Monday, May 24, 2010

Attack of the Sewing Machine Needle

I told you all I was afraid of that needle. So afraid in fact I've been staring right at when I sew resulting in very crooked seams and the hopeless feeling that I may never be able to create something presentable. I spent a little time with my husband's grandmother a few weeks back. We spent an entire afternoon in her "sewing room" which is actually a 20 by 20 steel building, complete with floor to ceiling shelves of neatly organized fabric, a quilting machine and a huge table, big enough for any project she dares to undertake. Dearie has been sewing most of her life. She makes most of her clothes, has made more than one quilt for each grandchild and I swear could make a dress out of a four inch square scrap. She's pretty amazing with a sewing machine. 

She promised that in no time I would be making my daughter her own clothes but started me out by making cloth napkins. I've been wanting to wean from paper towels anyway since they are so environmentally damaging so making napkins sounded perfect. But that damn needle. She said the easiest way to edge the napkins was with a simple zig zag stitch. But I kept looking at that needle, praying for my fingers, and about half way down each side my zig zags were neither zigging or zagging anywhere near the fabric. Dearie slapped a piece of masking tape on my machine so I could look low and stay away from the cursed needle. Viola! Straight (ish) seams! She also suggested I take a formal class to help improve my skills.

Our local craft store provides such lessons for $35 a class. I thought it was a little much, especially since I've been such a cheapskate these days. But I really wanted to learn. I think I could really like sewing so I paid and I went. I can't believe how much I learned! Most of the class focused on reading a pattern and laying it out. For some reason or other, it never occurred to me that I might ever need to use a pattern and had I tried to do it on my own, I probably would have crumpled it, stomped on it and threw it away. But now I know what the symbols mean and I'm familiar with the vocabulary they use. I was so inspired I almost bought a pattern and some fabric right then and there. Almost.

I think I need a bit more practice before attempting a "patterned" project. I'm planning to take the next level sewing class in which I will actually make something. A drawstring skirt I believe it is. In the meantime, I found some super cool fabric and will be making a table runner and of course, napkins with my leftovers.  Pretty soon, I'll be sewing the straightest seams this side of the West Valley!


  1. You'll figure it out and be sewing away in no time at all! So proud of you!

  2. Go Stephanie!!! I knew you could do it!!

  3. Good for you! Sewing is a great skill to have. I've never been that good at it myself but I learned about patterns in high school (long ago) and I've always been able to mend and make some simple things. I've never had a machine that behaved so that didn't help. I just bought one before Christmas and I've used it a few times. It works likes a charm.

  4. Steph, check out Amy Butler patterns and fabrics at

    I think you would like her stuff- I have made lots of purses out of her fabrics, and I'm going to try a halter top for myself next (maybe after grad school ends!). She does lot of cute kid stuff, too. :)