Thursday, March 31, 2016

100 Acts of Sewing and Other Terroristic Acts

Back in the 80's, I owned this shirt.  It was one of my favorites.  I still love the sentiment today.  You know me:  I'm all about crafting and sarcasm.

Many of you know I am an avid knitter (well, not if you only know me from this site).  I didn't learn to knit until I was 22 and taught myself.  It is a known fact that up until 1990, if you were left-handed, it was impossible to teach you nearly every craft, particularly knitting and crochet.

Fortunately, that was not the case with sewing.  I learned to sew when I was six and had free rein of my mother's sewing room throughout my childhood.  It was a small, oddly shaped room that shared a wall with the living room fireplace and was tucked behind my parents' bedroom.  My mother converted into a sewing room after she kicked my father out.  Prior to that, it was my father's radio room (your dad had one too, didn't he, full of navy surplus equipment and a full-size teletype machine?) which we were strictly forbidden to enter.  Franken Barbie was born there, too, but that's a story for another day.

As I said, I learned to sew when I was about six.  I was taught by my mother and first projects, I was told, were always sewn in gingham.  This is actually not a bad idea since the fabric's pattern is woven, so there are straight lines to follow.  

My first two projects were an eyeglass case (no one wore glasses in my family at the time) and a little 1/2 apron with grosgrain ties for me (I never wore it).  I still remember the delicate pink and white fabric -- I was not allowed to pick it out.

The last part is memorable, because I remembered loving sewing and creating things but I also remember that hand made things were ugly because the fabric I was allowed to use was always hideous.  It didn't help that this was the early 70's and definitely not fabric's finest hour.

I was also taught that you absolutely had to follow a pattern.  ABSOLUTELY.  HAD. TO.  Which is so not true, but creativity in my family had it's boundaries.

As a teenager, I remember going to the local department store (that still had a fabric department) and pouring through the pattern books looking for styles I liked.  I would do this for hours before picking something out.  I remember in the late 70's and early 80's when designers started putting their names on patterns.  Perry Ellis.  Swoon.  Those felled wool coats.  So gorgeous.  I developed a penchant for expensive fabric that my meager allowance could not feed.

In junior high and high school, I sewed a lot of garments and wore them with pride (but I didn't tell anyone I made them).  Along with many women, I also converted jeans to skirts by ripping out the inseams and adding fabric triangles.  Still a fabulous idea.  Why don't we see those now?  
That's the concept, but we used bright gingham fabric to fill in the triangle section.

Today I find myself wanting to sew more.  I have Bernina dreams but a Brother budget, so I bought a sewing machine from Amazon for about 88 bucks.  It works pretty well.  There are few adjustments and if anything goes wrong with it, you pretty much have to chuck it and buy another.  Most machines are self threading, and thank God for it because I can no longer see the tiny eye in the needle.  I know one of these days I'm going to have to get bifocals, but today is not that day.

So far I've sewn a few sets of curtains, but what I really want to do is sew some clothes again.  Hilo has an amazing number of fabric stores.  I know of at least four.  There are a few more on the Kona side of the island.  The internet also has hugely increased the availability of fabrics.  And patterns.

I am a little intimidated as it has been many a moon since I've sewn something to wear, but the internet is great for that too.

I don't know how I found Sonya Philip's 100 Acts of Sewing site, but I am grateful I did.  I will let you read all about Sonya on her site.  In a nutshell, she challenged herself to make 100 dresses in a year.  And she did.  She actually did it twice.  She designed her own patterns and now sells them on Etsy here.  They are graded from XS to 4XL so they will fit nearly everyone.  I bought them all.  I love supporting her and I really do hope to make several of the projects.

It is important not to lose touch with actually being able to make things ourselves and sewing our own clothes is a huge part of that.  It links you to the garment workers who make your clothes in factories and making things by hand grounds you like no other way can.  The satisfaction of self sufficiency is a great feeling.

So I have the machine, I have the patterns, now I need to get off of my duff and buy some fabric and get to work!

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