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Quitting’s for quitters

This weekend was unexpectedly dramatic. I quit sewing.

Let me give you some backstory (why not): I have noticed a lot of tulle skirts on grown up women. Online, obviously, since I don’t go out unless I’m out of milk or need to get my scabies shots or whatever. So if enough women are wearing tulle skirts that they trickle down to my sheltered little corner, then tulle skirts are totally a thing. Then M and I received an invitation to a friend’s black tie shindiggery and, well, the two connected. Picture a ball bearing labelled “tulle skirt” and another ball bearing labelled “fancy party”, both rolling around the constantly tilting and heaving landscape of my brain, and those two ball bearings COLLIDED. I decided I needed a tutu for the party. After a slightly hungover Saturday spent looking at tututorials online (ohhh, that’s a good one), the idea took root. Especially because I saw this picture. (From.) Nevermind there is nothing, NOTHING, about this picture that resembles me, my values, or my aesthetic. As soon as I have that tulle skirt, the beauty and classiness of that image will somehow adapt to meet my usual 1990s-inspired, heavy-on-the-jeans, light-on-the-bra style and I will be a more awesome version of my usual shabby self. M and I had to go to Lincraft for unrelated reasons (I wanted to fashion a designer hernia patch in case I ever get a hernia), and I took the opportunity to obtain several hundred metres of tulle. Except I don’t know my tulle from my twill, so I accidentally bought several hundred metres of organza.

A selection of organza!

Sooo fancy.

So I decided to go with the world’s fanciest tutu. Organza, for those who aren’t in the know as I (now) am, is a delicate fabric woven from gossamer and fairy giggles, which shimmers like the dawn on dew and which frays as soon as you sigh heavily at it. Undeterred, I made a skirt. A “skirt”. We — myself, my family, and all friends who had the misfortune to be regaled with my plans — called it “the tutu”, as if there would only ever be One. I planned to gather the skirts and layer them, ideally to produce something akin to this stunning piece (which was produced by a professional, experienced tutu producer).  I took each piece of tulle organza and then realised that if I used all three (the silver/green, the royal blue, and the black) I would look like Frozen, so discarded the royal blue. Then I took the remaining pieces of tulle organza and gathered them. To gather fabric, you sew a wide basting stitch across the area to be gathered, and then pull on the thread to pucker everything up like the top of a marble bag. That worked even less well than expected. Remember my notes above about organza fraying as soon as you have a negative thought near it? Well, imagine yanking its thread. I swore muchly and effusively, and then moved onto the lining/underskirt and repeated. Now, by this stage, I was pretty confident that I had accidentally bought a single-zone pass for Fuckedville, but hey, I was beginning to feel giddy and giggly from inhaling organza fumes. Anywayz, the next steps were a bit of a blur: I sewed a side seam in the lining and inserted a zip, and then tacked to this underskirt the two layers of gathered tulle organza; then I sewed the world’s most half-arsed waistband to the top.

The end result was…have you ever read Wind In The Willows? That scene where Toad dresses up as a washerwoman…wait, no: you know the innkeeper’s wife in Les Miserables? Yeah. Bunchy at the hips, draggy at the floor, and by far the most ludicrous thing I have ever constructed. (For those holding their breath about the cost of so much organza being CHEWED UP: it was on sale. 40% off. DING DING! That’s partly how I didn’t realise it was organza.)

Not at all what I had intended

A glorious flouncy cockup of organza!

While I was doing this — sewing, swearing, unpicking, swearing, questioning my life choices, sewing, and then swearing some more — all I could think was how much more I like knitting. When you make a mistake in knitting, you unpick — at worst, unravel — and do it again. You know what happens when you make a mistake in sewing? You go the fuck back to Lincraft, because that fabric is FUBAR-woobarred, John.

My Mumini is an exquisite sewer. She knows fabric; she understands how to transform two-dimensional patterns into three-dimensional constructs; she knows what fabric will work and what won’t and why; she whispers to her machine and it yields adorable sweaters for my one-year-old niece that are both serviceable and Completely Darling. So I have always had a sewing machine in my house: I inherited hers, and then my Nana’s (my Dadini’s mum). Sewing has always been a life skill that One Has. But this weekend I realised: I freaking hate it. There is no reason on God’s green Earth why I should own a sewing machine nor entertain any ambitions for seamhood. None. I even hate hemming pants. And when I said to myself “I think I’m giving up sewing!” a tremendous, nurturing calm enveloped me. Why spend my precious weekends swearing at this well-engineered machine while it devours my organza, when I could be knitting? Why offend M’s ears with my immoderate language when he could be listening to the soothing click of my needles?

The only thing staying my decision was the jacket I cut out a very long time ago (ahem). This was going to be my last hurrah: once I finished making that jacket, I’d decide whether or not I was Still A Sewer. But then I remembered: I know another exquisite sewer. I emailed Mumini and persuaded her that not only should she sew me a jacket, but that it would be fun. Three days later (today), she came over and collected my sewing machine and many sewing paraphernalia (sewing is nothing if not a gear hobby) to give it a new, more appreciative home. Soon, I’ll surrender the final bags of fabric in my office cupboard and then I will no longer be a sewer. Neither in name nor form. I can’t tell you how excited I am.

So the trip to Lincraft was not a total waste!

Ahh, sweet dependable…

The sale that I mentioned at Lincraft was also on yarn. So the trip was not even close to being a waste. These babies have a very sweet, specific project in mind for a very sweet, specific girlie. I’ll leave sewing to the patient and skilled. Knitta4Lyf, yo.

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