Thursday, February 10, 2005

Snowing + Sewing

Winter is taunting me: it's snowing. Yesterday it was 60. (Secret message to lifelong residents of the North: the South's big selling point "Not that bad in winter" is over-rated. I should have stayed in the North. Better yet, I should have begged for Jenny V's old job when she stopped teaching at Point Loma.)

Yesterday I thought that I was going to spend today cleaning and organizing my office (something that I hate to do) and writing targetted notes to my students about their exams ("I know you're trying -- hang in there and don't lose hope" or "Until you learn how to add and multiply fractions, you will continue to struggle with probability" or whatever).

I've decided to stay home instead. I'm sewing a flannel shirt.

I've reached the really tricky part, the part that requires thinking. Are you wearing a button-down shirt today? Look at the edge of the sleeve near the cuff. See that slit? The one that you unbutton to get your hand through the bottom of the sleeve (unless you are like me and have tiny hands and never need to unbutton the cuff)? See the piece of fabric that covers up the slit and hides all the raw edges and keeps everything from ripping and unraveling? That's called a placket. And I have reached the point where I am supposed to sew in the placket.

The trick here is telling left from right and inside from outside. You sew the outside of the placket to the inside of the shirt, then you cut through both layers (meaning, you have one chance to do it right), then you flop the placket around to the outside and fold it up, origami-style, to cover all the raw edges. Right now I have two sleeve pieces, mirror images of each other, and two placket pieces, also mirror images of each other. Which placket piece is for the left sleeve and which is for the right sleeve? Hard to tell. And once I sort that out, does the triangle to go the right or to the left of the slit?

Current plan calls for looking through the rag-bag to see if I have any old shirts in there and then dissecting their cuffs to see how they were assembled.

If shirt-assembly is too taxing for my brain, maybe I'll do some math instead. (Note to self: try harder to find a way for sewing to count as research.)