Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sew straight

When I heard Santa was bringing my 8-year-old granddaughter Alyson a sewing machine, I offered to teach her some basic sewing skills.
I grew up teaching myself and it was sometimes painful.
I once put together a dress without a zipper that was really hard to wriggle into and even harder to get out of.
I would make mistakes and try to talk myself out of them. (It doesn't look that bad. No one will notice the plaid is running the wrong direction. It'll be fine wrong side out.)
My mother gave me a Kenmore sewing machine for high school graduation that I've now had for 40 years and over the years, I've sewn Halloween costumes, bedcovers, Barbie clothes and the occasional outfit.
I really have enjoyed it despite lots of picking out and redos. (I've sometimes told my son his work in construction is much like my sewing, the art is in disguising the mistakes to look like they weren't mistakes at all!)
I thought Alyson could benefit from my years of experience and I love her and want her to succeed.
I worked out a little plan in my head. I would start by teaching her sewing terms like seam allowance and tension. We would buy scissors and pins and a seam ripper.
We would work up to cutting out pattern pieces and notching.
I made a plan to come to her house about once a week and work with her.
So far, it's been interesting. She's young but enthusiastic. She wants to make stuff with her new toy.
We threaded the needle. We wound a bobbin. We put a couple of pieces of fabric together and made a sewing machine cover.
It was going fine until last week when the machine started doing loop-de-loops and tangling every couple of inches, breaking the thread and bunching the material. It seemed to me the machine was suddenly a demon device, bent on destruction.
Alyson got a lot of practice rethreading her needle while I tried to assess the problem, wondering what we were suddenly doing wrong.
It wasn't until I was on my way home that it hit me. When I arrived that day she showed me the knot of dark blue thread made when her friend had played with her machine, a knot I cut off and discarded.
That's when it became clear in my mind.
"When my friend played with my machine" is a definite clue.

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