Thursday, December 3, 2009

Slip Sliding Away

Never mind sewing - the act of merely preparing to sew is veritably as labour intensive (but with slightly less hand eye coordination required).

I've got a few projects on the go. That's to say, I spend every spare minute I can eke out of my overscheduled day searching for thread to match fabric, emailing proficient sewists to ask them key questions about what they might have done to obtain outcome x, trying madly to figure out how to make my own patterns based on math described by others (said proficient sewists), learning terms like "rayon seam binding", wrestling with the details - small and large.

You wouldn't be out of line, exactly, in suggesting that my project after next might involve somewhat fewer than 5 new techniques I've never seen in action, much less tried (lining, seam binding, invisible zipping and bias cutting from a pattern I'm making myself). But here's the thing: Given my relative inexperience, every freakin' project involves 5 new techniques I've never seen before. I'm kind of getting used to it!

I have this "method": I make everything twice. (Or at least I have so far.) The first instance has the potential to drive me to drink (for real). The second time, I remember bits and pieces - sometimes entire techniques. Sometimes I even demonstrate a little bit of flair. It gets me through.

Much as when I cook - I imagine I have my own daytime show and I'm educating a Kristin-loving studio audience. It's post-modern absurd - indeed, far more absurd with sewing than with cooking which, at least I've been doing with skill for half my life. But it helps me focus. And I'm a slut for an audience :-)

This weekend I'm going to make slips. This new-to-me site, recommended by the incomparable Sal, is the best thing I've seen in a long time. I can't wait to try the tutorial, though I've already spent the better part of a week getting ready.

Here's what I've done so far (indulge me, it's my blog after all):
  • Dissected the instructional post dozens of times.
  • Compared it with techniques in 4 different books.
  • Bought stretch fabric in 2 colours and weights.
  • Realized that the pattern is for non-stretch fabric.
  • Panicked.
  • Decided to proceed with stretch but with modifications.
  • Laughed ruefully.
  • Bought lace and stretch elastic at this place in the sewing district called Mokuba which, formerly, I could not believe managed to stay in business selling ribbon and lace. I spent $36.00 on stuff for 3 slips that can fit in a mini-ziploc bag. And I went with the cheap and cheerful (though lovely) stuff. Nothing in this place is less than lovely.
  • Tried to figure out if I could make 3 slips out of my 2 yards of fabric.
  • Remembered some other, non stretch but taffeta-type lining I could use to make a third slip.
  • Wondered how the fuck I'm going to make 3 slips in a day having never made one.
  • Realized I don't have the right coloured thread, even though I bought some the other day - speculating on the colour of fabric I had bought the day before.
  • Took snips of every fabric and lining in my bin to buy the actual right colours of thread.
  • Cut out the rectangular pattern.
  • Realized I forgot about the seam allowance.
  • Wrote a note in big letters on the pattern reminding me to eyeball an extra 5/8 inch on the non-fold side.
  • Started worrying because the kind of hem lace I bought isn't really lace. It's like flat elastic with a tight, translucent "skirting" for want of a better way of saying it...
OK, I'm merely half way through my account of machinations (ha!) and tasks before the weekend sewathon. But even I'm bored by it.

Here's what I'm aiming to make: one hot pink tricot above knee half-slip with navy picot waist elastic and that weird hem lace I just referred to - also in navy. One peach-nude tricot above knee half-slip with black picot waist elastic and that weird hem lace I just referred to - also in black. I was really drawn to the hem lace. I only hope it works. (I guess that means I'll be going back to Mokuba before Sat. to see if I can get something more "standard" that costs less than $17.95 a metre. As backup.)

And we wonder why no one sews anymore.

Brief Update: It's like a miracle, because I've finally responded to your recent (and less recent) comments. So sorry to have taken this long. Every comment I get gives me such a thrill - really. So if you feel like looking back, now's the time...


  1. Despite how frantic some of this sounds, I can tell you're having a whale of a time learning and messing up and triumphing!

  2. Sal: Ha! It's so true. I do kind of love it. Even as I fear and loathe it.

  3. Can't wait to see the finished product!

    Also, I love Mokuba, but it's soooo expensive.

  4. Is any audience other than a Kristin-loving one even possible?! I think your cooking show would rock. I am already chortling at all of your amusing asides and non-sequiturs...

    Back to sewing. Those slips look great! The 'no-pattern' part is especially appealing. I'm going to attempt my own sewathon this weekend, it'll probably end in tears but nothing ventured bla bla bla.

  5. My sewing technique has always been - get a bit of fabric, cut it out (no pattern) and whack it together. Sometimes it goes horribly awry, sometimes it all works out, and it never, ever takes me longer than a couple of hours max.

    I have been sewing since I was a kid though, if I had to work it all out now I might start the dissecting stuff too! Bring on the pictures of masterworks I say!

  6. They'll be lovely :) and soon to be joined by blue peignoirs...

  7. Hey, I'm finally catching up.

    1. You found Gertie's blog.

    2. Mokuba is always gorgeous stuff, not cheap, but gorgeous. And I tend to be of the mind that if you are going to put all the effort into it, you might as well use nice stuff. The problem for the home sewer, at least in my neck of the woods is finding something between cheap trash and Mokuba.

    3. For all the frustration, it sounds like you are having a blast.

    4. I don't think people sew to save money anymore, that's what WalMart is for here in the US. You sew to get just what you want that fits you well, or because it is a creative outlet, or you just enjoy the process and results. Often, once you get a few techniques under your belt what you can make is better than what you can buy, or afford to buy.

  8. Yulanda: I have gone out of control in Mokuba. I have got to stop.

    Iris: You compliment me so - free tickets for you :-)

    Wendy: It's absurd, really.

    Skye: I think when you've been doing it since childhood, your brain understands it differently (and likely better). And I'd expect nothing less than awesome, free form creativity from you!

    E: Well, I was almost stoppable, but I resisted :-)

    Bayleaf: How did you know :-)

    Mardel: Her blog is GREAT. And that Mokuba is like a crack den. I love it but, yes, why isn't there something between crap and 96 bucks worth of lace??? (Oh, and I am having a great time.)