a little love letter to sewing

i’m still working hard at getting the fit right on the cambie dress. i have a couple of days until my unicorn fabric arrives, so i’ve been using the wait time to make some muslins. my first muslin just straight from the pattern. it was a hair too small. so i added half an inch to each side seam (two inches total) & shortened the shoulders an inch. i sewed that muslin up yesterday & it’s better, but there’s some excess fabric billowing under the bust & i’m on the fence about how the back looks. i may need to do a small swayback adjustment there, which will be a first. (not that it wouldn’t have been useful in other dresses i’ve made; just that i haven’t done it before.) i’m going to lengthen the shoulder a half-inch & extend the front darts a quarter-inch on either side & see where that gets us. honestly, the fit is probably “good enough” at this point, but it’s not like i’m in some huge rush. i have plenty of time to try to make it better.

i’m also excited about some of the new construction techniques i plan to implement with this dress. it’s a sweetheart neckline, & they have a tendency to gape away from the body. the muslins i’ve made definitely have that issue. so i’m thinking about reinforcing it with silk organza or stay tape to make it curve toward the body. if i have enough fabric, i’m hoping to also experiment with pattern-matching across the zipper. i’ve never done it before, so who knows how it will turn out, but why not try? i’m also thinking about adding piping to either side of the waistband–another technique i’ve never used before. all i have is 1/16″ cording, so it will be pretty subtle. i’m thinking about red, because red & pink is one of my favorite color combos. i’ll probably also use red for the pockets. i’m hoping to have the whole thing done by the end of next weekend!

jared, ramona, & i went to a yard sale yesterday morning, not realizing it was being thrown by our handyman’s girlfriend! she was selling lots of interesting sewing stuff for cheap. i got pinking shears for $3 (they could stand to be sharpened, but they work pretty well & are very easy to handle) & a little mat for my machine pedal ($1) to keep it from skittering all over the floor while i’m sewing. i also got a big bag of various needle-threaders, hem tape, etc, for 50 cents. we chatted a bit about sewing. apparently she took some classes in kansas city back in the day & learned a lot of construction techniques. i’ve looked into classes in lawrence, but there’s nothing at the arts center or the university. the local fabric shop offering “intro to sewing,” but when i asked if they thought i’d get anything out of the class, considering what i already know, they just looked at me & asked, “did you make what you’re wearing?” “yes,” i said. “you won’t get anything out of the class,” they said. apparently it’s all stuff like how to use rotary cutter, how to thread a sewing machine, etc. BUT. they are working on expanding their building & adding a second story, & once that’s finished, they want to add more classes. so maybe there will be something more appropriate for my skill level then! i’m learning a ton just from reading books & blogs & the occasional youtube tutorial, but it would be great to have an actual experienced seamster to bounce ideas & questions off of in real life.

some of the other moms in playgroup are astonished when i show up wearing another new thing i’ve sewn. they’re like, “don’t even pretend like you aren’t insanely productive.” i’ve tried to explain that i’m just obsessive, & that i am sewing instead of doing other things that should probably be higher priority: brushing my teeth, eating, cleaning the litterbox. when i’m neck-deep in a project, it’s really hard for me to tear myself away from the sewing table. it’s not because, oh, i’m so talented or i’ve got my shit together so much. it’s just that i LOVE SEWING. people have their passions, something they can do for hours & feel like no time has passed. that’s how i feel about sewing. other people feel that way about cooking or watching TV or gardening or tinkering with their bicycles. sewing seems to intimidate people a lot because it seems to involve all these skills that you really have to work to learn. it’s kind of like math in that you have to learn the basics before you even know what sorts of questions come next, if that makes sense. like, recently, i went to the fabric store & said i was about to take on a project involving organza, & i asked if they had any tips on how to stabilize it to avoid puckers or skipped stitches. that’s not a question i would have been able to ask a year ago. i had heard of organza a year ago but wouldn’t have been able to identify a bolt of it in a fabric shop, let alone have any concerns about the way it handles. the clerk suggested using sharps needles–which, again, a year ago i didn’t realize that there were different needles suitable for different types of fabrics. who knows what i will learn in the next year that is an impenetrable mystery to me right now?

in other news, i think i have written here before about all the fellowships, grants, etc jared has been applying for all winter, & how we don’t know if one of them will lead us to move away from lawrence. it’s been hard not knowing. there was the possibility that we could be leaving as soon as next month! i’ve been trying hard not to think about it because there’s nothing i can do to make the decision or plan ahead. but on friday, KU offered jared a job teaching environmental studies next year (he’s an environmental historian), so it looks like we’ll probably be staying! it’s a huge relief to more or less know the plan. (there’s still a small possibility that some big grant will come through & we’ll move after all, but it’s not terribly likely.) jared will teach & finish his disseration, go on the job market next winter, & hopefully we’ll be leaving lawrence next summer to move to wherever he gets hired. in the meantime, we can keep paying cheapo rent to live a block from downtown, we can keep going to storytime at the library (which is moving into its gorgeous new building this summer), we can stick with our awesome playgroup, i will be here to see what happens with the fabric store expansion, & maybe we can even go ahead & have a second kid. maybe.

ramona has made a ton of progress in the last few days. she’s getting better & better at walking with only one hand held, & yesterday she actually let go of both of jared’s hands & just stood there for a minute, holding a toy, before plopping down. & she didn’t cry when she sat down. he also took her to the playground & she climbed up to the slide & slid down all on her own for the first time! (feet first, on her belly.) this is great, because it shows that she’s more physically confident. we’re slowly getting used to the climbing & now that she’s more physical, she’s been less demanding with the constant books. she is understanding more & more words every day. she knows how to high five now!

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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