Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This is Not a Good Way to Start Our Relationship Joann's: Part Two

I grew up around sewing. My grandmother sews, my mom started quilting when I was in the 5th or 6th grade, my best friend's mom sews, even my mother-in-law creates her own beautiful clothes. I spent as much time in grocery stores as I did among aisles of brightly colored fabric, listening to little old ladies explain the benefits of scissors and fabric types while my mom brought up bolt after bolt of prints, batiq, solids and trim.

As a kid I yearned for the day I would be able to use her machine, watching enviously as she cut, pinned, sewed and quilted so quickly. As an adult I am still envious of her skill in matching fabrics, in understanding her machine and in her ability to create such beautiful quilts. The most I've done is a few floppy beach bags (which I love). Each time I finish the pattern I'm filled with euphoria for the entire day. I can't stop looking at what I've done, wondering that I MADE that and anticipating making one for everyone I know. I usually make a list (how type-A of me!) of all the things I want to sew: bags, wallets, camera straps, skirts, etc.

So when my grandmother visited to help me learn the ins and outs of my new sewing machine, I had a hard time deciding on which project to make. In the interest of using what was on hand, I had fabric and the pattern for a pair of flannel pajama pants for both Mr. E and myself. That may have been the last easy choice I had on Saturday.

A typical sewing day looks a little like this...
1. Wash your fabric the night before: apparently fabric shrinks, so you want everything pre-shrunk so as not to "gain weight" over the course of a laundry load.

2. Read directions of the pattern you're using. Determine the size you want.

3. Commiserate with your grandmother since "sewing a button hole" is not only the first thing to do, but also the most diffcult on your machine. Smile in innocence because you don't know the absolute frustration this will cause you.

4. Lay out your pattern on your fabric. Use your handy-dandy cardboard cutting mat and sewing pins graciously gifted to you. Realize that a good pair of fabric scissors will be your first purchase when you're doing this on your own. 
5. Cut out pattern. Sweat in concentration as you get a little scissor-happy and almost ignore the notches you are supposed to remember- sigh of relief as your grandmother didn't notice.

6. Once your pattern is cut out, idly wonder if you're making a flannel dress...but remember pajama pants must be roomy. Especially for your husband.

7. Sit down to your beautiful new machine and realize you have dust all over it from not using the cover. Spend two minutes meticulously cleaning (and touching to remind yourself it's real).
8. Review parts list in manual- looking for each piece. Learn names of all parts and still refer to them as what they look like: the broken staple, the treads, the screw.

9. As you press buttons to make sure everything is working, you drop the feed dogs. When you press the button to bring them back up NOTHING HAPPENS. Proceed to freak out.

10. Spread the freak out as you spend the next ten minutes trying to poke slender things into your machine in the hopes that you will "release the pressure of the spring" because you are POSITIVE this is the problem. You can totally see it. Your grandmother is disapproving.

11. Drive to the nearest Joann's. Walk your behemoth of a sewing machine into the store, only to be told they do not sell them and have no service. 

12. Receive directions to the nearest store WITH service as if you are an Orange County local and know the locations of all the nearby malls. I do not know this information because I am poor.
13. Spend the next THREE HOURS DRIVING DOWN ONE STREET in search of said Joann's. We have the address but no map and no GPS and although I know the street it's on, I'm not sure which way.

14. Call Joann's repeatedly for directions. None of the ladies know anything but the cross-streets. This still does not help me.

15. Break for lunch in Lake Forest and idly wish that your husband was around. He has an internal GPS and would never have gotten into this mess.

16. Drive again in what you think is the right way. As you get closer (the building numbers are steadily getting closer) realize this area looks familiar. Contemplate NOT telling your grandmother that you have not only BEEN here before, you used to work down the street.

17. Walk into Joann's, tell a nice sewing machine expert what your problem is. She presses the button and turns the wheel and has fixed your (not-actually-broken) machine. Buy elastic and thread in shame and leave quickly.

18. Actually start sewing on your machine. Make 4 buttonholes. Make 2 buttonholes. Scoff that this is so easy. Pin, sew, pin, sew. Realize buttonholes are going the wrong way. Make 2 buttonholes. Thank the sewing gods that the fabric is black.
19. Finish pants for husband except for hem. When he tries them on he wants to CHOP YOUR BEAUTIFUL PROJECT into flannel capris. So he can wear them in summer and not be hot...

20. Admire handiwork. Of pants, not husband's bum.

21. Read directions in preparation for next pair of pants and realize pattern boasts "2 Hr Project!". Check time. 12 hours. Room for improvement.

I finished my pants too, and after trying them on to fit for the waist, may or may not have been so excited to wear them that I hemmed pants-less. But then this happened...
I couldn't stop there...so I made a pillow. Because my dog is awesome. And also I may have an obsession with pillows.
Watch out world. All your flannel pajama pants will be made by me. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh I love you. Welcome to the wonderful (frustrating) world of sewing. I am so happy your memories of my sewing when you were little are so happy. Perhaps I saved my cursing and ripping out of seams for when you were not in the room. And the joy of admiring your handiwork? Exactly why I am obsessed with quilts. It's therapy. Seriously.


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Mrs. E