General · Sewing

Progress Realized

I may have mentioned once or twice that I’m in the middle of a “Sewing Do Over”.  And as I’m sure you all know, you can’t have a “do over” without having first attempted something and failed.  I also may have mentioned a few times that I have a tendency to “go big” and over extend myself when I’m excited about something.  If I haven’t mentioned it before, well… I do that.  I don’t just select one project and follow it to completion, I envision hundreds of projects and accumulate everything needed to accomplish them eons in advance of their likely coming to fruition.

With my first attempt at sewing, I started a few things that were never finished.  So great was my ultimate frustration level with sewing that I popped them in storage boxes and walked away.  That was roughly four years ago.  Maybe more.   A couple of weeks ago, I happened across one of these unloved, unfinished projects, and on a whim, I decided to finish it.

It was a bag designed to utilize the pre-quilted fabric you can buy at the fabric store, and inadvertently, it’s got that Vera Bradley thing going on.  I’m not necessarily in love with it, but I still think it’s cute.

As I laid out the pattern pieces that I’d cut out four years earlier, I was actually a little pleased with myself.  They were pretty terrible.  On one hand, it’s never fun to confirm that you suck at something.  On the other hand, it actually let me see that I’ve gotten a little better.  I could actually see the mistakes I made and even distinguish what I would do differently now to eliminate those mistakes.

I still had to rip out and re-do three times to get it finished.  (Sewing is an incredibly  humbling process for me.)  The lining has four pretty deep pockets-but I won’t be photographing them. The final result was not pretty…

But the bag itself is kind of pretty…pretty cute….not bad….and I learned doing it.  Which is always a good thing.

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I'm loving this! · Sewing

The Right Tool for the Right Job

I’ve heard it my entire life. It’s the philosophy that led to the purchase of my Chi flat iron, and instigated my quest for a Dyson.  It’s more than marketing, it’s an irrefutable reality.  The right tool for the right job really does make a tremendous difference.

As I’ve stated previously, I’m in the middle of a Sewing “Do Over”.  I’ve been dedicated in my pursuit of basic sewing competency.  And truthfully, it’s been incredibly frustrating.  It’s like I’ve taken the whole concept of “do over” literally.  I’ve had to do the same tasks over and over.

Several years ago when I began my sewing quest, I purchased the best machine I felt I could afford.  I researched a little, and one Sunday night at 9pm, I went to Walmart and purchased a Singer Fashion Mate 7256.  It was packed with features and I paid $199.00 for it.

It seemed fine.  I’ve been so challenged as a seamstress that the equipment seemed like a superfluous concern.  Then one day, it broke.  I took it to the local sewing machine repairman and he fixed it quickly and cheaply.  He was a very nice man and explained the repair he had made on the machine.  As it turned out,  he had worked for Singer for thirty years and had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Singer product history. He explained to me that the machines now have plastic internal components and that both their durability and functionality are not what they once were.  He had repaired my machine by replacing one of these plastic components-one with a track record of breaking with routine use.  Bummer.  My nearly new machine broke because I used it. From that day forward, the blush was off the rose.

Suddenly, I noticed that my machine would not cleanly back stitch.  Every seam would begin and end in a bit of a snarl. And sewing through multiple thicknesses?  Forget it. It would sputter and stall.  I began to wonder, what if I’m not the only problematic variable in this sewing equation?   What if the machine is making sewing harder than it has to be?

Before I knew it, I was casting surreptitious glances at other machines.  I would linger after my daughter’s sewing camp, asking questions of the staff at my local sewing machine dealer. I began to haunt craigslist and ebay, researching machines all the while. I decided that I had made a key error with my initial purchase.  I had gone for maximum “features” rather than maximum “function”.  I began to focus exclusively on the big three (Bernina, Pfaff, Viking Husquvarna) and exclusively on mechanical machines. By the time I was finished, I almost had myself convinced to go “new” and purchase a new mechanical sewing machine outright.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, though.  Until this sewing “do over” results in some sewing skills, paying retail is just not an option. So I returned to ebay, and with a little time and a little patience, successfully bid for and won a Pfaff in my cheap-o price range.

