My sister-in-law was telling me about the City of Toronto’s Parks & Rec program’s sewing classes. I’ve always seen ads for sewing classes with various private organisations in the city, but never signed up because they were something along the lines of $60 / class. So when I looked into it and found out some sewing classes are offered for free with the city, I couldn’t wait to sign up. I did, and now I’m on a 9-week journey to sew my first skirt.

McCall's Pattern M6706 | Misses' Skirts and Petticoat
M6706 | Misses’ Skirts and Petticoat

The first week of class, we learned about what type of material and pattern to buy: 100% wool or cotton material (to keep it simple), and an easy pattern that was neither Vogue nor Burdastyle, because apparently those companies don’t include “something” on their patterns (I didn’t hear what, so I’m not sure what’s wrong with them, but I’m sure I’ll find out the first time I buy a pattern from either…). In any case, I made a bit of a misstep in buying a McCall’s pattern, it seems, as the teacher said a little “hmm” when she saw it, and I know that McCall publishes Vogue patterns. *shrug* Oh well, march on I suppose! My other mistake was not taking my measurements with me. I assumed that a Misses would fit me, because a “Size 14” sounded way huge and I figured I must be a 9 or 10 max in sewing terms. Much to my chagrin, I’m apparently a Size 16, and the pattern I bought only goes up to 14. However, thankfully, my teacher showed me how to modify my pattern so it’s the correct size when I cut it out. (Except I’m already gaining winter weight, so I don’t know if I’ll still be the right size by the time it’s finished, but oh well!)

While I’ve already spent a bunch of time in some local, downtown Toronto material & sewing notions shops, I know that none of them sell patterns, and so I ventured all the way out to the Yorkdale mall area to the closest remaining Fabricland. This was a mistake – next time I think I’ll just buy patterns online, and my material downtown 😛 After I found my pattern, I asked a lady at the front desk where to find cottons in the store, and she waved me over to the material cutting station saying, “Ask the lady over there.”

McCall's Pattern 'Variation B' of M6706
“Variation B” of M6706 is what I will be making

So I ventured over to the cutting station, and saw 3 ladies there cutting out material, seeming very busy. Well, I wasn’t about to wait 15 minutes for them to be done just to ask a simple, quick question, so I ventured over to the one on the edge and said, “Excuse me?” She didn’t look up, but made some noise of acknowledgement. Taking that as a sign to ask my question (since, if she were really all that busy and couldn’t answer my question, she’d have said “Sorry, could you please wait in line?”, or “I’m sorry, I have to finish this before I can help you.”), I went ahead: “Where can I find cott–”

Here, I was cut off – the lady immediately put down her scissors, looked over her opposite shoulder to where I was standing and started to ask a question of the customer whose material she was cutting. Like I simply didn’t exist.

So I went off to look for the material. The most infuriating thing was, I had been standing next to the cotton during this time. And I saw it, however, it was labelled “CRAFT cotton – FOR QUILTING”. And so I figured, that’s not the cotton I want to be making a skirt out of.

For the next 45 minutes, I wandered around and around the store, looking at every single label I could find, muddling through what I saw on the back of the pattern, versus what I saw on the labels. Some materials were labelled close to what I was looking for, but never quite right. Eventually, I made my way back to the craft cotton section, having realised that there was not a single scrap of usable cotton anywhere else in the store. I found some plain, unprinted cotton in turquoise and black. (I can’t stand all those barfy-looking, floral prints. I don’t care what colours they’re in – they could be shades of the same blue and it would still irritate me. First – who thinks, just because I’m a woman, that the only patterns I could ever want to see on my household decorations, or to wear, are floral prints? Second – most of them are supremely small, overly-detailed flowers – extremely difficult to see from anywhere other than a foot away. Meaning when you look at it from afar, you’re seeing a blur that’s difficult to focus on. Maybe that’s fine on the street, but at home, I like things to be easy on my eyes. Harmonious. Calm.)

Anyway, finally having found what I came for, I got my material cut and paid for. Total cost came to about $32. Not great, considering the amount of effort I now have to put into making this into a skirt, but not terrible in terms of upfront cost.

The second class saw us cutting out the pattern pieces we’ll be needing, to our measurements. I barely got the first piece cut out, and class was over. Thankfully, there’s a 3-week break in between class 2 and 3, however, I’m away for two of the weekends, and the third has been so busy I haven’t had a moment to even think about it. Somehow, I need to find time this week to finish up the cutting, or else I’ll be wasting my class #3 on – that’s right – more cutting. Well, perhaps that’s okay – if I don’t have a lot of sewing to do (which it seems like I may not).

Onward, March!

A Sewing Journey
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