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Checking In… All of the things!

May 9, 2015
by

Wow. It’s May of 2015. Sometimes I feel like a time traveler, like I’m moving through life, and doing everything that needs to be done (sometimes too many things at once), and then I look up, and suddenly I can’t believe so much time has past.  For example, my last post was over a year ago.  I swear, I didn’t know a whole year had passed.  It doesn’t feel like a year passed. And as all of the projects I had been working on personally have kind of fallen by the wayside in that year, it would be only fair to let you know what I have been doing. If I can figure it out anyway…

When we last left off, I was sewing things. I am still able to do that, but I don’t do it as often as I would like.  At that time I was working at a ceramics studio, specifically managing it. That was an interesting job for a while, however I no longer do that. Right now I am in my second season as Hospitality Manager for the Virginia Arts Festival. I enjoy doing that. Actually, my first season doing hospitality started just before I dropped off the face of this blog. I also work as a Production Assistant and Event Lead for them for the last 3 seasons, also fun, and the rest of the reason why no one hears from me in April and May. For an example of why these jobs with the Arts Festival rock, here is a picture of me and my friends from Tangle this year, a Polyglot Theater production which had a run in Virginia Beach the first weekend of May through the Arts Festival.

2015-05-03 17.12.41

Last December I took a job as the Artist Liaison for the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. I really enjoy that job, though we are in the off season right now. I am seriously learning so much there, and it is really nice to be working with music again (I hadn’t really seen sheet music since high school chorus). I also occasionally work backstage at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts. It’s a good time when I can get a gig.

Anyway, I’m not trying to make excuses, I honestly just forgot to continue posting, but those would be some of the things that pushed this blog out of my head, result being that you haven’t heard from me in a while. One of my friends at the Orchestra calls my series of jobs “filling out my non-profit bingo card”. I’m going to head out and figure out what to do with this site now, because I think it is time to take it in a different direction. Let’s all hope the universe continues to throw things my way, and sends some inspiration on what to do with this!

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What happened to February?

March 1, 2014

Wow. So it is March now.
How did that happen?
Right now I’m a but busy with a lighting design at a local community theater, and with the local arts festival getting started, and work in general…
But as promised, here is another preview picture in the form of a “what is this a closeup of” riddle.

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Also, beta testing (or whatever you might call “actually using this in real life” is going well). Nothing broken so far, and I tend to beat up my belongings.

It’s probably going to be a hot minute before I post again. The next two weeks are focus and tech at the theater, followed immediately by the start of this year’s festival gigs, and some stuff that was rescheduled for snow. Speaking of snow- if anyone has seen spring, please return it ASAP.

But you’ll hear from me soon!

Long time, No see, but Hard at Work!

February 16, 2014

Hi all!
Sorry I disappeared there for a while. The holidays are apparently not a good time for getting anything done.

I don’t have too much to report, except that I have skipped a good portion of the “making clothing” part of my plan. (I know, I know, “there was a plan?”, right…) Either way, I went straight into R&D on the rest of the plan in December, took some time in January to make some mock ups, and February is currently “let’s test this stuff” month…

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I promise you will have a more comprehendable preview soon, but in the meantime, here is one more hint, again in the form of those “what is this a picture of?” puzzles…

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Stay tuned for more hints! (Oh, and for the few of you who I have been talking to this whole time, no spoilers, alright? We don’t want to ruin the game for people…)

(Oh, and also, this is my first post from a phone application! Yay, technology!)

UPADTE: Look what they sent me just after I posted!
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Finishing Up- Notes on Skirts

September 27, 2013

Previously on “BA learns to sew and Then Tells the Internet”, BA made a skirt, and was wondering how people see the tiny dots made by the pattern transfer gidget. Sometime between the first skirt and the second skirt, I was hanging out with my sister, and complaining about the little dots, wondering how people see them. At that time she said 4 little words that changed my life. “They use transfer paper.”

I can see!  I can see!

I can see! I can see!

