Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gladiator death matches and seam rippers

As many of you know, I've been taking sewing lessons.  This has been a historically ladylike endeavor but I have to tell you, the words on the tip of my tongue last night were anything but ladylike.  Using my usual replacements would have gotten a lot of bemused looks from people (WHAT THE [GENTLE CARESS] JUST HAPPENED HERE???, etc.).

My teacher, Mikala, is very sweet.  She realized at the last round of classes that I really was lost (I originally wanted to sign up for absolute sewing 101 classes, and she thought I was ready for the more advanced beginner class.  Alas, it had been a while since I'd been at my machine or at a class).  She offered me these classes when she saw how lost I was.

I've been winding bobbins, which had been a mystery of physics to me until recently.  I'm slowly getting used to patterns and cutting things, but despite my best measurements, some pieces turn out longer than they should be (as long as they're not shorter or smaller than they should be--it's easy to just cut cloth back).

In this class we made a pillow cover and we're now making tote bags.  I had made a pillow cover ages ago, and was glad to find that I could manage to make another one.  I'd like to do that (in a different color/pattern) for my sofa and loveseat pillows, and get slipcovers for them both.  We're making tote bags now, and I'm hoping to get mine done by next class (our last).  Last night was interesting because I realized that my lines are either curvy/crooked, or they are straight but go off on a diagonal.  Spatial reasoning is not my strong suit.  This is how the class went:

"Okay, I'm ready to sew this seam." 

[After sewing for a few minutes]

"Oh [BODILY REFUSE]! Mikala, where's the seam ripper?"

(Repeat three or four times.)


Well, then I realized that actually, I would do much worse in a gladiator death match.  And I pictured myself in a gladiator death match.  The only hope I'd ever have would be to annoy my opponent with constant talking, which might ensure a quick death for me. If I was really lucky, it would go something like this.  (Unless the death match had to do with words, or shade throwing, or telling tall tales, or snark--in which case, yes, I would win.)

Then I realized that if I didn't snap to it, Mikala would be all, "Pamela, you're not paying attention," and if I wasn't thinking before I spoke, I'd say, "Oh, I was picturing myself in a gladiator death match."  And I don't think she would have appreciated me being the cause of the entire class throwing down their sewing and running for their lives for fear of the apparently unbalanced middle-aged lady who thinks of gladiator death matches while holding a seam ripper in her hands.

Like growing your own vegetables or raising your own livestock, etc., I think it's foolish advice to urge people to make their own clothes as a solution to financial hard times or as a vehicle for social change.  If you're good at it, such things are doable.  But you can't just buy a sewing machine and start making clothes.  I have had issues with a pillow case and a tote bag!  It takes years of practice to get to the point where you can make things like pants, skirts, shirts, etc.  If we had to rely strictly on ourselves and no one else to survive, this nation would be full of hungry, naked, surly people.

Granted, I think it's good to learn sewing just to understand what goes into it.  I'd urge everyone (including the dudes) to take at least a 101 course so you can really comprehend what it takes to make your clothes.  It is not easy work by any stretch.  

Mikala said that at this point, she can sew a tote bag in a couple of hours.  I would love to get to that point.  But first, I have to remember how to wind the bobbin.


  1. See? This is an example of blog appeal!

    What I don't understand is why some of the "home arts" seem to come easily to me and others just frustrate the heck outta me. I completely see the value in knowing how to use a sewing machine but I hate doing it, so I probably will never again attempt it. I can do simple mending (again, the hate factor comes in here) such as fixing rips, hemming, and sewing on buttons, which I force myself to do because it's cheaper than buying new. However, I re-learned to knit this past winter--lo and behold, I seem to have a knack for it. You would think, then, that sewing would come easily--it involves the ability to follow a pattern and be creative--but nope, you are right, I'd be naked and surly if I had to rely on myself to make clothing (well, maybe I'd manage a hand-knit sweater and skirt). I like to eat too much NOT to learn to come up with alternate food sources, whether I liked the task or not!

  2. While you two are working on alternate food sources, I am capable of making sure you are not surly and naked. Well, I assume if you did not have to sew or did not have to go naked, neither of you would be surly or naked. Okay, I can take care of the naked part while you forage for berries. I sew very well and cannot see how it is hard. However, I see no purpose in knitting or cross stitch. At least needlepoint could yield a nice warm rug or wall hanging for insulation. You two forage and knit. I will keep you (or someone) clothed and warm.

    Okay, I have never tried knitting, but just know I don't want to do it. You knit me socks and will sew your clothes.

    I have been sewing since I was four. I am 67 now. Or, have I said that here.

  3. OK. I can provide (some) of the veggies, Kris can provide food and you can provide eggs, PP. Kris will make sweaters and blankets, you can make food, and I can. . .crack jokes? To keep us all from being surly? I can also annoy marauders with my incessant talking. (We'd seriously have a Ransom of Red Chief situation if I was kidnapped.)

  4. Um, PP, I haven't yet progressed to socks. You'll have to sew those. Or go barefoot. I suppose someone will need to farm the sheep/cotton crop so we can pull all of this off ... this is getting complicated ... but on the bright side, I CAN needlepoint ...