On the ninth day and every day after in September, the universe conspired to keep me from my sewing. It went to lengths of great extreme. A family member was hospitalized with a very serious illness. I took in the grandbaby for a week. A beloved church member suddenly passed away followed by a sad but uplifting funeral.
With those events, I gave up the effort to sew every day. I took a moment to be thankful for many God-given things in my life and proceeded living each day to the fullest. Some day in the future, I will sew. Other days, I will not be able to sew but as long as I am with family and friends, life will be good.
#30SEPTSEWINGCHALLENGE = #epicfail and I’m fine with that. This time.
On the eighth day, I was contacted by a fellow creative entrepreneur seeking a seamstress. It seemed the local high school band had selected new performance costumes but had no seamstresses among the band boosters. Sixty band members and several color guard members with each wearing two costumes.
Did I have projects on my machine? Yes.
Did I have clients waiting? Yes.
Did my house need cleaning, dishes need washing? Yes.
What did I say when the Uniform Coordinator told me of their dire need?
On the seventh day, life got in the way of my #30DAYSEPTSEWING. The only sewing activity I participated in was some in-depth daydreaming of upcoming sewing projects while I sold BBQ in the pitmaster-husband’s BBQ trailer.
On the sixth day of my sewing challenge, I tried a sewing podcast. I have never listened to a sewing podcast. I have never really listened to any podcasts. I feel like it is a medium that quickly become pushed aside by streaming video. Recently, I “cut the cord”. I have become a “cord-cutter” in that I called up my cablevision provider and told them they could cancel my service and my $150 bill.
Being a person who is over fifty years of age, I have very traditional television viewing habits. I struggle with the platforms that Millenials love such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. My entertainment viewing is mostly passive. I tend to watch whatever is currently running on one of my provider’s channels. When logging into Netflix, I search around for an hour before settling on one movie to watch. Switching to Sling TV was big for me.
Cutting the cablevision cord coincided with the appearance of Cashmerette (I am a big fan!) on a new sewing podcast so I chose this opportunity to give the “Love To Sew” podcast a try. I downloaded the first three podcasts to my iPhone (Cashmerette was in podcast three) and popped my earbuds in while the grandbaby napped.
I want to say right up front: I am not a fan of podcasts. I harbor no ill will against the ladies that produce “Love To Sew” podcast. Honestly, my dislike has nothing to do with this podcast what so ever. For so many reasons, I just don’t care for podcasts. I have a huge list of reasons why I do not like podcasts. So, enough said about that.
This I learned: I do not like sewing podcasts and that is completely okay.
to like everything sewing and that is perfectly okay.
Either way you want to say it, I did it on the fifth day of my sewing challenge.
I married the Big Banana some thirty-plus years ago. I thought the sweetest, most loving thing would be to use my sewing skills for him. He finally agreed to letting me make him some boxers, or one might call them sleep shorts or short pajama pants. I decided since I would be the one to look at them as he lounged around the house that I would have some fun with them.
I have collected fabrics over the years for him. Bold colors, manly prints or any yardage that I liked that was funky and fun was purchased with no other intention than Big Banana’s boxers.
I routinely bought my standard 1 1/2 yards for my tried-and-true Butterick unisex pajama pattern. Every time I tossed the fabric into the stash, I thought to myself I should go ahead and stitch them up. I would talk myself out of working on the boxers and into a different, more interesting sewing project. This has happened time and time again until Big Banana’s stack of fabric (or threadbare boxers) became too much to ignore.
Today, I noticed the stack and pulled it out for the sewing challenge. Now, six pairs of boxers are cut and sitting on the machine for a quick whip-up.
This I learned: Twelve layers of stacked fabric is too thick for even the sharpest scissors. (Six works just fine!)
On the fourth day of my sewing challenge, I took advantage of the free video workshops offered by Craftsy in honor of Labor Day. I previewed the class offerings on the night before and then opened my Chromebook with a plan of attack early Monday morning.
I learned to knit in the Portuguese style with Andrea Wong. It never hurts to have a new knitting style in my repertoire considering my arthritis gets more painful every day. I learned from the video workshop that Portuguese knitting requires the least amount of physical movement making it very appropriate for arthritic knitters. The little need for hand and arm movement enables the fastest knitting speeds available. Who knew?
I learned advanced alterations with Alison Wolf. (I’ve already purchased and studied her beginning course.) She is an excellent teacher. I would love an in-person workshop with her. Attention clients: I learned how to fix a jeans zipper so if I can find some jeans zippers locally, bring on your favorite damaged jeans!
