There was a time when I told myself I’d never be able to knit. I picked up the needles, tried to follow the directions, and threw them down in disgust when I just couldn’t get it. And now look at me!
But the sewing machine eluded me. There were times when I sat down to use it, threaded the damn thing, only to have the thread bunch up under the fabric. Despite keeping a positive outlook and telling myself that I’d learn how to sew One Day, I just knew it would never come to fruition.
I finally sat down with the manual for my mom’s old Singer Touch-Tronic 2000. Doesn’t that sound so high-tech? In fact, listen to the first line in the manual:
“Congratulations… You are about to sew on the most advanced sewing machine in the world… the model 2000 machine. It makes sewing so simple, so foolproof – and so much fun! – you will be astounded.”
I can just picture a 1950’s housewife all dressed up, presenting a perfectly baked dinner to her family, saccharin smile beaming from ear to ear, showing them the entire wardrobe she managed to whip up in one day.
So, while my sewing may not be “foolproof” – and I’m not necessarily “astounded” – I am thrilled to be using the sewing machine. Just thought I would share some of the projects I’ve been working on.
When we did our P is for Pirate week of preschool, I had hoped to make Gwen a bandana pirate skirt but just didn’t get around to it. That was one of my first undertakings, and while the waistband was a pain in the butt because of the fabric I used, it was otherwise super-easy and adorable. I used a scrap piece of the bandana and appliqued it into one of her plain shirts to make a matching set. She loves her twirly skirt.
Then I thought, what else can I make for her? I’ve had this peasant-style tank top for a couple years, the straps on which broke the first time I put it on. I could have just fixed the straps and used it as-is but decided instead to turn it into a dress for Gwen. I just cut out the basic shape using one of the dresses already in her closet and went from there. Note to self: Do not attempt pockets until you’re ready.
Unless they’re worn and threadbare, I can’t stand throwing clothes out when they get a tear somewhere. It seems all my jeans have started getting worn through the knees or near the pockets, but I just couldn’t bear to throw them away. With the sewing machine, mending them was a cinch!
I also have this stack of flannel baby wipes that I’ve used in rotation every day since Gwen was born, so you can imagine how worn out they are. I cut off the frayed edges and re-seamed them. They may be faded, but they look a lot better and are no longer falling apart! Similarly, I took some thin baby washcloths and sewed two together, making a more substantial washcloth. I am never buying cloth wipes again!
The thing that had me determined to figure out my machine once and for all was a desire to use more eco-friendly feminine products. I have some Lunapads that I use in conjunction with my Lunette cup, but I don’t have a very good stash and I’m sick of buying disposable pads all the time. Buying them can get pretty expensive, even for the simplest of pads. So I got myself some fabric (a couple pretty flannels for softness and absorbency and jersey since it’s thin), stocked up on some free patterns and got to work.
I’m very pleased with how they turned out. I like the basic two-layered flannel pads for pantyliners and made the circle pad with snaps as a holder. Check out my Eco-Friendly Pinterest board for more resources.
On a roll, I found the cutest tutorial for a Bapron – a cross between a bib and an apron. I whipped up three of them and I love how they turned out. I had trouble the first time catching the seam binding underneath, so I opted for a zigzag stitch instead of a straight seam and I love the character it adds. They fit Josiah, and he wore his for the entire day! I got a soft brown velvet for the backing, and when he saw it he excitedly said “blankie!”
Gwen really wants me to make one for her so I’m trying to figure out how to best enlarge the pattern; figured the kiddos could use them as art smocks. I have a whole bunch of hospital receiving blankets that I currently use as drop cloth bibs for Josiah so I may just repurpose those into an actual bib.
A while back I bookmarked a super-cute produce bag tutorial and was pleasantly surprised how cheap and easy the project was. I even made some nifty stamped tags using twill tape – such a simple idea but it really adds character and an element of fun! The mesh was a pain to handle, but I paid under $2 for the whole thing. From one yard of mesh I got four big produce bags and made three smaller ones from the leftover scraps; sometimes I get only a few jalapeno peppers or garlic bulbs and don’t need the big bags. I’m curious to see how these hold up to regular handling and may make a few more. Hello Mother’s Day gift!
Along the same lines I decided to try my hand at some snack bags. I didn’t want to deal with lining, so I went alone with this unlined, reusable snack bag with French seams tutorial. I love how she used linen and found the instructions very clear, but I had problems going over the edges with my machine. I don’t know if it’s the needle, the pressure or tension, or of it’s just my machine, but I couldn’t sew around the edges and couldn’t get the velcro all the way to the ends. I still love how the bags came out but want to try another snack bag tutorial.
I told Phil – Just think, if I can learn to sew… who knows… maybe I can conquer a stick shift! He just gave me a look. Up next on my sewing list are a pair of pants for Josiah, a skirt for Gwen and… wait for it… wait for it…. underwear for me! I am simply dying to see how easy it can be to make my own undies because I hate buying them. I’ve already raided my closet for some things I can repurpose.
Do you sew? Please share some easy, rewarding beginner projects for me! And take a gander at my Sewing & Needlework Pinterest board for more inspiration.