Taking the time…

I have been trying to sew a top over the past few days and it has been most instructive in terms of patience. For a very long time I have had a large length of deep fuscia pink tweed, given to me by my Godmother when she realised she would never get a suit out of it. I do not know the provenance of the tweed but it is definitely a pure wool fabric, has no moth holes, is soft, drapey and heavy and a joy to behold. Thinking that it is rather a costly fabric, I have been afraid to exercise my amateurish sewing skills on it lest I ruin it.

However, after I successfully managed to create this top many months ago, I decided a winter version in the tweed might not be beyond my powers, and have been plotting it half-heartedly since then. And when I saw Kate’s magnificent Harris Tweed Dress and was directed also by Rachael to the recent documentary series about Harris Tweed, I was galvanised to action and immediately cut the pieces and commenced with the sewing of said garment.

I ran into several dilemmas immediately. Firstly, you can’t pleat tweed, so I made darts instead. Secondly, the edges of the tweed seem to fray very easily, so reinforced seams are essential anywhere where there will be stress. Thirdly, I wanted to line the top and add pockets, neither of which were discussed in the pattern. So I improvised, cutting up some old, strange pillowcases I found in my bedsit when I moved there to create the main lining, and using the much-loved cabbage fabric (of which I had only 1m) for the bias-binding and the facings on the top part of the garment.

I love the cabbage fabric and the tweed together and am delighted at the thrifty use of found fabrics for the main lining.

I take a very long time to sew things. I am deliberate and attentive and I baste everything first just to make sure it will not be destroyed when I put it through the sewing machine. And I get very impatient with myself, and wish it was finished already!

But this morning I realised that maybe I can stop seeing sewing my own things as a sort of immediate and rapid activity, and start seeing it in the same way that I see knitting… a timely process, a careful process, a process of trial and error, a process that takes time. I have enlisted help for Friday from the extremely talented Emmylou in order to sort out the hem. In the meantime, I plan to do a little bit on this tomorrow, as I did a little bit today, and eventually it will be finished.

Time is something I am not very good with… I am very impatient! But it seems that increasingly, I am realising how good it is to do things slowly and well. For instance, good tea takes time.

Good Cider – or Hard Cider, if you’re American – takes time.

Sloe Gin (this weekend’s project) takes time. (2 years if you include the time it took us to grow the Blackthorn to this size since according to my blog, it was in 2007 that we first picked sloes and vowed to plant Blackthorn; 2008 was a bad year for soft fruit so our hedge didn’t produce much fruit, and this year, our little thicket is full of sloes.)

Gardening takes time. And if you don’t do things at the proper time or wait the proper time, you lose out.

Thank goodness the caterpillers have no interest in the cabbage print.

I also discovered last week that sitting under conker trees waiting for the conkers to drop in order to record the sound, takes time. A long time. But when it happened, as with everything else, I found it was worth the wait. You might have to listen a few times for the sound, but it’s there, the disturbance of branches and leaves as conkers fall through…

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