Well, I felt pretty dumb. I mean, it’s not like carbon paper is a foreign concept to me. I have used it in office settings, I have used it to transfer an image onto wood when I was younger and took a few painting classes with my mother, and we use it at one of my current jobs to transfer images onto pottery. I’m actually not certain why it never dawned on me that there would be a similar product for fabric.

Another trip out to Jo-Ann Fabrics proved, that yes there is, and OH MY GOSH it makes it so much easier to see what the heck you are doing! It even comes in an assortment of colors, which is not only fun, but let’s you pick something that either blends well with your fabric, or contrasts so you can see it better!

And that was my main realization on Skirt 2. Otherwise it was very similar to the pattern for skirt 1, but with more ruffled layers. So it took more fabric, and the pieces were somewhat bigger, but other than that, I was falling into a very comfortable groove here. The zipper went in quite easily. I even figured out a way to cut out my pieces so that the fabric I chose, which had writing all over it, went in two different directions (up and down for the ruffles, and left to right for the band).

All in all, it’s a good project, it has so far survived a wash, and I have received a few compliments on it as well!

20130813_231504

I’m seriously proud of this one, and that it didn’t take me all that long to build…

So with that under my belt, it was time to head for the next unknown- elastic. So I moved on to my next pattern. I had chosen a skirt that looked cute, and this time required two different fabrics, one main fabric (which was purple in my case) and one contrast fabric (in orange). I just really happened to like those colors.

Now this skirt, although the pieces were more round, was even easier to put together!  There wasn’t any silly gathering to worry about, and the skirt itself went together in a night. Well, right up to the elastic part.

The instructions said to basically sew the waistband to split it into three horizontal sections. Then you cut the elastic, and insert, sew the ends together, and close up the skirt. All this sounds quite easy now (especially after I’ve done it once). However, what the instructions didn’t say was how long the elastic needed to be!  I mean, it didn’t ignore the elastic altogether.  In fact, it stated to cut it to “a comfortable waist measurement plus 1″ (2.5cm)”. Now, I love the metric system as much as anybody, and I will be the first to admit that thinking in base 10 is a whole lot easier than thinking in base 12 and splitting that into 16 different sections. However, I had done the rest of the skirt in the imperial system (and taken my measurements that way) so I wasn’t about to change that up just then.  1″ it was! Now I just needed a comfortable waist measurement.

At first I tried measuring my waist, and then adding an inch. Although this did work to a point (in that I had a piece of elastic that fit comfortably around my waist), it kind of defeated the purpose of the elastic, which I assumed then, and still now, is to stretch so that the skirt is held firmly on your body. Luckily I pinned the elastic before attempting to sew it in, so when I tried on the skirt, and it immediately fell to my ankles, I decided that was not what the instructions were talking about.

I’m not certain why I didn’t turn to Google at that point. A quick Google search today told me that most people who write on websites say a good rule of thumb is to cut the elastic 4″-6″ smaller than your waist measurement. I would believe that they are most likely correct, and have bought more fabric to try this experiment again soon.  What I did was more akin to what my math teachers called the “Estimation Method” for solving a math problem. I cut some elastic off, pinned and tried the skirt on again.  After about 5 cuts, I had shortened the elastic by about 10″. This seemed to hold the skirt on, so I went with it. There were two things I discovered later, however, which made me wish I had Googled elastic.

All in all, it worked out pretty well...

All in all, it worked out pretty well…

First issue: I wasn’t doing my experiments with all of my “data” per se.  You see, I had done my estimation with one strip of elastic. The pattern called for 3 strips. Similar to ropes in a rigging system, where adding multiple ropes allows you to rig something with more weight, adding another band of elastic seems to make the holding-up properties of the elastic stronger. Which is fine and all, but when I got done I found that the skirt was tighter than I expected it to be from my pinning.

