Plug in the iron, wind the bobbin, thread the machine, place the snips and the pot of straight pins nearby. When, at the end of a full week, you take a few hours on late Sunday afternoon to pull out the cut linen pieces, open the instruction sheet, and familiarize yourself again with this sewing project, you find yourself hoping (maybe it’s possible!) to have a finished skirt by evening’s end.
You feel a bit disjointed with the project, a bit clunky at first, the likely result of too much time having lapsed since the day you cut the pattern pieces out. But soon, simple things like running the hot iron over lumpy linen and seeing the fabric relax eases you into the rhythm of making. The gait of the machine, the motion of the needle, the bubbling iron, all speak to the task at hand that’s simple and basic and good.
One seam, and two pieces of linen become one. Another seam and three become one. Before your eyes, a skirt begins to emerge. Architecture in fabric. Three dimensions out of two. This is why, even in the full tumble-jumble that life tends to be, making still calls. Bearing witness to creation is a powerful thing.
With only the zipper seam left, you wrap the unfinished skirt around you, pretending it’s finished, pretending you’re wearing it for the very first time. And your breath suddenly catches as you realize that your hands do not meet behind you. One second of time is all it takes to know that the skirt will never fit; it’s far too small. How did this happen? You dive for the instructions, devouring them line by line. There it is, and you know it to be true, but in your anxious-to-get-sewing you’d flown right on by. The sewist’s rule: always go by measurements, not by size. So small, so significant.
All that time, wasted. The skirt will never fit.
But wait. Wasted? Ah, not even a moment. You know it in your soul. Even with the disappointment and the drawing up of Plan B, that time spent sewing late on a Sunday afternoon was everything but wasted. Because it’s in the process of doing that the experience comes. In the weighty, precious process. You weren’t sewing for a garment alone, you were sewing for the beauty, for the connection, for the inspiration, for the history, for the skill, for the understanding. You were sewing for the soul.
I spent Sunday afternoon sewing a skirt that I have to begin again. It’s all good.
P.S. Ahem. Somewhat familiar?