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Another Lesson I Learned Which Had Nothing To Do With Sewing From @TheSewingStudio At #TSSparty In Toronto Sunday

February 23, 2011 3 comments

This past Sunday I was at a tweetup where we learned a little bit about how to sew and even made a pair of boxers at a really cool spot called The Sewing Studio in Toronto. Although the teacher there, Denise, was fantastic if you asked me if I could sew another pair of boxers for you there’s about a 20% chance I would be able to remember all the steps we did in making them and I definitely wouldn’t know how to set the machines up. However, I learned something much more important from Denise and my experience at The Sewing Studio than simple sewing and that is what this post is going to be about. If you want to read about our exploits sewing boxers see that post here: “How To Learn Sewing & Have Fun Doing It: #TSSParty by @TheSewingStudio & @ClickFlickCA.”

“What did Dan learn?”, you’re probably asking yourself at this point. Oh, and if you were asking yourself “Why is there a picture of a laptop, a cell phone, and a sewing machine?”, don’t worry – we’ll get to that.  To answer the first question, I learned a lot from Denise about patience. To quote myself directly from the post linked above:

“I…actually somewhat lost faith in the whole process midway through. Were it not for Denise’s bubbly positivity and personality and encouragement I very well might have given up and walked out the door.”

Denise at The Sewing Studio obviously chose her profession as a teacher (of sewing) for a reason. Partly, I am going to guess, because she loves to sew and the other part, again I am guessing, because she loves to teach people and impart wisdom. I have always joked how I would never, ever be a teacher because I was decidedly not a model student in my youth and the karma would catch up to me but I have since realized that we are continually teaching others things throughout our lives and learning things too. For me, because I have loved computers and cell phones and tech gadget in general since I was a teenager, I find I am often in the role of teaching people how to use their devices better or fix their mistakes when they make them on their devices.

When my mother buys a new piece of technology she usually makes a call to me before, during and after the buying. Before – to advise her what to buy. During – to make sure she’s buying the right thing. After – to teach her how to use this new piece of technology. Oftentimes in the last stage she will ask what seem to me to be the most ridiculously silly questions when I am trying to teach her how to use a device. Or, she won’t get something that I see as a simple concept.

Like when she finally decided to get a BlackBerry I had to sit there and wait for her to find a letter or the Enter key on the BlackBerry’s QWERTY keypad when I told her to type something. My mom protested she wasn’t familiar with the layout – my mother has been typing on QWERTY keyboards since they taught her in elementary school – and I got frustrated because I couldn’t understand what the difference was between the BlackBerry keyboard and any typewriter or computer keyboard my mother had ever used.

After being at The Sewing Studio I better understand the need for patience in such things. I have never considered myself to be the most manually oriented person. Sure, I love to take apart and put back together electronics with my full set of screwdrivers and guitar pick which can take apart pretty much every piece of electronics ever – no, I don’t play guitar, I bought a few single guitar picks for the sole purpose of taking apart cell phones. But I don’t know a lot about the more manual labors like sewing. I have a whole mental block telling me that this is just one of those things I am not good at. Therefore, when I approach something like sewing although I logically and rationally really want to give it a try there is an emotional ingrained block in my head telling me this is not something I do and am not going to be good at it so why bother trying to learn. That part of my brain says to me that I would much rather just have someone like Denise, an expert at sewing, make me some ‘handmade clothing’ or else just go buy a much better made garment at a store where they come churned out in perfection from a factory.

Now that I have had this experience at The Sewing Studio I am going to endeavor to be more patient with people when they ask me for help with their gadgets. I have been to ‘the other side’ and I can now better understand where those people are coming from. It often isn’t about the simplicity or difficulty of a task that makes us not able to do it. It is, instead, our own preconceived notions about the task or the activity or the subject which stops us from even trying our best or giving it our all.

I hope that the top picture makes sense to you now but just in case it doesn’t I was comparing my own mental block on sewing (the sewing machine) to some people’s mental blocks on electronics and gadgets (the laptop and the BlackBerry). I think this is a lesson we all can learn about being patient with other people when they aren’t understanding something we are trying to communicate to them that we view as simple or second nature.

What do you think? Does this ever happen to you? If yes, which side are you on – the frustrated or the uncomprehending? Have you also been on both like me? I would love to hear about your experiences!

