Saturday, October 19, 2019

It's Not Fitting

I couldn't bear to drive all the way to the fabric store for only four buttons, so I bought a shirt pattern and some yardage too so the gas wouldn't have been wasted. (This is true.) It was a simple style. I've made a couple hundred similar shirts for Dave and although he and I have way different topography, I thought this should be a snap.

I'm no whiz. My least favorite part of sewing is the cutting out of the fabric pieces, followed closely by the sewing of them.  Sewing is a straightforward process. My mom taught me. All you need is a machine, a seam ripper, and a few choice words I didn't learn from my mom. I opened up my pattern and pulled out the instructions. Oh, crap my pants.

This isn't a simple shirt. This is a "3-hour perfect fit shirt." In other words, this pattern is going to ask more of me than I ask of it. And three hours won't even get me to the fabric cutting. Did I ask for a perfect fit? I did not. The deal is, you buy the pattern, you sew the shirt, and if it gaps weirdly in the front or bunches up funny, you hang it in the closet and give it away in twenty years.

"First, buy the right size," it says in the instructions. I always review the measurement table for the various sizes, just for drill, but I'm invariably on the cusp. Or I suspect I am: I haven't actually measured myself since I was an adolescent wondering where it would all stop. Then I give up and pick Medium because it seems the least controversial.

To find your right size, it says here, you measure your high bust.

I've never heard of such a thing, but I know I don't have one. Nothing on me is at all high. If I even have a bust line, my bust is nowhere near it anymore. That bust line is more like a chalk outline in a murder scene. My body parts have gone nomadic. There's no point looking for them where I remember seeing them last. They could be anywhere by now.

So. Medium it is.

Then the instructions get peppy. "Don't waste time sewing a garment that doesn't fit!" it chirps, without suggesting anything better to waste time on. Four pages of alteration possibilities ensue, for women with broad backs; with square, sloping, broad, or narrow shoulders; with a full bust; a hump; advanced osteoporosis; skin tags; a third nipple; an alien. In order to determine how well or badly the basic pattern fits your private scenery, you are to cut the pattern tissue, pin the pieces together, and stick it right on your actual body.

Good one! Pattern tissue has the integrity of a moth wing and it will tear if you so much as look at it crossly. Not to fear: you are to iron the tissue, cut around your pieces, and then reinforce the seam lines with tiny lengths of Scotch Magic tape (in the green box, it says). You're going to want lots of little pieces of tape, and then you snip the tissue to the tape in a sawtooth pattern, and then pin all the pieces together and try the thing on, and see if (for instance) the center front actually achieves your own personal center front or comes up a little shy, in which case you consult the alteration lines on the tissue and then there's more cutting and taping, folding and pleating, slicing and dicing, and a strategic introduction of dart lines.

If done correctly the tissue should have a confetti look to it. Carefully transfer the ribbons of tissue to the fabric, close your eyes, and start cutting.

We're a week into this now and only just getting to the part I hate the most: the beginning. It's like opening the pantry for a peanut-butter sandwich and finding a bag of peanuts and a tray of wheat starts.

But it all worked out. Fabulous, in fact, with a kicky two-tiered ruffled peplum, Juliet sleeves, keyhole neckline, side slits, and a hammer loop! And there's fabric left over for fringe.

It was supposed to be a camp shirt, but done is done.

56 comments:

  1. My mom used to sew all her own clothes when she was young and poor. (Back then it was cheaper to do so than buy ready made clothes. Today's "fast fashion" has turned THAT on its head.)

    I haven't sewn clothing since high school home-ec class. Did a decent job, but HATED it. I vividly remember throwing a pair of bell-bottom pants that I was making down on the floor and stomping on them in a rage! I will sew on buttons or mend holes in sweaters now, but as to making actual clothing from scratch... nuh uh.

