Thursday, January 17, 2013

A New Year, A New Hobby


I need a new hobby like a hole in the head but I've been wanting to learn to sew for ages and after a year of being a very good girl and a year of not-so-subtle hinting, Santa came through with the goods. 

Isn't she pretty? She shall henceforth be called Pink Lady. I've never really been drawn to pink but I've noticed over the years that as the number of boys in the family increases so too does my fondness for all things pink and girly.

Apparently the final impetus for the purchase of the sewing machine was my appalling effort at hand stitching badges onto the Little Athletics T-shirts at the end of last year. This was further emphasised after one of the kids was asked whether they had stitched their badges themselves. How embarrassing!

I thought i did OK with the badges, drawing inspiration from all you clever girls who stitch things onto toys and other creations. Apparently that stitch is not appropriate for badges.

So, without the foggiest idea how to sew, I googled 'easiest thing to sew in the whole world' which brought me to the humble pyjama pant with elastic waist. Easy peasy. 

I went to Spotlight and found a lovely bit of cotton fabric in Eleanor's favourite shade of blue with her favourite animal printed all over it. Perfect. I simply used her current pyjama bottoms as a template and pretty soon I came up with this number.


She and I were pretty chuffed with my first sewing creation until I noticed the bit of writing on the edge of the off-cut.


Oh dear! So pyjama pants are now known as lounge pants. 

Lesson Number 1 - always buy fabric appropriate for the job. Who knew there were a million types of cotton? 

At that point I googled tips for Beginners and one of the tips actually told me not to measure my self worth against my sewing skills. Well thank goodness for that! After a nice cup of tea I was feeling enthusiastic again so I made a skirt. It was also very simple with just an elastic waist and I whipped it up in 30 minutes. Pity she didn't brush her hair.



And finally, I made the lads these summer shorts, now known as their Circus shorts. The boys absolutely love them even though they look like the Van Trapps when they wear them at the same time. 


You may notice the black stitching on the outside. This was due to the fact I threaded the needle before I did the bobbin and because it took me so long to thread the needle I picked another cotton for the bobbin and the only cotton I had was black. I did not know that the thread from the bobbin appeared on the outside of the garment. This still does not make sense to me but I won't argue with the Pink Lady.

Lesson Number 2 - the thread from the bobbin shows on the outside of the garment not the inside.

So this is my first little introduction to sewing. I can't wait to use a pattern and make a proper garment. I seem to be making some pretty basic mistakes so if anyone can point me in the right direction for a basic book, tips or website I'd be most grateful. 

I'm joining in here this week so if you're feeling crafty check out what others have been up to. 

Well, it's Friday tomorrow (already!?!). I do hope you all have a fabulous weekend wherever you are!


40 comments :

  1. Go you!! Lucky you getting such a wonderful Christmas present and good on you for getting started on some projects already. I too am a basic seamstress (I was going to write sewer but that didn't look right!!) The only skills I have are from year nine home economics so when I was given my Nanna's old machine and was itching to learn again, it was the good old instruction manual along with lots of Googling for me. I did however sew Grace's patchwork quilt, a project which while simple for most is one I'm very proud of.

    Eleanor's pants are lovely (as is her glorious hair, brushed or unbrushed!!) Pity about the not suitable for PJs part. And your Von Trapp comment made me giggle. As for the black bobbin issue, any mistakes are all part of learning. I became very good friends with my unpicking tool :)

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    1. Unpicking? Should I have done that to the black stitching? Think I'll chalk that all down to experience :-D I would be VERY proud of making a patchwork quilt x

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  2. Very well done! I've never been able to sew at all, not a proper stitch! I love the lounge pants - that fabric is awesome, even if they can't be pajamas! I'd totally wear them around the house myself if I had a pair :)

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  3. Love it! Go girl - you are amazing. Fancy having time to whip(pet) up those little beauties. You are doing better than me that's for sure.

    I smiled at your badge sewing skills. Mine are so bad that I had to take son's blazer to a dressmaker to have a seniors label/badge sewn on. Pity though - when I sold the blazer at end of year it was very difficult to unpick. Moral of the story, the way you stitched yours on they would be very easy to unpick!

    Keep up the great work - you are an inspiration. cheers Wendy

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  4. wow - I cannot believe you are truely a beginner! what marvellous creations you have whipped up! The Lounge pants are delightful...everyone should have some I think...and those shorts for your boys...well I hope they break out in "climb every mountain" for you! Good luck on your sewing adventures. Look for books in your local library on sewing for beginners or for simple projects to try. The Crafty Minx is a great book, and then your local oppy will have oodles of patterns and old mag's to get inspiration too! Have fun Mel xx

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  5. Those pants look great & Eleanor's skirt is so pretty. I really ought to learn to sew.

    I know the habby goddess runs online "sewing schools". I'm not sure how they work as I don't sew, but it may be worth checking out.

