Friday, July 25

dress making - wiksten tova

On the weekend I will pack for our trip to New Zealand and I'm taking a number of clothes I've worked on, not out of duty, but because they are genuinely my favourites. I never thought that would happen.

The warm, casual, simplicity of this red Wiksten Tova is wonderful. I find this country look so alluring.

I found green/navy/brown plaid flannel for half price, and made my version in a couple of days. It is the first thing that fits me perfectly with no adjustments, so it was a joy to work on.

Pattern: Wiksten Tova, with dress or top option
Difficulty: Intermediate {although quite fast and straightforward}
Fabric: Flannel Plaid, 100% cotton

After I made my McCall's Rompers, I wanted to alter the very wide bodice, so I made a dress version. Fit is the hardest thing about this whole sewing business. I took 3 centimetres out of the front of the bodice and 4 out of the back and the fit is just right now.

This is a beautiful soft cotton floral which my bro and sister in law found in an op shop for me. My mum found me a dark green zip for the back in the op shop - these shops are a frugal sewers paradise.

Wednesday, July 16

tell your story

                                        Margaret Bourke-White - Hats in the Garment District, New York, 1930 

I was in Queenscliff on a piercingly cold wet day to celebrate my sister’s birthday. Mum and I spied a decrepit old man across the street. He was hobbling and hopping down the footpath, crippled with pain. He couldn’t traverse much ground before needing to break, and he was alone as the rain drove into him. He’s probably on the pension, I thought, without the money for a scooter, and perhaps his pain is incurable, and perhaps he lives alone. I struggle to cope, and I am supported from all sides. How on earth does he endure? How bleak is his existence? And then I felt the sudden urge to cry rise up inside me, which is extreme for a stranger across the street. You’re really not meant to cry when you just look at someone. I didn’t give in to the sensation, but his pain sat heavily on my heart for a long time.

In the op shop I heard a lady in her 60s telling the cashier that she was looking for a very thick warm jumper for her mother in law who was in a nursing home. Apparently she just couldn’t keep warm this winter no matter what she wore. What should have been an endearing exchange to overhear produced the same effect on me: I wanted to cry. Because this woman was always cold, and obviously frail, in a place not her home. Actually, I didn’t want to cry. I just wanted to carry on looking for fabric, but this emotion bubbled up from I-don’t-know-where.

My response is absurd. Over the top. And it’s not pregnancy hormones. Can you imagine what I will be like if I become pregnant? Ben can’t.

It seems to be the kind of heightened response common after trauma.

Last year, Wolfgang was pinned and attacked by a dog, and with wobbly knees we carried home our bleeding dog. His wound healed, but he is now violently distrustful of all dogs and men. He is so utterly changed from that incident – and I think I’m like Wolfie, affected by it all.

I am feeling normal empathy to an extreme degree because of the pain I know. I will definitely take this over depression and anxiety, it’s not a huge issue. It just reminds me that we are phenomenally shaped by the events in our lives. Sometimes I look at someone and think, “I do not understand you! Why do you do that?” And later, I learn about their life, their strongest memories, and it makes sense. I find a whole new level of acceptance and love after I hear their tale. Our stories allow us to make some sense of our own complex ways, and the complex ways of our loved ones. So we must tell them! And then we can get on with the very important business of ending judgement and supporting each other.  

Friday, July 4

Rompers! McCalls 6923

Pattern: McCalls 6923
Level: Easy/Intermediate
Fabric: $5 p/m cotton and lining

My floral rompers would like to be worn to Torquay beach, and on summer picnics. I have an impatient disposition not yet thwarted by chronic illness, so I am wondering about wearing them with tights and a cardi for this season, or making a darker winter version. See how they match my mauve knees?

The pattern called for a bodice lining, and a centre back zip. I was apprehensive about these steps, but as usual they were much easier than I expected.
The main problem was that the pattern's smallest size was an 8, and it wasn't an 8-going-on-6 kind of 8. The rompers sort of doubled my waist at first try. I ended up putting darts in the back, which are quite inconspicuous with all the gathering. It's still on the loose side, but that doesn't put me off wearing it, because the design is cute, and it's supposed to be a cool cotton playsuit. I have plans to alter the pattern next time.

Right now, I am excited to be making things, stretching myself, having a few days off my virus, and gazing at beautiful hope-provoking fabric. Learning something new has to be one of the greatest pleasures in the world!

be sad


“Be in love with your life. Every detail of it.” – Jack Kerouac

I resent the notion that we should always be happy. I have quotes like the one above pop into my Pinterest feed, and I scoff at them. Forcing happiness and optimism at all times is the surest way I know to be internally sad.

When I sit on the couch, wasted and teary from frustration, I think morbid things. I wish I’d lost a leg or an eye over my strength. I wonder how I am supposed to wake up tomorrow and go on.  

I will always remember the talks we got at my music and dance school.

“If you lose a limb or a finger, what will you do as plan B?”

Trawling the vocation guides, I listlessly decided on psychology or french teaching. As if I would lose a finger. Besides, music was already my plan B after ballet, and I had no intention of letting it slip from my grasp. I really had no interest whatsoever in plan C.

And now I would beg on my knees for plan C because I wound up with plan Z - except I won’t call it a plan, because I never conceived of it. To call ‘Z’ unpleasant is an understatement, because strength is the essential ingredient to almost everything. Even to sleep. The caged torment of being mentally sound but physically unable sometimes overwhelms me.

The reverse is even more challenging.

I wonder how to come to terms with Z?

The only way I know to deal with Z, is to acknowledge it and grieve. I let my cheeks get slippery wet without accusing myself of being sorry for myself. I cry because it’s the only way I can expel pain. Once I’ve wrung it out, I am released from exasperation. It is my favourite anti-depressant to date; side effect of puffy eyes is hardly worth mentioning.

Afterwards, I can pan out and see Z as a part of my life. It can only suffocate all that I think and do, if I allow it to. I zoom out and I see that right beside Z is my hilarious dog, my handsome husband, my urge to create left untouched, the discontent of man in every single situation, and the privilege it is to walk on earth for however many days I’m given. There’s something free about being empty and helpless, so openly so that I have to admit it. More moments seem beautiful because I’m less fixated on plan A, all consuming plan A.

The only way I can enjoy being alive, is to feel loss and sadness. I am most real and at peace when I depart from ‘got it together and loves life’ stoicism.
 My love of this Ecclesiastes quote grows with time,

“For everything there is a season and a time for ever matter under heaven.
...a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

Chapter 4:3