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Sep 30, 2012

Infrequently Asked Questions



Chalk it up to shyness, fear, or simple lack of curiousity, but it's rare that MPB readers ask me questions about myself.   Today, however, I have decided to answer a few questions I have been asked, with a few more added by Michael.

In no particular order...

 1. What did you major in in college?

It makes no sense to me now, but I was a Spanish major.  Actually, I still love languages to this day.  I also studied Italian for many years. 

 2. What is Cathy up to next?

Cathy's next project is her Halloween Scheherazade costume.  I envision a Fifties-era wiggle dress sometime after that.  Then who knows?

3. Do you prefer sewing men's clothes or women's clothes?

Most of the time I enjoy my women's projects more than my men's projects.  There are so many more interesting old patterns to choose from, so many more possibilities, as well as variables that exist for a women's clothing project like drape of fabric, that really don't factor (much) in my men's projects.  There's very little variety to the kind of men's clothes I'm interested in sewing, which are limited to the types of clothes I'm likely to wear. 

4. What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting to sew today?

My advice would be to keep at it and find some sewing friends or an online sewing community. It's not much fun sewing in isolation, especially if you're a beginner.  Even if you don't need help (which is unlikely), you'll want encouragement -- and a little validation too!

5. What's the favorite thing you ever sewed?  What's your biggest sewing mistake?

The favorite thing I ever sewed is probably my linen jacket, my toile pants and the border print linen shirt I sewed for Michael this summer.  My biggest mistake is probably my harem pants. They just don't fit my style (though I have seen similar things on others).



My drop-crotch trousers (also known as harem pants)

The Commes des Garcons version ain't much better.

6. What pattern is not out there that you think should be? 

I would like to see Vogue or Simplicity put out some vintage bathing suit patterns from the Forties and Fifties. People are paying ridiculously high prices for those and they're not terribly complicated, pattern-wise.  I would also like to see some more fashion-forward mens outerwear, a true designer pattern that's a little unusual, as opposed to a classic trenchcoat or overcoat.

Pattern, please.

7. Why do you choose to be a hobby sewer rather than a professional one?

With only three years of sewing experience under my belt, I'm not sure in what capacity I would be a professional sewer.  I do enjoy writing about sewing, however, and have contributed a handful of articles to Vogue Patterns Magazine.  Writing MPB is so satisfying, the feedback I receive so immediate (and gratifying), that I can't see how I could top it.  Honestly, I like to run the show, so it's not fun for me to me to work for others unless I'm given a very long leash.

8. Who are your biggest influences as a sewer?

Classic Hollywood films are my greatest influence.  The Forties and Fifties film wardrobes of Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, and Doris Day by Jean Louis, the color palettes of costumer Dorothy Jeakins, inspire me in particular.  I also enjoy looking at old magazines from the period.

Dorothy Jeakins designed the costumes for You-Know-What.

9. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully alive and still sewing.

10.  What is your biggest sewing wish you hope to achieve?

At the moment I have no big wishes: I enjoy my day-to-day creative existence as-is and I know, inevitably, something fun and exciting will happen.  Surprise me!

***

In closing, readers, I hope you have found this post informative.  If you have any other infrequently asked questions you wish to pose, please do.  I just might answer them.

Have a great day, everybody!

56 comments:

  1. Here's another question: If the way Marc Jacob's dresses were to catch on with men, can you see your self wearing Pilgrim Shoes with sequins with a hot pink dress?


    http://www.stylelist.com/2012/03/09/marc-jacobs-dress_n_1333051.html

    That might open up your fashion options, after all.

    [Yeah, I think it's cool, though the see through to the shorts is a bit over the top -- mho. :-)]

    Beth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG, those shoes are totally Mayor of Munchkinland!

      Delete
    2. LOL I love your comment; a perfect description

      Delete
  2. How funny, I was a Spanish major as well, but after the next year, I switched it to Art. I'm fluent though in Spanish, and know a good amount of French.

    I agree so much on the bathing suits too, that would be so cute for them to dig up some old retro patterns and put them in either Simplicity or Vogue.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What's your favorite sewing technique? topstitching, zippers, etc. What's your least favorite? Setting sleeves, sewing with knits, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I enjoy topstitching the most. Knit neckbands have to be the worst.

      Delete
    2. I hate knits every which way. Topstitching is bad but you've inspired me to be patient with it and I am getting better.

      Delete
  4. Peter, what a fun post! It's always nice to get fun info about friends in the blogosphere. So, I have a couple of personal questions for you, neither anything earth shaking, but nosey. But not MEAN nosey. Anser or not, I still love you!

