Saturday, July 30, 2011

Learning to Sew

I've always wanted to craft and sew and paint. My mother had little patience for teaching. She's pretty much show you something once if she even agreed to it, and if you didn't get it, you were out of luck. I don't remember her teaching me to sew, but I know I was really young. I remember when we were stationed in Alabama (ages 6-9) piecing remnants together for doll clothes before my mom would tidy up and throw them away. I made this pillow at age 9 (excuse the wrinkles, it has been in a bag in the closet for years/decades).

I begged my mom to teach me to sew on the sewing machine my whole childhood. She attempted to teach my older sister and ended up with a broken sewing machine and no patience left and refused to teach me. I finally saved enough money with babysitting money and bought one for myself at age 16, the summer before I entered my senior year of high school. I bought the cheapest Brother machine at Wal-mart and learned to sew from the manual that came from the machine and the instructions that came with the pattern for this doll, which was my first sewing machine project.

I mistakenly thought that a smaller project would be easier. When I presented it to my mom, she asked me why I would choose such a small doll to make and asked me if it wasn't hard. I had no frame of reference. Yes, it was hard, but I didn't know if it was harder or easier to make than anything else. At that time, I also didn't know about any other tools I might need, such as a seam ripper, and I didn't know what tracing paper or a tracing wheel was, so I pretty much winged it. The doll has lots of flaws and many were corrected with hand sewing, which I was pretty good at. Since then I've read anything I can get my hands on about sewing. I'm constantly trying to improve and I'm sure that there are lots of basics that I'm still in the dark about, even as I've mastered some advanced techniques.

The moral of the story is that if you want to learn, just jump right in. I know a lot of people online will tell you not to waste your money on a cheap machine or only buy a machine that was built at least a half a century ago and made of all metal, but I disagree. If you have never sewn on a nice machine, then you won't know the difference. I used that cheap machine for 7 years before I upgraded and although I would have liked a nicer one, I made Renaissance festival costumes and quilted quillows on it. There are a ton of basic sewing books at library and don't be too embarrassed to ask other customers at fabric and craft stores (I don't give much credit to most employees though, especially if you look younger than 50).

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