Friends, today I’m letting it all hang out. Settle in.
One of the things I thought I’d like to incorporate into my wardrobe is close-fitting, ankle-length trousers. And not the the low-rise professional office worker version that lots of modern women wear these days. The high-waisted, out of the 50s and 60s cigarette pant style. Not so tight that you can’t breathe or sit comfortably, but definitely a bit figure-hugging. One of the iconic Audrey Hepburn looks, if you will.
Source: Barnaby Jack, “Style Icon: Audrey Hepburn”
So I started sewing some pants. They were really cute! And I hate them.
My goal was to make them ankle-length, and to use a stretch fabric for comfort. As a muslin, I used some random red stretch twill from my stash. I measured the pattern pieces to death, and decided to cut an 8 but grade the hips to a 10. In the end I never inserted the zipper but I suspect I could have stood more room still below the waist and above the crotch (you obviously can’t see it but it would be much tighter across the back with the zipper, since I didn’t baste that shut). But moving along, since that’s not the point of this post.
I got the pockets and legs constructed, pin basted the waistband onto the pants, and tried them on. (All you get is a mirror shot in the guest bedroom, sorry.)
Maybe you’re going to look at that photo and say, “But Tasha, they look really cute! They’d be totally adorable with [X, Y, Z]. OMG, I can just see it now!” And since I can’t see my head attached to that photo, I’m actually thinking that, too. But nope.
(So please—no comments saying, “Oh but they’re so cute you should totally finish them” because I’ll know you didn’t actually read the rest of the post. Neener, neener. 😉 )
My feelings aren’t really related to the fit, or their cuteness. The point is I looked at myself in this style in the mirror and I felt like I was wearing someone else’s clothes! I sometimes have a vision of myself frolicking along in trousers like this, cute Breton striped tees and adorable flats. But every time I try it, it doesn’t feel right. So I’ll keep the latter two, but save the former for someone else.
Just because you like a style (and hell, I’d go so far as to say I’ve adored this style of cigarette pants and their shorter capri cousins for years and years!) doesn’t mean it will work for you, and it can be a surprise! Physically yep, I think I can pull them off. But how do I feel in my head about them, seeing them on my body? Weird. Not my style. And not in an “I’m afraid to push my boundaries” way. And not in an “If I just change a little thing here and there, it will make all the difference and I’ll love them in version 2.0 or 3.0” way.
It’s an “I can appreciate and respect that not everything I like in the fashion world makes me feel happy and good about myself when I’m personally wearing it” way. Because those pants are actually pretty damn cute, but they don’t make me feel good. At least not currently. Sure, maybe I’ll try again in a few years. But I’m sewing for me now, not some future wardrobe.
In the end, when we go through all the efforts and trial and error to make things with our own hands, with the skills we’ve learned after much cursing and ripping out and re-learning, we must remember that success isn’t based on only skill or grade of execution, or counted in finished garments alone. Sometimes, there’s more on the (sewing) table than that.
Yes, I could finish the trousers, and I’d be proud of the adorable printed facings inside the pockets and waistband, and that I finally did some straight topstitching without going all wonky for once, and the fact that I graded something at the hips for the first time and it was more-or-less successful on the very first attempt. And the fact that they really are adorable trousers.
But that’s not the only reason you sew clothing for yourself, and it’s not the only reason to consider a project a success.
Should we not feel damn near FANTASTIC about what we make to put on our own bodies? It’s okay if, along the way, we find out that something we love on other people doesn’t actually do it for us personally. If you don’t try it out, how else will you learn what you really love to wear and what you feel good in? And then when you feel good in something you made yourself, and you feel good about the item itself, too…. there’s where FANTASTIC comes in.
And even if you don’t sew for yourself, a lot of what I’ve said in this post still applies. There’s real power in knowing what you like and feel good in, and making that happen. And not being afraid to try different things. And also not being afraid to say when some of those things just aren’t working for you!
I think success can sometimes be found in recognizing what does NOT work for you just as much as what does work for you. This is a case where I’ve recognized that this style (adore it as I may) doesn’t feel right for me. So success can have many faces.
I’m not going to finish the pants, but I’m still calling this project a success.
What’s next on my sewing table? You’ll have to wait and see!