“How Hard Can It Be?” (and Other Famous Last Words)

As I mentioned on Sunday, sometimes I like to do non-writing stuff as a way to refill my word banks and to exercise making-muscles without necessarily writing.

This weekend, I attempted an unguided sewing project.

There was no instructor there to ask questions. I was on my own.  Later this week, I’m going to be taking a class to learn how to sew from a pattern, and there’s supposed to be a dress resulting at the other end.  I’m guessing that with three evenings set aside for this project, and an instructor there to ask all of my stupid questions, the dress will possibly be wearable.

I attempted a circle skirt that I found on Pinterest.  The pretty, twirly pictures of the little girl and blogger both made me excited to give this a shot. I bought TWO different fabrics for this skirt. One is a simple cotton – it’s my beginner, tester one. The other one is more sheer, bouncier, flowier.

This weekend, I gave the simple cotton a shot. I’m ambitious, but I do sometimes acknowledge my limits. (I don’t even know if I have the right needle for the other fabric, honestly).   Going into this, I had the optimism and determination of the beginner.  Now that I’ve done it, I can tell you some things I learned about myself in the process.

Next Time, I’m Drinking. 

The reason why I don’t trust myself to do home-construction projects is because I suck at the very detailed measuring and remeasuring, I often forget to use things like squares and levels.  I tend to eyeball, guesstimate and wing it. THIS IS NOT GOOD FOR CERTAIN PROJECTS. I’ve had enough build-at-home bookshelves come out wonky (or where the doors won’t hang right) due to this that I know this is a limitation of mine.

I have learned that when I assemble something that arrives flat-packed, I require beer to put it together properly. The beer helps me relax with a slower pace, and it slows down my brain a little so I’m not jumping ahead to the next step before I get there.  It makes me a little more methodical and calm about measuring and checking things.

I probably also require a glass of wine or beer or something to manage this same mental process with sewing. Because halfway through this skirt, I was cursing at the blogger for being a perfectionist, and bored out of my mind when sewing one really long seam around the hem.

I’m Not Entirely Incompetent. Just Impatient.

I was very proud of myself for remembering how to fill my bobbin and how to thread both the bobbin and the needle.  I had to consult the instruction manual when the blogger called for something besides a straight stitch, and I couldn’t remember how to draw up the bobbin thread without the manual. But at least after my sewing machine intro class, the manual wasn’t in a foreign language like it was the first time I opened it.  (Those things should come with glossaries!)

The pattern calls for either 2 yards of 60-inch wide fabric, or 3 yards of the 45. The 3 yards is a massive rounding up. The true need is like 2 and a smidge. The problem with the 2-and-a-smidge is that it’s not exactly the best geometrical shape.  I was impatient when the fabric store measuring and cutting lady said she’d have to get another bolt of my simple cotton when I asked for three yards, and there were only 2 and a smidge left on the roll.  “Don’t bother, I’ll take it!” << these are the words of (a) a very impatient person who is also (b) a complete novice about how this stuff works.

I ended up playing tangrams with my pattern all over the fabric to get enough pieces the right shape and size for the skirt.  The 60″-wide pattern has literally no vertical seams from the waist to the hem. My doofy little skirt has three, plus a 4th where I had to wedge in an extra triangle of fabric to make it work.  It was the sewing equivalent of “Thar, I fixed it!” Do not turn this skirt inside out. Take my word for it. Please.


Don’t quit your day job. Or your night job, for that matter.

I had grand designs of making clothes for myself to save money and get exactly what I want.  I had daydreams about actually doing cosplay now that I can make my sewing machine go.      I have been pinning patterns and going nuts about the various things I might learn how to do with fabric.

After making an exceedingly simple skirt, I have a feeling I’m probably going to be a little bit more novicey than I expected for a lot longer.  It takes a lot longer to do this stuff than I imagined (and I’m betting if I did it right, it would have taken me at least another hour. I sort of got a case of “fuck it, I want it done” syndrome toward the hemming stage).  I also see why people have entire rooms dedicated to sewing, because this stuff takes up a lot of SPACE. I’m used to being in an Alicia-sized spot with an 11″ laptop and a tea cup.

I will undoubtedly keep playing. I think I’m going to wait to do the flowy skirt for the same pattern until after I take the class, see if I get any nuggets of wisdom from there. (And maybe the right needle.)

Oh, anyway, here’s a doofy picture of me twirling around in the skirt I made. It stays up without me holding it, and everything!


Well. That was fun. I’m going back to writing.




6 thoughts on ““How Hard Can It Be?” (and Other Famous Last Words)

  1. You basically described me and every craft project I’ve ever attempted. I am also impatient and tend to eyeball things. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. This is why I deleted my pinterest account 🙂 Always interesting though!

  2. I’m with C–this could have been about me, too! I love crafts, but I’ve given up all the ones that involve being precise about measuring things. Now I make candles: melt some wax. Add things to it. Pretend to be a mad scientist. Pour it in a mold. Stick it in the freezer because you’re too impatient to wait for it to cool at room temperature. 🙂

  3. ah…there was a reason that they said you needed more fabric for the narrower width stuff. The flimsy pattern pieces just won’t fit. Next time get the extra if you are going with the 45″ and make a little tote bag or headband with the extra. Love you! I am proud that you are gaining a new skill!

  4. Pingback: Lookit What I Made! | A.K. Anderson | Science Fiction and Fantasy Author

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