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.