Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Four Holes, Doubles, and Shanks

I finally completed my long-awaited first apparel design.  It's nothing extraordinary by any means but it is something I created from my own imagination, and it is actually a final product.  If you ask me, final products are the easiest things to envision, but the hardest task to accomplish.  You see, in between the original idea and the final project are pitfalls, adjustments, and worst of all other things that grab our attention.

This project was different though.  Maybe because it had been culminating in a little red box on my night stand for the past three years to the point where it was just becoming "clutter."  This little red box was filled with buttons.  Buttons of all different sizes and designs from various items of clothing I had purchased in those three years.  For some reason, unlike the average (probably less neurotic) person, I always save the buttons that come in the tiny baggies on clothes. The complimentary replacement buttons if you will. I guess I just have always liked buttons and could never bear to see them tossed in the trash. Really I suppose they weren't much better off in this red container either.

I decided to look through my small button collection one day for no other reason than I like to take random inventory checks of useless items I stash away. Going through them I realized I had quite the unique collection. As far as button collections go at least. I had huge ones, tiny ones, faux pearls, rhinestones, and even silk buttons. They came in blacks, navies, beiges, reds, and purples. Some of them had four holes, others two, and even others just one. It occurred to me that it wasn't right to be so "pro-life" for buttons, but ultimately just keep them stowed away with no one to show off their beauty to.

So, I decided to take action. My buttons would become the design for a shirt. I knew it would be a successful concept because when I was around four years old I had a a shirt that was designed with buttons. Clearly, this had staying power. It took quite the search, but eventually I found the right shirt to accentuate each and every button's character. Then came the real challenge. Sewing them. When I was about 10 years old I went through a short stint as a steamstress, creating a vest and handbag, but after the small success of those endeavors my interests moved elsewhere. After that my domestic resume kind of ends. If you'll notice, button sewing was never on it. I was 22 years old, a senior in college, accomplished shopper and music playlist creator, but I had no idea how to sew a button. So, like all other domestic pickles I find myself in, I turned to my Mother. Supportive and encouraging are not exactly the words I would use to describe these lessons I received. She sewed one button and turned the rest of the project over to me. I was expecting her to do the whole thing, but decided to take a stab at it. Stab is exactly what I did. All over my hand, forearm, tongue, and there was a very close encounter with my right eye. I stitched the front and backside together. Multiple times. I created creases and pleats. From sewing bits of the fabric together. I'm not even going to speak of the severe migraine that is the shank button. It was a trying experience. Let's just say, thank God I didn't go for the Banana Republic knit top I originally wanted for the project.

Two months and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears later (again from the stabbing that took place with the needle) my creation was complete. I was so proud of myself that I just couldn't wait to wear it out and brag to everyone that I was wearing a truly original design. So I changed right into it and did my makeup. The end. Liquid makeup splattered onto my ivory shirt. I tried to salvage it as quickly and safely as possible, but about nothing I do is safe, and the only thing that was fast was the speed of the stain spreading. I felt defeated. (No worries though, I was still able to manage to put together a great outfit that night). I couldn't let the stain ruin the shirt's existence though. I owed it to those little buttons. One week and three washes later, I was back behind the needle and thread. A few snips and strategic moves later there were hardly any traces of a stain being there. Proud of my newly found domesticity once again, the shirt went on, the makeup was very carefully dabbed, and the shirt debuted. I could finally call it a success!

My red container still exists with buttons next to my bed. Though currently I am on a bit of a sabbatical, I do intend on designing more items with buttons. Luckily for me too, black is always in.

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