charlotte’s miscellany

by Charlotte

So, my machine decided to have an. . .emotional incident while we were muslining what is essentially a prom dress (Simplicity 1689, without that weird flouncy thing; I’ve since proceeded to find, via GOMI, a Lekala pattern that is exactly what I wanted in the first place).  Where were we?  Yes.  The whole sewing-through-recovery thing is out the window, as Demeter has to take a trip northward to spend quality time with her Uncle Harvey, which doesn’t sound at all creepy.  I’ve had a few half-post ideas floating around in my head for a bit, and I couldn’t quite figure out how to round them out into full posts, so, since spring break is waning, and my posts are likely to taper significantly with my avalanche of deadlines, I figured I’d treat you to a half-baked Seam Ripped post.  You’re welcome.

Isn't it wild?

Isn’t it wild?

Screw it, I’ll show you the pattern that ruined my machine first.  Why not?  I’ve been a little afraid to try a Lekala pattern, but the Simplicity sans flounce has traumatized me sufficiently that I might venture into Lekalaland.

Thing the first:

Are there really small, borderline-insignificant things that have improved your sewing markedly?  Here are mine:

– Pin perpendicularly, stupid.  (Susan Khalje is apparently up for beatification in real life, but is super duper mean in my head.  Though, I think the first time I saw this was in a Claire Shaeffer video, or in a Singer book?  I have no recollection; I just do it.)
-I used to be a pinimalist, now I pin and Wonder Clip as if my life depends on it.  Notches not lining up?  Pins.  Mismatched stripes?  Pins.  Pleats getting caught in your seams?  Pins.  (Also basting and improper pinning, but you see where I’m going with this.)  Just don’t sew through them, if you enjoy having a complete set of eyes, yes?
–  Stay stitch, stay stitch, stay stitch.  I forgot to stay stitch my Alder’s neckline, it grew 2mm, which was just enough to ruin (ruin!) the collar.  Stay stitch.  Trust the woman who is making a new and improved collar stand and is doing 11th-hour stay stitching.  It takes two minutes.
– Collar and collar stand on the cross-grain, and interface top and bottom of both of them.
– You know that interfacing with the glue dots?  Go burn that right now.  Even-spray for life.  I get mine from Steinlauf and Stoller, but I hear that you can get it from your local fabric store, too.
– Sandwich.  Here’s how it goes: carbon paper face-up, fabric, pattern.  Trace.  Then, you take the pattern off, flip the fabric, and trace the existing carbon paper lines.  I did not know this.  This was not a thing in my life.  How?  Why?
– Buy some carbon paper.  Susan Khalje sells it.  I get mine from Pacific Trimming in New York.  I have fewer wrinkles (on my face, on my fabric, as a metaphor for my life and time) because of it.
– A clapper is a heavy piece of wood.  Get a piece of wood and put it on top of your seam when you’re done pressing it.  Textbooks work in a pinch, but some are non-porous and get steamy.
– While we’re talking about seams, when pressing, wait until they cool before moving on to the next one.  Doesn’t that make sense?  I do it with my hair, why did it take me so long to do it with my seams?
– Press your darts inside out, then inside in. This has made a huge, huge difference for my bust point smoothness, but it might just be my shite pressing skills.
– “I don’t need a press cloth.”  Oh yes you do.
– “I can use tin cans as pattern weights.”  Now you’re just being daft.  Ask me how I know.
– Everyone has a golden ratio.  Mine is 30-30-40.  Oh, what did you think I meant?  30% prep, 30% sewing, 40% pressing.  Yes, I spend a lot of my time pressing.  This is why I spend most of my other time with my chiropractor.
– Snip and rip makes you feel like a badass, but really helps keep your fabric on-grain.  I snip and rip on grain, do loads of smoothing, and then pin the selvedge evenly to make my life easier.  It really does make a difference.
– “It really does make a difference,” is this piece’s refrain.

How about you?

Thing the second:

I want one of you to start a blog series called “In Too Deep,” where a novice tackles famously hard projects.  Runner’s World has a great feature called “The Newbie Chronicles,” which, you guessed it, chronicles a newbie’s entrée into running, which is meant to get more people running.  I love it, and it is what got me running, and running is what got me spinning and yogaing and doing a whole bunch of other stuff.  I think it would even be interesting to see a beginner-to-intermediate sewer do a project from a Japanese sewing book, the couture jacket, Burda magazine or Marfy patterns, Alabama Chanin, or vintage Vogue plus difficile patterns.  I do wish one of the sewing magazines would do this, and have the beginner do it under the tutelage of, say, Natalie Chanin or Susan Khalje.  This occurred to me after reading the Coletterie piece on DIY Anxiety.

I think the reason why a lot of us get stuck in ruts is because a lot of us get stuck in ruts.  But that’s a tautology!  (A professor’s kids play a game called “That’s a tautology!”)  Everyone finds sewers with whom they identify.  I love reading Julie from Jet Set Sewing or Amanda from Amanda’s Adventures in Sewing, but I don’t identify with their sewing, because they are much better than I am.  Full stop.  I think that most sewers need someone whom they think is on their level to test the waters for them, which should dissipate the dreaded DIY anxiety, and ultimately attract more people to sewing.  If everyone else is sewing “safe” dresses, then why do you have to go on an adventure, anyway?

Thing the third

How many of you people are in the DC area, really?  I’ve been chatting with my (awesome) hairdresser about this, and we need to have some sort of sip-and-sew situation that does not involve me going to Leesburg, because I do not know how to drive, and it takes something ridiculous like three hours via bus.  Not happening.  I’ve thought of a good Metro-accessible space, and though we’d probably all need to pay something to rent it out and haul over our sewing machines, it would be nice to meet y’all and socialize.

I was at Joann a few months ago, and found the coupon book of someone who lives on my street, five blocks away.  FIVE BLOCKS.  Outrageous.  I almost wrote her a note.  She left the coupon book on the pattern cabinet, so you know she sews.  This is ridiculous, people.  Let’s get it together.  Western Virginia is beating us.  Western.  Virginia.

Thing the fourth:

On Adwoa’s advice, I got the Vlisco fabric in green!  So, look forward to perhaps never seeing a dress made out of it.

Okay, I have to go do homework, but maybe we’ll see each other soon, yes?  Maybe we won’t.  Who knows?

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