September 13, 2021
I started sewing at the age of 51! It was daunting. I had to learn my machine, how to read patterns, how to buy fabric. And of course I started by making button up shirts. Probably the most fiddly sewing I could have possibly chosen.
And so I was noodling around, sewing straighter and straighter seams, creating imperfect topstitching, mangling collars and collar stands and still not making a wearable shirt.
Then I was talking with my therapist and she laid down a challenge: At our next meeting, she wanted me to wear a shirt I'd sewn. Challenge accepted!
I chose a pattern (New Look 6197), bought a beautiful brown and cream gingham linen from Gorgeous Fabrics (Hi Ann!) and began sewing. Over the next two weeks I sewed in the evenings and on the weekends. I learned how to sew a camp collar. And on the day of my next appointment I was still sewing on the buttons right up until I left my house.
The shirt had a BUNCH of issues. The sleeves are too big, the inside seams aren't finished, and the collar is a bit wonky. But it was wearable and it was finished. I was and am proud of that shirt, which I still wear.
Finishing this shirt wasn't the beginning of my sewing practice, but it was an important milestone. It represents a commitment made and kept. It represents progress. But mostly, it represents overcoming the fear that my makes wouldn't be good enough to wear. That my skill just wasn't there. That I would never be proud of the end result.
All of those fears were wrong. I didn't magically become a better shirt maker when this project was completed. Hell, I still struggle with collars/stands and topstitching. But when I finished this shirt I went from a potential shirt maker to an actual shirt maker. I stopped doubting it was possible.
I will always be grateful for that nudge. Since that first shirt, I've made more shirts, chore coats, and even chinos and shorts.
I haven't doubted the possibilities since.
July 16, 2022
I sat in my roomette on an Amtrak train headed south to Tampa. My suitcase was precariously propped on a little shelf next to my seat, threatening to topple onto me as we chugged along.
July 16, 2022