I meant to keep working on the summer top theme for last weekend’s sewing project, but the weather took a turn for the chilly and dreary, and I couldn’t even. I got cold just looking at the patterns, so it seemed like the perfect day to do a useful little jacket.
I had this fabric that I have been hauling around for something like ten or twelve years. It came from the back room of Vogue Fabrics in Chicago, where they used to (and for all I know, still might) carry a selection of undyed natural fabrics. Back in those days, when I would make regular forays to the city with the Crazy Ladies, we often bought undyed fabric so that we could decide what color we wanted later, so when I saw this unusual silk noil dobby weave, that was what I had in mind. It would turn burgundy, or electric blue, or some subtle, dye-painted combination of colors, and become the kind of jacket you wear to a nice restaurant.
To that end, I took it home and washed it rather brutally with Synthrapol to get it ready for dyeing–a process that fluffed up the fibers and softened it up, so that it felt rather like a silk version of stonewashed denim. I tossed it into my stash and waited for inspiration and the right pattern to appear. And in the meantime we moved to a much more casual part of the country. I came across it a couple of months ago, and started contemplating what color to dye it.
That’s when the voices started. You know, like they do.
“I’m not that kind of girl,” it whispered.
Then, “I don’t want to go to nice restaurants.”
“You’re crazy,” I replied. “Everybody wants to go to nice restaurants. Especially me.”
“I don’t want to be that jacket you wear once or twice a year,” it said. “I feel too good. I want to go everywhere, every day–to the library, the grocery store, the post office, knitting group. And everything in your closet is so dark and dismal. You need something light, for spring and summer. I’d be perfect for all those aggressively air-conditioned places. Do you really want to hide me away in a closet most of the year, or hide all of my natural color variations under a boatload of purple dye or something?”
“And you don’t have a steamer big enough to steam me, so you would have to use fiber-reactive dyes. And look what happened to that silk shirt jacket that you dyed green that way. Oh, sure, it looks OK, but remember how stiff it got? How you had to throw it in the dryer with tennis shoes? Beat it against the back wall as though it were (sniff) linen or something? Do you really want that to happen to me? I mean, just FEEL me. And no one will be able to see my pattern if I’m, like, grape or something.”
And then it looked beseechingly at me, like this:
Fabrics usually win these arguments–as they should. After all, they have aspirations, too.
Which is how Mildred came to be modeling the Sewing Workshop Tremont jacket–another of those patterns that I like so much, that fits nicely through the shoulders and then covers a multitude of sins. She is wearing it with an infinity scarf made from other long-time residents of the stash pile–silk scraps from a silk-painting class that finally got sewn together. (No, Mildred, it isn’t cattywampus, and it doesn’t make you look like Richard III.)
And really, there isn’t a restaurant in Albuquerque where Tremont couldn’t go. She doesn’t have to be grape.