This week I have been working on putting together a family photo album. An entire year of snapshots. It is one of those projects that sounds easy, but hours and hours later, I still haven’t finished it. I made one last year, and even though the photo quality is pretty bad, I love it. I love that it is something tangible, something to be held and passed around by visiting friends and family. This year I did a little internet research and chose My Publisher after seeing it recommended from two photography-loving Mamas. So far, so good, but I’ll do an update when it is actually finished and in my hands.
When sifting through the hundreds and hundreds of photos I took last year, I came across my very first sewing projects. At the time I had just borrowed my Mom’s sewing machine to see if I wanted to buy one myself. Then mother’s day came around, and apparently Amazon sees those as a suitable Mother’s Day gift because they had them all on sale. And I am not one to argue with Amazon, so I bought my own.
Although I am still very-much a new sewer (I have yet to attempt a closure of any kind!), those photographs from last year reminded me of how much I didn’t know. Having to change a bobbin mid-project used to make me want to cry because it seemed so overly complicated. I would thread the machine and cross my fingers that the bobbin-thread would properly catch. I didn’t have a manual, and watched the same you tube video a dozen times to make sure I was doing everything just right. Of course I’m still annoyed when my bobbin thread runs out, but not in that verge of tears kind of way. The process reminds me of learning to tie your shoes.
Here was my very first project, after seeing my first sewing tutorial and visiting my first sewing blog.
It was the circle skirt from MADE, and her tutorials catered to the most basic beginner and so I felt like I might actually be able to follow along. I don’t know why that one seemed the easiest, I definitely prefer a little gathered skirt now, but this is where I started. It was perfect for spinning, and this is the only decent photo in my stash, but see how I didn’t even know to turn the hem twice to encase the raw edges? I guess I ignored that part. Good thing, because I remember hemming this circle hem was….ahhhh…not fun.
Round two was the best of the bunch. This time it was a gathered skirt, and went much more smoothly. I loved the circles for ease of cutting straight lines. The fabric was also NOT quilting cotton, so I’m sure that helped. This skirt was the only one that made it into regular wearing rotation, and I loved seeing her wear it.
Round three was another circle skirt in a quilting cotton. Quilting cotton that didn’t translate well to clothing, even though I loved the pattern. Also, it was a little short. Probably was worn twice. And I still am not quite sure what I did, but I didn’t even cut the fabric properly, so instead of one big doughnut, I had a no less than four pieces. Um, whoops. Spacial awareness is not my strong suit.
Next up, I made some baby blankets. I remember it took me forever to cut out the fabric, and then I sewed one of them right-side to wrong-side and had to take it all apart. These definitely took me much longer than last weeks baby blanket. I also sewed a bunch of burp cloths, but I guess I never took any pictures of those.
Then I tried a little applique. She wore this quite a bit, I loved the little fawn.
Then came one for the big girl. I used a Hanes t-shirt that I altered a bit so it didn’t look like a box. I have a feeling this phase may already be over, but she wore this shirt and two of those skirts all last summer. If I made it, she wanted to wear it. So sweet. I also made the little skirt, another circle version. These three projects were my first experience with knit fabric and I learned that a ball point needle was a must.
Then came this dress, and a huge turning point in how I felt about sewing. The tutorial had just the lessons I needed, with little tips to help me on my way. I still love this pattern, and plan on making it again. Maybe even trying to work it out in my size.
Next I made a blanket for my daughter to bring for Kindergarten nap-time when school started. It was my first quilting attempt, salvaged from her old crib bumper. She still has the blanket from this set, and it is her favorite. She calls it ‘cold blanky’ because the cotton stays cool, like when you flip your pillow over in the middle of summer. The batting was an old fleece blanket, and the backing was an old sheet, but it didn’t compare with the original and it never made its way to school. It is currently well-loved and resides in my toddler’s crib. I loved that I found away to reuse all this fabric!
Then I graduated up to purchasing and sewing my very first pattern. It was Rae’s Flashback Skinny Tee, and I am SO happy I did. It is like being mentored through the whole process. I made one shirt in purple that I never photographed, and then turned it into a dress. I think part of being new to sewing means you aren’t afraid to just try something new. Looking back, I really didn’t know what I was doing, but it worked! The knit was a pain to sew with, it was really thin and stretchy and the ribbing for the cuffs and hem were even worse. I wound up doing some internet research and sewing it with a piece of paper on top to stabilize it. I have heard terms like ‘stabilizer’ and tear-away stabilizer,’ so apparently there are real versions you can buy, but paper works, too. And doesn’t require a two-hour round trip to acquire. Rae actually put this picture on her blog when doing a skinny-t round up, and I was incredibly thrilled. Like groupie/rockstar kind of thrilled.
Next up, were onesies with tutu’s. This was the first time I didn’t follow a tutorial or pattern to make something and it took me hours to figure out just how I wanted to do the tutu and attach it. Then I spent hours changing it, only to find I preferred the original version. She looked so sweet in this!
Then, a few items I sent with a friend to sell at a fund-raiser event. It was right before Christmas, if you can’t tell.
This next one isn’t sewing, but a little freezer paper screen printing. Pink. Sparkly. Unicorns. ‘Nough said. This has washed much better than I had expected, which is always great. I had bought my daughter quite a bit of gray clothing to mix into her wardrobe, and she apparently, really, really doe not like gray. So this was a peace offering.
And…the last sewing project was this little dolly. Of course I made it with the intention of it being loved by one of my little girls, but the big one discovered American Girl Dolls this Christmas, and the other one has created a deep bond with a large, stuffed replica of The Grinch.
And that’s all she wrote, er, sewed. The next project is already chronicled in this space. It is fun to look back and remember what it felt like to learn and sew the techniques each of these projects involved. I don’t always realize how much I’ve already learned when there is so much to learn.
I have a few broad goals for this year, and a few very specific ones in the near future (closures!). My main hope is to make a few more items for the kids while they are so thrilled with having items made just for them. My little guy has requested everything from shirts, to blankets, to underwear.
Well then, I guess Mama better get sewing!