Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sew what?

Before the knitting of The Scarf took over, I was originally getting into sewing.

Inspired by a group of women at my work I like to call the 'sew fashionable ladies', I decided I too could make awesome little outfits all on my own. I also decided quilts were the coolest thing ever and that I'd like to make one/many (I still would like to make one/many but they look pretty difficult so I think I'll see if I can take a class at Nancy's to help me out). So sometime prior to June last year I told my Mum she could look into buying me a 2nd hand sewing machine on TradeMe for my birthday. But my Mum being my Mum (really cool and apparently owner of a money tree), she bought me a brand new Janome Sewist 521.

It took me quite a few months to actually get it out of its box and use it... It was so shiny and new and held so much promise I didn't want to break it/realise sewing was actually harder than I remembered from my 'Manual' (I think now known as Technology at primary schools) and 3rd Form 'Clothing' (I think now called Fabric Technology or some such thing at high schools) days. Woe is me, I'm so old and these new fandangled terms are so beyond me.

I first made Mum help me make a skirt when I went down to visit her in Christchurch (she and her husband own a dairy farm in Hurunui, about an hour's drive out of Christchurch city). When I say 'made Mum help me' I really mean 'made Mum do it all as I got annoyed because the waist in the picture on the front of the pattern looked lower than it was in reality and she tried to alter it and it all went downhill from there'. In the end it worked out okay and I have since worn the skirt. Once.

I had thought getting back into the swing of sewing by using Mum's good old Bernina that is older than I am (she bought it after she got her first job at the Carterton BNZ when she was 16) and that I grew up playing on would give me the confidence to get my new machine out of the box and work out this whole 'drop in' bobbin business (her Bernina has the bobbin in the front). I guess it kind of did because a wee while later when I was back in Wellington I braced myself, got my machine out, found out that the drop-in bobbin is REALLY easy, and made something from some fat quarters I had bought.

As you can see the squares don't all line up, but I like it. It's currently sitting as a kind of table runner in my apartment. I had thought I'd make it as a dolls' blanket for my little 2 1/2 year old cousin but in the end I couldn't give up my first little project. Plus the colours were wrong...

Which brought me to my next project. My little cousin got a playhouse and I decided she needed a dolls' cot to go in it. I remember my sister and I getting a whole lot of play and enjoyment out of our little white wooden dolls' cot when we were young so I thought Maggie would like one too. I found an amazing one on TradeMe for a bargain (considering how beautiful it is and that it had been recently repainted and has two cool big butterfly stickers placed at the head and foot and has a pink and white gingham CANOPY) and my Nana got all excited when it got dropped at her house for storage until Christmas that she went out and bought some pink and white gingham to match the canopy and made a little mattress and pillow. She left making the blanket for me though as she knew that was my plan.

So voila, second sewn project, completed a few weeks ago in December:

It was so cute when I arrived with the cot on Christmas Day (I didn't bother wrapping it up, it was too big and would have been a waste of paper). Maggie and her 4 year old brother had gotten a little puppy for Christmas (they live on a farm which makes getting a puppy not too big a deal for their parents) and Maggie carried it around all day. Despite my repeated attempts to show her how her doll could sleep all tucked up in her new cot, there was only one thing going in that cot:

At first the puppy wasn't so keen on the idea and kept slipping out through the gaps in the bars, following which Maggie would cry 'Puppy! Bed time!', run after him, scoop him up, and put him back in again. This continued for quite some time until clearly she tired him out and he bowed to her wishes.

For her brother who loves Thomas the Tank Engine, I made this:

His response was all you could hope for - he ripped the paper off, cried, 'Thomas!!! Look Mum!! I'll put it on my bed!!' and then ran to his room and placed it on top of his pillow. It was so nice to feel like something I'd put a lot of time and effort into was appreciated/hit the spot. I say a lot of time and effort but it didn't really take that long, especially considering it wasn't just any cushion...
It's like a pillow case! I was super proud of making a pillow stuffed with some stuffing I bought from Golding Handcrafts and then making a removable cover for it so that the cover can be taken off and washed if necessary (considering it's in the possesion of a 4 year old, it's likely to be necessary). I actually did the whole pillow-case-like-cover thing because I don't know how to sew the last part of the last side of a cushion once you've turned it right-side out so that it doesn't look all gammy and hand-sewn. So this was the perfect solution.

It was so rewarding to actually make some Christmas gifts. I got a bit into the whole making thing and made some Christmas cards (no photos of those, but basically some sparkly blue icicle stickers from Whitcoulls, some black card, and lots of silver pen - same for the gift tags I made). You feel a real sense of achievement and pride in the gifts you give; although I feel that same sense when I give someone something bought that I know they'll love. Still.

Also, one of the best things about the blanket and the cushion was that, apart from the buttons and pink thread on the blanket and the stuffing for the cushion, all they cost was time to make! My boyfriend Guy just finished his Bachelor of Performing Arts in Acting last year at Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School. At Toi they have a fantastic costume design course and at the end of the year the costume course crew cleaned up the sewing room and gave away big bags of unwanted material. Guy got me a bag and while I threw some bits out and there are still lots of bits I don't know if I'll ever use, all the material for the blanket and the cushion came from there. That's why the pink of the blanket isn't exactly right for the pale pink of the gingham, but Maggie (and I) couldn't care less as it still looks pretty cool.

I also got a pretty exciting Christmas present (it wasn't my only present, I don't think I'd be as thrilled if that was the case) - pinking shears! I'm looking forward to trying them out (I HATE fraying edges, even if you won't see them and they won't cause the material to slowly pull completely apart, they look UGLY) sometime soon.

So that's all my finished sewing projects so far. I say finished because there's something currently languishing on my ironing board, but more on that later....

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