Second (completely unforseen) issue: I think I used the wrong type of fabric for this skirt. The pattern is intended for “lightweight fabrics” and then goes on to list a whole bunch of fabrics that would work well with it. Two of those included “cotton lawn” and “cotton blends”.  I had grabbed cotton fabric, and figuring that it seemed lighter than someone’s lawn (keeping in mind that yes, my comparison was a lush front yard), figured it would be fine for now. In the end, the fabric I chose was pretty stiff, so instead of hanging down like in the picture on the front, the skirt kind of sticks out about halfway between a skirt and what you think of when I say “little kid’s ballerina tutu”.  On the plus side, I didn’t make it too small to wear, and I work at an art studio, so I can totally pull that off.  I’m going to try again soon with the lighter fabric though, and see if it looks more correct. (It also hit me recently that a lighter fabric may need less tight of a band to stay up, and therefore that 4″-6″ may work a whole lot better.)

At this point it should be noted that I went back to the first skirt (the one that I was now really used to) and made another one just one size smaller than I had made the original.  I kind of measure out right in between sizes, and I wanted to know the difference. I really didn’t see much of one.  The smaller skirt (I think) sits more where it is intended to? It doesn’t seem like the pieces that you cut for one size down are really that much smaller. I’d almost be surprised to find out it was more than an inch. I feel like I probably have store bought clothing in both size equivalents. The coolest thing, actually, about this one size smaller skirt was the space fabric I found at the store to make it out of. I have actually received compliments from random strangers with this one! (Most of my friends just laugh and tell me I’m one of the only people they know who can pull something like this off…)

My fun skirt!

My fun skirt!

Stay tuned for my next post: “I think I’m good on bottoms, let’s try tops!” Where BA thinks it’s the coolest thing ever as she makes a loose fitting shirt!

The first try…

September 13, 2013
by

So I got home from the fabric store and decided to make a skirt. (I actually had a series of patterns that I put into a “lesson plan” for myself, but that is currently beside the point.)

I was, however, smart enough to know that I had never seen the inside of a pattern before. A quick purchase of cheap muslin at the fabric store remedied this for me, as I figured I’d make the pattern first from that, and then move on to the more expensive fabrics. (As I recall, the costume shop at the stage company called this a mock-up, but I think their reasons for making them are somewhat different…)

Wrinkly tissue paper with hieroglyphics... we are off to a good start!

Wrinkly tissue paper with hieroglyphics… we are off to a good start!

Now, for those of you who have not seen the inside of a pattern packet before, it is important to note that the entire thing is printed on tissue paper. It is very easy to accidentally rip, and folded up to fit in the tiny envelope, it is also very wrinkly, and there are a whole lot of random symbols- not all of which you will actually use for the piece you are making.  Luckily an iron seems to solve the second problem.  Unfortunately I see no solution to the first problem save handling it very gingerly, and the third issue just seems to involve study.  I have been wondering, however, what kind of magical machine can print on this tissue paper without ripping it to shreds.  Perhaps I’ll look that up later.

After reading the pattern instructions and going over the charts on how to lay out the pieces a few times, I decided I was ready to make my muslin mock-up.  However, I wanted to keep the pattern pieces for the real skirt later. Luckily, I remembered that transfer tool thingy that I had picked up at the store. The instructions on the back basically said the follow the lines while rolling forward and backwards so as not to wrinkle the paper and make the fabric piece look wrong. Sounds easy! Somewhere it also said to pin the pattern to the fabric so it doesn’t move. Also a good idea!  At this point I was getting excited… I was actually going to do this!

I ironed the fabric out, as I had washed it when I got back from the store, and dried it, but it was a bit wrinkly.  This seemed to make the laying out easier. Now, there isn’t a lot of space in my apartment, and although I own an iron, I didn’t have an ironing board or anything, so I made due with a towel laid out on some carpet. I also don’t have a table large enough to lay out these huge pattern pieces on, so I made due with the hardwood floor area by our front door (after cleaning it of course). This seemed to work well, however I will say that the huge sheets that the patterns are printed on do make it a little difficult to manage as you are pinning and transferring pieces.  The instructions had said to pin everything out first so that you can make certain it fits, and then cut from there. As it wasn’t printed in anything close to the layout I was using, and I had bought more muslin than I needed, I decided to skip that step. So I got started, pinning the first piece to the fabric… and then realizing I had pinned it to the wrong edge, taking it off, and pinning it again.  Then realizing that I hadn’t pinned that particular piece with the back side of the printed pattern facing up- removing it and pinning again.

