I have a dark secret: I am afraid to cut into cloth for the first time when I begin making something.
This despite being an experienced pattern making, sewing, and crafting maven.
When the scissors go through the cloth, it makes a whispering noise, and a rumble as the scissors graze the table. It is visceral to me, like having my fingernails or hair cut.
But unlike hair and fingernails, fabric doesn’t grow back into whole cloth again. If you are sewing, you can rip out seams a few times before the fabric gets worn-looking, but once the scissors have nipped a little to much to the left or right, you can’t magically put it back together.
Beyond that there is a deeper fear. One of the reasons I love to sew is that it presents all these possibilities. A piece of fabric could become anything. A piece of cloth, long and rectangular can become a shirt, a bag, a tent, a skirt, a hat, a dress! But the minute you cut a little here and there, the minute it is no longer full of infinite possibilities. If you cut one way it becomes an A-line, another a circle-skirt.
It goes from limitless to limited in a split second with that whispering growling sound of the scissors running against the table.
But without cutting into the cloth, there is only so much practical use for it. Yards of fabric can’t just be tied onto the body and pinned in place. At the very least fabric must be hemmed, and useful though they are, safety pins are not elegant.
To create beauty and draw out what the fabric has to express is the reason that I love designing, patterning, and sewing. And there is no better feeling than to see how the finished product looks, all pressed and buttoned on its new owner.
But still, as I begin to cut, I am flooded with self doubt. Did I listen to the cloth? Have I made it fit properly? Would it be better as one of the other limitless things it could become? Then I take a deep breath and brace myself for the sound of the breaking of a million possibilities. Swoosh, Growl, Snip.
Perhaps that’s why I began to do the slash-and-knit tee-shirts. Because they are something to start with but it isn’t something particularly beautiful, and if I fail, I haven’t ruined an infinite possibility, only a much more limited one. Even still I get a thrill when I cut into the jersey and feel the slice of the fabric on the rotary cutter. But they are cheap, and discarded, so if I fail, the cost is low.
I’m pushing my limitations, cutting into places that I’ve never gone. Trying to say and do the right things without fear so the new possibilities before me can be shaped into a beautiful life. Sometimes though the edges are rough, and it feels more like a crazy quilt than a beautiful mola, but the images are starting to become clear.
Swoosh, Growl, Snip!