Yes, I Can

One year ago, I didn’t truly believe, deep down, that anyone could actually sew. At least, not anyone I knew. Somewhere inside me I couldn’t quite grasp the idea that a normal human being — someone not raised to it from childbirth, and not in high school and college classes pushing technical skills, and not an incredibly gifted prodigy — could ever actually make a pattern, correct it where needed, and make from it a garment that looked as good as store-bought. I knew intellectually that store-bought clothes were made by people, too, but somehow I still felt like clothing was not made by experts or even by exploited slaves in sweat shops, but just sort of magically or machinally (shut up, it should be a word) appeared, because that stuff’s complicated and nobody could really do it, right? Nobody, with their own hands, could ever actually figure out how to clothe a body.

Wednesday night, with the help of my SCA auntie, Su of the Silver Horn, I patterned a pair of hosen to go with the St. Birgitta style coif that I completed on Tuesday (which I also patterned, and sewed, without assistance). Tomorrow I plan to make a veil and wimple to go over the coif, because those are easy and can be done, or mostly done, before the sun sets on a Friday in January. Soon, I will be meeting up with Ann Hartl to show her the toile I made of her initial fitting on me; someday that toile will have become the basis for a camisa, and then a saya/brial, and then a cota, and then a ropa, all of which will ‘nest’ on me in layers, harmonious with one another… and I’ve realized that I already have all of the sewing and construction skills I will need to accomplish this, and all I lack is the patterning skill and/or the actual patterns. And I have realized that someday, I will have that skill, too.

Joining the SCA 5 years ago, I was only in it for the fun, because I didn’t have the skills (and felt pretty sure I would never have them) to ever achieve more than a cursory nod to historical authenticity without spending a fortune on boughten clothing that wouldn’t quite fit my uniquely shaped body. Today, I feel capable. I can do things. I can make things. I can get to a point, eventually, at which I look like I stepped out of the 14th century. I can, and with G*D’s help and also some friends, I will. Clothing myself has gone from magical to practical. Achievable.

2 replies on “Yes, I Can”

  1. We all start at the beginning, though some begin earlier than others. I too started late, but have come to realize that early or late, the beginning is a wonderful place to start! May your journey be a fun and enlightening one!

    1. Thank you! Yes, it’s actually a pretty good place to be in, I’ve decided. I do regret not learning as a child, but on the other hand, a four or six year old probably wouldn’t have gone from knowing nothing to being able to sew an outfit, in just one year. Their knowledge accumulates more slowly because they have less on which to hang new insights, new information. On the other hand, a young mind may have less in it, but it is also very facile, and absorbs information fairly easily — not like my (now 44 year old) mind! And if I’d learned early on, I would have been sewing for around four decades by now. I sort of regret not having that background. Still, I did build up a lot of experiences in the time I didn’t spend sewing, so there’s that. 😉

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