Sewing Lesson, May 17th, 2008

WeaverCraft Hall - Show Room

A high roof looms above, a spectrum of light fluttering down from the heart where a small circle of glass has been embedded into the whitewash. A pattern of roses blushes over the clear surface, pale against their bed of blurred greenery, an exotic blend of grass, chartreuse and forest entwining in the glowing display. The colours are reflected on the floor below, dancing blithely over the pale marble surface. A woven kaleidoscope bedecks the walls, tapestries of every size and description hung between tall, thin windows. Pale figures stand stiffly on marble pedestals, carefully arranged from the doorways; alabaster faces gleam stonily, painted with a drab impersonation of life. On each mannequin, different clothing flows; one wears a sheath of sisal, dyed the burning tones of sunset that shift to the glow of ember at the feet. Another sports a simple ebony jacket, leather gleaming and rimmed with ashen fur; the variety is enormous. Furthest from the double doors, the floor is raised in a stage; a walkway juts out at the stage center, ending under the beam of the skylight. Crimson curtains hang heavily, rustling over a doorway on either side of the platform.

Kagora has a box full of bits of material, self explanatorily labeled 'Scraps.' Needle and thread are in her hand, as she is making patchwork for /something./ Whatever she's making, she appears to only have been at it for a few minutes. "Alright, wonder when he's going to get here. New craftrider so he shouldn't be late."

X'hil is right on time, or so he hopes. He's running, tugging off his jacket as he goes. Well, he's definitely in good shape at least, he's barely panting when he does finally come to a stop. "Er, hi, ah, ma'am. X'hil, reporting for, er, lesson?" he seems quite uncertain of what to do, what to say. He hasn't been this unsure of himself since he was a candidate.

Kagora smiles and sighs. "You're on time……" She assures X'hil. "We're just starting with basics tonight anyway." Kagora explains. "So I wasn't waiting long." Kagora tells him calmly. "Pull up a cushion and lets get started."

X'hil nods eagerly, pulling up a cushion as told. "Ah, right. Excellent. Kinseth /told/ me not to worry." he notes, with a small roll of his eyes. He seems to be settling in, his confidence returning, little by little. He leans forward on the cushion, curiously. He's here to learn, after all.

Kagora points to the bin of scraps, "Grab a handfull, you have needle and thread with you right? I have some in case you don't but…." Kagora has a warm smile on her face, though its clear that she's gauging his personality as she works.

X'hil leans over the scrap bin, and pulls out a fair sized handful. Big hands. The needle and thread, well, that gets a cheerful nod, but the needle and thread he pulls out are the same he uses for Kinseth's thick leather straps. A bit bigger than the kind you'd use for patchwork sewing. Yes, he is clearly quite new to this.

Kagora sighs, "Okay, hold that right there….." She digs into her sewing kit for a needle of the same size. "Look at this….." She holds up a regular needle, then lays the two down side by side. "And this is the ordinary thread. Watch what happens when I use ordinary thread on that needle and attempt to make a stitch." The knot at the end is much smaller than the needle. The needle leaves a large hole, and the knot goes right through it. "Your needle has to be close to the thread in size. Some thicker weaver items, sandals for example, that have been woven from grasses, or thick quilts, or wall hangings. These require a tougher needle and larger thread. They require this because an ordinary needle would bend through thick material. You must always choose a needle size appropriate to the project." Kagora hands X'hil one of hers. "Try this….."

X'hil looks fairly sheepish at his mistake, but he's learning. He carefully threads the smaller needle, tongue sticking out very slightly as he concentrates. When he gets it through, finally, he smiles brightly, triumphantly. He admits, "I, ah, never had to sew anything other than Kinseth's straps, before." And, it shows. His stitches are a little heavy handed, the fabric bunching up in places as he pulls the thread a little too tight, the needle punching through a little carelessly. It's a wonder the scraps don't just tear on him. He frowns at it, even he can see this isn't going to work.

Kagora sighs and stops x'hil again. "That's alright, you're here to learn X'hil. Watch me…. first of all, the cloth must have its frontsides facing each other. Then you open it like a greeting card and……" There's a neat seam like one would see on clothing. "And there is a very simple stitch that I can start you with, look at my work right here." She leans in so that the bronzerider can see her. "its called the 'whip stitch' and in some places its actually more sturdy. The kind most commonly used is running stitch." She demonstrates. "Over the next couple of lessons I'm going to show you the different stitches, but for now, use the whipstitch and running stitch. Take as much time as you need to make it work. Accuracy over speed."

