07710 172976 sue@valuesliving.com

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?”.

Another project

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.


Next stop, APPLIQUE!