Are you fascinated by the sewing machine ? I am ! As a child I watched with joy when Maa tailored our outfits , school uniforms , pyjama & kurta for my grand pa, pillow slips , sari blouses and one time she even stitched fabric upholstery for her car !
I have very vivid memories of our periodic pilgrimages to the vibrant and bustling wholesale cloth marts . The fabrics , the textures, lace , buttons , piping tape ,elastic ,satin ribbons , thread spools and skeins ,wool , ice gola and chilled Jal jeera . It was magical . I dreamed of tailoring long silk gowns with satin sashes, gold buttons and rich Scottish lace .
And then one beautiful summer morning we started out sewing lessons , my sister and me .We ‘ designed ‘ our clothes , soft furnishings , handkerchiefs and even sewed lace on tea towels ! We used to sit for hours on the floor with our hand machines so we were called Tailor maids ! ( Now anyone who has spent a considerable part of their childhood in Delhi will remember the nippy winter mornings , the senior ladies of the house sitting in the back yard on a charpai busy sewing )
Tailor … the artist.
Decades ago I got an opportunity to attend a tailoring work shop .One of the speakers compared tailoring to an art form . When I think of art , what comes to my mind is paints , easels , brushes , sketches and sculptures . I learned that like an artist the tailor too should become acquainted with the harmony of outline, the graceful curve , the unity of a design and the aesthetic use of colours and textures .
To put it a little poetically the tailoring artist sews together vowels and consonants of the silent language of creation with which nature discloses all that is beautiful, all that is lovely and all that is sublime! It is combining colour and form to create something unique.
Hand crafted vs Manufactured .
I think this comparison is unfair yet those in favour of custom tailored garments feel mass manufactured ones remind them of a landscape viewed through a mist with dark clouds looming gloomily making it dull, heavy and lifeless ! While clothes lovingly stitched by hand, guided by the intellect, and inspired by the heart are like the same landscape when the sun falls gently to light up every leaf and every flower , the dew drops sparkling like little diamonds and the stuccoed orange wall aglow casting colourful shadows . Jeans , bubble jackets , skiing outfits ..are you willing to appear out of a tailor’s shed ? Or would you be more comfortable in an apparel manufacturing community ?Its your call .
The three main aims of home tailoring .
To beautify: a garment that you have tailored yourself is flattering to your persona and it outlasts and overrides fashion . An outfit that truly enhances is said to be more beautiful than any ephemeral ‘fashion item’.
To elevate : there is a marked difference in a manufactured garment which often times may look like a uniform .. same pattern, same print just comes in different sizes .While it is argued that a hand crafted one is more eye catching ! This does not mean that a manufactured garment is bad . For the bespoke dress is in any master tailor’s words, “intended to fit a human body with its prominences and depressions and not to lay flat on a counter”.
To enable : When we look at mass manufactured garments we find that people with in between standard sizes cannot find a perfect fit . While a tailored one enables the wearer to look and feel good .
All may not be as it seams.
Seams will always command respect and attention from a tailor who desires to be an artist.It is important that the seams are located gracefully . And the cardinal rule is that one has to understand the beauty of the curve, no sharp angles and very few straight lines . It adds to the magic quotient and through this emotional osmosis emerges a perfect hand crafted garment !
Whats love gotta do with it ? Everything .
Tailoring a garment is not about money . Its about how you make the person feel in that special dress .
Tailoring is an art which is second to none. Being able to create an artistic covering for family , friends or customers , hiding their deformities, covering up their imperfections and bringing out all that is majestic and beautiful in their form, magnificent in character, and thus adding completeness to the sweeter symmetries of our being.
So I am raising a salute to the humble charm of the Sewing Machine , to a life bound by family and the thread that ties us all together .
*To my late mother Nalini Mulky , my teacher till the end of time .Thank you Maa !
*And to my inspirstion and a legendary seamstress who has been instrumental in helping hundreds of youngsters fall in love with the art of tailoring! Put your hands together for Meenakshi S Rao ! Love you akka !
Trivial trivia :
Who invented the sewing machine ? Quora has some interesting articles !