Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Sewing Story

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.

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