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    1. I didn't like sewing back then either, but I have gained patience (or something) since then, and now that I'm taking greater care I like it better. It was probably the quilting that changed things, because you really shouldn't half-ass a quilt. Them seams need to be precise.

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  2. I once took a sewing course. Bought all the required materials. $$$
    Ended up bundling the whole mess and putting it in the trash.
    I did keep the cutting board. It's folded up in the back of the closet somewhere. Haven't figured out a use for it yet. But it doesn't take up much room.

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    1. That's what people say about me, too!

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    2. in the trash??? No, No, No. Next time bundle it up with the instructions and threads etc and give it to a thrift shop. Somebody there will finish it and be happy with a new whatever it was.

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  3. Every article of clothing needs a hammer loop. I'm knitting some socks and neglected to even think about a hammer loop until I read your blog post. Thanks for reminding me.

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    1. We'll call you "Lurchin' Larry."

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    2. Without any benefit of research or google-foo, I'm guessing it's that large fabric loop you sometimes see around the hip area of overalls or cargo pants. Easy to slip a hammer handle into, and keeps your tools close.

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    3. That also describes underpants.

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    4. I didn't think it remotely possible to make my straight-forward description funny. I bow to the master/mistress.

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  4. I read this to my Mom this morning, as is our wont on Saturday morns, and I have never heard her giggle so much! Hit our funny bones perfectly!

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    1. I had a dream about you two this morning! I'm not going to tell you about it though. Too weird.

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  5. I remember making a shirt for himself many years ago. A Vogue pattern. By the time I finished it the shirt had come in and out of vogue several times. The first time he wore it he caught it on the underside of the car and ripped it. Mended it still hangs in the wardrobe (decades later).

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    1. If I tried making Dave a shirt from a Vogue pattern, I'd make him hang it in the closet permanently. No wearing.

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    2. "...on the UNDERSIDE of the car." That has to tell you something!

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  6. You didn't look for the magic word, "Facile" on the pattern envelope. I paid for a basic class, then figured out I just needed to follow the directions on the pattern. "Facile Only" is my motto.

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    1. I have done many complicated things on a sewing machine but pattern-fitting is NOT my thing.

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  7. I tried sewing twice, and both times were traumatic. I have the utmost admiration for anyone with the patience to as much as sew on a button. Just sayin'

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    1. You're angling to have someone sew on some buttons for you, aren't you?

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  8. I love it - looks great. I want that pattern - casual but not like a box. Is it McCalls M6076 Classic Fit Palmer Pletsch The Perfect Shirt ?
    How are you on the buttonholes?

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    1. I've done so many buttonholes I don't even sweat much anymore.

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    2. And the pattern is McCall's M6932.

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  9. I was literally laughing out loud as I read this. I so identified with this sentence: "The deal is, you buy the pattern, you sew the shirt, and if it gaps weirdly in the front or bunches up funny, you hang it in the closet and give it away in twenty years." Sadly for me, this also applies to some of the many clothes I order online and am too lazy to send back when they don't fit right!

    My friends and I all sewed in high school. I was the kind of person who had to do the whole thing in one day (except maybe hemming). I need instant gratification. And if I found a pattern I liked I made five or so of them in different colors. I remember one year it was culotte shorts. I got into sewing again when I was about 22 and took a local course called "Stretch & Sew," which taught you how to work with stretchy fabrics. But for some reason I just stopped once I got involved in my job etc. I don't know what happened to my old Kenmore sewing machine!

    Good for you still doing it! And the shirt turned out great!

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    1. A guy friend of mine thought a Stretch and Sew class was a Lamaze course.

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  10. Worlds are collapsing in on each other. Next thing you know, the other essayist I love to read is going to be writing about poop or birds or something.

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    1. You're seeing another essayist....all right, I already knew that. I am coping.

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  11. This is why god gave us "gently used" stores: (a) to buy stuff so we don't have to make it ourselves, and (b) to feel generous and pleasantly self-righteous donating stuff that might actually fit someone else.

