Sunday, November 8, 2009

Love it - But then I'm Biased aka Sewing Puns Are Endless

FabricLand is the coolest place. Seriously. And sort of scary too.

Nicole and I decided to get there early last Saturday - our plans thwarted by a once-in-a-decade power out in the Hudson's Bay Centre. We arrived and the place was closed. Till noon.

While we waited we talked about sewing books and other stuff and even checked out Holt's recently raised "holiday display". Yes, Holt Renfrew had its Xmas shit out in full form on Halloween day:

It's entirely whack, I realize.

Brief aside: You really should check it out because the yummies (candy, tea, chocolate, coffee etc.) are entirely beautiful and special. The irritating SA stopped me from taking photos because "it's against the store's policy". I guess so is free publicity. Whatevs.

But back to FabricLand: There used to be one on every corner. Now there is but one downtown location. I guess, in light of this, it shouldn't surprise me that it was packed to the gills (esp given the power out inconvenience) but I was shocked to find so many shoppers! And a good third of them were men?! (Really, I didn't imagine anyone sewed anymore, much less men.) Hideously, the power problem meant the store was literally 30 degrees celsius. It was torture with our winter coats and all the crap we were amassing as we browsed. Alas, we perservered.

I'll cut to the chase, in case fabric shopping doesn't thrill you: We found a really helpful SA who spent 2 hours with us giving us pointers on everything from suitable patterns to how to iron on interfacing. She was terrific. And I got this discount card (20 bucks) that instantly saved me 3x that amount. And I bought a lot of stuff.

I realize that it's not within everyone's means to kit out all at once, and it's certainly not in everyone's philosophy. But I really believe that it's key to being ready to learn. If I a) don't know what I'm doing and b) haven't developed skill then I really need all the help I can get, no?

The beautiful thing is that, being so well-equipped from the excursion - I had all I required to get going on a pattern. I bought 2 - a simple a-line skirt (and denim with which to sew it) and a jersey shell (with a subdued peacock blue wool blend knit). I opted to start with the skirt, though both purported to be equally easy, because I didn't have any experience with jersey - or ANYTHING for that matter - and, as yet, I had not purchased a walking foot (a gadget to help with this kind of sewing in lieu of a serger).

The skirt, a New Look pattern, was called "Easy 1 Hour!". It took me 15. But who's counting. I'd never sewn a stitch before I started and it took me hours to figure out my machine and do testing and read stuff and look dumbfounded at the horrendously badly-written technical directions. And then there was the time required to feel my feelings. Of inadequacy.

At this point I have to give mega props to Scott who went through the entire adventure as a true partner. Every time I considered hurling the machine out the window, he suggested beating it with a hammer instead. :-) Seriously, he figured out all the crazy instructions and the machine and made half of the finished product.

This process hasn't been easy, per se, but it's been so interesting and exciting I can get with the confusion. In fact, having made one skirt, I decided to start on another immediately after. Yes, the week of a huge work project-deadline, I opted to spend a night measuring and cutting a skirt for M. I want to give it to her for Xmas. The pattern is similar (from the same packet) but a diff model (in the tiniest size). Don't even get me started on pattern sizing. You know why Marilyn Monroe was a size 12 in 1960 - because that's what a freakin' size 4 is now. I've heard this countless times, but only now do I fully understand it.

Question: I could write a post or 2 about the "best way" (i.e. my way!) to buy things to support your new sewing habit. But maybe this is less than interesting to y'all who have no intention of ever taking up sewing. Let me know. That could grate like sandpaper on a disengaged audience. Thoughts?


  1. Reading about you wanting to throw out the sewing machine made me laugh. It reminded me of my frustrations at the beginning of the year trying to get the hang of knitting. I wanted to throw my needles more than once.

    No objections from me on another sewing post. And don't forget pics of the skirt you did!

  2. i got all my beginner's sewing starter kit materials from the handy list in the s.e.w. how-to book. last year i was too intimidated to head down to the garment district in nyc so i ended up ordering everything online from jo-ann fabrics! :P it wasn't too pricey and i got a really cool pair of gingher fabric scissors on sale :)

    but you know, even for intermediate sewers, the whole process of reading the pattern, pinning and then cutting the fabric is *supposed* to take you a long time. this is what my awesome sewing teacher diana tells me. i have a feeling the patterns are over-advertising quite a bit when they say "1 hour!!".

    i've gotten a little better at the whole prep sewing process but i think it's part of the joy of doing it...taking your time makes it so much more therapeutic, no?

  3. It's so interesting to know about your new sewing process :)


  4. "The skirt, a New Look pattern, was called "Easy 1 Hour!". It took me 15. But who's counting. ... And then there was the time required to feel my feelings. Of inadequacy."

    I love your sardonic wit. Best of luck to you! I'm learning to sew now as well and am also starting with a "Easy 1 Hour!" New Look pattern. One hour, my ass.

    That being said, I am finding that my new shopping addiction is fabric. I have not gone on a mad fabric spree per se, but I am already recognizing the rush endorphins and serotonin or what have you that happens when I enter the fabric store.

  5. Oh, I wanted to burn my sewing machine manual in a glorious fire. The one that came with my Pfaff was much better.

    I'm so excited to see you taking up sewing. It really is one of the most satisfying crafts, I think--more so than knitting for me--much quicker results!

  6. I say write whatever you want. I'm fascinated by all this!

  7. Raven: Throwing needles doesn't have quite the same impact on the wall in front of you (or the needles) but I'm sure it feels as good :-)

    Sophie: Hilarious! And I'm about to order that book online. So far, my fave part is cutting out the pattern. I got these rotary cutters that make it seem very profesh :-)

    Seeker: Don't worry, I'll bore you soon enough :-)

    dreamecho: So fab to see your comment! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who's struggled with this bad marketing :-) My friend refers to the rush of fabric buying (and the tendency to do it): crazy fabric lady (like crazy cat lady but with fabric) :-)

    Wendy: He heartily concurs. And says thank you.

    Ambika: I can't imagine how long knitting takes compared to sewing. Both are such beautiful arts, but I need a little bit of hope I can finish something this calendar year!

    E: Scott is more concerned than fascinated :-)