The sleeves of this robe/tunic/shirt thing I made yesterday don’t have enough stretch in the armholes for a really long reach upward without tugging the jacket upward. So there’s fault #1. Fault #2 is that I sewed the thing with the wrong colors of thread, so the seams really stand out in bright light. Whoops. Fault #2. And I could have been more careful with the seams and hems. Fault #3.
But you know what? The ‘Chinese’ sleeves on this are awesome. What do I mean by that? Long ago, I had a Chinese-style martial arts tunic — black with white frog-closures down the front, and white counterfacing on the sleeves. It was awesome to do tai chi in, because the garment signaled to you when your arms were at the right height during ward-off left and ward-off right, and other arm movements. How? Because opening for the hand at the end of the sleeve just hung a certain way, and your arm slid through the sleeve a certain way. It just looked right. And it felt right.
And this tunic has exactly the same drape. Well, not exactly the same drape. The vertical reaches are not ideal. But the horizontal reaches are, or are as close to ideal as an amateur tailor like me is likely to get. It’s nice. It’s better than nice. The cut of the jacket helped me focus enough to cause a 12-minute tai chi routine to slow down to about 27 minutes… better than a 2-to-1 ratio of speed decrease. And largely by paying attention to the way the tunic moved on me. Just having the belt on my waist, as opposed to my hips, was a huge benefit: “Oh, here’s where the twist is supposed to be!”
Jason Miller has a recent piece about DIY sorcery up, and he points out the counterargument to DIY, which is the value of working within a tradition. Maybe I was too harsh on him in my follow-up comment: it turns out that sometimes the right clothing can make working within the tradition much easier. I wonder if I should get a traditional tunic for my tai chi?