As anybody knows who has read this blog in the past few months (or even just past 24 hours), I make my own clothes. At this point, in fact, I rarely buy anything from a store at all. It's not that I don't see a million things in stores that I want to buy, it's just that I have found so much joy in creating things with my own hands that I would rather clothe myself that way.
Sewing is something I started when I was young, and just kept coming back to again and again in life.
When I was in elementary and middle school, I made a few pieces of clothing with the extensive help of my granny and my mom. Specifically: a red and blue plaid vest with matching blue elastic waist (still love it!) shorts, a clown costume for Halloween, a neon green shift dress with yellow daisies on it, a black and purple floral skort (ah, the '90s).
My first major in college was, in fact, apparel design--a major I switched out of after the first semester because I thought if you were going to be a part of the fashion industry, you would have to live in a big city, which I never wanted to do. Ironic, considering I now live in the biggest one of them all, and also the fashion capital of the U.S.!
So after a few more changes in my major, I became a teacher instead. But I found myself sitting back down at the sewing machine during my first year of teaching, thanks to my mom (ahem...Santa) giving me a sewing machine for Christmas, and I have been making garments (mostly for myself, but sometimes for friends!) ever since.
Lately, I have been thinking about where this comes from. What it is that has drawn me back to the sewing machine each decade of my life, why I think about seam finishing all day when I'm at work, why I happily stay up way past my bedtime hunched over the ironing board, why I stare women down on the street and constantly think "How did they make her dress/top/skirt?" I think I may have figured "it" out.
When I was in kindergarten, my mom had a dalmatian print dress. Not an over-the-top, Glenn-Close-as-Cruella type dress. Just a regular dress you would wear to work or church, only the animal print of choice wasn't leopard or zebra, but dalmatian. It's no wonder that I remember this dress to this day, since it wasn't just your average dress. But the thing is, I don't just remember it; I remember everything about it. It had a 50's style shirt dress silhouette, with a full skirt, covered buttons up the front, a big belt at the waist, red trim, and a sassy collar. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and I thought my mom, with her tan skin and permed hair, looked absolutely beautiful in it.
I have owned a lot of clothes in my life, but I could not describe 90% of them to you with the same detail that I can recall my mom's dalmatian dress. I remember that I thought that maybe when I grew up, I could have a dalmatian print dress too. And what I just realized is that I can. I can make one if I wanted to. I could gather up fabric and thread and a pattern and buttons, and I could sew up my own version of that dress and I may or may not end up looking like a Disney villianess.
And that's "it." Why I love to make clothes. Because the clothes you wear on any specific day help shape what you think and feel and do that day, and clothes--the really good ones--can become ingrained in you. Because some clothes you will never forget. Because clothes make memories, such as these. And with every piece of clothing that I make, I'm making my own memory right along with it.