Last week I impulsively bought a vintage swimsuit knowing that alterations would be necessary for it to fit. I figured I was up for the task. It was a size or two (or three) too big, but having more material to work with rather than less seemed good.
Last night, I gave the alterations a shot, and while I didn't run into any problems working with the swimsuit fabric, I did discover that no amount of cutting and sewing would remedy the suit.
It is just a little too large for alterations to fix the fit properly. I was able to take in the sides, but the low back refused to lie flat. The general proportions of the suit just didn't allow for the placement of fabric I needed to rework it.
So, a $25 experiment that failed. We love to share our successes. But it's important to share failure as well, because that's how we gain experience. I don't regret the experiment. Plus, failing means you tried.
Before failure was declared, as I was tugging a thread of stitches along the bust, gathering fabric along the taut line before sewing it in place, I thought about when my mom taught me this trick. How to ruche the material into neat little ruffles with a basting stitch.
I remember other lessons too, some more clearly than others, all filed away in overlapping parts of memory: Mom, and Sewing.
How to thread a drawstring through a waistband with a safety pin. How to tie a knot with two fingers. How to sew a skinny strap then flip it inside out so the seam doesn't show. How to let down a coat cuff by extending the lining inside the sleeve.
Oftentimes I feel like I should have more authority on this blog, that I should project a carefully crafted voice of experience, sharing how-tos and guides to this and that. But I'm not really an authority. What I share ends up less like a polished product and more like a word-vomit of emotions. It's good that I'm not selling you something because I don't know I'd be very good at it.
Tomorrow I'm heading down to the beach, to the family beach house my mom decorated before she passed. I love to go there because it just exudes her presence. She was so excited about the beach house. She hung her kid's artwork all over it and lovingly made little baskets of toiletries that live in each bathroom. She only got to enjoy it for maybe a year before she died.
I'm hoping to recharge so that I can return home on Sunday, ready to attack the next month with focus and efficiency. I will be without the failed swimsuit, but with the perfectly fine other swimsuit. There will be sun, there will be ocean. What else is there?