Saturday, April 19, 2008


Only twenty more accent in the corner Nine-Patches and I'll finally be done with Step 2 of Carolina Crossroads! And those twenty are in progress.

I spent Tuesday and Thursday in the sewing lab and was able to finish my pants with the contour waistband. This is the second pair of pants I've sewn; the first had a straight waistband with elastic in the back.

This time I documented every step of their construction in my notebook. (I don't have any pattern instructions.) Unfortunately, they don't fit as well as they ought. I'll be taking my muslins, the different versions of my pattern, and both pairs of pants to the lab next week to see if we can figure out why. In the meantime, I have to go to the regular class meeting tomorrow and work on my corset. (I'm finally getting kind of interested in it. I love learning new techniques.)

But when am I going to find time to finish my dress before the end of class?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Week of Sewing

It's been a busy week at the sewing machine. On Tuesday morning I had my weekly quilting session with my new friend. Afterwards, I threw my sewing bag into the car and buzzed down to the college for the remaining open hours at the sewing lab. Another girl and I are working our way through an extra credit pair of pants with a contour waistband. The lab assistant said she'd do demos of various construction techniques for us, so I needed to get my fabric cut out ASAP which is easier to do on those long classroom tables than at home.

On Thursday I spent almost 7 hours at the lab working on those pants. The lab assistant had predicted that we'd be able to finish our pants in that amount of time, but I knew better. I am not only a slow, meticulous worker, but I was trying to write down the instructions for these pants as we went along. (The lab assistant had previously helped me alter a commercial pants pattern so that it would actually fit me. It's now so different from the original that printed instructions no longer apply.)

This morning I'm off for the regular class session where I will continue making a corset. I'm not very enthusiastic about this project because it's an item I will never, ever wear. In fact, it's not even designed to fit me -- just the dress form. But I'm making it for the sake of learning some new techniques. Maybe I can sell it on eBay!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Needles and Tongues

What is it about sewing together that makes women so chatty?

There's something about plying a needle, even when it's attached to a sewing machine, that seems to loosen tongues and inhibitions. Certainly my quilting friend and I wander through a wide range of topics during our weekly sewing days. And that's a good thing since it keeps me on task during some of the more tedious steps of my Carolina Crossroads quilt. (I love quilting, but you have to admit that pinning 100 Nine-Patches together can get just a teensy bit dull.)

I also take a garment sewing class at the local community college where I've noticed the same tendency to confidential chat. When the teacher is neither lecturing nor demonstrating, the tongues begin to wag. There's one lone male in our class, a tall African man -- judging from his accent, he's not African-American -- who sits by himself at the perimeter of the classroom. I wonder what he makes of it all.

One group of women is busily discussing underwear. One girl wonders why no one makes lingerie out of velvet. Being the practical, older woman of the class, I point out that velvet would be rather warm to wear. A younger student points out that successful lingerie is not actually worn for very long. Another group of students is rooting through a donated box of lace and trims. Periodically one of them will squeal in delight at the discovery of some particular piece of lace, "I'll make this into underwear!"

Of course no group of women can sew for long without the conversation becoming gynecological. Across the room another group is discussing a recent news report of a pregnant "man." From there the discussion wanders into hermaphroditism. And I suppose the only reason it didn't morph into the inevitable swapping of labor and childbirth stories is that most of the class are still young and childless.

Then the topic veers off towards car dealers, and the trials and travails of dealing with them. One woman likes haggling; the rest hate it. Another woman's husband used to work for Volvo and she describes their shady dealings which caused her husband, who is also a minister, to leave that job. Now the older class members are discussing their teen-aged offspring. A couple of ladies who attend the same church are discussing relatives who "came forward" at the last altar call.

Ah, a piece of silk noile is found in one of the donation boxes. The teacher says you can identify it by its distinctive odor. Several students who dislike the scent compare it to various disagreeable substances. (I nab the fabric to make a blouse. With my sinuses I can't detect any scent at all. Besides, I'll be washing it before I cut and sew.)

Many other topics pass our lips, and our busy machines hum a pleasant background music as we guide our fabrics under the needle.

All too soon the class session is over.