Sunday, April 20, 2014

Revisiting Old Things

I used to sew. I started doing it in earnest when Michael and I moved to Illinois in 1985. I found it very relaxing. I sewed dresses using Laura Ashley patterns, and I sewed maternity clothes. I sewed curtains for our house. I sewed things for Michael (he still uses one of the three robes I made for him), and I sewed baby and toddler clothes for our children.

My sewing machine broke around the time I started playing violin, and I forgot about sewing. The red-checkered kitchen curtains I made back in 1992 became so faded that we decided to replace them (with new red-checkered curtains, of course) about a month ago, and on a whim I decided to spend $100 on a new sewing machine so that I could hem them.

Then I found the fabric sites that the internet has to offer, and I bought several yards of lawn fabric (two different prints) and a dress pattern.

Yesterday I cut, and today I sewed. I couldn't finish what I was making because I misjudged the amount of fabric I needed, and I had to order more.

I used to think that arranging music (music written by someone else) was a lot like sewing. If you have great material to work with, your main charge is not to do anything that lessens the quality of the material. Writing music from scratch is a totally different experience.

While I was sewing I was thinking about my opera in progress (I have an introduction and about 6 minutes of music so far), and I was thinking about how much sewing is not like writing music. Composing is more like spinning the thread, weaving it, designing the pattern, and dying it.

Sewing from a pattern is satisfying because all you really have to do is follow the directions exactly in order to have your project come out properly. If you take extra care and correct mistakes, it can even come out looking nice.

Now that I am back in the "sewing" of things, I realize how difficult composing actually is.

I also ate beef stew for the first time in ten years this evening.

My life is a-jumble with returning sensations.

1 comment:

Quodlibet said...

A lovely and thought-proviking post! I also used to sew a lot (used to make many of my own clothes) and your extended metaphor is very apt. There's more to sewing than simply following directions, however; as with music, whether performning or arranging music of others, sewing well requires good technique and practice in order to develop enough skill to really accomplish anything.

By coincidence, several weeks ago I also brought out my sewing machine ... your essay inspires me to DO something with it.