Sunday, December 06, 2015

Sewing & Quilting

Twenty-five years ago my Mom gave me a nice Kenmore sewing machine. My 19 year-old self was like, “Uh, ok, gee, thanks.” Still I tinkered with it occasionally along with my daughter as she was growing up. We made a dozen or so projects over the years - pillows, costumes, and crooked clothes. Since I kept the machine meticulously cleaned and serviced (I learned to do it myself) it still purrs like it’s brand new.

Recently I became obsessed the desire to sew something substantial. I dove into all sorts of online tutorials, websites, and library books, which overwhelmed me with thousands of ideas for projects and designs. What do I make? I finally settled on being thrifty by making a simple block quilt using fabric I already have.

Long overdue, I cleaned and reorganized our laundry/utility room to create a sewing space. The sturdy built-in desk has always been a mess, covered in crafts, tools, laundry, or some type of home-repair project. With all the drawers, shelves, and cabinets, it’s the perfect little sewing nook. If we do need the space, I can easily stash away everything, even the machine, into the cabinets.

Though a denim quilt might be too ambitious for a beginner’s project, I set my sights on a mass of old blue jeans in the donation & rag stash (the legs from daughter’s cut-offs). Because of our jeans sizes, the blocks can’t be wider than 9-inches, so I plan on cutting them up into 8.5” & 4.5” squares. I should have enough to make at least a lap blanket. To test my machine to sew multiple layers of denim, I cut out a few small rectangles and made a 3” x 4” sampler quilt. Even with a heavy needle, she whined when sewing over the seams allowances, so I had to slow down, sometimes hand-crank, at those intersections.

The old Kenmore is like an heirloom to me, and I don’t want to break her, so I found a sweet holiday deal on a Singer 4432 heavy duty machine. He will arrive sometime next week. I’ve already personified them together as a couple. Ms. Kenmore will do all the dainty work and Mr. Singer will handle the heavy lifting. Surely I’m not the only sewer with more than one. I forsee a serger and maybe an embroidery machine someday when I get good enough to justify the investments.

Even if I don’t go any further, simple sewing is very relaxing and enjoyable to me. I grew up watching the moms, grandmas, and great-grandmas sew all kinds of stuff. I feel the need to keep the tradition alive, and pass it down to my daughter and future grandkids someday.

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