The Transferinator

The transferanator! (Or something more professional sounding…)

After a triple check that nothing else could be wrong (and keeping in mind that the particular piece I’m cutting was a simple rectangle…) I started using my pointed rolling transfer gidget to mark the pattern on the fabric.  After pulling up the edge of the pattern, I saw a series of tiny holes in the fabric.  How in anything’s name do people who do this for a living see that?  They must all either have super-vision, or go blind very young… Luckily at that point I remembered the tailor’s chalk I had also purchased, and before I lost sight of the tiny row of dots, I traced it in blue. Now I could see the line from far enough away that I wasn’t afraid of poking my eye out with the scissors. There are 4 pieces to the pattern I was cutting out, 2 of which you had to cut out twice. About 2 hours later I had all of the pieces in muslin, and had only ripped one of the pieces, mostly from repeated rolling of the tiny wheel, which with it’s little points essentially acted as a perforating device. I decided that I would deal with that later when I made the real one, but it didn’t seem like it would be too hard to fix (or fake). I was ready to start sewing!

Except I wasn’t.  I had not cut the interfacing. Being a somewhat impatient person (and not wanting to waste materials) I decided that it wasn’t necessary for the mock-up. Ok. Now it’s time to sew.

Not too bad for what felt like a million tries...

Not too bad for what felt like a million tries…

This being the easiest pattern that I had picked, there were only 11 steps.  I started by sewing the main pieces of the skirt part together, leaving a section of the back open.  Easy enough.  Step 2: Gather the upper edge. I tried following the instructions in the Glossary on the pattern.  It didn’t seem to work.  Google time!!
A fairly quick internet search gave me some more detailed instructions on how to gather something.  Three more tries later it still wasn’t working well, but at least it was gathered. I decided to go with it. Perhaps I’d practice gathering more before the real skirt. In the meantime this seemed like a good place to stop for the night.  I felt like I had learned a lot.

Sewing yoke sections together the next day was easy.  I had to flip the thing a few times to figure out which ends went together when attaching the yoke to the skirt, and the gathers were way too tight, so after all that I had to pull half of it flat again, and the gather-y part seemed to disagree somewhat with the foot on the machine, but I figured somewhere along the way I’d figure all that out. Which made my next step the zipper.

This tiny object is terrifying  your first time.

This tiny object is terrifying your first time.

Now, I hadn’t thought much about the zipper until that point, the prospect of installing a zipper seemed scary, and I also hadn’t bought a second zipper for practice. Issue number 1: The instructions on the zipper packaging were not the same as the instructions on the pattern.  I decided to go with the ones on the pattern. Issue number 2: I don’t have a zipper foot for my machine.  I went and found one online, but I didn’t want to have to wait that long.  Luckily, a bit of experimenting with my all purpose foot soon revealed that if I put the needle all the way to one side it would work fairly well. So I decided to use some of the information from the gathering lesson, and use the longest basting stitch on the machine to put the zipper into the mock-up.  (It worked!) Pretending to have an interfaced section of the skirt, I attached the yoke lining, and then hit my next wall. “UNDERSTITCH”. Google time again!!

Here is what I found.

Under-stitch!  (To the tune of "Super--man!") Now that's in your head.  You're welcome! :)

Under-stitch! (To the tune of “Super–man!”)
Now that’s in your head. You’re welcome! 🙂

Apparently understitching is when you stitch the seam allowance to the part of the yoke that faces your body while wearing it so it doesn’t roll over itself during use. I’m not certain why they don’t say that on the pattern, nor why the picture didn’t seem to look anything like what they wanted me to do, but the internet had come to the rescue. Now, I was on to step 9… “SLIPSTITCH”.  This one didn’t make much sense without a picture either. The Internet to the Rescue!!! Luckily I fairly quickly found a site which demonstrated that a picture was truly worth a thousand words. I decided to skip the last two steps which were labeled “finishing” and move on to the real thing.  Well, after getting a good night’s sleep that is.

