07 September 2011

Sew Wrong

Today after a visit to the eye doctor I decided to run a couple of errands.  One was near the local Jo-Ann Fabrics which is unfortunate because for me, the lure of bookstores and fabric stores is tantamount to that of a junkie jonesing for crack.  I say I won't go in.  I intend not to go in.  I tell myself I can't afford to go in.  And then it starts -- first a little twitch of my cheek, then my feet turn away from their predetermined path, then next thing you know I'm in the middle of a fabric store stroking the suedes and satins, perusing the patterns, and fondling the fleece.  I start making excuses to justify my behavior.  I have time to kill (like there aren't enough household chores to keep me busy).  I need something to do (like I don't already have enough fabric stashed in a closet to clothe the entire population of Samoa).  I'm almost out of zippers/thread/interfacing/buttons/seam rippers (how many seam rippers does one person need really?)/etc.  I need a pattern for medieval garb (because there aren't already 15 in my pattern box at home).  It's always something, and before long you've drunk the Kool-Aid and are standing in an airport swathed in clearance cotton and handing out packages of seam binding like some sort of freaky Kraft Krishna.

That should really say "Experience the Casualties."

Needless to say, I succumbed to temptation (how can you not?) and ended up perusing patterns once again.  While I normally stick with the Big Three companies, i.e. Simplicity, McCalls and Butterick, today I found myself leafing through the book of Burda patterns.  Now I realize that the Burda company originated in Germany, but they do still sell patterns throughout the US.  As a result, I couldn't help but wonder what the heck was up with all the freaking dirndl patterns?  And it's not like they were all located in the costume section of the book, either.  So what's the deal, Burda?  Is there an unanticipated glut of Oktoberfest celebrations popping up across the US?  Are the number of Sound of Music productions suddenly on the rise?  Or perhaps economic woes are encouraging people nationwide to begin churning their own butter and making their own cheeses, requiring them to obtain more practical country attire?  Are Beer Maids being laid off in droves?  What gives?

"Okay, I'm wearing the dirn dress--now pass me a beer, Dumkopf!"

To be fair, Burda did also have patterns for lederhosen -- but they were placed appropriately in the costume section.  Interesting how that works, isn't it?  Sticking a man in leather shorts would be considered unusual and costumey, but somehow traditional Bavarian garb becomes perfectly normal everyday wear for women, particularly if you can slap an apron on them?  If I were in a different mood, I could totally go all Feminine Mystique on that crap.  

Instead, I chose to flip through the plus-size patterns, because although my brain insists on the delusion that I am 25 and still a svelte, muscular size 10/12, my body has other ideas--the traitor.  Most pattern books are pretty decent about using plus-sized models to show off the clothes, unlike most retail outlets, many of which still use traditional models (and by "traditional models" I mean "flagpoles").  Seriously, why do they do that?  Are they so afraid of showing a plus-sized woman in plus-sized clothing?   Do they think we won't buy their wares if we suddenly see how we might actually look in them?  Won't we be just as horrified as they are?  It's as if they think we only dress in the dark, we never pass an actual mirror (especially in our own bathroom, God forbid), and we never noticed when our clothing sizes passed into the double digits.  Who even decided that when you hit size 14 you are suddenly "plus-sized," anyway? Give me a break.  Sure, the clothes they sell are going to look better on waifish 20-year-olds, but that doesn't really do much to show me how I will look in their clothing.  Apparently we must avoid viewing anything approaching reality at all costs.  Heck, even Butterick has now color-coded their plus-size section with red so that on every page there is a red bar going down the long edge of the page.  You can almost hear the publishers screaming "Danger!  Danger, Will Robinson!!  The big girls are on the loose!!!  Wear our clothes and you will look dumpy, too!"  But I'm sure that was just a coincidence.  Probably.

        THIS is considered a "plus-size" model, presumably because her clothing size isn't in negative numbers.                          Also, she actually has boobs.

And while we're on the subject, why is there no "plus-size" section in pattern books for men?  To be fair, there aren't exactly a lot of men's clothing patterns in the first place, but still.  Are men too good to wear homemade clothing?  And what if a big guy needs a big size?  Is he just out of luck?  Come to that, why are clothing stores for larger men called "Big and Tall" stores?  They don't get called "plus-size" or "full-figured."  It's kinda funny how stores for big girls are now trying to get away from these more negative terms by instead using phrases like "goddess-sized" and "clothes for curvy women."  Just once I want to see a store advertisement that says "Clothes for the Amazonian Bad-Ass."  Now that would be a selling point.  We're big, we're tall, we're proud, and we don't take crap from anyone.  Stick that in your Plus-Size and smoke it.

Ranting aside, I must admit that the various pattern books do amuse me.  Where else can you find instructions to make everything from a wedding dress to a doggie diaper?  Women may be the ultimate multi-taskers, but that's still a pretty broad range of possibility.  "Yes, in between making new curtains and pillows, I'll just hem this formal gown, make fuzzy slippers, put the finishing touches on my daughter's backpack, and then make the dog a costume for every holiday so he won't feel left out.  I can do all these things because I am wearing this fine, practical dirndl."  Yeah.  Because that happens in the average household.  And when exactly did fleece become the fabric of the new millenium?  Sure, it's warm and comfy, but even here in the toasty Gates of Hell South there is fleece o'plenty available for purchase, and not just in your basic boring colors, either.  Should I feel the need, I can make a robe/coat/blanket/bun warmer/etc. displaying nearly any variety of sports or sports logos, John Deere, assorted animals, Spongebob, Disney characters, camo, animal prints, flowers, and even eco fleece made from recycled plastic.  Somehow I don't find the idea of wearing jammies made from old Coke bottles entirely comforting...in theory, yes--but every single time I'd go to sit down, I would be waiting for the crunch.  You know the one--that noise you make when you start squeezing and playing with your empty water bottle.  I wouldn't want my PJs to creak more than my knees do.

Although I spent nearly an hour there, I somehow miraculously escaped the clutches of Jo-Ann's (siren sewing seductress that she is) empty-handed--which just doesn't happen very often.  Perhaps there is hope for me yet.  Or perhaps I just "don't need no stinkin' dirndl."  Either way, I resisted the call.  For today, at least.  Can all you other crafters and sewers say the same?

Is "Fabric Rehab" a new type of twill?

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