Oooo, that sewing rant felt good to have — thanks for listening! I think what interests me about the conversation, as always, is just the funky psychology of making things in general, you know what I mean? Why I like to do this, and not that? Why you like to do that, and not this? Obviously, love is like thread: love makes every stitch, and every seam. But there's so much more — more prosaic stuff, more grainlines and notches and sleeve caps and plackets — there, too. I find the individual choices and motivations endlessly fascinating (as you probably know I do). Sometimes I feel like I could write about it all the livelong day.
But definitely, after a long year of hard paper-work (both the adoption-paperwork kind and the book-writing patternwork kind, where Alicia-laziness was absolutely and obviously not even an option), it feels so good to just spend time deep in piles of fabric (instead of piles of paper), thinking about the little person who will wear these. Will she like dresses? Eh [shrugs], who knows. If she doesn't like 'em now, she'll probably love them in forty years when she becomes a sewing-pattern creator (believe me, I didn't think I'd be doing this when I grew up, either). Or she'll eschew our crazy, crafty ways and become a marine biologist. That'd be cool.
Either way, it's like, when you're sewing for someone you haven't met yet, what can you do but give them these little pieces of yourself, your own small versions of your hopes and dreams for them, spoken in your own particular sort of language. The sewing ideas are coming so fast, and the sewing is so much fun, even the parts I mess up feel funny and sweet and remind me of the me I used to be, long before sewing became a vocation, back when I was just motivated by wanting to see my dress. The one my mom and I talked about when I was seven, or nine, or eleven, as we thumbed through pattern books and then looked for fabric, and picked out ribbon, and found the right buttons. Some of my earliest memories aren't of my mom sewing as much as they are of being in the fabric store with her and my little sisters, thumbing through the big books, learning how to picture that dress in this fabric, with that sleeve (from a different pattern) and that ribbon (instead of lace). It never got boring. Ever. It still never does. For several years after my dad died in 2000, I would find myself on my birthday (which is also the anniversary of the day he died) at the fabric store, just wandering, wandering, alone among the books and bolts; I always felt so small and lost on that day. I would go with no plan. I would feel whatever I felt. But that place: No matter where in the country (or world) you are, no matter what year it is, the fabric store seems like home. It's always the same. And that process of just being able to conjure something beautiful out of it — not something perfect, just something yours: the dress for the girl you want to be — always has brought me peace. And brought me back.
To this day, that aisle-wander is still my go-to happy place, when nothing else feels right. Or even when it does. It's where I go when I'm happy or sad. My friend Sarah loves the grocery store. My sister loves the garden center. At one point in my life I would've probably also said Union Station was my happy place. Or sitting on the Empire Builder, a thousand miles away, somewhere near Cut Bank, Montana, sometime in (the golden light of) late August. Like the others, I see now that this little dress is just a little wish. This one: that our girl will know the beauty of the Big Sky.