Sunday, 19 May 2019

ALfA - My Frist Sewing Machine

Some sixty–something years ago, my father gave my mother a sewing machine for her birthday. Throughout their married life, Dad has shown a distinct preference for giving practical gifts but none of the household appliances given in later years were as well received nor well used as the sewing machine.

Of course Mum used the machine but she was never a prolific sewer; I did not get my love of needle work from her. I don’t recall the first time I used the machine or what I made with it but I vaguely remember Mum showing me how to wind the bobbin and install it, and how to thread the machine. It is indicative of how much more I used the machine that I always threaded it for Mum in later years.

In my very first blog I wrote “I don’t know how old I was when I started to stitch. I don’t know who taught me. As far as I know, I was born with a needle in my hand. It is simply something that I have always done. I don't do it exceptionally well but I love doing it. I’ve made clothes, I’ve knitted jumpers (very badly) and I’ve crocheted cushion covers. I have done many things that involve needles and thread but most of all, I’ve embroidered.”

Latterly, that is true but when I was younger I loved making my own clothes. Many a garment was made on this unsophisticated, hand operated, sewing machine.

Mum obviously recognised my love of sewing as one day I came home to find she had purchased a second hand electric machine for me. I too was unsophisticated; I don’t think I ever told mum but I actually preferred her hand machine.

When I left school and started work, one of the first things I ever purchased was a New Home electric machine; I loved it and made many, many things on that machine. Later, when I thought I wanted to master free machine embroidery, I traded my New Home in for a Bernina. While it has not seen the use it should have, and FME turned out not to be my thing, I love the Bernina – but I wish that I had not parted with my New Home. I think it is a bit like cars, however much better they are, no car will ever ‘better’ your first!

Recently, Mum asked me what she should do with her sewing machine. Neither of us wanted this machine to end its day on the rubbish heap so I looked into charities that collect unwanted tools, refurbish them, and redistribute them to individuals or communities for livelihood creation.

Mum has not been too well recently and our trips out together have almost entirely been trips to medical professionals or of a utility nature. Yesterday, we went together to deliver ‘our’ sewing machine to the next chapter in its life. And then we went to have a cup of coffee and slice of cake in a cafĂ©. We chatted about trivia instead of the medical and day to day problems of living that have dominated our conversations for the past year. It was a very special final chapter in our journey with this sewing machine. We can only imagine what will happen next in its journey but we are both very pleased that there is another chapter; that its life will not end on the scrap heap.

Happy Stitching, ALfA and your new owner

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Sake Boxes - Legs

Like the fabric, the instructions that came with my design were quite old. While the fundamental techniques remain the same, some elements of the instructions do occasionally change. My instructions said that foundation for the sake box should not cover the legs. When I visited my tutor to discuss my colour scheme, we reviewed alternative instructions for Sake Boxes and noted that some suggested stitching the whole foundation in one piece, covering the legs. This is the method I used.

The first step in stitching the legs is a silk diagonal layer of flat silk. My main concern was that the black foundation would show through the yellow silk, so I took care not to allow any gapping between the stitches.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

As with the instructions, the designs themselves are sometimes altered. On my design sheet, the gold features on the legs were quite simple. I had seen more decorative features on other designs. I copied these features from another design sheet. Stitching these elaborate shapes, I understood why some might have chosen to simplify them.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The whole of the box and lid are outlined with one and a half pairs of #4 gold (here, I have only done one pair; I realised that I had missed the additional half pair and added it later) and short stitch hold was used to secure any visible foundation stitches longer than 1cm.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching