Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dusting off the Sewing Machine

Hiding in the spare room closet was my sewing machine. It was given to me by my sister-in-law when she graduated to a more sophisticated model. Also in the closet was an old slipcover for an Ikea couch; I have one bedroom of my house set up as a sitting room, with a television, bookcase and a stash of yarn.

The slipcover had some stains and other signs of wear, but I thought the big panel of pristine, pretty fabric that covered the back of the couch could be used for something. Maybe I would recycle it into kitchen curtains, an apron, or a runner for my pine cabinet.

Finally, last weekend, I set up the sewing machine and checked the manual to remind myself how to fill the bobbin. If you have been to my Facebook page lately, you'll already know that I resorted to a online video in order to figure out how to properly insert the bobbin case into the sewing machine. It seems the little arm needs to point upwards and gets a bit huffy in any other position.  It told me so, by tangling and mangling thread. Many times, before I discovered the correct method.

I opted to make two large, envelope style cushion covers with the fabric, to replace very worn ones. Straight seams, nothing fancy, not a button hole or zipper to be found; that's the sort of project I wanted.

While working away, my mind wandered.

I thought about being in school and learning to sew in grades 7 and 8. 

I thought about my mother and how she'd tell people that, when I was a child, she'd have to be very careful about tidying up her sewing because I'd once found a thread and hoped that she was making me a granny gown for Christmas (She did). 

I thought about how Mom took sewing lessons when I was a baby, in order to make clothing for herself and for me and how her teacher told her she did a good job.

I thought about the ruffle on the pink floral nightgown I made in Grade 7 and how my teacher chose it as one of  many items to show at the Frontenac Mall. I remember standing in front of the glass display cabinet with my parents.

I thought about, in my forties, asking my mom if she'd make me a granny gown. When getting the fabric, my father asked, "You're not going to make her just one, are you?" Two were under the tree.

My plans were to complete a simple sewing project. I hadn't anticipated the memories that would arise. Perhaps you find the same sort of thing occurs when you engage in a particular activity.

My fingers remembered how to ease the fabric along under the needle and I enjoyed playing with a little sewing. The quality of  the workmanship is far from perfect, but I like the feeling of accomplishment making two new covers gave me.

What next?


  1. Well done you. I once had a sewing machine and nearly threw it out a window. I do hand sew. Those memories are special.

  2. I think you did a great job! I need to do the same!

  3. Your cushion turned out lovely, and all the while giving you wonderful memories from the past. Hope you choose another sewing project to complete.

  4. Looks like lots of projects could be coming forth! Lovely!

  5. Looks great Karen...I took Home-Ec in grade 8 and 9 but I do not remember a thing they taught me about sewing. I have an apron that I made back then. My Mother is a very accomplished sewer - she made my sister and I matching outfits when we were young, but she never had the patience to teach either one of us to sew. My Mother-in-law taught all six of her kids to sew, even the boys, and now McG uses my grandmother's sewing machine whenever I need something sewn.

    Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG

  6. Very pretty fabric and I enjoyed the memories you shared. So precious to recollect those special times together.
    I often do that when I am preparing a particular recipe/meal.

  7. Your cushion looks lovely and well done you for persevering with the bobbin! How lovely that this bought back all of those memories for you, so lovely be think about these things while you are working away! xx

  8. It's so nice to accomplish something like this, Karen. Your cushions turned out beautifully. I often find myself reminiscing too, as I do certain chores or perhaps bake something. It's interesting how one thought leads to another. I enjoyed your post very much.

  9. Great memories, Karen. I sewed a few dresses in high school but it was always difficult and frustrating for me. I think you did a nice job on the pillow. It is wonderful that you "recycled" the fabric!

  10. Karen, what sweet memories. You did a great job sewing your pillow. It looks very nice. I always thought it would be neat to be able to sew. My mother is very accomplished at sewing and designing clothes. She is also an amazing cook. Unfortunately, I inherited neither of those skills.

  11. I love your sweet memories of learning to sew.

    I taught myself when I was 14. I had taken sewing in junior high school, but we made a dirndl skirt and I never wanted to wear another dirdnl skirt.

  12. What a wonderful escape into the sweet and comforting memories of your childhood, and before you knew it, you had created a pair of pretty pillow covers, too! I remember being taught how to sew in one of the two segments of grades 7 and eight home economics class, where I excelled in cooking, but sewing, not so much! I remember asking a lot of questions, and still being clueless, which all made me very nervous. Most of this had to do with not understanding the mechanics of the machine, I think. Your own details about the bobbin case illustrate that it is indeed, a tricky technique!

    A lovely project, Karen, thanks for sharing and enjoy!


  13. My machine was put up for years too and than a couple of years ago I got it back out and have not stop sewing. I love the pillow, looks great.

  14. j'ai acheté une mini machine à coudre , il y a quelques temps
    elle est parfaite pour toutes les petites reprises
    cela m'évite de sortir la grande , qui est dans une autre petite maison au bout du jardin
    on se sent satisfaite lors d'une création
    ce coussin est très beau , le tissu est parfait

  15. Your cushions turned out beautifully and what great memories you had while sewing them! My experience with sewing in 7th and 8th grade were not very good and I've never sewed anything since.

  16. I have some of that same fabric, but in the bolster cushion size. I love it. You did a good job! My mom also took sewing lessons when I was young so she could make clothes for her three girls. Thank you for reminding me of that.


  17. I didn't realize you had experience, and lessons in this affair of sewing. I wish we did have sewing at school, I could have learned something but I'm just self taught and clueless.
    The cushion looks nice, I like the fabric.

  18. Hi,Karen,
    Your cushion is so lovely. What a beautiful memories you had!
    I bought a sewing machine when I was about 30. I learned sewing by only sewing books, just for making simple summer dresses!

  19. The soft pink roses are so pretty on your cushion, Karen. Memories do come when I sew, too. Hands are busy and the mind is free to wander. Are you planning to do more sewing now?

  20. Your cushion cover is very pretty - I love faded roses.
    Like you, I have a sewing machine tucked away, and each time I take it out I have to re-learn threading the bobbin. Your story made me smile! I'd like to sew more, but find that it takes more time than I have right now.

  21. A pretty rosy cushion cover, and lots of sweet memories too. Sewing is very meditative.....though not so much when the machine doesn't work how you wish! I often think of my mother when I sew too, and remember things she made during my childhood. (She is still nearby and I sometimes phone her to ask her questions about my sewing machine!) Your story today is very heartwarming....I hope you make lots more things and enjoy many more memories of those happy times.
    Helen xx

  22. I agree with Helen! This is a very heartwarming story which reminds us all that childhhod expériences are never lost. I love allowing memories to fall upon me in the least expected manner. I believe this happens so much more in my forties with children in the home.

    I think your cushions are beautiful. I too have a fondness for rose fabric.

    Warmest wishes for a happy weekend. I wonder what you will make next?


  23. Memories...granny gowns...getting two of them under the tree...all such heartwarming memories!! And your accent pillows are beautiful!!! As for using a sewing machine...I too brought mine out of the closet last Autumn and made a stitched quilt...if that wasn't a chore! rofl. It's back in the closet where it belongs.

  24. I have many of the same fond memories of sewing class and the whirr of the sewing machine as a child as my mom made clothes for my sister and me. Beautiful post.

  25. the cushions are lovely as well as your memories of your sewing history and mom! :)



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