A couple of days ago, Leonidas commented, a propos of New Year’s goals, that you had to plan them, rather than just announcing them. I assume that this admonition was not meant for me in particular, since I am a serious planner. But it is certainly true, unless your goals really is something like “Don’t buy any unneeded yarn.”

One of my goals for this year is to become good at clothing construction, and I have been trying to come up with a good plan for how to achieve this. My first thought was to take a class, but I have not yet found a suitable one. (Although reading Grumperina’s paean to her sewing teacher makes me wonder whether a beginning sewing class might really be just fine for me.) Then I thought I could work my way through a sewing book, but there again, I have not come upon a book that would work for that purpose. I also thought sheer practice might do it, to which end I am planning to make something every week this year. This is a reach-exceeds-the-grasp goal, in that I do not expect to meet it, but figure that having that goal will encourage me to complete a couple of things a month, in which case I am surely bound to get better at it..

Then a  customer came in dressed in a very intriguing outfit. She had high-heeled boots with fur and lacing on the back. Then a skirt made of layers of chiffon in different animal prints, looking as though it was constructed of dozens of scarves tacked to a waistband. Continuing to read upwards, we come to a cocoa-colored top with petals of self-fabric sewn all over it, and an animal-print jacket.

I found it fascinating. I did not examine it to see how it all was constructed.

If you are a knitter, you know that it is completely acceptable to notice someone’s knitting and check it out. The other day I was carrying my new gray bag and a woman came up and said “Hey!” grabbing at my bag, “Look at mine!” She showed me her felted bag, and I showed her mine, opening it to show the details of construction. She was slightly disappointed to find that mine was sewn, but we still had a pleasant little knitting discussion.

You can’t do this with people’s sewing. For one thing, I have found that dressmakers’ goal is to have their clothing look RTW (ready to wear), not handmade. I don’t get this. I would think that a person could be proud of her hand-rolled hems and fine tailoring, but in fact people do not want to hear “Did you make that?” about things they have sewn.

I saw one woman who had a jacket so lovely and with such an interesting construction that I did admire it. She shyly told me that she had had it tailored in Hong Kong, but she did not whip it off so I could check out the details, as a knitter often will.

But I digress. The point is, while I admire the creative and intriguing details of the animal-print woman’s costume, I would never consider wearing it. This made me consider whether it might not be the case that I really need to know everything there is to know about garment construction.

In the real world, I might be fine with just knowing how to follow a pattern accurately, how to make pants and shirts and jackets (I’m pretty good at skirts by now), how to adjust the tension on my sewing machine, stuff like that. This could be a sufficient goal for 2007.