Not bad for a first attempt... It actually looks like a skirt!

Not bad for a first attempt… It actually looks like a skirt!

A quick search online before starting the real skirt gave me the idea to cut the pattern pieces apart so that I had multiple, smaller pieces of tissue paper.  Those of you who sew most likely have a good idea of how much easier this makes literally everything about cutting out pieces. I was still wondering how one was supposed to see the tiny holes that the transfer wheel makes in the fabric, but with a more colorful fabric it actually was a little easier. (I still traced them with the tailor’s chalk before cutting them out though. I also remembered to cut the interfacing pieces (after a quick experiment to see which side sticks when you iron it).  I already knew that you needed to use fabric to guard the iron from the sticky part!

Most of the sewing also went faster this time- it’s amazing how much easier something is once you have done it once.  However, now I was stuck on “Step 2: Gathering” again.  Another round of internet searches brought up a video that was amazingly helpful (which unfortunately I cannot find again).  Gathering is so much easier if you tie together ends of the basted stitch which need to be pulled together, and not baste over the seam that you made earlier! Putting a knot in the basting stitch after you have gathered to the proper length also helps.  Gathering the real skirt with this information went amazingly well!

The zipper even went faster this time, and the yoke made so much more sense with the interfacing.  Finally, to finish off the skirt, I added a hook and eye above the zipper, and then the pattern said to make a “5/8″ NARROW HEM”.  (Please keep in mind that I am capitalizing these things because they are printed like that in the instructions, I’m not trying to e-yell. Although whenever I come across a new word like that in an instructions set, I kind of read it in a doomsday voice in my head…)  Now there are many different ways to do this (which I found out after another quick internet search.  What I found works for me is exactly what was written in the pattern set. Iron in a fold at twice what you want the hem to be, iron in again so that the edge hits the fold, iron one more time to fold that up and stitch.  What I have not yet figured out is this:  Is a 5/8″ narrow hem actually 5/16″ once you are done with it?  Or are you supposed to fold in 1-1/4″ to make the 5/8″ narrow hem?  I have tried it both ways at this point, and all I can really say is that the larger one is easier to sew.

Either way, the first real skirt went well (and it looks good, and it has survived two machine washes to date), and I immediately decided I wanted to put it onto Facebook and Instagram (probably didn’t help that I was also a brand new Instagram user at the time too, so I was just excited to have photos to post.)  That was when I realized- Taking a picture of yourself wearing a skirt is somewhat difficult.

Selfie shot of lower portion of the body is not easy...

Selfie shot of lower portion of the body is not easy…

After a few tries where I attempted “selfie” shots (can’t see the camera well),

Yea... this just didn't work for me...

Yea… this just didn’t work for me…

and one try where I bent over and attempted the photo upside-down (figuring I could rotate it, but the angle was very awkward),

I finally had a “eureka!” moment.  Using a mirror to show me in the skirt worked quite well to get a decent photo with an angle that didn’t look completely weird!  I was quite proud of myself (and my new creation).

Eureka!  A Mirror! And a skirt!

Eureka! A Mirror! And a skirt!

Next time: Ruffled Layers!  Elastic!  And a much easier way to transfer a pattern!!

This week on BA’s new project…

August 27, 2013

Last week I gave you all the story of how I made two bags… and it was exciting!! (Or maybe it wasn’t, but then, you don’t have to read these ramblings, you know?)

This week we will discuss what happens when I realized that I didn’t have any more fabric to experiment on.  The following happened between a Tuesday night and a Wednesday evening (I don’t keep track of what time it is, as that will generally make me depressed about how little sleep I tend to get in a day):

Spoiler Alert!  I buy this fabric later in the post!