    Sarah xx

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  6. Wow you have been busy.
    Sewing is addictive.
    Sewing simple cushion covers is another good project to start with.
    x

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  7. Brilliant job! I've been sewing for years and that's all I sew ... pyjama pants and elasticised skirts. And maybe the odd quilt. I'm of the school that it if gets more complicated than that, then you may as well buy it and save the sweat and swearing. Keep sewing, it's fun. You might like to try tablecloths ... a length of fabric hemmed at either end. I think the circus shorts are beyond fabulous!

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    1. And this is why I love you! I exhausted every word in the book trying to thread that needle! Should have just done it the old fashion way :-)

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  8. Wow. Awesome for beginner! I have had my sewing machine for over two years and you have put me to shame. Great work. These are all lovely and I am a little in awe that you have been able to do all this as a beginner but also as a mum of newborn and a bif family. Impressed.

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    1. I did it on the weekend when my husband was home and it was almost 2 weeks ago when Flynn was sleeping a lot more than he has been lately :-)

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  9. Wow, what a jump form the athletics labels to all that lovely sewing. My tip would be to always match the thread to the colour of the fabric and generally use the same in the bobbin and on top. Use an appropriate thread too - I used an inferior thread in my machine and it threw the tension our completely! I have sewn all my life and whilst I am a dab hand at the sewing machine, I am still learning. If you ever have any questions I am more than happy to help, just drop me a line :)

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  10. Wow Mel, just read your blog after I commented on instagram. Great to see your finished products. All that in one day - you are a supermum! This post def made me giggle as I can relate to the badge situation. You have inspired me to give those PJ pants a try (provided I have the right material -who knew hey!)

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  11. Nice work! PJ's are definitely the best thing to start out with. And simple skirts and none fitted dresses. You should check out burdastyle online. They have some free patterns that you can print out that would be good to practice on. Also hit up the op shops for fabric too. Sometimes you can find some great gems there.

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  12. Awesome work! you have been busy. And I love the skirt and the skirt wearer with unbrushed hair. Just like my girls during the holidays.

    Tash

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  13. Mel, you made me laugh and laugh throughout this post, so funny! I also think, as well as being quite the comedian, you are ever so talented. Your first attempts are just gorgeous, well done to you lovely. How funny about the PJ pants turned lounge pants... happy to say that is a mistake I would definitely make also.
    And I need to take a leaf out of your book and actually teach myself to sew using a machine. Seems rather ironic that I have started a little online business, based on sewing... when I can only actually sew by hand. Haha! Oh well, as long as it's neat I guess it doesn't matter ;) xoxo

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    1. I thought for sure your creations were done with a machine. That makes them even more special - hand sewn and neat at that!

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  14. "I need a new hobby like a hole in the head"
    oh so true! I seem to take up a new one just as it seems i'm getting close to finishing the last project. so many loved but unfinished projects lying around my apartment! looking forward to following your sewing journey- perhaps start by cruising Pinterest. That will lead you to a lot of fabulous (and some not so!) sewing blogs with free patterns and tips. Good luck!

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    1. But I've had to wean myself off pinterest!!!! It was stealing my evenings from me and interfering with my blog time/knitting time/crochet time and now sewing time :-)

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  15. I think you should be patting yourself on the back ... these are fabulous for first efforts. You're going to have an absolute ball! My best advice is just do it.

    My Mum started me dressmaking when I was 12, and by 21 I was making my own wedding dress (a zillion little covered buttons and a long train). I really should get back into sewing ... reading your post and writing my comment I have realised that I miss it!

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  16. Wow, Mel, considering this is your first effort you should be pretty pleased with yourself! These are wonderful. I have a love/hate relationship with my sewing machine. I've made a wonky patchwork quilt and the odd thing like simple cushion covers buy never attempted clothes, although I've always wanted to make myself a floaty dress or top in Liberty tana lawn cotton...one day.

    Gillian x

    ps THANK YOU for your lovely offer to send me the skirt. I've emailed you. :-)

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  17. Wow! My two sewing principles are easy pattern, fantastic fabric. You've nailed it already. Good luck, thanks for the inspiration. Nat x

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  18. Well done Mel, love it all. Just keep at it, the best way to learn is of course by simply doing.

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  19. hee hee, i just love you mel. your sewing is off to a brilliant start! it's true that practice makes perfect and so just keep sewing! i am mostly self taught, having taken a required course in highschool of home economics a million years ago. the thing that helped me the most was the patterns. everything was explained on them, burda was a favorite. a lot of effort goes into developing them (i think) and the diagrams with words and tips were a huge help. armed with a very basic machine and a sturdy seam ripper i somehow sewed most all of my five childrens clothing, as well as for a childrens boutique. lots of practice!
    p.s. your girls hair is gorgeous!

