Everyday Crochet is moving

ATTENTION! This blog at this address will be moving to a new home now under construction at http://dorischancrochet.com/. Everything that used to be here is now... well... there.
So please change your bookmarks and feeds and join me as I boldly go into a custom domain! Thanks for putting up with the inconvenience. If you think this is a pain in the butt for YOU, imagine what a mess this is for ME! :-)

Also, please do not leave comments on older posts here as they will not get published. Make comments on these same posts at the new location. Thank you!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Look, Ma... no seams!

Welcome to my long over-due blogging debut. I agonized for days about what I should say in my first post. As usual I find myself blathering. See? I'm blathering right now.

The following is an essay, an introduction to me, that got kicked from my first book. WOWSERS, my editors were so strict.

My search for ways to avoid sewing is a recent development. Sewing was always a part of life. My parents kept a big old Singer treadle machine in the back of the laundry for replacing customers’ buttons that got mangled by the shirt presses and for making alterations. And while I observed my mother sewing for us at home, I didn’t pick up a needle and thread myself until 7th grade Home Ec. My teacher, Mrs. Johnson, made us sew a sampler as part of the course. I sewed a brilliant red blanket stitch edge around my square of school-bus yellow fabric (my favorite colors in 7th grade). Mrs. Johnson was kind, diplomatic and unstinting in her praise of my hand stitching, but I only got a B in her class due to an incident with scrambled eggs totally not my fault.

The next class project in sewing was making a simple garment with a set-in zipper. I made the first of many little skirts. I disliked wearing skirts and dresses and wouldn’t have but for the school dress code, which prohibited the wearing of pants by girls. Miraculously, one morning during homeroom it was announced over the PA system that the school board had lifted the ban. If you weren’t there you cannot imagine the din of a thousand girls raising up their voices to cheer as one. But that wouldn’t happen for another two years. Meanwhile, I was dutifully wearing skirts that my mother sewed.

My hope is that I was diplomatic in telling my mother that I no longer wanted to wear the knee-length, gathered, bouffant skirts she made for me. Pop-culture insisted that fashionable skirts be tight and scandalously short. I’d like to say that I convinced her how much more economical short skirts would be. A mini-skirt needed yards less fabric. But what probably happened was she got sick of hearing me complain and just gave up.

My favorite of all the skirts I made during that two-year period was cotton, navy with white pinstripes, the closest I could get to denim. It was majorly flawed, since I didn’t have enough fabric to properly match the stripes. In future I was to become an obsessive pattern matcher, but then, hey, it was close enough. That skirt was worn until it was rags, worn until the fateful PA announcement that obviated the wearing of it at all.

Sewing for me was never about the process. I did it at first in order to have clothes that fit. Then I sewed for my sons lots of adorable little overalls. I made matching Hawaiian print shirts. My dad wore his grudgingly; my sons had no choice. Hey, Magnum P.I. had nothing on MY guys!

My greatest accomplishment in those years was getting the flowers on the breast pocket of each shirt to align perfectly with ones on the shirt front. I was well on my way to pattern obsession by then. And I was the only one who thought matching shirts were cute. The guys merely put up with them as another eccentricity of mine. How twisted was that? My sons equated Hawaiian shirts with motherly love.

Sewing was never fun. Sewing became for me endless rounds of fussing. You press the tissue paper pattern, press the fabric, pin the pattern matching grain lines, cut the fabric leaving seam allowances, pin the seams, sew the seams, *rip the seams, re-sew the seams*, rep from * to * until your fingers bleed and the crooked seam starts to look not that crooked, clip the seams, press open the seams. If there has to be interfacing, lining, zipper or button holes, make that double and triple the fuss. And to top it all off there’s the finishing, hand sewing buttons, tacking down facings, hemming hems.

It’s no surprise that I abandoned sewing once I re-discovered first knitting and then crochet. Gone were the hours of fooling with pre-made cloth and precise, rigid seaming. Crocheted fabric is personal and organic. It can be grown any-which-way through the skill of your hands from balls of yarn, it’s alive. It molds, stretches, breathes and drapes. Eventually I stumbled upon the secrets of out how to coax the fabric to grow, seamlessly, into beautiful garments, the joy of which I share with you in my books and designs.


Tyler Street said...

Wheee! Doris, it is a blast to hear of your travels to the Cth Dimension! Me, too: my mom sewed, I sewed, so I could have things to wear. I remember the day there was a pants-in at school that resulted in kicking out the "girls must wear skirts" dress code. Eventually the neighborhood fabric stores went away and I gravitated to yarn shops to satisfy my need to see and feel beautiful fibers and colors. I tried a little weaving, then a little spinning, then realized this was going totally in the wrong direction. Where did I put the old crochet hooks my grama gave me? It took a while -- and learning from your book -- before I managed to whomp up some actual garments, but now I'm on my way!

