Tuesday, January 10, 2012

sewing, or something like that

I have a hand-me-down sewing machine.  Have had for a few years, in fact.  But more often than not, I would glance at it and think, I don't sew.  That's it, just I don't sew as though it were something I could not change.  As though I were saying, My eyes aren't blue, never will be.

Well as Christmas was approaching and my fingers were knitting themselves into knots I started thinking, I need a new hobby.  And there was my sewing machine, dusty and looking sorry for itself.  So, just for fun, I started perusing the internet, looking for beginning sewing patterns.  I came across one that I fell in love with.

So I begged my sewing-master friend Beth to give me a lesson.  For a couple hours she walked me through how to cut fabric, topstitch, and add batting.  With her help, and then finishing it myself the next day, I made what I set out to make: a Pyrex carrying cover.  My mom always seems to be delivering a meal to someone, so I gave it to her for Christmas. 

But then after adding up the cost of that little project I started feeling gloomy.  Fabric is expensive (on sale for $5/yard--gee thanks), and I didn't know how I would ever accumulate enough to create a good stash.

Fortunately, I came across a blog that suggested buying fabric second-hand.  Sheets, towels, tablecloths...anything made of fabric at a thrift store is fair game.

This was the most genius idea I had ever come across (in the world of sewing).  So I ran to the Salvation Army and grabbed 4 sheet sets for about $8.  There's a couple YARDS of fabric in EACH sheet so really, the cost per yard is negligible.  (I then promptly washed them all because they had that certain Salvation Army smell.  But now they smell just like my dryer sheets.  And they also smell a bit like a bargain, if you ask me, which is a totally lovely scent.)  

I decided this is the perfect way to learn how to sew.  I can practice making things and if I mess up, it only cost me a few cents.  

Sigh of relief.  I can now continue to pursue my new hobby.

So the first thing I did was learn how to ruffle and, using one of those sheets, I made myself an apron.  I did not use a pattern, but I knew what I wanted it to look like in the end.  And after reading several sewing blogs and tutorials on line, all the info I needed was in my head somewhere, in bits and pieces.

Success (as long as I don't show you the back side)!

Then I made a little pin cushion for my sewing machine, so I'd have somewhere to put all the pins I pull out as I'm sewing along. 

Then I decided that I wanted to learn how to quilt.  I can't exactly explain why, except that I have a favorite quilt that I adore, and I can stare at it for hours and it always amazes me that someone made it.

So, an easy way to learn some quilting techniques is to knit yourself a potholder.  Using the leftover Pyrex material, I did just that.  This was also my first attempt at making my own bias tape (the edging, here in green.)

Then I saw a sprocket pillow and I knew I wanted to make one.  So I got out some floral sheets and went to work.

I kind of love this pattern, and if you made it bigger it could be an awesome floor pillow.  Perfect for a playroom and also so very zen.

But so far it was all just little things.  What I really wanted to make was my first quilt.  I found instructions for the "world's most simple quilt" and knew that was the one for me.

I no longer believe everything I read.

Seriously, if THIS is the easiest quilt in the world, I'm in trouble. 

However, in the spirit of not giving up, I decided to finish it no matter what. 

And last night, I did.

It's a small quilt, lap size (or Topher-sized, if it weren't so darn flowery), but it is a quilt. 

And I sewed it myself.  Without too much trouble.

Or something like that.

Now does anybody need a quilt and matching pillow?



  1. You did awesome! I just don't know how that little brain of yours works. You just go online and teach yourself to sew. That's wild. You're like a mastermind- of all things crafty.

  2. On the quilt what measurements did you use to cut the strips? In the instructions it says to use the expensive fabric they sell on Etsy, but I like your idea of sheets. Just curious how wide and long you cut your strips?

  3. Hi Deb, great question. Because I had batting that was 45", I cut my strips to that same length. (Acutally I probably cut them closer to 48" and then cut off the extra when I squared up the quilt after the strips were all sewn together.) For variety, I cut the wider strips 5" wide, and the skinnier ones 3.5" wide. Subsequently I cut the batting 4" and 2.5" wide, as it needs to be skinnier than your fabric strips. The final measurements of my quilt are about 45" x 40". The front of the quilt is made out of two floral sheets and the back is just a white sheet. Hope this helps!

  4. No way! You can't just start off doing that well! You've got to go through what I went through years ago causing me to come up with the "scripture" Whatsoever I sew, I rip! It is a very satisfying thing to actually sew something that you can use. I want to see you do some simple skirts and a dress maybe...I'll spring for the material and after you master the pattern...you can make one for me! Love you so much! mom

  5. You are doing great at this! Plus, how lucky are you to have found sheets cute enough to buy at the thrift store. Usually I only find them with crazy annoying cartoon characters. And wow! A quilt! I can't believe you've already made one. AMAZING!! I have the hardest time quilting (that whole craft add, if I can't finish it in 1- possibly 2 nights it's not worth it to me.