    How long have you and Michael been together?

    Are you a pro blogger?

    Hugs,

    Catherine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael and I will celebrate ten years this coming January.

      Not sure what you mean by pro blogger -- I'm guessing professional. I am not a professional blogger insofar as I do not make money blogging.

      Delete
    2. Congrats. Hope you make it to a happy, healthy, love filled 20. Or 30...

      Delete
  5. No questions, but a thank you for sharing your lined patch pocket technique a couple of months ago. I used it to make big 70's style patch pockets on an a-line skirt last week (like your OP cord shorts) and it worked like a charm. Never a turned-back pockets shall I make again!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great article in Threads!
    You truly are gifted and amazing at what you do
    ~ such an inspiration to us all! The few men that I've had to join my network of sewist and crafters, I've suggested your blog for even more inspiration.
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hxere's a question; is Peter "Lappin" your REAL name? Or did your mother REALLY name you after a storybook animal? And yes, those harem pants (AKA "Hammer pants" after the rapper MC Hammer)definitely belong in the "recycle" bin; why would anyone want to walk around looking like they are wearing a "loaded" diaper? then again, a similar query could be made about those infamous 'buttcrack' pants; Why would anyone want to walk around looking like a "refrigerator repairman"? But, they DID. >:-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is my real name AND I was born the Saturday before Easter Sunday.

      Delete
  8. Tu parli italiano? La pratica rende perfetti, vero? Va bene, quando torni in Italia. . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mi farebbe tantissimo piacere tornare, pero con due cani...forse un giorno!

      Delete
  9. I've been a long time reader Peter, I hope you keep blogging forever! My question is what do you do for living? Can you tell us more about how you and that gorgeous Michael met? Love you both, cheers!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do not currently work for a living (though I did for a long, long time). Michael and I met in an AOL M4M chatroom; hope that doesn't seem too sordid!

      Delete
    2. Hey Peter, thanks for opening up to your readers like this, I've always wondered about this but was too "polite" to ask:) Would you mind sharing with us what field/profession you've worked in? Just wondering, since you said you studied languages and now ur an avid sewer I'm really curiuos to know!

      Delete
  10. Hi Peter! Thank you for this post - I'm sure it's slightly weird to put yourself out here a little more than usual, but so nice for us loyal fans to get to know you better. I would love to know what you do for a living too - you're such an incredibly productive sewer, I find it impossible to imagine you having a day job!

    Hello to Michael too :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do not do anything for a living; I am a lazy house husband at the moment and hope I can make it last till the end!

      Delete
  11. I just want to know more about Willy's world. Perhaps a blog entry from his perspective (loads of black and white extreme upshot images of you sewing).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will discuss this with Willy and get back to you.

      Delete
  12. #6: YES!!!!! I agree -- they need to put out retro-inspired swimwear patterns that incorporate modern fabrics. You inspired me this summer with your suit for Cathy, but this momma needs spandex and I don't have the skills and knowledge base to adapt a vintage woven pattern into something I could actually wear today. But I love the look, SO much more flattering on "real" bodies than the crap in the stores, and more practical for chasing kids around the pool!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if you just sewed one size down; that might do it.

      Delete
    2. But for me part of the charm is that the fabric doesn't stretch, so they have to be much more carefully tailored.

      Delete
  13. Well Peter I have wondered if you worked,because you whip up garments at such a fast pace and leave me in the shade.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Peter,
    Thanks for another great post. I think the world from Willy's point of view is a great idea.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I think you should start making your own patterns, the black leather look you posted, would be easy as you alread have the pants and t-shirt base. The jacker over coat could be drafted from scratch or made with a simple ready made pattern base. I love that look and you are slim enough to wear it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. your posts are eagerly anticipated and much appreciated. thanks for the background, may you and the darling michael live long and prosper. i like 'anonymous' post above: start designing patterns...

    ReplyDelete
  17. I look forward look to your posts. Sewing is not so lonely knowing you take pride in your work and are passionate to share. I apprenticed with old Italian tailor, so we never veered to modern fabrics ie knits; although he taught me a few tricks I incorporate in my non-work sewing.
    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Like so many of the comments, I always look forward to your posts. And thank you for the peek into your world.

    PS: Best wishes to you and Michael this January!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. pps: I so want to learn Italian!

      Delete
  19. I have 2 questions:

    1. When will you start the calendar so many people requested in the treadle centerfold post? We haven't forgotten.

    2. Can we see a picture of you and Cathy standing next to each other?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. I need to work on my abs a bit more.

