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Sew What?

October 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I have always been a slow, methodical sewer. Some people are able to whip through a simple project like mine in hours; my stuff takes days. Since my plan on Friday was to pull out my sewing machine and save some money because I can’t find anything I want in the many stores in the City—through no fault of my own, of course—I managed to stick to it. On Saturday night, I focused on the cutting, the part I do not like. It’s tedious and unglamorous. There’s nothing to brag about when I’m finished. The good thing is that it allows me to visualize clearly how the final project will look. I take my time doing it.

Today has been devoted to sewing two simple skirts—one from an elephant-patterned piece of fabric I bought in Senegal several years ago and the other is completely different. It’s an elegant rose piece with golden threads. Purchased in Florida, I believe. I may not have been able to purchase the skirts in store like normal people, which would have been so much faster, but I still believe in instant gratification—or at least not waiting so long. I decided to make the skirts first then the tops will follow.

I make the second-easiest skirt on earth, the first being a sarong which one tucks in or ties at the waist. Because I’m not a big fan of wrap skirts, I opt for the second choice. One piece of fabric cut into a square, sewed at the open seam but allowing for a split in the back so I can still walk. Make a casing at the top for an elastic waist, then finish the split seam and hem it. No buttons. No zippers. No interfacing. It is not terribly trendy, but it works.

After finishing the rose-colored skirt, I traded my Allen Zhang’s Er-Hu music for a movie that I have seen so many times that I don’t have to pay attention to follow the plot. Even so, I managed to prick my finger well enough to bleed. I never use a thimble. I might want to rethink that.


Success at last. It feels good, doesn’t it, to create something with your hands? Whether through pottery, carpentry, art or any other form, there’s something satisfying about the point of completion. Arguably, I am not quite finished. I have the coordinating pieces to sew that will complete each ensemble. For now, I am thankful for the few hours I spent entertaining my deep, dark inner fashionista. I guess I am ready for Monday now.

Cheetah, the Huntress

October 28, 2012 2 comments

After two lunches of hunting, I returned to my desk empty handed. The mission was simple enough: find one or two well-priced blouses to perk up my fall wardrobe. I have read that a cheetah is successful in capturing its prey only in two of seven attempts. My track record might even be worse. If this were a matter of food, I would be starving to death. I passed rack after rack of dresses, skirts and blouses and fabrics that did not appeal to me. In spite of my desperation to make a purchase—just pick up something!—I could not resign myself to plunk down $50 for a blouse that looked like a well-meaning but clueless distant relative gave it to me for Christmas. If I didn’t love it in the store, would I love it any more once it’s in my closet?

Believe me, I tried. I tried in the department store and even waded through the higher-end selections while rationalizing that I would treat myself if I found anything worthy of purchase. I didn’t. I crossed the street and climbed the stairs to a boutique with a sign announcing ‘Sale’ in its window.

“Welcome,” said the salesman. “Have you been here before?”

I admitted I was new to his store.

He explained that the clothing on these racks were on consignment, as well as these and these.

“These items,” he said pointing to another rack, “are new from the designer,”

He smiled and trotted off to help a customer put a pair of boots on layaway.

I fingered through the racks. I probably could have saved myself those precious eight minutes by asking the salesman if he had anything in my size, but blinded by the hope of finding a bargain, I had not thought to ask. When another customer walked through the doors, I took the opportunity to quietly leave. That’s displacement, isn’t it?

Half of the short walk back to my office was fueled by the thought that I had no style. That must be the reason I could not find anything I liked. I watched other women walk by with their shopping trophies like lionesses bring back fresh prey back to the pride. My hands were empty. I almost stumbled on the alternative. It wasn’t that I had no style. My style just could not be bought in stores! I like that much better.

I took a mental inventory of the untouched yards of fabric I had stored up at home that would come in handy right about now. With the purchase of a few yards of lining fabric and a couple of zippers, I could add fresh, original pieces to my wardrobe. In addition, sewing had always been a free, natural stress reliever. That creative spark, kuumbah, that made my fingers eager to set themselves to the task. In fact, I was feeling better already.

When you’re in a funk, what makes you feel better?