My First Skirt

I first wanted to learn how to sew in college. I was a freshman on campus, and was still naive enough to have declared theatre as my major. The theatre program at my high school was weak – I learned nothing – I just memorized lines on a paper. I had fun, but I didn’t learn anything about costuming (other than looking at dress styles of different eras), lighting, make up, stage construction – you get the picture.

gizmo

Bright light!

At this point, my only experience with sewing was watching my mother do crosstitch, an activity I found mind-numbingly boring. I think I dabbled with weaving potholders and loom craft when I was younger, but I don’t really count that.My mother can sew, and has. In the past. I think the last thing she sewed for me was a Gizmo costume.

I remember this being the most bad ass costume ever, so it has set my standards for my own sewing pretty high. Mom actually found this pattern a few years ago and sent it down to me, and I’m secretly hoping that I can make and adapt it so that I can still wear it (cosplay, anyone?) , though I am slightly worried about being mistaken as a Furry.

So. There I was. Eager and determined to learn how to sew and make costumes. I signed up for a costuming class, thinking that I’d be able to learn how to sew. No where in the class description did it say that I had to already know how to sew, so I figured that this would be a good place for me to learn the basics.

Wrong.

I don’t remember all the details, but I do know that they started me out on a serger. I don’t even know what the hell a serger does, except it makes a lot of noise and is very aggressive. Like it wants to pull me with the fabric into the machine and attack me. I think I may have cried.

I think at that point, the instructor realized that I had no idea what I was doing, and put me on a more simple project: the hood for a cape. She told me to sew the lines and then back stitch. So I back stitched the entire hood. I didn’t understand what everyone thought was so funny.

I dropped the class.

Pirates

That experience did not damper my enthusiasm for sewing, however. While my major did not stay theatre, I still dabble in theatrical ventures. I worked in the Performance Company of the Texas Renaissance

Saloon girls

Festival, and currently work for FrowBiz doing interactive theatre and murder mysteries. So I do have a legitimate need for costumes in my house.

Gregg knew that I always wanted how to sew, so he bought me a sewing as a Christmas present one year. He knew that I didn’t know how to sew, but I guess he thought that I’d be a natural.

That Christmas ended with me in tears over threading the bobbin trying to make an apron.

The sewing machine ended up finding a home in the “craft room”, unused, until my mom came down for a visit last summer. Patterns were on sale, and they were so cool that I forgot all about my previous failures with a sewing machine and decided that I was a seamstress. I bought all sorts of pattern – Skirts! Pants! Dresses! Costumes! I was going to sew all summer long and make myself the most incredible wardrobe this zip code has ever seen.

And then reality hit. Mom managed to drag me through making my first skirt, and that was it. I cried. I pouted. I gave up a few times, but the end result was a skirt. It had a zipper. It was hemmed. And it was about three sizes too big, but I made it. I actually did wear it school one day (my students convinced me to after we created bucket lists), and received all sorts of compliments on it.

(insert picture of finished skirt here)

Vanessa’s Reaction:

Thank God that’s over. I need a drink.

Gregg’s Reaction:

You made something! Great job! Keep it up! Buy the cheapest fabric you can find!

Things I Learned:

Reading patterns is a whole ‘nother language. There is nothing that can make me feel stupider than trying to decipher what I’m supposed to do. I have to learn a whole new vocabulary, and it doesn’t help when my mom uses different words than that pattern is using! But, I made a skirt! Maybe this isn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

Things I Think Need to Buy/Do/Learn:

I need to do stuff on my own
I need to learn basic sewing terminology

Resources I Found Helpful:

Just Mom – I think I need a friend or a teacher to talk me through things. YouTube doesn’t help me much. I tried. I’m not a good candidate for online learning.

After Mom left, all of my good intentions went down the drain. I had fabric for another skirt to make, but it stayed hidden, out of sight and protected from cat fur. I even had fabric cut out from the first apron I tried to make, but I didn’t touch it. It just sat there, pinned to the pattern, taunting me.

Until Mom came down to visit this summer. A year later.

She sat and watched me make the apron. I cried less, and the stitches were a little better, and I was really proud.

apron1

My first apron

You may notice that it’s the same pattern as my first attempt at beeswax fabric food wraps. I was also pleased that my t-shirt with The Doctor happens to match the apron – totally unintentional.

