Thursday, 5 May 2011

A DIY call to arms!

Yesterday I altered a skirt. This skirt has two pieces; an underskirt and a semi-transparent overskirt. The overskirt just needed the elastic tightening; the underskirt had to be gathered and sewn. Overall, it took no more than half-an-hour.

But whilst sitting at the dining table squinting at my hand-sewn stitches in typically myopic fashion (I suffer from migraines, and there's really little wonder), I found myself casting glances riddled with longing and hatred combined at my mum's sewing machine, sitting innocently in its box.

I hand-sew everything, which is why, so far, my tutorials have involved very little sewing or no sewing whatsoever. Unfortunately, this also means that they have been sadly lacking in adventurous-ness. (Is that a word?) Do I hand-sew everything because I enjoy it? Well, no. Hand-sewing is all right for twenty minutes or so, but after that it becomes very tedious and I run the risk of getting a pounding headache. Because I hold some sort of notion that 'it's not really Goth unless it's sewn by hand'? Again, no.

Dear darklings, the simple truth is this: I am, frankly, terrified of sewing machines. My babysitter's kid scared me witless when he went to secondary school with tales of his fellow students impaling themselves through the thumb with needles during Textiles class. When my turn came to take Textiles, I touched the sewing machine once, for about thirty seconds, because the teacher was looking. Otherwise, I bribed my friends to do the sewing parts for me.

But I'm sick and tired of taking three days to make a simple headdress. I'm consumed with envy when I read posts from Miss Gracie and the Dark Victorian, who casually say, "Oh yes, and after work I made three dresses, a corset, a hat and four pairs of bloomers." (That's not snarking, you guys, I'm just jealous of your Uber Gothy Sewing Powers.)

So I'm making a very late new year's resolution - I'm going to learn how to use a sewing machine.

Which brings me onto the second point of this post - I do not want to get comments from you guys saying stuff like 'I suck at DIY'. I hate to sound unsympathetic, but this is a real pet peeve of mine. What, you can't put some safety-pins in your blazer lapel? You can't iron a transfer onto a denim jacket? The wonders of fabric glue and fabric paint are beyond you? I don't believe that for a second, Gothlings.

DIY doesn't have to be about putting together your very own ensemble for the Vampire Masquerade out of three old curtains and a crisp packet, it's about creating your own look and customising your own pieces, doing as much or as little as you personally can.

If you don't want to DIY, that's another story entirely, and I shall stop haranguing you. But if you want to, but won't because you think you 'suck', then I challenge you - via this this yere blog, you can watch my misadventures with a sewing machine, my failed DIYs, my epic mistakes and bad ideas: but you can also have a bash at the very simple tutorials for things that came out right, try clicky-links to other tutorials I have found around the web that worked for me, and, without wishing to sound too cheesy, we can learn together. If I can learn to use a sewing machine, you can damn well add lace trim to a belt, darn it!

Bio-Zombie by IztaJupiter on Deviant Art
Go check her out, she's fabulous!
Let's face it, we Goths need to take up the challenge of DIY, otherwise in five years time every single newcomer to the scene won't realise that there is anything to Goth fashion other than popping down to their local spooky shop and buying a Hell Bunny Goth-in-a-box kit.

Who's with me?


SaryWalrus said...

I'm with you! xD (I had to.)

I hand sew, too. Not because I'm scared of sewing machines but because I have piles and piles of horribly cheap thread and the machine eats that stuff like a dingo to a raw piece of steak.

Not to mention the ease of ripped and cut stockings. There is almost no possible way to make a pair of ripped stockings look bad if you enjoy them!

Lilly Peppermint said...

Ah, completely agree. I am pretty much in the same situation as you, I can hand sew pretty well, but I won't touch the sewing machine. I don't have a problem with buying the ocassional 'off the rack' item of clothing, but there needs to be a heathly balance between that a unique items. After all, we're a crafty, creative bunch, aren't we?
I though so too...

Julietslace said...