How To Learn Sewing & Have Fun Doing It: #TSSParty by @TheSewingStudio & @ClickFlickCA

February 21, 2011 6 comments

The Toronto #TSSParty Students & Denise Wild

The Toronto #TSSParty Students. (Click for full size 2592x1944 Goodness) FROM LEFT: @LorettaLouise, @CorySilver, Denise Wild of @TheSewingStudio, @ClickFlickCa, & @JonGauthier. SITTING: @JennaKellner & me.

On a sunny long weekend Sunday morning in February I dragged myself out of bed to learn something a lot of people learn in Home Ec.* – sewing. This was definitely one of the more “out there” tweetups I had ever been to but in the words of a tweet by JoAllore (@ClickFlickCa) “Trying something diff is rewarding”. As well, my readers already know my “Yes Man” outlook on life so I was off to The Sewing Studio for 10am – ya, there’s a 10am on Sunday mornings…I also though they had cancelled mornings on Sunday until this weekend.

The reason for my outing there, as mentioned above, was a tweetup organized by @ClickFlickCa and @TheSewingStudio‘s owner, Denise Wild, where we sewed our own underwear!

When I got to The Sewing Studio and parked I found I still had time to go get myself a coffee as only @ClickFlickCa & @CorySilver were there. So I walked up to the coffee shop a couple blocks north to get myself a coffee and ran into @LorettaLouise who also was there for a morning “caffeination”. When we got back to The Sewing Studio Denise had everything laid out for us and everyone else quickly arrived and checked in on Foursquare. The rest of the #TSSParty Toronto crew included @JonGauthier and @JennaKellner.

Cutting the fabric into shape.

One of the first things we had to do was pick our fabric and then figure out what size we wanted our boxers to be – even though the option was there to make panties or boxers we decided as a group to all do boxers. The first bit of fabric I cut away from the form looked like a perfect sweatband and I knew that this work was going to be intense so I tied it on my forehead. As you can see I went with the camo fabric.

I wasn't the only one who liked the idea of a sweatband.

I really had no faith in myself as a seamstress (there doesn’t seem to be a difference between the male and female version of the word) and actually somewhat lost faith in the whole process midway through. Were it not for Denise’s bubbly positivity and personality and encouragement I very well might have given up and walked out the door. But in the end it was well worth it as I got an awesome new pair of boxers to replace my old favorite pair of camouflage boxers which recently gave up the ghost after many years of faithful service.

Our only casualties of the day were me and Cory Silver. Cory pinned himself with a needle within the first 20 minutes of us beginning the boxer creation process – serves him right for getting the awesometastic cougar print fabric I wanted for my own boxers, haha. I stubbed my finger when I was trying to take a pin out of my fabric as it was feeding through the sewing machine and I forgot to take my foot off the pedal…the needle and its holder came down again and stubbed my finger and THEN I decided it was a good time to take my foot off the pedal. Oops.

"They Always End Up In My Mouth"

I was amazed at how little it mattered all the mistakes I made while sewing and cutting and serging. Of course, any practiced and educated seamstress will know exactly where to look to see if I did a good job on my boxers. However, to the untrained eye they look pretty darn good. People don’t even believe me when I tell them I made these boxers from scratch. It is something I am now quite proud of but I honestly gotta ask myself if I can ever actually do it again (to be honest, probably not). I assume at the ‘real’ classes The Sewing Studio holds they actually show you how to thread a needle and set up a sewing machine and whatnot. Out ‘class’ was too quick and dirty for all that stuff – we actually almost ran out of time, especially me. I am, what Denise called, ‘meticulous’, so it took me a while to do everything everyone else did quicker, I guess.

All I know is I had tons of fun and encourage you to check out the folks at The Sewing Studio today. I can see this being a great thing to do as a couple (Note To Self: Find girlfriend) especially if you each have the same amount of sewing experience, or lack thereof.

Click for the full size version of this collage (3058x1584)

Maybe I will wear my glorious new boxers next year at the 2012 Toronto No Pants Subway Ride.

Here are the details of The Sewing Studio:

* I never took Home Ec. as I went to a private, boys only, Jewish Day School and they didn’t see the need for Home Ec. at Eitz Chaim.

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