Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Weekend of Intensive Draping

Mom, at the Triangle Shirtwaist and Curtain Factory. Sew faster, wench!

So Mom's in the dining room/sweatshop, sewing curtains for the study, and I'm... on the sofa, blogging.

Mom got here last night to spend a weekend sewing like mad. An activity she's not actually all that fond of, but finds herself doing from time to time because she has the misfortune of knowing how. What an exemplary mom!

I bought the last pieces of fabric for the project: chocolate brown "ultra-suede" for the panels and a pale steel blue faux-organza-looking thing for the sheer at the top. (Quick refresher: the curtains will exist in three parts: brown ultra-suede side panels and a central combination panel with sheer ersatz organza at the top and embroidered blue faux-silk for the bottom three-quarters.)

I had meant for the organza to be brown, but couldn't find a good match for the shade of brown in the ultra-suede. While drifting despairingly down the sheers aisle, the blue happened to catch my eye, and I realized that it would be even better than a matching brown because it would accent that hep blue-and-brown color scheme we've got going on that's so killingly stylish right now.

As we remeasured the windows and hung the muslin (that's a "mockup" for us non-seamstressy types), we realized that more fabric would be needed, which resulted my dashing madly one Hancock to another in Austin trying to find 7 more yards of the u-s. So that's been my contribution. I took us to Chez Zee last night to look at the model for this whole project (which, as luck would have it, was closed off for a private party), and I raced around town today for more fabric. Other than that, I don't have much to contribute--partly because I don't know enough to be useful, and partly because Mom has to retreat to the special sewing place in her brain without interruption from callow novices.

However, I just learned that my skills(?) shall be requisitioned for some hand stitching on the lining. Hand stitching! How very Laura Ingalls Wilder. How Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. How Anne of Green Gables. How Caddie Woodlawn. Laura always used to lament that her stitches were all big and sloppy compared to the dainty, regular stitches of Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes, Mary (till Mary got scarlet fever, that is, and went blind. Suck on that, Mary!) Anyway, I shall endeavor to make my stitches small.

Meanwhile, I have learned that sewing takes some insane amount of math. When I have tried to explain these curtains to people, I get a lot of weird looks, which I couldn't understand. I mean, it's three rectangles, for goodness' sake. Then I tried to replicate the calculations Mom was making in Excel so we could jimmy with the proportions ("If we make the rod pocket 4 inches, instead of 6, how much ultra-suede will we need?") without having to hand-calculate all the variations. I'm not a complete slouch at the Excel, but figuring out how to cut the pieces out of the material in such a way as to minimize yardage and then calculate the yardage was more than my spreadsheet could handle, not to mention having to remember to fold in seam allowances (times 2!), headers (times 2!), hems, rod pockets, and so on. How could men possibly justify dismissing female intelligence, mathematical aptitude, and spatial intelligence when we have apparently been grinding our way through these kinds of exercises for centuries? Do they have any idea what a squirrely pain in the ass this is?

Cute--but doomed--brown caterpillars

I also helped by cutting the fuzzy edge of the selvage off of the brown. The 13.5 yards of brown. Oy veh. It made piles and piles of fuzzy brown caterpillars. They're so amusingly fuzzy that I wonder if I shouldn't reclaim them and turn them into something. Since I'm neither Martha Stewart nor McGyver, though, I think that impulse had best be abandoned.

Meanwhile, Mom has cut and hemmed the first panel and its lining and is now working on the finishing hand stitching. Go Mom!

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