I understand you, I refused to use one but I had to pass my first unit. Now I sometimes use it even if I don't have to! It's very unlikely you'll stab yourself because it auto stops and it's difficult to actually get your finger underneath the foot.

Go on, give it a go ;)

Amunicia said...

I don't like sewing machine's either, they've always terrified me. But I actually don't mind hand-sewing and I feel I've gotten quite good at it.
I can even do it while watching telly.
It also gives me the benefit of having something to do with my hands (I'm trichotillomanic, I ALWAYS need something to do with my hands!)
In any case, good for you for trying to get over your fear!

Kitty Lovett; A Charming Notion said...

I'm just going to be honest. I used to be terrified of them, too. I have extremely violent body shakes which isw bad if you want to use a sewing machine. How did I get over this fear?

I bought a sewing machine.

And that was that. I was no longer scared. I don't know too much about sewing machines, but you know what? I just pretend I know what I'm doing, and that seems to work just fine (works for exams too!).

There's no real danger of hurting yourself with the needle. It's possible, but the likelihood is very small. The gap between the height of the needle and the presser foot is small, so do what I do - make sure your fingers are nowhere near there.

I like to hand-sew, but it takes so long! Just give it a go - in all honesty, you're more likely to snap the needle on your fingernail than to stab yourself.

Kitty Lovett; A Charming Notion said...

And to answer your question - no, I can't iron on transfers. I don't iron. I can't iron. I am far too clumsy and have far too many cats for that to work out.

Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Hi Amy,

The watch word is caution!

As long as you are taking care to be careful it won't happen.

Most home machines move slow enough to keep your hands safe and they also have speed control. Like a car, if you don't smash down on the peddle you have time to avoid the crash.

Practice with a piece of paper and no thread. Draw a line, around, up and down, zig-zag. And just try to keep the needle on the line.

You'll be an old pro in no time.

I've been at this sewing thing for a long time, and still love hand sewing. But nothing beats the speed of getting a whole dress done in an afternoon.

And though I've known people that have sewn themselves with a sewing machine, I have never done it in my fifty odd years of using one.

Hugs, Euphoria

Sal Kaye - Still Dark @ Heart said...

Simple tutorials? Great! :)
I love simple & fast projects (I#m not a patient one).
Looking forward to your next post about DIY.


x-akurei said...

My mum has taken it upon herself to teach me how on use the sewing machine, because of late I've become very fond of making my own clothes from scratch. But it's an ancient sewing machine, so it's proving rather difficult! xD
Still, practise makes perfect.
I look forward to the tutorials ^^

Insanity said...

Simple and easy sewing tutorials would be just GREAT! That's what I need right now. :D A few years ago I tried to study the secrets of the sewing machine, but oh well.. Let's face it, I really can't make clothes.

Have you tried other kind of DIY projects, that doesn't require any sewing?

Here's my entry:
Bleached nuclear pants:

DIY pink studded bag:

Maeam said...

*SIIIIGH* I suppose. I did say I'd start trying some DIY stuff once I finish school...which should be soon...otherwise, I just don't have the TIME, you see.
...Not to mention...well, I just don't have anything to start with...and...

Oh, never mind. But I do get your point. *Sigh*

Ophelia Black said...

I love DIY stuff, especially long skirts that come together super quickly. I had to take a clothing class to get over my fear of sewing machines, but I'm so glad I did. I found a pattern for a bustle skirt that was selling for £85, not counting shipping to the US, but I made one for $40 of fabric and about 12 hours of work. For my second big project, I didn't think that was too bad. Every goth should have something they did themselves, even just accessories.

Qwack said...

It's not that I hate DIY, I just don't want to ruin everything. I myself am a hand sewer (sucking at that) and don't want my ugly stitches going through my pretty fabric. I am considering making some of my own clothes, though. It sounds like a good thing to do when I have nothing better to do.

Lady Alice Arsenic said...

