Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Moster Feet and Fairy Feet

The preparation for the "Funny Feet" class I taught today at the Arts Center proved to be on the grueling side, but the class itself was a lot of fun.  Students could choose from two different styles of slippers, Monster Feet or Fairy Feet.  Today was the first day of a two day class, next Tuesday we will finish up our slippers. 
The mechanics of a slipper pattern are not so challenging.  I made some prototypes early on in the winter in my own size.  Wearing around the prototypes I was able to decide on things like, using a layer of cotton batting in between the fleece sole and the lining.  The batted added to the over all warmth and comfort of the slipper.  Earlier models had only one fleece layer and the lining, they seemed a bit too thin.  Using more than one layer of fleeece made my feet sweaty, and using more than one layer of batting added no comfort and was more difficult to put together. 
I have a tendency to try to hurry through things some times, but I don't want to pass this along to my students.  When I am making my samples for my classes and writing my instructions I try to do things the right way, and not my rushed way.  In this project I learned that when I took the time to do a stretch stitch  (like a moc overlock) around the pieces once the lining and the fleece were sewn together, I not only had finished edges, but this greatly eased the final steps of connecting the top of the slipper to the sole.  I probably didn't save myself more than a minute or two by not doing this in earlier models, and by doing it I eliminated much frustration!  Slow down and breathe...my lesson for the day!
So the "challenge" in this project turned up in the grading of the pattern.  This was my first adventure in grading footwear, which came with its own set of challenges, but the time consumer ended up being grading 9 sizes in 2 different styles!  It was just a ton of pieces!
My little Fairy and Monster reluctanly waited 3 weeks to wear their slippers.  Their slippers were the samples that hung in the Arts Center window to help advertise the class.   There are some warm and happy feet here tonight!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lessons from an Animal Hats Class

I have been teaching sewing classes inour community’s Arts Center since the end of September. Today I taught the first of a two part class on fleece animal hats. I have enjoyed all of the classes I have taught and today was no different. It is a delight teaching students a new skill, and developing old skills, and I always manage to learn something new as well. Before we actually begin sewing we go over the different parts of the machine, their names and what they are used for. When we get to the “Thread Up Take Lever” I always tell my students the following story….

One summer (many, many summers ago when I was 19) I had a job working for a man and woman who owned a small custom drapery shop on the outskirts of Tulsa Oklahoma. During my training….oh how I wish I could remember his name…the man, who was an older man…though when you are 19 everyone seems old….taught me a very valuable lesson. He said, “Think of this little lever here (thread up take lever) as a man. When it is here at the top he is “home” and you have no troubles, but if he strays away from home things get messy.” Sexist and politically incorrect?...probably, but an extremely valuable tip! If you always begin and end a seam with the Thread Up Take Lever at the top or “home” position you are much, MUCH less likely to end up with a tangled mess once you begin sewing.

Today in class one of my students likened the presser foot lever to the garage door. “Once your man is home, don’t forget to close the garage door!” I think she just earned a place in the new and extended version of my story!