Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Doing Something New*

For at least four years, I’ve been going to Vogue Fabrics every Monday night for the free in-store demo, even while I was working here, but not while I was at this company. So like Big Ben clockwork, I boarded the 6:52 p.m. Metra northbound, hopped off the train at nearly 7 p.m. at Main Street, skipping (yes, sometimes I really do, on the advice of this coach) into the store, breezing through two big rooms before plopping myself on a chair with a notebook in hand to dredge up the wisdom of ace seamstress, Mac Berg. What’s supposed to be a 20-minute quick demonstration sometimes turns into a 45-minute lesson. I feel like I’ve soaked up so much knowledge in the past few years. Want to make a hamburger-quick scarf out of yarn scraps on your sewing machine? Sandwich those scraps beneath two pieces of water-soluble interfacing (Solvy), sew a grid on it, wash out the interfacing. Ta-da! A scarf. I know how to do lace-insertions, make custom fabric on a serger, ruffles, blind and rolled hems, bias-bound seams and fool-proof zippers...I’ve learned it all in the tiny room between the upholstery and notions department, squished into between about six or seven other ladies all sitting on folding chairs. I didn’t have to pay a penny....although I did buy a sewing machine, and I’ve got a serger on lay-away.

In the past 12 months or so, I’ve gotten a ride to Vogue’s Evanston location with a fellow enthusiast, so I don’t have to board that train nearly as often, nor take the subway train home. Travel is so much more adventurous (at least in my sewing book) with a friend. I’ve also become friends with another regular attendee - we share a love for the Burda World of Fashion Magazine!

Last night though, I did something new. I had to for one thing. Mac is out-of-rickrack-trimmed-pocket getting ready for her daughter’s wedding for the next three weeks. So I tackled another goal: learning French. You know as much as I love sewing, it felt soooo good to be doing something different. I took the subway downtown as opposed to the suburbs, I walked into a building where people speak Français, not English. There’s nary a fabric bolt in sight, but plenty of movies, CDs, and books on the language spoken in this country. I didn’t see a sewing machine (although it would have been nice to see some native cheeses and bread on a platter), but it didn’t matter. I was doing something completely unusual from my habit on this evening of the first workday of the week.

Anyhow, so I walk upstairs to the second floor, sitting down in a classroom at a desk by the window. There’s about eight of us women, no men. Luckily, we had an attractive male instructor. He dressed European with a fitted suit, and a bias-cut pale pink and blue tie. If he looks like that every week, attendance will be no problem. Within a matter of minutes, he’s forcing us to speak French only. So there we were reciting the alphabet, learning how to give our e-mail addresses (which I’ve already managed to forget) and counting past 11.

Our teacher encouraged us to keep up with our homework and to watch French cinema. On that note, I’ve decided to see this movie at the Gene Siskel Film Center. I’ll be doing my assignment and fulfilling my fashion quota at the same time. Teacher will be so proud! Do you think I’ll get extra gold stars for that?

This little ritual (No. 96 bus to Morse Red Line Stop, Red Line to Belmont Avenue, Brown Line to Chicago Avenue., hop onto the no. 66 eastbound bus to my destination) will go on until June 2, after which I’m certain I’ll return to Vogue Fabrics once again at my regular time and day. By then though, I’ll appreciate the demos more, especially the one on June 9, which is titled, Pintuck Panache (“Add texture to your fabrics for designer interest”). Panache is the French word for a plume of feathers used as an ornament on a cap.

* The above photos have nothing to do with the topic (French), but I'll write about them at a later date. This is Textile Studio's Santa Monica Tee, which I sewed from a glorious remnant of galloon-edged stretch lace.


PhantomMinuet said...

I just bought myself an inexpensive little sewing machine (I'll upgrade later), so I'm anxious to start sewing again. My skills are pretty limited to straight sewing, but I love hearing about other techniques.

Lindsay T said...

Bon chance avec les lessons français, or something like that. I took 6 years of French in HS and college but never spoke it outside of school until I went to Paris last year. Now I really want to learn Spanish. There are tons of Spanish-speakers in this area.