X'hil nods slowly as Kagora corrects him again, feeling very much like the apprentice he is. He may not be the brightest, may not get the craft down just yet, but he's eager to learn. So, he watches, very carefully. And then he picks up two pieces of fabric, putting one against the other as shown. "Ah, like this?" he checks, looking Kagora's demonstration over, before he tries to stitch - using the whip stitch. He is taking his time about it, being very careful, perhaps worried that if he rushes into it he'll start treating it more like his straps. But he's not doing /too/ badly. No worse than any other brand spanking new apprentice might do, anyway.

Kagora looks over X'hil's shoulder, patience itself. "Don't be nervous, you have no need to be nervous. We were all beginners. Simply work at a steady pace, you're doing fine." Kagora sits and works on her own patchwork. "Just stay calm, because if you panic, your first few efforts will be disasters. Now I'm going to show you, I do my best to train every one of my apprentices to the best of their ability. By the time you reach Journeyman, you'll hopefully be able to make….." She removes an item from a box. "I keep this quilt either in my quarters or in a box to be displayed to first time students. The name of the pattern is 'Phases of Belior.'" And sure enough, the quilt is black and white and silver, and depicts the phase changes of the larger moon Belior on a solid black surface. "Patchwork is like a puzzle that you build yourself, each one is unique. A simple pillow or pouch is a good start for a new apprentice."

X'hil raises an eyebrow at Kagora's quilt, letting out a low whistle. He's impressed. "And you're saying /I/ could make something, something like /that/, one day?" he asks, skeptical. He shakes his head and bends back over his little pair of patches for now, plugging steadily away at it. Once he adjusts to the difference in material to straps, he does actually have the fundamentals down, even if he doesn't know many stitches yet. He's careful because you have to be when working with leather, but that's not a bad trait to have in any area. He may err a little far on the side of caution now and then, but, he tries. He does have a question though, and he holds up the two scraps sewn together along one side, "Er, what now?"

Kagora holds out her hand, "Let me look at it for a moment, I'll tell you how you did and give you pointers on how to improve." She says with a warm smile. "If you work hard, then yes. Of course, I'm a gownmaker myself. Scraps left over from my work go into scrap boxes everywhere….. I…." She fishes one out. "This is from a girl's gown I made a couple of months back." Pink, satiny, but not really satiny. Definately sturdy and definately pretty.

Kagora holds up the piece. "hmmmm….. it needs to be /smaller/. If there's thread left over, turn around and sew the seam again." Kagora says simply. "Make it as small as you can, large stitches can be pulled apart easily. About the only time such stitches would be used is to prefasten the pieces of a shirt together, which would then be resewn so that they're more sturdy."

X'hil nods slowly, holding out the sewn together straps when asked. "A-alright. I," he hesitates, then shrugs, "I just want to make clothes. Men's clothes. I like to wear nice things, you know?" His clothes do look relatively nice and new, well, apart from the scruffy old jacket and gloves. These latter look like an ill fit, and at least as old as the man himself, but he hangs onto them, keeps them nearby. He nods slowly as Kagora points out his weaker areas. "Ah, I see. Yes." he murmurs, making a mental note of it. "Should I keep going with these, or start over?" he asks, then.

Kagora sighs and smiles. "No need to start over, simply sew over the same seam again. I want to be able to compare the results of every try, even if it means they're sewn completely together and can't be used. Make every attempt next to the last one. When you run out of room, then show me, each row try to make your stitches smaller and smaller. Doesn't have to be whipstitch, because you use that for edges, but keep going until you've used up all the room on the patches. Okay?"

X'hil nods slowly, and starts to stitch over the seam, going silent as he tries to concentrate. His stitches start out nice and tight, small, but gradually seem to get looser, wider… Then he notices, and they're small again for a little ways, then they get wider again. He does this several times, each time concentrating on keeping them small for longer, each time the 'wide' stitches getting less wide. But he's still got a ways to go before he gets an even small stitch happening.

Kagora sighs and appears to concentrate on her own work, but she /is/ watching X'hil sidelong. Kagora finishes fastening two patches. She holds up her work every so often to make sure she's got the work right, and uses each of these actions to get a quick look at how X'hil is doing.

X'hil sits there, stitching away. He's still using whipstitch, and he seems determined to get it 'right' before he tries any other kind of stitch. He may not be the top of the class, but he's got determination, enthusiasm, and definite drive. He wants to do this, to be good at this. For selfish reasons perhaps, but the desire is there. Finally he seems to get a reasonably straight line of small stitches, and he offers this up to be checked over by Kagora, half uncertain, half proud.

Kagora holds it up to the light. "Not, half, bad. Okay, use the whipstitch to sew four patches together, and then we'll /really/ go crazy. I can show you a /very/ old and freeform patchwork design. As long as you have a backing for whatever you're making trust me, it will be /spectacular./" She says with a wink.

