Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Finished Product

You'll never believe it...I actually finished my project yesterday! Upon completion, my head was pounding, my eyes were tired, and my hands and wrists were on fire (hence the day late post), but I finished!

After an enlightening email from Mom Friday evening explaining her method of sewing in zippers, I sat down yesterday afternoon feeling very good about where things should have been headed. Granted, I still had to figure out how to set the machine for a basting stitch, and then actually accomplish the "simple" sewing in of the zipper, but still, I felt good. I spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 1/2 hrs searching online and sifting through various Memory Craft user manuals, but never found any mention of basting or adjusting the stitch length. I suppose this is yet another thing that they assume you already know how to do. I gave up on the internet, grabbed some scraps, and decided to just play with dials and knobs that weren't marked (keeping note of where they were to start with like the good girl that I am) and see what everything was. After 10 minutes of pure terror and fighting back the tears, I learned that the little black dial inside the top of the machine adjusts the backlight for the touch screen display. I spun it (there are no markings whatsoever on this dial, so I had no way to know what the "original" setting was), got distracted by Daniel for a minute or two, and looked back to have a display that didn't work. Talk about a bad feeling! I thought I'd managed to break the sewing machine already! Luckily, after a few minutes of panicky self-pity, I pulled it together and realized that that little black dial must have been the culprit. Being right has never felt better! Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but still.
After a little more stumbling around, I came across two symbols on the touch screen that could potentially represent stitch width and stitch length...and what do you know? Right again! At this point I was feeling pretty confident and even a little cocky that this would all go wonderfully. All we have to fear is fear itself, right? Wrong. As it would turn out, I found my fear when out of 30 or so presser feet, nothing even remotely resembled any zipper foot I've ever seen (which would probably amount to 1 or 2). Of course, I was dialing Mom before the negativity could really settle in, took pictures of everything I had that I thought could possibly work, and emailed them to her. She set me straight in about 15 minutes (turns out Janome zipper feet look a bit different and I actually have one!) and I sat back down with some new found determination. Daniel, bless his heart, helped me figure out how to change the presser foot - all the confounded squeeze things and springs are lightyears beyond my old '57 Singer - I had my basting stitch ready to go, and I was off! The zipper might not be the prettiest...I sewed in a couple ripples and it has a little bit of a curl to it...but it lines up and it zips!
Once that was finished, I got to the point of the instructions that truly caused my heart to sink. Slipstitch. Are you kidding me? I have to slipstitch the bottom line of the yoke facing to the yoke? Desperately, I went back to my trusty Google hoping to find a way to do this with the machine. No dice. My hand stitching is abysmal. Partly because I've just never been good at it (I suppose a lack of patience is to blame there), and partly because tendonitis has taken its toll on whatever endurance and dexterity I had. I inched my way around the skirt, slowly but surely, and heaved a sigh of relief after I finished somewhere just under two hours later. The hand stitching wasn't quite over yet - I still had to attached the hook and eye. How hard could that be, right? I think that actually gave me more problems than the zipper! Granted, it was, again, a dexterity issue rather than sheer difficulty. But alas, the skirt was finished, it fit, everything worked correctly, and it was the lightest, most comfortable thing I'd ever worn. Perfect for trekking through the jungle in Belize! Well, almost. As I was twirling around, I remembered that skirts aren't particularly conducive to hiking...hence the plan to make this into a pair of gaucho pants. This was the part of the project that I had been simultaneously terrified and thrilled by - throwing caution to the wind and winging it. Not something I do well, but actually something I am actively trying to improve upon. So, with the skirt on inside out (you wouldn't believe how confusing a zipper is backwards!), I pinned out the "legs", took it to the machine and thinking ahead, did a preliminary basting line to try it out. It looked good, so I moved forward with new seams, cut the legs out, took in a little in the lower belly where it pooched a little since skirts don't really cut in anywhere, and TA-DA! Gaucho pants! Well, almost. I still had to do the hem, which turned out to be back wrenching standing over the ironing board measuring, pinning, pressing, measuring, pinning, pressing, measuring...well, you get the idea. At last, the pinning and pressing was finished, I ran each hem through the machine, cut off the extra material, and twirled and jumped around my living room showing off my new pants!

With this being my first project, I feel confident in saying I learned MUCH. Here are some highlights:
- Real fabric scissors are like gold. I am painfully mourning the loss of mine all those years ago (they ran away, never to be seen or heard from again). Because I'm a little cheap, I decided to forgo the purchase of the insanely expensive sewing scissors when I was planning for this project. Instead, I used the best pair of normal scissors I could find in our house (we actually have about 10 pair of scissors because I lose them so frequently). I'm sure it was tolerable at first, but I was about to go insane by the end as I was cutting away the extra fabric from my hem. Did I simply run out of patience, or does fabric make regular scissors dull the way paper does with sewing scissors?
- Just because something has a negative stigma about it doesn't mean it's justified. I actually think the zipper went more smoothly than almost anything else! Though, it also could have been all the extra prep I got from Mom.
- Read the first step of the directions - surprisingly, there might be an important step there :)
- Don't panic. Odds are I didn't just break the only tangible thing I have left of my grandmother...I just pushed a button or turned a dial I didn't know about. Even though it may appear that I've ruined everything, I'm probably either flat out wrong or just over reacting.

So, with one project down, where do I go next? Do I make my other pair of gauchos since this is fresh in my mind, or do I try my hand at something new? If you know me, you know I'm itching for a change already! I'm cutting my pattern tomorrow night...guess we'll know then!

1 comment:

  1. Yippee, great job:) I'm really proud of you. They really did turn out cute.
    Glad I was able to help you and keep you from going insane.
    Can't wait to see your next project.