Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tailoring for Idiots (by Idiots)


   The more I sew, the more I wonder why do it and how I manage to make something even remotely resembling a garment of any kind.
   I have learned a few things, though. And so I will teach them to you, so you won't make the same mistakes that have. Well, I really probably knew better, but still committed the mistakes. So now you can blatantly commit these mistakes as well!
   
   Tailoring for Idiots! (by Idiots)

   Lesson number one: always pre-wash fabric. I have made several costumes without pre-washing the fabric. These costumes are made of cotton. So now if I ever wash them I will never be able to wear them again. Also, they will probably become deformed and wrinkled. Not all fabrics shrink when washed, of course, but a friend who is actually in the fashion industry (if you're reading this, hi, please don't break all of my facial bones) advised that all fabrics need a pre-wash. And I agree. One washes the clothing they purchase before wearing (at least, my family always does). Who knows where it's been between manufacture and you? Various dusty warehouses, trains, ships, and fabric stores. What Cheeto encrusted fingers might have chopped that fabric into your order back at the amazon seller's base? (Sorry, all fabric store workers. The ones I have dealt with are all very nice and clean with no Cheeto encrusting whatsoever, but that doesn't mean they don't exist somewhere.) And I suppose there are chemical concerns: those freshly printed fabrics probably need to be rinsed off before sliding over your skin.
   But what if my fabric wrinkles after the wash? Then you iron it. Great Scott! You don't mean more work? Sadly, yes. Which brings us to lesson two.

   Lesson number two: Do (not) be lazy. If you really want something to look nice, you're going to have to work at it. Don't take those tempting shortcuts that call to you like sirens. You'll wreck your boat on the rocks of 'Dang it, now I have to start over!' It will take time to create something worth touting. Make sure you measure everything properly. Make sure you cut it carefully. Make sure you sew slowly. And for Pete's sake, make sure you know what you're even doing! This lesson is very closely related to lesson seven, so we'll come back to this theme again. It needs reiteration.

   Lesson number three: Don't be a hypocrite! (Like me)

   Lesson number four: Keep Calm and Carry On. If you sew something together wrong (or hideously) and it needs redone, KEEP CALM. You will have to get out the seam ripper. Again, remain calm and try not to break things. It will be okay. Not today, but someday. If you need to, take a break. Seam-ripping can wait until after a calming cup of chamomile tea, or the next day. Seam-ripping is in all reality a monotonous task at worst, not Hell on earth as you (and I) may falsely believe. But it's close.
   Also remain calm if you break the sewing machine needle. This will happen at some point. Especially if, like me, you don't actually know what a hem is and suddenly you are sewing a very thick pile of fabric where your hems overlap on the sleeve you are sewing together (wait. Am I supposed to do the hem AFTER completing the sleeve? Please consult an actual seamstress and/or official sewing guide before proceeding (that goes for me, too)).

   Lesson number five: You should probably use a pattern. For years I didn't. Now I use a 'pattern,' Which is a word which here means: I cut up an old suit coat and use it as a guide while I cut fantastical shapes out of large pieces of expensive fabric. Patterns never hurt anyone and it is unlikely that they will do anything to ruin your life. If you are sewing, they will probably improve your quality of life and general sense of happiness. Don't be stubborn and/or lazy like me. Historic patterns exist and you can buy them online. For example: Reconstructing History and Historical Sewing 
   Although patterns introduce sizing issues. Better accuracy would help me, I suppose, since I currently go by guesswork. I should really learn how to use patterns and sizing because then I could sew for other people besides myself and possibly make money.

Lesson number six: You should also probably learn more about your sewing machine and its maintenance (especially if your local sewing machine repair shop closed some time ago).

   Lesson number seven: Slow Down! Be patient. Seriously. If you didn't sew like a madman and finish the garment in a day, it might look a whole lot better and not have those weird wrinkles and odd seams...This, I think is a major factor. Don't hurry. Yes, it's monotonous sometimes and takes forever and you just want to wear your latest creation and sweep around your castle in your new trailing dressing gown, but you need to slow down. Take it easy and be careful. You'll have better success and higher quality. But you should also refer to the previous lessons as this one is unlikely to be a cure all.

   My latest project was a long dressing gown. Fleece on the inside and stretch panne velvet on the outside. So if someone can tell me how to keep the blasted stuff from stretching and causing awful wrinkles and weird stretched panels, please help! Also, I could use some advice on hems trimmed with an accent fabric, because mine (A) didn't line up (because I didn't measure carefully enough) (B) had weird wrinkles (because I didn't iron the fabric) and (C) still looks pretty awesome! (If I do say so myself)
   I need to go back over my seven lessons, put them into practice and apply them to my next project.
   Oh, and as I told my brother, I can make you a dressing gown with matching beard bib (or nightcap!) for $200.
   Happy sewing and/or despairing, my friends! Remember, be patient and get it done now! You just take your two pieces of fabric and stick them under the needle and press the pedal! At some point you will sew the wrong pieces together or break the needle, just remain calm and remember: You are sewing because you love old fashioned clothes and can't afford to buy them. I still can't figure out how they end up looking remotely like historical clothing, though.
   

Look, a dressing gown. Bit wrinkly but it sure is comfy, which is more than I can say for some of my other projects.


With a matching nightcap!

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