After a long absence of many years, mainly due to family life I rekindled my love of sewing. Himself surprised me one day with a sewing machine he had seen for sale in Aldi when he had been buying some tools. Apparently I had been fondly reminiscing of late on my crafting days.
My grandmother had been a seamstress and I used to spend many a happy hour watching her at work on her old Singer. I’d be curled up on a battered old oxblood leather armchair next to the range; which was always on, with my nose stuck in a book observing her over the top. Her shiny black singer with it’s gold lettering had it’s own stand and was treated reverently. It was located next to the kitchen table which was covered in material cut out into shapes and pinned to a paper pattern.
My grandmother would peer intently at the material able to map the jigsaw of shapes in her head that was just too much for my young brain to work out. She always matched the shapes perfectly and I always failed to fathom how and subsequently it was always a revelation to me when the shapes came together and formed a blouse or a dress. The notions were just as important to her as the material. The buttons always complimented the blouse. The material was always good quality in the latest fabric.
She turned out designer quality outfits, skirts, blouses, dresses. There was nothing she couldn’t make. She was a perfectionist and one of my great idols.
She was also a great painter, baker and DIY’er. Just for clarity – she used to paint the statues for our local church not canvases or portraits. That’s not to say she couldn’t do that kind of painting its just I never saw her do it. They were huge big statues and many is the time I got the fright of my life when I suddenly came face to face with St Anthony just inside my grandmother’s kitchen door. I didn’t know whether to scream and run or bow and bless myself.
There were always lovely aromas wafting through the house of baking bread or cakes straight from the oven. Even now the smell of freshly baked bread reminds me of home. I never knew whether she did these things for pleasure or out of necessity. She always seemed to enjoy them but she was a widow supporting a handicapped daughter. She was immensely strong and fiercely independent and instilled in me a love of crafts and DIY that has waned over the years but has recently been reignited along with my memories of her.
I started off slow and after watching some YouTube tutorials I made the decision to begin with a zippered cushion progressing to zippered cosmetics pouch.
I got some vintage looking material, lining and accessories from Home Focus in Blanchardstown retail park. Himself built me a table top with a groove for my machine to sit into. Its the same level as the machine arm so it’s really handy if you’re sewing bigger projects like quilts. I plan to cover it in oil cloth but that’s another project as I’m also looking to upgrade my sewing machine and I may need to change the groove size.
Attaching the zip was tricky but following along with YouTube it was doable and after a couple of zip related projects its now almost second nature. Since then I’ve gotten the bug and have completed a patchwork quilt for my daughter, a cover for the armchair seat in the sitting room, cushions and different versions of the cosmetic’s bag which I have given out as gifts stocked with goodies. They have gone down a treat.
Himself has added some shelving in my office to house notions and material. I’ve already started putting a list together of things I can make for Christmas or give out as gifts. Its always great to see people’s faces when you tell them their gift was hand-made and customized just for them. I’d like to make another patchwork throw for my older daughter’s room and I have an ottoman that’s badly in need of an upgrade but first I have to continue my search for the perfect sewing machine. The one I have is good for smaller projects but it really struggled with the quilt.
I see lots of things around the house that I could now do myself with my sewing machine and the right material.
I have been buying material and notions on eBay and Amazon. The only downside is that choice is limited as shipping costs can be high. I spend a lot of time looking at different companies and shipping costs can vary greatly so its worth while shopping around or buying ahead if you know you have a couple of projects down the line to save on shipping costs by buying in bulk or multiple items in one order.
I’m so grateful to himself for getting me back on this path. It is so satisfying and rewarding when you take the raw ingredients and turn them into something really beautiful that people will use. Each project is a labour of love and I get a great kick out of completing each one regardless of how big it is and each step I learn more and each project gets a little more complex and challenging.
I like to think that my grandmother is somewhere looking down on me with a great big proud grin on her face thinking – so the bookworm did learn something after all.