Have you ever tried to stop a runaway train with a feather?
Well yesterday this happened to me.
Normally when a new client calls and tells me that she has fabric and a pattern I make an appointment for a “chat” session where I take her measurements and discuss the pattern limitations, pros and cons of the fabric choice and possible costs and delivery time. Sometimes they bring along a garment that is there all time favorite if it is to be copied as a paper pattern and then made up in the new fabric. This all seemed pretty standard and takes 30-40 minutes until yesterday at 10 am.
The phone rang with the new client saying she was 30 minutes from my house and was going to arrive one hour early since she had traveled south about 5 hours on her way to the final destination 12 hours even further south for a high school reunion. OK I can adjust my schedule and mindset.
As she exits her car in front of my house at 10:30 am she emerges with 3 huge bags of fabric and one armload of clothes in garment bags. I welcome her in and she says that she has more to bring in and she whisks herself back out to bring in yet another 3 garment bags full of paper wrapped clothes on hangers and another 2 bags of fabric and patterns.
Once my sewing room is filled to bursting with bags and clothes she strips down and immediately starts her banter. She starts trying on blouse after blouse in all sizes and decades from the 1980’s and size 10 to the present and size 26+.
She says that each blouse requires my comments and suggestions on I am supposed to make this into a paper pattern and then using her not quite right new fabric transform it into something purely flattering and elegant. Looking around for my magic wand my eyes glaze over after the first hour.
As we get into more garment bags and piles of fabric on my ironing board I am watching the clock and thinking this woman has no end to her clothes collection. Each blouse is described as to where she bought it, what decade, where she wore it and who was there at the event she may have attended. There are extra special antidotes like at one time she was a model and wore $500,000 worth of jewelry to a celebrity event. OK I am supposed to be impressed but after seeing this women go through already 12 changes of clothes and calculating that we have only scratched the surface I reluctantly carry on watching the show and my hot cup of coffee now evolving into a room temp latte.
Each bundle of fabric is also described, held up in front of her in the mirror, modeled and a full history is given on where she bought it, why, what year and almost what she had for lunch that day as well. I guess I was supposed to be flattered when she said she had been collecting fabric for over 15 years and waiting to find someone competent enough to cut into it. Sure, some was quite nice, silk chiffon from top designers but most were unlabeled 3-5 yard chunks of something that did not drape or perform what she wanted: “Not cling to my butt”. I tell her that the 100% cotton fabrics will not drape and may cling to her butt as they have no where else to go as gravity pulls them to the floor. Then she says I can line the back of all the blouses with something slippery so they will do what she wants…OK problem solved…why didn’t I think of that???
It was time for me to take about 20 different measurements to record for later pattern comparison but she complains that she NEVER thought she would have to be measured. Well I guess I was supposed to be clairvoyant and just imagine what her dimensions are?This is always the hard part when you write down everything and then flip over the pattern envelope and compare and say “well dear, you are 10 inches bigger than the largest size in this envelope”. Her reply was “that’s not a problem is it?” You want to say st this point “Oh Heck no….I love altering patterns so much that I find this refreshing and challenging and wish all my clients brought me more!”
As we crawl along into the 2.5 possible hour finish line I announce to her that I have no spare room to store all these garments (25) and fabric for her. She says that she wanted to leave me with enough components for a year’s worth of fashions to make. She also says that it took her 1.5 hours the night before to pack all this stuff and she has full intentions of leaving them here and not driving them any further south and on her return drive north in a week she will be dropping more off for copying. At this point I want to run down the hall screaming as I know I have lost this rational argument, this babe is in charge and used to getting her way.
That’s when I said we need a list and a numbering system so I know what is first in the sequence. The list was made and finally she wandered out into the sunshine minus a load of clothes and fabrics and more room in her trunk.
I look back at the clock and it almost 1:30 pm and wonder what all that was and where did my morning go?
Even though the woman talked non-stop about her life and gala events and black tie dinners and jewelry I get the sneaking suspicion that after I make the first paper pattern and garment and charge her my normal rate things may change. She knows my hourly rates but in the heat and flurry of flying clothes and hangers and wild ideas and bragging she may still have the idea that we little seamstresses work for $5 an hour and would be grateful for such a huge project. We shall see.