Crochet hooks + the Internet. What a combination!

-- with best wishes from your fan (I can't say No. 1 fan because you have so many!) --

Anonymous said...

Holy crap. I believe it now. You have a blog. Alert the media. (j/k). I loved learning about your foray into crochet Doris via sewing. You know, you have such a leg up in knowing how to sew. It's my weakest link. I envy those who can sew.

Vashti Braha said...

Oh man. I missed leaving the first-ever comment on your blog! I wish for you the best of blogging pleasures.

Margaret's Hooks and Needles said...


So Great that you joined the world of blogging. I also learned to sew at an early age and it is a great background for designing.

Best wishes


Annette said...

Welcome to blog-land Doris!

What a wonderful read!

Marty Miller said...

Welcome Doris!
I learned to sew on my Grandmother's Singer Treadle sewing machine. When I got married, I found one for myself in an antique (really a junk) store for $2.00. My husband got it working again, and I started sewing again. Now it's just an end table in our family room! It holds a lot of my crochet projects!
Again, welcome to the wide wide world of blogging!

doraoh said...

Hey Doris, great to see you on line! I never sewed anything more than a few stitches until a few years ago, when I decided to take a very serious class at FIT. Needless to say, I flunked! Thank goodness your adversity to sewing led to your brilliant seamless designs -- THE REST IS HISTORY! (herstory?) Dora

Unknown said...

What a great debut to the blog! Doris, thanks for sharing your story with us. I look forward to reading more. Congratulations!

MBT said...

Holy cow! A blog! By Doris Chan! Can't wait to read the next installment - welcome to the blogosphere!

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the blogging world! I found you through CrochetWithDee's journal.

I like to sew although I don't think I'm very good at it. I also like to crochet. I think both arts have their place in the world and are good to learn. Especially if you want to sew a zippered lining into a crocheted handbag.

Happy to have found you and hope to learn more about you!


Sandie said...

My sewing and I were so at odds that I gave it to my daughter. I never did learn to sew anything but a straight seam - if the machine would cooperate. Crochet is wayyyy easier. LOL
Welcome to blogdom! Glad to be a part of your first comments. Heard about it over at Dee's place.

Kim Werker said...

Doris! I fainted when I heard. Then I clawed my way back to vertical so I could comment here. Have a blast on your blog!

Crochet Friends of Stamford said...

Hi Doris, thanks for an inspiring read. I too have much difficulty with sewing - a dress I am attempting has been littering my dining room table for days!! It seems so easy in the fabric store lol!! Perhaps I should just use the pattern to crochet a nice little number for her. So glad you are blogging now! I look forward to checking in with you again! Have a great day!

Jennifer Cirka said...

Welcome to the blogging bandwagon!

David Benjamin Burchall said...

Cowabunga! How did I miss your blogging debut?!?

Doris, I'm with you! Seamless is in! I've of necessity gotten used to seaming and finishing work, but it usually keeps me from finishing a project as quickly as I otherwise would. So, I've recently gone to doing things as seamlessly as possible.

Hoping to meet you in person some time soon!


Anonymous said...

Doris, I am so glad you decided to blog! I eagerly looked for your blog ever since I read in "Amazing Lace Crochet" that your editors had taken out much of your introduction. I knew there had to be more pearls of crochet wisdom and I have been hoping to find them ever since.
I laughed out loud when I read your account of sewing a seam, ripping a seam and using the asterisk to denote the repeating of such instructions until the desired outcome is reached! I am bouncing between said asterisks in my own sewing project even as we speak/write!

I am glad you have a sewing background; I think it will help with designing garmets to fit around curves. Anyway, good luck w/blogging, may you always find you have something to say!

I love your designs but haven't found the courage to start one yet. Maybe soon.


-n. said...

[huffs puffs] Sorry I'm late! Did I miss the party?

Anyway, I remember wearing Dad's Hawaiian shirt senior year (having a cultural identity crisis and a summer celebration all in one). Good times. I look forward to reading the rest of your entries and pretending like I understand what you're writing about -- I'm certain it must be brilliant crochet.

Love you, mom! :)

Lily said...

I really enjoy reading your blog. I am dissapointed that you just started blogging, so not much to read. You have an interesting life and a good sense of humor. You should write your own autobiography.