I've decided to get back into sewing a bit - I have my sewing machine here after all! I used to do quite a bit, including prom dresses, and my wedding dress. But all that was in the states, where the art of sewing is managed a bit differently. There, you walk into a store armed with your measurements and some idea of what you want to make. You pour over the pattern catalogs, collect your chosen pattern from the many drawers full, and read the "ingredients" list. Then you browse for the perfect material, and swing by the notions section for matching thread, zippers, lace, and all the trimmings. You take your pile to the counter, they measure out the amount of material stated on your pattern, give you a smidgen extra (although I saw less and less of this as time went on), and you're on your way!
Here, just to get off to a good start, there are no patterns. Already you know it's going to be tough. So, you start with some piece of clothing you have, but would like to change somewhat. I chose a pair of shorts - I wear these almost constantly at home, and they're wearing out here and there. I decided to make a pattern from the "sample" so I would have it for another time - I also think it is easier to modify and double-check measurements with a paper pattern. I found that the paper the grocery store uses to wrap glass wine bottles works pretty well - especially if you've just opened that bottle, and have a glass of it handy. I drew out my pattern, but forgot a seam allowance. I discovered this in time, and so was able to tape an extension on :-). I also discovered that I did *not* in fact have my french curve with me. So I just winged it.
Next, I needed material! I went to my neighborhood Yamuni - a department store that has a nice selection of material. They had a large selection of curtain/drape material, some fleece and toweling, some suiting, and some basic blends. It is very difficult to find cotton or silk, and wool is just not to be dreamt of. Not that I *want* wool in the tropics, but these are things you need to be aware of. Since I have no handy-dandy pattern telling me how much material to get, I'm back to winging it - I get a meter. Turns out it was on sale, so that it cost me all of $1.25...
However! Yamuni has no notions! Here in Costa Rica, they have a type of store called a "pasamanería" - *this* is where you go for all your sewing notions! Not knowing (yet!) where one of these is, and knowing that I have some basic notions in my kit, I feel like I'm in good shape. Can you say "famous last words?"
I got my material washed and straightened, lined up and cut out. Remember those nice instructions included in a pattern? Sew this part first, line up these notches, start in the center, etc. Hah! Fortunately, I remembered a lot. I sewed a few seams, then pinned up the sides, and tried on my pseudo-shorts. Looked good, but I want to adjust a thing or two. In the end, they do the job, but there is an entire list of "oopses:"
- I wanted to use the selvage, but after adjusting the seam allowance, the selvage shows.
- When I clipped the excess material from the inseam, I snagged the leg. Sigh. Now it's patched and zigzagged; doesn't show :-) but I know it's there.
- I added enough to the pockets to account for the waist, but not enough for the stitching - Pockets are now definitely just for looks, since my hand won't quite fit.
- I was careful to keep the embellishment on one side from flipping, but the other side... bent.
- When I measured the sample, the back curved up at the waist. When I put the new shorts together, it didn't really work that way. An easy adjustment to make :-)
- At the leg, the two halves *almost* line up at the hem. Also easy to fix.
- I knew I didn't have enough blue thread for the whole project, so I went with the white thread I had. I got to the final hem, and ran out! Fortunately, I had enough bobbin thread, and I could work it so that it was what showed :-)
Not bad for a prototype...