Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Guest Post: Working with fabric when you can't sew

As I've briefly mentioned I'm off to India this week! (eek!). As I am busy cramming everything I own into two bags mrsmcindoe offered to write me a guest post. f you haven't seen her blog yet you should pop over and have a nose. She makes really beautiful paper-cuts and the most amazing lampshades. If I ever have a house I am so commissioning one.


I love fabric. Always have. Such fond memories of trips to Weekes department store in Tunbridge Wells to look at the haberdashery department, along with Barsleys in Paddock Wood and Beatties in Solihull. Mum made many of our clothes when we were little, along with various home furnishings - done as many mums at the time did, in order to save a few pennies. Seemed to me like all mums could make replacement seat pads and school pinafore dresses when I were a lass! Mum also made amazing wall hangings - these days they would be called mixed media installations I think! Fabric and ribbon and buttons and twigs and pine cones and shiny stuff all sewn onto a hessian backing. And of course all those other things that go with small children - kit bags, Indian headdresses, cowboy waistcoats, school play costumes, soft toys for the church fete, patches on knees, hems up, hems down!

So I think I just assumed that one day I would be able to sew. I managed the basics at primary school and even managed to sew a stuffed owl (although I did glue the eyes on). I only had one bad incident - when sewing Brownie badges ono my uniform, which I did on my lap, I managed to attach the badge to the uniform, but also to the skirt and tights I was wearing - many tears and much unpicking. When I was a bit older I had a go with Mums sewing machine. I managed to do a straight line, kind of, and a little bit of round the corner-ing. Forwards, backwards, even a zig zag! And I kind of thought that was it, I could sew. Dreams of doing all these wonderful things when I was a mum, just like mine did.

Then disaster. Mum upgraded her sewing machine and I was entrusted with the old one - its a really lovely thing - the soft glowing light, that special sewing machine smell, and the most fabulous 'singer blue' colour. And so I thought Wowzers, I can make all sorts of stuff now. The problem is, well, firstly it was that there was no instruction manual. I managed to find the original one online - some kind person out there had scanned in all the pages - how lovely of them! Didn't make any difference. Then the problem was the wrong thread. So I changed it all, re-wound all the bobbins and so on. Didn't help. Then it was the material - it was obviously too thin/thick/stretchy. Didn't help. Um... then needle - needs changing... and the machine needs oil. Didn't help. IT NEEDS A SERVICE! Yay, surely...... but no...

So I have unfinished cushion covers, a bag from John Lewis with a simple dress pattern lovely green material, zip and trim, still neatly wrapped up, a very odd looking mouse shape that looks more like a breast implant - I can't even remember what it was supposed to be! And the machine is tucked away in the spare bedroom, gathering dust. My love of fabric has to stay tucked away in the corner, and in the third draw down of the bureau (thesewing basket and the lovely fabrics, and the zips and buttons - plus the knitting needles and wool - a whole other story!)

It is all very sad. Sad that I can't sew, and sad that I don;t have the time (and not even the inclination really) to learn how.

So then it is all very odd- that I am now working with fabric! My lampshades are made out of fabric!! It does make me chuckle a little to myself every time I make a new shade - I can make things out of fabric without having to sew - how very delightfully wonderful! And I have plans.... plans that involve more fabric! But my involvement will have to be strictly limited to the design side, and I will employ someone else to do the sewing for me. So I will have fabric in my life, even if I can't sew!


Thank you mrsmcindoe!! I have to confess that somedays when I'm feeling particularly lazy I have been known to whip out the glue to finish something off rather than sewing it down. There are lots of things you can do with fabric rather than having to sew it.

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