Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Adventures in Sewing

Earlier this year a caught an amazing Groupon deal giving me 50% off the beginner's course at The Sewing Studio. It's been something that I've been wanting to do since about 2007 when they opened up their studio on Jarvis. My mom even bought me a sewing machine for my birthday - which I promptly left in its original box for four years. Y'know, as you do. 

So I was totally psyched to get going with this course. Their new studio space on Summerhill was bigger and now they had permanent in-studio sewing machines, so you didn't need to bring your own. Hauling my old Singer halfway across town was not a selling point for me. The studio turned out to be a lovely little spot. Adorable surroundings, very bright, cute decorating, music playing, bathroom stocked full with lady products - all things that I love! 
The goal of the class was to sew a skirt at the end of eight weeks. There were a few mini projects that we had to finish that taught us some of the basics around sewing. First we made a drawstring bag - teaching us how to find the grain of the fabric, a few different stitches, hemming and also inserting a drawstring. Next was the zippered pouch - installing a zipper and sewing corners. By the second class 3/8 ladies dropped out. Yikes! I put this down to the fact that we had a replacement teacher the second week, and she was a tit. Didn't explain things very well and didn't come to the help of those that forgot how to thread their machines. And if you don't catch on to that part - you're pretty much lost.

Once I chose my skirt pattern (a challenge unto itself!) we got into the business of pattern cutting. I found my fabric at Mac Fab on Queen Street, totally gorgeous and worth splurging a bit. After a few failed attempts at laying out the pieces I realized that I didn't buy enough fabric for the skirt pattern and had to switch things up. Thanks to the help of a good friends new girlfriend - who just happens to be a fashion designer - I managed to get some professional help in all of this. And I had no shame in inviting them over for dinner only to find myself down on the kitchen floor with her by the end of the night. Together we sweat over dress making pins and pattern notches. Big ups to her for not running from the house screaming. 

Once I got past the pleats....and the pockets...and the waistband I was feeling much more confident in the process and like I was actually going to sew something that I might one day wear (and not just on Halloween).
It was really an amazing and uplifting thing to go back to the studio every Saturday and see how all my fellow seamstresses had progressed with their skirts. I don't remember any of their names - but I seriously enjoyed all of their company during the class. Together we swore over stabbing ourselves with pins, relived school dance memories through the retro radio station that constantly played, helped each other with stuck machines and oohh'd and ahhh's at appropriate times of show & tell. The vibe of the old school ladies sewing circle was definitely a good one and something that I think I'll miss as I continue to sew on my own. 

Unfortunately as I got closer to the last class it became evident that my skirt was too big. I'd lost a few inches in my waist and the skirt just fell too low. I tried to ignore the problem as long as I could - "It'll be fine!" - until I got to the very last class and my instructor confirmed that I was nowhere near finished. I had to take the skirt apart, putting me back at least three weeks and take in the seams, pleats and waistband & facing. I was pretty pissed at myself. Even the graduation day candy tray didn't cheer me up. I had to jimmy my shit together just to pose for our "Final Reveal" photo. When I got home from that class I was in the dumps. The serious Eeyore's. There was only one thing to do - sit down and redo the entire skirt. I started at 4pm that day. And by 9:30pm I was dancing around the house like a jerk twirling my pretty new skirt. It felt great - and IT FIT! 

Big thanks to my amazing instructor Clara - she was pretty much the best teacher I've ever had! So sweet and patient and full of good advice and seemed to really take an interest in each of our projects. Also, she didn't judge us when we sang along to the radio out of tune. Or when I ran my potty mouth off when my machine was acting up. 

Thanks Clara, you're the bomb.