For the afternoon, I settled in my recliner to learn all I could about zipper bags from Joan Hawley. Sewing bags is a subject I’m familiar with but it never hurts to learn a little more. Ms. Hawley’s manner of teaching is so calm and reassuring that I’m pretty sure she could walk me through performing brain surgery without either of us becoming nervous. Her Sweetpea Pods have always intrigued me and this workshop guided my through step-by-step construction of Pods as well as another interesting zipper bag. I jotted down notes and quickly made my own pair of Pea Pods by bedtime.
This I learned: I am never too old to learn something new.
On the third day of my sewing challenge, I decided to act on lessons learned from Day #1. I sat down with patterns, notes and pen to perform a postmortem on the two garments I constructed.
First, I traced new pattern pieces using the latest alternations. I made notes both on the patterns and in my client notebook concerning changes made to the patterns to reach the final garment. I documented, with dates, the final garments produced so that should I want to re-create the flamingo t-shirt dress, I will know exactly which steps I took.
Next, I folded each pattern piece neatly and placed it into a zippered plastic storage bag. Then I labeled each bag with the client’s name. This I learned: It only takes a few minutes to follow through on the sewing process.
There it is! You heard it here first. I cleaned up my projects, made appropriate notes and put everything away so that it can be found next time. Now for the rest of the mess in my sewing studio…..
This I learned: A vast majority of the population knows nothing about the fabrics they wear every day.
Today’s sewing activity was a fabric shopping trip with a client to a nearby Joanns. We drove over an hour armed with a pattern, coupons and lunch money in search of knit fabric for a Cashmerette Concord or a Cashmerette Turner. I did not realize there is so much knowledge involved in selecting fabrics.
For the non-sewist, fabric is a multitude of colors and designs. A non-sewist takes no care as to whether the fabric is knit or woven, machine wash or dry clean, lightweight with lots of drape or heavyweight and stiff. I never realized non-sewists were like this. I am a third generation seamstress. I’ve never known a day that I was not aware of the fabric content and care method of the clothes on my back; never not known what type of fabric a garment should be constructed of to be comfortable and wearable.
So, there in the apparel fabric section of Joanns, I conducted a mini private lesson on apparel fabrics. Let me add, this is a lesson that is best taught in a fabric store because fabric shopping is all about touch and feel. I honestly do not know how anyone less than an accomplished sewist can shop fabric online.
Let me just say, fabric shopping is my happy place!
On this, the first day of September, I was inspired to sew and sew and sew. While working on a client’s custom garment, I discovered some fabric that would be perfect for my curvy young friend. The school year has begun and her back-to-school shopping yielded nothing but frustration and some awkwardly fitting uncomfortable clothing. A t-shirt dress with a wide billowy shape constructed from this lightweight cotton knit seemed to be exactly what the young lady needed. Knits are not commonly found in my nearby fabric shops, being in the heart of quilt country as I seem to be. I was lucky enough to stumble onto this for her and it screamed at me to become a curvy tween diva dress.
I updated her measurements and altered a “big 4” Girls Plus pattern bodice from a party dress. Initially, I did what amounts to a pivot full bust adjustment (FBA) using her measurements. I pivoted the bodice, adding 1 1/2 inches and then altered the rest of the bodice by re-drawing the side seams out to match her measurements at waist and hip.
I stitched up a fitting muslin and tried it on her. There was an excess of fabric in the armpit but the fit was close enough and I set about cutting out the flamingo pieces. This I learned: always create a pattern based on the latest alterations. How do I know this? I did not do re-draw the pattern and I completely ruined the cutest fabric and an adorable dress for a young lady. When I cut out the garment for the second time, on the flamingo fabric, I totally forgot to pivot it for the FBA.
To add insult to injury, I did not realize it until the t-shirt dress was complete and on its way to the recipient. Suddenly, it hit me like a lightning bolt. I was admiring my talented stitching, my wrinkle-less neckband, and my label attached at the hem. It was all beautiful and had no hopes of ever fitting her.
<Heavy sigh> It’s a good thing I have 30 days to get this right!
As I shared on my Facebook page and my Instagram account, I will be challenging myself during September, National Sewing Month. It is time to “sew up or shut up” about my sewing. I need to force myself to either make sewing my profession or let it remain a hobby.
Every Day in September, I will sew or do some sewing-related task such as pattern drafting, designing sewing patterns, teaching sewing classes or some yet undiscovered sewing activity. Flowery verses on scenic backgrounds all over the internet proclaim that a person can find happiness by doing something they enjoy every day so why not give it a try?
I plan to blog each day’s efforts after posting the pics on my social media acconts. This will challenge me to practice the writing skills that I think I posess in hopes of making writing an easier, less daunting task. I nothing else, I will learn a few things about sewing, writing…….and about myself.