After the initial excitement of Maude’s debut, I pondered over the description of her in Love Sewing magazine as ‘curious’. Was the term being used in the same way as I’ve observed ‘interesting’, as a mask for ‘I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about’?
And then David Bowie died and in numerous articles his infinite curiosity was highlighted as a favourable character trait. Around the same time Jack Monroe came on my radar with resolutions akin to my own – namely running and adopting a plant based diet. Whilst I’m not about to emerge as a non-binary transgender, I’ve always strained under the weight of rigid societal norms and have started following Jack’s journey with admiration and … curiosity.
Having observed veganuary from an interested distance, I’m predictably late to a determination to avoid foods derived from animals. I’ve tiptoed around vegetarianism for years and whilst I’ve resisted defining myself by a label describing my food intake, I’ve long been a proponent of the health and financial benefits of cooking from scratch. Whilst my newfound passion for stitch has enriched my life beyond measure, my diet is a casualty I’ve been loathe to recognise. For acknowledgement is the first step towards action and being increasingly time-poor and passion-rich, I haven’t had the mental space to initiate change.
That is until I read this column and the quote ‘flesh has the force of violence in it’ resonated strongly in me. Whilst the words are nothing new – with a lifestyle strongly influenced by Buddhist philosophy – for some reason at this time, they jolted me out of my inertia. I examined my consumption of late and whilst it masquerades as healthy, the relatively time consuming art of food preparation has been eschewed in favour of food assemblage.
Change often meets with resistance – both within and without – and I’m already poised for the inevitable comments about extreme diets devoid of nutrients. However, one week in and I can firmly attest that having substituted egg on toast, cheese on toast and butter on toast for a myriad of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, has resulted in the tastiest, most economical and nutrient-dense food I’ve eaten in months. However, I’m no martyr to any cause and if, after my self-imposed two month experiment, I notice anything lacking I’ll be sure to re-introduce it.
Resistance continues to be an integral ingredient in my sewing adventures. In every project, I reach a sticking point where my plans unravel and I’m confronted with the results of poor judgement and a paucity of skill. At this point, I survey my options – to give up, employ a quick fix or apply myself to finding the best solution possible. My second attempt at Dress T from ‘Stylish Dress Book: Simple Smocks, Dresses and Tops’, provided me with ample opportunity for self-flagellation. Despite the busy pattern motif, I made easy work of fabric cutting until I came to the bodice. I’d been so focused on pattern matching that I failed to see the need for pattern symmetry around the yoke.
When I don’t understand something my brain goes into meltdown and I’m prone to make the same mistake over and over. Well meaning people – with a scant appreciation for differential learning styles – have tried to help by repeating the same instructions to no avail. To be fair, I’m not sure what my learning style is, so I can empathise with their frustration but I’m becoming more accepting of my foibles and idiosyncrasies with age. Slowly, through the painful and kinetic process of damage limitation, I come to appreciate where I’ve gone wrong.
Shaving half a centimetre off the left bodice at the centre and the right bodice at the side seam, achieved a semblance of symmetry and a 0.5 seam allowance at the yoke counterbalanced the reduction in width. If only I’d increased this to a 1cm seam allowance around the neckline, the results would have met my exacting standards. As it is, the outcome is far from a perfection which will always elude me. But as my fellow maker and blogger at The Up Sew has gently reminded me – all the marks we make chart the journey we have made and as such are valuable.
My next project is Maude-centric, as I tentatively explore the market for handmade gifts sporting a dismembered dolls head. Thanks to Instagram, I’ve discovered a niche of people who share my appreciation for the weird and wonderful. She’s not everyone’s cup of bakelite and I have no difficulty understanding that. However, from my own experience, resistance to new ideas and concepts can stem from feeling personally threatened, a lack of understanding and a fear of change. But if we are truly happy with our own choices, then accepting other people’s – whilst remaining true to our own – is an opportunity to embrace something from outside our own sphere with a mind of curiosity.