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Posted on Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Dave!I do not intimidate easily.

When you travel as much as I do, you really can't intimidate easily... especially when visiting abroad. Because if you don't speak the language and don't know much about the culture, you just have to dig in as politely as you know how and hope for the best. Otherwise you'll end up hungry... or lost... or worse.

As I mentioned previously, I am taking an awesome basic sewing class from Whipstitch. Up until now, it's been basic stuff like cutting fabric in a straight line and practicing stitching on a sewing machine. But now we're starting to sew actual projects, which means I have to go buy material and thread and supplies and stuff.

Which means a trip to the JoAnn Fabric & Craft Store.

A place that intimidates me more than just about anywhere else on earth.

Mostly because I don't really understand the place or how to shop there, but also because the people there are mean. I don't know if it's because I'm a guy... or because I'm a newbie... or because they just don't like my face... or what. But every time I've gone to JoAnn I end up feeling stupid and embarrassed because everybody there (employees and customers alike) seems annoyed with my questions and total lack of knowledge. To them, sewing is important business, and I guess I'm just wasting their time.

So, after what few projects I've taken on, I've learned to not ask questions when I go to JoAnn.

Instead I just blindly wander around looking for stuff I think I need and hope for the best. Until now I've been sewing for myself, so it doesn't matter if I goof up and I really don't care if my Halloween costume is made wrong. But this time I'm sewing for a class, so I wanted to do things right. When you don't know what you're doing and are too afraid to ask questions, this can take a while.

The first thing I had to do was buy fabric for upcoming projects. The problem is I don't know what kind of fabric to get... and there's tons of it to choose from. Since I don't know any fabrics by name, I decided to shop by feel. "Well this kind of feels like a placemat" or "I guess this is what a tote bag should feel like," I'd say to myself. Who knows whether I ended up getting the right stuff... but I do like the colors I found, so I guess that's something.

After that I tried to buy the accessory stuff that's on my supplies list... and failed miserably. The lesson says drawstring and elastic, but there's like a gazillion different kinds and I have no idea what to get. So I get nothing. I guess I'll have to write the class for help and make another horrible trip to JoAnn next week.

Next up I had to buy thread to match my fabrics. I thought this would be easy, but thread spools come in all kinds of different sizes and shapes. I decide to go for the "traditional" spools that I recognize, but the colors don't match very well. So instead I get these tall skinny spools that have designer colors. Hopefully they fit on my grandmother's machine.

Lastly I wanted to go drool over proper 8-inch Gingher dressmaker shears and see how they match up to my 2-inch pink Fiskars. My intent was to just look. But they were on sale for 30% off, so I decided to go ahead and get them. The sale shouldn't have been an incentive since it seemed as if EVERYTHING was on sale at JoAnn, but I do love the sexy bastards, so I guess it was worth spending money I don't have...

Gingher Shears

And now it was time to have my bolts of fabric cut. This meant interacting with JoAnn employees, which I dread. The last time I needed some fabric cut, the woman started asking me questions I didn't understand and couldn't answer. Not knowing what to do, I told her "I'll just take the fabric please" which only seemed to piss her off. Apparently the stuff I was buying required special handling or something, and the fact that I didn't know this made me stupid.

This time the lady behind the counter seemed very nice, which was a relief. She didn't pitch me any crap while taking care of my fabric, so I felt confident enough to ask her questions like... "Will these scissors work for a right-handed person when it doesn't say so on the box?"... and "Do you know what in the heck 'Wonder Under' is and where I can get it?"... and "Is this 'Sulky' stuff on my list something I can buy here?" She answered me without eye-rolling or a condescending tone, which was a pleasant surprise.

And so tomorrow I can (hopefully) get caught up with Friday's tote bag project and make me a placemat. Though I didn't buy any of this "interfacing" stuff that I apparently need for the placemat, so I might be screwed there.

Oh well. Tonight I'm going to sleep with my new shears and dream about stuff I can cut with them...

Scissor Sleep

...which may or may not include cutting a bitch. Though I'd then have to worry about how tough the bitch was, because I don't want to dull the blades.

Nothing ruins a sexy pair of new scissors like dull blades.

Categories: Sewing TuesdayClick To It: Permalink


  1. Buddhafied says:

    I think all fabric places has condescending biatches… I went to pickup some fabric for my awesome Frodo Baggins costume last year and I went into the same problem as you, in the sense that I didn’t know what kind of fabric I should use. All I told her was that I need something that looks rough and apparently that means I’m stupid 😀

    Anyways, glad you got what you need for the project! Now don’t let Mr. Bear or Evil Monkey get ahold of the pair of scissors!

  2. Tug says:

    AW, MAN. That sucks. JoAnn’s employees here & a the store 20 minutes away are AWESOME. I go in totally clueless, & they HELP. Sorry you have to go through that…

    I’m not a pro by ANY means, but do sew a lot so if you have questions, ask. I’ll do my best.

  3. Etienne says:

    The more friendly and helpful salesperson is, the more the chance of winning over a customer – salesmanship 101. Sheesh! Got my Gramma’s sewing machine, too….and one I found on the curb. (Did I ever mention, I love NYC?) Anyway, I’m sure you’ll pull it off. Remember, if all else fails, use a glue gun. Good luck, Dave!

  4. Michelle M. says:

    That’s so great that you’re taking a sewing class. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I have bought fabrics at Joanne’s for projects and for me it’s been hit or miss with the bitchy attitude. Are there any other fabric stores in your area?

