Saturday, July 24, 2010

First Post

What a terribly interesting title.


So, let us (well actually, me) let ME set MY intentions for this particular blog.

I love this part.

I'm starting this particular blog as a log of my new craft - sewing. (I'm enhancing this part, because I just realized I'm going off on tangents. Read on, dear ones.)

Sewing clothes, mainly. I love clothes. I sewed a couple of teddy bears when I was in my early teens, but that's really been about it. I've made a few (rather pathetic) attempts at curtains.

I have a machine - a nice basic little Bernette (by Bernina!) with no computer parts, thank god, nothing to break. Model number? I dunno. I'm not going to go through my box of crap that has more crap stacked on top of it to find out.

I really need to get said machine serviced. I think I got it when I was 16. Holy shit, that was 10 Fucking years ago. (Oh my god, I think I might have a heart attack. Let's not though.) So yeah, I must have been 15 when I made those teddy bears, because I got the machine for my birthday after that summer. And then I didn't really do a damned thing with the machine for ten years. Why do I feel like I was 14? Eh.

I made a quilt, sort of.
It was a horrid experience. I picked out the fabric from my mom's stash (she's a quilter) and then I freaked out when I realized that I couldn't use a rotary cutter worth shit, and flipped out on my mom and got her to do it for me - the cutting out of millions of 5x5 inch squares, that is. I sewed them together, with the batting in the middle, and then she sewed together these long strips and then I cut up the seams that were left on purpose and we tossed it into the wash, and voila, a baby blanket was born.
I did this when I was 21.
It was fucking miserable.
I hated doing it.
It took so long, and the thread kept snarling, and it was just so boring and wretched.

Since then I've made a few potholders, and I made a horrid set of curtains with this fucking awful slippery ass fabric (oh my god, now I see why people come to my sites when they're searching for porn) for this woman I worked for. The horrible curtain episode was when I was 23. I don't even want to think of that curtain episode.

I've hemmed a few jeans, sort of miserably. When I was about 18 or 19. Do you know how next to impossible it is to hem a pair of jeans and make it look right when you've got thread that is so not the right color, and probably (looking back) the wrong needle on your machine for the job, and you never read (I don't think) the instruction manual for your machine?


To put it gently, my sewing skills are nada, and they're pretty terrible at that. I think you get the idea.

So I decided to rectify the situation.

I decided to do so earlier this summer - actually, it was more like spring, but I had to wait till dates came up that I could attend for sewing classes.

I am taking Basic Sewing and Beyond - or a title to something of that effect - at Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkeley, CA. (Please, stalkers, stay away.) I had my first class this morning. It was a little boring, and during the last hour I was viciously hungry, which made it damned difficult to care or concentrate, but I stuck it out. My teach is Alice, and she's really great. She's been sewing for 60 years, which is basically wonderful. I actually learned quite a bit in the first class, though at the end of it I was feeling bored and discouraged, because really - sewing is so much work. It's all in the prep, just like painting (a room, not a painting.)

Pick out a pattern. Make sure you've got the right pattern for the type of fabric (or vice versa). Wash your fabric. Iron the fabric. Cut out the pattern. Extend for length! (Aack!, that one gave me some trouble.) Learn that fabric has a grain and you've got to line up the grain with the way the pattern says to do so or else your shit is going to be wonky. (At least I finally learned what the hell a bias is and what its properties are.) Learn about making seams and sewing them. Finish the seam. Press the goddamned fucking seam. Then press the the goddamned fucking seam again. All this shit about making sure your thingumy is in the home position before taking your first stitch. Making sure the thingyumy is in home position before you take the fabric out of the machine. Locking your stitches down. Cutting the threads. And my god, we haven't even cut out the fabric yet! And boy, when that happens, just wait - I'm doing stripes!

In short, sewing is so much work that it is almost ridiculous. It's so - not portable. (I am a knitter since almost 4 years. I am so accustomed to knitting and its seemingly easy ways that this wily, tricksy sewing shit is just - exhausting.)

