Friday, August 04, 2006

I'm Nothing If Not Tangential

I read that on someone’s blog recently (sorry can’t remember who’s) and it rang a bell. Hit a note. Rung a chord. Whatever — it’s me all over. I go on tangents all the time. My road branches, nay, it downright fractals. If you read this here blog at all often, you’ll notice this tendency. I leap from weaving to spinning to knitting to crochet to rug hooking to kumihimo to beadwork to dollmaking to sewing to art quilting to…whatever. If you’re only interested in one or some of these, you might occasionally be bored. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Today the subject is sewing, specifically reducing a couple of t-shirts to “girly” size as opposed to “extra-large male” size. I used to like wearing them way oversized but now they just look dumpy. Is it my taste finally going with the more closely fitting styles common these days? Or is it that my body image has finally caught up with my 30-lbs-thinner body after 2 years? My belly still sticks out though which somewhat ruins the line. The latest issue of Threads magazine has an excellent article on fitting patterns to my body shape, which is very definitely “pear” — though they call it “full abdomen”. I even had one when I was a teenager and only weighed about 100 lbs so it’s not something I can really expect to completely get rid of, especially at my advancing age. At least I no longer look immanently about to give birth, thank goodness. At 5’ 3-1/2” and small boned, I weigh around 135 (give or take). I could still afford to lose another 10 lbs or so but they don’t want to go. Guess they've become too much a part of me that they don't want to part. Or something.

Anyway, back to sewing. I’ve been practicing a bit more with my new serger, specifically learning how to set up for the cover stitch. There’s a lot of steps and the manual has you flipping pages like crazy, so I scanned the illustrations and set everything down by steps in a MSWord table. Levers flip, needles shift, loopers thread and un-thread, tables swap, and dials move. It took 11 pages when I printed it out! But now it’s in a notebook and I can follow it in a way that’s easy to understand. I included how to get it back ready for more normal serging too, so I don’t miss any steps in reverse. Now I know why some sewers have two separate machines ready to go, one for overedging and one for coverstitching. Yes, I have two machines, but I totally like my new one better for everything. Though come to think of it, I still haven’t gotten the old one serviced yet. Maybe it’s not as bad as I remember when it actually worked properly. But it doesn't have either coverstitch or differential feed which is why I bought a new one in the first place. If it had only just needed servicing, I would have done that instead of going out and buying a whole new machine.

The project I'm working on is revamping an old Pacific Opera Victoria t-shirt that was given to me by a friend years ago. (No, I’ve never seen them perform! But I'm sure they're good.) Even though it didn’t cost me anything, it’s good quality fabric in black with a dim purple logo so it’s worth working on. So this is what the t-shirt looked like before I cut it up:

I keep the neckline and the sleeve hems as is and re-cut the body and sleeves. See how much smaller the pattern is than the t-shirt? I got the pattern from a t-shirt that fit the way I wanted and traced it. There’s no seam allowances on it so I trace around the pattern and draw the seam allowances in by eye around the lines, leaving enough for the serger to cut off. And here’s the chopped and channeled t-shirt before sewing:

Rainbows courtesy of the crystal in my window and the morning sun! The piece of hard soap is my marker. Works great on dark fabrics and what doesn’t come out in the steam pressing comes out with a dab of water. I sew the bottom hems with cover stitch first, change to 4-thread overedge and sew the sleeves in, then the side seams all the way from the sleeve hem to the bottom hem. Thread the tails into the seam, a quick press, and put it on and go. And here it is girlie-fied and no longer a size XL:

Can you see the difference? Sorry there’s no pic with me in it. I haven’t managed to figure out how to take my own picture in the mirror. Trust me, I’m wearing it as I type and it fits just right. It only took less than an hour and most of that was changing threads to black and setting up the serger. No sewing machine was involved at all. I’m sure there’s more exciting things I could do with old t-shirts like patchworking different coloured parts together or adding crochet or knitted or other embellishments. But right now I’m just looking for quick-and-dirty re-shaping. I’ve got a drawer full of these things, at least the ones I’m not using for nightgowns. Note to Self: Do leave some t-shirts for bedtime!

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