The Sewing Report – Repair Cafe

Not much to report on this month because I haven’t had a chance to do any sewing, except at our local Repair Café. It’s a monthly event that’s all about cooperative economics and keeping things out of landfills by repairing them. We usually have it once a month or so at varying locations in the Pasadena area. I just show up and sew, which I did this past Saturday. And so I have a few random thoughts, but not much else.RepairCafe

1.) Repairing other people’s stuff is way more interesting than fixing your own. Like many folks, I have a huge pile of clothes that need new buttons, holes patched and various other mends. I’ll get around to them. Really. I will. But shortening the sleeves on someone else’s shirt and patching it? No problem. Done in minutes with a grin.

2.) If your sewing machine won’t sew right, more often than not it’s because you have it threaded wrong. Had that one reinforced by not one, but two sewing machine repairs that our other seamstress, Mary Gothard, had to help our tinker Scoops deal with. Especially if the darned thing was working before, get out your manual and try re-threading it.

3.) It’s surprising how far you can get by just diving in and doing it. I pulled a zipper replacement that would have gone a lot more smoothly if I’d actually paid more attention to what I was doing. That being said, two other seamstresses didn’t even attempt it. Granted, zipper replacements are a massive nuisance. And this one was on a vintage dress with great sentimental value. And the replacement zipper provided was an invisible one. And I hadn’t slept well the night before. And, yes, I turned the air blue while working on it. Oy. It got done and the rip I tore got fixed. Moving on.

Our next Repair Café will be at Villa Park in Pasadena, California, and I will be there with my sewing machine and serger. At least, that’s the plan. If you’re in the area, feel free to bring all those items that just need a patch or a button or other stuff. We have all kinds of workers, including tinkers, who can repair clocks, toasters, vacuum cleaners, you name it.

And finally, a big shout out to fellow seamstresses Mary Gothard, Jennifer Michaud, Shelley and Bya, all of whom made it even more fun by sharing resources and ideas.

The Sewing Report: Beautiful Patch Pockets

If only the damn pants fit.

It was so aggravating. Here, I’d done it. I’d taken the time to really think about and carefully cut out two patch pockets to go on a pair of corduroy semi-dress slacks. Actually, they were kind of on the casual side because of the inset on the inner leg seams. Instead of using a contrasting fabric – I thought I was being so clever – I cut the corduroy out with the nap running in the opposite direction.Well, I was being clever, dummit. Beautiful Patch Pockets

I was going to skip back pockets, then decided I wanted them after all and went several rounds of what if, debating whether to do dressier welt pockets or more casual patch pockets. Both have their downsides. Welts are more complicated to install and harder to fix if you mess something up. Patch pockets are easier to mess up, period. And they require that most noir of my bêtes: top stitching.

Beautiful Patch PocketsBut I nailed it. I did. You can’t see it in the photo, but the top stitching, carefully applied is almost perfectly straight. At least, straight enough for the three-foot rule. Let me explain that one – it’s my standard for do I fix it or let it go? If you’re not going to notice it’s off unless you’re standing closer to me than three feet, then I’ll let it go. The reasoning is simple. If you’re within three feet of me, then we’d better be on the kinds of terms you’re not going to give a rat’s patootie if something isn’t perfect. If we’re not on those kinds of terms, you’d better not be within three feet of me. I have my boundaries.

I was so pleased with my patch pockets. So I happily went on installing the zipper, putting bias-binding on my front waist (the plan was to elasticize the back waistband), basting the side seams together. Then I tried the pants on. Now, thanks to a gimpy foot, I haven’t been able to exercise that much lately, so I’ve probably put an extra ounce or two since I cut the project out. And I do tend to prefer lower-riding waistlines because I don’t have a waist, per se. Except that the top of the back of the pants barely covered my butt crack and that’s a lot lower than I prefer. Damn!

I can let out the side seams a bit and start walking again, which should help. The legs look gorgeous. I just have to figure out what to do about the low waist. I’m thinking a yoke. Well, maybe that’s next month’s Sewing Report.