Unlike most 2-year-olds, however, I like to bolster my efforts with copious research. If I'm going to Do It Myself, then by golly I want to get it right. This means Consulting the Experts.
When I was younger, there were few Experts to consult. Luckily I had (and still have) an older sister who was (and is) better at nearly everything. She was my resident Expert throughout my internet-less childhood. Since then, the field of available Experts has expanded into a world-wide web simply crammed with crafty wisdom, all just a keyboard-tap away.
So now, my sewing projects tend to follow this pattern:
Step 1: Preparation. I get out all the tools and materials I might need and display them prominently in the dining area. (This is meant to spur creativity and encourage diligence.)
Step 2: Research. I
Step 3: Action. This is where I ignore much of what I just read and decide to come up with my own method. (Do It Myself!)
Moment of Crafting Honesty: I like to think of Step 2 as research, but maybe it isn't. Maybe it's really procrastination, caused by a subliminal fear (born of previous experience) that the project won't turn out the way I hope. Or maybe it's a control thing - seeking power through knowledge. Or - gasp - maybe it's just more fun to look at other crafters' projects than it is to start my own (procrastination again).
Meanwhile, piles of fabric sit around, cluttering up the dining table, forcing us to eat our meals in the living room in front of the laptop while watching the replay of that day's Tour de France stage. (Which isn't actually a bad thing. Watching someone else exercise is almost as good as doing it yourself. Rather like looking at other people's craft projects. But I digress.)
Even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea, says the poet. Translated into crafting language: even the most determined researcher (or procrastinator) eventually produces something. Here are a few recent projects of mine:
The green fabric is a rayon-spandex jersey knit; the purple slub and grey print are blends. All are from JoAnn. I dreamed of putting together a really arty and amazing tee, à la Marcy or Katherine Tilton, but when it came down to the actual construction, a contrast neckband turned out to be enough. Anything more and it wouldn't have been me. (Aside: how do you figure out what's you? Is there a quick and easy way to make sure that you only wear what you like, and that you like everything you wear? If so, do tell.)
The grey print had very little stretch, and the neckband didn't want to lie flat, so I added four tiny darts evenly spaced around the front neckline curve. The darts are neatly camouflaged by the print:
I love the softness and drape of rayon jersey, but its slinky and crinkly properties can make the cutting-out process a real hassle. What with making sure things are on-grain, and trying to keep the fabric layers smooth, it takes me longer to cut out the pattern than it does to assemble it. But the results are worth it. (If only it didn't pill so quickly....)
Bonus tip for hemming soft, stretchy fabrics with a regular sewing machine: When cutting out, add about 1" extra length to the standard hem allowance. When it's time to hem the garment, fold at the desired hemline (the hem allowance will look really wide, but that's okay). Stitch at the desired distance from fold, then carefully trim excess hem allowance after stitching. This method gives your presser foot a more stable area of fabric to sew over, with no cut edge to get sucked into the path of the needle.
The pattern for the Green Tee was copied from a favourite purchased tee, using a method I read about in Threads magazine some years ago.
Copying an existing garment still counts as Doing It Myself, right? :)
The colours in this fabric - another rayon knit found at JoAnn - remind me of a Big Stick, the favourite popsicle of my childhood.
For this tee, I converted the Green Tee pattern to a dolman-sleeve version by folding the sleeve piece in half and pinning it to the front and back pieces in turn, matching the underarm seam points and lining up the folded sleeve edge with the shoulder edge. The underarm corner was rounded slightly during cutting to give a smooth underarm curve.
The sleeve length was dictated by the amount of available fabric - which was 1 yard. (I am a fabric Scrooge.) We will gloss over the ridiculous amount of time spent in anguishing over how to make the best of this print - which has stripes running in both directions - or in dithering between set-in sleeves and dolman. Dolman won out, mainly because there was no way to match such irregular stripes with a set-in sleeve (the shirt back has a completely different stripe pattern than the front).
This tee was cut on the cross-grain (a first for me when working with a knit), and the selvedge was used as the hem.
Once cut, the tee came together quickly, and I'm really happy with the way it turned out. It's fitted through the shoulders and chestal area, and slightly slouchy around the waist. I was afraid the underarms might be baggy, but they came out just right.
Some Other Small Projects
Yes. They're exactly what they look like. And I'm surprised to find that I like them. 'Nuff said.
(Okay - just a few words more. Some of you may be absolutely horrified by this. If so, I'm sorry. I'm not trying to shock anyone. Others are probably wondering how anyone could possibly want to make and re-use things like these. In my case, it started with a leaflet from my doctor advising only 100% cotton products in the body area involved. Other factors included: the prohibitive cost of disposable 100% cotton products, an abundance of cotton fabric scraps in my stash, and a sewing machine at the ready. Environmental concerns also played a role. If you'd like to learn more, there are plenty of articles, reviews, patterns, and tutorials on the net. Some are embarrassingly gushy, but here are two that are soberly and thoughtfully written:
To my fellow sewists: even if you wouldn't use these items yourself, would you consider making some for donation to girls and women in other countries who either don't have access to, or can't afford, the disposable products we take for granted? If you'd like to help, here are two links to get you started:
Embarassing Topic concluded.)
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Wow - this post turned out much longer than I planned! Next time I'll have a month's worth of cycling photos to share.
What have you been making (or researching) lately? :)
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