I have a little brother who is quite fussy about his clothes. When he finds something he likes he tends to buy upwards of 5 of the same item as he hates shopping and doesn’t like ‘wasting time’ on what to wear. His clothes are all similar colours and shapes therefore interchangeable.
While in Japan, he found a jacket he liked but there was only one in his size. No problem he thought – “my big sister can copy this jacket for me and make 5 more“. Luckily he visited with us at the end of August last year with his jacket and an express desire to go looking for fabrics that he likes. I took him to Fabworks where he spent all of 10 minutes before deciding on a wool suiting in navy blue.
Now, though I was in the doldrums at the time, even I refused to just copy something and not add a little extra…….something. My philosophy is that if you are going to ask Michaelangelo to paint a ceiling – then LET MICHAELANGELO PAINT A CEILING LIKE THE SISTINE CHAPEL!!! I refuse to spend hours working on something that is just going to look …..bland. That’s not me.
So, I stood my ground and insisted that there had to be something different to denote that it was truly a one of a kind. He agreed to look at contrast fabrics for the lapel/facing. This was huge. My brother is not one to change his mind or indeed concede his sartorial choices. He chose the Liberty Tana lawn which reminds me of a Wuthering Heights’esque moorland. Still, it was better than nothing.
Did I mention this was at the end of August last year?
With all that time I didn’t come back to the project nor think about it until he asked me during a recent Skype session. Feeling bad I set to it this past weekend and copied the jacket using carbon paper and a tracing wheel. It’s not an exact science but between my pattern drafting knowledge and common sense, I made some headway.
A weird thing happened. Duty and honour (and some guilt – ok mostly guilt – that I had made him wait all these months) drove me to start on the project. At some point I started enjoying the process. It felt like the wild west (why am I saying this? I’ve never experienced the wild west nor do I wish to); but as a metaphor, its meant to say that I was excited and curious at how I would do. It’s been a long time since I have felt like that.
When acquiring a new skill set there is joy/exhilaration when you first learn to do new techniques. But, as time goes and you gain more experience that sense of fear/anxiety/exhilaration that keeps you on edge is gone because you get to a point where you know how to do this that or the other. It becomes easier to execute a vision and the high is never is as good as that first high of nailing a fly front or easing a sleeve for example. Which is not necessarily a bad thing in itself…..
But this was new territory for me.
Not only was I making it for someone else who has a very clear expectation of what he wants; I also had no pattern.
Figuring out grainlines, forgetting notches, not adding ease to sleeve cap………so much minutiae of things I forgot to do but I carried on. Lessons learnt. Falling forward.
To frame the time period here:
August 2017 – Assignment given and materials procured
15 March 2018 – Casual enquiry about jacket over Skype
18 March 2018 – Copied jacket, cut fabric and sewed up body
19 March 2018 – Sewed collars and sleeves.
20 March 2018 – Hems, buttonholes and final pressing.
This is the toile. I had no fabric that was similar to this wool suiting to use and since he wants 5 of them I reckon by the time I get to the fifth one, it’ll all be gravy.
I have written this before I send it off to Switzerland tomorrow. He will now have to feedback to me before I embark on the next one. I am at peace and in calm within myself. I tried my best.
Hand on heart tried my best. And thats good enough for me.
Even if he doesn’t like it – it doesn’t matter to me any more – it won’t affect my sense of pride and achievement in this. I had tried to express my feeling that I feel now but last night as I read the closing chapters of Bartlett and the Ice Voyage (a great book btw) to my kids Bartlett said the words for me so I will share them…
For a long time he (Bartlett) gazed vacantly at the last two pieces of pale iceberg. If the ice melted, if the melidrop thawed and rotted, then everyone would say that they had failed. But hadn’t they really succeeded? He and Jacques, together with Gozo, and Captain Wrick, and Mordi, and Michael, and all the others who helped along the way, had captured an iceberg, and towed it across thousands of miles of ocean, and preserved a melidrop for weeks. No one had done any of these things before. Did it really matter now if the melidrop reached the Queen?
Thanks for reading this far if you have. Ramblings sometimes take over…sometimes 🙂
Until next time,, Happy Sewing!