      2. I will see what I can do. ;)

      Delete
  20. I go to your blog every morning to see what you are working on. I am full of admiration because of the things you tackle.
    Keep on doing what you are doing................masterful !
    I hate topstitching but I am getting better although my machine skips sometimes which ruins a good run of topstitching. I think I must have my machine serviced and see if that helps ( It is a Bernina, about 25 years old)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I recommend changing your needle/thread before paying to have your machine serviced!

      Delete
  21. What did you do when you worked?
    Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were fashion forward patterns for men? You live so close to FIT, have you thought of taking pattern making or design classes and make your own?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have thought about it, Nancy, but haven't made it a priority yet. Let's see, in no particular order I was fundraiser, a health/life coach, an administrative assistant at Bellevue Hospital, and an on-again/off-again office temp. As a teen I even worked at Burger King!

      Delete
    2. I've taken several construction classes at FIT (womenwear and menwear). They've been really good to excellent, but everyone sews the same pattern. The point is to teach specific techniques on a known quantity.

      The pattern making and draping classes are focused on industry-size mannequins.

      It's a wonderful foundation, but it's yet another step to fit a real person and I've only been able to do that outside of FIT with help from an experienced sewing professional.

      For New York residents, the fees are fairly reasonable, but there are supplies costs -- I recently spent more than $100 on fabric for an advanced class and some people spent more.

      The classes also are fairly to very demanding depending on your background and degree of perfectionism.

      Delete
  22. But you're an Actor! (You forgot to mention it.) I knew this the first time I saw your picture in Vogue Patterns. I know, I know, but I am talking what you DO, not about "making a living".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to be an actor full-time but that was two decades ago. I guess once an actor always an actor! ;)

      Delete
  23. Love these posts. I often wondered about your education, and previous jobs. I have a BFA, and a Diploma in Art Ed., but have rarely worked. I too need a long leash....On vintage-inspired swimwear, I have a Kwik Sew pattern, and you can use stretch (several years old). On topstitching, read the Carol Ahles book on sewing machine sewing - FILLED with helpul tips. Cathie, in Quebec....

    ReplyDelete
  24. Your successful cabaret career should rate a mention when someone asks what you 'do'. I would love to see that show!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Umm, hope this question isn't too personal but do you sew darts starting at the wide end or at the point? The sewing class I go to is divided on this like the inhabitants of Lilliput and Blefuscu on the question of the best way to crack eggs in Gulliver's Travels. Wide end firsters argue that you can simply stitch off the point making a little thread chain and then back stitch the chain within the dart for a secure end that doesn't bulge. Point firsters argue that you can start exactly at the point and use a very small stitch that won't come undone. Since there are merits to both sides, it's a question of preference, and I'd really like to know your preference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never heard of anyone sewing a dart from the narrow end first! Fascinating! I will try it, but I'm skeptical. I would think the dart would be more likely to pucker.

      Delete
    2. I'll second Sondra: I don't see why/how that would be easier. Starting at the wide end, you're in a seam allowance, so you don't have to worry about your first stitches. I think you have much greater control stitching off the end (at the tiniest stitch length) at the narrowest point.

      Delete
    3. For whatever it's worth, I've taken a number of classes at FIT and I've always been taught wide-to-narrow.

      There have been many contradictions in what I've learned:

      --Does it matter if you use fabric scissors on paper? (I don't);

      --Should you knot the end of the thread when thread tracing?

      --Should you always cut open wool darts?

      --Is fusible interfacing evil?,

      but there has never been any disagreement about the direction from which to sew a dart.

      Delete
  26. Funny Peter... I thought your Major was Jornalism. You are such a talented writer!
    Which University you studied? I did my MFA at CUNNY... I had a great time in NYC then! You are a lucky guy: To be a houseman/housewife in NYC is a dream of mamy of us! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I studied at Wesleyan University in Connecticut -- Class of 1984!

      Delete
  27. I just finished a wool vest that is a Butterick pattern. The directions tell you to start at the point of the dart but don't backstitch and leave a long tail, then knot the tail and cut off the excess. Worked like a charm. I've seen the same directions in other sewing instructions. But I it would work the same if you started at the widest part of the dart and sewed right off the fabric at the point, then knotted it.

    ReplyDelete
  28. being a house wife or house husband IS a job. we save more money than when I was working!! It suits me/us and I no longer feel I have to pretend to be other than I am: a creative artist. your blog is one of the places i go to be inspired by someone like-minded and who is doing what they love, and with the person they adore!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi Peter! Do you make your own patterns through a block/basic sloper?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Serge:

      I don't think he does.

      Delete
  30. It's so fun to hear more about you! Thanks for posting this!

    ReplyDelete

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