Another blogger just did an interview with me about the conception of this blog (more on the interview to come!), and it made me realize how little of that I've shared here. Or anywhere, for that matter. It's a bit of a dramatic tale, filled with uncertainty, job loss, drinking - and an existential crisis at its core. (Hey, I told you it was dramatic!) If that sort of thing interests you, by all means, read on. I guess I'm in the mood for some soul-baring.
Last September, I came across a book called Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing on the internet. It's a guide from 1952, that, through the completion of 14 Vogue patterns, promised to make one an expert home seamstress. The projects were so fabulous--an evening gown, a silk shantung shirtdress, a fitted flannel suit, that sort of thing. The first copy I saw was a whopping $75. (It's still for sale here.) I knew I had to have the book, so through a bit of patience and Googling, I found a copy for $10.25 on Alibris.com. It was a little worse for wear, but beautiful all the same.
When I received the book, reality set in. What was I going to do with this thing? Track down all the patterns from 1952 and make them? That seemed ridiculous. But when I picked up the book again after setting it aside for many months, that's exactly what I decided to do.
My life situation had changed at that point, to say the least. I lost my job in February of this year, and I was crushed about it. I was a children's book editor, and with the way jobs were disappearing in the publishing industry, I felt like that career was over for me. The way I dealt with this was to cry about it and drink too much. Productive, eh?
I did sew a lot during this time, but it was unfocused and a bit depressing. I was in my pjs for the majority of the day, and I didn't really know why I was doing the sewing anymore. Where was I going to wear all these dresses and skirts I was making, anyway?
Well, without going into too much detail, about a month and a half after being laid off, it became clear that drinking was doing nothing to solve my problems. I decided to quit, even though the thought of it made me feel like my life was over.
Well, I guess my life was just beginning, actually, as these tales often go. I suddenly had a lot more free time and a lot more focus. When I picked up Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing (or VoNBBS, as I now affectionately call it) again, the idea of completing the projects not only seemed doable, it seemed like exactly the thing I needed to get some direction in my new sober life. I still didn't have occasions at which to wear my new clothes, but who cared? It was for a bigger purpose.
I threw myself into the project as I had thrown myself into despair over my job loss. I started locating some of the patterns on the internet, and I wrote my first blog post on June 22nd. I guess I haven't really looked back since then, even though it's been more challenging than I could have anticipated. But it gave me something priceless: something creative and steady, when every thing else seemed a little scary.
Other things have turned around, too. I got a dream job offer, working for one of the best children's book publishers around. I have this new clarity that makes the VoNBBS project possible. I have the focus to (hopefully) excel at my job.
Of course, things aren't all coming up roses. Well, not every day. I sometimes forget how to hem, I can't make a handworked buttonhole, and I have trouble balancing work and sewing. But the problems are generally easier to handle than before.
So there's the story. At this point, I've completed three of the projects from VoNBBS, and am working on the fourth. I can't wait to keep going.
Thanks for reading.
Yours, as always,