Monday, March 23, 2009

Current Project

So. . .I was inspired by Grosgrain to try to make my own clothing. I thought to myself, what an easy, sensible, relaxing way to add to one's wardrobe! Without the stress of shopping! (I love shopping, until I realize I've been at the mall two hours, tried on five dozen things and bought nothing, either because it doesn't fit right or because I'm a hopeless miser, and the lights and the noise make my ears buzz until I can't think--and I flee to the car (skipping the bookstore in exasperation and exhaustion) with nothing to show for a whole day spent in the city).

I chose a pattern rated easy--a little sundressy, 1947 number (same year as my car. . .so I had to get it). I thought I'd fly through the thing in a day or two, after cutting-out, of course.

Ha. Ha ha. Clearly I need a lot of practice. Here's my chosen pattern and fabric:
I'll skip the trauma and heartbreak of the cutting-out. Well, actually it wasn't that bad, I managed quite fine by myself, except for a few small glitches I won't bother to elaborate on--but I suppose that was only because you don't have to read the directions to cut out a pattern. The direction page is a real tear-jerker, albeit in an unconventional way.

Well, in defense of Butterick and Co:

I am an incompetent beginner. At least, I've never sewn clothing on my own before. I don't understand their sewing-circle lingo, which is so familiar to Butterick's steady, regular customers. However . . .

Things would have been a whole lot easier if the instructions had been put clearly and understandably. However, with the evidence given I could only assume that their main interests lie in preserving ink and paper, because directions were sparse and not that helpful to people who actually need guidance. It makes me wonder what a "hard" pattern is. Don't save trees! Make things easy on us!
The top is self-lined. So you cut out two of everything (four fabric pieces in all). I assumed this meant "just sew everything together like normal, only with twice the thickness you would usually deal with." My mother expressed some doubts, but after reading the incomprehensible directions left looking dazed and confused, now unsure what I was supposed to be doing, and what a "self-lined" garment was at all.
Well, it soon became apparent that I was doing everything quite wrong. . .apparently I needed to act as if I was making two bodices. Then later I would sew them together, so there would be no raw edges. Hence the word 'lining.'
Well, this called for me taking everything apart after I'd sewn the whole bodice together. I probably just should have plugged along and done things my way, but I'm trying to actually learn how to sew.
Somewhere in this time I went outside and threw sticks at the basketball hoop. Hard. (It was the easy alternative to bursting into tears and throwing a Scarlett O'Hara fit on the floor). However, I have notoriously bad aim when angry, so one stick sort of missed and dented my dad's truck/experiment. I think it was the one he wants only for spare parts. . .but afterwards I was almost reconciled to the fact of ripping apart everything I'd spent the best part of a lovely day doing.
I suppose it's enough to say that after three and a half hours I'd almost gotten past step one.
And then of course, today brought more drama. We forgot to get a zipper, so that will halt progress for a little while, but reading the instructions as to how to put the zipper in left me wondering if I shouldn't arrange some sort of protest outside the Butterick building. Not only are their directions unfathomable, but their "helpful" illustrations only serve to confuse things more.
Now I wish I'd never read it--I think I knew how to put a zipper in, before, and now I'm only filled with doubts. It's the One Ring of instructions--you want to use it so bad--it seems as if it could be nothing but good to use it--and when you do you're left exhausted and deceived. I now have total sympathy for Boromir. The effects it has on your personality are just unaccountable. (For those of you who are uninitiated, I'm referring to The Lord of the Rings).
So today, after resewing the front of the bodice for the sixth or seventh time--I do not exaggerate, that's probably an understatement--I finally got it right! With some ugly puckers right in front. Then I realized I'd sewn the sides wrong . . .
All in all I haven't learned much more about sewing, but I'm an expert at ripping out seams!
I've been working on this for about a week now. Also, I had (of course) chosen and orchestrated the pieces I wanted in front. Well, a few days ago I'm taking out some seams, ho-humming my way along, when suddenly the (brand-new) sewing scissors (that belong to my sister) jam, for no apparent reason whatsoever. As usual, I used brute force to fix them, without thinking about possible consequences, and--SNIP--it cut out a nice little triangular flap in the very front of the bodice as I made it close properly. I ended up gluing it. I can't sew it, that's for sure. Then I'd have a thread-wrapped cocoon-shaped pucker in the front of my dress, and that would be worse.
So, my "easy" dress is nearly done. However, I'm beginning to think buying clothing is much cheaper and simpler. The money I'll have to pay for counseling in regards to all the anger and depression this dress-making has caused would have justified a Marc Jacobs evening gown.
But never mind that. I'm planning a nice trip to the mall to relax after the whole traumatic experience is over. Wearing my perfectly-fitting, imperfectly-made new dress. Hopefully.

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