Myself, I've never been afraid of sewing machines. When we were first learning how to sew, we were told of one idiot kid who impaled his thumb with the needle, but I was always careful with it. My only worry was that it was too girly for me to do. But, now that I've tackled some more things, I have something that's probably not on your list of worries that you may want to keep in mind. Needles should be placed perpendicular to the line you're sewing, but you should keep it slow and remove the pins as they get close to the needle. I myself have only had the needle strike the pin and bend it into a 90 degree angle, but I've heard a story of needles breaking off when they strike pins.
Again, just keep it slow and start with some easy things. Stay calm and don't rush. Keep the machine to a low hum, it's a lot less scary than full speed (which my classmates always did. Never got that. But, I was slower but got better grades on my projects. Payback?)

Kaitlyn said...

My sewing machine problems were always me worrying that I'd mess up(then I would majorly!)I'm totally with you though! I think any wardrobe would be better off with some DIY customization :)

Audronasha The Countess said...

I just love DIY. I have a sewing machine but I don't sew a whole garment. I just buy a base and reconstruct it. I ad ribbons, laces, leather applications. Change the length or add ruffles... I love the idea, that no one will have anything like that :) :D

Gothically yours

Audronasha The Countess said...

P.S. Izida Jupiter is ok, but look at her boy friend..or friend!!!! That's a catch !!!!!

Where do boys like that grows????

:P :P

Shiken said...

I can't sew for my life so It's convenient that I still live at home with Mother and her sewing machine. Thanks to her my plain black shirts have ASF patches all over them now.

Angel of Darkness said...

I am so with you there!
And I hand sew, becuase we don't have a sewing machine. But I also much more prefer ripping, cutting and safty pinning things, and when I have sew it's usually adding a bit of something to something else, not making anything from scratch, but that's just me.

And fabric paint is awesome!

NoxArtemis said...

Dude I LUUUUUUUUUUUUUV my sewing machine. I've actually had the same out-dated model since 2002 or something and it still works like a charm. I just got a serger last Christmas, though I haven't gotten much practicing time in, so my own summer resolution is to learn how to use my serger. XD

Though I try not to be a nag, I do try to convince others to take up the DIY challenge. Like what you experienced, most of them give the, "I suck at DIY" excuse which is really disappointing, since a lot of people seem to say this just because they tried to DIY something ONCE and it didn't go according to plan - not necessarily "fail." Just because something didn't go accordingly doesn't mean it's ruined forever. That's the thing about DIY that one needs to grasp: the whole idea is that you improvise to improve. There are no set rules.

It's great that you're learning to use a sewing machine, and a great thing to keep in mind that I picked up elsewhere is, "if you can operate a motor vehicle, you can operate a sewing machine." I think another thing that people forget about DIY is their experience level. I suppose some people think they can make a Elizabethan corset on the first try, maybe because they believe that if they start out with something as simple as a coin purse it would mean that they're incompetent, which isn't true. Everyone needs to start somewhere, so don't be ashamed to start from the beginning! :)

Anonymous said...

pure joy. thoroughly enjoyed reading that and I wish you well in your sewing machine adventures. It's much quicker and more satisfying with a machine and they arent really scary when you get used to the loud needle-pounding whirring noises ^.^

jessicadawn said...

Ive always been terrible at DIY but I did get better. I always thought I might as well try and yeah, most of my stuff actually looks ok (compared to some of my first attempts ahaha) so i'm definitely with you here!!

Malice said...

Greetings from the USA! Been reading your blog for about a week now, its a lot of good info for this 21 year-old baby bat. I'm learning to sew as well on my mother's sewing machine. So, good luck! *cheers*

Missgothstarkittykat said...

Try using an old-fashioned non-electric sewing machine, the ones with a handle. I love making dresses, but I don't get on with electric machines, so I have an antique one. You can pick them up in second-hand stores very cheap.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. I have never DIYd anything but I have an awesome idea to diy a denim sleeveless jacket I just need to buy the jacket and the materials.
I jave a sewing machine but I barely use it and I'm not good at it so intil I learn it'll stick to diying with badges, iron on badges, fabric paint,studs, safety pins and to ripping up clothes lol. :-P
I hope you end up liking the sewing machine. Be carefuL!

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