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Selvage the Interface

Posted 2010.09.08 11.24 in Hobbies, Pointless Blather by Stephanie

First time in a couple years, I blew the dust off the sewing machine and had at it.

See, I wanted a sort of purse. I’ve been using these little pouch/purse things, and I quite like them, but I’ve never found one that’s perfect. I’ve bought 4 or 5 of them, but they’re always the wrong material, or the wrong size, or the wrong colour, and so on.

Then yesterday, it struck me. Why not just make one? I mean, how hard can it be? It’s just a little pouch, with a couple pockets.

I made a sketch, to help visualize what I wanted. I put it together in my head, then took it apart to see how to shape each piece. Actually I did that a few times, but was having some trouble getting all the pieces sorted out in my head.

Finally I just figured heck with it, I’ll just wing it. I mean, if I can make a camera without any plans, surely I can make a little purse without a pattern.

So I dug up all the fabric I bought back when I was excited about sewing. Interestingly, the fabric that I had in my imagination did not exist in my cupboard. Still, I found one that was good enough – black denim.

I measured out what I wanted, added a bit extra for mistakes and sloppiness, fired up the sewing machine, and got to work.

Or at least, I tried to get to work. I literally fired up the sewing machine. I mean, I pushed the pedal down, it made a noise that translates as “Gosh I’m really trying quite hard but no, I’m not actually going to move.” Then to ensure I did not miss it’s point, it let out a big belch of smoke from it’s back end.

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Damn The Bias, Full Serge Ahead!

Posted 2008.09.29 0.00 in Hobbies by Stephanie

Greetings once again, friend readers. When last I spoke of my quest to learn the arcane ways of the seamstress, I had reached the point of learning several new and unusual words — along with several new and unusual meanings, for words I thought I knew. I was armed with knowledge, equipment, and supplies. I had faced the Bobbin and the Patterns, and had been beaten back. I was awaiting the astral alignment, the sun and stars to reach their proper places, such that the Gods might favor me with success.

Such a time did come to pass, and once again I went into the breach (of the Machine), thumbs and fingers dancing about the bobbin, thread and needles. These are dark arts indeed, my friends. There are many hazards for those not fortunate enough to spend many a-year apprenticing with a true Seamstress.

There is much more knowledge out there, but I am wary to delve too deeply into it lest I become lost in it. Formerly I jested about the dark arts of Bobbin management, but it is no jest! I share with you a brief exerpt from that most unholy tome, The Bobbinomicon:

By candle light clutch Bobbin tight
With a needle new of virtue true
Prick thy thumb till blood doth run
The blood to drip ‘pon burning wick
Endure the pain, and chant the names

I dare not divulge more. The Bobbin Mastery incantation is three pages of such dark rhymes.

Still, I resolved to press onwards. Steeling myself, I drew forth the patterns. Unfolding, and unfolding, and unfolding again, the wisps of smoke-thin tissue grew and grew till it seemed the whole of my study was to be engulfed. And yet unfolding was but the start. Now, armed with the scissors designated “for pattern only” I began to cut, cut along the lines. Some of the tissue, thank the Gods, was fit to be discarded. Yet most of the tan-coloured stuff must be kept. Some to be returned to the envelope from whence it came (ha! They must be mad) while the rest, that which I had cut free, must now be mated to fabric, for The Tracing…

The Tracing… when you thought the Pattern was unwieldy… try and mate it to an equal amount of fabric. It is… not as difficult as single-handedly moving an unconsious bear through a household. Which is to say, difficult, but not entirely impossible.

By the by, knowing that my knowledge was preliminary and my experience nonexistant, I selected a seemingly simple project to be my first. I decided to make for myself a new hat. Desiring something stylish, I opted to manufacture a design that has graced the royal head of the former monarch, Henry the Somethingth. Known alternatively as a Tudor hat or simply medieval hat, it can be seen gracing the Kingly brow in this woodcut:
Henry ??th wearing hat

Yes, nothing looks so stylish and regal as a small flying saucer with a short skirt under it. And, if the Gods permit it, such a cap shall soon be adorning my very own skull.

At first glance, such a hat indeed seems simple. For what is it, but a top, a middle, and a bottom? Three sections, all round, the lower two having a hole through which to fit one’s head. Ah, but looks, they are deceiving. Three sections, yes. Three pieces of fabric? No. No no no no.

