New Thing: Sewing

If you couldn’t tell thus far, I like live for trying new things – food, hobbies, towns/cities in which to live; regardless, I like the moment of learning how to knit, discovering I enjoy sweet potatoes (after thinking I hated them for the first 24 years of my life!), and finding out that despite thinking living in a city is awful, learning that I love urban environments. Life is too short to stay with the same-old same-old!

Well, my latest endeavor is one that has been haunting me for over a decade: Sewing.

Like most of us, I took a Home Economics class in 7th grade (though it was called something like “Home and Careers” in the 1990s politically-correct world). Though I enjoyed and excelled at the cooking and baking portion of the class, the one thing at which I failed miserably was sewing. Our project was supposed to be fun and simple, but for me it was neither.

We had to make a pillow and had a catalog of options from which to choose… and I’m absolutely shocked to say that THIS is the actual catalog we had. For whatever reason, I chose to sew the pig pillow.

It looks simple enough, right? Pretty much a perfect oval, made of felt, the pieces were all pretty much circular so there would be no zig-zag or other complicated stitching to do: perfect for a 12-year-old.

Or not.

I did so awfully that my teacher took me aside and told me if I don’t want to fail this assignment that I’d have to start over and work on it after school until I’m done. Hanging my head in shame, I did just that…

…and still got a C on the project. I don’t even think I took the pillow home because I was so embarrassed of it. Needless to say, this is the exact formula of childhood trauma, to an extent, and I never sewed again (other than the occasional button repair, and even that kind of thing I’m not very good at!).

Well, I have a few friends who are insanely talented and they post things they’ve sewn online. I also watch far too much Project Runway. Then my jaw dropped so hard when I discovered this crazy-talented woman who posts video tutorials of making your own clothing from cheap, easily-found items. (I would love to have even an ounce of her skill and attempt to make everything on her site!)

Not only do I want to up-cycle cheap clothes and get creative, but I have another problem that needs solving (as if I don’t have enough problems already!). Because I run so many races and do a lot of volunteer activities, I’ve accumulated a lot of event tee shirts, most of which I don’t wear. I don’t want to get rid of them (many have lots of memories!) but I also don’t want to be a hoarder and require a fourth drawer for all of my shirts! So, last year I had the idea of making my shirts into a big quilt (and maybe small pillows from a select few).

All of this in mind, I bought a sewing machine a few weeks ago.

I always [stupidly] determine that because I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering that I can figure out anything with moving parts. More often than not, this is true. (One exception is the automobile, as I definitely don’t understand 95% of how an injection engine works.)

I took my sewing machine out of the box, cracked open the instruction book (something I rarely do, but I considered this a special occasion, I suppose), and gave it a whirl.

And failed.

After many attempts to thread the bobbin, thread the machine, and put some stitches on some curtain remnants that had been gathering dust in my knitting yarn basket, the thread got knotted around the bottom of my fabric… over, and over, and over again.

I gave up, much like the first time I attempted to knit. (More about that in a future post.) Instead of putting the machine back in the box, I hopped on the lovely internet and sent out an S.O.S. on Facbeook: “Do any of my local friends know how to operate a sewing machine and would be willing to exchange your instruction for baked goods?”

My friend Kelly took it upon herself to accept my plea and offer to help me learn to use that damned machine from Satan my sewing machine.

After a mere two hours at her home, I now know how important making your bobbin properly is, how tension is an evil, evil beast when not tamed properly, and that I can now probably get at least a B on that stupid pig pillow.

Hopefully I will get this tee shirt quilt done by the winter and prove to my boyfriend that this sewing machine wasn’t just another impulse purchase. 🙂