Saturday, December 15, 2012

Capable vs. Cocky

Today, we will demonstrate the difference between the words "capable" and "cocky."

Case 1: The Steek

I've been working on altering some of my previous projects so that they fit me better. Since my first adventure in steeking, I felt that I was armed with enough information to steek my burgundy cardigan with little to no difficulties.

Steeking, for those who don't know, is where you sew stitches into your knitted fabric to hold them from unravelling, so that you can cut the fabric without worry. It is often used in Norwegian sweaters that use a lot of strands of yarn. Handknitters will often knit it as a tube, then cut holes for the arms to be added. It works well with wool, because the cut ends will eventually felt themselves together to create a firm edge.

I've learned that you get a tidier finish if you hand stitch a running backstitch along the fabric where you intend to cut it. This allows you to line up the stitches on the right side neatly. Then, I ran a zigzag stitch right next to my backstitches to create an even more secure seam before I cut it.

Voila. It fits. I feel capable.

Case 2: The Dress Alteration

This is a dress made of a jersey knit fabric that I picked up at a consignment store during the summer. I love the animal print and the Madmen-esque neckline, but the length bothered me. I'm a tall person (5 foot 9 inches) and this thing nearly reached my ankles. I was thinking it would be nice to wear it to our company Christmas party, but I wanted to hem it to make it shorter.

I thought about how I would do it for months and months beforehand. I am not a seamstress. I have little to no experience with working with such a stretchy fabric. I can barely cut fabric in a straight line. And yet, I felt pretty confident that I could do it.

Confident... and cocky.

One evening a couple of weeks ago, I jumped up from the couch, picked up the dress, laid it on the floor, and started pinning it. I was going to take a good five inches off the length, and since it's a wrap dress, I had to figure out how to maintain the roundness of the hem. After I pinned it, I tried it on (trying not to swear as the pins pricked me), and it looked pretty good. I thought about pressing the fold I'd created to use as a guideline, but no... cockiness got the better of me.

I sat down and started cutting, leaving an inch of extra fabric just in case. It was a jagged, messy cut, but I figured I'd be sewing it under anyway. I tried it on. Not bad, I thought. But it's a little longer on the right side. I better cut a bit more off there.

Cut, cut. Tried it on again. Hmm, it's a little long on the left side now.

Cut, cut. Tried it on again. Maybe I better use some other scissors and tidy up the edge.

More cutting. Tried it on. Ruh roh. I think it's too short...

I sat down and looked at the mess I'd made, and all the scraps on the floor. Oh crap. Now what?

I went and made a cup of tea, then I gritted my teeth and opened up my sewing machine and started sewing. And you know what?

I lucked out. It was wearable after all. But only just. Any more cutting and this would not be a work-appropriate outfit.

Mostly capable, kind of cocky. Lesson?

Put the frigging scissors down, Adriene. Just put 'em down...

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