Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Needle and Thread

Like crochet, sewing is a skill that I had plenty of opportunities to learn at my mother's knee but didn't.  Unlike crochet, I can't say that I've ever given it a good honest try because I'm deathly afraid of the sewing machine.

I know.  No, really, I know.  Sewing machines are pretty high up on the list of 'stupid things to be afraid of,' but I manage it anyway.

I can manage hand sewing, which is good because I can at least repair a fallen hem or replace a button.  I've managed to sew my sleeve to whatever project I'm working on while sewing by hand, through the magic combination of my pathological clumsiness and total lack of attention, so who knows what I would do to myself with a machine.

Now, you would think that because I refuse to use a sewing machine that I wouldn't do things like make my own clothes.  You'd be wrong.  Design wise, they're incredibly simple, because again: sewing by hand.  So, despite the several skirts and pajama pants I've made I've never actually used a real pattern.

That's not to say that I don't have a collection of patterns.  I do.  Every so often I convince myself that I will learn to use the machine, I won't end up with twenty pins in my fingers and a broken needle fragment in my eye and so go out and buy a couple of patterns that promise to be simple beginner projects.  They're currently languishing in a box in the spare bedroom, held onto because, hey, that dress may eventually come back into style and then I'll want to make it again.

This year I decided that I needed some new light weight summer skirts in my life.  And why would I buy skirts when I could make my own and be sure they fit correctly- meaning I'm short and store-bought knee length skirts cheerily wave goodbye to my knees as they find the most unflattering place they can mid-calf.

Enter the tube:


This is the typical skirt 'design' I use whenever the sewing bug bites.  And I wear it a few times before deciding that really, with hips as wide as mine I really ought to look into some sort of shaping.

Enter the gore:


I had, if real designers will forgive me co-opting this term, drafted a pattern, ironed it and pinned everything together before falling into a 'there is no way I can ever finish this before summer is over' funk.  My mom came over, I proudly showed off the cute fabric and my so-called design skills and then told her about my intense lack of motivation.  She very kindly told me to stop being such an idiot and to just bring it over to her house over the weekend and we would work through my sewing machine phobia.

And it worked.  To a degree.  I have a skirt that suffers from some 'so you tried to design this yourself' problems but it fits and I put it together myself.  Mostly.  When I was intimidated by having to sew something other than a straight line (as I wasn't very good at even that), Mater was good enough to take over.  She also put in the zip and buttonhole because I was absolutely petrified I'd ruin it forever if I had to deal with closures.

The next time I went over for a sewing lesson we picked out something more my speed: kitten beds.  Over a couple of hours I managed to produce a decent pile of them despite my inability to cut a straight line and I almost always remembered to put the foot down.


Next up?  Using a real pattern.  On the one hand: exciting.  On the other: terrifying.  Here's hoping I manage to produce a proper pair of pants.


  1. Impressive efforts! I have about the same level of sewing skills. I solve that with an elastic waistband because my waistline is kind of elastic too :)

  2. Thank you! I feel you on elastic waistbands- they're a near and dear friend of mine.

  3. I think those are really nice and I'm impressed that you hand sew pyjama pants. I have to say I find real patterns scary too, I perhaps shouldn't say that ;-) (no, go on, it'll be fine!)