Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sewing Project #1: Pajamas

I mentioned in the last post that I'd meant to show you guys some of the sewing projects I've been working on. I finally dragged out the camera yesterday, so here goes nothing.

Sewing Project #1: Pink Pajamas

Why on earth would anyone do this?
My Christmas present to myself was a brand-new sewing machine and the promise that I'd teach myself to sew. My mom sews. My sister sews. My grandma sews. It's just something the women in my family seem to do. For the longest time, I didn't see the attraction. I love to shop.  It's almost criminal how much I love to shop. But that's the funny thing about being broke--I'm no longer able to do what I love, at least not without racking up an unreasonable amount of credit card debt.

Plus, the older I get, the more I'm realizing that clothes really do need to fit well to be attractive. And I have a short torso, which makes all the clothes in my size hang wrong. I don't know if I've started shrinking already, or if I just never noticed this before, or if the clothing manufacturers are making things for longer-torsoed people these days. But it seems that everything I try on has straps that are too long, which cause a bad fit, a sloppy look, and way too much cleavage.  So, for the first time in my life, sewing seemed like an answer.  I can make my own clothes, ensure they fit, learn a valuable and vanishing skill, and still acquire new things for the closet.

So how did it go?
Um, yeah.  The first sewing project I tackled was a pair of pajamas.  Unbeknownst to me, this was probably a bad choice for the first project.  For those of you who also sew, I used McCall's M5992 pattern, shown below.

I made the pants first, figuring they'd be easier than the top.  I was only partially right.  My first mistake was sewing the crotch shut.  Paul still can't figure out how my mental faculties failed to alert me that this was a really bad idea and so not what the pattern was telling me to do.  But spatial imagery and I don't always get along.  In fact, we're barely on speaking terms.  Hence the sewn-shut crotch.  (This issue will rear its ugly head again in my next sewing post.)

Once I figured that out, I had to rip out all the seams and start over.  Then, once I got them together a second time, I realized I cut the wrong size.  I could barely get the friggin' things over my hips.  (Vanity, thy name is first-time sewer!)  Apparently, I am a size medium instead of size small.  So then I had to tear out all the seams again and re-do them with the most minimal seam allowance I could.  The third time was a charm, though, and the pants were now complete.

If you're a first-time sewer, like me, the only thing I can tell you about these pants is DO NOT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MAKE THE STUPID DRAWSTRING THE WAY THEY TELL YOU TO. It is next to freaking impossible to make a spaghetti-sized tube of fabric and then turn it inside out without wasting hours of your life. It must have taken me three or four hours to do, and involved the following equipment: lacquered chopsticks, safety pins, straight pins, and at least four whiskey shots.  I kid you not.  Save yourself.  Abandon ship. Just use ribbon, like any sensible person would do.

So that was the end of the pants.  Next, I tackled the top.

The first parts of this were surprisingly easy. Pocket? No problem.  Sewing front of top to back of top? No problem.  The collar was where I ran into trouble.  I still have no idea how to put a collar on correctly.  I fudged and did it my own way, which is why I have a random rough edge where a clean seam should be.  I don't think you can see it in this photo, but if you look below the neck of the hanger, you might see what I'm talking about.  I'll get another shot at this one, because I bought flannel, too, for a second pair.

Anyway, the collar lays mostly flat, as you can see. There are a few rough spots, but overall, I was pretty impressed that I got the thing assembled and it looks like...well, a real collar.  I was also pretty impressed that the set-in sleeves worked well.  I only ended up with one pucker on one shoulder.  If I was a perfectionist, I would have torn out the seam and re-sewed it.  But at that point, I was just glad to still be alive.  I left that pucker there.

Next came the buttonholes.  I had been dreading these for quite some time.  (The whole process of making this pajama set happened over weeks, if not months.  It was spring semester, and I could hardly find a few spare hours to work on it what with class and homework and reading assignments and all.)  But when I sat down to do them, they were surprisingly easy.  The buttonhole function of my sewing machine worked quite well.  What took forever was ripping the actual buttonhole.  Before I did it, I had no idea that you created buttonholes by ripping the fabric.  That was kind of disturbing to find out.  There is no real clean or easy way of doing it, unless I'm missing something.  It was a backbreaking hour or two of squinting at the lines of thread and praying I wouldn't rip into them with my seam ripper. In the end, they worked--and even better, they lined up almost perfectly.  Phew!  That had been one of my biggest worries for the project.  What I effed up the buttonholes?  There's no recovering from that mistake.

So I came to the end of my first sewing project, alive and well and with a new pair of pink pajamas.  I'll tackle this pattern one more time.  I bought a turquoise flannel print for another pair that I'll do sometime this fall.  Hopefully this time, I won't sew the crotch shut!

Stay tuned for the next sewing project I'll talk about--flannel boxer shorts.  It doesn't sound super exciting, I know, but this time, the hubby gets in on the action and we both get mystified by the pattern instructions.  Good times!