Spoiler Alert! I buy this fabric later in the post!

While making the two bags from the last post, I noticed a few things. The first being that the scissors I was using were absolute crap.  It was a pair of desk scissors that we keep in the apartment, and yes, I know the value of good fabric scissors (I learned that while working at the Stage Company). I knew I had a day off on Wednesday, and I decided that the first thing I was going to do was go get a decent pair of scissors. Well, the third thing I was going to do was get a pair of scissors. The first thing I was going to do was make a shopping list.  Then get gas for the car.  Then buy scissors. Then go wash my clothes.

So I woke up on Wednesday, and the first thing I did was check facebook on my phone… and my email… and Pinterest… and Instagram… You get the picture. The second thing I did (after I remembered my original plan) was Google search “What items will I need for a sewing kit”… and then “basic supplies to start machine sewing”… and then “starter sewing kit”.  After an hour or so I decided that I wasn’t going to be making a shopping list (partly because with all the advice out there I still wasn’t really certain precisely what it was I needed to buy, and partly because I figured there would be people at the store who could help me if I was in a bind), so I hopped in the car with my hampers of laundry and headed to the Fabric Hut (via the gas station).

Now, I chose Fabric Hut in this case simply because I knew where it was.  The JoAnn Fabric in this area is down in the Greenbrier area, which at the time I had not successfully navigated without getting lost. The Fabric Hut, however, is in an area I am far more familiar with, and they have in the past helped me before.  The extent of my going in prior to this day, however, was always for the scene shop at the Stage Company, and I would usually walk in, look around for a minute or two, then find the nearest sales associate and say, “Hi!  They sent the carpenter to buy fabric again!  Do you have something that looks like this?” and show them a scrap of what I was working with at the time. What I did learn from this experience though is that Fabric Hut has very helpful sales associates who NEVER JUDGE YOU.  It’s kind of awesome.

All of the thing I could ever need... or so I thought.  More on that later.

All of the thing I could ever need… or so I thought. More on that later.

At the same time, I was kind of into this being a journey that I was taking alone.  You know- me, a sewing machine, and Google.  (So… alone with the help of the internet… which is not really alone at all…) So for the first time I walked into Fabric Hut with my head held high, carrying the orange and blue bag that I had made earlier, wearing (gasp!) a skirt! And then I doubled back to the door to get a basket, and continued on my way to where I was pretty certain they kept the pins. Luckily, they had not rearranged anything since the last time the scene shop needed a sewing kit, and I found myself in an isle full of both familiar and unfamiliar things. I decided on pins, and a pin cushion (the classic tomato), and a tape measure (as all the ones I had at home were metal and for use with wood), and a set of hand sewing needles just in case.  My dad, when he refurbished the machine, had been thoughtful enough to include a seam ripper.  That was a BRILLIANT idea. I decided that I didn’t need two, however.  Realizing that a thimble was a great idea (as I tend to poke myself trying to get needles through layers), and those square tailor’s chalk thingys had been fun to play with as a kid, I threw those in the basket too.  Now I had one of everything I knew the name for.  Time to look at the unfamiliar stuff. I bought a small ruler with a sliding blue plastic thing as it had instructions on the back, and said it was for marking hems as well as a few other measurements.  After some deliberation I threw in a circular spiked thingy with a blue handle that claimed to be for transferring patterns.  Just in case- it was less than $5, so I figured why not… I’d find a use for it later.

As I was leaving the section of familiar items, I found a table behind the register of clearance items.  Included on the table were a bunch of packets of patterns and a sign saying “Clearance- all patterns 99 cents”.  That got me thinking. With the exception of watching costumers, I had never really seen what was on the inside of a pattern packet.  I mean, I knew there would be weird looking shapes that you put together to make the picture on the front, but I honestly had no idea what was actually in there (really easily ripped paper, it turns out).  I decided, on the spot, that if I was going to learn to sew, I may as well make something that would be useful. (Not that the bags aren’t, but you can really only carry one at a time or risk being called a “bag lady”.) At 99 cents per pattern, I would spend a lot less money (and be able to feel far better about myself if I accidentally destroyed one or two) than at the $15-$20 that was originally marked on the pattern envelope.

