Sunday, June 15, 2014

A stitch in time

I am sewing.

I did not like sewing when I was a wee lass in 4-H and after 30 years of avoiding sewing like some kind of Third World plague, I've found I do not like it any better now.

Sewing involves needles, pins and scissors - pointy, sharp things capable of drawing blood. As far as I am concerned, this is just asking for trouble.

But I am sewing because A) I am subject to spurts of creative energy and B) I am trying to save money.

I am not sewing a new wardrobe. God made LL Bean and Christopher and Banks and outlet malls so women do not have to sit, hunched over and squinting and sticking out their tongues, trying to make their own clothes. (Am I the only one who sews like that? I suspect I am not alone.)

I have great respect for anyone who can make their own clothes. Hell, at this point, I have great respect for anyone who can thread a needle on the first try.

I grew up in an era when it was commonplace to go play at a friend's house and find tissue paper patterns from McCall's or Butterick spread across the dining room table and the sewing machine whirring away while her mother created a new blouse or skirt on a Saturday afternoon, casual as making toast.

My best friend's mom in high school made my friend's prom dress. I was still struggling to master a straight seam and she made an entire freaking prom dress. And it looked better than most of the stuff that came off the rack. That was back in the day when girls went to JCPenney and bought their prom dresses, they didn't go to a bridal store and order one and get fitted for it and register it so no other girl in any school in the surrounding six counties could buy the same one because imagine the HORROR and DEGRADATION you might experience if someone else showed up at prom wearing YOUR dress.

Ahem. But I digress.

I am making a belt pouch. If you have ever attended a Renaissance festival, you know what I'm talking about. Well, if you attended one and paid attention to the costuming. And could get past the wood nymphs, Goths, harem girls, faeries and pirates to the folks who were dressed as simple peasants, which is what I aspire to. Apparently the concept of pockets eluded folks back in the day. Or maybe their pockets were full of other things. But most folks have at least one belt pouch attached to their, um, well, belt. This was the forerunner of the modern handbag.

A group of friends and I have been tossing around the possibility of attending a Renaissance festival "in garb" at some point in the future. Said "garb" is not to be taken lightly and I'm taking my time to assemble something that is passably "peasant-ish" without being "wench-ish." However, I have learned that "wench" is simply another term for "woman" so perhaps I need to clarify that I hope to avoid the "slutty wench" look. If you've been to a Ren faire, you know what I'm talking about.

If you want to dive into another world entirely, Google "Renaissance Festival Clothing." Pretty much anything you want is available and I mean anything. Just whip out the MasterCard and click "add to cart." And be prepared to give up your firstborn child and several random body parts to pay for it.

To date, I have refrained admirably. A skirt from Amazon has been the high end of my spending, at $14. A $5 peasant blouse from a thrift store will do for a chemise. I suspect if I get into this sort of thing (like I NEED another thing to get into), I will upgrade my wardrobe but for now, I'm taking the cheapest route. Precision authenticity is not a goal. Trust me, if you've been to a Ren faire, there's a whole lot going on that has little to do with authenticity.

But I did buy a belt. One needs a good belt to hang things from. I do not anticipate buying a dagger or a drinking mug to hang from my belt but in the grand scheme of things, I will need somewhere to stash the 21st century conveniences like my keys, cell phone, lip balm and cash while at the faire. Hence the pouch. I do not anticipate tucking them into my bodice. The bodice is a whole other post entirely.

I tried hard not to buy a belt. I thought I certainly had a belt that would suffice.Wrong. My belts were woefully inadequate for doing that fancy loopy knot thing. They barely went around my waist once, let alone left any room for loopy knotty things. Okay. Fine.  I would use one of the Farmer's cast-off belts. Then I realized there is reason they are cast off. They are beat to hell. It's hard to do loopy-knotty with something that is fally-aparty. Sigh. Click "add to cart."

Which is why I am playing Scarlett O'Hara and sewing a belt pouch out of an old shirt. A pouch is a pretty simple thing to sew. Which is good, because I've nearly lost my religion already. Trust me when I tell you I will not be opening an Etsy store featuring hand-sewn items any time in the future.

If I were a good blogger, I would insert a picture of my pouch here. But I'm not going to. It's not done. It may never get done. I may grab my MasterCard and with tail between my legs, crawl off to one of the 15,839 web sites that sell Ren faire garb made by people who can actually wield a needle and thread without sewing their finger to the cloth. Not that I did that.

I'll admit this experience in hand sewing simple seams has been kind of fun. Even if my stitches are crooked and the thread is abominable demon spawn that tangles just to spite me. The longer I worked at it, the better I got. That's not to say I got good at it, just better.

Come to think of it, I don't think Scarlett O'Hara actually sewed that gown from the old drapes herself. She probably made Mammy do it. Hmmmph. Since I am decidedly Mammy-less, I will have to soldier on.


  1. I have a sewing machine. It even has it's own cabinet. It was a wedding gift that my parents felt I MUST have. Every young woman should start her married life off with a good sewing machine so that she can make her own clothes and her children's clothes. Did I mention that I HATE to sew? Even after a course in Home-Ec in high school and making a lovely dress for class, I still hated it. And my mother knew this and still she gifted me with a lovely sewing machine. What was she thinking? That I would suddenly love to sew? Nope.. Still hate it. After twenty five years that sewing machine has been used... once.
    You, my friend, are more of a woman than I. Happy sewing! *snicker*

  2. I just have two words:
    Fabric Glue

  3. Sewing. Wow. I'd love to try it sometime, maybe on something that would never see the light of day. Give me a cross-stitch pattern and I can do it but if I have to mend something? It'd better be a small enough area no-one would see LOL

  4. i'm a recent member of the SCA and i lack the funds to make a wardrobe. as of right now, i have 3 complete outfits with the ability to swap out a couple of items to mix things up AND fabric to make 4 more items.

    and it's taken me months to sew trim to my fiance's new tunics. i've learned that sewing trim on a curve is the most difficult thing i've ever done.

    i have a deadline, too: late July. i don't know that i'll get everything done in time. :(

    so yes. i feel your pain.

    1. er, to BUY a wardrobe. not make. linen's cheap if you shop online, vs buying constructed garments.