bit. Then, I thought about the oversized “blouse” in a cotton fabric.
It would make a great over-blouse to wear in cooler weather. It’s practically a painter’s smock in its original design, with a simple shape, raglan sleeves, and an open v-neck. Add a couple of spacious patch pockets, and I’ve got a great top to wear while doing things and wanting an additional layer, plus it’s already sized to wear over clothing.
Am I just rationalizing my laziness?
So I’ll make it two sizes smaller in more cheap fabric. That’s okay. It seems likely that it will be easier to sew after the first one. I also know that making these test garments is good practice anyhow. Nothing is more disappointing than using expensive fabric only to have it be ill fitting or make an error in construction. Not all fabrics are forgiving of having seams ripped out either.
I’ll finish the garment—it has three steps left now before I’ll be snipping off the last stray thread tails and deeming it done. Unless I add the pockets, which will be relatively easy to do. I think I will add them—and sizing one just to fit my Kindle.
I’ll call it my indoor jacket for when I want an additional layer, but not an actual coat. It will go great over a t-shirt, as well as being something easy to pop on to go to the mailbox or make a store run too. Yep, definitely a case of rationalizing going on here!
Notice: Don’t forget–this blog is being moved to www.exogenynetwork.com very soon. During August, posts are being made in both locations.