sewing with anya and a few digressions

Thanks for the comments on my last post re: choosing a pattern for that alpaca yarn. I'm still mulling it all over, but I find it quite amusing that the three commenters all prefer different designs! At the very least, I have narrowed it down to those three (Theolie, Chance of FlurriesGrand Valley) but I have yet to settle on just one.

In the meantime, I'm doing a bit of sewing. Yesterday was a long day of soccer games and a soccer party in cold, wet, windy weather while Stuart stayed home to catch up on work.  It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't much fun either and by last evening I was chilled to the bone (seriously, June starts tomorrow) and wanted to do nothing else but curl up under a pile of wool and read a good book.

This afternoon, even though the weather is worlds nicer, I decided to blow off outside chores and other boring things I should be getting done to do a little sewing and try and recharge the creative batteries a bit. Stuart and Daniel went off to play disc golf, but Anya wanted to stay home with me and work on some projects of her own.

Truthfully, I was selfishly hoping to have that time all to myself

As it turned out, we had a great time. Anya has been interested in a variety of creative endeavors lately, and when she announced she wanted to do a sewing project today, I figured we might as well embrace it. First thing was to convert a pair of sweatpants to shorts. They were completely worn through at the knee, but Anya loves the fit of the waist and feel of the fabric, so we measured and cut  7" inseam, serged the edges, and hemmed them up!

New skills for her:  threading the machine, working the pedal foot on the sewing machine, feeding fabric through the presser foot.

New skill for me: using a twin needle. It's not nearly as hard as I anticipated and really does make a nice neat hem. I didn't realize they come in different widths (duh, Suze) so I may invest in another one or two wider ones for different hemming options. I like options, yo.

Once the shorts were done, Anya immediately put them on and we set to work on her next project: a drawstring bag. This was totally her idea, by the way. She wants a bag to put all her embroidery projects in. (This is hilarious because she has started many projects and so far finished not a one...but give her time; summer break is nigh upon us.) If she's feeling inspired, we just go with it.

I have been working on a small quilt that I wanted to finish today, so I cut strips for binding while Anya gathered supplies and worked on plans for the bag. She knows where all my fabric lives, so she went searching and found a piece of red linen blend fabric. Then she showed me with her hands how big she wanted the bag pieces to be. I told her to find a measuring tape and scrap piece of paper so she could write down in inches the length and width of the pieces. Anya is adept enough at math she was able to do this on her own. I even explained about seam allowance, and she was able to figure out how to accommodate that. 

Once she had the dimensions written down, I ironed the fabric and spread it out on a cardboard cutting board, then measured the rectangles and marked them with an erasable pen. (Aside: it's a FriXion. Have you heard of using these pens for sewing? I got mine at Target in the pens aisle, but you can find them inexpensively at any office supply store. These pens are my new favorite marking tool. The ink disappears with heat, so if you screw up or want the marks to disappear, just run over them with an iron and poof! the marks are gone and you can start anew.)

Sure, the edges would have been straighter if we'd used a rotary cutter, but Anya's not ready to use one of those safely, and I wanted her to do as much as possible on her own. We do have a small-size fabric scissors, so that is what she used to cut out the bag pieces. She cut slowly and carefully. It took her a good 10 minutes, long enough for me to sew my binding strips together. 

Next I marked the stitch lines for her with that same erasable pen. I thought that would be easier for her to see than the guidelines on the sewing machine plate. Plus, by following stitch lines, she could watch the needle instead of the edge of the fabric. I showed Anya how to pin the pieces together, made sure to mark openings for the drawstrings, and she sewed those seams all by herself. Last, I pressed the folds for the casing and again marked the stitch line before she sewed it down.

Can you see how proud she is of herself?

These are not great photos because they were taken with my phone in the basement. Also,  I obviously had to be a very hands-on helper the whole time. Still, I really wanted to share this experience because it was such a good one for both of us.

It feels to me that in the last 3-5 years, everyday crafting blogs have fallen by the wayside and have been replaced by other forms of social media (Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr) that are more immediately accessible with mobile devices. That, and the people remaining who blog about crafty topics are professionals selling patterns and/or merchandise, so they've got a big reason to keep up an online presence and promote themselves. They have beautiful photos and polished tutorials. They might have podcasts and email newsletters. I'm not that kind of blogger and I doubt I'll ever be.

I make my living playing and teaching piano, which is a whole 'nother thing from knitting and sewing entirely. I have a lot to say about that, I suppose, but I don't have a regular piano blog for a variety of reasons. For one, I don't want to spend my leisure hours writing about what I spend my working hours doing. For another, it would be impossible to write about what I do without writing about the people I work with, and that wouldn't be professional at all (though it's awfully tempting...musicians are a colorful bunch, I tells ya).  I spent years training to be a pianist and I love my work, so I can't see myself shifting gears and trying to make my living as a creative entrepreneur. I'm already a professional in the fine arts, so I know what it takes to make a living there. That's hard enough. I'm not foolish enough to start over.

So I'll still keep sharing my personal creative life here (I almost typed the word "journey" but that would be carrying it a bit far, don't you think? I'm not that woo woo about it) because I'm proud of the stuff I make (for the most part...I've got some re-working to do on that quilt binding before I'm ready to make it public) and I'm excited that my kids are getting old enough to participate, too. I was about Daniel's age when I started learning how to sew and knit, which means I had a lot of basic skills under my belt well before adulthood. When I was in college, I didn't sew or knit much at all (no time, no space, no money), but I knew how and I came back to it eventually. I want the same for my children. What they do with these skills is totally up to them, but I want them to know how to sew a bag, make a simple meal, knit a scarf and grow tomatoes before they are all grown up and out on their own.

Sometimes I'll have really nice pictures to share, and sometimes I won't. My life is just like that, but I promise you that every post I put up is 100% from me.

Anya is already super-duper excited about her next sewing project (yet to be decided, but we're thinking of making her a pair of shorts from start to finish). One of these days we can do a step-by-step, perhaps with another person (hubby, maybe??) acting as photographer. That could be fun, right?

In the meantime, thanks for sticking with me and reading my blog. Happy crafting to you!


Una said…
Great to see someone passing on sewing skills to the youngsters. It looks like Anya will soon be very good at it.
Anonymous said…
Glad to see those creative genes flourishing! There's nothing like success to motivate.


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