After 5 weeks, I’m done with my class at FIT. I really really liked it, but I’m glad to have my Sundays back. Since this was a beginner’s class our project was pretty simple: pajama pants (using 1 yard of 1” non-fold elastic, thread and 3 yards of lightweight cotton). I went with pink patterned poplin (alliteration!)– a really thin cotton, good for the summer:
Class 1: The basics – learn how to thread the machine and stitch.
I was stumped as to how we would fill 3 ½ hours with this, but the answer is simple: Industrial machines. Using an industrial sewing machine is like jumping into a Ferrari when you’re used to a Honda. They are so fast it’s ridiculous. None of us – who have all used sewing machines before – could sew a straight line by the end of the first class.
Class 2: Seams.
What I find amazing is how you can try something once and completely suck at it, but once you take a break, then come back to it, you can do it really well. That was the second class. The machines weren’t as intimidating and not only were we making straight lines, we were making professional seams:
French seam – These are used in really thin fabrics, like silk or chiffon, so that you cannot see any of the stitches, simply the folded edges of the seam.
Pink and Stitch – If you were to rip the lining on the inside of a dress jacket, this would be underneath.
Tailor’s Hem – If there were no lining in a jacket you would find a tailor’s hem, which is a neater version of the pink and stitch. I tried to find a picture of this but Google kept asking if I meant Tailor Ham. Google’s trying to be funny with the vegetarian.
Flat Felled– This hem is really durable and used mostly on jeans.
Overlock – Used for two reasons: 1) prevent fraying on the edges of woven materials and 2) give knit materials more stretch on the stitches.
Class 3: The pattern.
Our teacher provided us with patterns to trace onto paper, but the cool thing was we adjusted the patterns to our specific shapes. When I use commercial patterns I usually cut everything to a size 10, make the entire outfit, then take it in when I’m done. This time, I made the adjustments at the beginning. The three adjustments that I made to my pants were:
1) Drop the waist of the pants 1 ½” so that they were low rise and not “mom pants”
2) Measure my inseam and extended the length of the pant. I actually made them a little longer than my inseam because Laundromat dryers always make my pajama pants into crop pants
3) Widen the leg from about the knee to the ankle so that they weren’t tapered.
After making the patterns we cut out 2 leg pieces and ripped fabric for a drawstring. One of my favorite things I learned was that if you make a small clip at the edge of a single woven fabric and just rip, it will always tear in a straight line. SO much easier than trying to cut a straight line – a skill a 1st grade could annihilate me in.
Class 4: Begin sewing.
I think I sweat through this entire class. She warned us in the beginning that it was going to be 80% her demoing and 20% us actually getting to sew, but watching everyone trying desperately to catch up was comical. There was one class left after this to get everything done, but it still didn’t feel like enough time, so the basic atmosphere in the room was panic. At the end of 3 ½ hours all I accomplished was the outside seams. The other thing holding us up was that there was only one overlock machine so we had to wait on line to use it. The overlock machine (also called a serger) is awesome! It trims off the raw edges of the fabric and makes a really intricate stitch that reinforces the edges.
This also makes the inside of the pants look professional and finished. If you look on the inside of any of the things I’ve sewn so far, it is a labyrinth of random threads. This is much nicer.
Class 5: Final demos and finish garment.
This class was hysterical. The amount of random shit’s, fuck’s, and dammit’s being thrown around the room sounded like we were in a Tourette’s ward. The last two demos instructed how to finish the waistband with elastic and a drawstring by hand. My goal was to finish all of the sewing parts and then finish the waistband at home. Goal accomplished…just barely.
You know when you accidentally pull the string out of a hoodie and have to guide it back through? That’s how you put in elastic and the drawstring. She told us to put a safety pin at one end and use that to guide it through. It really helped; I’d recommend it for your next hoodie accident.
Here’s what about 11 hours of sewing gets you:
The next class I want to take is a hand sewing class focusing on tailoring (ex. fixing zippers, lengthen sleeves, shortening pants, etc.). They offer it on Sunday’s in June and July but I’m not willing to give up beach time, so I’ll be back at FIT in the fall.