Monday, January 01, 2007

Butterick patterns and the missing jacket button

I have a favorite jacket that my Mom bought for me some time ago. It's soft and warm and brown. I call it my comfort jacket. It's not a fancy name brand, nor would it pass for something a GQ model would wear for a photo shoot, but it fits my life and style to a T and I like how it looks on me.

What more could a man ask for in a jacket.

Then I popped a button. It was torn asunder by a drive-by door frame.

I was home visiting for a spell and my Mom tried to find a matching one. She succeeded in finding something similar and got it attached as well as she could, considering the gaping hole left by the violent exit of the previous button dweller.

These aren't normal buttons. They are more like ogre-sized rivets, which aren't sewn onto the material, but punched through a pre-sewn hole. This hole now closely resembled the 1st Street Tunnel.

The new button/rivet worked for awhile, but one day I looked down and found it was missing as well, gone to the place where all failed buttons and dryer socks end up.

Unable to locate a matching button at the local craft/sewing center at Wal Mart, I trekked into the city (while running other errands of course...what am I, a gas hogging/time guzzling no goodnick?) to where I thought my best chances of finding a matching button/rivet would be found.

A sewing/fabric store.

A quick look around determined this was not the domain of man.

Intrepid consumer that I am, I proceeded past the bolts of brightly colored fabric, touching the velvety looking ones as I sauntered past (kids and men are allowed to do this), bypassing the highly coiffed and bespeckled cutting table ladies with their fiskars at the ready, and onto the button section.

Egads! I found myself suddenly surrounded by the printed smiling faces of thousands upon thousands of models sporting fluoride whitened smiles and snazzy outfits that "could be made at home," but were obviously made by professional seamstresses with major seat time at their Bernina's.

I flashed back to the last time I sat perusing dress and clothing patterns made by the likes of Butterick, McCalls, and Vogue.

(Begin flashback music here...)

I was with my then girlfriend and her mother, watching them flip through dress patterns that they were going to make for our upcoming High School Sr. Prom. I was feigning as much interest as my 17-year old mind could muster under the circumstances, nodding appropriately and speaking when spoken to.

They found one they liked. I of course concurred enthusiastically, already thinking about the sushi lunch her Mom was going to treat us to, when they then announced that all they needed to find was the perfect material of which to make dress out of.

I got to carry the selected packaged dress pattern around as we made our way through the rows upon rows of bolts of fabric -- remember The Matrix scene when Tank asks Neo what he needs besides a miracle, to which he replies, "Guns, lots of guns." and out of the distance materializes more gun racks than all the Bass Pro Shops retail chains combined could muster?

That's how many bolts of fabric we faced. Least, that's the way I remember it.

Finally, a material was selected and they both turned to me to decipher how much fabric we'd need to cover my girlfriend's body, modestly of course.

Palms sweating, I scanned the back of the pattern package for the correct sizing chart, ran my fingers along the corresponding x and y coordinates, and thought I came up with the correct yardage amount for her dress size -- of course I knew my girlfriends bust-waist-hip measurements...I was only 17 but not without some sense of what was important to the female psyche...and that damn line in The Commodores song, Brick House, didn't help much, I must say ("36-24-36, ow, what a winning hand...")

I blurted out the magic number.

Taking this number, my girlfriend's Mother quickly calculated in her head and decided it was wrong. I could see it in her face as she turned to her daughter for corroboration.

Knowing better, I relenquished control of the pattern package over to my girlfriend, who found the same magic number. I was validated.

First, my girlfriend pointed out her waist measurement on the chart, then her hips, and finally her bust size.

To which her Mother replied, "is that it?

It was a quiet lunch at the sushi bar, and I've never mentioned this anecdote to anyone. I'm pretty sure my old girlfriend isn't a YASTM blog reader as well.

Funny what pops into your temporal lobe while stalking a matching button/rivet for your favorite winter coat.

I never did find a matching button. The results are below. It's not pretty, but it's functional. Like me.

Firing up: "Driving with the Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels and the Birth of NASCAR, " by Neal Thompson

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