Two weeks ago, I took a challenge to sew 3 sets of lingerie in 48 hours. For some sewers, this task is infantile, mere child’s play. For me, a seamstress who is not the speediest of the sewing bunch, this was a challenge. But pushing yourself into unknown and uncomfortable territory is a necessary part of life, whether it’s self inflicted or inflicted by others. That Saturday and Sunday was a new experience for me, but I had fun. Surprisingly, I finished with plenty of time to spare – early Sunday evening. I even had time to cook a hearty meal. That’s an extra large feat for this city living and loving lady. I have a few tips for those who are about to sew for an extended period of time. Some are serious while other are more for fun. Sewing is supposed to be fun, right?
This is an obvious one, but prepping for your project is super important. The reason for most sewing delays is not slow speed, but hitting an obstacle like running out of thread or interfacing, which forces you stop wherever you are, and go out and buy more. I didn’t have time for this, so a couple weeks prior, I made a shopping list and bought all supplies so that this wouldn’t happen. Also, the night before, I made sure everything was in place for me to sew the next day. Scissors out, needles ready, sewing machine threaded, iron in place, tape measures in sight, etc.
Part of the reason why factories are so fast is because one seamstress performs the same operation over and over. This assembly line type of sewing was the method I used for my bra challenge, meaning I sewed the same operation on all three bras and undies before continuing to the next. Example: I sewed all six cups, then attached all 6 cups to all three cradles, then attached all bottom band elastics, etc. The opposite of this would be sewing one bra, and then sewing the second and the third. This reduces the amount of time you have to change needles and thread.
Peanuts and pretzels are for frequent flyers. At 200 calorie or less, those snacks get you through a couple of hours, six at most. I had eight times that amount to keep my sugar and sanity levels at bay. I have no patience for hangry seamstresses. In Chateau Madalynne, I like to keep my cupboards stocked with a well rounded diet, which for this challenge meant stocking up on M&M’s and cereal. Breakfast and dinner of champions.
Another rule at Cheteau is that we refill in a ratio of 4 to 1. How many of you hate when you run out of bobbin thread mid seam and have to rethread? Me too! So, before I even started the challenge, I filled 4 bobbins to the top. Shaken, not stirred.
Even if I don’t have plans for the day, I always get dressed. Staying in my jammies until sunset is a no-no. Why? I think differently when I wear loungewear than when I wear an actual outfit. Knowing that I had to a goal to meet, I didn’t want to get into that lazy mentality. I wasn’t donning heels, but I was wearing me-made. Polka dots always get me in the mood; the sewing mood, people!
I agree with most people’s observation that I live in my own little bubble. I wish you could see me when I photograph. I think it sums up that statement pretty well. I have caused car accidents, been inches away from hypothermia and almost got arrested. I just do my own thing and don’t pay attention to what’s going on around me, illegal or not. But considering how solo I am, I’m also pretty connected. I take as many Instagram breaks as I do coffee breaks. I also check emails constantly. But these are all 5 minute distractions that can turn into 30 minutes or more, and because I had a deadline in front of me, I eliminated all of them. That meant turning off all notifications on my cell phone and computer – email, text, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Etsy and Bloglovin. Even if you don’t have a due date staring at you, I suggest you do this every once in a while. It’s a weird unfamiliar feeling to be disconnected.
Whether it’s Pandora, Soundclound, Spotify, NPR, Netflix, a good movie or an audio book, you need some background noise. Most of the time, I start out with some kind of sound to get me into the zone, but a couple hours in, I go into silence. Why? Once you get passed the intital sewing, I’m good to go for hours. It’s just like a 10-minute warm up before a 10 mile run. Once things start movin’ and groovin’, rockin’ and a’rollin, it’s full on meditative sewing.
*a note about sewing machines shown in the photos. I recently moved, and my regular sewing machines, a Juki DDL 5500 and a PFAFF Expression 3.2, have not been set up in my new place yet. As I unpack, I’ve been using my backup machine, a Singer Brilliance.*