I’ve done it, I’ve finished the damned things. Six soldiers costumes are on their way to the Muffet’s school and it’s only fair that I share with you some of the things that I’ve learned.
A quick recap for those of you who haven’t been following me like a bloodhound. My dear daughter volunteered me to help with sewing for the school play. I fronted up to the main instigator of this outrage, Mrs Gray, and sweetly informed her that I was rather good at sewing in straight lines and did she have any togas for me to hem? She handed me a bag of material, a very complicated set of patterns, fixed me with a steely glare, returned my sweet smile and said “May the force be with you”. For further accounts of my subsequent misadventures, see here.
So the first thing, dear reader, is to identify your motivation. In this case, impress Mrs Gray. But there are many more practical things I have learned about sewing.
Static electricity can be a good substitute for pins.
Don’t wear drapey clothing while sewing unless you’d like to incorporate it into the costume.
Cotton batting is a tasty source of fibre.
An RSL style carpet is excellent for hiding stains and dog hair, but it does mean the only way you’ll find a dropped pin is by stepping on it.
Turn off your sewing machine while you’re away from it otherwise your dog will sit on the pedal and give himself a fright.
If you’re sewing after dinner, you will sew a sleeve on upside down or a badge to your pyjamas. Factor this into your timing.
If you want to use some material scraps from a pile your late elderly cat used to sleep on, no amount of washing and hanging it in the sun will get out the smell. Just chuck it.
Resist the urge to admonish your children with pins in your mouth.
Pets can be useful to stop your material from flying away.
That clunking sound means the top thread has come off the hook thingy that goes up and down.
Sewing a ribbon or some scalloped felt over your seams is an excellent way of disguising the fact that you haven’t measured anything.
It’s a bit hard to tell from this shot, but this tunic was doomed. It did teach me three valuable lessons. Don’t let the dog sit on your sewing shortly after he’s been eating grass. You need to sew the wrong side to the wrong side OR the right side to the right side, not one of each. And if you’ve given yourself a break from sewing by ironing the school shirts, you need to turn the iron back down if you’re going to press the seams on your polyester tunic. It didn’t actually set the smoke detector off, but it did attract the attention of the children who, as always, were very forthright in their advice.
It’s easy to make wire closures for your armour if you have a set of jewellery making tools and five years experience making clasps for necklaces.
Finally, with a great deal of patience and coffee and moaning to friends and an enormous amount of muttering, you can teach yourself to sew and deliver six soldiers costumes a whole two weeks before the performance.