Missing from Week 13’s long story is a story that stands on its own.
You see, I got a sewing machine. And though I grew up with two very skilled grandmothers, even spending hours in one of their fabric shops after school every day as a kid, I never really learned to use a sewing machine. I can hand-sew, poorly. But something about being trapped in your home makes you really want to create things.
I tried using Zoe’s little kid sewing machine we’ve had for 4 years, the Cra-Z-Art Shimmer N Sparkle, which Bart successfully used to make a mask (it was flannel). But when we couldn’t get it to work, I was determined to find a real one. I say “find” because in the middle of this pandemic, all us nuts are looking for a pastime, and it’s nearly impossible to find a reasonably priced sewing machine in stock.
I searched online (as did my resourceful sister) for hours, and finally found one whose features and price fit. Bart had to talk me out of a cute one. Apparently “cute” shouldn’t be a top criteria – especially not for people who don’t know how to sew…
After 13 weeks without entering a building that was not my own home, I did two adventurous things last weekend: 1) I got a professional haircut, and 2) we went to Joann fabric store to get supplies.
In true Bart Johnson fashion, he couldn’t just pick a pillow case for our first project. Nope. He insisted that “for Father’s Day” (oh, the guilt trip) he wanted us to make lounge pants for him.
Feel free to stop here. You probably already realize what a bad idea that was, but if you’re looking for entertainment, read on. We learned a lot.
First of all, don’t try to “edit” a pattern when you have no idea what you’re doing. Sure, it seems like eliminating simple things like pockets on lounge pants might be a sensible and reasonable change. It’s not.
Once we realized that the front of the pants were incomplete without the back of the pocket, we went back to the pattern. I had cut out the front and back of one side of the pants already, but not ALL the parts (or the other side). This is where things went really, really wrong.
I mean, come on. Who gets to decide which is the “right side” and the “wrong side” of the fabric?! Apparently it’s important (and it’s not me). I know this because while I somehow cut out the first side of the lounge pants with the “right side” up, I cut out the rest of the pieces with the pattern on the wrong side up. Oops? Curious what happens when one does that? Keep reading.
Once we got past the fact that I now had two matching left sides, we decided to move forward with inside out. We even giggled about how awesome they would look, how original, and we started sewing. I pinned the front and back together diligently, and we sewed up the inner and outer seams. That looked like this:
Yep, that is a pocket hanging out of two completely disconnected pant legs. At this point I insisted that Bart “put them on”, after which we laughed uncontrollably, belly laughs with tears. YES, my husband DOES belly laugh, though I’ve only seen that maybe 3 times in my life. Down near his knees, you’ll see the crotch (ew, terrible word):
Undeterred, I ripped out the inner seams where the pant legs should connect to one another (as pants do), and tried again. Voila! Pants. Well, sort of. We then had to figure out the elastic waistband. Bart did that (insert grunts and profanity) and got the first part attached, then I sealed the bottom of the band – after adding in a piece of fabric that was supposed to be the top of the fly we excluded. They looked like PANTS!
Then, apparently you also have to hem them. For reference, here they are pre-waistband and pre-hem:
Looking better, right? After careful, giggle-filled measuring of Bart’s new clown pants, I sewed a not-at-all-straight hem close to the bottom to find I had too much fabric left over (it would clearly hang out of the pants). So I did what any skilled seamstress would do: I cut some of it off and decided to sew a second “hem” about an inch above the first one.
Guess what? When you sew something on one side, you can SEE the stitch on the OTHER side! Who knew?! Luckily, we had used a zigzag stitch, so I decided to go with “Oh, how fashionable is that?! Unique!” and move on. I trimmed MORE fabric above the second hem, and Bart proudly wore his new lounge pants.
Then I talked to my friend Alison, who IS a skilled seamstress, and she kindly asked me if we had washed the fabric (per instructions) before our project. Nope. She laughed. I then washed them, and WE laughed. Bart’s pants that perfectly touched the floor when hemmed are now about half an inch too short. Oops again?
And sew (get it? so?), we’ve learned some valuable lessons on our first family sewing project, all of which I’ve documented in a Google doc named “Better Lounge Pants”. I’m an optimist, and who knows, I may get brave enough to try this project again.
Until then, watch out pillowcase or tiny bag pattern labeled “Easy”!
Sew long for now! (I can’t stop myself. Insert circus music here.)