Monthly Archives: June 2012

SHIRT HAPPENS 15: IN WHICH I BID MENSWEAR 142, SECTION 5A, GOODBYE

[In the fall, Jonathan Vatner, Hue staff writer,  took an introductory menswear sewing class. He has been blogging about his experiences on Hue, Too.]

For our last class, we brought together a potluck meal; Professor Blackman put down a paper-and-fabric tablecloth, and we feasted. I had mashed up some purple potatoes which ended up looking decidedly gray and did my best to market them to my fellow students.

“Purple potatoes are in vogue, you know,” I said, while scooping up what everyone else brought.

A student turned to me and said, “It’s really good—”

“Oh, thanks!” I replied, before he could finish.

“—that we’re finally done,” he said.

Professor Blackman asked if any of us had lingering questions, then proceeded to grade our shirts, which were lined up on dress forms at the front of the room. He popped open the top button and inspected the collar band, then lifted the arm to see if all the seams came together perfectly at the armpit. Then he scribbled some notes on a scrap of paper and pinned it onto the shirt.

When he got to mine, a sudden nausea overtook me and I averted my eyes. With the dickey, the grade didn’t matter: I had given him all that I had time for. But I had poured my soul—not to mention my weekend—into this shirt. I really wanted an A. I knew what was wrong with it—the hem was all bunched and the collar still wasn’t right—I just hoped he wouldn’t look very closely.

I plucked the piece of paper off my shirt and read it.

Your stitches are too small.

Stitch on band.

B+

He had drawn a diagram to show me exactly what I had done wrong. I felt a wave of disappointment, followed by a counterwave of appreciation. He really wanted me to sew the perfect shirt, even if I hadn’t done it in his class.

I hung my shirt back on its hanger and went home.

Ta da!

Me, wearing the shirt I made

HUE LOOKS AT PHOTOGRAPHS OF ITALY BY FIT FACULTY AND STUDENTS, AND SIGHS WITH LONGING

Hue is stuck at work today, sitting in front of our glowing screens.  Bummer.  We would much rather be out frolicking in the world, looking at art, trying on shoes, and smelling trees.  But, to paraphrase our favorite tautology, a deadline is a deadline.  We have taken heart, however, that on this gray day, we have some beautiful photographs to look at from a beautiful, exotic place.

That place would be Italy, where Ron Amato, chair of FIT’s program in Photography and the Digital Image, spent part of June.  Hue has spent the day looking at his pictures and sighing.  With longing.  Like, a lot.

These two particular images were taken in Venice.

Amato also took some mouth-watering pictures of food:

And, to boot, a few lovely abstract images that make Hue happy in the most indescribable way, like this one taken in the Giardini di Boboli, in Florence:

Hue is also quite interested in the blog that Amato put together called, “FIT Students in Italy.”  It is nice.  Between June 3 and 23, Amato taught a for-credit course for students studying photography.  The group traveled to Florence, Milan, and Como, and along the way Amato gave the students who traveled there with him assignments in the form of a theme—“Old and New,” for example, meant the picture should include things that are…you guessed it.  The students got to practice looking and framing and thinking about how to make a bodacious picture, and now you can look too.  And look and look and look.  Here are the photos from that course.

SHIRT HAPPENS 14: IN WHICH I GLIMPSE THE NATURE OF GOOD WORK

[In the fall, Jonathan Vatner, Hue staff writer,  took an introductory menswear sewing class. He has been blogging about his experiences on Hue, Too.]

My final shirt was due December 15. And, given that my practice shirt had seams in the shape of cowpaths, plus a nasty tear in one shoulder where the seam ripper got greedy, it seemed important that I do a new one.

After having been to the fabric and trimmings stores a dozen times and sewn at least ten collars, I finally started getting used to the process. And I found that, when I stop griping inwardly for a moment, sewing is actually kind of relaxing.

The trick is, you have to take your time. You have to be really careful. You have to do everything exactly. Sewing a shirt is not forgiving, and it takes at least 10 hours (or in my case, about 20). If you keep wishing it were over, you’re missing the point, because you can buy a nice shirt in about ten minutes for less than you spend on the fabric and notions.

Controlling the sewing machine

And if you do each step with precision, as all worthwhile things must be done, the shirt you end up with is more than a shirt; it’s evidence of honest labor.

And still, one rogue splash of coffee and it’s only evidence of carelessness.

AIDEL MAIDEL, AGE 4, IS PERHAPS FIT’S FIRST PURPLE GRADUATE

Hue congratulates all the graduates in the class of 2012.  For various reasons, however, we have taken a particular interest in Aidel Maidel:

 

 Aidel is pretty remarkable.  First of all, she is only four—“an art prodigy,” according to her Mom, Devora Reiss—and she’s already graduating! As it happens, Reiss herself graduated with a degree in Illustration, with Phi Theta Kappa and Chi Alpha Epsilon honors. Reiss developed Aidel for a project at FIT, where she worked with Bonnie Erickson, who created Miss Piggy.  Here’s a pic of Reiss and Erickson, on the big day:

 Reiss, who is spending the summer studying with noted puppeteer Eric Bass at Vermont’s Sandglass Theater, says Aidel is very, very popular.  “She has 425 Facebook friends.  That’s more than I have!” Reiss plans to start her own theater company with three other members of her graduating class, and says “Aidel’s definitely gonna be a star in my company.”  She’s pretty precocious, that Aidel, especially considering that her bat mitzvah is still nine years away:

 

 

All photographs by Danielle Rose Fisher

SHIRT HAPPENS 13: IN WHICH LADY FRUSTRATION PAYS A VISIT

[In the fall, Jonathan Vatner, Hue staff writer,  took an introductory menswear sewing class. He has been blogging about his experiences on Hue, Too.]

How many collars do I have to sew before perfecting one? Don’t ask.

Innumerable things can go wrong, and I’ve seen them all. If the collar band isn’t cut to be perfectly symmetrical, there won’t be enough free material to attach to the shirt. If the curve of the collar doesn’t match the curve of the collar band exactly, the seam won’t hold all the plys. If one of the visible stitches is off by a few millimeters, it won’t look right on the other side of the fabric. If an edgestitch falls a millimeter in either direction, the whole collar looks sloppy. And edgestitching is like riding a Segway alongside a cliff. We all know how that turned out.

Each collar takes me about two hours to cut and sew, sometimes longer. And it doesn’t become apparent what a mucked-up job I’ve done until the end. It’s incredibly dispiriting.

Collar ID

A pile of ghastly collars (plus Professor Blackman's perfect one on top)

After making too many DOA collars, I came in last weekend to get one right. And though a few stitches fell off the seam, I must say that on the whole, it didn’t look terrible.

There comes a point when “just better than terrible” is good enough.