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Out With the Old...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sewing was the first handicraft I fell in love with.

Yes, my grandma had taught me to knit and crochet at about the age of 5, so I knew how to do both already, but that work was slow, and finicky, and beyond my young attention span.

When I was nine and my brother seven, my parents (like all good Canadian parents do*) put him into hockey. I was a little peeved that I didn't get to "do anything" (I was really angling for ballet lessons, but for reasons I now understand, that wasn't about to happen), so my mom made a deal with me that she would give me sewing lessons.

I had always been fascinated with sewing. My mom and her mom both did a lot of it, and I had seen them make the most beautiful bridesmaids gowns, and dresses for me that made the best twirly dresses with full skirts down to my ankles. (I was the first granddaughter, so I got spoiled from both machines). Other than things sewn directly for me or received as birthday gifts, all of my clothes were hand-me-downs. I didn't have a problem with that, but when I was offered the chance to learn how to make my own clothes, I jumped at it.

For my first real project, I chose a jumpsuit (for you Brits, that is not a sweater, but a bibbed coverall) and made it out of black corduroy.

Mom had let me start on making Barbie clothes (though I'm not sure why--probably to waste less fabric if I screwed up, but anything that small is way harder than normal people clothes!) When I was quite young, she would let me stand beside the machine and take out the pins as she was sewing seams. So by the time I started on the jumper, I was not intimidated. Also, it was a good start on learning how to match fabric and to keep the grain straight when cutting out. I was so excited, and managed to finish them in a few weeks. I had planned to use them as my "Christmas" outfit that year--except I broke and dislocated my arm a few days before Christmas, and ended up spending it in the hospital. Oh, well! I still had the coveralls. The good feeling I got from knowing I made it myself (with my mom's help, of course!) was addicting, and I never looked back.

(Aside: When I actually took Home Economics in Grade 8, I was a little dismayed that we were expected to do a pair of boxing shorts or a tie as our "first" project. I had purchased a pattern and blue taffeta for my first fancy dress long before the sewing unit came up, which dismayed my teacher more than a little. After my mom had a talk with her and reassured her that not only could I do it, I could do it without any help, she "let" me do it as my project, and even let me work on it at home. After three days, I was finished, and got to read novels for the remaining two weeks of the sewing unit. End aside.)

Husqvarna sewing machine

My mother's machine was a sturdy Husqvarna that had been given to her as a gift from her mother when she graduated from high school. And later, she gave it to me as a graduation gift.

That machine sewed my first project. It sewed my first gown and my prom dress. It sewed my wedding gown, and a wedding gown for a friend. It sewed dresses for myself, my friends, pants that fit (something that became crucial as I continued to stretch skywards), clothes for my children, costumes, quilts for friends' babies, and more. I took it to college with me, where it adorned one wall of my bedroom.

And then, about a year and a half ago, the gears started stripping. The longer the stitch I set it on, the worse it was. Our local "sewing machine doctor" (the male half of the couple that owns the local fabric store--a very senior gentleman who tinkers with sewing machines in his spare time) couldn't do anything about it, and said it was too old to get parts for.

Dismay, this time at the fact that I was without a sewing machine for the first time in my life!!

When she heard of my plight, my friend L gave me a Pfaff Hobby machine of hers that she no longer used. The first project I made on it was a pair of fluffy flannel pajamas for Jude. When I went over the flat-felled crotch seam (about 6-8 layers of fabric), something in the machine growled fiercely at me, and it was broken. The good doctor wasn't able to do anything about this one either. (I think it might be fixable at a Pfaff store, but we don't have one of those here.)

So, I started saving my pennies for a fancy, new machine that can do embroidery, but with our very expensive summer last year, those pennies seemed to keep getting misplaced into other projects.

As the December holidays approached, though, I really started to feel the absence of a sewing machine. Yes, there is always knitting (which you all know I now LOVE), but there are some things that just need to be sewn. I started thinking that maybe all I really need right now is something functional, not fancy.

Then, my in-laws gave me $100 to spend at Sears for Christmas. And my friend Colleen told me about a machine she had heard about that Sears has that is only about $300, and pretty good, too. And when I went looking for it, I found out that the very well-reviewed machine was indeed there, and on sale for only $200, but the sale was ending that night. So I bought it, of course.

And when it came, I found out that it has pink on it. How great is that?!! (I have to glory in areas of femininity when I can, you know.)

DSC04191 web.jpg

So, I quickly went stash-busting to find a quick project to make that would test the capabilities of this new machine. I discovered that there have been some pretty nifty new inventions in sewing machine technology in the last fifty years. (I'm in love with the automatic buttonholer.) Here is the vest I made first, using some fabric rescued from some horrible curtains and vintage buttons from my Grandma's stash (the weird crop is to spare you a view of my armpit):

Brown Tunic Vest 2

Now I am working on a linen-and-lace peasant top of my own design:

Linen Peasant top

And you already know about the Angry Birds.

Red Angry Bird 1

Ah... a sewing machine is back in my life. All is right with the world again... (Okay, maybe not, but that certainly helps me cope!! :-D)

*Jason and I have sworn off hockey, as it is the most expensive, time-consuming sport available--so I guess we are the bad Canadian parents!

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  1. Blogging TWO DAYS IN A ROW!!!! And nice long ones, too. I'm truly impressed. And even more impressed with your vest and peasant blouse! So happy you've got a good machine again. Love ya!
    P.S. Your new machine is very pretty in pink.


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