    My husband Harry can sew. Both boys and girls in his high school had to take home ec. He even had a sewing machine (until recently) and made his own Halloween costumes. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.

  5. Mel says:

    I don’t tend to have many problems with JoAnn employees, but it may be because I can speak the language well enough that they know not to fuck with me. Or maybe it’s the way I sneer at their Caron Simply Soft.

    Without interfacing, you’ll just end up with a floppy placemat, which is probably fine unless you’re quilting it and need the stiffness to get the layers to feed properly.

  6. TheQueen says:

    I had the nicest conversation once with a man in cutting line at JoAnns. The woman asked, “What do you want [X] for?” and he blew up. I said, “Dude, I understand. Now you know how I feel at the Home Depot. And they flat out sneer at you at Home Depot.” The saleslady confessed they had to ask in order to make additional sales.

    And – the trick at JoAnns is tell them you’re making a Kentucky derby hat. They figure you have it covered. I don’t know the trick at Home Depot.

    Best home depot experince I ever had was when I found an assitant younger than I am. He wasn’t condescending at all. Try that.

  7. Sybil Law says:

    That is so funny – I feel the same way every time I go into JoAnn – and why I tend to avoid it if I can! Last time, though, I was shopping with Gilda for some fabric for her tipi thing- we found the suede stuff, and the lady who helped us was super helpful, too. For a change! Maybe they’ve finally gotten smart and realized they don’t need to be the Starbucks of fabrics if they want to make money.

  8. Shannan says:

    Hey – it’s me from your class. I really enjoy reading your intrepretations about our class! Anyway, you know how wherever you go in the country, you’ll find trashy people shopping in Walmart? Well the same is true for Joanns = old women and ATTITUDE! I’m just down here in Oregon and I’m a younger, cuter version of a sewing woman and when I go to the cutting counter they are looking at me like I’m crazeee. Last week when I was buying my fabric they asked me what I was making and I said, “my daughter’s spring wardrobe” and the cutter literally rolled her eyes at me. How rude!! Who cares? I go almost every week to spend my coupons and like with everything – the more exposure you have to something, the less intimidating it is. Did you see how I ask so many stupid questions about fabric in the comments section? It is because I don’t want to be an idiot when I’m at the fabric store.

    And yes I, too, bought the Gingher 8″ shears and my sons think it is probably the coolest piece of equipment I own. They hold it in their hands and open and shut it slowly and have awe in their eyes.

    Can’t wait to see your project!

  9. Kailyn says:

    See? Just knew you’d love the Gingher shears. I’ve had mine for over 20 years.

    And sorry about the past experiences at JoAnn. I was just shopping at my local one this past week. The person who cut my fabric? A guy.

    Are there any locally owned shops in your area? I know that they are dying off and can be a bit pricier but usually the salespeople there are really nice and helpful.

    Also if you have any questions about fabric, free feel to send me your questions. My first job was in a fabric store. I remember many a time explaining to a customer that while yes, that fabric they had selected was really pretty, it was not going to lay right in the pattern they had selected.

    Also Wonder Under? Totally fun. Also a pain to get off of your iron if you’re not careful.

  10. shari says:

    I don’t sew, but I go to Craft Warehouse frequently and they have quite a nice fabric/sewing section in the back of the store. Maybe worth a try? Also, maybe Sew Creative in the back of the Target parking lot across from Lewis & Clark elementary?

  11. Megan says:

    Don’t let the bitches scare you. When they’re rude, just stare at them blankly. For a long time. With the shears in your hand.

  12. Guv says:

    I reckon its pretty cool you are going to sewing classes.

  13. Lil Dave’s teddy bear looks a little scared that he might get rolled over onto the scissors!

    PS – They’re always pretty good to be at Home Depot when I don’t have a clue (but I usuallya confess this up front).

  14. Kailyn says:

    The placemat? You might not be screwed. Just depends on what kind of fabric you chose for the placemat.

    Interfacing is a stabilizer. This means that it adds stiffness to the fabric. Easiest way I can explain this is to think of men’s dress shirts. Notice how the collar and the button placket feel different? Part of this is due to the multiple layers of fabric but mostly the difference is to to the layer of interfacing. These are areas of garments in which one usually uses interfacing.

    I would usually shop in the upholstery section of the store for fabric for a tote bag. The same holds true for placemats. But if I’m shopping elsewhere in the store for fabric for a placemat, then more than likely I am going to use interfacing to create a similar rigidity.

    Hope this helps.

  15. the muskrat says:

    Deb has been badmouthing their customer service for years!

    • Dave2 says:

      I think that the employees are more into moving lines quickly and up-selling add-on merchandise than they are at actually giving good customer service. This probably comes from management and isn’t their fault… but it sure is intimidating and hostile to customers like me who have no idea what they’re doing.

      Oh well. Fortunately I don’t have to go there very often. 🙁

  16. LizP says:

    JoAnn’s has an app! Rather than killing trees for coupons, you can get them right on your phone!

    You could check the JoAnn’s website for what you’re looking for, just so you know what it looks like.

  17. Betsy says:

    That is just wrong, wrong, wrong. Those employees should be happy to help you and you should not be made to feel intimidated and especially when you are learning. That is just plain ol’ bad behavior.

  18. Can you imagine how horrible it would be if you had to go to JoAnn’s for… toilet paper? Complete intimidation!

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