On Good Friday, 2019, to be precise. I had been angling for one for around 10 years but had never quite….got there. Until now.
I had a conversation with a friend lately on the question of clothing; we both focus on the comfort of clothing, in my case, because I am so damn glad to find clothes that fit me that the colour matching is completely a secondary concern. I am Between Sizes. I have always been Between Sizes because I have DD cup breasts. It doesn’t matter what size I am, I am between sizes.
I live with it.
The problem is when you find clothing styles you like and the vendor discontinues them. I have serious issues sourcing nightwear at the moment, and swimsuits are a hassle too, causing a decision to quit Speedo after nearly 25 years of loyalty to the brand. And it occurred to me that in theory (note those two words as they may come back to haunt later) it should be possible to dismember clothes I like but which are no longer respectable to wear in company (that would be those two purple/lilac coloured tops, there, which I bought at least 7 years ago but refuse to give up because I like how they fit) and use them to creat basic patterns, particularly the non-stretchy fabric (that would be that last remaining shortish satin nightdress that I need to fix the dart on and really should throw out as I can’t even begin to remember when it was bought but we’re probably talking ca 10 years ago).
One of my friend bought an overlocker. No, I didn’t know what one of those was either but she made a skirt using it, and it did not appear to have been a particularly high mountain to climb. I am a logical person sometimes. I reason, this works like computer stuff and knitting patterns. There are instructions, you follow them, and 10 years later or so, when you get around to finishing stuff, you have a wearable.
I kind of need a shorter timeline than ten years would be helpful but recent experience of finishing two doilies started ten years ago gives me a fresh view of my motivation sometimes. Anyway. I went looking at the three sewing machine shops and found one with staff I liked/found friendly/found helpful, and agreed to buy a Brother A16 sewing machine. It cost 30E more than its older brother, the A15. The A15 was a beautiful looking machine. The A16 was a bit boxier looking. I asked what the difference was and was told that the needle threading mechanism was easier to work on the A16 to the A15. As I expect to have the machine for at least 10 years, I ignored the more esthetically pleasing A15 and bought the miracle of engineering that was the A16. The fact that the single most common complaint about the A15 in amazon reviews related to the needle threading and my lack of patience with that may have contributed. The shop sales staff trained me in threading the needle and the bobbin, several times, and away I went.
I’m nothing if not ambitious. I bought a whole pile of fat quarters and plan to make some napkins for my house and for my sister’s house. I can’t wear these of course, but I need to get the hang of basic stuff like a) sewing in a straight line and b) putting enough thread on the bobbin so as not to run out in the middle of something. I also need to read the manual.
But on Good Friday, I felt it would be a good idea to unpack it and try and figure out how I was going to fit it into my desk area. I have no other options – the desk where I paint and write blog entries is also where I will be sewing and cutting. So I also decided that sewing would be useful.
That was about my fourth attempt. I put up a hem and tried parallel lines too. Then I looked up YouTube videos and tried to figure out how I would make some napkins. It turned out the answer was “buy more fat quarters”. So I went back and did that.
Then I discovered you had to wash and iron fabric before you sewed it. So I have about a dozen and a half fat quarters drying on the clothes horse and a deep desire to iron stuff so that I can start making napkins, either later today, or tomorrow.
The washing them…was interesting. I’m starting to wonder if I should like, tack them before hand given that the edge threads are prone to rip. Some one of the blog instructions I read stated that you could do like 8 napkins in 2 hours but she didn’t include washing, drying or ironing in that time, as far as I can see.
In general though, I have found the sewing world remarkably honest. You need stuff when you are starting off. It’s not a case of “just buy yourself some needles and away you go”. No.
Buy the following items.
- sewing machine
- needles for your sewing machine
- probably a pin cushion
- chalk marking pencil
- ironing board
Where the scissors are concerned, issue death threats should someone be dumb enough to use your new and recommendedly the best you can afford to buy fabric scissors for anything other than fabric. I have no potential victims so I think I will be okay. But it’s refreshing that they recognise that you need to invest a certain amount of money up front. I had to buy an iron and ironing board for example. And I need to find homes for all these things.