Sunday, September 18, 2011

What I did for love

If you sew for others, every once in a while you're going to get a strange request.  Unless you're sewing for someone you care about (or they're paying you a good bit of cash), you can ignore the strange request and go on about your business.

I brought this one on myself. 

Allow me to backtrack and explain.  When I first saw this fabric a few months ago on Dressaday, someone had made it into a dress to wear to Comic Con in San Diego.  Mario would love to go to Comic Con, and I wanted him to see the fabric because he's also a Dr. Who fan. 

How did I know it would be love at first sight?  I could practically hear the violins.  "Can you even buy that fabric?" he asked.  Silly me, I said, "Yes, they have it on Spoonflower.  I could order it."

"And could you make a shirt out of it?"

What was I supposed to say?  No?  To the man who puts up with an absentee sewing wife, and 10 cats, and chickens?

If he wants a Dr. Who shirt, he gets a Dr. Who shirt.  I pull out KwikSew 3422 and order the fabric.

The fabric arrives.  It's even more orange and blue than it appeared in the photograph, and the grid seems even larger.  I'm a little frightened; he's ecstatic.  It is now decided that it's going to be a long-sleeved dress shirt.  In vibrant orange and blue, with a cream grid, and the word "EXTERMINATE" printed in large blue letters.

Again, why not?

Complications arise when I start cutting.  I read Spoonflower's fabric care instructions, I just didn't pay attention to them.  For their quilting cotton, it suggested there might be as much as 7% shrinkage, and it said not to put it in the dryer.  So, after I put it in the dryer . . . it shrunk probably more than 7%, but only in one direction.  I managed to completely warp the print, which made me want to get it right even more.

I got the front and back cut out of the most even portions of the fabric.  The sleeves are cut slightly skewed, but don't look it.  The small pieces, collar and cuffs, were steamed back into straightness and them glued into submission with some of Pam Erny's new Shirt Crisp interfacing.  Love that stuff!

Things really got complicated when I cut out the yokes.  None of the remaining fabric was square enough to work when sewed across the top of the straight grid on the back of the shirt.  I got one so-so yoke, but it didn't make me happy.  Then I got an idea.  An awful idea.  An idea that caused me to drink wine in the sewing room.  You know, one of those ideas.

I went through all my scraps and I cut them up so I had a row of robots, and I pieced them together.  Rather than an uneven, slanted grid across his shoulders, he now had a rank of Dalek robots marching in file, with one lone weapon across his left shoulder.  Brilliance!  (Or at least that's what the wine said).

Yesterday I went to NY for the rescheduled fabric shopping day, and I put myself in a position of having to finish the shirt by telling way too many people about it.  Best way to make yourself do something you're not up for?  Make sure that a dozen or so people will notice when it doesn't happen, and ask uncomfortable questions.

Not to mention the intended wearer of the shirt, who has been following its progress with interest.  Today he got to help out with the finish - because I warped the fabric, I changed the order of construction a bit.  I sewed the sleeves on at the shoulders, and then did the sleeve seams but only to the first grid line past the underarm.  Then I made all the front buttonholes and sewed on the buttons.  Since I had to match text on the center front of the shirt, the most important thing was to get those letters lined up; a slight shift on the side seams - normally the end of the world - would be okay at this point.  So he got to try on the shirt, buttoned and with the side seams basted, to make sure everything lined up. 

I think the sewing gods took pity, I really do.  Everything lined up, and the slightly narrow silhouette caused by a slightly larger-than-usual overlap in the front to line up the lettering, actually works with this shirt.

Best part? HE LOVES IT.  He's wearing it to work tomorrow.  I expect to hear shortly from the lawyers representing his blinded co-workers.

The other best part: this was such an unintentionally challenging project that I'm almost looking forward to making his Hendrix jacket. All notions and lining fabric were purchased in NY on Saturday, but first, there will be a little sewing for me.

30 comments:

Journeyin' Lady... said...

Crazy fun shirt! And you sure rose to the challenges of making it - good for you!

Kyle said...

WOW Karen. That is an amazing shirt! Great to see you again yesterday. And do you really have 10 cats??

kbenco said...

That is fantastic. I think the co-workers should just wear sunglasses.

