Saturday, August 16, 2008

Me and My Big Ideas

Over the years, I've had a lot of good ideas that have just gone wrong. I'm one of those people who can't do anything halfway. If I learn about something new that really piques my curiousity, I go at it whole hog. For awhile. Then I do it sporadically. Then I realize that I have no idea what I'm doing and have likely wasted an inordinate amount of money doing whatever it is that I'm doing. Then I stop. I might try the thing again, just to be sure I'm really bad at it. Then I'll stop again.

There are a million things that come to mind. Like when I tried to cross stitch the entire Cincinnati skyline because I was moving to Cincinnati. When I first wanted to cross stitch, Erin was advising me because she was a big cross stitcher. I went to the store, found the skyline pattern, bought all the stuff and came home. Erin's comment: "Well, you might want to start with something a little simpler first." I didn't heed her advice and I think I ultimately completed the "C" in the cross stitch before giving up. All of that counting got to me.

On another occasion, Tara tried to teach me how to crochet these homemade dish cloths. A friend of my Grandma's made them for us for years. Then when she died, Tara took up the mantle. But I go through them pretty quickly, and even though Tara used to give them to me for my birthday every year, I thought I wanted to be able to whip one up whenever I wanted one. After trying to watch Tara show me how to even start the dishcloth, I was having heart palpitations and broke out into a cold, nervous sweat. I clicked and clacked those little stick things around for what seemed like a productive few minutes and all I was left with was a bunch of knots. I had to stop because it was giving me a complex.

Then there was the famous Harry Potter Qudditch Robe incident from last summer. When we lived in Ohio, Theresa did all of my sewing projects for me--like curtains for the boys rooms or putting blackout fabric on the curtains because the sun came roaring into their bedrooms in the afternoon and if they were in there napping at the time, they'd be frizzled like ants under a magnifying glass. So Theresa put the blackout fabric on there to stop the laser-like sunlight.

So anyway, once we moved, I didn't have anyone to sew for me. I convinced Eamonn I needed a sewing machine to do some little sewing projects. We got a good deal on a floor model from a cycling friend of Eamonn's who owns a vacuum cleaner/sewing machine store. I did my few little projects. Then I got big ideas. Which is bad. Very bad.

The Harry Potter #7 book release was approaching and the local bookstore was having a big party and costume contest. Aha! A challenge. The robe actually turned out pretty well, but the process was a nightmare. The pattern wasn't really for an authentic Quidditch robe (imagine that) and so I had to make all sorts of changes to the pattern. In addition, it was an adult size, so I was doing all these crazy things to make it fit Declan. Oh well, I thought, it's a robe so it's not like it needs to be perfect. No one will ever notice. On the outside, it looked great. If you looked at the inside, you'd see all sorts of wild and totally wrong stitching.

And I will also add that I find patterns so confusing that I sewed the hood wrong three, yes three, times before Eamonn intervened and pinned it the correct way for me. In the end, it was fine, but the process was nightmarish and I recall thinking something like: "Whew. I'm so glad I said I'd never make clothes."

Flash forward to May. We're going to Eamonn's cousin's wedding on Aug. 30th. I needed a dress, becasue heaven knows that living out here, I don't have anything appropriate in my closet to wear to a wedding. It's mostly fleece and cargo pants these days. Unfortuantely, I got an idea in my head of what kind of dress I wanted. The wedding is in Michigan at the end of August so something lightweight and cool was going to be key. So I shopped online and looked around, but wasn't finding anything that went with my "vision." Until one day I was in WalMart. And I saw a pattern for a dress that was exactly what I had envisioned. I couldn't believe it. AND, it was labeled "easy." Hey, I have a sewing machine, the pattern is labeled "easy," what's not to love?

For several weeks, Eamonn has been saying, "You need to start the dress." But there were things going on. My Mom and Erin visited. I had deadlines for work. I was sleepy. I wanted to watch TV. You know how it goes. One thing led to another. Besides, it just looked like two pieces of fabric stitched together. Eamonn, who grew up watching his mother sew, knew better. Heck, my mom pawned our sewing machine to my aunt for a little extra spending money so it's not like I had a great sewing diva to look up to.

Finally, last Sunday (a week ago), I started the dress. Problem #1: Not enough fabric. The fabric quantities on the pattern were reversed so it showed me that I needed more than a yard less than what I really needed. Bummer. I jumped in the car, drove 35 miles to Glenwood to buy more fabric. Fortunately, they had it.

Problem #2: I cut out the fabric according to the size my measurements said I should be. I pinned it together and put it on.

Eamonn: "Well, hello Mama Cass."

Literally, two of me could have fit in there. I cut it down another size--still a shapeless mumu.

Eamonn stepped in with his pins and went to work. He pinned it so that it was a more attractive mumu. However, because there isn't a zipper in this dress, pins in the appropriate places made it so I couldn't actually get in and out of the dress without the Jaws of Life.

For two nights in a row, Eamonn pinned and tailor tacked, re-pinned and re-tacked. I ran to my computer.

Eamonn: "What are you doing?" Probably annoyed because he thought I had just decided to give up and surf the Internet.

Me: "Creating a contingency plan. I learned to do that in graduate school."

I was googling a seamstress who had made a bridesmaid dress for me in 1994 and then made the bridesmaid dresses for our wedding in 1996. I had this grand idea that I could meet with her when we arrived in Ohio later this week. I found her. Unfortunately, she no longer lives in Columbus. Dang.

But then I remembered my friend Debbie. I used to babysit for Debbie's kids when they were little. Now Hillary, who was six the last time I checked, is getting married. Anyway, Debbie sews and actually knows what she's doing (unlike me), and is coordinating a rescue operation for my partially constructed dress.

Tonight Eamonn asked me if I have now spent more on this dress than if I had just bought one to begin with. I pretended like I didn't hear him.


1dreamr said...

Okay now, THAT is hilarious!! You MUST post pics of this (you modeling, of course) when it's done! Hopefully, Debbie can work things out so you won't need the Jaws of Life!!

Kristie said...

You use the trying, failing, trying, failing scenario to describe your sewing adventures. Substitute the word "Dieting" for "sewing" and you've just detailed my life.
PS. I agree, a photo of you in this dress is a must.

Lynn's mom said...

Have SO been there. My Facebook motto is "Panic is a great motivator!" But do I start anything with enough time? Snort. Jane

in a world surrounded by men said...

Natalie, that is hilarious. Yes, I much prefer online shopping with a purpose like that to actually working to make something turn out perfectly.