if only there were a manual or something. . .

by Charlotte

Every August I am arrested by this horrid, suffocating nothing! to! wear! feeling.  That’s usually how I know school is right around the corner.  The tumbly butterflies are exciting and horrifying all at the same time.  It’s like they have fangs or something.

​On one hand, I actually legitimately don’t have very much to wear.  I’ve been walking the walk, re: conscious consumption and, because I am nothing if not an overachiever, I’ve been changing sizes in the strangest ways so most of what I already have doesn’t fit.  At first I was all, “No one cares if you repeat an outfit.  For the love!”  Now I’ve descended into full panic, and have been doing some major utilitarian sewing, assembly-line style.  This will end well, won’t it?

Today I cut out dress pieces, transferred markings, and sewed darts.  Tomorrow everything comes together.  I may or may not be using this as an excuse to not pack.​  While I was transferring markings, I remembered how hard I found it in the beginning.  I was genuinely confounded and didn’t know how I was supposed to get all of the circles, dots, and lines from the pattern to the fabric.  I didn’t have dressmaker’s carbon because I couldn’t get it with Amazon Prime (laziness).  I’ve been at this for a bit, and having been reading sewing blogs for even longer than that, and kind of wish that someone would compile a list of Shit Beginner Sewists Should Know, For Serious.  Like:

1) You don’t need a fabric stash nearly as much as you need a solid set of tools.   (I skimped on things like French curves and hams but bought enough fabric for a small factory.  That would probably explain why I like to pretend that some raving lunatic broke into my house and made all of my beginner projects.)  (I did also buy a whole load of other tools and remember thinking that I’d probably never use some of them.  Bamboo turner, anyone?  I’ve used all of them.)

2) Interfacing with the glue dots mother-effing sucks.  You’d be better off just setting your garment aflame.  Even spray professional-grade interfacing all the way.  (Something I only randomly found out ​in the comments section of someone else’s blogpost.)

3) Wearable muslins.  Yeah, not until you know which end of the pattern is up.  It is heartbreaking to mess up nice(-ish) fabric.​  Messing up your fug two-dollar-a-yard muslin at least makes you feel like a professional.

4) The Internet is great, but you need to buy yourself some books and the occasional magazine.  (Oh GOD, how my life has improved since Vogue Sewing, Claire Shaeffer, and Susan Khalje have entered it.)

The list goes on: Pin perpendicularly.  Keep used pins in a separate container from new.  Change your needles after every project.  Basting and pressing are the difference between a nice dress and a crime scene.  Buy enough fabric to accommodate shrinkage, pattern matching, and re-doing an entire section from scratch.

I suppose that learning all of that is part of the fun, right?  I also suppose that my dream list already exists on the mind-reeling Pattern Review boards.​  If not, then somebody best get on it.

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