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Saturday, 18 January 2014

I'm getting sew confident!

Like most new skills, practicing is the sure-fire way to improve your confidence no end, and I've had the sewing machine out again this week.

You may remember that in September last year I met Maeri of the The Make and Do Studio in Stockton Heath (blog post here).  I was talking to her just before Christmas about dressmaking and she showed me a book called Improv Sewing that she thought I might like. Well, I liked it so much that I now own this very same book which is subtitled "fast, fun and fearless projects" and encourages you to improvise your own patterns made from cut-up t-shirts.  

It was quite handy, then, that my husband just happened to be putting a t-shirt that small daughter really liked into the charity bag .  It had been a birthday present one year, a few sizes too big so it had never been worn, and it was time for it to stop taking up space in the drawer.  "You can't throw that away!" small daughter exclaimed, "I will have it and grow into it."  Now unless she's planning to grow into a men's extra-large size any time soon, I think this t-shirt could just be taking up space in her drawer too, so it was an ideal opportunity to put the ideas in Improv Sewing to the test.

The premise of the book is that you use a t-shirt that fits well and then create something new around that shape.  I mused for a while, turning the too-big t-shirt this way and that, and finally decided that it would easy enough to do something without actually having to do any cutting which is the part that makes me nervous.  It's easy enough to take stitches out with knitting and start again, but once you've cut fabric that's it - especially when you've done it wrong (which has happened to me on more than one occasion, hence my nerves).

Then, after a bit more musing, I realised that the material had twisted - t-shirts do that, don't they? - and there was no way to escape the scissors.  A glass of wine was called for.  I did wonder if that would make it all worse, but I was in need of Dutch courage.  Just a sip or two would be fine, surely!  I took a big sip, a deep breath, and picked up the scissors.

And this is the result:



When small daughter tried it on, my first thought was that it could have been made for her - but of course it was!  All I had to do in the end was cut a little bit off the sides and the top of the sleeves, re-attach the sleeves and re-do the side seams which sounds a bit daunting if you're in the same place that I was before I started this, but seriously, this book makes you believe that you can do anything!  In fact, I'm so buoyed by my success that my husband has told me in no uncertain terms not to go anywhere near his t-shirt drawer!

And, if that wasn't enough, I was back at The Make and Do Studio on Thursday for a curtain-making workshop.  All our windows are the wrong shape for off-the-peg curtains so I decided that I would make my own.  And in the space of a morning's workshop, I now know that I can!  The workshop tutor, Anne, runs her own soft furnishings company so she should know a thing or two about making curtains.  I found that not only does she know a thing or two, she's also very good at telling other people how to do it as well.  We actually made a small curtain so that we could see exactly how it all fitted together.  This is mine:


Look - complete with proper lining and mitred corners!


And neat header tape that tucks into the folds of the curtain so that you can't see it.  I even know now how to tuck the string holder into the header tape so that it doesn't hang down - you can just see it on the right.


I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with my curtain - I feel like it should be over a plaque in the hall which will announce that my house is officially open! If nothing else, though, it will be a useful reminder for when I make a start on the curtains for the house, and of course of a lovely morning at The Make and Do Studio!






6 comments:

  1. Does that shop repair sewing machines? I shall have to and look there. Well done with your re-using. I know I could do it but somehow never get around to it. Also not confident at sewing with jersey fabric.

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    1. Yes, they do! Bob the repair engineer managed to fix my machine after I was told it was beyond hope - and for a very reasonable price too. Just give Maeri a ring and she'll tell you when Bob's coming over so you can drop it off (she's lovely so it's always nice to phone and ask questions!). The t-shirt jersey was actually quite easy to sew and it doesn't fray which always helps. I've tried some thinner jersey and that was a challenge, but we don't learn about these things unless we give them a go, do we? :-)

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  2. I have a little Elna sewing machine which I was using in the conservatory of all places, forgetting that the plug is in front of the door, and we have to go through the door to get to the outer door. I just went through at my usual breakneck speed, catching my foot in the machine flex. Machine went crash on the floor, breaking the bobbin holder. I might be able to stick it with super glue, if I could find the missing bit, which I know I have - SOMEWHERE! It might be an idea to get the thing serviced as well.

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    1. It's probably worth speaking to Maeri and Bob as apparently Bob can get hold of all sorts of spares which would save you the ordeal of superglue! Elna's are good machines so it'd be worth trying to fix it.

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