I’m pretty sure Carlos has decided that, if I get vacation time, I’m pretty much an employee. Luckily that doesn’t mean I’m in charge of sweeping the floors and cleaning the bathrooms, but instead it means that Carlos has some project waiting for me when I show up every day.
For the first time, I was really happy with the quality of the work I did Monday. That’s not to say that I’d been messing everything up before, but I never quite had the hang of what I was doing. Even the pillows I made before OPI needed multiple attempts, and still weren’t exactly what I was hoping to accomplish. Monday, though Carlos set me up with some muslin, a list of dimensions, and some stuffing and told me to have at it. I needed to make seven pillow inserts of various sizes.
Pillow inserts are the things that go inside pillow cases. Think of the pillows on your bed. They’re usually made out of muslin, which is the cheapest type of white cotton. Since nobody ever sees them, muslin is the perfect material. Also since nobody every sees them, they’re a perfect project for an amateur tailor.
Carlos told me how to do the basics: cut the muslin to size, sew three sides together, stuff them, then sew the last side shut. Then, I got the full set of tailor tips:
All of those tips came from Carlos at some point, but he didn’t necessarily remind me of everything before I started. For example, I learned how to use the scissors effectively during my first week. I’m happy that I remembered the essentials to ensure that I did a good job.
At least I think I did a good job, but you can judge for yourself. These are the pillows I made.
After Monday’s four, I finished the other three on Wednesday. In total, the process took around two and a half hours, which is about three times as long as it would take Carlos. Even so, I’m pretty happy that I’m starting to be useful. All I was given this time was a list of dimensions, and I made everything myself.
I hate them. (Since I’m still a bit behind in my journaling—sad, I know—this entry will include a bit of narrative from next week, where I continued working on the damn things.)
After finishing a nice set of pillow inserts, I started working on hemming some curtains. That’s great, you’d think. They’re so easy to hem, you only have to stitch one straight line, you’d incorrectly assume. As it turns out, hemming curtains is the worst thing I’ve had the displeasure of doing so far in WISE, and that includes the annotated bibliography. For starters, they’re taller than me. The first set I did needed to be 90 inches. That’s seven and a half feet in non tailor-speak. Since I’m only slightly taller than five and a half feet, (5’8” isn’t short, I swear) just folding them can get difficult. It doesn’t help that the floor is often covered with old scraps of thread, so every time they dangle I have to pick them clean again.
Next, they’re too long to be straight. This isn’t something I even understood was possible until I started tailoring, but as it turns out, fabric doesn’t really like to make nice, regular, geometric shapes. Even when It’s woven in a regular grid, which I find weird. And it especially doesn’t want to line up properly when it’s 90 inches worth of loose-weave cotton. (Why anyone would want loose-weave, and consequently semi-transparent, curtains is beyond me, but hey I’m just the tailor’s assistant.) Every time I try to measure them, I end up off by about half an inch. I can’t even get the opposite ends to line up when I fold them, and we don’t have a ruler long enough to draw one line across the whole panel. Measuring and cutting them gets to be quite a pain.
What’s more, we don’t have a large-enough table to handle the curtains. They have to be folded in quarters before I can even start measuring them, then marking them means I have to flip everything around in a futile attempt to get the hem to be straight.
Most annoyingly, I have to make them blind. Now, my family had a set of curtains hemmed, because we have one wall that’s crooked so we needed crooked curtains to match. When we wanted to make sure they’d fit, we bought the fabric, hung it on the curtain rods, and pinned it exactly where we wanted it. Then, we sent it to a tailor to stitch. That would be an easy job, since all that tailor would have to do is make the hem look nice by folding the bottom and stitching it in place. In this case, there’s no way I can get everything to be perfectly aligned with wherever they’re supposed to go, nor even perfectly straight.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind making curtains. I understand that my measuring skills could definitely use improvement, and that measuring three sets of curtains is a good way to improve. I realize that I can be useful to Carlos by making curtains, because it only requires a basic set of skills. And I’m glad I’m getting the chance to do some real work. Even so, curtain-hemming is the tailoring equivalent of being hired to sweep the floor—something my curtains may end up doing, since I’m not so great at measuring them (Not actually, though. In reality I just have to try two or three times until I get it right, Ms. Le style).Written on February 25th, 2018 by Eric Banisadr