Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Pattern to Follow

I used to make my own clothes. Except pants. I was deft with darts and pleats and a total klutz with pants.

But I made dresses, shirts, blouses and skirts--not just dirndls, though I started there--I even made jackets with pockets and lapels.

I moved to Los Angeles in a 1985 Ford Tempo. Only what fit in the car came with me. My sewing machine was too big for my new life as a Hollywood actor. The sewing skill was gone.

Cynthia Harvey could give it back to me. At The Sewing Studio at 107 South Fair Oaks in Pasadena, Cynthia teaches children, teenagers and adults to design and make their own fashions, and she doesn't just whip this up out of whole cloth. She trained at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, she's created clothing for big names and she's the kind of teacher you'd polish a bright, red apple for.

I might be able to buy clothes for less than it costs to make them, but then I'd have to live with the fact that some woman in Asia took home 30 cents for making that cute top I got so cheap. I'd get to wear it maybe twice before it shrank or fell apart, and when I wore it I'd look exactly like everyone else.

I don't know if I'm going to start sewing again, but if I decide to go ahead with a project, Cynthia has options for me. I can take a class or, if I want to mess up on my own, I can rent a machine by the hour. I wonder if she'll make me sign a waiver in case I stitch my finger to a pair of pants.

23 comments:

dive said...

I wish our sexist schools in the 60s and 70s had taught us boys something as useful as this. I can darn socks and make a real mess of curtains but that's about my limit, darn it.

Book Dragon said...

I want to sew again! I have two machines and each one is missing a part that can't be exchanged with each other :-(

I don't think I tried pants for me, young daughter yes but she didn't care to much what they looked like

Book Dragon said...

grrr....too much

gads, good night everyone, hope you have a great day

Bellis said...

Dive, all I learned to make at my sexist school in the 60s was an apron! It's been a long time since I darned a sock. Now that was a skill!

My friends and I sewed our own clothes in the 70s, though I always felt everyone could tell I hadn't fitted the zip properly. I still have material I never got round to making up. Were we the last generation to sew?

Petrea Burchard said...

My brother learned to sew at our high school. He chose "Home Economics" as an elective and made himself a handsome t-shirt. He wasn't the only boy in the class.

We weren't the last generation, Bellis. That studio was full of children. All girls, alas.

Book Dragon, maybe you need to make your daughter some skinny jeans. Either that or some of those jeans that the boys wear around their knees. (I think those were designed by police officers for gangsters to wear; one can't possibly run while wearing them.)

Trish said...

I too was sent to HomeEc as a 7th grader. Mrs Daab tried valiantly to teach me to sew an apron. She didn't fail, I did (thankfully cooking I could fake my way thru enuf to pass the class overall). My mother tried to teach me to use her machine when I was young. All I wanted to do was take it apart to see how it worked and tried hard to put the machine needle thru my finger more than once. Mrs Gentry taught the ENTIRE 4th grade class to hand sew a few items, which is how I can hand sew a few things to this day. Hemming pants, ok. Sewing an entire set from scratch? uh, not so much. Wish I were closer so I could take a class from Mrs. Harvey!

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

My mom sewed for me and my five sisters and taught us each to sew. I sewed for my girls and myself, copied the expensive clothes in children's clothing boutiques that I could not afford. I even found a sketch I made in L&T in Atlanta of an appliqued jumper.

I do not sew much (never) now but know that I could. I made lined draperies and bedskirts for my guest room just a few years ago. When I found out how much it would cost to have them made, I taped the proposed cost to my machine as I rrrrrrrrruh, rrrrrrrrrruh, rrrrrrrruh.... what a sweet sound!

Bises,
Genie

Petrea Burchard said...

Trish, a born mechanic. Or maybe an explorer.

Genie, I hear you (and your machine). When I went shopping for dog beds and saw the price, I decided to buy sturdy fabric and re-cover Boz's old beds instead. I borrowed a machine and made covers--basically, simple pillow cases. I guess haven't forgotten how to sew a straight line.

