I’ve been feeling relatively uneasy over the last day. I am chalking it up to a change in my medication, but I have a suspicion that it’s more than that. If you know me, which you probably do if you are reading this blog, then you know I have an anxiety disorder. Nothing new there. Panic attacks, moments of spacey-ness, and a blank smile on my face are all too common in my life. I would say 75% of my day is spent feeling like I am on the verge of a complete psychological meltdown. It’s not fun, but it can sometimes be funny.

On the bright side, I can sometimes channel that energy into projects, which brings me to the topic of this blog post – PATTERNS. I bet when you started reading this you were thinking that I was going to pull some bullshit double-meaning philosophy on you: the patterns in life intersecting with the patterns for my sewing machine. No. This is strictly about the tangible patterns that I’ve been finding online.

First, let me say that I didn’t realize patterns existed. I’m a novice, but that’s no excuse for the complete ignorance I had about sewing when I started a month ago. How could I have imagined that seamstresses, costume designers, and amateurs operated without patterns? What an ignorant ass I was. It made me think about all the other things I’m ignorant of in my life (but this isn’t one of those double-meaning philosophical blog posts, so I’ll stop there).

I discovered three things on my search on patterns: (1) they are free; (2) they are costly; and (3) they are confusing. All three are problematic and interrelated, and here’s why…

The Confusing Cost of Freedom

The patterns that I’ve found online that are free are great. Everything from a table-cloth-napkin pursue – thanks Martha Stewart! – to a baby headband – so cute, alas no babies in my life – to a book cover – WHY DO YOU KEEP INSISTING WE COVER OUR BOOKS, INTERNET?! – it’s remarkable what you can find that calls itself free. Normal people like you and me find/create these patterns and post them for others to use for their personal use freely. Free, free, freedom! But not really.

Did you know that owning a simple sewing machine isn’t enough to actually sew? You have to buy rules, tape measures, sewing feet, needles, thread (jesus, how I underestimated the need of good thread), and a multitude of other tools. I didn’t even own pins. How can I use a pattern with no pins? Or scissors? I had always imagined that sewing was some innate wisdom that people (read: not just cis women, this isn’t 1910) had. Aside from developing tools to hunt and gather with, didn’t we also invent the idea of clothes in our primordial selves? Apparently not all of us are born with the genius.

Despite the costs, I persisted. I purchased every tool that was recommended for beginners and went to work. I found a cheap fabric store close to me, and also one online, and stocked up. But what would be my first project? A bib, I decided. My first project is a baby’s bib, double-sided with cute designs and double snaps for security – just in case your baby is an evil kenevil.

The first thing I noticed, aside from the bib pattern being free and costly at the same time (you want how much for one hard of fabric, Joann?!) was how confusing it looked. Depending on the age, which first why can’t it just be a one-size-fits-all-ages-of-baby-thing, you have to cut out the appropriate size pattern and then stitch it together. On top of that you have to appropriately cut your fabric – aren’t you glad you bought all those expensive tools? – and pin it to the pattern. BUT, it gets better and I mean that in the way your dad would say it after your fish just died. It doesn’t get better, the pain is real. You have to know how to actually print the pattern before you can cut it out, size the fabric, etc. I didn’t know this.

I will admit, as I usually do, that this was user-error. My avoidance of How-To Instructions knows no bounds. I refused to read the pattern front page, which carefully lists out how you are supposed to print the pattern to make it effective. Second, third, and fourth times a charm as they say.

What did I take away from the bib experience? Too many things to list here.



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