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Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Fear of Sewing Machines

I am afraid of my sewing machine.
(It's okay, I'll wait while you have a good laugh.)

My friend Shari posted this SUPER-CUTE maternity re-make, taking a "tent-ish" shirt and ruching the sides. She had originally found the directions from Jill. This is a cute maternity re-fashion, but it can be done for regular shirts, too. I just saw a girl's shirt for sale at Target that had this exact ruching method, with the elastic stitched down the inside. Both ladies said it was "super simple" and "very easy", which I'm sure it is for most people. But I'm not most people.

Yes, I took home-ec in middle school and learned how to work a sewing machine. Yes, I own a small "mighty mender" I got from my mom. Yes, I've tried to use it more than once in the past 10 years, but those attempts were unsuccessful. I can sew on a patch or a button with a needle and thread, but I'm just not good with my sewing machine. Usually I can live with that.

But I REALLY wanted to try this project, since I have several "tent-ish" maternity shirts that I would love to update (like the one pictured here--sorry, I'm not a good photographer, either!). Shari and Jill made it look and sound easy--Shari said it took her 10 minutes. But they both used a sewing machine. Hmmmm. . . how was I going to do this?

I decided to try with a needle and thread. (pausing for snickering--it's okay, I deserve it) I knew it would take longer this way, but I reasoned it would take me twice as long to get out the machine and figure out how to work it. Plus, a needle and thread doesn't scare me. I sorta got the idea, but it didn't turn out right. The stitches just weren't close enough together.

But I STILL really wanted to try it. Ted said I should invite over a friend who isn't scared of sewing machines and watch all the kids while she zipped through my shirts for me. This probably wasn't a bad idea, but I was too embarrassed. I decided to face my fear of THE MIGHTY MENDER. I'm the mom of (almost) 5 girls. I should probably get this fear under control, don't you think?

I brought it up from the basement and set it up. I didn't want to deal with changing the thread and re-threading the bobbin and all that, so I decided that the cream thread that was in the machine would work fine with a light pink shirt (don't look too closely, okay?).

I got everything all set to go and was still in the process of psyching myself up when one of the girls noticed me. "SISTERS!! Mommy has the sewing machine out!" Great--now I have an audience--as if I wasn't nervous enough! Of course they wanted to help, so I thought things through. I was still trying to figure out how to pull the shirt through the machine WHILE stretching the elastic AND hit the on and off button, all while trying to keep things relatively straight on a machine I was afraid of. I decided help wouldn't be so bad.

I held the shirt and fed it through while H stretched the elastic. G was in charge of the on/off button. Because the "psyching myself up" process had taken so long, M and F had lost interest. I assured H that the machine was going to turn on and things would start to move kinda fast, but that I wouldn't run over her fingers. She didn't seem scared at all. I was practically shaking! I took a few deep breaths and said, "let's do it!"

The machine whirred to life and whisked along quickly. I wished I could slow it down! We had a miscommunication which caused a minor flub-up, but we got one side done. An hour later H helped me with the other side. It's not very neat (remember, you promised not to look closely), but here are the results. If you see me wearing this in person, please DON'T ask to see my stitching! It's not as cute as Shari's, but I think it is better than it used to be.

Maybe one of my girls will have a desire to become a seamstress someday. Or maybe they'll have a talent with sewing machines (which to me would mean they could sew a straight line without freaking out). I can hope that knowing how to sew skips a generation in my family (read "their grandmothers can teach them")! Despite my fear, I will try not to quench their desires.

In case one of you wants to try this, here's the basic idea. It is simple--even though it took me over an hour. If you aren't afraid of your sewing machine, I'm sure it won't take you nearly that long! Take a piece of elastic and sew it onto the bottom of your shirt along the side seam, about an inch up. Then STRETCH the elastic while you machine-sew up the shirt, preferably almost to about the bust-line (mine didn't quite go up far enough, but oh well). I meant to buy some elastic last weekend but forgot, so I took the elastic band out of some of H's adjustable waist jeans that had gotten holes in the knees. So for me, this project was free (monetarily, not emotionally)! :-)


Home Gnome said...

I, too, share your pathological fear of sewing machines! I get sweaty palms at the idea of pulling mine out of the attic. You did a GREAT job on your shirt - it looks like new! AND you've inspired hope in my fearful soul that someday I also might conquer "the machine."

Jessica-MomForHim said...

Too funny! I'm glad I'm not the only one! :-)

Shari said...

Bravo! I think it turned out really cute! Never fear the sewing machine.. instead it should fear your skillful and quick hands that are no longer afraid. :o)

Lana said...

You're so funny! We should definitely live closer to one another and I would have been happy to help. You did a great job though! I'm glad you worked through your fear.

Angela said...

I like that idea a lot! I'm glad you went for it. ;)

Michelle said...

That's awesome. My husband bought me a sewing machine last February (2009). I think I got the thread on by April and that is as far as I've made it. I would love to sew but am totally intimidated!

Way to go!

SavingMom said...

Hi Jessica -
I have been following your blog for quite some time through a recommendation of a friend of mine that goes to your church. Even though I live in Colorado I get so much out of all that you write.
I really enjoyed today's blog about the sewing machine. It takes a lot of courage for me to get mine out too, but you have inspired me to do it again. I have a project I have been hemming and hawing at for while.
Thanks for everything!

Heather said...

Awesome job! I just saw your comment on my Money Saving Mom guest post and wanted to comment back but comments were closed.

You did a really great job on this shirt!

Jessica-MomForHim said...

Thanks, Heather, you are sweet! Actually I didn't do quite the fabulous job I wish I had--there ended up being holes in the sides so now it is my daughter's nightgown--she loves it! :-)

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