Friday, April 9, 2010

Halloween Costumes (Knitting vs. Sewing)

From Katherine Jane in New York City:

Conversations throughout October last year generally went like this:

Person: "So, what are you going to be for Halloween?"
Me: "Well, first I have to dress up like a snake, for a dodgeball tournament.
Person: "...oh. Hmm."
Me: "Then in the evening I have to dress up like Manifest Destiny, so that I can personify the punchline to an Emilio Estevez joke."
Person: "Y'know what, forget it--I'm sorry I asked."

Now, these costumes were not quite as obscure as they might at first sound. My dodgeball tournament was with my regular team The Kobra Krew, so the decision to all dress up like snakes was not too much of a stretch. And as for the Emilio Estevez jokes--well, my friends and I had gotten on a kick of making up jokes, which all ran along these lines:

Person 1: "What do you call a guy who looks like Emilio Estevez but is into reenacting the Middle Ages?"
Person 2: "What?"
Person 1: "Emilio Renaissance Festivez."

...and so forth.

We'd been making these jokes all month, and so it seemed natural that we should go out as a big group dressed in a way that would enable us to tell these jokes to strangers in bars throughout Manhattan. My joke, of course, was, "What do you call a guy who looks like Emilio Estevez but is obsessed with the idea of western expansion? Emilio Manifest Destivez."

Now, when I started to think about costume planning it pretty quickly became apparent that I was not going to be able to do a literal interpretation of either one; a legless reptile and a ethereal concept do not good costumes make. I briefly toyed with the idea of knitting a giant snake and winding it around my person, but this would have made impractical garb for playing dodgeball. So, I had to abandon my dreams of knitted costumes (knitting is always the option I consider first) and instead think about sewing. I had bought a sewing machine over the summer but hadn't really used it for anything more than mending clothes, so this would be my first real clothing endeavor. I decided to make a dress with printed snakes all over it for the first half of the day, and a dress made from fabric featuring the states that run along Route 66 for the evening.

The dresses turned out okay; I used the pattern Simplicity 3833, which has fairly easy to follow instructions. However, I have to say that I still vastly prefer knitting to sewing, not just because my skill level is higher, but because I find the process more pleasing. There is a real joy to sewing long straight sections of fabric--a meditative quality, plus the smug knowledge that this would take about 5,000 times longer if you were doing it by hand. However, the little fiddly bits--the darts on the bodice, or getting the zipper to fit properly--do not have the same joy that the little fiddly bits in knitting tend to have, and I'm not sure what the difference is. There also seems to be a difference in mindset for me; knitting feels very linear, lines either going back and forth or around and around in an endless circle, while sewing is much more about taking a two-dimensional thing (fabric) and turning it into a three-dimensional thing (a shaped dress). My brain isn't very spacial, and so sewing for me requires constant energy to understand how the garment is shaping up--whereas knitting is about finding the rhythm within a pattern and falling into it, focusing on the loop or loops that are active and letting the whole thing unfold naturally. I guess it just feels more zen.

Anyway, here's how the dresses turned out:

My mother made the hat--isn't it fab?

From left to right: Emilio Renaissance Festivez, Emilio Undeadstivez, Marty McFly, Emilio Cutoff Denim Vestivez, and Emilio Manifest Desivez.


Katherine Jane Arathoon lives in New York City and occasionally guest blogs for Knitting Out Loud. She also blogs at Between Ewe And Me.


Knitting Out Loud said...

Very cute, Katherine!

My daughter bought a sewing machine when she was 12 with her birthday money. She never uses a pattern.

I had to Google Emilio Estevez.

Village Books said...


t does wool said...