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Sewing? Me? Seriously?

 

Sewing? Me?


Update: Once I got a taste of what it’s like to make your own stuff – from these pillowcases to quilts and blankets to repairing and re-purposing many items, I made the leap to a brand new sewing machine.  It finally arrived and I set it up this weekend!  I still haven’t put needle to material yet, but I’m really excited to start a new project. All of this reminded me of how I started and how very grateful I am to my friends who patiently shared this invaluable new skill with me.

So, I thought it would be fun to bring this post back.  Have you learned anything new lately?


 

Originally posted in September, 2013.

 

Growing up, my mom made a lot of our clothes. Easter dresses, shorts, costumes, nightgowns, you name it…she could sew it.  Still can and does.  It’s quite impressive! So I’m thinking I must have inherited a sewing gene or two, right?  Unfortunately, I don’t live close to Mom and Dad anymore, so a series of lessons from her is out of the question.  Luckily, I work with some fabulous ladies who are sewing queens and who fearlessly dive head first into all projects great and small. At the mere mention of “that looks like fun,” I was whisked away to the fabric store, given the grand tour and introduced to no fewer than seven women in the store – four of whom worked there and three that my friends knew just because they shopped there so much – I learned about t-squares, bias tape, batting and fat quarters .  Armed with some pretty material, long straight pins, a rotary cutter and spool of their thread of choice, I had an appointment with the masters that Saturday to learn a few of the basics.

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I arrived that morning with excitement and feeling pretty hopeful. As I entered their sewing war room, I instantly felt inadequate and intimidated. There were several seasoned seamstresses, sewing machines everywhere, two stations set up for ironing (Ironing? Nobody told me I had to iron. I don’t even own an iron,) three cutting tables with a great variety of mats and rulers, two tables pushed together for piecing and pinning full quilt tops and, of course, a table for drinks and snacks. My first task? Iron the material I brought. Boo. I didn’t like this already.  I was then given a sheet of paper with instructions on how to sew a pillowcase.  But that’s not a quilt at all! This was truly going south and I really just wanted to grab some coffee and a donut and pout.

With their never ceasing encouragement, I stepped up to the cutting table and, after a quick lesson on how not to cut off my fingertips, I was able to cut out the pieces for three pillowcases.  Next, a lesson on pinning the pieces together, right sides vs. wrong sides, and the importance of lining things up and making them “square”.  I also didn’t anticipate the amount of math required.

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“Sit at the machine,” she said. Music to my ears! I was finally actually going to sew. Working with the first package of fabric pieces I’d carefully pinned together, I stitched, ever so slowly, the first seam.

The directions then said to do some sort of inside out, turnabout, flippy-do, reverse hot dog thing. Huh?! With a sweet smile, my friend said she’d get me started and assured me it was the easiest and most amazing part of the whole process.  Following her lead, I managed some sort of shenanigans that magically turned my wad of rolled up, backward stitched lump of fabric into *gasp* a pillowcase minus two seams!  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I think I can do this! “Now we iron,” came a voice from above, breaking through my trance of satisfaction. So as it turns out, you sew, you iron, you sew a little more, you iron, sew another side, iron…you get the idea.  Not the most fun, but it was worth the extra effort.

 

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In just a few more minutes, I’d learned to make French seams and finished my very first sewing project ever. I stood back from the ironing board, turned around to show my friend what I’d done, and before I could speak, they all started clapping and cheering. They even took my picture with my prized pillowcase. I cried.  I was so proud and motivated to sew (despite all the requisite ironing) that I sat down and made three more pillowcases that day. Then I went home with a borrowed machine and made eight more.  I gave pillowcases to everyone I knew. I was now one of the ladies who sew. I was ready to move on to quilting.  Now, where could I buy a jellyroll?

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