I have embraced my new hobby
Well, resurrected an old one really. And fat quarters and walking feet do not, in this instance, refer to the author 😉
As I entered my second year of not regularly going into school to teach music, I had a whimsical moment. One that resulted in the purchase of a new, basic model (albeit with a dog print all over it) sewing machine. Books were purchased to get me going again. My value of ‘waste not want not’ conflicted intensely with that of ‘be prepared’…
As I got started
I reminded myself of all the basics around the machine, making sure the thing was properly threaded, and remembering the pleasure of watching a bobbin wind. But what should I make first? Definitely a bag. And one bag rapidly turned into 4 bags. The wonderful Geoff’s Remnant Shop furnished me with fat quarters (a specific, small size) of fabric for the illustrated patchwork tote. I learned again about how to create clean corners. I learned for the first time about fusible fleece and how to manufacture bag handles efficiently. I became a dab hand at linings and overstitching.
Before I knew what was happening, I had set up a new, sturdy table in the loft, with a beautiful view over the trees in the cemetery. This room has become what the long-suffering spouse refers to as my ‘eyrie’. Piles of fabric and thread started accumulating. I moved the ironing board upstairs. I started to appreciate the advantages of a self-healing mat and a rotary cutter. My chief concern began to be “tailor’s chalk or washable fabric pen?”.
The next major project was Christmas table mats for a friend. Now I was entering the realm of heat resistant padding (sewing through the metal apparently helps in keeping your needle sharp). I discovered an Aladdin’s cave called The Log Cabin, where an amazing group of ladies mastermind 2 huge rooms of tempting fabrics, plus a work room where all the magic happens in quilting workshops.
Yes. Quilting. And binding – but should that be straight or bias binding? And how on earth do you mitre corners?
My first effort was amateur to say the least. I had been so enthusiastic to embark on this project that I had neglected the importance of the walking foot*. And increasing the stitch length. And the use of spray adhesive. *(for the uninitiated, a walking foot is a slightly ‘clunky’ looking device that moves layers of fabric along from above, as well as from underneath).
What came out of all this
BUT. I was doing it. And I was learning all the time. I was working out what worked best for me in every last detail. The rules of fabric are non-negotiable. If you break those rules by cutting corners you are punished severely! (Although cutting corners is exactly what is required when making cushion covers). I developed my own way of measuring the exact seam allowance when sewing on binding, so that there is no stretching on the reverse side. I mastered mitring corners. My quilting is improving.
The joy of all this is multi-dimensional. I can be creative. I am learning all the time. I have found a covert network of fellow stitchers, whose knowledge and experience I milk continuously.
The sewing space
The sewing space has a time and energy all of its own. You can get lost in concentration, but at the same time catch up on listening to music or a radio programme or webinar. You can only go at the pace of your personal expertise; if you rush, you end up having to unpick your mistakes. It is a reality check and a great leveller. I could be seen as a bit of a perfectionist, but this sewing business is redefining perfectionism for me. I can aspire continually to improve my skills, but be immensely satisfied with the finished results along the way.
I am reminded that the best of Turkish rugs are always made with a deliberate mistake.