Having used a sewing machine many times over the years without any formal instruction, I thought it was about time to get properly schooled. There must be tons of sewing tricks and techniques out there that I could be using if I only knew. Plus I need to get more comfortable around my sewing machine, a beautiful but finicky antique Singer model that has mostly collected dust these past couple of years.
I enrolled in an 8-week beginner sewing class organized by the Toronto District School Board's continuing education program. Yes, I could have easily signed-up for a shorter, more intensive class at a small sewing studio. But this one promised 40 hours of dedicated sewing time over a 2 month period, and guaranteed to have a diverse and interesting student body.
I was hooked from the start. The classes are held at Danforth Collegiate, a beautiful old building in the city's east end. My teacher is a fiery eastern European lady who sews for a living. I am one of 8 students who share a common desire to become a sewing mama.
During the eight weeks, we are expected to create three garments from simple patterns. The first assignment was pyjama pants. Since I don't wear pyjamas, I opted for a cool pair of pleated pants. Turns out the pattern I chose was rather complex, with its pockets, pleats and a separate front waistband. While my peers were well into their basting, I was still cutting fabric. While they sewed their last stitches, I was struggling to stitch pleats. I definitely bit off more than I could chew.
Then, disaster struck. Our fifth class was cancelled last week due to a fire at the school. Instead of having our make-up class this week, the remaining classes were cancelled for reasons unknown. I was a student without a master, lost and bewildered, with an unfinished pair of pants in hand. Determined to see the project to completion, I studied the instructions that came with the pattern in great detail. I was able to finish sewing the pants last night, and overall I'm pretty content with the results.
Even though I didn't get my 40 hours of training, I definitely feel like my sewing confidence has been boosted. I'm much more comfortable working with patterns and my machine, and I now know the value of basting a garment to fit it properly. Plus I have a new pair of pants to wear. I know they aren't perfect; the pattern doesn't line up across the sides, and when I pull them on it feels like the whole thing is going to tear apart at the waist. But they are unique, and they are mine.