Posted on Monday the 21st August 2017 by Wrong Doll
WRONG - the perfect descriptor to encapsulate my feelings as a child, teenager and young adult. From as far back as I can remember I felt a distinct feeling of unease in my own skin and the surrounding environment. Adults were a complete enigma to me - they said things they didn’t mean, spent time with people they didn’t like and did things they didn’t want to do. With age, I’ve come to appreciate the complexities that fractured families bring and the subtle webs of obligation in which people can become enmeshed. And I’m increasingly thankful for the privilege of my own hard won self-determination.
But the more I exercise my freedom to choose, the more resistance I encounter. There’s a perception that not buying into societal norms results in a joyless existence of deprivation. The tenets we are being pedalled are so entrenched, that being a sober, vegan, feminist, introvert, can feel like a lonely act of defiance. That is unless you have found your people and in relationship with them, realised the absurdity of trying to shoehorn yourself into that which you are not. That moving away from things that have repeatedly brought you pain and finally heeding the whisper that’s transmuted into a roar, can be the gateway to embracing that which you are.
The sewing community has been a haven of support and inspiration for my burgeoning self confidence. But even here, it can be a challenge to resist the tide of production and stay grounded with your goals. I’ve fallen for the lure of new and shiny and sped to a finish line rather than perfect a technique. Happily a few momentous fails stopped me in my tracks and I took the opportunity to reflect on why and how I want to sew.
The Farrow Dress Sewing Pattern
has been on my radar since it’s release with so many features that made my heart sing - those pockets, that seaming, the high low hem malarky. I’d seen glorious iterations which fuelled the temptation but resisted, having learnt the hard and expensive way that how things look on others can bear no relation to how they will look on me. The high neckline bothered me and I didn’t feel confident to tinker with a design of such provenance so I stood strong.
I pretty much forgot about the Farrow until I happened upon this beautiful interpretation from Ivy Arch
- by simply lowering the neckline she’d created the dress of my dreams. And without a moment’s prevarication I included both the pattern and this glorious Needlecord Fabric
in my Minerva Crafts wish list.
The choice of material was made in my heart and not my head and I was a tad concerned it would be too heavy for the design. Needlecord wasn’t one of the recommended fabrics and I wondered how it would survive the pocket bulk around the central seam.
I’m happy to say my worries were unfounded - the pattern and fabric were the perfect pairing and the material pure joy to handle. The pattern is described as ‘Advanced Beginner’ and I sailed through the construction so I now feel confident to describe myself as such. I cut on a Size 10 based on my bust measurement and made a toile to check the fit. I had thought of diving right in and making a Size 8 based on the finished measurements but I’m glad I didn’t, as I think it would have been too snug for the jumper dress aesthetic I favour.
Lowering the neckline was an experiment that worked in my favour - I snipped down the front seam about an inch and a half and then scooped upwards shaving a tad of the shoulders and back. I wanted to dispense with the closure and pull it over my head without drastically altering the shape. The only other deviation from the pattern was the method of finishing the neckline, armholes and hemline. Instead of facings I went for a bias finish, which I hand stitched to the wrong side in as many hours as it took me to make the dress. All I can say is my slip stitch game has gone stratospheric and I’ve gleaned the rewards of swimming in the slow lane.
What I’m learning through sewing and in life is that the decision not to do something can be perceived from both the vantage point of lack and gain. Refraining from an action and stifling our yearning can result in a feeling of absence and unfulfilled desire. But by shifting our attentions from the short-lived and moving towards a lesser travelled path we can experience the subtle rewards of playing the long game. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not opting out after all, I’m making a conscious choice and opting in to something different. And I’m heartened to find that far from being alone there’s a whole community of people out there doing the same.