Tanit-Isis said...

He sounds like a man worth sewing such a shirt for (OMG the yoke---you are a brave, brave lady)

I am also excited to see the Hendrix jacket. (I love 'em too.)

It is a truly, truly awesome shirt and I hope he gets to wear it to a con very, very soon.

shams said...

Pretty darned cool. And what a greatly appreciative recipient! It must be fun to sew for this guy. :)

Lori said...

That is a really cool shirt, great job.

Claire (aka Seemane) said...

I think the "Doctor" would say you deserve a big bag of jelly-babies as a treat for doing all that work. Looks cool though! :)

Janine said...

That is one of those things that is so outrageous that you can get away with it ! My husband has something about daleks too. weird.

Hatty said...

Great photo! It's noticeable how very awkward and uncomfortable most hubbies look in blog photos. That's the happiest hubby model I've ever seen! But be warned... This won't be the last request. His imagination will take wing now!

Elaray said...

That last picture says it all! That shirt is so outrageous it's cute!

Pam~Off The Cuff ~ said...

Just TOO cool...love it!

annie said...

Have to try out that wine in the sewing room thing. That yoke is pure genius. Had a great time on Saturday. Can't wait to get started on my jacket.cou

Lisette M said...

My husband's words when I showed him Mario's shirt "where did she buy the fabric?" oh oh

We are a Doctor Who fan family, I might be in trouble.

Fantastic shirt, the darleks marching on the yoke was a brilliant design!

Tia Dia said...

What a crazy shirt! I love the last pic - he's so happy! I've been commissioned to make up a couple of shirts myself, but I'm procrastinating.....

couturearts said...

awesome job! He obviously loves it.

Beangirl said...

O.M.G.

Now I have to go buy that fabric.




I'm actually sort of speechless.





O.M.G.

(That's a FABULOUS shirt, btw. Excellent work and you are way more patient- or possible kind-hearted- than me.)

Sewfast said...

Simply awesome!

Patti B. said...

This is completely awesome! You did a great job with it.

Becky said...

Fun! My sis-in-law and I are both big DW fans, and I was just showing her the dress made out of that fabric yesterday when we were hanging out and killing time to go to a mutual friend's house (to watch DW, incidentally!) So it really made me smile to see this shirt here today!

Seraphinalina said...

Well done and bravo. You certainly stepped up to bat and hit the home run there. I am so not showing my husband that shirt because he would want one too.

T. Sedai said...

Wow. I just sewed a winter coat for my sister, and I thought I had gone off the deep end of sewing for others. Wow. Amazing. This is a wonderful shirt.

patsijean said...

Love the shirt. I will be making a shirt of one of the other prints for a friend. Actually, he is the Chair of ConCave and my husband and I get free membership every year, because I make him two shirts. I will be using my spoonflower dollars to purchase some Dr. Who fabric, I think the Cybermen print. What fun.

Sue in MN said...

Don't you love it when your biggest fans enjoy your work - and even request bold things like the shirt!
A couple of years ago I made matching Zubaz (remember them ?), suspenders & t-shirts for the whole family to wear to a 50th Anniversary party - long story - but DH still wears his as PJ pants from time to time.

Shirley said...

How great is this! Someone you LOVE loves something you made with your own hands. Life doesn't get any better.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Ha! He looks very happy. I am highly impressed with your print-matching skillz. In the small photo it looked like it might be a knit pullover, the print matches so perfectly at CF.

MysMichelle the OutlawLady said...

I am soooo impressed with your patience here wow, that is an incredibly nice job I hope he puts up with your sewing and cats and chickens lots more :-) you deserve it.

Janet said...

Oh, wow! That's a fantastic shirt.

KatieQ said...

Fabulous shirt! I hope my 6'4" son NEVER sees it. I can't imagine the trouble I could get myself into if he requested one.

Véronica & sa trousse à couture said...

Thanks for sharing this !! Reading that with my morning cooffee and I'm starting my day with a huge smile on the face ! Love the Daleks on the yoke.

Gabrielle said...

I know I'm late here - I came here via kbenco's cycling shirt post - but I wanted to add my "that's fantastic" to all the others! My partner would love this too...