The apron was much easier than the skirt was, and I remember more than I thought I would, but I still needed Mom’s help.

Vanessa’s Reaction:

This was much easier than the skirt! It looks kinda good, actually! It’s pretty thin. I don’t like the material, but it’s nice enough for an apron around the house.

Gregg’s Reaction:

This summer sewing kick is going to last about as long as my guitar hobby did.

Things I Learned:

 

Things I Think Need to Buy/Do/Learn:

I still just need practice. Next on my list – easy pajama shorts/pants!

Resources I Found Helpful:

Mom

 

Let’s see if I can manage to sew something once Mom leaves this time.

Beeswax Fabric Food Wrap

I have some really cute Lunchskins that I absolutely love! They are really cute and easy to clean, but good golly, Miss Molly! They are expensive! Well, at least for me. Gregg and I are rather cheap. So last year, when I first decided I was going to learn how to use my sewing machine, I found a pattern for making my own snack packs at a fabric store with “food safe” laminated plastic. I’ve been slowly reducing and replacing the plastic in my kitchen, so I reluctantly skipped that project.

A few weeks ago, I came across instructions for making my own beeswax fabric food wrap in the oven. It looked simple enough and I was getting frustrated with trying to contain Gregg’s lunches solely in glass containers. So what the hell? My only regret is that I didn’t take pictures while I was creating – I had no idea that I was going to documenting this for a blog, so it completely skipped my mind. I promise to take more pictures during the process in the future.

I bought some really cute fabric on an impulse:

Fabric

Looking back, I wish I had just bought a nice muslin or linen fabric – I think it would look a little cleaner than printed fabric and I’m not entirely confident in the fabric dyes used in the material – which bled on my first attempt.

I could only find beeswax at Micheal’s in the candle making section. I would have preferred to have bought organic local beeswax, but you do what you can, right? It cost $17.99, but I had a 50% off coupon – SCORE! I bought a small stubby brush (for some reason, I though I needed it to spread across the fabric – totally NOT needed).

wpid-20140712_194249.jpg

Not cheese

I got home and found some scrap material and zigzagged the edges – my first time doing that, too! I’m still figuring that out, and I don’t really know how I can get the really nice, fat zigzag that some of you showcase on your projects, but I’m sure I’ll figure that out in time.

Then, came time to for the wax. I had an old grater from an ex-roommate that I never used and decided to steal it for my ever growing craft projects. It has two grates: thick and thin. I couldn’t get the beeswax to grate very well with the thin grater, so I switched to the thicker kind and it went much easier.

wpid-20140712_194430.jpg

My grater in what I now call my “Beeswax Box”

I had no idea how much to use, so I just put it on pretty thick. I read it was better to have too much instead of too little, so I piled it on. In retrospect, I think I’d use less, because if I am using the oven method, it’s really easy to put more on later.

My set up

My set up

When I realized that I had too much beeswax on for my liking, I put it back in the over, got it all hot and melty, and then used leftover paper napkins from a fast food restaurant to dab the excess away. I still have too much wax on it, but I’m happy enough with my first attempt.

First attempt

First attempt

My pink flowers bled a little, but overall, I was pleased. I don’t think the beeswax discolored the fabric too much. I bought some buttons, but with the size of this fabric, I don’t think I need any. I haven’t learned how to fold it in cool shapes yet, but I’m working on it.

Snack pack

Snack pack

I did find an article about using the IRON to create food fabric, so I might give that a go with my next scrap food attempt, but my first thought is that it looks messy.

Vanessa’s Reaction:

This is GREAT! I want to put beeswax on everything!

Gregg’s Reaction:

This feels gross. And it smells weird. Don’t wrap my chocolate in it!

Things I Learned:

Beeswax is expensive! And it’s not as scary as I thought it was going to be. Also, if I am going to blog about my adventures, I need to start documenting them before, during, and after.

Things I Think Need to Buy/Do/Learn:

Pinking shears
Learn how to fold
What are the most useful shapes for these things?

Resources I Found Helpful:

The Art of Doing Stuff

DIY Natural