Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sew My Own

Years ago when my Italian grandma passed away at age 101, she left me her sewing machine with some of her partially finished projects. I had no idea how to use it. This White Zigzag Sewing Machine sat silently inside of the sewing table in a corner of the guest bedroom until 3 years ago. I don't remember what prompted me to lift up the top of the sewing table and flip the sewing machine out of there. I was fascinated by it and amazed at its perfect condition. I could tell that it was well cared for by Granny.

The idea of learning to sew popped in my head, but I knew no one who could teach me. I started looking through, but the lessons seemed expensive and too far to drive. One day I flipped through the class catalog for West Contra Costa Adult School and found a basic sewing class. The school is very close to Sand Village Farm, and I liked the idea of supporting adult school. I signed up for the 8-week class and then signed up for another one after the first one ended. The school provides sewing machines for its students. Most students either had access to family sewing machines or were shopping for their own machines. The instructor, Ms. Lang, is very knowledgeable in sewing and sewing machines. She collects sewing machines. I was able to get all the help I needed to learn to use my 1959 White sewing machine. I even found the original instruction book among all the accessories and attachments that Granny left with the machine.

I learned to use patterns to make dresses and pants. I have made my own patterns with a large thin piece of paper. I tend to use commercial patterns as a reference without following them too closely because I still have a hard time understand the instructions. I have made car seat covers, hats, tissue box covers, Anime costumes, and hemmed and altered countless jeans and pants for friends of cubicle world.

I like the sound of the sewing machine stitching away. My biological grandmother passed away before I was born. I have been told that she was a very talented seamstress who graduated from one of the top fashion design institutes in Japan. Maybe sewing has always been in my blood. On raining days when I am not out working on the farm or picking wild mushrooms, I like to either cook or sew. I imagine myself being a frontier woman living the peaceful country life sometimes.

I recently made a set of matching hat, mittens, and booties for my best friend's 4 months old daughter. They were actually harder to sew than I thought because of their small size. There were times I had to hand sew some tiny corners because I couldn't manage to get the machine to stitch them without jamming the threads. Of course, I also made several mistakes as I tried to understand the patterns; however, I was quite happy with the end products. My best friend who lives on the east coast received the package today. Oops! They are too big for the baby! I need to make them smaller! I am going back to the sewing table when the cubicle world shuts down next week. I have some designs in my head, and I will make my own patterns this time.

Photo taken by baby's mom

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