Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sewing Flops with a Happy Ending

Exhibit A:  The Skirt with Backbone

My trusty yellow skirt is worn out, so I bought new yellow (unknown) fabric from the fabric outlet to replace it.  After much travail and repeated washings of the fabric in vinegar and salt, I realized I was trying to use canvas to make a skirt.  Canvas may soften over time, but what on earth do I do with a skirt that stands up by itself until then?  (Off to Goodwill - couldn't stand to look at it and I hope someone has a better idea for it).

Exhibit B:  Made-up Tea Cosies

I tried to sew a teapot cosy from my own design.  It was supposed to be a warm little bag with a drawstring top with places for the spout and handle to peep out.  The drawstring was too long and awkward and out of frustration and impatience, I sewed faster and consequently, the work is sloppy. (Stuffed these in my scrap boxes, where my daughter pounced on them and started using them as bags until I pointed out that things were falling out the holes.  She pinned the holes closed.  Hello, Grandma Weaver!)

Exhibit C:  Slippers

First I used this pattern and made a horrible, strange slipper with pretty fabric and a red leather bottom (no photo - couldn't bear to look at it).  Then I used this tutorial, scavenging the red leather soles from the first failure.  These slippers do not match and need some tweaks (thicker cushioning on the sole, 2 layers of fabric on the upper), but I see possibilities here.  Genevieve has claimed them for her own.  I offered to cut them down and remake them for her, but she insists on pinning them to her size with pink plastic clothespins.

In the meantime, I found a pair of Goody Bon Bon slippers on ebay that I love - so whimsical, cushy, and pretty. My husband was commenting on how I wear these slippers with irony and I had to ponder that (out loud, of course) for a while, until I understood that, yes, I am wearing them ironically.  I think they're fun, but they're definitely a joke for me, and I am definitely channeling an ageing Southern belle with a whispery sweet voice and a cool shadowy house with tall ferns at the shuttered windows.

In all of this, I kept asking myself why I was pursuing these projects instead of buying ready-made things. It's because I like solving the problem, figuring things out on my own, and experimenting.  Sewing is really a hobby for me.  There are times when I sew for thrifty reasons, but the thrift is largely a side benefit, and the real reason is my deep satisfaction and pleasure when I sew something just right.  Stay tuned for a happy lot of "just rights" coming up!


BLD in MT said...

I've had that moment mid sewing frustration where I think maybe it would be more sensible to just go buy it at Goodwill or something...but that misses the point, right? Its fun to challenge yourself and make something to suit a personal need. Its a riddle to solve with a sewing machine. I like that, too. And your daughter is a hoot!

beth said...

You hit the nail on the head as to the WHY about sewing pursuits. There's something deep inside me that has to be MAKING something!

Rozy Lass said...

I'm glad I'm not the only whose projects flop. Next time you have a piece of canvas try using it to make tote bags, for groceries, library books, lunches, and such.

jenny_o said...

BLD is right, your daughter is a hoot. And I think the apple doesn't fall far from the tree ... your posts are a lot of fun to read.

I love that you share what doesn't work, as well as what does.

momma-lana said...

I am absolutely loving the pink plastic clothes pins on the slippers. To be an aging Southern Belle you will have to use copious amounts of powder on your face until you look quite ill. :)

Madeleine said...

Oh yeah, those slippers from my blog, sometimes they work and sometimes they just don't. I have no idea why, I tried making a second pair not long ago and failed... Mine did not match either...

MDiskin said...

I am dying over those plastic clothespins. My 8-year-old is down with the Make It Work philosophy as well.

A good "belle" story: in 1999 when the Y2K scare was everywhere, I was chatting to my grandmother. "Mammaw, have you stocked up for Y2K? Water, food?" ... "Oh yes, dear. Well. Not water. But I did buy a case of champagne!"

Southerners are never not fun!

Anonymous said...


Pretty pictures even though your "flops" were frustrating. Maybe you could make bright yellow canvas chair pads for your lawn chairs or pillow covers from that canvas. I really enjoy all your writing, cooking and sewing. Keep up being a good homemaker.

Happy Mother's Day, which is every day.

Nita in southeast Michigan

A said...

M says over my shoulder: "Are those real shoes, or just for decoration?"

Polly said...

Oh, I get it.

I'm dwelling in this place right now with tank tops and tee shirts. I've been working with a pattern, graded it up in the right spots, and sewed a wearable "muslin" (using jersey of course) and then put it on my body to see what tweaks I needed to make. Many tweaks: shoulder straps shortened, length lengthened, armholes smaller, etc. Notes for this on the pattern. So much fiddling with pattern-drafting when I can buy a tee shirt for $15 at Lands End or wherever. AND so much hand-sewing!

BUT: I love to sew. And: I am determined to find the perfect-fitting tee. And: I've got lots of jersey on my hands right now. And: the whole fair-trade issue. So we forge ahead, noting the lessons learned from the Sewing Flops, living on principle!

I'm with you, sister!