Wednesday, May 28, 2008

(Mis)adventures in sewing

So I promised one of my favorite bloggers Lisagh (Sophie calls her Crafty MacDafty) that I would sign up for a beginning sewing class. And although the thought of it threw me into a panic (I am terrified of our sewing machine; I am an idiot the minute I step out of the kitchen), I signed up. The class promised to familiarize me with sewing machine operation and basics. At the end of the class I would produce a pillow.

Off I went, all puffed up from the sewing experience I had logged over the weekend. I was particularly pleased to have along the pin cushion Lisagh sent me. My teacher was immediately impressed. "My friend made that," I explained. "She makes all kinds of amazing things" (as if this were some reflection on my own creative abilities).


The teacher explained that sewing machines are sort of like cars (good, I'm thinking, because I absolutely can drive). They all have a steering wheel, a gas pedal, an ignition, etc., but things like the lights and windshield wiper switches may be different. When you get in a car you have not driven before, you can always drive it, but it may take a minute to orient yourself.

So we watched, threaded, adjusted, lined up, and practiced on some scraps of cloth. I thought I was doing amazingly well. It was finally time to start on those pillows—two hours and fifteen minutes after class began and at the end of a long day at work. My energy was flagging, and if I had been home I would have been in bed with a book. And I had decided I did not like the fabric I had picked out. Whereas I had thought it looked sort of sweet and vintage-like, it now looked dowdy compared to the zippy selections of my classmates (granted, one woman was an interior designer and another an artist, which gave them a distinct advantage over me, who looks at black words on a white page or screen all day long).

But the main problem is that I did not measure properly. (I was tired, remember.) And so my pillow case fit too tightly, making my pillow look sort of lumpy.

And the back envelope enclosure did not quite close.


My teacher was so nice about it. "It looks just fine!" But I'm no dummy: IT DID NOT LOOK JUST FINE. The teacher suggested a little snap to hold it closed, but I'm going to huck it start again. With new fabric. On my own machine, about which I'm a little skeptical. The teacher was talking with several other students about what machines to consider buying, and noted that Bernina and Janomes are like the BMWs or Mercedes of machines, with others being the Volvos and the Hondas. She observed about the Singer, "Well, you wouldn't really go out and buy a Chevrolet, would you?" I was too embarrassed to tell her that I was already the humble owner of a Simplicity Demin Star, a brand she did not even mention because it is probably the Ford Pinto of sewing machines. 


So you can see why I cried a little bit as I rode home on my scooter. I had such high hopes of a fabulous new hobby, only to find out that when I'm the least bit tired my feeble attention wanders and I can't even operate a ruler.

But I will not give up because Sophie is watching, and I need to demonstrate resilience and perseverance. And besides, she told me my pillow was "really terrific," and I think she actually meant it.

17 comments:

lisagh said...

I'm going to start taking photos of all the mistakes, mis-measurements and blunders I create on a daily basis. Yes, many things I show you are lovely, but the reject pile? C'mon!

You really are doing just fine and I'm very proud of you!

Midge said...

You are off to a great start! Lisagh has also inspired me to sign up for sewing lessons!

Midge said...

By the way I am convinced that Lisagh is going to convert us all to sewers one blogger at a time!

J said...

I think the problem is your pillow--it is too big. The case, however, is just perfect! Seriously, for your first sewing lesson, you are doing great!

KK said...

I think your pillow looks great!!! I can't believe you did that after only 2 hours of class!

Mrs.Preppy said...

I would love to learn how to sew.... my mom is wonderful at it, but says that I am too impatient to be a good student.

Trish said...

I think that is amazing for your first project ever! Way to go! And I am inspired too -- I'm trying to make floor cushions for the kids.

E said...

i am in awe- that pillow really did turn out great! there is no way i could make that- not even with a week's worth of sewing classes! good for you for getting out there and trying something new. you're an inspiration!

A. said...

I think it's really terrific, too -- far better than I could do!

Jackie said...

I give you a lot of credit for just trying! And we are all excited for the many items you attempt to make.

Mary said...

A smaller pillow would showcase your good work - no need for a snap ;-)

Sounds like your sewing teacher is a bit of a sewing machine snob. We do all have our favorites, vintage Singers being mine, so don't let her words about Chevy's turn you off sewing. Any machine that works for *you* is perfect to start with, the simpler the better.

We all have to rip out seams, and the sooner you accept ripping as part of sewing, the happier you will be ;-)

Keep up the good work!

KatieGirlBlue said...

Hmmm....if you invested in the El Camino of sewing machines, it might come with the sewing equivalent of a pool man to help you....

Kate said...

Poo - that pillowcase is awesome! So what if it's too small, it was your first one! And I love the fabric you picked out, by the way. I think this hobby is going to turn out just swell- who ever learned to do something perfectly the very first time she tried it?

Impoverished Preppy said...

You should be proud. Think of all the fabulous things you'll be able to make once you've mastered it!

Learning to sew has been on my list of things to do for about ten years now. I keep buying fabric thinking I'll someday be able to use it. Drives my husband batty!

Cindy said...

Thanks, everyone for the kind words. My bruises have healed and as soon as I get a break from serving as Sophie's opera chauffeur, I'll embark on Adventure II. More pillows to come!

Jennifer H said...

I agree with J. Smaller pillow. :-)

Love it. Keep going.

Angelina said...

The gaping back is a classic problem and many a more experienced seamstress has done that one (yours truly!!).

I think you made great progress just by going to the class and if you practice it more often you'll become quite satisfied with your projects.