Thursday, April 16, 2009

That's The Spirit!

Week of April 4 through 11

I received my first sewing machine for Christmas when I was six. It was a child-sized Singer that sewed a chain stitch, and it was my mom's when she was a little girl. I tried to make an apron from a panel pattern, and I got so discouraged when it didn't go together perfectly, that I quit half-way through. Even as a child I was a fuss-bucket.

My mom didn't give up on teaching me how to sew. Bless her heart, I would get so frustrated when she was trying to teach me a technique, it's a wonder she could stand to be in the same room with me. I wanted everything to be impeccable the first time I put it together, and when it wasn't, I became impatient with the whole process. (Hard to believe, right?) Life is difficult when one is meticulous and impatient at the same time, and I handled this conflict in my disposition with as much grace as a drunk girl applying mascara. While riding a mechanical bull.

I would whine and complain about every single step. Pin, iron, clip, pin, iron, clip - it was all so tedious - the pinning! the sewing! the breathing! Eventually, my mom managed to convince me that the pinning! and the sewing! and the clipping! were all necessary steps that actually made the garment come out neatly at the end instead of time-wasters concocted by evil pattern manufacturers to torture restless children who were learning to sew. That was when my love affair with sewing began - when I finally forgave the pattern zealots for their cruel inside-joke.

I have recently become obsessed with fashioning apparel. Like over-the-top, check-out-sewing-blogs-every-day kind of obsessed. I have periodically been captivated by almost every facet of sewing. Right after I was given my embroidery machine, I really enjoyed embellishing purchased things and making table linens and other home decor items. Now, I have a renewed interest in making clothes from a pattern.

Most recently, I made a Game Day Dress for my sister-in-law. Game Day Dresses are the new big thing to wear on campus at A&M - to football games and other Aggie events. She mentioned to me some time ago that she would like to have one, and since she just earned her Aggie Ring, I thought that a dress with a little Aggie Spirit would be the perfect congratulatory gift.

I seriously wish I had thought of the Game Day Dress when I was in school. The idea is so simple! The bodice and skirt are made from screen printed t-shirts. So comfy, so cute and so many options.

Photo Credit: Scott Johnsgard

I was having trouble envisioning how to cut the t-shirt so that it provided enough coverage and support, so I looked online for a pattern similar to the style of dress my sister-in-law wanted. I found a great open-source pattern at Burda Style that I knew I would be able to easily alter. And alter I did. The original skirt only measured 17 inches long! I guess it was designed for toddlers wishing to emulate Kim Kardashian.

I made the bodice of the Game Day Dress from a 2XL t-shirt (the larger size allowed me to center the emblem). The skirt is made from stretch jersey. I added almost a foot in length to the skirt, and at the last minute I decided the dress needed a ruffle. Those toddlers are so jealous.

During my seamstress training, my mom and I identified an incontrovertible curse surrounding projects that we undertake. During the course of any given project, we will either step on a pin or burn ourselves with the iron - or both if the project is especially bedeviled. That, and every project, no matter how small, will take at least four hours and three trips to the store. This project was no different. The curse lives, and it extends itself through marriage. The Husband and I went to four different stores to find just the right t-shirt and the perfect shade of green jersey knit. Then, while reaching for some pins, I ran my wrist across the hot iron.

I am so glad that my mom didn't give up on me when I had such a bad attitude about learning to sew. Through all of the arguments over who should thread the needle, and all of the laughing fits over wonky stitching I learned a skill that continues to provide me with hours of enjoyment. It is rewarding and creative and calming. My mom and I formed a bond because she shared her talent with me. And I have the burn scars to prove it.

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