On Saturday I made a black skirt. My daughter's costume needs were minimal this year, which left me with some free time to sew Halloween morning - we are 11th hour people, after all. We were planning to venture downtown to Press Bay Alley and witness its transformation into Diagon Alley, and I needed a witchy kind of black skirt. I had fabric and measurements and a plan; the skirt took a little over an hour to make. As a knitter, I am always astonished by the immediacy of sewing. Conceive, plan, execute, done. The knitting process is in the execution stage for a very long time.
I write about this success because it is diametrically opposed to the near failure of the other day at Drop In. I had recently dyed two yards of a lovely organic knit fabric, planning to make an Alabama Chanin kind of skirt - one with the reverse applique that is painstakingly sewn by hand. Every. Single. Stitch. See? I'm a knitter at heart.
Erika was there with her serger and a plan to copy two of her favorite store bought tops. We chattered merrily as we laid out our fabrics on the long tables and set to work. I was using an actual pattern, rule follower that I am, and Erika was carefully tracing the "pieces" of each shirt onto stiff pattern paper. So thrilled was I with my plan and process that I scurried home to pick up some blocks and screen-printing ink to go to the next step - printing the design that would become the points of applique on the garment.
We experimented on one of the scraps to tweak the design and I was thrilled to see the copper ink on the indigo background. Erika sketched with Sharpie where she thought the applique stitching should go and then returned to her sewing. And then as I started to print on the first of four pattern pieces, I realized my mistake.
I had laid out the pattern incorrectly, and instead of having four quarters for each skirt layer, I had two. I had to sit down in frustration.
This is why I hate sewing.
When I screw up knitting, and I sometimes do when I'm too impatient to get started to think through the process, the worst thing that happens is that I have to pull out my knitting and start over. No fabric is cut, nothing is final. There is a reason that woodworkers admonish their apprentices to "measure twice, cut once."
If I had been alone, I probably would have packed up my stuff and worked on something else less infuriating for a while. But Erika pointed out that I had cut the skirt pieces long and there was enough extra fabric to piece together the layers I had spent so much time playing with in the dye pots. It wasn't going to be my first vision, but she talked me through a plan that would be a great second choice. She understands how much I cling to a pattern and a set of rules when I knit (I love that someone has already figured it out), and that I like to have something to show for my time when I finish a project, instead of a failed experiment with greater wisdom. It seems as though this skirt has the potential to offer both a successful garment and a reminder to slow down and think through a project before wielding the scissors.
Surrounding yourself with people who pick you up when you've made a big error is what we mean when we talk about community. They sometimes have cheese and tea on hand too.
And for Eliza, who asked, a list of upcoming classes:
Nov. 8 - Zippers (Sewing 201)
Nov. 14 - Stash-Buster Scarf: Rigid Heddle Weaving (we still have one loom to loan for this)
Nov. 15 - Soapmaking 101
Nov. 17 - Felted Ornaments
Nov. 24 - Learn to Crochet - Wingfeathers Shawl