Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sewing Lessons

When I was in middle school, I made a pair of madras shorts from a pattern that was reassuringly marked "easy". It was easy and it felt exhilarating to make something that I could actually wear. I wore those shorts to shreds and sadly they are no longer in my possession. However, I still have the baby blanket that I made soon after. Actually, my mom made. Once she saw that I was interested in sewing, she decided to take over. She had been a seamstress and had taken sewing lessons when she was younger. She vetoed my fabric choices (alternating pink and blue squares) and insisted on a blue gingham coordinated with with a blue floral print. She tut-tutted my sloppy stitches and noted where my squares didn't completely match up. When I wanted to finish the blanket with a simple binding, she usurped the blanket and sewed up the matching ruffle herself. In retrospect, her color choices were probably more tasteful and the ruffle did give it a very nice finished look. However, I lost interest in sewing with that blanket. A hobby that required me to spend any more time with my overbearing mother was clearly not the hobby for me.

Years later, I bought myself a sewing machine with the vague ambition of throwing together some curtains and pillows for my new apartment. I used it a few times and then let it sit in its case gathering dust. When I started knitting again, I thought about sewing but never got motivated enough to dig out my Kenmore. I couldn't remember how to thread the machine anymore and the manual had always been an intimidating read.

And then a few months ago, I happened to walk by a vacuum and sewing machine store. Why do vacuums and sewing machines go together? "Hi, I'm looking to replace my old Miele. Oh, is that a Babylock Imagine serger you have there? It just so happens that in addition to vacuuming, I do all the mending too." There was a sign in the window about sewing lessons. Sometimes I act impulsively with good results. I signed up for Basic Sewing: Make a fun Apron! Here's a picture.

An action shot:

I got reacquainted with my sewing machine and found that I could still drudge up dormant knowledge stuffed into the Home Ec file in my brain. Sewing was fun again.

The class was taught by a hipster girl just recently graduated from FIT in NYC. She has a PhD in pattern making or something like that. She also has a cool name: Ondrea Bonvecchio (but alas she has no website or blog that I could reference here. You'll have to email me if you want her contact info).

As for the apron, I'm quite pleased with it. I spent hours at Joann's until I finally settled on this fabric printed with cartoony trees in colors that make me smile. However, I did make one huge uncorrectable error. I cut the pattern out upside down.

Oops. However, I figured it was okay and I could live with it. Here is my rationale: when I'm wearing the apron and I happen to look down, the trees are right side up. Brilliant!

If I were to make this apron again, I would use a heavier weight fabric - maybe a decorator weight or even an oilcloth. The calico cotton I used was just too flimsy. But overall, a great first project. Next up: Basic Sewing II: Make a little girl's dress.

Laura's Sewing and Vacuum (they don't have a website either)
3958 Northlake Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

McCall's pattern 2947
Misses apron
View F

Fabric: Print was marked "Made exclusively for Joann's"
Pocket and bias straps made from solid quilting cotton also purchased from Joann's.


  1. you know, i think it looks cool upside down.

  2. I thought the same thing about the upside down effect. Now, the wearer gets the view. Why should the onlookers get all the fun?!