My Sewing Journey: Part One (aka I thought I knew what I was doing)

I am an over achiever. I try not to be, but it seems to be the way I'm wired.

For example, we had Home Economics in high school and during the year we were actually making stuff, we were let loose with sewing machines to make a pencil roll and a sarong. Luckily both of those items have since been forever lost, never to see the light of day.

Were your attempts really that bad?

Probably not, but they weren't that good either. I was better at the weaving. But on with the story! Lets fast forward a decade and a half. I'm now at college doing hairdressing. Not something you'd think would correlate to sewing, but bear with me. One of the modules for the hairdressing course was to create a look. This involved hair, make-up and costume. So of course, I thought "Demonic Ringmaster" was the way to go. I might actually make a blog detailing the process behind that thought). Being as I'm an over achiever, buying a costume wasn't a thought that crossed my mind. Oh no. I wanted to make the waistcoat. And I did! (and got a distinction, but that's by-the-by).

Demon Ringmaster waistcoat laid out

You can almost feel the sense of smug satisfaction from having made something with no formal training whatsoever.

Of course, you can imagine the smug steaming out of my pores after I made it. I was so damn proud of myself, thinking I'd mastered the art of sewing. I could make haute couture any time I wanted. Etc. Etc.

Luckily for me and my ego, I met Irena, who teaches sewing, stitching and all sorts of crafting things. Since I knew I wanted to make clothes- and hadn't let my ego get too out of control, I embarked upon her sewing course, starting right from scratch.

Let me tell you, I am bloody glad I did. Never before have I figured out so quickly how little I actually knew about something. I thought a sewing making was simple, just plug it in, push the pedal and off you go. I was so, so wrong.

So what happened?

In the first part of the course we learned what each part of our machine was called, why we needed to know about it and what it did. We learned to wind a bobbin, make sure our thread tensions were such that the stitches were neat and didn't become a clumpy mess, and that the pedal was nothing and exactly like a car accelerator (luckily a hazard perception test is not required with sewing otherwise I would have fallen at the first hurdle.)


Apparently I look grumpy when I concentrate
The offending exercise...

And so into the breach once more...

Now, my baby (read: "gifted from my mother") is an old Brother machine with knobs (snerk) and something of a clunky foot- which is wonderful for someone as heavy-footed and ham-fisted as I am. One of the first things Irena had us do was make sure we were threading everything correctly. Luckily for me, this was one of the few things I remembered from school all those years ago. What I didn't remember and am still having trouble with, is pedal control.

My machine has three settings: Nothing, Fast, and oh-god-it's-gone-to-plaid!

This is not ideal when you're trying to control what you're doing- and before we were let loose with pretty material to actually make something, there were exercises to do.

This was the part where my ego finally laid down to die and my frustration rose like the phoenix. Seriously, sewing a circle should not be this difficult!

Still, I ploughed through, and the point of the exercise became clear. It was not, as my frustration told me, a punishment for some as yet unperceived slight, but a lesson in stitch choice and making appropriate choices. (Gin cocktails and lots of food being the most appropriate choice)

This is dragging on a bit, isn't it?

Absolutely. I am feeling verbose today, but to cut a long story short, and all joking aside, I'm really glad I went to this workshop. Irena is a fantastic teacher, coming from a history of Parisian sewers, so what she teaches is the sort of thing needed to get your clothes onto fashion runways if that's the direction you want to go.  The best part, for me, was realising I knew far less than I thought I did and while YouTube tutorials are a great resource, they aren't a substitute for having someone who knows what they're doing actually being there to explain why you went wrong and how to fix it.

In my first proper lesson in too many years I made the little purse below. It's not perfect- the fabric doesn't quite match up and the seams are a little wobbly, but the corners are flat and it hasn't fallen apart yet. In fact, I'm adding a couple of poppers and a loop to it and it's going to hold all my tape measures, and I can honestly say I am looking forward to the next workshop where she's going to be teaching us to make fold-over and zipped cushion colours. Because my home needs more cushions.

10/10 - Would sew again.

Final pinning before sewing together

One thought on “My Sewing Journey: Part One (aka I thought I knew what I was doing)

  1. Leanne that’s writing. Very funny and loving the honesty. You did really well. Keep practicing the exercises lol. See you at the next one. X

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