I had such a great time recently at Made Sewing Studio. I booked the Beginners Bootcamp course a couple of months ago and was hoping to get some good solid basics down to help me progress with my sewing. The syllabus at Made was slightly more diverse than most – an Infinity scarf or two, a tote bag and a pair of pyjama bottoms, all in two 4-hr sessions. Sold!
I turned up to the studio at midday on Saturday and was greeted by Carissa, the effervescent owner of the studio. Friendly, and with a wickedly dry sense of humour, it was a pleasure to be her student for the weekend. Her instructions and pointers were extremely clear the whole way through – you never felt like an imbecile and it was the sort of comfortable atmosphere where you don’t mind asking “stupid” questions (no such thing of course). Added to this was the fact that my three fellow students were all super nice ladies who were up for a giggle – what more could you ask for?
We started off with a bit of a chat and then were shown the basics of threading and setting up to sew. The other ladies had brought their own machines in to sew on. Great idea! … that sadly didn’t occur to me. As fate would have it though, the machine in front of me was… exactly the same machine I have, the Brother CS6000i. Carissa explained the kids normally used these ones, haha. Well, it is an economical model, but so far, so good!
I would say all of us ladies were around the same level – that is, we had made a couple of things at home, but had never had any formal introduction/training. Therefore, even though I already knew how to set up a sewing machine, I quickly learned some invaluable things about needle placement, tension and that there is a THREAD CUTTER on the side (seriously, how did I not see that?) that are already so time-saving it made the intro totally worth it.
Then it was straight into the scarves. These are perfect for you to get used to the machine and learn the basics of sewing a straight line. It’s a matter of taking a yard of material, cutting it half and sewing it back together again in a different configuration! Sort of. I used straightforward medium weight cottons for both scarves, but might zip up a couple in knits too.
At the end, once you’ve pulled the scarf the right way out, you need to sew up the little hole through which you pulled it. Now, I detest hand sewing. I mean, really, really hate it. Carissa showed me how to do the ladder stitch and gave a few little tips, like never having more than an arm’s length of thread at a time. It is no exaggeration to say that this 10 minute extremely satisfying piece of hand sewing completely changed my view. I’m actually quite keen to learn more now – I always thought I was just bad at it and clumsy. THAT is why it is worth going to a beginner’s class for me. You could look it up online and find the info, but it would take you a lot longer than 10 minutes and there’s nothing like someone showing you in person.
Day 2 we got cracking with the tote bag. This was a different shape to a normal tote bag and actually is reversible if you want to use it like that. Again, we didn’t use a pattern as such – we measured out some rectangles and then used the edge of a plate to create the curved edge. All brilliant practice in measuring, using a triangle and sewing ruler. These are basic but important things to know. We used a contrast fabric for the top of the bag and then some webbing for the straps. This was more complex than the scarves, but still could be finished in a few hours (and I suppose very quickly if you made it again by yourself). The bag is a really good size and I’ve already been using it as a shopping bag/baby bag. A bag for the baby’s things I should clarify – not a Chihuahua style baby carrier. The main fabric was some sale fabric from Ikea ($2.99/yd!!) and the contrast navy was a canvas from Joann.
Finally we got on to the pyjama bottoms. A few of the girls made them for their husbands at which point Carissa told us that, unbelievably, vanity sizing has entered the male clothing market too. So all these guys think they have 32-in waists and find out they’re a 36-in. Terrible, and I’m sure not a good idea for men. My husband will just stop buying clothes if that happens! No win for anyone. Anyway, it turns out it’s irrelevant for me since I totally didn’t even consider my husband and made the pyjamas for myself (sorry husband).
I made mine in flannel for cosiness and this time we did use a pattern. Unfortunately, I must have made a measuring mistake and mine were HUGE. I mean, I have post-baby weight to lose, but these things were/are humungous. I made them up anyway just in case I was actually that large and in denial (entirely possible) and figured we could downsize afterwards. Yes, yes, it’s probably karma for not making my husband the pyjamas and being selfish. Maybe he was psychically guiding my scissors hand, I don’t know.
Making the inside pockets was fun and surprisingly easy. I thought it would be difficult, but we just drew a rough pocket shape larger than our hands, cut two, and then sewed them in as we were doing the side seam.We used pinking shears to save on seam finishing time and putting the elastic in was again fairly simple. We anchored one end with a safety pin (nice tip) and fed the other end through the channel with a second safety pin attached. Then it was just a matter of sewing up the gap and bob’s your uncle.
As I said at the beginning, I really enjoyed this weekend course, even more than I thought I would. I got a lot of little tips out of it and it definitely increased my confidence as a beginner. I really recommend going along to one if you’re humming and hawing about it – I think just about everyone would get something out of it.
That’s it for now – hope you enjoyed your Christmas (I got some new craft books woohoo!!) I’ll be back soon!