Got to love a sale. Especially if you think you might destroy something!  I even got the dress in two different sizes just in case I was way off with my measurements!

Got to love a sale. Especially if you think you might destroy something! I even got the dress in two different sizes just in case I was way off with my measurements!

So I immediately walked over into the fleece section (which had large piles I could hide behind) and used my phone to Google search “how to get the right sized pattern”.  After going back and looking at the patterns twice (wandering around the store a bit in the meantime), I discovered that there were measurements written on the pattern envelope.  They were just tucked into the pattern, as they were printed on the top flap.  Kicking myself for not trying to open the pattern earlier, I started reading, and realized that these people expect you to know your measurements- like- in inches. Now, I had just picked up the tape measure, but it was in a sealed case.  Then I remembered.  I have a 12′ tape measure on my keys from when I used to go to Lowes and need to know what size lumber I was getting. Back to the fleece section! I had started wondering a bit if the staff was wondering what I was up to, but they didn’t seem to have fitting rooms at the fabric hut (makes sense as it’s really all just potential clothing), and no one else in the store seemed to be measuring themselves out in the open.  A few quick checks with the tape measure and I was back to the clearance table, all the time whispering my measurements so I wouldn’t forget them, and hoping no one thought I was going crazy.

I figured out on the first pattern that I was either a size 14 or 16.  The second pattern said the same thing.  When the third pattern said the same thing again, I decided that patterns were not like the mall, and that the store you were in didn’t have much determination on your size. So I started sorting through to find some clothes that I figured looked both interesting, and extremely easy.  Luckily for the latter, there were actually patterns marked “EASY!”.

See?  It must not be hard!

See? It must not be hard!

After finding 3-4, I suddenly realized there were odd letters on the front.  Apparently, unbeknownst to me, and the couple of sites from Google that would load on my phone, once you have your size, you need to have the correct pattern size. A few simple leaps in logic (kick-started by finding all of the copies of one pattern that I could and comparing the covers) finally had me on the correct path.  I got what I figured was some easy projects to start myself off, and then realized that if I was going to make these, I would need fabric.

Luckily, I remembered reading online that the back of the pattern told you everything you needed to buy for the project, and how much of it.  When I flipped the first pattern over and started trying to read what was back there, I was at first reminded of Pre-Calculus class, where we would have to look up all these sine and cosine and tangent equation answers on these huge charts in the back of our book.  After a few moments of absolute panic I realized that there were letters there too!  Apparently the letters told you which skirt or dress or shirt you would be making based on the picture, and from there the charts got much easier.

This looks like a really hard math problem at first, second, AND third glance.

This looks like a really hard math problem at first, second, AND third glance.

I went through and decided on a plan or which items I was going to create, and in what order, and headed back to the fabric.  I had never really shopped for fabric based on colors and patterns before, and I have to say- it was a whole lot of fun! I found a whole bunch of fabirc in what I hoped was the correct type they were talking about in the patterns (deciding that the ones that took what seemed to be “thin stretchy stuff” would wait for later), I headed for the cutting table.  Then back to the fabric.  Then back to the cutting table.  As I was reading through the patterns again I noticed a small note about notions.  Unlike the definition I was used to, this apparently means buttons and zippers and stuff like that.  So I got some of those too.  Finally, I was down to the last thing I needed- interfacing.  I walked around the store a few times trying to remember what the heck that was.  I remembered hearing about it while I was making those large drops in the costume shop.  And that’s when it hit me.  There had been an intern there who had ironed some white stuff without using another piece of fabric over it, and it made the iron sticky!  I was looking for white sticky stuff! (Note- I am not the most mature person, so this made me giggle a little.  I also wan’t about to ask a sales associate where they keep the white sticky stuff.) Luckily I happened to pass by it near the elastic, and then remembered that I needed some of that too.  Figuring that for my purposes all of the interfacing was probably the same (or I’d figure it out later) I grabbed the first one that I found in the correct size bolt, and headed back to the cutting table.

