Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wadder #1 (husband's title for this post was "DAMMIT")

V9006 | Misses' Top | View All | Vogue Patterns

Very Easy Vogue 9006.  Such a nice drapey blouse.  Looks so easy.  And it’s there in the name:  Very Easy Vogue.  Ah, Vogue.  So full of the sly humor.

I have sewn things off and on for more than 20 years but let’s be honest:  far more off than on and usually only of the most basic variety.  My recent interest in sewing clothes I would actually want to wear stems from two motivations:  first, reading sewing blogs to the point that it was useless to resist the power of inspiration.  I had to try it for myself.  Second, having a baby.  Pregnancy was not a fun ride for me but I LOVED the wild and crazy shape I became during that time.  My shape after pregnancy?  Feeling much less love.  I’m learning to appreciate the new me, but I want to sew clothes I like that are specifically made to fit all my new assets and flaws quirks so I don’t have to deal with dressing room frustration any more.

So this top looked like a home run:  few pieces, no tricky collar, flattering drapey thing.  Score.  I didn’t get very far into it before I learned two lessons the hard way:  first, my fabric had a pattern that was slightly more orderly than random.  This did not strike me until *after* I had sewn the two back pieces together and realized that now the back looks… bisected.  It’s all right.  I tell myself I’m going to feel like a blue and white ladybug, and move on.  I’ll remember this next time.

And while there’s no tricky collar in front, there is evidently some sort of facing/collar thingy in the back.  I say evidently because when I reached this part of the instructions it was like waking from a restful sleep to find myself in a foreign land, where all communications are conducted in hieroglyphics I can *almost* make out but not really and text in a language I cannot make head or tails of.  I read and re-read the instructions. I turned the pictures 360 degrees.  I consulted my crafty, spatial friend Katie.  I emailed Vogue.

I hooted with laughter at the response I got.  I was thrilled, delighted down to my little toes, to get a response at all, much less a reply within an hour of sending my query.  But the information contained within it was in the same foreign language as the actual instructions.  I was thoroughly amused.  I think we have demonstrated in black and white that “very easy” means something different to Vogue than it does to me.

I found a blog in which a sewist named Amanda made a bee-yoo-tiful version of this top.  Oh so pretty.  She breezed past the tricky collar situation in her explanation, however, confirming my suspicion that my inexperience is what makes it so tricky.

Finally, I took my pattern, fabric and questions to the Jo-Ann Fabrics on Forest Lane.  I visited with a lovely expert named Rosa, who snorted at the title “Very Easy Vogue” in a way that endeared her to me forever.  Then she and I talked through the pattern, the steps for assembly, and decided on a method for creating the collar which made sense to both of us.  It did not in any way resemble the instructions or the hieroglyphics provided by Vogue.

And here’s where I thought things had taken a turn for the better - only to discover that no, in fact, we had taken a turn for the disappointing.  I struggled through the rest of it - the feeling that I was breaking a code, WWII windtalkers style, never left me - and finally got to the point where I had a garment in my hands that mostly resembled the picture. Victory! (Except for the unexpectedly Laura Ashley in the 80s puffy sleeves, but I decided I'd worry about that tomorrow. Channeling Scarlett has worked for me for years.) So I decided to try it on to decide how deeply I needed to hem it.  And discovered that the whole thing is too small!!!

Sweet mercy.

I got so infuriated at that point that I wadded it up and stuck it in a dark, forgotten cabinet.  (With some restrained violence.  I would have banged that door closed with a resounding boom if only the kids weren’t already in bed.)  I know that logically I need to go back and figure out if I measured myself incorrectly or if I mis-read the pattern or if there is, in fact, an error in the instructions.  I need to learn from this mistake, that’s for sure.  But logic be damned, I’m too annoyed to do the level-headed thing.  I’m going to steam with irritation for a good long while and re-visit it when my red fury has faded to a pleasant pink.

So there it is, my first official wadder.  I think I will stick to simple knits for a while.  And independent pattern makers.  And an obsessive habit of measuring myself 48 times before cutting any fabric.

(And in the meantime, just to end on a cheerful note, good books.  Have you read the Code Name Verity books by Jennifer Wein? I just finished the second one.  What a fabulous way to teach history!  Stories about daring, brave young women pilots in England during WWII?  Um, YES and thank you.

It really does feel better to have written the sting out of this experience. And also to gush about my current read.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A fresh start

I’ve started sewing. And writing again. I’m doing both with little baby steps and hoping that my interest, opportunity and life will let me get a little better at all of it.

In all honesty, I have no idea what I’m doing here. Optimistically I have hopes that by sewing a little bit and then a little bit more and then even a little more, I will get better at it. I will figure things out. I might even acquire some hard-earned expertise. But a very pragmatic part of my brain pipes up around this point to say that then again, I might not improve. This might be as good as it gets. I might be a bumbler at the sewing machine for a Very Long Time to come.

And against all the Type A odds my personality would naturally pit against this observation, I’m okay with that. I love making things and right now, sewing is the thing that gets all my mental gears humming and whirring. I like writing. I love reading sewing blogs and maybe if I poke around over here in my little corner, I can join the conversation a little. Maybe that will even help! At any rate, despite the real possibility that I will never be as good at sewing as I would like, as either of my grandmothers were, or as good as any of the bloggers I read, I’m still doing this.

Coming soon: the story of my first wadder. (I feel like such an insider using that term. But the actual thing itself did not make me feel like an insider. It made me feel stupid and furious and at one point, *exactly* like my poor frustrated 2yo when he throws a tantrum because he cannot do something he really wants to do.)