So, I was tired and bored and discouraged after my first sewing class. I couldn't believe what a dope I'd been with my machine. I'm not sure I'd even been putting the bobbin in right. That would really explain some messes. I so need to get my machine serviced, it's not even funny. I probably need new needles. I'd been thwapping the lever down to make the presser foot go up and down. I've had so many snarled, tangled messes of threads that it's pathetically sad. I've felt like I could never get the hang of my machine, that it was a mess, and that was ridiculous, because it was NEW! The real problem is that I never had an inservice on it, no one told me to not sew over pins (oh my fucking christ, what was I thinking!?) and so forth.

So, I was feeling all of these feelings of basically being bored and like sewing is so not worth it when I have a figure that's actually pretty damned easy to fit with ready-to-wear. Why bother sewing my own damned clothes? It usually costs more, after all. And then I came home and got some sleep and then my roommate's photo text woke me up (so ridiculous to have left my cell on noisesomeness) and then I couldn't go back to sleep, and I started envisioning the clothes I will be able to make if I keep up with my classes for a year.

Back in spring I went a leetle nuts and bought 4 different fabrics by Kokka and spent some serious time drooling over Echino prints (whoa for double gauze!) and the prints are So cute, and I So wanted to make some really cool dresses out of them, and that was the whole POINT of taking sewing classes. Learning to make the patterns I see in my head. Being able to copy ready-to-wear if I wanted to. (Which I do want to do, I have 2 awesome dresses that I could really use more of.) (And thank goodness, that is a class!)) It would be so cool to have some cool, OOAK (one of a kind) garments with really cute prints or lovely fabric, or whatever attracts me. I don't want to go hella crazy, and have more clothes than I've got space for, but I think I'm not at all in danger of that at the moment. I've only got 5 pieces of fabric and it only takes up the space of a mid-size stack of books. And I might make pillow cases with the remnants.

Basically, I also really want to be able to hem my own pants. I want to do this without fear of making them too short, without fear of having unmatching thread, without fucking them up. I really want to be able to make the perfect, cute dress(es.) I want to have some skillz. I wouldn't mind making my own jeans.

I'm different now than when I was a teen, or in my early twenties. In those times, I wanted to have hella jeans, hella t-shirts, hella clothes. Now I have exactly one pair of jeans that I've had for 7 months, and it's worked out fine. I wouldn't mind having one more pair, but Gap is ridiculously expensive (come on, 70 BUCKS?! for a pair of jeans that I'm going to have to cut the bottoms off of anyhow, because they do not make size 0A? (that's Gap-speak for zero, ankle-length, which in real terms translates to someone with a 30 inch inside leg seam and a 36 inch booty (er, hips.) there, now you now my measurements.))) and I work 40 hours a week at a Business Casual office, which means no jeans, so there are only about 20 hours a week I wear jeans, tops, during the work week, plus the weekend, which means that my pair of jeans is really just "gently used." So why would I spend 70 bucks on another pair of jeans I'm just going to have to cut the bottoms off of and I don't even like the color of the denim?

Um. I digress. As usual. Let's see, what else? Oh yes, being in a Business Casual office means that I can't really wear t-shirts that look casual, though of course knits are ok. So that means nice-looking shirts, and basically I just shop at Gap, because their clothes fit me and they've got pretty classic/basic styles. I mostly buy stuff on sale, but I don't always find stuff and I don't always want to be buying stuff, because you go into a store for a shirt or two and then either you find nothing, or you find 20 things and buy at least 5 or 7, which even during a sale translates to a receipt total I probably shouldn't be indulging in. Now, I'm not stupid. I know that fabric and patterns cost money too. But the point is, is if I would like to add a few garments to my wardrobe, well, I could find a pattern and use it a few times, and I could get some nice half-price cotton in a cute print (or plain, whatever) and make a few different tops. I don't need to be buying 14 and 18 dollar a yard fabric for everything. As it is, I bought some really nice cotton at half-price, which worked out to be $4.25 a yard and $4.50 a yard, respectively.

(And it is nice stuff, Stone Mountain and Daughter doesn't really carry nasty, cheap, ugly stuff. They are Berkeley Berkeley!) (And if you don't know what that means, envision yuppie, sun-tanned trophy wives who don't say excuse me, with Cal educations and little brats running around and entitlement issues so huge and annoying it just makes you want to say GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY, BITCH! and SAY EXCUSE ME! while they are being so bored and in your way. (Sorry, I lived in Berkeley for 2 years and 4 months, and the people there are just so much ruder than anywhere else I've ever been, it's not funny. I liked Berkeley till I moved to Oakland. /endrant.))

