By Stephanie Trembath, Public Relations Manager
After my final, overwrought spring semester, I felt myself going a little stir-crazy with all the free time. However, after I added Pinterest to my Facebook page, I quickly lost all my hard-earned uninterrupted afternoons. Thanks to the DIY pages, I am constantly reminded of the very few practical skills I have compared to the domestic goddesses who post pages filled with tantalizing vegan-baked goods, scrapbooks made from recycled paper bags, and short blouses from cut-up silk bedding. Five years of book grinding comes in handy when speed-reading; a skill perfect for scanning road signs, but useless in the kitchen—it’s the worst idea ever to speed-read a cookbook. Thanks to these handy DIY pins, I felt the need to enhance my practical skill set by taking up sewing.
Since I failed at cooking a few years ago—after an awkward phase of purchasing expensive cookbooks that are still proudly displayed on my bookshelf—I imagined learning to sew would be the easiest, and least messy, of hobbies I could take on. As a child, I learned how to embroider with my grandma, knit with my aunt, and was a proud member of Brownies where I earned sewing badges that I stitched on my own brown Brownie sash. After hours of reminiscing and browsing the DIY fashion pins, I decided to purchase a sewing machine and make my own outfits. It was the perfect idea: a relaxing hobby for rainy summer afternoons, plus I could fashion my own clothes that were both practical and original.
My mom was kind enough to donate her old sewing machine, the same one she used to make my sisters and I matching outfits as kids, and later as teenagers, more conservative Halloween costumes. Our family photo albums are full of pictures of my sisters and I posing in our handmade clothes: plaid jumpers, crushed velvet dresses, leather moccasins. Pretty awful outfits looking back, but there is some pleasure and pride in knowing you are one of only four to wear an original. Today they call it “vintage.”
[quote style=”boxed”]Every time I got the machine sliding easily across the fabric, the machine would speed up beyond my ability and the stitching would run crooked, or the thread would get tangled inside the machine and stop. Apparently, the machine is too old or I am too impatient.[/quote]
Now, it would take an experienced seamstress to realize the many flaws in my plan. However, for someone as ridiculously idealistic and spirited, I simply printed off the picture of the shirt I was to create, purchased a needle, thimble, and thread, and set off to be the next Vera Wang. You have to start somewhere—and my starting point was a lovely long sleeve shirt with lace backing. Who needs to spend $60 on the latest styles when you can cut-up and re-stitch your own! My original idea was to buy the right material and a pattern to style my own blouse, but my logic extends far enough to realize my own limitations. So, I chose two shirts I never wear (one denim, one lace) and opted to cut them up and sew them back together instead. If Gravity Pope can get away with hacking up old clothes and revamping them, then so can I!
Given the fact that I still take my pants in to be hemmed, my enlightened idea only took so long to fall apart. Sewing machines are a lot more difficult than I considered, and picking apart stitches is the most tedious task I have ever experienced. Memories of sore, bloody fingers also resurfaced after my four-hour sewing binge, and next time I sew, I will need at least four more thimbles: one for every finger on one hand. Every time I got the machine sliding easily across the fabric, the machine would speed up beyond my ability and the stitching would run crooked, or the thread would get tangled inside the machine and stop. Apparently, the machine is too old or I am too impatient.
My dream to rise above the Aritzia-wearing women of Vancouver has yet to be dashed. I am ready to search Value Village for a new denim shirt to piece together with my salvaged lace. Thanks to my nimble fingers and hours picking loose and crooked stitches, I was able to keep the lace backing and learn to sew my shirt inside out. It keeps the crooked seams out of sight! Wish me luck dear readers, and if you happen to have a sewing savvy friend, ask her or him to show you the ropes with a thimble and thread. It’s much easier when you have someone to share your frustration with.