Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Fourth of July to everyone, and I hope you all spend the day as our founders desired - picnicking and celebrating with family and friends.

I've been thinking about personal independence days as well. By this I mean when I learned how to do something that allowed me to be free to make my own choices, culinarily, stylistically or otherwise. Here are a few of mine, which I will be privately celebrating today:

Bread Baking Day! Way back when I was a student at Berkeley, the future Mr. Hunting Creek and I used to combine our resources and cook together. We were always broke, but had high culinary standards. I decided to teach myself how to bake bread. In true Berkeley style, I went to the University Library and checked out books on this subject and read all about it. My first attempt was disappointing - somewhat like a brick and ugly too. However, with further study and a little practice, on my second attempt I made bread that looked and tasted like BREAD. There was no turning back. I was then able to make our own rolls, pizza dough, pie crust and sandwich bread for pennies. I felt like a goddess.

Making my first blouse: I wanted to learn how to sew, so my mother took me to visit a friend who had a teenage daughter who sewed. She felt like I would learn better from someone my own age. This girl was older than I, and one of the cool kids, but she was nice enough to show a ten year old the basics. However, her working style was somewhat slapdash, and when we got home, my mother cast a critical eye over the finishing details on the inside and said, "that's not the right way to make a blouse!". My young teacher had just had me sew the seams together with all raw edges everywhere and no finishing, right in style now with many avant-garde designers, but anathema to my mother's generation. Out came the seam ripper and we redid everything until it was done right according to my mother's high standards. To this day I am unable to do anything in the "quick and dirty style"; even a costume has to be finished correctly. I'm sure Dr Freud would have plenty to say about this! Once it was done correctly, even a sullen preteen had to admit it looked better. Thanks, Mom!

Learning how to fit: after I had had my children and was a busy working mom, I was unhappy with the way patterns fit. I was no long the young skinny thing who could make patterns right out of the envelope, but I was unhappy with the patterns made according to my measurements. They were sloppy looking, too big or just plain wrong. Then I discovered PatternReview and read a few reviews by women who were also large busted. When I read the tutorials they had added showing how they did the full bust adjustment, you could have knocked me over with a feather - OF COURSE! That's what was wrong! There was a secret I didn't know! Cue angels singing and the trumpets blowing! I would especially like to credit Ann at Gorgeous Things , Debbie Cook and the Sewing Divas for their generous tutorials.
After that, there was no turning back. I could make my own clothes that fit correctly. I was no longer a slave to RTW.

Happy Independence Day!

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