The lady at the cutting table this time was really nice!  She asked me what I was doing, and I told her about my teaching myself to sew, and how excited I was about the cheap patterns, and she was all about it.  She told me that was a great way to start.  She was about to check me out when I remembered one more thing.  The reason I had entered the store in the first place.  I spent 2 hours in Fabric Hut, and I almost left without buying a pair of scissors!

When I finally checked out (with both scissors and snips), I had two very big bags, and the sales associate wished me luck, and reminded me to not get too frustrated as this was supposed to be fun! I remembered reading online that you were supposed to wash your fabric before using it (and I still needed to do laundry anyway), so I headed to the laundromat- via Lowes. You see, I needed a place to keep all this new stuff.  When I had made a sewing kit for the Stage Company, I had put it all in a tackle box, and that seemed to work well.  So on the way back with all my stuff I went and got a decently priced tackle box that looked like it would fit all my new stuff, plus the stuff that my dad had sent with the machine (which for those of you who are keeping score, included thread and bobbins). Because you can teach a carpenter to sew, but you can’t take the carpenter out of the sewer.  (Or something like that!)

Next week on my new sewing adventures: Lessons in skirt making, or Patterns, Ahoy!

Sewing… The final frontier…

August 19, 2013

Alright, so maybe sewing isn’t nearly as cool as space travel. But with me trying to start this blog thing up again, it is currently my final frontier. Here’s the reasoning:
I work professionally in theater. I have a whole lot of experience in carpentry and metal work. I do basic plastics (though I an nowhere near as skilled as some of my friends in that area). I also work with electrical and stage lighting, and have basic sound knowledge. I have subbed in before as a stage manager and can run a show or manage a crew. From there, I went and took a job at a pottery studio, where I do glazing and kiln loading, as well as working with clay.
The department I was missing in my theater work… Costuming.
wpid-20130107_231907.jpgI have over the past few years (as part of my work in the scene shop) slowly taught myself to use a sewing machine so that I could construct drops (large stage curtains). This, however, is different from sewing. Mostly everything on a drop is a straight line.

There were others besides the one to the right, but I see no need to bore you with curtains. I’ll get them up on my portfolio eventually for those of you who may actually be interested.

wpid-20121218_124720.jpgI also got a whole lot of experience with a pretty (heavy) friend of mine that I was borrowing from the props department. It’s a great machine with a whole lot of charm, and a few quirks (read: reverse hadn’t been invented yet when they made this guy). But all it ever really wanted was a bit of oil and love (and some thread and fabric to tear through).

Now I have a sewing machine of my own. (Don’t tell the one pictured above… It was jealous enough of the serger…)
I figured, well, perhaps I should try sewing something. (Makes sense, right?)

So my first two projects were various bags I found instructions for off of the internet.

wpid-20130806_110816.jpgwpid-20130806_110905.jpgI learned a lot working on these two bags. For example, the desk scissors I was working with were awful for cutting fabric. I was aware of fabric scissors prior to this, but I didn’t want to drop a whole lot of money if this wasn’t going to work out.

I also learned that being able to turn around a 3-D object in your head is very different working with wood (which stays relatively stiff and in shape) than it is with fabric (which you can keep turning inside out on itself and have what seems like endless views of the same project. I’m not going to lie. I tried the last seam on the blue and orange bag three times before I got the proper sides facing out (the bag has a lining) and the handles on the outside of the bag. But I  was being patient as I know I am learning.

From there, I decided to go to the fabric store (as I was pretty much out of random scraps to practice with, and those scissors were starting to drive me a little nuts). This seems like a good place to pause in my sewing journey. But stay tuned for more adventures as the carpenter learns to sew!