This past week I’ve been tackling some familiar boxes in my basement re-organization project. They’re actually not even boxes. They are all sizes of clear, zippered bags that held comforters, pillowcases and the like from friends and family that I solicited over the years for my massive trim and ribbon collection. And yes, you could find me around the Christmas tree sorting the recyclables and stuffing zippered plastic bags in my loot bag.
With all of the trim and notions, one would think I was a master seamstress who could be found adding delicate lace trim to Cinderella-like gowns and preppy grosgrain to customize whiter-than-white Keds. This is not the case. I do have a few sewing machines, one in actual working order, but I rarely use it. The others I’ve taken apart to see exactly how the machines work.
Going through my bags upon bags of ribbons, zippers, trim and beyond, with my sewing machines staring me down in the background, it occurred to me that I’m not a maker — I’m a conceptor — although I’m pretty sure that’s not really a thing since I haven’t heard about a new Conceptor movement or read any “I See Finished Things In My Brain” headlines.
To me, it’s like a strange superpower that’s often difficult to explain to others. My sewing machine shows me how the beautiful dress is made and holds together. My trim directs me to the many moods and characters that the dress can become. When I line the elements up next to each other, they become an elegant equation with so many liberating variables. I see decision trees and outcomes frolicking in ruffles and rick rack.
So, much more importantly, I see me. I see how I think and what motivates me into action. I see that I am at my best when I have all of the ingredients laid out before me and my visions of how they can work together to become one fantastic whole. I smile at how seemingly incongruous elements can become intimate allies showing off each other in ways not possible if simply tacked onto a bottom hem as a standalone. I see stories rife with conflicts, but a happy ending where everyone gets at least a little piece of what they need to be their best.
For all my lofty thoughts, though, I’m still living above a basement filled with equations of elements and of parts.
I’m keeping the clear bags and my calendar is marked with a two-hour block each week to spend time fashioning the pieces together on a smooth piece of ironed fabric from that collection of mine.
It’s time for me to make the whole and the fantastic. —Caitlin