Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How It Works

So anyway yesterday I got to the actual sewing part of making a blouse I haven't made before (View F) and the second step was to pin the "front" to the "side front." So I laid out the front pieces, and laid the side front pieces on top of them. And then I reversed them. And then I turned one of them upside down. And then I looked at the drawing in the instructions. And then I laid them out again. And then I dug out the cut pieces of pattern again and checked that yes, these were the front and the side front and no, I wasn't missing any bits of them. Though I did discover that I'd overlooked the top back piece, and had to get it out of the pattern bag, cut out the top back pattern piece, clear everything off the cutting table, lay the fabric out again, and cut the top back. Which didn't help. But since I had the pattern pieces out I looked them over, made sure I knew which way they were supposed to be oriented in relation to each other, and I pinned the front to the side front as best I could. None of this was helped by the fact that it was too hot to go without the ceiling fans in the sewing room and not hot enough to justify turning on the massively inefficient air conditioner in the adjacent game room, so my pieces wouldn't lie still.

The problem, you see, is that there's a massive curve on the side front piece, while the front piece is almost completely straight. Also, there's no facing pieces for the armholes, which worried and distracted me.

But I got the piece pinned, walked off, ate some ice cream, read a bit, and thought about those two pieces. They have to fit together - the pattern says so. It's just like the two essential scenes that have to be adjacent to each other in the book but don't have obvious connections. How exactly does the character get to Point B from Point A in time for the second scene? And given the rules laid down by the teacher in the first scene, isn't the necessary behavior of the secondary character in the second scene too massively risky and stupid? So you think and you rearrange and you tear your hair out and you draw a map of the playground and name the class turtle and eventually, all you can do is sit down to write the first scene knowing that the second scene is coming up and if you just get it all down in rough you can fix it in revision.

So I said: "As ye sew, so shall ye rip," and I returned to those pieces, fiddled with and repinned them a bit, and I sewed them. It took a lot of coaxing to get the pieces to lie flat to each other, but they only have to do that while within a certain range of the needle and it was indeed possible. And while I was ironing the result I realized; "Oh, this is doing the same job as darts at the bust and waist!" Which, trust me, made sense of the whole thing; and also points me in the direction I need to go if I have to revise the fit, because I know what to do with a dart that doesn't fit me. (I usually have to shorten it; not sure how to do that here but I'll burn that bridge when I get to it.) Just like, when I'm writing a story, I don't realize that the job of the playground scene is to show the relationship between the protagonist and the clique which will reach its crisis in the conflict over the class turtle introduced in the classroom scene, even though when I first started writing I didn't even know the class had a turtle; and once I know that, I know I'll be able to make it all work.

Demonstrating yet again that it doesn't matter what you're making, the underlying processes of creating it are the same.

(And no, I don't actually have a story under way about playgrounds and class turtles. Those are by way of example and I don't know where they came from. Which might or might not mean they're going somewhere.)

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