Patterns are worse to fold back up than maps are. “Don’t fold the maps. Roll the maps,” I hear one of the sidekicks in the movie Twister sighing. And I picture him standing with a thin pattern-paper hanging from his upraised hand, a puzzled look on his face. I’d like to see him try to roll up a pattern.
Mind you, these aren’t tool and die patterns I’m talking about here. I don’t even know what those look like, or if they are flexible. For all I know they’re half-inch-thick steel or something. Anyway, the kind I’m talking about is the so-thin-you-can-almost-see-through-it kind that tells you where to put the seams and the darts. They have numbers, too, and a lot of other information printed on them that I may or may not pay attention to.
Last weekend, I decided on a whim to sew one of the patterns I recently bought. Sewing is one of the few entertainment options open to this small-town girl—right up there along with reading, watching a movie, and taking a hike at the nature preserve. All thrilling, I assure you, but I’d already had my share of those other activities. And after all, there’s nothing like a sewing project to brighten up a snowy Lord’s Day, right?
I even had the perfect fabric for the project already: An old sheet. Not old as in worn-out; it had only a small bleach stain somewhere on it. But it was a poor orphan flat sheet that didn’t have a fitted sheet to go with it. It was the perfect color. (Oh, and it didn’t require spending three bucks a yard, plus gas, for a measly bit of material.)
So I decided to make myself a new blouse out of the sheet. I suppose it would’ve been easier to cut a singular hole in the middle of it and wear it that way, if I was going to wear a sheet. But that style is so 1980’s.
The blouse pattern I picked was what’s called a princess-seam blouse. In other words, it has twice the number of pattern pieces a normal blouse needs, thus requiring twice the amount of work. No exaggeration there; just ask any sewing-conscious person. (I almost said “any sewing-conscious woman,” but there was one boy in the 4-H Style Revue when I was 14, so I have to be all inclusive here.)
The upside of the princess-seam pattern, besides that it makes me feel like royalty, is that it fits better than a regular kind of blouse. If you are a guy, you wouldn’t understand. Get over it.
So I cut, instead of one nice round hole, a whole lot of strangely-shaped holes in my sheet—oh, but that was after I ironed the thing. I once heard of somebody who actually ironed sheets regularly, for a bed-and-breakfast I think. I’d never ironed a sheet before in my life, having chosen a different profession than bed-and-breakfast manager. And if I ever were to own a bed-and-breakfast, I would buy sheets that were self-ironing. There’s got to be a magic polyester chemical somewhere in a set of sheets, the same kind they put in the men’s dress shirts that say you don’t have to iron them.
Then, sheet ironed and shot through with holes, I had a lot of pieces of fabric pinned to pattern pieces. By the way, pins are dangerous if you abuse them. Don’t pin and drive.
Then it came time to sew the pieces together, like a puzzle. Except this puzzle doesn’t have just one nice picture to go by; it has about twenty pictures and step-by-step directions. Wouldn’t it be nice if all puzzles came with step-by-step directions? Then you wouldn’t have to hunt forever for that one piece of blue sky that fits in this certain spot. I hate skies in puzzles. Also tree foliage.
Puzzle pieces together, and lots of little pieces of thread littered around my sewing machine, I had a shirt. More or less, anyway, and it took several hours because I’m slow. And I still have to trim the extra fabric and threads off, like when you even up the edges on your homemade Valentine’s card. I could make a thread wig from all the little thread bits I’ll have by the end.
I was thrilled when I figured I’d about finished the blouse. And that’s when I looked around and said to myself, “oh, right. You need to clean up.” So I threw away all the little bits of pattern-paper that I had cut apart (to get to the actual pattern printed on the pattern-paper) and all those little threads I had so far discarded. Then I folded up the pattern. Unlike 99% of seamstresses, I am foolish enough to store most of my patterns in their original envelopes. Which are only about 50% the size they need to be.
Let this be a lesson to you. For heaven’s sake, don’t wear your sheets.