Friday 23 January 2015

Garment 7: Cygnet

This is the fabric that started my fascination with ugly-duckling, polyester double-knit. It came as a donation to OSF, probably from Addie's stash. I had what could only be described as a "strong, negative visceral reaction" to it as I rolled the jagged remnant, tied on the pink elastic and dumped it into the "ready" bin. I shuddered. I tsked. I snorted. Ew, grey and beige...what! What the heck is this print supposed to be, exactly? Apples? Playing cards? Exploding cupcake batter? All three? What was the designer thinking? What was the point of this fabric? Surely there was no piece of material less likely to inspire. It was so uninspiring, in fact, that I couldn't stop thinking about it.

I tucked it into my volunteer appreciation bag with a challenge to myself to make its existence meaningful. Or at least try. Until that point I had never worked with polyester double-knit, having a marked prejudice against it that people often teased me about. Static-y, non-breathing, so unnatural-feeling. It reminded me of the imitation jeans I wore in the early 70s. The sweatiness of it all! It would be a real challenge just to enter in to the challenge.

I vaguely intended to make a shortie, Beatles-esque, collarless jacket, but that afternoon I went for tea with two fellow volunteers at OSF, and they challenged me to leave my comfort zone: I was instructed to make a baseball jacket. A baseball jacket? That would never have occurred to me! I couldn't sleep for the excitement. As soon as I found two hours to rub together I began a riff on a jacket I wore c. 1980: it was metallic brownish-gold, hip-length, raglan-sleeved, and stiffened uncomfortably in cold weather. When it was no longer remotely stylish I consigned it to my (then embryonic) fabric stash, where it stayed until it became completely adhered to itself with sticky decay. 

There was less than a metre of the fabric, so I pulled out some water-proof "technical fabric" for the rest, and tied it together with some donated, reject, reflective piping. It is lined with a piece of buttery soft Bemberg I had on hand, and closes with an old, metal zipper, also from my stash.

What a pleasure to sew! The polyester didn't fight me at all! And it comes out of the dryer needing no further assistance to look its unwrinkled best. No wonder polyester became so popular in the '70s!

To my delight, the response to the jacket has been very positive; strangers have feelings about it they feel compelled to share with me. I've got plans for another, to be sewn from a particularly offensive piece of fabric that also completely baffles me (see left). The jostled imperialist, holding tight to his top hat shouts over the sound of the traffic, "Peace, rickshaw driver, but could you possibly pick up the pace?"

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