Twenty-Fifth Thing: So far, sew good

So I am halfway through my 50 blue things and slightly over halfway through the year I set myself to complete them. One of my intentions in undertaking this year-long project was to learn some new skills, and top of my list was mastering the sewing machine.

My last attempt at this was in a home economics lesson c.1990, when I broke every available needle producing a machine-embroidered reproduction of a Monet japanese bridge. I can’t imagine how this project related to the economics of the home (not least as I wasn’t the one who had to buy the new needles) but it succeeded in putting me off going near a sewing machine for over two decades.

There’s been a recent surge in sales of sewing machines, attributed to the power of BBC reality TV, although I personally think it’s because sewing machines now come in such great colours, that they’re are objects of beauty! And just because people are buying them, doesn’t mean they’re USING them!

Anyway, my sewing quest is much more personal: a desire to be able to fix things myself rather than always relying on my mother. Now, I appreciate that no amount of lessons and practice is ever going to get me to her levels of skill and experience, but if I even had a tenth of it, this would be a major step forward.

It seemed sensible to start with a task that involved only straight lines and straight stitching: adding a panel to some curtains to lengthen them. The ultimate make-do-and-mend project.

I discovered pretty quickly that the sewing machine itself is just a small part in the process, and indeed measuring, cutting, pinning and ironing the fabric are just as important as knowing how to thread the machine, or sew in a straight line.

I also discovered that the best way to learn something is to get it wrong: put the pins in the wrong direction and you can’t take them out so easily while you’re machining; start stitching without the threads being pulled to the back and you get all in a tangle; forget to put the fabric right side to right side and you have to unpick it all and do it again. There is just so much to remember!

Tools / special requirements: A sewing machine (obviously), iron, pins, ruler, chalk and a very patient teacher.

Time taken: Around 5 hours: the second curtain was much quicker than the first.

Things learned: They don’t make pins like they used to.

Satisfaction (1-10): 9. I know where the wiggly bits of stitching are, but it looks pretty good!

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