Sewing with Barb & Erin

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So I bought this apron pattern. How hard could it be? It’s an apron.

I should know better than this, after nearly 40 years of the same damn thing happening time after time, but I don’t. I’m naive and hopeful like that.

I bought The World’s Most Complicatedest Apron Pattern.

One might think “she’s just saying that because she’s new.” Oho, one would be wrong. This sucker even had Barbara baffled at times.

Barb and The Other Erin came over tonight, so we could go over some basics, learn some new stuff – and learn we did, but I failed to realize the apron would take 8 years to assemble. I figured 45 minutes, we’d have it all sorted out and I could sew it together at some point in the future, and then we’d talk about 650 Other Things – things Erin A. wanted to talk about. Damn, yo – that apron ate the night.

It’s a wonderful idea – three apron patterns in one. Convenient! Economical! Right. Ha.

That means three times the directions, three times the level of complexity. Three times the print shoved onto two pages.

So, we had the following equation:

1 apron pattern(3) + 2 hot fabrics + unclear directions/erin^2 + barb(patience/noob^2)

Note the apron pattern is OVER the people. As in, “superior to.” In the end, however, Barb whipped that pattern into submission, fingers flying, scissors snipping. Take that, stupid, overly-complicated pattern.

Someday, maybe Barb & Erin will let me photograph us when we’re doing this, but there is no hard proof of the preceding three hours, at least 97 hours of which were spent pinning, 5 of which were spent looking for pattern tissue paper that had blown into an obscure corner, a dozen of which were spent pinning, and the remaining 65 of which were spent cutting. That’s right – there were 179 hours in that three-hour time span. Or at least that’s probably how Barb felt toward the end, after the eighth “wait, where do we pin” and the fiftieth “so, do we technically need to measure anything?” Ok, the latter was me – The Other Erin more than makes up for what I lack in the meticulousness department. That girl lines her stuff up!

We lost pattern pieces, the pin holder and I don’t even remember what else any number of times. “Where’s the pleated bodice tie pattern? It was just right there three seconds ago!” And then I’d crawl on the floor, we’d look under the chairs, pick up everything on the table, look in the freezer, the garage and under the dogs. Then it would spontaneously reappear on the floor, in a corner.

Barb introduced me to brilliant, previously-undiscovered parts of my sewing machine… like a little slot in my presser foot through which to thread my thread, and using the lateral needle movement to line up an actual quarter inch to the edge of the foot. We discovered I’ve been sewing with about a 1/8th seam allowance, which is how stuff got all buggered up on the most recent quilt top – I hadn’t realized I’d moved my needle, and the line I’d been using was no longer accurate. <facepalm> This is a perfect example, however, of how I just don’t see little details like that when I’m thinking in big pictures. I’m seeing “an apron” not “1/4 seam allowance.”

Thinking like this works well when writing, when taking photos, when looking for patterns across time. When doesn’t it work well? When sewing.

Even with my broad sweeping brushstrokes aside, I am puzzled by how making one’s own clothes works out to be a money-saver… the fabrics can be quite pricey, the patterns themselves aren’t terribly cheap, and then there’s the cost of all the time in the world making the thing. And this is just an apron!

Ok, ok. It’s my first time using a pattern. It’s all new and different and OMG WHERE DO I PUT THE PINS? Cut two, place on fold? What is this crazy language?!! Oh – you mean I just need to cut two, and put this line on the fold? Oh. Ok. Never mind.

Since we were working with the pinup girl fabric, we had to bear in mind a few critical points: 1.) Which direction was up; 2.) Were we going to cut off any heads; 3.) The relative position of the center girl’s crotch.

No, really.

For the bodice piece, this was essential, since it is the center of her little part of the pattern:

Find the vertical center. See? Told ya.

Find the vertical center. See? Told ya.

There will still be oddly-placed, pleated buttocks and feet, but the little centerfold girl will be intact, and that’s what we were going for. I’m on my own for the pleats – I’ve never pleated anything, but I did get a very good tutorial to better equip me for the journey ahead.

The end result after all the time and team effort was that we had all the pieces pinned and cut out – go team! That would have taken me another 6-8 weeks on my own, half the tissue paper would be lost and/or ripped to shreds, and something would undoubtedly be cut in half.  The wrong way.

Yay!

Yay!

This is the intended finished product:

We are simply fabulous

We are simply fabulous

Doesn’t that apron on the right look innocuous? Like, “Oh hey, I whipped up this apron in an hour, right before I made a six-course meal and harvested this fruit from my orchard. Oh, and by the way, my breasts are fabulous. Also? I’m wearing an apron over jeans, because I, like my boobs, am fabulous.” But do they have hot space vixens on their aprons? That’s a big negative, Rubber Ducky.

I’m sure I can find some interesting way to completely dork this up, even though the hard part is over with; adding an accidental sleeve, putting the interfacing on outside… something. I have faith in my ceaseless ability to astound myself.

Speaking of ceaseless abilities, Barb and I get distracted by shiny things easily – midway through the final stages, I mentioned knitting, and we immediately detoured into surgeon’s knots with yarn for tying quilts, how to cast on stitches, and making sure when I learn, I learn The European Way. We work on something just fine until SHINY THING zzzzooom. I would probably be better at this stuff if heavily sedated.

Speaking of “zzzzooom,” when Barb is pinning stuff, I can’t help but hear these little cartoon noises in my head – Zzip! Zzip! Fwip! Schloop! Zoop! When I pin, it’s more along the lines of, Ow! Shit! Bzzt. Bzzt. Clang. Shit! <redo>

See that? I’ve just switched subjects four times in three paragraphs.

It was a lot of fun having those two over, though, and Barb’s patience knows no bounds. Barb would try to explain something and I’d burst in halfway through her sentence with “OH OH OH IS IT THIS?” to which she would reply, “Oh, good for you,” rather than, “OMFG WOULD YOU LET ME FINISH MY DAMN SENTENCE.”

I don’t even realize I’m doing it until I’m in the middle of doing it and can’t stop myself. It’s an ongoing work in progress, the Not Interrupting.

I’m still quite humbled by the skill being good at this stuff takes. Someday. Patience. Slow down. Take it easy.

“Have we met?”

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2 responses to Sewing with Barb & Erin


  1. Lol. This was awesome. We’ll have to do it again sometime. Maybe I’ll have some Actual Stuff made, too. (I did finish my little pincushion, btw, pic forthcoming.)

  2. Erin

    It really was fun. 🙂 Can’t wait to see the little cushion! Next time, we should come up with some kind of group project – little gifts or something we can work on together and have an end goal that’s not all about the stupid, stinking apron…

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