Sew far sew good (har har har)

Fabric and what have you

I got a sewing machine for Christmas. I did ask for it, it wasn’t santa gone mad, but me! I was the child who sewed her dolly’s dress to her skirt aged 7. Looking back I find it astonishing that in my lifetime – I am really not that old – Friday afternoons at school were sewing for girls/football for boys/no exceptions to the rule; my main recollection, bar the teacher sighing as she cut things off my pinafore, was using the needle to gouge a hole in my finger so Amanda Wellings and I could be blood sisters and best friends forever*. Fast forward to secondary school, via a few frustrating sessions with my paternal Grandmother, whose good intentions to help me make something were scuppered by her perfectionist tendencies: I watched, always polite but inwardly frustrated, while she used my kits to produce lovely cuddly toys, paper flowers, and so forth. She was very skillful, it must be said. But. She did attempt to show me how to embroider on more than one occasion but my fingers, once presented with a needle, come over all of a wobble and refuse to line up stitches nicely next to one another, rather they straggle all over. All very abstract but not quite the thing.

So – secondary school. I was strongly encouraged to take up music for the “art” option after a term of textiles saw me shedding (quite literally) blood and tears over a padded shell-shaped thing; I was never permitted to touch the sewing machines but had to keep my cack-handedness away where I could not break them. (Proper art left me bemused at the idea of drawing my own hand; woodwork was, if only unofficially, for the boys, as the girls sat at the back sniggering over a dogeared copy of Lace and singing the songs from Grease. What can I say, it was 1988.)

All these years later, I decide to conquer my fears. And do you know what? I still can’t sew on a button in earshot of my children, and I pay people good money to make my trousers the correct length, but machine sewing bears no resemblance! It makes lovely neat stitches all by itself, all I have to do is push down with one foot (I can drive, that’s not too difficult) and make sure it is pointing in a straight line. And keep it far away from my skirt. Maths I am good at, so measuring geometric shapes on fabric and cutting them out is not beyond me. Moreover, it provides near-instant gratification in the way that knitting really does not. (I knit slow. And I have little time.) I have already cut out and made the whole front side of a blankety quilty thing for Jenny. (Maggie has a cot quilt that her very properly talented Grandma, my mother-in-law, made when she was a baby; Tamsin has a panda quilt we bought at the Great Wall of China; Jenny should not be left out, should she.) Now I am feeling a little nervous as I prepare to go off-piste; the instructions say to just sew some fleece to the back of it but I want to cleverly combine with the next pattern in the book which involves batting and quilting in the ditch. Eek! What is the worst that can happen – I can always unpick if it is a disaster, right?

Photos to follow if and when I manage.

*It didn’t work, she’s not even on my facebook!

2 Responses to “Sew far sew good (har har har)”

  1. Claire P
    January 17th, 2011 20:30

    I made a very ratty, wonky shelved spice rack. Mum said it was lovely and promptly put it in the garage! It’s probably still there! I borrowed my Mum’s sewing machine last year to make a lovely doorstop. The sewing machine is still sitting in the corner of the dining room and the pattern I want is still on a website. *sigh*

  2. turquoise » Blog Archive » Quinket
    February 14th, 2011 14:45

    […] is my First Proper Thing made with the sewing machine, apart from a couple of scrunchies. I followed the instructions in this oddly titled pamphlet […]

Leave a Reply