Ta-da! The Pfaff Hobby 1042.  The current generation equivalent is an 1142, but here’s the deal, I don’t care.  I purchased this machine, had it serviced, and bought half a dozen additional, special-function presser feet for about the same price I paid for my Singer.

Back stitching?…Fabulous, no problem….Multiple thicknesses of fabric?…Super.

Suddenly, sewing is a little a easier.  My “do over” is a little more do-able.

Seventy stitches?  Nope.  Not even close.

But it has a good assortment, including stretch stitches and a one-step buttonhole.  So let me sum up by re-stating…The Right Tool for the Right Job.  Sweet!

Sewing

A Sewing Do-Over

Sewing and I have a love/hate relationship.  I’ve always been fascinated by it in theory.  But it’s always fallen apart in practice.  As a kid, my mom put in a good faith effort to teach me to sew.  The poor woman finished every item I ever started.  Unfailingly, the projects were miserable experiences.  The detail…The jargon…The need for constant focus…all of it worked to my weaknesses.  Even then, I was a big picture girl-conceptual and broad in my focus.  Attention to detail has always been an “opportunity” for me.

After I began crocheting, however, my craft blog obsession led me to all that sewing can produce.  The adorable, the beautiful, the intricate, the awesome projects on the web beckoned….and I began to covet.  I began to covet the ability to sew.  Per my usual mode of operation, I made the decision to learn and immediately began collecting all the accoutrements needed.  Especially fabric….stacks of it.  That’s what I do-I collect…

Over the last three years, I’ve completed the following:

  • One apron
  • A handful of cup cozies
  • One skirt
  • Approximately 25 pair of pajama pants
  • Curtains
  • Monday’s  pillowcase

I enjoyed the curtains and the monkey pillowcase.  The others? Not so much.  I make so many stupid mistakes!  So I’m regrouping.  I can do this!

I’m starting over….that’s right, a sewing do-over.  First, the basics….pillows! I’m more than tired of the throw pillows in the living room.  I’m going to use some of this freaking fabric if it’s the last thing I do!

I’m thinking some combination of these…They make me happy.

I’m also going to look for a class.  I won’t let my past define me.  That’s right, I call “do over”.

 

Sewing

A little monkey business…

I spent a little quality time with my number one girl yesterday.  She’s developed a new obsession with stuffed monkeys.  She’s apparently in the middle of some kind of tween self re-branding and the monkey seems to be symbolic and key to her metamorphosis.  Anyway, the long and short of it is that she’s proclaimed herself to be a monkey collector and now she’s doing the Vulcan mind-meld on me and lobbying for new and more fabulous monkeys in her life.  I’m standing firm.  Her room is already a fall-out shelter for stuffed animals.  No new monkeys!

So, ever the rock, I asked her, “how about we find a pattern for a monkey?  Maybe we can make it?”  (Be advised, I carry much mother-guilt over how little time I spend with my craftiest child doing anything that could be characterized as crafting.) So I’m thinking, two birds-one stone.  I assuage the mother-guilt aka-the “monkey” on my back .  She gets a monkey.  She was lukewarm to the idea. None of the free patterns we found on-line really floated her boat.  I rejected the amigurumi patterns she liked.  I didn’t want to present her with a monkey.  I wanted her to participate in making a monkey.  Then she presented the solution, “Mom-how about we make a pillowcase like I did with Memaw (her grandmother) that time?  Then I can like, draw a monkey on it!”  Great idea, angel, but maybe we try doing the monkey in applique?  So here is the compromise.

Behold our first applique ever! He’s a cheeky rascal…

He’s just lightly fused with some iron-on strips pending stitching. I think he’s cute.  My crafty little diva did a great job picking fabrics, cutting and even doing some of the stitching.  She’s awesome!  We’ll finish him next weekend and place him in a position of honor and prestige in her sanctum, which is of course, a hot pink, black and zebra striped zone fit for a tween!