Have I mentioned the word Interfacing yet? How about Liner. You see, this simple hatform consists of ten separate pieces of material. There are but four pieces visible to the eye. Two more can be spied if the hat is removed. But a further four pieces are completely encased. This Interfacing… it is like fabric but with magical properties. It stiffens, supports, adds form. And this simple Tudor hat, contains a lot of it.

With pattern traced, I was freed of the tissue. I folded and folded, but it will never again fit so smoothly into its paper home. To this day the envelope remains bulging, with tufts of tan-coloured tissue poking out.

Now the time was nigh, to stow the Pattern scissors and unsheath the For Fabric Only blades. Cutting fabric, proved to be much like cutting patterns – only slightly more difficult due to the weight and lifelessness of the stuff. And still, I pressed onwards.

With fabric — and interfacing — finally cut, pieces organized about me, it was time to stoke the fires and bring The Machine to life… but I see now that this entry has grown long. Fear not! I shall return again soon to continue this tale, and you may know the final outcome, of my first true battle with The Machine!

I’ve a Notion to go get Basted next time my Nap needs Interfacing

Posted 2008.08.18 0.00 in Hobbies by Stephanie

The serial hobbiest strikes again! In a string of connections too convoluted to convey, my interest in swords and sword making has turned into an interest in sewing, and a desire to learn how to sew…

What a tangled warp they weft, these Seamstresses, with their secret words and hidden meanings.

After learning their language, one must also learn their tools and machinery… equipped with a machine that is nearly my contemporary in age, I endeavored to divine its mysteries… the ins and outs, ups and downs… what a small victory it was, to be able to thread the needle. A simple thing, really, compared to the Dark Arts of bobbin management. There surely is an ancient scroll somewhere, dealing with the fine magical power “Ability to Summon Bobbins, and Bend them to do Thy Will”. Still, I struggle on. Through luck and persistance — and some help from the Oracle of Google — I learn to tame the bobbin. It is not fully broken, but it will at least grudgingly oblige me, for a time.

And then the Patterns… the Patterns. More codes, more secrets. Simple illustrations and line art on the exterior, belie the true complicated horrors which dwell within. That such a small, innocent paper packette could contain such vast acres of tissue… mile after mile of the stuff. No doubt, folded originally by the seventh son of a seventh son under the light of the full moon — how else could the minute enclosure house it all so neatly? And all of it faintly inscribed with arcane symbols and markings, foreign to the common eye. It is these fantastic, delicate sheets which contain the runes, that Seamstresses convert into wearable attire and useful linens.

I knew at once that I was in over my head, and beyond my knowledge. Runes and arcane symbols, I have experienced many times in the past. But nothing of this kind. These were the markings of a magic about which I knew nothing. Fortunately, there are tomes out there, which undertake to offer translations, to assist the common mind in perceiving the secret rites of the Seamstress. And through great cunning and adventure, I was able to acquire one such volume: “Sewing for Dummies” found at my local bookstore. Armed with this new resource, I began to learn Right from Wrong, and discern the new and exotic meanings of many words that I once thought I knew.

Soon, I felt a growing confidence. I looked at the Patterns I had acquired. The folds of faric, the thread, the Machine. Overwhelmed, my confidence drained away. Apart from some trials and tests, the joining of scrap fabric, my Machine was idle. The Patterns evoked fear and concern. So much tissue.. and my resource of knowledge… Yes it helped me to deign the meanings of such secrets as “Selvage” but at the same time, it filled me with cautions and caveats. Were I to proceed, I should need still more resources and equipment. No longer would a single pair of scissors suffice; that which was adequate for cutting paper, cardboard, foil-lined-plastic, and tar-based roofing tape, would not stand the test of Fabric. And the pins…. there must be pins, there has to be pins.

I have long dreaded the introduction of pins, into my domicile. As a child, I had a particular talent for locating pins that had become lost, that had wandered, gone astray. Pins were strangely attracted to my feet, and frequently would demonstrate their fondness by burying themselves to half their length, in the bottom of my sole. Yet now, here in my home, there will be pins.

With that, I will draw this tale to a temporary conclusion. Suffice to say, armed and equiped with the knowledge, the Machine, the Patterns and Fabric, the Notions and other sundries… all that remained was for the Moon and Stars to align. And when the astrological signs are right:
I Shall Sew!