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    1. God needs to wash that stuff better before he brings it in.

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  12. This is why I don’t sew clothes for me any more. But last summer my niece and I designed and made her wedding dress. Pretty damn cool. If I had charged her for woman hours I put into it, it would have cost about a zillion dollars, but I figured since I did more un-swewing, I would have to subtract that amount. I still owe her about $40.

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    1. I remember bringing the seam ripper back from Home Ec class. It was a revelation for my mom. She always used a tiny scissors and a bale of patience.

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  13. “ It's like opening the pantry for a peanut-butter sandwich and finding a bag of peanuts and a tray of wheat starts.”. OMG. TOTALLY snortworthy. Mission accomplished.

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  14. Fabric designer...Brandon Mabley? Kaffe Fassett? I love it!

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  15. Nice shirt. For a bit I was reading along and almost swore I had the same pattern. "third nipple, alien..." I liked "the hump"..... Good leftovers for a quilt. We must discuss challenge #3... in January?????

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    1. Oh dear, I still haven't finished the other one!!!

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  16. Hoping it has an insulted pocket to keep your beverage cold.

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  17. I can hardly wait to see Murr's reply to Jono. Oh what a difference an "a" makes! lol

    As a fellow sewist (they don't call us sewers anymore, and it sure is nice not to be confused with effluent pipes), I am very impressed by the fit of your shirt. I am ALWAYS impressed by your writing and this was hilarious.

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    1. I swear there was an "a" in it when I hit Publish! 😁

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    2. LOL, that's what we all say!

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  18. You're a whiz, gal! Love the shirt. I always hate the pinning and cutting, and then there's the dread of having to rip out seams. Add to that the pattern sizes as stated don't jive with the ones I wear for store bought clothes. As you can imagine I don't get the sewing bug very often.

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    1. Honestly, I don't do much better with store-bought. I think I'm sticking with pajamas for my dotage.

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  19. Is that the finished shirt you are wearing in that last photo? It's very nice and goes well with the aqua hair. I haven't sewn anything for myself in decades and would probably go with a one-size-fits-all tent, then all I'd have to do is take up a mile or so at the bottom because I'm so short.

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    1. This shirt is easily six inches too long. You'd've thought I could at least see THAT coming.

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    2. Looks perfect to me, I like them longer to hide more belly and bum.

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  20. Oh how I can relate to all of this! I love sewing but HATE cutting out the fabric. I can't tell you how many outgrown and out-of-style sewing projects I have sitting in bags in the attic because I don't want to cut them out. I do bite the bullet and make my dad a flannel shirt for Christmas every year, though. I wish he didn't prefer PLAID! Your finished shirt is lovely, though. Thank you for the giggles.

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    1. Plaid's great if you're not too OCD about keeping the lines straight.

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  21. Discus! I love the fabric and am totally jealous.
    Haven't found any suitably fishy, birdy or other nature related prints in years.

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    1. We had a wonderful fabric store here that had acres of EVERYTHING but someone bought the store and systematically ran it out of business. Anyway I got this fabric there right before they went under.

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  22. i am ERIC BRUNT by name. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my wife after three(3) years of marriage just because another Man had a spell on her and she left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address AKHERETEMPLE@gmail.com have help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a man had a spell on my wife and he told me that he will help me and after 3 days that i will have my wife back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my wife. Thanks for helping me Dr Akhere contact him on email: AKHERETEMPLE@gmail.com
    or
    call/whatsapp:+2349057261346










    i am ERIC BRUNT by name. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my wife after three(3) years of marriage just because another Man had a spell on her and she left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address AKHERETEMPLE@gmail.com have help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a man had a spell on my wife and he told me that he will help me and after 3 days that i will have my wife back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my wife. Thanks for helping me Dr Akhere contact him on email: AKHERETEMPLE@gmail.com
    or
    call/whatsapp:+2349057261346

    ReplyDelete