Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sewing Class Part One: A Bumpy Start

A few months ago, it dawned on me that it would do me so much good to learn a new skill. I blogged about it here and since have decided to sign up for sewing classes. I figured it is a good skill to have and one that I can pass on to my daughter someday.  It also made sense for me to choose sewing because I had recently inherited Andrew's grandma's old sewing machine and supplies, and Rosalie, my sister-in-law, had gifted me a neat sewing book with trendy patterns included. If I'm honest, there was something satisfying about learning on Grandma's old burgundy machine. Often believed to lack sentiment, I felt smug that I would be proving 'them' wrong.

 I was undaunted by the fact that it might end up being more difficult to use this Viking machine than the newer computerized  machines on the market these days. I had visions of myself bent over little Brielle working it, fashioning useful and not-so-useful things out of beautiful fabrics.

So I signed up for a four-session class through a local college at a sewing shop nearby. This past Monday was my first 2-hour session, and well...let's just say that at the top of the second hour, things started not going so well for me. By then, I'd become more familiar with my little machine as the teacher had gone over all the different parts and their functions. Grandma had taken great care of keeping all the paraphernalia that came with the machine, including the manual. With my manual in hand, I could follow the teacher's general overview of our machines and add my own observations as I compared her information with my Viking. I had gotten many compliments on my piece of machinery and everyone was amazed at the 'great shape' it appeared to be in. I was quite elated and couldn't wait to actually start sewing.

We finally got to that part of the first lesson...the part where you actually get to sew something, and that's when things went south for me. The teacher handed us each 2 square pieces of batique fabric that we would use to make pin cushions. Before I worked with the batique, I had to make sure my machine was dialed to sew a straight stitch and so I tried it out on a scrap of fabric and found out that it was set on the zigzag stitch. I tried to turn the dial and set it on a straight stitch, but it wouldn't budge. The teachers tried and couldn't make it turn either. They declared my little machine 'jammed' but were hopeful that they would be able to service it and get it back in working order by the following session. They set the heirloom aside and told me to quickly get acquainted with one of their class machines. I missed most of the instructions that followed as I played catch up trying to thread this new machine. Thankfully, one of the teachers noticed and got me 'caught up'. We made simple pin cushions and mine turned out looking like this.

Honestly, it wasn't the same not to be able to work on Grandma's Viking. And although I didn't want to give up hope yet, I couldn't shake this premonition I had that I'd be doing more of that...working on other machines. There was a sense of loss even before I got the call a couple of hours later to confirm what I'd been anticipating. The dear lady had to tell me the sad news that a cam gear was cracked on the Viking, which would cost $295 to replace. She told me it wasn't worth repairing, which I knew already. We'd talked about the prices of machines in class so I knew she'd counsel me against getting it fixed. I reluctantly agreed to let them have it for parts...and called some family members to tell them that grandma's sewing machine was basically beyond repair.

So, yes, quite the bumpy start for me...but I'm happy to know that I can be sentimental about things like Grandma's old sewing machine (no longer having the I'll-show-them-attitude but genuinely feeling the loss). It's also been fun to see how learning a new skill awakens my crafty side in a big way. Over the last week, I've made a necklace and earrings, silhouettes of 3 kids (my own two are shown below), tissue paper puff balls for a going-away party, and cards to go with the homemade gifts. My creativity is spilling out all over right now and I feel quite alive because of it!!

I have my next sewing class tomorrow and we'll be making pillow cases. Brielle helped me pick out the fabric this week since I'm making the pillow case for her. It'll be her 'travel bag' for all our car trips coming up this summer. With it, she'll have easy access to the toys and belongings she wants with her in the back seat, and a good place to put them back into when she's done with them. Just knowing I'll be making useful and fun things like that keeps me excited to be learning how to sew. I will obviously no longer have my own machine to work on (at least for a while), but my sweet friend Kara lent me hers so I can continue sewing and practicing after I'm through with the classes.

So anyway, that's how my first sewing lesson went.
Wondering what's awaiting me tomorrow. I'm a bit apprehensive..but also anxious to put together Brielle's pillow case.


  1. Good for you for learning to sew! I'm impressed! I don't know how to do anything homemaker-ish so I keep telling Ken he'll have to send our daughter to his sister's house for finishing school. :) I love the silhouettes! How did you do those?

  2. It was actually surprising to see a lot of younger women show up at the class. I think sewing is back 'in'!

    As for the silhouettes...I took side 'mug shots' of my kids and then printed them off on regular paper (my printer gave me the option of doing a 5 x 7 print, which I chose). I then glued the picture to black cardstock, making sure to only glue the edges of the picture that would get cut out. Then, I used my best pair of scissors and cut along the silhoutte in the picture and Voila!!