Bootstrapping the hem

This afternoon I was talking to someone about sewing curtains. I bought fabric several months ago to make curtains for the bedroom of my new house. We’ve got a machine now, and the sun keep peaking around the shades, making it a task ripe on my to do list. But I get scared of fabric. I don’t understand it. I’ve made stuff before, as a kid, with a kit or a lot of help… and it ain’t that hard. Adding a liner to the curtain may jumble the process up in my head, but more so is this lack of understanding of fabric, and more specifically just this step: how to measure and mark it before cutting.

The last curtains threw me off. All I had to do was shorten these cheapo sheers I picked up at IKEA. After the iron-in hem strip resulted in fabric Destruction, I opted to actually hem the things, and it actually took my husband and I a lot of trial and error to figure out that we actually needed to pin the things to the floor, stretch them out, and use a tape measure to get anything  resembling a straight line. This left me a little intimidated, yet confused- I’ve hemmed things before. It just ain’t that hard.
So I read a bunch of books from the library about sewing. They all seem to assume that you know how to measure and mark fabric. It took a lot of reading to realize that
(a) they assume you know how to do this already, meaning that they don’t have to explain that in the beginner’s instructions, and
(b) there are a few methods for finding a straight line to cut your curtain fabric, but they depend on your not having sheer, stretchy fabric, with an irregular design, and an existing top hem that’s not particularly square with respect to the edge or the weave of the fabric.

This is all pretty boring, I realize, but it illustrates a principle that seems to exist in ADHD living:
the step we don’t understand is way smaller than anyone thinks. It seems like a dumb thing not to know. No one would ever realize we don’t know it. We don’t realize it’s the tiny thing we don’t know, and we don’t realize that it’s why we don’t get it.

In this case, I needed a conceptual framework (as I always do) for ‘how it works to measure and mark fabric in general,’ so I could understand what was going on in this particular situation. Then I can get a little less frightened off by this process. But this is exactly what happens in so many areas to both me and the clients I work with… in areas ranging from how to cook dinner, to what’s stopping you from getting that project/paper/chore done, to how to talk to strangers- or friends. Sound familiar?