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Cushions and Kindles and Totes! Oh my!

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Cushions and Kindles and Totes! Oh my!
Calm before the storm?

Calm before the storm?

They came bearing gifts.

Ready, Set...SEW!

My three fresh-faced crafters – one Nervous and Quiet, another Mature and Polite and her younger sister grinning with barely concealed EXCITEMENT – brought a huge bag full of fabric goodies…and a cushion. Not just any cushion but a ma-HOOSIVE cushion “I’d like to make a cover for THIS!”, Mature and Polite announced with a flourish and a winning smile.

How could I resist a challenge put so optimistically!

Cutting out (and sorting pins)

These lovely girls, eager to learn how to use a sewing machine properly and make something useful in the process, descended upon my kitchen workshop one Tuesday during half term.

Pattern making

Pattern making

As the day progressed their confidence developed as the projects they had merely imagined began to take shape. We talked of favourite subjects at school and ballet vs contemporary dance and Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes. We imagined a world where you could sew only using strawberry laces for thread (don’t ask). Meanwhile Nervous and Polite was morphing into another entirely different character – Excitable and Curious – whose favourite phrase became “but what’s the point of that”? Fortunately I knew the answers. Honest.

Did someone say MASSIVE CUSHION COVER?

Did someone say MASSIVE CUSHION COVER?

After a break (my trio had scurried home for lunch “to give you a rest” as one of their mothers succinctly put it) all three bundles of energy bounded back inside to finish their projects.

Colourful Kindle Bag! WOOP!

Colourful Kindle Bag! WOOP!

A couple of hours later a MASSIVE cushion cover, a colourful Kindle Bag with a strap and an hand-appliqued Tote Bag emerged. I was so pleased with their application and their relentless efforts. But, more importantly, they were thrilled and couldn’t wait to show off their creations at home!

Look what we made!

A Half Term Tuesday very well spent.

Tiring? No doubt but worth every moment. Nothing beats that sense of pride in creating something from scratch and learning a new skill – or passing one on. Priceless.

What about you? Have you made something you’re really proud of? What gives you a sense of fulfilment?

Super Sew Me!

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Half term.

It’s not as if I didn’t have anything else to do with my time. I was half way through the Spring term. Or ‘The Term when the Year 11s start to Panic’ as I prefer to call it.

The very first Forest Hill Fashion Week was drawing to its glorious close and, by rights, I should really have been kicking back with a pile of DVDs and a (few) bottle(s) of wine…or exploring some exotic far away city with only my Rough Guide  for company.

But anyone who knows me is only too aware that my idea of relaxation actually happens to involve sewing. Quite a bit of it.

Laila hard at work

Laila hard at work

So that’s how I found myself rearranging my kitchen early on the Tuesday of half term ready for my first Super Sew Me! clients.

My two eager girls, aged 9 and 10, had never met before. Yet they bonded immediately over their obvious love of fabric and sewing. A few minutes in and we had already learnt that Laila loves designing. She arrived with a bag of fabric and a brimful of ideas. Lizzy was the loquacious one. A lover of all things purple and enough optimism to fill a stadium. We were all going to get on like a house on fire (not literally, panic not).

Attaching the handles

Attaching the handles

Teaching children really hones your explanation skills. On the whole, if one of my pupil gets it wrong it’s usually because I haven’t put  it quite right.  It was clear that my  two trainee Sewing Warriors wanted to learn (images of sponges and puddles spring to mind) and I was equally eager to give them the best sewing experience that I could create. Plus, don’t forget, it was my half term too and I was up for having some fun!

Look at what I made!

Look at what I made!

It’s probably no secret by now that I was bored senseless by my needlework lessons (textiles technology now, if you please) when I was at school in the Dark Ages. I’m not sure whether it was the curriculum or the teacher that was to blame (sorry,

anonymous Needlework teacher). I just did not ‘get’ it. Not so MY lessons, I decided. *determined face*

A very happy Laila with her finished project!

A very happy Laila with her finished project!

