That's how I knew it was for me. Things got even better when I turned over the pattern package and saw these words:
Sewing this dress is scientifically proven to assuage guilt for placing twins in preschool.
I glanced over my shoulder. Was this some kind of setup? Does JoAnn Fabrics read my blog?
And then I read on: It is a truth universally acknowledged that mothers who sew dresses for their daughters are Good Mothers.
In days of yore, I would have spent hours poring over pattern books, drooling over fancy gowns. Of course, this is what is known as: PERFECTIONISM & PROCRASTINATION.
It's what I rock at. It's also what keeps me from FINISHING projects.
So, this time I knew better. I yanked two bolts of on-sale fabric off the rack, swiped two spools of matching thread and paid for everything in less time than it usually takes me to sniff through one aisle of fabrics.
Yes, I sniff fabric. Doesn't everyone? Honestly, there is nothing more evocative of the good things from your fundamentalist childhood than the smell of a fine bolt of 100% cotton. Bonus points if it's a big-bloom floral pattern.
But I digress.
Point is: I needed to do a project. No, I needed to finish a project! For whatever reason, the process of sewing acts like prozac on my brain. Which is to say, there are few things more satisfying in life than winding the bobbin.
Well, OK. There are a few things more satisfying; namely, 2 finished and perfectly pressed summer dresses for my twins.
Maybe that sense of accomplishment is what banished the nightmares I'd been having. Instead of dreaming about my twins drowning in the pool, I was dreaming about drowning in spools of handcrafted lace.
I got so deeply into this project, that I started writing supplementary advice on the pattern instructions. (Seriously, Butterick needs to hire better writers for their pattern instructions–easy-to-sew, maybe, but not easy-to-freakin'-understand!).
The best part about sewing for twins is that I get to sew the same pattern twice. The first dress is sorta like the guinea pig. The second dress? Hard-core COUTURE, baby.
I even took it a few steps farther and added cute little buttons, some decorative lace and yeah, I even professionally finished the seams.
Clearly, I've traded my PTSD for OCD. But dude. SO WORTH IT. Like, in what other life situation is it acceptable–nay, admirable–to crank your perfectionism into high gear? The sheer pleasure I get from channeling that into perfectly finished seams is beyond explanation.
I think in the child-free world they call this aesthetics. Forget expensive artwork, I could frame that sucker, slap it up on my wall and stare all day at the aesthetic beauty of a finely finished seam.
I mean, I can almost feel myself morphing into a sewing snob. I see myself slouching around in an avant-garde kimono made entirely from vintage measuring tape. I only buy designer fabric from couture boutiques and only drink black coffee from demitasse cups. I think anything less than a French Seam is tres tacky.
Most annoyingly, I start using French words in everyday conversation.
I dunno, sewing has an interesting effect on me. It's very soothing. I wind the bobbin and my brain unwinds. I sit by the window sewing a button into place and I start humming a merry little tune.
(This from someone who is violently allergic to humming, merry or otherwise.)
I'm not exactly sure how this is happening, but somehow, sewing seems to be rewiring my brain. The panicky feelings have definitively subsided. After an hour of sewing each day I feel more cheerful, hopeful. I even found myself thinking: Abusive fundamentalism? Eh. It could have been worse.
It's a surprising change of perspective. And more than a little ironic. I wouldn't know how to sew unless I'd been raised in a fundamentalist group that placed a high priority on young girls learning the art of homemaking. I gotta be honest and say that learning to sew was a beautiful gift from my childhood.
It's a gift I'm now using to sew my way out of PTSD triggered depression.
I think we call that poetic justice.