[In the fall, Jonathan Vatner, Hue staff writer, took an introductory menswear sewing class. He has been blogging about his experiences on Hue, Too.]
For our last class, we brought together a potluck meal; Professor Blackman put down a paper-and-fabric tablecloth, and we feasted. I had mashed up some purple potatoes which ended up looking decidedly gray and did my best to market them to my fellow students.
“Purple potatoes are in vogue, you know,” I said, while scooping up what everyone else brought.
A student turned to me and said, “It’s really good—”
“Oh, thanks!” I replied, before he could finish.
“—that we’re finally done,” he said.
Professor Blackman asked if any of us had lingering questions, then proceeded to grade our shirts, which were lined up on dress forms at the front of the room. He popped open the top button and inspected the collar band, then lifted the arm to see if all the seams came together perfectly at the armpit. Then he scribbled some notes on a scrap of paper and pinned it onto the shirt.
When he got to mine, a sudden nausea overtook me and I averted my eyes. With the dickey, the grade didn’t matter: I had given him all that I had time for. But I had poured my soul—not to mention my weekend—into this shirt. I really wanted an A. I knew what was wrong with it—the hem was all bunched and the collar still wasn’t right—I just hoped he wouldn’t look very closely.
I plucked the piece of paper off my shirt and read it.
Your stitches are too small.
Stitch on band.
He had drawn a diagram to show me exactly what I had done wrong. I felt a wave of disappointment, followed by a counterwave of appreciation. He really wanted me to sew the perfect shirt, even if I hadn’t done it in his class.
I hung my shirt back on its hanger and went home.