August 3, 2010

I'm Sew Confused

I learned how to sew in a 7th grade Bachelor Arts class. Cooking classes were also taught. One of my favorite memories is when they split cooking into boys vs. girls to see who knew more about cooking tools. The teacher held up a pair of tongs and one of the boys blurted out, "Wienie grabbers!" He was mortified and the rest of us were hysterically rolling on the floor. Cuz, you know, he said WIENIE!

I've been wracking my brain trying to remember what we actually made in that sewing class, though, and can't come up with a single thing. I definitely learned even more about sewing from my Mom, who is a master seamstress and quilter. When I was a young mother and young professional working in business offices, I made things like a pants suit with jacket for myself, matching dresses for my daughters and even a prom dress for my middle sister. Over the years, I've made a few things here and there -- mostly Halloween costumes and mending, taking in or hemming something -- but my sewing machine has pretty much sat idle.

With the arrival of the embroidery machine last month, though, my interest in sewing has been revived. A few weeks ago, Hobby Lobby was running a sale on Simplicity patterns for 99¢ each. It's been a long time since I've looked at patterns, but I was shocked to find that they're in the $14 to $16 range now. I have this insatiable love of aprons so I bought a few patterns, then realized what a good deal the sale was, went back and bought some more.




A selection of adorable aprons, fantastic tote bags, darling table top accessories, several dress patterns and a great tunic top later, I had spent $8.91 and gotten $131.59 in patterns. Whoa, just saying it makes me lightheaded!


I bought fabric to make a dress (the short, sleeveless one pictured in pink fabric on top) and a tunic top (the sleeveless one, drawn left center). Since it's been so long since I actually sewed or worked with a pattern, I decided the top was the lesser of two evils and started with that one.




These are multi-size patterns, which gives you five sizes within the pattern so you can adjust for your body if you're a different size on top than on the bottom. I had measured myself carefully (painful on a scale of swimsuit shopping or road rash after being launched from a motorcycle while wearing a swimsuit). And here's a stumper -- patterns are not made in ready-to-wear sizes. In fact, the size numbers are larger so if you're a size 10 in ready-to-wear, you're probably a 14 or 16 in pattern size. Painful, just painful!


Since I bought 100% cotton fabric, I preshrunk it and pressed it. You know that old saying, "Measure twice, cut once?" I was so careful following the pattern directions, you'd have thought I was preparing for the next shuttle launch. 




I moved slower than cold tar while making this shirt. And it was all starting to come back to me ... stay-stitching, darts, seam allowances, trimming, turning, clipping curves. I was getting in the zone. Then I realized I was supposed to buy bias tape to interface the armholes. Crap! I did not want to go to the store. I got on the fabulous World Wide Web and looked up how to make my own bias tape/seam binding. Yes, you can! And, Yes I Did! And God Bless Al Gore for creating the Internet!




Which was so cool because since my seam binding was made of the actual fabric, it matched the shirt exactly!




Now I'm in the home stretch, finishing the hem and top stitching around the side vents. I was so stoked, couldn't have been more excited. Then I tried it on. {crickets ... crickets}


And it was like wearing a circus tent. What the hell? I am not kidding, I was drowning in this thing. Sonofa ...


So I went back and reread every word on the instruction sheet. Nothing. Then I pulled the pattern pieces back out and went over every inch and found this ...




It says, Total ease above body measurement is approximately 6". Which means that the actual measurement of the shirt I made in my size is 6" bigger than my own measurements. This is called positive ease and I learned about it while knitting over the last few years. Oh. My. God. Here's a little explanation from TECHknitting:


Ease is the amount of extra room built into a garment which allows the garment to slide over your skin as you move--it is the extra bit of room which stops your shirt from riding up as you lift your arm and stops your pants from tearing when you do something athletic. When the garment is larger than the person wearing it, the garment is said to have "POSITIVE" ease.


So I have this beautifully finished shirt that now needs to be altered to fit me. **sigh** But I learned a lot during this little sewing session; namely, to check and adjust for positive ease. And this tunic top will eventually fit me the way it's supposed to. And I am "sew" going to fire up the blender. It's time for pina colada therapy!!!





13 comments:

Michelle @ Flying Giggles said...

I would need a pina colada after that too! I am not a sewer, but I would love to learn one day.

You got a fab deal on those patterns!

Noelle said...

I remember what I made in my 7th grade sewing class:

-a bag
-an apron
-a skirt

I LOVED that skirt!!! I've not sewed since. :) Much to my mom's dismay and horror. ACTUALLY, I made a pillow case once.

heavenisabookstore said...

You poor thing!! All that work and to find out at the last minute that it didn't fit?! ACK!

Loren said...

Bless your heart! I am so sorry it was too big and I'll be honest ~ I am laughing, not AT you, but dadgumit, the way you tell this story ~ you are just a HOOT!

Hope you enjoyed your pina colada's and no doubt you will have this the right size in no time :)

Elizabeth @ Southern Comfort said...

Oh my goodness! You've had a time haven't you!?!
Ok, first things first. The tong story had me falling out my chair laughing. I'll be repeating that story for a good laugh.

Second, I too haven't touched a pattern in years. They are so nice once you figure them out, but geeze they can be a pain.

Third, you are so smart to have figured out how to make bias tape .. and a beautiful top. After a little taking in, it will be perfect. Maybe for the end of the summer?...

Dazee Dreamer said...

omg, memories of stupied jr. high. I remember sewing class. I hated it. I remember making a skirt, and the material I picked out was butt ugly. oh, please, get that image out of my head.

Stacey said...

Um...but it looks good! lol I can't sew a stitch, which I only proved to myself when I tried to make my daughter a simple pillowcase dress. ha

Tightwad Mom said...

LOL! I made the same mistake with a skirt I made this spring! I followed the pattern to the letter and when I was done I could fit two of me in that skirt! I ended up giving it to my very pregnant SIL. She was happy with something new to wear,and I went back to the drawing board!

Kathleen said...

You've inspired me to want to sew again and the top you made looks lovely.

Baby Sister said...

You amaze me. I only ever did a wind sock. I do NOT have the patience for that. But go you! The shirt looks great!!

Duchess said...

Beautiful! I just brought my sewing machine back down so I'm excited to get started and sew something :0) I'm thinking of curtains as a start just because I need some and they are too expensive LOL

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

What an awesome shirt! Even if it is 6" too big, you did a wonderful job~

Alexis AKA MOM said...

I love the final look, every time I've tried to do a garment the size never comes out right. I give up ... lol