Monday, April 12, 2010

When will i learn...

that any project I take on will inevitably be much more complicated than I initially count on?  When I say to mr. “it’ll only take a little bit, I mean how hard can it be?”  what I am really saying is, “I am delusional and living in a make believe land where everything goes exactly according to plan and there are no blunders along the way.  Therefore, I will be up all night long wrestling with my disappointments and attempting to fuse reality and fantasy.”
Weeks ago, I decided that I could most certainly make some Easter clothes for bug and mini.  Last week, as Easter came and went, I remained unconcerned.  As I said in a previous post, on Easter, my church had a semi-annual conference which was broadcasted live so we stayed home and watched church on TV.  That meant that our Easter service was actually done yesterday, the 11th.  I had a whole other week to finish the Easter clothes!  No problem.  
As the week wore on and I dabbled in accessories, etc. I continued to be optimistic.  All I needed to do was make a sweater vest and bow tie for bug and a little dress for mini.  Their clothes are like miniature, so it can’t be as difficult as making big people clothes, can it???  I mean, really.  Can it?
It can.
Fortunately, I had finished the main portion of bug’s sweater vest earlier in the week (see, I didn’t procrastinate COMPLETELY).  So on Saturday evening when I set out to finish up I at least had a portion of his completed.  This made things seem much less daunting.  (Which, of course, gave me a false sense of ability.)  It was my own fault for not only procrastining, but also for choosing a sewing project that is considered “beginner” skill level on Dana's blog, MADE.  What I should actually look for is “inept.”  
If you go here, you will find the step by step tutorial I used to make bug’s vest out of one of my old sweaters.  I really love this idea.  Why not turn something I’m not using into something he can wear again and again before he grows out of it?  I have never done any “binding” and I have never worked with knits.  So when all was said and done, although I was impressed that it looked like an actual sweater vest, I also wish I had made a practice vest first.  I am sure that my next attempt at this project will look much  better.  

First I cut out the vest shape using one of his current sweater vests as a template.  Then, after reading instructions, ironing the binding the wrong way, cursing quietly, re-ironing everything the right way, pinning, pinning and more pinning, I ended up with a sweater vest that actually looked like a sweater vest.

Pretty good!  But don’t look too close.  I said I hadn’t worked with knits before, and you can tell.  It’s stretched out in places and sewn in too far so the stitching is uneven in other places... but I was hoping no one would notice that what with all of bug’s genuine cuteness.

I decided I wasn’t done.  It looked much too plain.  It needed...

