Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sewing One for Me and One for You*

I'm returning to Vogue Fabrics on Sunday for another installation of the Sewing Salon. For the uninitiated (I was going to say uninformed, but I'm working on being more kind), the Salon is kind of like open call at the local comedy club, but significantly less intimidating. You will not be expected to get up on a stage (there isn't one, so this is not an issue). You will not be booed. Your jokes will not be met with silence (you might hear the hissssing of a steam iron). Finally, your sketch or routine will not be met with an over-enthusiastic round of applause the moment you finish ("I really suck. I can tell!"). You're not even expected to sew, but it would hard not to surrounded by a dozen or so sewing machines, two irons and what looks like a mile of cutting boards. You'd have to nearly insane (or half-dead) not to want to even turn on a Viking Husquvarna and watch the needle quiver awake (does anyone know why it does that? It makes me think of a cat's purr.) Truly, you could sit inside the salon (otherwise known as the classroom) and just hang out. Plenty of entertainment holds for even those who don't want to lift a presser foot. Little kids wander away from mothers lost in the dream world known as the pattern books. Admirers or wanna-bee sewers peer in and ask if you're taking a class. Store employees come in, try to shut the swollen wood door shut, slide two metal chairs next to each other, plop down on one and prop their feet on the other (she stands all day!) and open a brown-paper bag lunch in what looks like one motion. Amazing feat (not feet). Anyhow, this is Pat, who works in the notions department. Then there are the ladies who come in to do eyebrow-threading (they always stop to admire my work-in-progress which is nice). I want to stare, but that would be rude. (I do get eyebrows trimmed using the threading technique, just not at Vogue Fabrics.)

What else? You could always explore the store if you're really bored. Three huge rooms! You could get lost or find the fabric for your next project. I often like to go next door to the local grocery store for a soda pop (yes, we use those words here in the Midwest. Our new president will likely too when he goes to Washington, DC) and a bag of Sun Chips. I sneak snacks back into the classroom (what's a salon without refreshments? Not a proper one).

So anyhow back to the Salon, which by the way, summons images of Victorian-era ladies in bustles and crinolines working on embroidery and craft projects using human hair. Most of the time, I'm all by my lonesome with nary another sewer nearby. I love the inherent drama of kindred spirits, like the fellow PatternReview sewer who burned the ironing board. Or the African girl, dressed in native attire, who asked me a thousand questions on how to sew with patterns (like so many of her peers, she can cut out her own patterns, but she's at a loss with our American system of tissue paper pieces, cussing, sitting and stepping on our own pins). I don't mind stitching on my own and hear the chatter just outside the door, it's just much more fun with others. Then I'm not so tempted to spread myself around - a table for my jacket, scarf and hat, another for my purse, still another for my projects.

Anyhow, this Sunday I'll like be working at least one Christmas project (a top I started this year for a friend)...but I plan to do plenty of sewing for myself. It's the whole shopping concept just applied to sewing. You know, buy one for me, buy one for you. That means I intend to finish a couple of hats I started a few years ago and a swimsuit half-born but not baptized in water earlier this year. Oh, I might embelllish some fabric with some of these neat heat-transfer crayons I tested out last night. But that is it. Nothing overly ambitious. After all, I must devote time to eating and enjoying the holidays, no use slaving over the Viking, eh? I do have a knitting project that I intend to finish before December 25th, but I don't need the Salon for that, just the cozy comfort of a couple of loooong bus rides. How about you? What are you working on for gift-giving?
Finally, a couple of hatty links I found yesterday that you might enjoy:
Number One.
Another Burdastyle hat and mittens combo for those of you who like to sew, but not knit.
* The 1930s-era fabric above is from one of the unfinished hats. I actually made a pair of shorts from it a while ago. Not sure if I still have them. I might have given them to the Columbia College study collection.

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