Coming Apart At the Seams

Fitting the Pattern by Christine Wilks

Published originally in 2008


We all have stories about growing up and in “Fitting the Pattern or being a dressmaker’s daughter” a memoir in pieces, author Christine Wilks, shares with us hers. Her story about her changing relationship with her mother, herself and the clothes her mother made for her. Wilks expresses her story through a highly interactive text. Instead of clicking through words or typing answers the audience is presented with several sewing implements: a pair of scissors, a sewing machine, a trio of straight pins and a seam ripper. With these the audience cuts through fabric , mends garments and rips seams to reveal the lines of lyrical text within the work. With each piece of fabric that falls away or is mended a little more of the story is revealed.

“ I always felt I should fit the clothes rather that the clothes should fit me with is ironic really…”

In the beginning of the text, we are introduced to Wilks in her youth. She desires nothing more than to do exactly what the title of the work implies, to fit the pattern of behavior and clothing her mother works so strenuously to give her. Wilkes yearns to be the perfect daughter to her mother. Her mother always follows the pattern, thus following the rules. Something that Wilkes herself has some difficulty with. Later in the text when she is no longer interested or able to follow the “pattern” she feels as if she is “coming apart at the seams” and letting her mother down.


I thoroughly enjoyed “Fitting the Pattern” and it’s extremely interactive abilities. The work was highly engaging and relatable as it was a coming of age and coming into oneself story. The images she created. She also allows the reader to choose their own order when it comes to choosing which tools to use first. So the reader may follow the pattern like her mother or wing it like the author herself chooses to do in her life. Another enjoyable aspect of this work besides its creativity was how touching it is in the end. One section that really resonated with me was when Wilks is now fully grown and tells us she rarely finds the place to wear the clothes her mother makes for her because they are so much more special than the style of clothing worn currently and how she cherishes every garment because she knows the care her mother took in creating each one for her.

“Fashion and lifestyles have become too casual to do justice to my mother’s dressmaking skills…I came to feel overdressed in the clothes she made there was rarely an opportunity to wear them” 


“Does the Pattern Fit?” 

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