Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sewing: Perhaps the universe is telling me something?

Lately I've been thinking about my poor neglected sewing machine.

I really, really wanted one so a while ago (ok... fine "a while ago"might mean a few fine!... 4 years ago) I got a basic starter machine. I'm a little ashamed to say I've only used this machine exactly 4 times (in as many years). It's mostly been stuck in a corner exactly the way it was when I last used it, totally forgotten (Sad, I know).

When I got it there were big plans for that machine. New pillows for the couch (not these ones that came with it- but totally don't match anything else in the living room).

Curtain for the door

Curtain for the other door

Bags... lots and lots of handbags. Maybe a cute apron and some hems for all the too long pants I'm always needing to bring to the taylor.

And did I mention the handbags? Definitely. Handbags.

Problem was I forgot how intimidating sewing has always turned out to be for me. I had lots of fun when I would practice making straight lines by running paper and little scraps of fabric through my grandmother's machine. But as proved by the awful (very, very awful) ruffled pillow it took me half of 7th grade "home arts" class to make- when it comes to actual projects I get totally and completely freaked-out.

In proof of freak-out I present exhibit A -

The remnants of the one and only project I started, then abandoned with my new machine. It sort of began with a pattern, then it got a way from me and sort of went "free form". Quickly followed by the "oh crap how am I going to fix this" stage. Then I looked at it for a day or two at which point it went to the "let's pretend this never existed" pile. And that's where it (and the machine) have been ever since. 1 bad, half done project in 4 years... pretty pathtic!

(If I could find all the pieces of it I'd show it to you)

Funny thing though- ever since I've started thinking about my poor little castoff machine I started seeing things about learning to sew and how sewing machines work.

And I'm starting to think the universe is trying to tell me something...

  • First it was this sweet story from Laura and Katydiddys about teaching her daughter to sew. It brought back what a wonderful feeling it was to use my grandmothers machine when I was a little kid.

  • Then there were these great animations Tracey found and posted on her blog Chubby Mummy. I'd never really thought about how a sewing machine makes a stitch but it was really cool to see it.

  • And one day while looking at all the great ideas featured on one pretty thing I found that Chica and Jo are doing a fabulous "sewing 101" video lesson series. They're up to lesson 4 but I went back and watched them all. They are amazingly helpful for a total novice like me. I especially love that they went over some good basic must have tools. (Which I own almost none of... maybe that's why my sewing is so bad?)

  • Then last Wednesday Tracey posted about this funny (but very educational) video she found about "The secret life of a sewing machine".
So, I'm giving myself permission to forget about the bag that's had me paralyzed (I don't even really like the fabrics anymore- it's been stalled so long my taste has changed!). I know it's silly that this one little thing has kept me from using my machine but it's definitely been a roadblock for me.

Then... I will sew something!
(And I'm going to use the fact that I'm publicly declaring it to hold me accountable. Hopefully that will work.)

Finally, I'm going to ask any of you sewers who are reading this for a little help... What do you think I should start with? Pillows, Simple Curtains, something else that's an easy beginner project?

I know there are lots of sewing out there so please... help. Any advice at all would be great!


  1. Good for you!
    It is always great to have a sewing machine. It looks like that is a pretty nice one, too! I agree with you, just forget about the old project and move on for the time being.
    Pillows and curtains are pretty easy (basically just rectangles), but you do have to finish the edges, which can be confusing.
    Some of my readers who don't sew much have had success with some of my ruffle tee tutorials--like these:
    But it sounds like you need curtains... Design Sponge just did a Sewing 101: Curtains thing!
    Good tutorial, but keep in mind you don't have to use double-fold bias tape on the sides. I think that's kind of weird. I would just hem them with a 1/2" hem.
    Keep us posted on how it goes!

  2. i vote pillows. they are just a square with right sides of the fabric together and then you turn it inside out! and you get to practice those straight lines again!

  3. My sewing machine has been neglected lately, too. I think it's because it's easier to stay upstairs in my comfy chair with my crochet or knitting than to go downstairs to the windowless basement. Also, I have some fear of mess-ups, although I know everything will be all right! Good luck!

    P.S. I plan on making the Guinness muffins this week! The only way this pregnant woman can indulge!

  4. Thanks for the advise ladies!!! I'll check out the tutorials and definitely keep you posted on whatever project I choose.

    Kristi Lou- Let me know how the muffins turn out. The Guinness is a nice background flavor sort of a "hearty" and almost nutty or earthy addition to the spices. LOL I love that these will be how you indulge. And congratulations on the baby!!!

    Keep the advise coming please, I need all the help I can get!

  5. Hows about a few napkins to wrap all your lovely homebakes in? These are pretty straight forward to begin with - just a square and turn the edges ....but you can experiment with your machine stitches by doing some fancy stitching along the turned hems?

    We'll convert you yet!

  6. LOL- Tracey I can feel the pull of the sewing machine already. I never thought of making napkins- but you know I need a good set of those as much as I need the pillows and curtains. Great Idea!

  7. I got my machine back out at the end of last year and joined in this scarf-along from Julie at Joy's hope. It was easy and fun and I made gifts for all the ladies I love! http://www.joyshope.com/2009/11/scarf-along-week-one.html

  8. Meg, thanks for all your kind words about parenting. I laugh at your description of going away to college....I've been hearing the same thing said about my son - who is looking at music schools....not engineering like we had originally hoped...but we're supporting him.

    You are doing all the right things as far as getting that machine going. Learning is the key. And you will make many mistakes along the way. I'd visit the library and check out some books. The Singer Sewing series is very nice with helpful, step-by-step photos and instructions. A pillow is easy and quick, so that may be a good place to start. I like to make totes with some cute canvas fabric. There should be some basic patterns on JoAnn's website and/or Better Home & Garden's. Martha Stewart's site recently posted favorite sewing projects. We all started somewhere! Other than the formal dresses I have sewn, the next hardest item for me was my Roman Shades. Even that is not difficult, but you just have to be careful with measurements.

  9. Yay! I'm so excited for you to sew! We can be beginners together! Disney at Ruffles And Stuff is doing a basic sewing series here: http://www.rufflesandstuff.com/2009/08/sew-basic.html and she has a lot of easy altered garment and accessory projects that look simple - but I haven't had the chance to try any yet! :) Keep me posted!!

  10. Thanks lk, Jane and Joanne for all your great tips and links too! I really appreciate all of you for stopping by and offering your advice and support!

  11. Hey Meg,
    I hope I'm not too late to add in my two cents. I think a great beginner project is a pillowcase because you can use it all the time and be very proud of your accomplishment. I'd also recommend any pattern by Michelle Webster aka Keykalou Patterns. Her patterns are very easy and just like a blog tutorial with LOTS of pictures. Plus, they are in PDF form and super affordable. Good luck!



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