If I make a shirt out of that, what's that, like 8 bucks tops for the fabric, and a few bucks for a pattern? Boom. Cheaper. And then I'll have added to my work wardrobe. And the good thing about my work wardrobe is that I always choose pieces I would be comfortable wearing in my non-work life, so they do double-duty.

So, this is all a long-winded way of saying that I've taken up sewing garments. Never mind that I actually haven't cut out my fabric yet, but I will do that next Saturday, and until then I will idly dream my dream of cute dresses and such.

And I thought it would be fun to document it, because I am after all, a blogger, which really means that I am a writer.

You know me, expect some tangents and such, curse words galore. Though since I've already got a blog for life and knitting, I would like to keep this blog focused on sewing and any tangential thoughts/experiences. Not much else. No life stuff. Y'all'll have to go to my usual address for that dish.

I want a log for my patterns. The stats! Pictures! Of fabric! And finished items.

The good thing about sewing, for me, is that I look at it as more of a skill, not a hobby. I don't get all weak-kneed over fabric the same way I do with yarn. Yarn is more of a sickness, and obsession. Fabric is more like - useful. Like a potholder. Functional, I guess they call that. No one goes nuts collecting potholders. So I don't really foresee my fabric stash getting out of hand. Not like my yarn stash, cough, cough. Another good thing about fabric and sewing is that it takes time and space, which I don't have a lot of. It takes some good, flat space to be laying out your pattern, ironing (which I kind of hate) and time. Mostly, I cannot see devoting large swathes of time to all that shit. I am committed to devoting enough time to learning to do this, and learning to do it well. I think it will fit and aggravate my perfectionist tendencies, the work ethic my daddy instilled in me - do a good job. Take pride in your work. Finish it well. Pay attention to the small details, they indicate pride in a job well done and add up to a pleasing whole.

I am mildly excited (the excitement is so mild that excitement is the wrong word) and mostly just satisfied to be learning a new skill. I am content with spending 3 hours every week learning this skill. For the next couple of years. It will give me something constructive to do while I abstain from casual dating. It will give some structure to my weekends. And maybe, who knows, it will open up an interesting avenue or two in a few years. I am open to that. Because I really do love textiles and garments in all their forms. I wish I had taken home ec in high school. It is just such a useful skill to have, knowing how to read patterns and translate them into a wearable item.

Let's do some links.

Kokka! Fabric. From Japan. So fucking cute.
The definition of double gauze.
Emily - she sews too, and the woman inspired/inspires me. She's so good at les petites details.
The fine people of Stone Mountain and Daughter (it's not their fault they have annoying customers who NEVER say excuse me.) The staff really are helpful and nice, I've found. And they do have some yarn.

And the real reason I started this sewing blog? Because it BORES ME TO TEARS to read about sewing on knitting blogs, and I don't want to do that to my non-sewing-caring knitting readers. Yup. That's it.


Pictures next time.

Oh, and my URL? Fabulous joke, donchya think?


  1. :) you watch, in one year you'll know enough about sewing to point out all of the flaws in ready-to-wear garment construction. those expensive name-brands have the same amount of flaws ( yet another reason not to buy them). i alter all of my patterns-length, hips, arm length...

  2. Hey, thanks for the link love! Can I just say, I think it's hilarious that this is your version of a focused, non-rambling post. :-D

    Sewing is super, super time intensive, for sure. For me I think the key is that I try to enjoy all the parts of it, and not think about certain parts as "prep" and other parts as "the actual process." Not that I always succeed, but there you go. But really, a pretty small portion of a sewing project is when you're sitting at the actual machine...I remember when my mom gave me my sewing machine (she is so bad at keeping secrets; she'd been saying since Halloween "I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO LIKE YOUR CHRISTMAS PRESENT!") & I started a project immediately & then every time I talked to her she was like "How is your machine working?" and I kept answering "I'm still on the tissue fitting...I'm still on the cutting..." etc. But I enjoy all of that stuff. The process does get more streamlined & less clunky-feeling after a while. I hope you get to enjoy sewing! It's definitely a different animal from knitting, but I love it. :-)