Thursday, May 16, 2013

Advice I wanted to give my sister-in-law when she got her first sewing machine

OK, see this, up there? This is why I'm not much into sewing right now. It's springtime in Ontario, an especially cruel, fickle, brief season that follows the cruel, fickle, lengthy winter. It makes whiners of every Canadian you'll ever meet. This is what my gorgeous cherry tree looked like before Mother's Day. Then it snowed and sleeted and rained and sleeted some more on Mother's Day. With some hail on Tuesday morning, as an afterthought. I blame the Toronto Maple Leafs for dragging out their playoff chances. Clearly, SOMETHING had frozen over! (In classic Leafs tradition, when they occasionally make the playoffs, they choke in Game 7 overtime. The temperatures climbed to 22C the next day. Coincidence? Not bloody likely!)

However, in this can't-garden/don't-wanna-sew-wanna-garden weather, I found a box I had NOT sent to my sister-in-law. This is important. She was not supposed to get this box. It contained everything I wish people had not done "for" me when I seriously got back into sewing 15 years ago.

My sister-in-law is mother to the cutest nephew any auntie ever had. (Sorry, Sis. Your guys are shaving now. They're not cute anymore.) And for her birthday this year, my brother bought her a sewing machine. Her first sewing machine.

Oh, dear, I thought. You poor, poor thing.

And I immediately put together a package of things I thought she'd need to help her get started.

Reason prevailed, and the box was never sealed, and most of the contents were never dispatched, and the letter I'd handwritten was rewritten to reflect the greatly-reduced delivery of essentials for the beginner sewiste.

The letter, as originally written, follows. Perhaps, if anyone should see this post one day, they can pass along what I think is damn' good blowhard advice for everyone who ever knew anyone who got a sewing machine.

Dear [SIL],

NEVER TELL ANYONE YOU SEW. Otherwise, you get stuff from them, like fabric, old shanks of ribbons, half-finished projects, upholstery samples... Basically, this package happens.

Blame [my brother] for blabbing. :-)

I promise to never send you fabric. I think, of all the stuff in the box, you will find 3 things very useful, and the other will find their way into someone else's stash. [THAT RIGHT THERE sent up the flag that maybe I should pare down this so-called gift.]

1. "The Total Bedroom" book: Quilting and bedskirts and drapes are good places to learn how to sew straight seams - and rip them out.

2. "Sewing for Toddlers" is a GREAT way to clothe your kid in custom gear, and figure out how to make a zig-zag stitch work properly. My kids have worn so many of these pieces, and the instructions were straight-forward, and pattern pieces easy to work with.

3. TRACING PAPER! I gave you a sample of mine, with label. Notice in the Kwik-Sew book that the pattern pieces are printed on BOTH sides of the master pattern sheet. DO NOT CUT THIS SHEET. Trace your patterns, and then you will learn how to do colour-blocking, adjust lengths, let out waists, move darts... You can press the web flat with a warm iron, no steam, then trace the pieces you need.

The patterns I included are never-used, and mostly out of print. There's easy costumes for [cutest nephew in the world], something for you, something for [my brother], crafty pillow things for quick projects with high cute factor to use up scraps, and Kwik-Sew 2680 boy's swimming costume to CHALLENGE you. It's the only really hard pattern to make.

Happy learning! Remember the four Rs of eco-sewing:
               REDUCE your reliance on off-shore industry
               REUSE your stuff in new ways
               RECYCLE your old clothes into new ones
               REFUSE to take on other people's stuff!

I have trouble with that last one.

Love, etc...

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