Desiree said...

omg. Sewing brings back memories--and not all good!

Trish said...

I'm an engineer Petrea. In the blood.

I also have the packing gene---I managed to move our entire house, except the bed and couch, in my old Honda Civic.

but don't ask me to sew a pleat!

Susan Campisi said...

I made a wrap-around skirt and a German pancake in Home Ec class. No dirndls though (I had to look that up). I'd love to learn to sew but I don't have a moment to spare. I like the idea of refurbishing a dog bed though. Great tip. Great photo too.

Petrea Burchard said...

Desiree, you made me laugh.

Trish, sewing is engineering! Sort of. Okay, maybe not for everyone.

Thanks, Susan. And what is a German pancake?

Susan Campisi said...

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/GermanPancake.htm

Now I'm hungry.

Petrea Burchard said...

Oh. Wow. Yes.

altadenahiker said...

You can SEW? That seems every bit as complicated as rebuilding a car engine. Or, or rewiring the house. Just completely out of the realm of my (modest) capabilities.

Trish said...

Cooking is engineering too but I was never allowed in the kitchen as a child---and now one of the jobs I have is as a private chef for a widow.

Sewing, is more finite and throw in the coordination of the machine and all the options makes it less precise than cooking, in my mind. Then again, this is from someone who has had 4 hand surgeries in the last 18 months, so maybe I'm a little skewed? and, not like I need MORE stitches in my hands!

Ms M said...

Excellent photo!
I learned to sew through 4-H classes, along with tips from my mother. Sewing never has been my thing, but yay for those who do enjoy it! There's nothing like a garment that has been well made.

Katie said...

The Sewing Studio is such a great idea! So many good skills to be learned from sewing, not to mention another language ("with right sides together, pin sleeve into armhole, adjust ease; baste"). I took sewing in high school (and even won "Best in Show-Separates" at the Alameda County Fair in 1981 for a pair of shorts I made that didn't fit but looked great), but I never became an ace seamstress. I've started my first project in years (an easy Vogue jacket) but am only as far as cutting out the pieces. Since I can't easily go to the Sewing Studio, I think I'll just go to my Mom's with my project and get the help I need from her to actually finish the project. Now that you've made a dog bed for Boz, time to make something for yourself!

Petrea Burchard said...

Not that complicated, Hiker. But I haven't made anything besides a dog bed cover in over 20 years, so maybe I'm speaking out of turn.

Trish, I suggest you stay away from sewing machines for now. You can always burn yourself on the stove if you need more injuries.

Ms. M, I started in 4-H too! Those projects taught me a lot.

Good for you, Katie. And how lucky you have your mom for support. And a sewing machine too, I wonder?

Bellis said...

Baste - now there's a word linking cooking and sewing. Just don't muddle them up.

I never managed to modulate the speed of the foot pedal on my electric sewing machine. If a seam was running along nice and straight, I got excited and went faster ....and faster. Then, disaster! Spool jumps out of its base and the thread forms a knot. Anyone remember that? The old hand-cranked Singers were easier to use.

Shell Sherree said...

I've never been deft with a dart and truthfully don't aspire to it. But it sounds like Cynthia has a lovely setup for those so inclined.

Petrea Burchard said...

Bellis, I know one bastes a turkey with a turkey baster. One also sews up the end of it once it's stuffed, combining both skills in one dish.

Shell, it's true. I'm happy with the way the photo captures the people but it doesn't show the room, which has lovely light and plenty of space with state-of-the-art machines.

Irina said...

Petrea. I miss you so much. I want to read your posts, which I missed, attentively; to tell about my "sewing experiments" and how Russian and foreign tourist look like, and how I met Japanese man in Moscow metro at midnight when returning from StPeter's train and he was solving the puzzle of underground map which is never printed in English, but I do not have any minute for that, after 4 days on holidays.. Well, I have minutes, but I need much more to write what I want to write. I'll be back! (Friday, I hope).