The next frontier

I’ve gone off my knitting at the moment. While I wait for the joy of knitting to return, I’ve been doing some sewing.

My relationship with sewing is a slightly strange one; I really like the idea of making my own clothes, quilts, bags etc. but making the leap from thinking it’s a good idea to actually sitting at a sewing machine has always been a challenge. I’ve made a couple of garments in the past which turned out OK, but have never felt particularly comfortable or confident when using my machine. It’s a skill that hasn’t yet clicked for me like knitting did, which has meant that every little hiccup along the way has been met with frustration rather than an acceptance of it as part of the learning process. Really, why can’t it just work?

After finding a great little metal body Bernina at an op shop late last year (I’ll save that tale for another post), I began to get frustrated at the fact I kept getting frustrated with sewing. Like a dog chasing its tail, my frustration went around and around, faster and faster until I stopped and found a sewing e-course that looked interesting. It started at a point below my current level of sewing knowledge, but to my mind that was a good thing; it would help to reinforce the fundamentals I learnt in Year 7 textiles.


The most recent project I made from this course was this tote. It’s quite a simple project, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. I deviated from the pattern a little bit by shortening the side panels and adding a contrast panel down the bottom and it worked out just fine. The contrast panel is some upholstery weight fabric I found in an op shop years ago. It was found on a rainy day, a couple of hours before my shift started at work. I distinctly remember holding onto this small bolt of fabric (the cardboard tube had broken so it was flopping around all over the place), trying not to let it get too wet or hit fellow commuters while taking multiple forms of public transport to work. It was one of my more awkward commutes and it must have been at least a little bit embarrassing for my poor friend (and workmate) who was shopping and then commuting with me.

Yes, anyway, this tote. I’m still a long way from being able to make my own clothes, but this project feels like a turning point. There were a couple of times where things didn’t go quite to plan, but it didn’t elicit the usual response of frustration. I just stopped what I was doing, got my seam ripper out and started again.

As for the course, I have mixed feelings about it. There are a couple of little things that I’m concerned about, but I’ll wait until I’ve completed more of the course before posting my thoughts. In the meantime, the course has meant that I’ve been sewing and I want to keep sewing. The sewing outlook is positive so far, and that’s the most important thing.

8 Responses to “The next frontier”

  1. Lynne Says:

    Yay! Hurrah for a turning point! Welcome to the world of sewing. Berninas are great machines. I wish you continued success.

  2. Leonie Says:

    Hey you’ve done a great job on the tote, well done on adjusting the pattern to suit you as well 🙂

  3. Pumpkin Says:

    I definitely know what you mean. Sewing has never clicked the same way knitting has for me. But such a useful skill! Your tote bag is the start of something wonderful, I know it!

  4. Person hinter den Worten Says:

    I tried picking up sewing and there are still two unfinished skirts waiting for me somewhere. But so far, no clicking. 😉 I believe it’s because knitting is far more comfortable since you can do it anywhere and are not bound to constantly sit at a table with your sewing machine. 🙂

  5. Ingrid Says:

    I love the old berninas – love them. I think that it is hard to learn sewing completely independently, and I am quite experienced but I still need to call my Mum at times. I think that the skill set is more complicated that knitting – thus the need for more courses. Having said that, I learnt at my mother’s knee, and couldn’t stand textiles at school!

  6. Michelle Says:

    Wanting to sew IS the most important thing.Everyone learns differently, and everyone has different levels of perfection. I tauight myself to sew again with a shorts pattern, then made Pyjamas for everyone. The outcome wasn’t the important thing – the learning how to sew seams, hems and use a pattern was.

    But I only really got to ENJOY sewing when I let perfection out the window and started to work on what fitted well. Persistence is the key, but I’m not overly good at that so I rely on my stubborness. I’m going to enjoy reading about your lessons and what you get up to sewing wise!

    I love your tote bag. The fabric is gorgeous and I love the story behind it! I love a good story…

  7. Jen Says:

    Never underestimate the metal body Bernina. Mine is the one my mother got for Christmas in 1983 (I remember the drive to Wagga to pick it up and I had to take a pillow to sleep in the car because it was such a long drive).

    I know what you mean about sewing not quite clicking the way knitting does. I know so many techniques that I just can’t execute the way I want in sewing.

    I’m sure it’s a matter of practice.

  8. Leah Says:

    Very cute tote! Good luck with the sewing. I’ve felt similar – I’ve never quite become comfortable with it, though I would like to!

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