Old School Techniques

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This week my good friend and I met again for our monthly get-together and did some sewing and a lot of talking. Her Mum was down from the country for the week so she joined us and I learnt a really good old school technique; but more about that later…

At the beginning of this crazy ‘learn to sew’ adventure I started a year ago I bought this gadget online from the USA called a Yo-Yo Maker because it makes cute little material flowers from scraps of left over material. (God only knows what I thought I was going to make with it!). So a year after purchasing it I actually opened the package this week and attempted to use it. A few things I discovered:

1.  One and a quarter inch yo-yos are way too small to do anything decent with (in my opinion that is!)

2. A Yo-Yo is the American term, a Suffolk Puff is the British term

3. You don’t need a Yo-Yo Maker to do it – in fact I think it’s just as easy to do it by hand. It’s so easy that I have created a tutorial here.

I decided to make some hair ties for my little girl and her cousins so I collected a few pieces of scrap material from the scrap box and cut out some circles and got to work hand stitching. You basically do a running tack stitch around the outside of the circle and then pull the thread to make it gather, tie it off and then sew the hole closed…. when I did my first one I thought “Gee that doesn’t look right at all!”. So my mums friend had a look and told me that the problem was that I had not folded over the edge. So simple but being a beginner I didn’t think of this. Once I folded over the edge it made the world of difference to the finished product.

Elizabeth is 63 years old; has sewn all her life and has passed her knowledge onto her daughter. She can sew anything – and I mean anything; regardless of the level of difficulty! She just takes one look at something and can copy it. She has a real talent. Elizabeth grabbed my failed Suffolk Puff and said “Look you just fold over the edge, crease it and then sew”. Most of us today would use an iron and carefully fold over the edge and then press it with an iron but Elizabeth just folds it over, creases it in-between her thumb and index finger and carries on around the circle. She told me her grandmother taught her to do it this way and that she had always found it to be very effective. So I tried it and it really does work! And to be perfectly honest you would never know that I haven’t used an iron. I like to keep things simple and this certainly is a lot more simple (quicker and easier) than using an iron. It’s certainly worth a try and it even means that I can now make them on the train on the way home because I don’t need the iron anymore!

Sweet don’t you think?

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Best Friends

Sew La Tea DoI’m not really sure what I’d do without my bestie. We’ve been best of friends since high school, nowadays we are separated by distance but we remain the absolute best of friends. It’s our birthdays in July and today I received an early gift! (I have to admit I haven’t started thinking about what I could buy her because I’m hoping I can find something lovely on my holidays). I could tell by the feel of the present that it was a book – and she usually gives me a good book but this was bigger and heavier than normal. When I opened it I was so touched, she had bought me the most gorgeous book called ‘Sew La Tea Do’ by Pip Lincolne. So much thought had gone into her gift, I’ve only just discovered this big world of sewing and she can tell that I’m really enjoying it so has thought of something that relates to my new found hobby.

Sew La Tea Do is a fabulous book that has 25 different things to make; most of it sewing related but there is the odd sneaky little recipe in there too! The book comes with really clear step-by-step instructions backed up with photos and also all the patterns! I can highly recommend it to anyone, beginner or not – I think it would appeal to all.

When I called to thank her she told me that Pip (the author) has a great shop in Melbourne called Meet Me At Mikes, and also has a blog (some of you no doubt will be interested in her blog!)

What now?!?

I’ve had my new Phaff Ambition sitting on my work desk now for a few days, I look at it every time I go into the study and wonder ‘What the hell now?!?’.

Exactly where does one start when one has no idea what to do with such a machine? I’ve decided today that I am going to sit down and try and teach myself how to at least thread the thing so that I can give myself even the slightest chance of being able to sew something. I figure the best bet is to open up the manual and see if it gives good enough step-by-step instructions on what one needs to do in order to get the machine ready to start sewing.

Finally once I get my head around all the new jargon I realise it’s really not that difficult at all. The machine looks so much more complicated that what it really is. The manual provides great instructions and before I knew it I had the machine threaded (bobbin and all) in no time.

The few people I knew that can actually sew have told me to just play around on the machine a bit; meaning get some off cuts and attempt to sew in a straight line, sew around a bend and even turn a corner. I decide to hell with that; let’s just get sewing straight away!!!! I’m far from afraid of making mistakes, I figure if I make a mistake I can either unpick the work or just buy some more fabric and start all over again.

I decide that I’ll give bunting a try…. I’ve absolutely no idea how to do it but I figure if I go to a fabric shop and ask for some instructions no doubt someone will be able to help. I’ve been told bunting is Sewing 101.

Off to the fabric shop I go!!!

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The Beginning…

I know some of my friends think I’m crazy; starting a blog that is, with three kids three years and under, a husband that works six days and four nights a week and trying to work part time on top of all this….. But since the birth of my first child I have become very aware of the huge network of mothers out there that I wanted to become a part of. For the last three years I have been umming and arrhing on what I could do. I’ve seriously considered starting up a children’s clothing brand and taken steps in the right direction to get it up and running but when I sit down and really analyze the situation I keep coming back to the realization that at this point in my life I probably just don’t have enough time to really give it my all. Then there was the thought of a blog – ‘That seems like a bit of fun’ I kept thinking but what the hell would I talk about? I don’t really want to talk about my kids all day everyday – I see/live/breath them every minute of the day until 7pm comes around (ok sometimes this blows out to 8pm) and they all finally fall asleep – I need a break from them, I need to do something for me, something that I get a lot of enjoyment from.

For the past ten or so years I have wanted to learn to sew, more than just sewing on a button and taking up a hem. It’s been a secret goal that I’ve never really shared with anyone. I want to be able to make myself clothes that fit, make gifts for my best friends with love and of course groovy, edgy clothes for my own kids. So finally, after ten years I ventured off to Chatswood Sewing Centre and enquired about the purchase of a sewing machine. An hour later I walked out of the shop having purchased a Phaff Ambition 1.0. I decided (with the absolute bare minimum prior knowledge) that this was a good middle of the range machine that I wouldn’t grow out of for several years, but with the understanding that I’d be back before the end of the year for my second big purchase; an overlocker (unless my Mum wants to pass hers onto me – hint hint!).

This is my first sewing machine!

This is my first sewing machine!

So here I am, sitting, staring at this machine thinking ‘Now what?!?!’. It’s daunting – I’ve never sewed in my life, I’ve spent many a time watching my very clever mother sew up all sorts of wonderful things but I’ve never sat behind the machine and given it a go.

Where to start? What to do? How the hell do I even thread this thing!

Wish me luck!!!