Sunday, 21 July 2013

Starting to sew: the shapeless to shapely tshirt

As he was musing over those aspects of life where we could do more ourselves, my boyfriend brought up sewing.  He has been going through a minimalist phase. He figured I could sew my own clothing, and maybe find a way to engage my love of fashion while escaping the shopping addiction that seems to go hand in hand with it. He, of course, could get free shirts and underwear.  (A great idea on his part, free clothing without work...)

I liked the idea, and having just moved to New Zealand I was in pursuit of a hobby for the year.  I looked up used sewing machines online and discovered how affordable they are.  I had thought of sewing machines as unreachable, expensive technology owned by real seamstresses.  I've borrowed them occasionally but never considered having one since I am, of course, a barely competent dress maker.  -- And I mean dress maker because that's the only thing I can make!

So after weeks of obsessing online I bought a sewing machine, a Janome My Style 20.  My boyfriend read the manual and got excited, while I nervously thought about actually sewing. Of course nothing went right.  We took the machine into the local shop where a simple tutorial on threading the machine fixed everything.  

First trial: a basic tshirt adjustment.  I don't count this as real sewing, of course.  I started shrinking tshirts about 3 years ago after a friend gave me a shirt she had done that she didn't want.  It was my favourite tshirt!  Perfect fit!  So I started to collect a pile of those big shapeless man shirts that are given out everywhere....and when the stack was high enough I borrowed a sewing machine, picked out a shirt from my closet to use as a pattern, and started shrinking.  Therefore, this is also the only thing I can do confidently without an actual pattern.

The shrinking was done in one evening. 

I ordered a pile of Lisette dress patterns by mail and waited for them to arrive.  A trip to Wellington was the excuse to buy fabric in the big city - muslin, and blue and white spotted cotton.  This was before I knew that muslin wasn't dress fabric.  The patterns came just in time for big sewing weekend number one...

It took a few dresses and a lot of online searches before I realised that there is a sewing community of young people (not just stodgy middle aged ladies...) who know loads about sewing that I have yet to learn.  Since I started with the Lisette patterns I discovered how searching for a project ahead of time can garner me lots of advice before I start sewing.  I also noticed that the things I planned to sew often didn't produce results when I looked for them online. I am adding my voice to the many already making incredible clothing!  It will take a few posts (and about two months of dresses) to get to my current project but this is my sewing challenge, from the very start.

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