Super Sew Me! took place over three consecutive mornings. We went over the basics of threading and using an electric sewing machine. Lizzy brought her mothers old machine (there’s something about this that makes my heart soar) and Laila worked from one of  mine. Homework that evening was greeted eagerly by both. The girls arrived the next day brandishing their handiwork proudly. Laila arrived early to practise as her very own sewing machine was on order.

And then they were off and away! Choosing colours and making Tote bag patterns and debating the advantages of contrast versus matching fabrics.

Look it has a pocket! Elizabeth and her finished tote.

Look it has a pocket! Elizabeth and her finished tote.

We discovered that Laila is rather impatient and she learnt that steady produces more quality sewing. Lizzy learnt that she can rely upon her own instinct and that when she is calm she can produce brilliant results.

We had great fun together and – if their beaming expressions are anything to go by – they were thrilled with their achievements. I’m sure that, armed with my instructions and their new confidence and Sewing Warrior status, young Laila and Lizzy will go from strength to strength.

I plan to offer more Super Sew Me Workshops – the next for one whole day during the Easter holidays – so if you have a budding young designer and you’re London based, do have a look!
But even if you’re not…why not look up Childrens sewing classes in your area? You never know, you may have a budding Stella McCartney or Paul Smith on your hands!

Your Sewing Machine is your Friend!

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Fact.

As with many of my ideas, this one came from a casual conversation with some friends over a glass of wine, possibly in my kitchen I can’t honestly remember. Maybe it was more than one glass. Hey ho!

Our comprehensive survey – four slightly tipsy women and their mates – concluded that many people have a sewing machine at home but haven’t a Danny La Rue what to do with it. When one friend quipped “Wouldn’t it be great if we there was a local expert who could teach us?’, aaaaaand then they all stared in my direction, I thought “Actually, they might be on to something”.

Add  one flustered neighbour  ringing my doorbell one evening who was having ‘a bit of trouble’ with her sewing machine. In a fit of thriftiness and blind optimism she had agreed to make the costumes for her children…all three … for the school play…the next day.

I  figured that it was time to don my proverbial sewing cape.

Lea and her welcome cuppa

Never one to shy away from a new challenge (Flamenco style wedding dress with 14 metres of fabric, anyone?) I set about making plans.

I love teaching – I love textiles – and I LOVE teaching textiles. This seemed like a wonderful opportunity to combine the two without leaving my cosy home!

We’ll chalk that up as a WIN.

Jo sewing and thinking “stop taking my picture!”

I have never described myself as an ‘expert’ but I do know my way around a sewing machine. I like to think I have a way of working that gets the point across without it being (too) baffling and is fairly good fun. What’s the point if it isn’t?

Fledgling Sewing Warriors ‘werking it’!

Naturally we all started with a welcoming cup of tea. It’s the law apparently.

Try as I might, Kirsty could not be persuaded to finish MY ironing!

My lovely clients were keen and enthusiastic and we had a LOT of laughs! They even did their homework!

Matching Zebra stripes! WOOP!

Jo and Lea made a fabulous zipless cushion cover. Jo would like me to highlight the fact that she made the back panels match. On purpose. Honest!

Christmas stocking complete with funky border, finished!

Kirsty made a Christmas stocking for one of her boys  so successfully she’s making another one as I write. So clever!

She did it!

Now no self respecting Sewing Course would be complete without a congratulatory certificate. My ladies are ready to go and wield their talent as fully fledged Sewing Warriors!

I’m so PROUD of them! *sniff*

There is something really special about creating. That overwhelming sense of achievement – gained from doing something you never thought possible – takes some beating….in adults as well as children *turns death stare towards the current Education Secretary*

I raise my glass to Jo, Kirsty and Lea, my FIRST Sewing Warriors. May they share their zest for crafting with many more!

Sewing classes are popping up everywhere – as the combination of penny saving and new challenges kick in. If this whets your appetite, why not make finding a local sewing class your New Years Resolution?

You’re WELCOME!

x

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