an applique anchor.  Nothing says "little boy Easter clothes" like an anchor.  I chose some fun material, used heat bond to iron it to the vest, then sewed a zig-zag stitch around the whole thing (which is WAY easier said than done, especially in that little circle in the top of the anchor, the part the chain is supposed to go through?  Yeah.  Little circles are tough.)
I was happy with the end result.  It exuded just the right amount of cuteness and the mistakes were hopefully easy to overlook, especially when no one would be coming up to him and asking him to raise his arms and turn around.
I moved on to mini’s dress, saving the bow tie for last.  
The plan was to use this tutorial I found on shirring from Portabellopixie to make the torso part of the dress, then cut out a rectangle for the bottom, gather it and sew it to the top.  I would then add two rectangles in the same yellow knit as bug’s vest binding for some little straps so that the outfits kind of matched.
I followed the tutorial.  First, I finished all the edges on my material, because it said it would be easier that way.  Then I used a scrap piece to practice shirring and get the tension on the machine just so.  The tutorial warned that each machine was different and that you would just have to play around.
I did some trial rows, all of which did not work.  The gather just slid along the elastic thread.  Apparently this means the tension is too tight, so I adjusted.  And adjusted.  And adjusted.  I went through scrap after scrap, using each combination of length, width and tension possible - and if you sew, you know that this means 100’s of combinations.  I tossed aside the tutorial and tried it the way my mom used to do it, by zig-zagging over the top of the elastic, making a little zig-zag casing for the elastic to sit inside.  Didn’t work.  This is the point in the night when I started fuming, ranting and raving.
I might also add that through all of this trial and error, I was also battling my machine.  It seemed out to get me.  First, the machine would come unthreaded (well, we’ve encountered THAT issue before, so at least now I know what to look for and can fix it relatively quickly.)  Then, and this is a new one, the BOBBIN kept coming unthreaded.  It would stay threaded through the machine, but come out of the little metal case it sits in.  I checked the tension and everything, and can not explain the problem.  After dealing with all the tangles, lumps, jammed needles, broken needles, snapped thread and yanking my stuck fabric out of the plate, THIS was the point in the evening that I contemplated throwing my machine out the window.
After I had done all I could do, I pulled out the most tried and true trick in the book.  I called my mommy.
I begged for a shirring lesson and she said she’d be over soon.  I moved on to making mini’s tights.
This was a pretty straightforward project from a tutorial that I found here, on Made by Rae.  Very, very cute tights, and the best part is that you can use stuff you have at home (I used an old t-shirt that is too tight now) AND you can get patterns and colors not usually available for tiny sizes in the stores.
I had a few bumps - the worst of which was back-stitching to reinforce the crotch and going all off kilter (causing bunching).  I then forgot to put the presser foot down and sewed a large tangled mess of thread to the elastic area of the tights... This was the point in the evening when I called my mom back and told her not to bother coming over because I was officially retiring from sewing FOREVER.  She thought I was joking and came over anyway.  (I finished up my tights and thanks to the lace around the bottom of my old t-shirt, I was able to make them into "ruffle butts," which I was pretty stoked about.)
And guess what.  She couldn’t get the two traditional forms of shirring to work on my machine either!  (and she’s a sewing wiz).  I began to feel a little bit better, like maybe I can blame some of this on my machine...
So, she suggested I use this method:
Just sewing the zig-zag stitch right over the top of the elastic and pulling the elastic tight as I went.  After she left, I got right to it, and it worked!
Now I was harboring a personal vendetta against this dress project.  Was I going to let it beat me and put another point up on that scoreboard?  No way!  This dress was going down!  One by one my family went to bed and I sewed away in the cold and dark of my basement room.
I measured, cut, hemmed, pinned, and sewed, working up a frenzy.  After I attached the bottom to the top, I saw a rather large hole where I had gone off the fabric and missed attaching the two pieces together.  I vowed to preservere, however, and made a large flower of my gathered flower hair clip variety, glued it on a pin, pinned it on and called it good.  I mean, come one, she’ll grow out of it in a couple weeks anyway!  I quickly made the finishing touch - the straps - and (after ripping one off because I thought I sewed it on inside out only to realize that I had actually sewed it on correctly in the first place) sat back to survey my handy work:

Hmmmm.... I’ll admit.  It looked a little small.  But I had measured meticulously this time.  I’ve learned my lesson.  I got out the tape, measured mini from top to bottom so... it had to be right.  I probably just wasn’t remembering how small mini really is...
Just when I thought I was finished, I remembered the bow tie.  It was late.  I was tired.  I really wanted a bow tie to complete the look.  So, I skipped this bow tie tutorial, which I found on A Lemon Squeezy Home.  (Very, very cute.  I still plan on making a few of these.)  I just couldn’t bring myself to sew anymore. 

How do you make a bow tie without sewing, you ask?  With this:

That’s right, my trusty “right hand man.”  I’m not ashamed to admit it.  I hot glued a bow tie together.  I’d do it again, too.

I started with a St. Vinny’s clip-on tie that was probably for a 10 year old.  I cut it apart.  I folded it and squished it into shape and glued it.  Then I sewed a little elastic around it, hot glued two snaps to the back of the elastic, and voila!  A bow tie!  Now, I’ll admit, it is larger than I had intended.  (mr thinks it’s a little ridiculous.) but it’s still cute.  I mean, come on.  Can you think of anything cuter than this?

If you thought this story was done when I finished the bow tie and finally crawled into bed, you were wrong.  The next morning, as I got mini dressed, I discovered that I was indeed correct.  The dress is too small.  It fit her, but just barely.  She didn’t scream or protest though, so I put her in it anyway and went to church.  When her little underarms were turning bright red from the top part of the dress rubbing too tightly, I waved the white flag and changed her into her “emergency church outfit.”  But for about 15 minutes, she and bug were straight from the pages of a magazine; hot glued, pinned up holes and all:

My mom gave me a reassuring tip.  She said, "with sewing, you have good days and you have...." and I filled in the rest: "Days that make you scream and tear your hair out while you vow never to sew again?"  And she nodded her agreement, "Yep."  Glad to know I'm not the only one.

Measure twice, cut once.  And, as Olin Miller said, “if you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.”  

Or, in my case, if you want to make an already somewhat difficult job pretty much impossible, wait until the day before and then scramble like crazy and stay up way too late making yourself late for church the next morning.

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