X'hil smiles happily as Kagora inspects his work, and finds it not half bad. That's quite an improvement! "Alright, four, now? Okay…" he nods to himself, and picks out a couple more scraps, setting to work on them right away. Once more he goes silent, as he concentrates on his work, which is still improving. He's a bit of a perfectionist at heart, Kinseth would demand nothing less.

Kagora eyes X'hil's work. "Let me know when you've finished that. I'll show you the second type of patchwork you'll be learning today before you go, there are actually three kinds of patchwork. The one you're practicing right now is 'Geometric' patchwork. Obviously, its making patterns in the cloth with shapes. I'm showing you the next one, but the most difficult is 'applique.' With applique designs, you have a backdrop cloth, precut pieces in the shapes of…. say humans and dragons fighting thread as they did in the olden days. Then you'd cut out pieces that looked like humans and dragons, sew on small scraps for hair and eyes, straps and firestone sacks and flamethrowers and such. Then you'd pin them to the correct places on the background, and sew them on one by one."

X'hil looks up from his simple four squares, eyes a bit wide. "I'm not, er, expected to do /that/ yet, am I?" Because, man, that sounds hard. At least, he thinks it does. Probably not as difficult as it sounds, his first step that way would no doubt be more abstract than humans and dragons and whatnot. "That's … detailed." he notes, with a bit of awe in his tone. He's been working on the stitching of his four scraps, not looking up once, in fear of missing a stitch, or messing up some other way. Finally, he holds it up, four pieces of fabric sewn together. The joining corner, where the four all meet, is a bit of a mess, however.

Kagora shakes her head. "No, you aren't, because its very difficult to do." Kagora explains. "When I teach you how, you'll work on a much smaller scale. Saaaay, pillow instead of 'quilt.'" Kagora explains. "Really, actually, I think I can make that into a homework, but for now, please continue."

X'hil nods slowly, carefully stitching the pieces together. He finishes it, or thinks he has anyway - the corner join could perhaps use a little more work, and asks, "Er, do I add more pieces, or?" not quite sure how to proceed. He does flick a glance to the handful of scraps he'd grabbed, curiously.

Kagora sighs and holds out her hand, "let me look at it, and then I'll give you your homework. I'll expect you to either send the results to me by firelizard, or come drop them by my office." Kagora tells him. "Iiiiit…. it looks like you did these alright." She nods and tells X'hil. "Alright, do you know what patterns are? I'll cover them with you breifly because part of your homework will be making one."

X'hil frowns a little, but can't suppress a gleeful moment of grinning as Kagora checks over his work again, and finds it alright. He's as giddy as a schoolchild, which, apart from the child part, isn't too far off the mark. It may not be called a school, but he's learning, he has a teacher, he has homework… "Alright." he nods, "I know, er, roughly, what patterns are…" he notes, uncertainly. He does seem grateful for further instruction, you know, just to be /sure/.

Kagora nods and pulls out a simple piece of paper design. "This, is a pattern for a beanbag doll. Its very simple. I want to show you some basic things. Remember that a pattern /always/ has to be just alittle bit bigger than the thing you're trying to make. It takes half an inch, half an inch, to form a seam. Therefore your pattern should be at least half an inch too large for what you're trying to make." She smiles. "you will sew four of the squares I've just had you make. And you will be outlining a pattern for an applique pillow. The design is simple. It must be a self portrait of yourself and your lifemate. It may be as simple or as elaborate as you'd like. If you bring me the pattern I'll show you how to make it. You will also begin collecting as many scraps of /clean/ cloth as you can get. You may send the pattern by firelizard if you'd like. Bring the rest of your homework with me to the next class."

X'hil nods slowly, stretching a little before reaching for the pattern. He'd been crouched over his work, and it probably wasn't good for his back. "Ah, right." he nods at the four pieces sewn together, "Hmm, okay, a portrait? Interesting…" he muses. He'll probably make it quite simple, given that he'll have to, well, make it. He chuckles softly at the firelizard delivery, glancing upwards briefly. "Ah, I'll bring it in, that'll be fine." Or send someone with it. He doesn't have any firelizards. Not that he minds, Kinseth would probably find them annoying.

Kagora nods and sits back. "very well then, you may go. Bring whatever scraps you find back with you, put them in a box, a bag, whatever container suits you. They don't have to be even shapes or consistant sizes. Just make sure that none of them are smaller than your thumb." Kagora warns. "Any smaller and they're very difficult to work. And…… get your hands on some pins…. a box of one hundred or more. You won't need them all at once."

X'hil nods slowly, standing and snapping off a salute, then looking a little sheepish. Force of habit, he's not sure that's 'done' around here. "Ah. Right, ma'am, bits of fabric, any bit bigger than my thumb," he gives a thumbs-up signal, or maybe he's just eyeballing the size of it. "And, pins, right. Scraps and pins." he nods, repeating these three words under his breath as he leaves, committing them to memory.

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