Whenever I start sweating I take the cardigan off. I have taken loving care of my thin, white cardigan since I was in seventh grade, when I added this garment to my huge collection of nearly useless cardigans. Living in Mission Viejo, Southern California, the warm weather meant that I really didn’t need another cardigan, especially not a surf-brand, mass-produced Macy’s-bought one that started falling apart as soon as I started wearing it. One by one the buttons fell off—they’re so heavy—big, round, glossy black buttons and inch-and-a-half diameter each. They were attached to the gauzy, white fabric with a single strand of thread. I fixed that by learning to machine sew—to sew buttons you have to use a zig-zag stitch the exact width of the button holes, ¼ inch apart, or the needle will break. I made the cardigan better, sturdier, stronger. Sewing on these 5 buttons was such a big project, but since then I have made dresses, skirts and backpacks, always developing my skills and always taking care of my thin, white cardigan even though it’s almost impossible to wear at home in the sun.
This story was written for Emily Spivack’s workshop at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia on May 6th, 2015.