Believe me the air was blue with language a tad worse than bobbins as I did battle on Sunday with the sewing machine. It was not meant to be a battle. It was meant to be a simple, pleasant exercise with a useful item to show for my efforts at the end of it.
My sewing is not getting any better by looking at the machine and willing it so, practice is required. When I saw the beautiful simple handkerchiefs that clever Kate (who needs our positive vibes at the moment as she recovers from a stroke) created from an old shirt it seemed like the perfect project. A few straight seams did not sound too daunting, it seemed like it would be a good confidence booster, a little bit of fun.Two and half hours later not so much really. Oh there's a hankie but it's got half the sewing it was supposed to have and what sewing there is, is really not up to scratch. I even managed to scorch the fabric with the iron. Worst of all the experience was not enjoyable.
It started out so well, a lovely shirt needing retiring that actually had stripes on, praise be, the seams might even be straight! I was excited to make this project and to really start to make friends with my machine. And then... and then what really went wrong?
It's hard to put my finger on it but most of it is in my head. The bobbin was tricky, getting it threaded, tension etc and once I started finding it fiddly it was as if I was transported back to some kind of horrible reconstruction of the sewing classes at school. It doesn't feel fun. I'm scared and I'm not even really sure what of. Scared of spoiling the fabric I've thought with the other more precious things I've tried but really with a hankie made from a shirt that's had its day, that doesn't ring true. I guess I'm scared of the power of the machine a little but more I'm just worried that I can't do something and it won't go right. Cross that I can't do something 'simple'. I get very stressy which just compounds whatever is going wrong. I feel out of my depth and I don't like it.
I didn't have this when I started knitting as an adult (something I was also bad at when I was first trying it as a child). I let myself knit a mess of knots and gradually get to grips with what I was doing. I was out of my depth but I had a book and I was learning and in a way that was all that mattered. The first horrible little pieces of knitting still made me proud that I was making stitches. Maybe there's a bit of the special knitting magic at work, you're taking a ball of yarn and creating fabric; with sewing I'm taking good fabric and risking creating less? Anyway the knitting learning curve was good: I started out bad, I was patient and practiced and got better. The same shall apply to sewing!!
I need to focus less on the pretty things I want to make for the home and for myself to wear. I so much want to be able to sew the things I see in my head that aren't out there to buy. That vision, instead of being inspiring, is creating a pressure that either leaves the machine untended on the side or leaves me swearing at it in mounting hysteria! When I started knitting I don't think my ambitions were much higher than a plain scarf. It was more about finding something fun to do with the time I have to spend sitting around at home, about tapping in to the benefits of making something tangible. Since then I've refined my understanding of myself as someone who can work with textiles, a maker, a craftswoman and I love that. I'm rightly proud of what I can create with my hands and brain but it's set the bar a lot higher for this new craft. All that internal expectation is too much for this poor ninny and her little machine! I thought I'd dealt with that by picking a simple project but in its simplicity, and almost because of its simplicity I expected the final item to be perfect. Ah that word, so easy for it to become an enemy.
So, enough! I'm in at the beginning, wading in the shallows and I'll stay there and enjoy this stage for what it is as long as needs be. I look at new knitters with a certain envy, those first moments when the obsession is takes hold when you're surprising yourself with what you can make are so much fun. So I'll have them again but with my new friend sewing.
It's safe to say in the making of this funny little hankie and in thinking about how to write about the experience here it wasn't just a little more sewing skill that was learnt.
I'm going to do it all again this weekend - but hopefully with less swearing and a lot more fun. No expectations about the hankie, maybe it will be good, maybe it won't - it will be whatever I am capable of making at this point in time and precious because of that.