Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Life Gets in the Way of My Sewing & My First Shirt Pattern

The above picture is the entry to my sewing room. You've seen pictures of the interior the last few weeks as I transformed it from an unused office for my husband into my beloved sewing sanctuary. For those of who have any sewing space at all, you understand my obsession.  I decided to share this photo so I can always be reminded of how much I love this place, and how I miss it when my life gets in the way of my sewing.

I had to drop out of my pattern drafting class this its final stretch. It was the last week, with the last two projects, and final exam in order to finish the class. But studying got in the way again! I'm working on finishing my Master's program...studying non-stop five to six hours a day and taking mock exam after mock exam, and not getting the scores I need for my boards. My husband who is equally disappointed with my scores commented on how I could have gotten that extra percentage had I spent less time in my lovely sewing room. I say "poo" to that comment...even though he is probably right.

I have committed to refraining from sewing for the next three weeks so I can buckle down yet again. My new term starts next week, and I am working at the clinic and piling on the patients because I'm down to one shift instead of my regular four. This means I don't have enough appointments available for all my regular patients. (I'm not a MD in case you're wondering. I'm an acupuncturist-intern.) With all the stress that comes with my day...sewing and designing heals me.

So before I step away from stitching and blogging for a few more weeks, I just wanted to share the final project I was going to turn in for my class. I drafted my very own shirt, and made it in this horrible valentine cotton that actually feels closer to paper than cotton. Why so cheap? It's drafted in a tiny size eight wolf form, and I knew that I would not be wearing it, but may be a younger girl might like it. It looks good...but I never made it back to school to fit it on the model dress form.

The pattern had eight pieces in total. I struggled with the collar. I haven't sewn a proper collar in may be 20 years. Yes...that' right, I was only ten years old when I sewed my last collar.  I made the collar twice, the second time, I extended the collar band an inch so it would sit further out and reach the center front of each side of the shirt. I still sewed the band crooked, but I was pleased by the overall shape of the collar. I learned later in the Reader's Digest Sewing book where I strayed with the collar band. My other problem was the sleeve. I redrafted the sleeve after realizing that it was a puffed sleeve rather than a straight sleeve with a single pleat at the cuff. The length looked a little long, or the shirt itself was not long enough.  I'm not sure which one was the problem...may be a little of both.

I made French cuffs, and realized that I had to do four button holes instead of the standard two-button cuff. I was nervous because I'm notorious for making things uneven, particularly button holes. My 20-year-old Bernina automatic button hole feature doesn't work every single time. Sometimes it sews all of them the same size...which it did for the shirt front button holes, but when it came time to doing the cuffs, it became schizophrenic. (I have considered buying a new machine just to make button holes, but is it worth another $1,000? Tempting...)

I thought I'd be cute and make my own button cufflinks. I wanted to show my teacher Cindy that I really loved her class, and these little cufflinks was my small tribute to her. I had this custom button kit in my notions box for years. I loved how they turned out.

The final, final project was a skirt. I felt rushed when I drafted this. I didn't really like the style, and I wanted to really show that I could do something better. As I cut out the fabric and began stitching the pieces together, I realized that spending another three hours sewing a skirt that I did not like was a waste of my time. I took the class to push myself, and be proud of my end product. This was when I decided to stop attending the class and broke the news to my instructor. What's the point of doing something very mediocre just to pass the class? I've already passed this class before, and I did it with flying colors. It's just a review, and a chance to become better.

This is my skirt pattern. When I stepped back to look at it, I thought...this is just a sloper with a ruffle and a waist band...and I'm a complete loser for making it. I threw the ruffles in because I wanted to do something to pay tribute to Frida Kahlo this month. But it only made me feel worse, because Frida Kahlo deserves better than this.

This is the sketch of my skirt. Yeah, it's cute. It's also very basic, and something that I could make without much effort. The older I get, the more I value my time. Every moment I have should be valued and spent in such a way that it either helps me grow, or at least makes me happier. This skirt did not satisfy either criteria.

I am sad that I did not finish the class. But it was not meant to take over my regular studies. I can't help but be haunted by my husband's words, "What were you thinking?" I was thinking that I could do it all...but just not all at the same time. Happy sewing!