Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Thread to Love...

Coats and Clark has finally perfected its thread. It only took 200 years.

I am here to tell you that the new Dual Duty xp Polyester/Polyester thread is an awesome thread.

Strong, pretty, and slick. I love it. I will be using it for most of my sewing projects.

When I first started sewing, at the age of about 17, omg 23 years ago, my mother and grandmother gave me all of their remnants, leftover threads, scissors, etc. to get me started.

My grandmother, father's mother, sewed everything for her two girls when they were growing up. Everything. They were wealthy and she purchased the best fabrics and made the latest styles. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it really isn't. They lived in a very small town that was about an hour away from the nearest city of any size, and even then, Greenville North Carolina wasn't what could have been called "high fashion" at the time. It was mostly farm land if my memory serves me.

Those girls were dressed to the nines. I remember seeing their portraits when I was growing up. They always had hat, coat, dress, gloves, stockings, etc. They looked like little princesses. They both grew up to be jerks. Anyway, from my grandmother I got a lot of patterns, fabrics, threads, and advice. At the time the only thing I valued was the advice, which is by far still the most valuable, but boy I wish I had saved those old patterns! Ugh. I could kick myself!

My only actual sit down sewing lesson lasted about 30 minutes. My mother sat down, gave me the run-down on how to read a pattern, how to place pattern pieces on my fabric, and the basics of operating her sewing machine. After that I was off to the races. I would yell to the living room when I would get stuck on that first project, I can't remember what it was, and tell her the issue and she would yell back the solution. We are a very refined bunch.

Some time later, when my sister married her ex, she had a home wedding, and we made her gown. Later still, when my little sister had a baby, my mother purchased all of the fabric needed to make her a Christening gown of satin. My mother abandoned the project and it shifted to me. That is the way sewing was for a few years. Making things for family. Making things for my kids.

A couple of years later, once I was married to my ex, his mother gave me a lot of fabric, thread, and patterns. Some of the fabric she gave me was absolutely wonderful. I made an entire nursery set out of some of it. Yellow gingham for one side and on the reverse of everything I made there was an awesome retro kids fabric. My youngest sister has that set now. Crib sheet, skirt, organizer that hangs over the side of the crib, cloth diaper holder that I loved because it made life easy, crib bumpers, and a mobile of yellow gingham elephants that hung over the crib from one side to the other.

Later, while we were living in Texas, about 1992, I placed ads. in the local papers and started sewing for strangers. Never did figure out what I should have been charging. Some very wealthy people got some very high quality craftsmanship very cheap from a young woman who needed the money to much to boldly ask for what she was worth for fear of them walking away. One of the ladies who contacted me wanted very involved working balloon drapes for a huge bay window that ran the length of her huge fancy tub on the front of her house. She wanted matching things like a band of the same fabric sewn to her towels. She also wanted a little curtain to match for her kitty's poop cubby. How swank.

Anyway, she called me and we made an appointment to meet at her home so I could measure everything and quote her a price. I quoted something so absurdly cheap, like $300 for the labor, that her eyes were gleaming. I wasn't the quick study I am today, so I didn't pick up on it until I was driving away. She got me cheap, and she knew it.

She took me to her hobby room and started pulling this massive amount of fabric out of a clear plastic bag. Beautiful doesn't cover this fabric. It was perfect. It wasn't to my taste, but that is not the point. The point is that anyone with any sense of style and taste knew the minute they saw this fabric that it was perfect, and it was timeless. It would last for years because it did not have a single trendy spot on it. Classy.

As I am studying this fabric, she is telling me all about how she kept drawing and drawing this design and thinking about the colors and changing her mind and going back and starting over. This woman had designed this fabric and had it made for her. Not just some stamped on special order. No, she had it made for her. I can't imagine what she paid for that fabric.

So, I tell her with all the confidence in the world that I will have no problem with these projects and that it will be two weeks at most for me to be finished. Oh, the stupidity that is youth.

As soon as I got out of her house, and started walking toward my car, I started to panic. Just a little at first. Daydreams of horrible bloody car accidents that cause me to bleed all over this priceless fabric gave way to really horrible daydreams of my really fucking up and cutting it only to realize I had maimed it so completely as to render it useless.

They say the young have no fear. They are full of shit.

So, I take the bag in the house, wrap it in a trash bag for extra protection, put it up in my closet and proceed to sweat it out a couple of days. Drawing and re-drawing my plans for the balloon drapes. I knew that as long as I planned that out right, I would be able to get the other little things done without any problem.

A couple of days into worrying about it, I finally took the fabric down and started to work. My hands were shaking so hard for the first few minutes, but then, like I always do, I found my sanctuary and let the work take over. Working the problem is my favorite part of being creative.

They were awesome, too. Lined in white fabric. Three separate sections so that she could have them raised or lowered as needed for light and privacy. They worked like a dream. She was so excited. So stupid then because I never took pictures of anything! Ugh all the photos I wish I had now of past work and the fantastic floral arrangements I have made in my time. Oh well, you live and you learn.

So, long story short, those remnants and left over threads have slowly gone from my life, but the lessons never have.


Tina said...

I gotta tell you, i've never had a problem with C & C thread. Machines are funny though, I can see how someones machine may not laike a particular brand. My embroidery machine is fussy that way.

headchange said...

What a great post. And we are neighbors We are in Bristol Va.

Katie of Branded Butterfly said...

I have used Coats and Clark thread for some projects over the years. The Dual Duty Plus was actually pretty good. The old all purpose Dual Duty hated all three of the machines I have used. My two Brother machines and my mother's Singer. I do know that it is the particular machine sometimes. lol Boy when the gremlins get in there and mess around I really lose my cool. lol

Katie of Branded Butterfly said...

I was born in Hampton, VA. and live in Murfreesboro, TN. I will look up Bristol today on Google to see how far you are from those two places.