So what do you do when you need to come up with the perfect wedding shower gift with a Mexican-honeymoon theme by this afternoon but, well...you're short on cash and in a bit of a panic because you want this one to be extra special? Well, of course, you sew one-of-a-kind his-and-his matching Beth-Logan-Mexican-print swim trunks. I mean, duh.
What? You don't really know how to sew? Oh come on, you've never let lack of skill stand in the way of accomplishing your goals. Aren't you the girl who completed that triathlon a couple years ago by dog-paddling most of the swim course? Sure you are. You don't question logic or safety (or looking stupid) before you leap, you just do it.
I was sulking and staring into the corner brainstorming fabulous gift ideas when the little fabric samples caught my eye, shoved into the shelf over my desk. My 2 fun little Mexican patterns sold at JoAnn last year. This was it...this is what I would do. I was determined. So I hit the old Interwebs in search of free or close-to-free downloadable patterns. I figured they had to exist somewhere out there.
For the record, I've never sewn from a pattern before. I may have "helped" Mom with something with a pattern as a young girl, but my machine-sewing experience time-line pretty much goes like this:
1. Mid-70s: a series of sundresses made with that fabric that is already elasticized along the top....requiring only 1 straight(ish) seam. I think I may have added a ruffle or two, shoulder straps, a perky little pocket...maybe some ricrac. Nice.
2. Early-80s: pegged every single pair of jeans I owned so severely I could barely get my feet through the ankle-holes.
3. Late 80s, early 90s: sewed 2 discount-bin sheets together to make a comforter cover, embellished a couple pillowcases to match.
4. Much more recently than that: Pieced and hemmed tablecloths for my Surtex booth.
You see a trend here? Long, (sort of) straight(ish) seams. No shapes, no rules, no instructions, nothing this monkey couldn't have done on his own.
So here I am, ready to embark on a new phase of my lifetime sewing journey: Found a pattern for swim trunks. Check. Found some super-light, soft black cotton for the lining. Check. Vaguely remember something about pre-washing being important; washed and dried all. Check. Downloaded, printed, let's go now...
Piecing together the pattern with matching letters/numbers to matching letters/numbers is pretty much the last step inside my comfort zone. From there on out, I have been plopped down onto a desert island, equipped with a fishing pole and compass, but no idea what fish are good for or what North means.
Having once purchased a deeply-discounted pair of lycra leggings from an outlet store that I later realized had been sewn incorrectly, I think I understand the concept of grain direction (that was an unfortunate $3 purchase, maybe not so bad had I been a toweringly bony runway model); the paper is pinned to the fabric, and I am ready to cut. This is a big moment. It is also my first chance to use my rotary cutter I purchased last winter after bruising and crippling my left hand with those big heavy pinking shears, cutting all those fat quarters of At the Lake. And....oh. My. Gosh.
Do you remember the first time you used a rotary cutter? The bliss, the excitement? The amazement...the smooth cut, the ease of flow as it rolls along...I'm sorry, those of you who have used them for years have undoubtedly lost the childish enthusiasm, the gushiness that oozes from your very being with every little cut.
Oh my goodness. I find it difficult to contain myself just thinking about it.
With all the pieces cut and laid out, machine threaded, and a sudden unexpected rush of nervous excitement, I hit the instructions.
On the soundtrack for this post, this is where you insert a little tuba slide...waaaah, wooh.
It's as if I'm reading a foreign language. Each sentence read aloud over and over and over and over and over again, enunciating each word more clearly and more slowly than the last, twisting and contorting my face with each word. Am I really this stupid?
Apparently I am.
But here I go, connecting pieces and shapes that don't make sense to me...yet.
But wait, what's this?
Are you helping? I don't think you're helping.
But you're awfully cute. Alright, you can help.
Since I'm trying to do this without a trip to a store, I need to find elastic. I have to have elastic here somewhere. Somewhere in the studio. In the basement. In ancient sewing baskets tucked into shelves. I can picture it, I know it exists. A neat little roll, maybe the package was never opened. I dig around for about a half hour before giving in and hitting the rag basket. Underpants. That's it. Perfectly good elastic, hidden inside worn out holey cotton briefs. Once cut away, no one will ever know. Once sewn inside, it will never be seen. I'm pretty sure the recipients of this gift only scroll through this blog looking at pictures and don't read long-winded posts. I can only hope now that's the case. Please don't tell.
Eeeeexcellent, Smithers. We have elastic.
Which might beg the question, "Beth, do you ever sew anything without old underpants in it?" Maybe, maybe not.
Everything seems to be coming along swimmingly (yes, I said swimmingly) when I realize something is terribly wrong with the lining. These bizarre little curvy shapes have not made sense to me from the beginning, no matter how many times or how loudly or slowly (or how peppered with expletives) I repeat the simple instructions. When it comes time to sew them to the inside of the shorts, it becomes apparent that I've sewn them shut. Yup, somehow, there are only leg-holes. I know. Sad. It's been several hours already, the clock is ticking. I have a shower to get to. The lining is tossed across the room, and the shorts are finished without them. So they're not practical swimming trunks any more. We'll call them lounging boxers. Or something.
The first pair took me about 5-1/2 hours. Yes, really. The second pair, about a half hour. Cutting the second pair, I even figured out how to add a personal touch...a "signature" in the seam!
They are definitely homemade. Imperfect. Corners were cut. I will admit, I do believe the lining is possibly the most important feature of a pair of swim trunks, but I will pretend otherwise for now, and feel pleased with myself for what I accomplished.
I will also pretend that I hadn't originally planned on cutting them with longer legs than the pattern showed...you know, a little less Magnum PI-ish, then forgot that detail in my excitement and confusion. I will pretend that it doesn't matter that I ran out of black thread halfway through the first pair, then ran out of navy thread halfway through the second. I will smile and skip along whimsically in my pretend world, and happily accept the results: Unlined Lounging Boxers. No problem. Keep telling yourself this, Beth, you'll make it alright.
The shower was fun, the gift was unique and personal, and all was right with the world. I hope the shorts don't fall apart or shrink into some weird(er) shape. But most important, I hope the Mexican honeymoon will be filled with happy, romantic and special memories to last a lifetime together...with or without funky little "lounging boxers".