Sunday, August 12, 2018

On Sewing Anxiety (and a New Ironing Board Cover)

This weekend, I experienced an epiphany. I love those. I still remember sitting in my AP U.S. History high school class 12(?) years ago, learning all these things about history that had so far been unconnected in my mind, and how they relate to today. Unbelievable (and one reason I became an educator myself).

This was a sewing epiphany, though - one that affected me so much that I had to immediately write about it (hence this post). In the sewing world, we talk a lot about finished projects and fabric piles and color theory and taking classes. All those things are great. Can we talk some more about growing our skills and being confident to try something new?

I tend to be a worrier (and sometimes I bottle it up - only those closest to me really know what I'm thinking, sometimes more than I do). I've improved over time, though. People say that "things have a way of working out" and it's one of my pet peeves, but it's true. Plus, one thing that sewing has done for me over 8 years has made me less anxious. Yes, it's a time and monetary investment (fabric and tools, especially the good stuff you want to use to make things last, can cost major $$). But I think it's also an investment in yourself.

When you learn how to sew and keep at it even just here and there, you are giving yourself an outlet for creativity. You teach yourself problem-solving skills. You learn to be resourceful (for example, for this project, I didn't want to hunt down/have to go buy more elastic, so I just reused the band from my last project - yay for recycling!). You learn how to trust yourself with dangerous (yes, dangerous!) tools (did I think I would be using a rotary cutter so fearlessly 8 years ago? Heck no). You learn patience (remember those time[s] you had to rip out 20 minutes of small stitches under a deadline? That was me this weekend!). But most of all, over time, you learn to be confident.

This confidence builds up in small ways. First, you learn how to operate a sewing machine and thread it so fast and well that you hardly have to pay attention. It's like the joy of finishing a 500 piece puzzle. Every time I notice this, I totally cheer in my head. I still remember taking 10/15 minutes just to thread my first machine! Then, you learn how to care for and solve machine problems. Did your thread just break? Yep, let's adjust that tension. Is it right yet? Nope, let's change the bobbin. And on and on. And then you develop a system.

I'm a very confident quiltmaker at this point, but with most other projects (like my recent pouches, for example - and ESPECIALLY garments), I need a bit of hand-holding.  And that's okay! I'm not a master seamstress by any means and don't pretend to be.

My ironing board cover was looking quite a bit worse for wear lately; the last time I had changed it was 3 summers ago. Water stains, burns, the whole deal. Maybe it was time to change it... but I have hazy memories of long seams, fumbling with elastic, etc. Ugh.

BUT, then I remembered. I've done this before. I certainly can do it again, and probably faster, too. It turned out that just by examining my old cover, I was able to figure out how to make the new one. This was an awesome feeling.

I laid my new fabric out and traced the old cover on top with a washable fabric pen, then cut it out and sewed on some unused binding as bias tape (I save my binding scraps). After safety-pin-squeezing my recycled elastic through, I tested the cover's size on my board, and sewed the last couple of seams. I also cut out two layers of cotton batting to sit beneath the cover. Here's a good example of what I did.

Once I started the process, I had lost my anxiety/apathy completely. In fact, I registered vaguely that I felt quite at peace. After all, I love the fabric (sunflower canvas from the new Front Yard fabric collection by Sarah Watts for Cotton+Steel) - but it's just fabric. And I've built my skills enough to know that all will be well. And now I have a pretty new cover that only took a couple hours to make!

Have you had a sewing epiphany lately, or a moment when you've appreciated how far you've come? Do tell!

Subscribe to The Wonky Press,
the original bi-monthly modern quilting newsletter!

* indicates required

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

An Adventure in Pouches + Giveaway

I'm primarily a quilter, but here and there, I like to switch things up with a quick, small, handmade project. This really keeps the creative juices flowing (especially when I'm stuck on a quilt or need inspiration or what have you). One of my favorite go-to projects has become pouches - most specifically, the Open Wide Zippered Pouch by Anna Graham of Noodlehead. The free tutorial is very thorough and creates a really professional finish.

I've tried the pouch a few times in the past, but for whatever reason could not get the zipper right. This time, though, I did! For the record, zippers really aren't hard to install (REALLY, I PROMISE), and you don't need a special sewing machine foot to do it, either. This zipper is unique because of the way the pouch is supposed to open (check out the tutorial for a good picture). I gave myself a pat on the back (in my mind) when they all came out nearly perfect.

If I'm going to make one pouch, I need to make a whole batch! Chain sewing is the best. At the beginning of the summer, there were several occasions that required small gifts. At this point, if I have a couple of hours to make something, I've pretty much given up shopping around blindly for a gift that the person might not even use (I have lots of thoughts about this crazy culture of buying gifts, but that's a post for another day). Plus, going through all the motions several times also improves my sewing. And I get pouches out of it. Win-win.


Check out the typewriters (from the Letterhead fabric line by Deborah Edwards)! Aren't they so cool? All the fabrics below were part of a fabric pack that Northcott Fabrics sent to me to play with, and they fit the bill perfectly. I love how customizable pouches are; I usually inscribe each one with initials or the recipient's name. They were a big hit!

My friend Julie, for example, is a writer, so I had to use the typewriters and letters for her. Inside, I included her first sashiko stitching panel and all the necessary supplies, since she's already a fab cross-stitcher and wants to try more needlework. The other two flowery pouches, made for two friends, purposefully match. I like the summery vibes - this is the Chloe fabric line.

Pouches are a great gift, and I'm sure it won't be long before I make another batch! I try to keep zippers on hand for that exact reason (lately, I've been collecting lace zippers for this purpose - have you seen those?).

Full disclosure: Northcott Fabrics sent me fabrics to make with and give away. All opinions are honest and my own.


Today, I'm giving away a half yard bundle of 3 Bohemian Vibe fabrics by Northcott Studio! Thank you to Northcott for offering up some fabrics for my readers to play with. This giveaway is open to anyone worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway details: Runs from August 8 until August 15 at 12 am EST. Use the Rafflecopter above to enter  - this helps me when tallying votes. Once you comment on the blog, please be advised that it will not appear right away (I have to approve comments due to insane amounts of spam). If you have ANY trouble, please email me and I will post the comment for you! Blogger has been really difficult lately. 

You can still comment and not be entered in the giveaway if you so desire (just don't click anything in the Rafflecopter). I will not be responding directly to all blog comments at this time due to volume and issues with Blogger (unfortunately). Good luck!

Subscribe to The Wonky Press,
the original bi-monthly modern quilting newsletter!

* indicates required


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...