Like most of you, I took sewing lessons at secondary school. I must admit, at the time it never really excited me. History, Art and Science were always the subjects that fascinated me the most. At the time sewing definitely didn’t come naturally to me and so my focus was in other areas. Skip forward 14 years and all of a sudden this past time has taken on a whole new light in my eyes.
Why was this, I hear you ask? Since getting into the world of vintage and pinup, I have developed a bit of an interest in alternative clothing which is not always so readily available on the high street…surely sewing could be the answer to some of my problems? In addition visiting the Fashion on the Ration exhibition at the Imperial War Museum last summer also gave me more of an appreciation for making do and mending what you already have at home. Finally, visiting various vintage festivals and fairs, I am always coming across such fabulous fabrics and often find myself wishing I could sew my own circle skirt or swing dress. The possibilities would literally be endless. All of these factors added up and back in October last year, I set myself the goal of learning to sew. Luckily for me, Mother-Flounce is an absolute whizz on her sewing machine (well on all three of them). Over the years she has taken all kinds of things up, down, in and out for me. Obviously she was delighted at my new found interest and jumped at the chance to teach me all I needed to know!
While picking up my machine at Hobby Craft I noticed that they offer sewing lessons in store (for those of you without a handy Mother-Flounce two minutes around the corner). For these lessons they encourage you to take your own machine along and the experts are on hand to help, giving you the confidence to then go away and have go yourself.
For my very first sewing machine I decided to go for a well known brand…Singer. Now, there are many different models to choose from and I am by no means an expert but after a little research I settled on the Singer Promise 1408. This was for two main reasons. Firstly, I was just starting out, and to begin with I felt more of a basic machine would be suitable. It had all of the main functions that I was going to need, but it was nice and simple and there was certainly less that I could get confused about. When I became a master seamstress, yes I will definitely upgrade! Secondly, my machine belonged to the same Promise range as one of my Mum’s more top of the range machines so she would be able to help me out a little easier than if I had gone for a different brand/range entirely.
When I got my new toy home, Mother-Flounce took me through the basics first:
• Threading the needle
• Inserting the bobbin
• Selecting the correct needle for the thickness of the material
• Removing and inserting a new needle
• Using the foot peddle to control the speed
• Pinning your material in such a way that you can easily remove the pins as you sew
• Holding your material in the correct manner as you pass it through the sewing machine
• Using the reverse setting to help prevent all of your hard work from unpicking
Not only was I now beginning to feel a lot more confidant in my abilities. I am not going to lie I was also growing strangely attached to (and a little bit in love with) my sewing machine. Now I was definitely ready for the fun stuff! Lesson 1: Bunting.
I had already purchased several duvets from the pinup bedding range from Asda, and since seeing some very clever ladies on Instagram convert this into beautiful clothing I decided to use this as my material to begin with. I already had this kicking around at home and I figured if it all went horribly wrong, at least I hadn’t spent out lots of money on expensive new fabric. With the help of Mother-Flounce I followed the steps below to make my marvellous pinup-inspired bunting:
1. I drew out a triangular template on card. I adapted mine from a template I had found in a feature in an old Vintage Life Magazine. You can make them however large or small you desire. Triagular or square, whichever you fancy!
2. The material was pinned and cut on a fold; so when you cut the material you are only cutting out two sides of the triangle, then when you unfold the material you have a diamond shape that is equal on both sides.
3. While one of us was drawing around the cardboard template, the other was pinning and cutting the material.
4. When all of the matieral was cut, they were folded back over in to triangles and pinned more securely into place. The pins were placed 1 inch from the top of the triangle and 1 cm from either side (the larger gap at the top would allow us to thread through the roll of hessian later on).
5. I then sewed these triangles together, sewing along the lines I had made with the pins, and removing each pin as I went.
6. The triangles were arranged along a 2 metre roll of hessian that I purchased from Dunelm Mill. You could always use string or ribbon here instead. I managed to fit 13 triangles along the length of the hessian, however you may wish to add more or less depending on preference. I personally like a little gap between each triangle.
7. Once I was happy with the arrangement I pinned the triangles into place and then sewed along the hessian roll in a horizontal direction, again removing the pins as I went to ensure everything stayed in the correct place until I had finished sewing.
8. The strips of bunting were then pressed with an iron. I gently frayed the edges slightly to give them more of a vintage feel.
9. The bunting was hung up around my flat and was just perfect for when I threw myself an afternoon birthday tea party. I even threw in some matching table cloths and serviettes that I made with the material left over!
I was pretty proud of this first sewing project, simple as it was. Any ideas, hints or tips that any of you may have to assist me with my adventure into the word of sewing would be greatly appreciated (especially on clothing patterns that you think will be a good place to start). I will be letting you guys all know how I am doing as I go, so wish me luck!