Monday, April 23, 2007

People who sew

amaze me.

I had to make a pilgrimage to Hancock Fabrics today, in search of a piece of cloth I could turn into an impromptu Abigail Adams hat. (The oral presentation for which I was creating said hat was scheduled for today, not tomorrow, which I discovered when I got home from the store, but oh, well. They rescheduled it.)

So I bought a piece of eyelet (that white stuff with lots of little holes in it), and although I was disappointed not to find a fabric with holes big enough that I could string a piece of ribbon through it without cutting additional holes (like I said, I'm a minimalist crafter), I walked up to the cash register satisfied with my burst of maternal creativity.

And then I noticed that the person behind me in line had six gigunda-spools of blue thread.

"For my serger," she said when I inquired why she needed forty miles of thread. A serger, she then explained (which was very kind), is essentially a sewing machine on steroids.

Since my single previous sewing-at-home experience cost an estimated $350 (sewing machine, lessons, fabric, pins, etc.) and resulted one crooked check jumper that kept falling off my daughter's left shoulder, I long ago decided sewing is something best left to the professionals. And I have never made it through an entire SPOOL of thread, much less one of those fishing-reel-sized wads of cotton this woman was buying.

So I asked her what she did with all that thread.

"I make clothes," she said. "I usually find a pattern and make it in a cheap material, just to see if it works. Then I redo it using the expensive stuff."

That's right. She sews it once -- kind of a trial run -- and then RESEWS it when she's sure she got it right.

I cannot IMAGINE doing something like that. In fact, I can't think of a less pleasant way to spend six months. (Because that's how long it would take me. For the first run.)

I guess I'm not a seamstress. As tempting as those colorful fabrics are, I long ago decided it was much cheaper to buy my clothes already made.

And today, instead of writing, I dug around in the dirt, mulched, and hung up two balls of Praying Mantis eggs. Apparently mantises can catch mosquitoes. We'll see. Dinner was sauteed tilapia with chimichurri sauce, a Mediterranean cut salad, and a nice glass of Pinot Noir. The quality and quantity of my cooking is inversely proportional to the quality and quantity of my writing, I've found.

And I still haven't figured out what to do about my coffee house...


At 2:12 AM, April 24, 2007, Blogger Laura Kramarsky said...

The first (and last) time I attempted to use a sewing machine, my friend assured me it was physically impossible to get your finger stuck under that little foot thing where the needle is. She was wrong. Let me tell you, you get your foot off that pedal pretty darned quick when you're sewing through skin!

On the mosquitoes -- go for a bat house. Unless bats really freak you out. But since they're the little kind, when you see them in your yard, they mostly look like sparrows.

Me, I just got back from Sleuthfest and while I should be totally energized I am feeling like a slug. I am stuck at 40k words.

At 6:47 AM, April 24, 2007, Anonymous Nicholas McRae said...

Sewing is a lot like writing that way. *nods* Sketch in muslin before attacking the 4-way stretch velvet. It's just like drafting a few chapters before polishing them up.

At 7:57 AM, April 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you just love it? She sews the "test" garment then sews it again. That's like my retired neighbor tell me that I can plant X plant there and if it doesn't work dig it up and plant it somewhere else where it may be happy. Okay, i barely have time to plant the damn plant the first time. In my garden it's survival of the fittest. So I totally understand your feelings toward that sewer because I feel the same way towards gardeners.

BTW, I'm not one of those people who sew. I've tried garments, didn't work so I move to quilts - 1/4" seam not too hard to screw up. LOL.

My writing is going well. The last chapter has always been a pain, so much happens. And since one of the prominent characters in that chapter is now dead (revisions) I've had to re-write a section. What I find is working is taking the mini-scenes (it happens on a holiday) and editing them and then I'll seam (it's a sewer/writer thing) them all together. So it's going well. I queried another agent. I'm very pleased of where I'm at. The synopsis is coming together.

Now I just have to figure out when I can do my quilt homework.

Have a great day.

At 9:20 AM, April 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell Larry to get you a comforable chair!

San Antonio Fan

At 1:03 AM, April 25, 2007, Blogger Gracesmom48 said...

Karen- When my daughter was little, I sewed several outfits for her and they turned out so cute. But, I can't sew by following the directions, because I don't have a clue what any of the sewing lingo means. I would just lay the pattern on the material and cut it out. Then I'd sew it together until it became what it should be, i.e. a skirt, a jumper, etc. I remember looking up 'selvage edge'(?) in the dictionary... and guess what...they didn't know what it meant either. My mother, who does sew, could not believe I did it that way. Melissa

At 4:56 PM, April 27, 2007, Blogger Karen MacInerney said...


Oh my GOD.


And I looked into the bat house, but when I read about a researcher who got a zillion mosquito bites standing under the bat house watching them come out, I thought perhaps it might not work.

And one of these years I have to make Sleuthfest. Why are all of these things in April/May? What about all the other months?

Relax... Harley Jane Kozak said today her first book took her eight years to write.

You're downright speedy comparatively!

At 4:58 PM, April 27, 2007, Blogger Karen MacInerney said...


I've seen a lot of 4-way stretch velvet here at RT, now that you mention it.

For me, though, it's such an endeavor to sew that I'd rather go to the mall.

And re: writing, interesting metaphor. Although I try to get the stretch velvet the first time. And sometimes end up with lurid polyester. :)

At 5:00 PM, April 27, 2007, Blogger Karen MacInerney said...


So glad to hear the writing's going well! I am one of those move-it-around gardeners, though; it's a bit less precise than sewing, which is probably why I don't mind doing it.

And yes, I imagine having an active character in the last chapter who died several pages back would be an issue. Unless you were writing a zombie mystery...

Congrats on the query; and remember, you only need one "Yes!"

At 5:01 PM, April 27, 2007, Blogger Karen MacInerney said...


I just went to a Starbucks in Houston today.

Same ugly chairs.

It's universal. :(

At 5:02 PM, April 27, 2007, Blogger Karen MacInerney said...


You could pull that off.

Me, it would look like a bolt of fabric that got caught in a fight between a stapler and a shredding machine.

We all have our talents. :)

(And you got the clean-garage one, too. Unfair!)


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