“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” So begins the opening of Charles Dickens novel, The Tale of Two Cities. While you may not be able to recite the entire first paragraph, you surely know the first two lines. Why? Because storytelling is powerful. Appealing to both our emotions and our intellect, we remember stories more than data, facts or figures. Successful companies and people harness the power of stories to be more persuasive, move people to action and progress their careers.
There are many ways to tell a story. While words are most likely the first thing you think of, moments are also powerful story makers. Some of those stories are like a Jane Austen novel – worth remembering – while others are like Herman Melville’s Moby Dick – total drag. Seven hundred pages of searching for the whale, studying the whale, obsessing over the whale and then “We-discovered-the-whale-and-it-threw-us-overboard!” The end. Wait, what?
Garments tell stories as well. While newly-bought, ready-to-wear clothing have a short history, vintage, upcycled and self-stitched clothing have a deep and rich parable to tell. Within their seams lies a record of experiences and people who have worn them, partied in them, cried in them, slept in them and more. As a hardcore seamstress, these are the stories I like to read and write, metaphorically speaking.
If you are a part of the Flanigan family, the holidays always make epic stories. It’s an obligatory, forced family fun situation that no brother, sister, father, mother or even pet can get out of. Believe me, I’ve presented the option, and my dad presented me with a plane ticket home. Thanks dad. In the past, I’ve allowed the chaos of Christmas to deter me from making gifts. As a self-proclaimed selfish seamstress, the only things I stitched in December were my holiday outfits. But this year, I’m different. More philanthropic. I want the story of Christmas 2015 to involve less mass manufacturing and more handcrafting. That doesn’t mean I will make everyone everything from scratch. Puh-lease! I have 2 yards of paisley wool knit that is dying to become a skirt before December 24.
The first project of several in my semi homemade quest is my attire. Did I already mention that I’m a selfish seamstress? I promise there is some juicy construction bits and bobs in this post and after, we can get on to my philanthropic ways. Deal?
On Christmas Day, there are three outfits we ladies wear. There are the jammies worn that morn while opening presents, there is the holiday outfit worn to dinner that evening, and there is the outfit worn in between. Outfit number 1 and number 3 are figured out. It is outfit number 2 that was undecided. Always in Florida for the holidays – it’s where I’m from and where my family still lives – I’ve struggled with looking festive while being climate appropriate. The solution? Hot pink. It’s the close sister of red, which is synonymous with all things St. Nick, and it is also tropical.
This year, I found a vibrant, vintage knit dress on Etsy that fit the bill. Size 16? Not a problem. Made of a heavy knit similar to ponte, the story that lied within its seams got interesting when I started to take it apart. Any sewer will attest that clothing is not made the way it used to be; old clothes have construction details that were ditched when mass manufacturing took over garment making. As I was taking off the armhole binding so that I could reduce the side seams, I found a lightweight tape inside. Modern day sewing tells sewers to stabilize an armhole by simply staystitching, and prior to seeing this method, I never considered doing it differently. Adding that technique to my arsenal stat. In the end, I couldn’t use the binding because when I recut the armhole, the circumference increased and the binding wasn’t long enough. So I replaced it with gold, store-bought binding gifted to me by Katy & Laney. Thanks gals!
Now that my outfit is on lockdown, what’s next? The gifts I’m making for my family – ties and tees – and how I’m teaching two women at work how to make a holiday skirt. Stay tuned!