I have feared sewing machines since 6th Grade Home Ec.
For the record, I never would have taken Home Ec., but it came as a package deal with art class and there's no way I wasn't taking art class. I had done just fine with the cooking portion-- my snickerdoodles came out a perfectly composed golden brown-- when the sewing machines came out. We were going to make a pillow. You could chose a soccer ball pillow or a giant misshapen pig head pillow. Being that I was not even remotely inclined toward sports in middle school, I went with the pig head.
So the whole project was four steps: applique felt face pieces, sew together edges, stuff and close. The tricky part was the little felt pig ears. They were supposed to stick out of the seam (for the record the soccer ball had no complex components like this) on either side of the giant head. I got all turned around and flustered and ended up with one ear on the top of my pig's head and one ear-like triangle hoof on the bottom. Combine that with the fact that I tend to ignore the entire concept of seam allowance, and you have the perfect recipe for pillow FAIL.
Fast forward a few years and I'm trying to use my mom's 80lb ancient sewing machine. I would wind the bobbin, figure out how to get it in there and get the whole thread path figured out and then I would touch the pedal ever so lightly and the fabric would get ripped out of my hands in a pile of 20 yards of thread and tangles and tears. For years I chalked it up to simply not having the touch. I'm confused and jealous by crafters who can throw together a pile of sewn goods in minutes, so in sync with their machine that they can floor it and stitch up a skirt in Guiness Book time.
All this time I have been hand sewing everything-- and that's ok. I am drawn to textiles and to putting pieces together, and sewing has always been part of that where I've had a slight sense of fear and anxiety. I love to hand sew and embroider-- I feel totally at ease with a basic needle and thread, its just that sharp machine sewn look that feels so terribly out of reach.
So I asked my sister if she would teach me how to sew yesterday. She came down with her little blue sewing machine and walked me through it for an hour. Then she left it and her whole kit there with the sharp scissors and the hundreds of needles and thread colors and I made this:
My first pencil pouch. Its a little rough around the edges but I'm still a little shocked I made it-- that I actually managed to sew in a zipper. I did plenty of swearing and seam ripping, and I did learn that I can't really make and sell these-- it would take too long to be worth it due to my lack of experience, but still-- I'm very happy I got back on the horse.
Now that I think about it, I'm always happy when I get back on the horse.