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  20. Well I think your first efforts are very impressive. You should be proud.

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  21. Hi Mel,

    Was just catching up on all your news, and you commented on how long it took you to thread the needle on your lovely new toy, I googled that model sewing machine and I think it has a needle threader? Also if you are going to get into sewing quilts etc two handy extras you could do with would be a 1/4"foot and a walking foot, there are sooo many great youtube videos for sewing all types of things, I was asked to do a quilt for a friend and had to google how to sew on the batting and binding, I would never think to put something like that on youtube but thank goodness for all those people out there that do. good luck with your new hobby you look like a pro already.

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    1. It does have a needle threader. But for some reason it took me ages to get the threader to 'catch' the thread. You push a button and this thing swings around and miraculously catches the thread and pulls it through the needle but you have to hold the thread in a special position and it just wasn't working. My fault obviously. I've since had to thread it again and it only took 3 or 4 tries before it caught the thread. Don't know what's going on. I've found youtube really helpful for knitting so I bet it's the same for sewing too. Thanks for your comment Anon :-)

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  22. Firstly you are total sewing legend. Elastic already? that took me about two years! Love love love that pic of your boys in their circus shorts, except is it just me or do they look like teenagers? Enjoy every minute and love that you just make it up as you go, exactly how i operate. Did have a little giggle over the badges though- you obviously weren't trained up in badge sewing like I was in girl guides. mel x ps and nice to know that I am not boring the taswegians senseless with my local posts, you are too kind. Now I'm going to read through your comments for all those helpful beginner sewer suggestions that i really need to take heed of.

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  23. So funny, Mel. I'm sitting here alone, laughing aloud at your lessons and humorous retelling. You did better than me on your first projects. My first sewing as a mummy was a pair of pink cord trousers for my 2 year old with two left legs. Had I finished sewing them up, one leg of the fabric would have been inside out! Interesting look that would have been. I also used to sew my elastic together with a lovely twist in it somewhere round the waistband - every time!!! You've done so well. My girls love their simple little skirts, just cut straight and sewn selvage to selvage. Another easy one is pillowcases for the kids with some favourite fabrics. Have fun. )

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  24. was thinking about your sewing and have to say i loved making these and very easy for a beginner sewer you should have no trouble at all they are reversible a line tops that can be worn on own in summer or over a long sleeve t and jeans in winter. http://blogofmichele.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/cousins.html
    I bought as a kit (cheat I know) where the fabric was already cut out and I just had to sew it up. The link to the etsy shop is in the post. May be a little young for your daughter though? Maybe some other little girls you know? And these baby ruffle pants in the same post were lots of fun to make
    And take a look at Oliver and S lots of beautiful classic patterns that from memory are graded fairly well into beginner etc
    And this book has lots of lovely things in it Carefree Clothes for Girls http://www.etsy.com/listing/36441369/carefree-clothes-for-girls-japanese
    and Mel over at Bungalowgirl who commented above has posted the most lovely colorful little smock dresses she has sewn they are worth a look gorgeous

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  25. You've done fantastically well, love the shorts. There'll be no stopping you now!

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  26. Well done on all the sewing. Little dresses made from pillowslips are easy and cool. Lots of patterns for these on internet. If your daughter is a bit tall for them to work, they could become cool summer tops for those pretty skirts. Lounge pants are very comfortable. I made some for myself and used sheets and doona covers from op shops. Very cheap source of material and some of the covers and sheets were in exceptionally good condition. I think I paid between $3-5 for each sheet and there is a lot of material there in a queen sized sheet. I ripped doona covers open and some were different materials each side. Twice as much value.

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  27. Wow Mel, you've made a cracking start and I love the things you've made. Gorgeous, fun fabrics! Thanks for popping by to say hello and btw, your geography was almost spot on!
    Have a wonderful weekend
    Kate x

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  28. Nice work - you're off to a flying start. This sewing thing is addictive. I've learned a lot from tutorials on blogs and YouTube. I agree with Michele - Oliver and S patterns are great. They are very clearly written and have tips on basic sewing techniques with diagrams (have a look at the Oliver and S blog, too).

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  29. Another tip - do not run over pins with your sewing machine (you will break your pins and/or sewing needle and take an eye out). I've tested that one out a few times but, thankfully, my eyes have been unscathed.

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  30. Mel, I have to say you are a complete natural in this sewing thing! When I started my first few projects were few and far between, but at this rate you will be a pro in no time :) I love your choice of fabrics,and it must make the kids feel pretty special too. Don't worry too much about the "rules". That is what prevented me from learning from my Mum when I was younger. So I learned by trial and error and even though I follow more rules now than I used to it, it comes from learning and mistakes and successes. It is a fun journey though, and there are so many lovely patterns out there (the big 4, Oliver + s, Citronille and Japanese pattern books such as Happy Homemade 2 are great inspiration).

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