Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Contains a Disclaimer

Next month Sew L.A. will be three years old. Since then we've taught at least one Machine Intro class per week, and with 8 people per class that's roughly 32 people a month, times 36, which according to my sloppy math means we're looking at 384+ beginners that have taken this introductory class. Probably more, but it doesn't matter for my intended purposes.

Shaerie figured it would be a good idea that I know how to sew, and well, I did a long time ago. 18 years ago in fact, but like many things, if you don't keep up with it, you eventually forget how and it's just another thing you can add to a list of New Years resolutions that quickly get abandoned come February.

Despite the fact I have a bit of a reputation for being a bit stubborn and blundering through things in my own way should I subject our teachers to having me in the class? Uhh, yes, so Machine Intro (101)  it was.

385 and counting...

Now I have a little tote bag, and as for that stubbornness, well I insisted on using some fabric that wasn't exactly the right size, hence my strap is a little shorter than the typical class example.

And time for a giant disclaimer. If you stopped by our booth at the recent Renegade Craft Fair, yes I was the one running the demo BUT rest assured I am NOT teaching any of the classes here at Sew L.A. I underwent a rigorous and very intensive training session to learn those coffee cup holders, so unless you want to schedule a private lesson for those with me, you'll get much better instruction from one of our amazing teachers.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I make mistakes. And really this might be a colossal one in the making, but please bear with me for a moment. I felt that maybe there's something missing from our blog, maybe even sewing blogs in general. You've taken an introductory class and then all you can read about are people re-drafting their vintage patterns, or adjusting darts, or some such technique that just goes way beyond what your struggling with presently. A beginner's voice, someone in the same shoes/boat as you so to speak is harder to find, so that's what I propose doing.

So while hindsight is always a bit clearer, I'm going to give it a try and see how well this works. Yeah, it may be a  mistake, and maybe I'll learn for myself the reason others don't try/do this sort of thing, but did I mention that I'm a bit stubborn? Can't teach a new dog old tricks, everyone loves a car crash? Speak in cliches much? Incomplete sentence fragments? Bah!

If you came here expecting some great tips or helpful techniques posted here today, well then, I'm probably going to disappoint you. Hang in there though as Shaerie's working on her 'Pattern of the Month' as I post this, so my rambling will move further down the time line soon enough. If you'd prefer that we keep the blog more along the lines that it's been going, well maybe this will fizzle soon enough. We do have a comment form at the end as always. Also I'm unsure as to the best clever 'tag' I should use. abecedarian, dilettante, postulant, greenhorn, tenderfoot, buckwheater... I really like thesaurus.com.

So without further ado and as in the words of so many before me... remember folks, I've only ever had one lesson. Yet.

My machine came with the standard assortment of accessories and bits that store in the built in tray of the extension table. Well they come in a little plastic bag and they get all jumbled around regardless. Now what if I had a little utility roll type thing that had pockets and sleeves to hold them all and keep them organized and from rattling around all loose. There, now I have the idea in my head...

My new machine has a bunch of built in stitches and a semi-automagic button hole setting, but what do they look like, how do they work, how are they supposed to be used? If you've ever test driven a new machine at a reputable shop, they encourage you to test out the machine and usually you sample the stitches that it makes. How can I answer some of these questions myself? Why not make that small roll in my head to hold the accessories and at the same time test those stitches and the button hole. I can get familiar with my machine and have a somewhat useful 'sampler' to reference later. Supposed to be used? Hmm, that will have to come later.

First I grab two strips of muslin one 18" and the other 22" long and both 5" wide. For those who are more astute, yes this could be a simple 1/8 yard of fabric if you don't want to use muslin. I fold and sew up one long side on each of the strips, alternating the stitches as I go so I can see how they look. Measurements and marking might have been a good idea, but I forge ahead blindly tossing caution to the wind. Penance comes later.

Then I take the longer piece, which I have designated as the bottom and  fold one end over to make it a bit  thicker to act as the flap that will close the bobbin pocket, mark off my button holes and get to it. Or so the story goes. Have you ever seen Failblog? I have....

Not to mention, it's a bit close to the edge that I intend to sew. No good, planning is something I'll need to work on. Try again.

Better, still I'm going to have to do a bunch more practicing before I attempt this on an actual garment piece.

Time to stitch the bottoms of my strips together and the back side closed. A little (read: alot) crooked, and I'm not happy with the results. Now I promise I won't mention this every time it's required on any future projects I attempt, and for me that's looking like it will be a lot, but here's a good time to plug the most useful of sewing tools available. IMHO = a  long handled seam ripper. Rip it out and start over.

So since I have the finished roll in my head already, it's just a matter of sewing straight across to segment my great big open pouch in to smaller narrower sleeves & pockets. And why not a few more of those built in stitches just for kicks.

Oops, one of the many benefits of using a pattern is that you have an idea of the finished size. Not so here seeing that I was making it up as I stumbled along. I soon noticed when I try to fit everything in, roll it up and stick it in the tray. The lid won't close.

So back to the drafting board. I stitch up a new bottom seam, trim off the extra length and figure I'll use those new scraps to add some additional smaller pockets for the extra feet. So now all the included accessories have a snug home, and when I carry the machine around it doesn't rattle much.

Better fit this time around. And this time the lid closes perfectly. Success! (?) Still need to find a button to close the flap holding in the bobbins, and the failed button hole will serve as a constant reminder of how I was when I started. It is hard being a perfectionist when lacking the skills to achieve it, but I'll just need to practice some more. Lots more.

Ok, so yeah this did really showcase my lackluster skills to date, but I'm happy with the results.

Next on my list is probably a cover for my machine to replace the ugly pleather one that came with it. This might be a good first project if you just got a new machine and don't have a hard case. Lots of patterns are available, and I'm sure I'll find one that won't too many require weird or difficult techniques. Even with a hard case, many people still use a cover to keep their machine protected while it sits on their sewing table.

Oh and cat toys. They're a good use for random scraps of fabric, and I get good practice on working with small pieces and seams in close quarters. With enough cat nip stuffed into them, my cats don't notice the uneven edges and odd puckers, nor the Amy Butler print for that matter.


Big in Japan said...

My vote is for GREENHORN.

Your blog is relatively new to me, but I think this type of post is helpful. Ideas and inspiration come in all shapes, sizes and ability levels.

Thumbs up!

Susan said...

Hi, it's Susan, here, yes, the one who's in the store, like every other day, and I found the post very refreshing!

I love Shaerie's regular posts, too, but I also like the switcharoo and irreverance here. Thanks for the photo and caption "button FAIL," that was hilare!

How about "tinker time" for a tag?