The sewing saga continues (…but it almost didn’t!)

The sewing saga continues (…but it almost didn’t!)

For anyone who has been following along as I attempt to learn this new skill, I would just like to apologize for the extremely minimal amount of progress it appears I have made in several weeks. I can imagine it is a bit painful to witness, as I update with the small amounts of progress I’m making, especially to any avid sewers. Yikes!

Today, I sat down at the sewing machine, ready to check off the “to-dos” I had listed in my last post. That’s when things took a turn. I attempted to practice my straight stitches in paper as I’ve seen several videos and posts suggest! Here’s what happened:

The needle basically just ripped through the paper with no stitches in sight. On top of that, the needle picked up thread from the bobbin 3 or 4 extra times so it was just a mess! I had to open the bobbin case, remove it, cut the messed up threads off, rethread it, place it back in the casing, and pick up the bobbin thread again.

When I *thought* I had the machine all ready to go again, I decided to try the shorts fabric again instead of messing with the paper, which clearly wasn’t going to work (perhaps it would have if I had adjusted the tension or figured out what I needed to do with thinner “fabric” but I was already feeling a bit frustrated so that was a hard pass). So, take 2.

THE SAME THING HAPPENED. Not a single stitch, AND the needle did the same pick-up-thread-from-the-bobbin-a-million-times thing. So, another reset was in order. This is when I dropped the bobbin and the spool fell out and I was half a second away from getting up, walking away, and ultimately giving up this learning venture. IT WAS TOO DIFFICULT and I couldn’t do it.

I’m not sure what ultimately stopped me from quitting. Maybe I knew I had to keep going because it was something I had to do (for this class) or maybe it was some subconscious desire to accomplish what I set out to do. Whatever it was, I stayed put, and reset everything once again.

That’s when something clicked and bam! I created a row of stitches. I’d done this before, but I was discouraged from thinking I’d ever do this again.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was something! And a small win during an afternoon of what felt like major flops and failures. From here, I decided to figure out how to “end” a row of stitches. That brought me to the lovely Made to Sew. I watched this video, which kind of made me laugh, because apparently, one of the ways to end a row of stitches is to simply “tie it off”. This is something I did if I ever hand-stitched something in the past but I didn’t think it was ever a real method; it was just something that made sense to me and was easy!

So I tied off my row (as you can see in the image above). Then, feeling more confident, I decided to change the type of stitch and practice that. Here’s what happened:

progress from left to right. On the right, I “trusted” the machine more and just gently guided it as it rolled along under the presser foot.

A sigh of relief as this was definitely my best stitch yet. I tied off the ends and felt pretty darn proud of myself! To the onlooker, these might seem like the tiniest of improvements, but to me, they felt significant. I felt ready to look up some easy sewing projects for beginners and decide on one I’d try!

I found a few websites that had several suggestions, so I browsed a bit until I found something that would actually be a practical choice for me (and my daughter) – scrunchies!

I watched this video by AppleGreen Cottage and felt relieved feeling like none of it was over my head! I’ll need to gather my fabric and get some wide elastic before I attempt this, but after the winding (and bumpy) road of learning how to sew, this seems like a fitting and realistic place to finish my learning project.

Some reflections on this process:

  1. Learning is frustrating, but rewarding
    You really never know when you will have a “breakthrough”. For me, it was mere moments after I almost gave up for good. This is such a valuable experience for me that I can share with my students when they are feeling ready to throw in the towel. Maybe when we feel the most like giving up are when we’re closest to our biggest step forward.
  2. Learning is not linear
    …at least, it never seems to be for me. I set a goal, tried working towards it, then got rerouted for this reason and that. I turned around, changed directions, changed plans, and didn’t end up in the specific place I had initially hoped (creating a bucket hat). While this could be considered disappointing, or a project that just wasn’t given enough effort, I did ultimately learn to sew. I’ll end with a scrunchie instead of a hat, but I still learned to sew (which was not an easy task for me!). I like order and structure and neatness in my classroom, but this process has been an important reminder that students do not and will not always learn in such rigid and sequenced ways. They’ll have detours and turn-arounds before reaching their goals, just like I did.
  3. Even the most independent learner can use a little help
    I’ve said it before, but I’m not the most eager to collaborate or seek assistance with really anything I do. I prefer to figure things out on my own, for whatever reason. However, in this project, the support and advice I received from my friend, mother-in-law, and grandma were all crucial to being successful. And the help just made it way easier! I didn’t feel any less accomplished after asking for help or that I didn’t really do it “on my own”. In the end, it didn’t really matter that I asked for help; this project was plenty difficult even with some extra support!

I’m so happy to end this post feeling accomplished and confident to attempt my first real sewing project. I’m also pleased with the experience this process has provided me with. If you are struggling to learn something or facing big challenges in your own learning project, this is my encouragement to you to give it one more try-it might be the one that does the trick!

2 thoughts on “The sewing saga continues (…but it almost didn’t!)

  1. Christina, I know that I have had this same thing happen to me when I am sewing and I sometimes need to get up walk away, and make a cup of tea before coming back and resetting. My Mom always tells me that the best thing to do is to rethread the machine as sometimes it has become unhooked somewhere along the line. Also, make sure when you are sewing a fuzzy fabric or denim that you clean the area which holds the bobbin. I have a small paintbrush that I have to help me do this. I feel your frustration as it sometimes feels that you haven’t achieved what you wanted to but it is through setbacks that we learn. Good luck and know that all of these little setbacks have taught you patience which is something I think that every sewer needs.

  2. Christina,
    Your learning this week will be a great example to students! I appreciated your perseverance and determination to keep going! Your three thoughts about your learning this week are very applicable to the classroom. Great reflection! I look forward to seeing your scrunchies!

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