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30-something mother, wife, lawyer, writer, design junkie, craftaholic, cook

likes: clever tools, snazzy colors, working for justice, kid wrangling, Meyer lemons

dislikes: inefficiency, civil discovery, most shades of purple, Tori Amos

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Tuesday
Jun162009

Lessons learned

I did a dry run of my shirred dress pattern this weekend, because I was afraid that it was not going to be as easy as some had breathlessly claimed. I learned some things.

1) I was right. The shirring is definitely a learn-as-you-go kind of thing, so I was really glad not to have hacked up my peacock fabric before ironing out some kinks.

2) Hancock Fabrics on Sam Rittenburg Boulevard in Charleston, SC, is probably the 9th Circle of Hell. Really, I already knew that, but I wanted to state it publicly here. I went there for elastic thread. I mean, you know the name of the store is Hancock Fabrics, not Hancock Thread, but I thought it was sort of an understood sub-category of product offerings. After searching the entire store, with 3-year-old in tow, I waited only a tiny bit less than 5 minutes for someone there to deign to respond to my plaintiff wailing (the 3-year-old, on the other hand, was very well-behaved). I asked her where I could find the elastic thread. Seems she had the same trouble as me.

Finally, with a heaping helping of surliness topped off with a dash of sloth-like speed, the lady working there found the one, ONE, spool of elastic thread in the entire store. And it was black. All I can say is that the next time one of my crafty friends who lives in a civilized spot with running water and a Jo-Ann whines about her fabric store trials, I am planning to have her instantly whisked to this fabric hovel. I had come to accept the curious truth that big box fabric store employees rival 13-year-old girls in their capacity for disaffection and surliness. But I had not yet confronted the warped reality that a fabric store can continue operations when it carries next to no fabric and is bereft of the simplest of thread and notion options. You live and learn.

3) Most of the patterns for shirred garments assume certain facts not in evidence in my particular anatomy. That's about all I feel I can say about that here, since my dad reads this.

4) It is best to get the size of your shirred garment right ahead of time. If you find, for example, that following the advice available on Threadbanger results in a giant, droopy garment that could easily envelope your sofa, you might try to take the seams in. If you discover this after shirring and want to trim away 10 inches of extra fabric, you will end up with an unravelling mess. Elastic is tricky stuff.

5) Those people who breezily extoll the ease and virtue of shirring also probably wake each day with perfectly styled hair that only needs washing once per week. I'm not saying that it was hard so much as not exactly effortless.

6) I do not like cutting fabric. At all.

With these and other lessons learned, I still think I can tackle the peacock dress this weekend. That is, if I can get elastic thread delivered by Friday. Film at 11.

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Reader Comments (6)

Hmmm--I have a JoAnn Fabrics in my town and most of the employees ARE surly, disaffected 13 year old girls. Not often a much better experience than Hancock I'm afraid.

June 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlissa

Can relate to all, especially point 6. The number one reason I don't sew as often as I'd like.

June 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCicada Studio

I wouldn't want to cut into that fabric either. Too excellent. It would just sit there until i was 40 and brave.

June 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCourt Ney

Hancock must really have a problem with elastic - I went this weekend to get some elastic lace and they acted like they had never heard of it before! Then I asked for a soft elastic and told them I wanted to make undergarments and they looked at me like I landed in a spaceship in their empty parking lot! Really!

June 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Hi Cameron! I'm so glad I found you on Twitter...I love your blog...so I'm giving you the blogger-to-blogger "One Lovely Blog" award! Here are the guidelines for accepting the award...

1) Add the logo to your blog
2) Link to the person from whom you received this award
3) Nominate 7 or more blogs
4) Leave a message on their blog – letting them know that they are ‘One Lovely Blog’

June 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPaige

Oh dear, I'm afraid that I'm one of those who was all tra-la about shirring when I tried it for the first time myself last week. Granted, I was making the dress for my 4-year old (because of your point #3 concerning myself), and she isn't all that concerned about the fine points of fit. But it turned out ok and now I'm wondering if it was blind luck. I did sort of wing the fabric dimensions since I couldn't remember what the Threadbanger tutorial said about how much the shirring would "shrink" the fabric. For my daughter, I just doubled her chest circumference and it seemed to pucker up to just the right size....

June 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKim

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