About Me

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Currently, I'm a stay-at-home mum to an inquisitive and often rambunctious three year old girl and her sunny little brother. In a former life, I was a lawyer. I know which I prefer. On the odd occasion that I get some downtime, I knit, crochet, read, sew, sing badly, dance even more so, enjoy a glass of wine and watch bad TV, sometimes in varying combinations of the foregoing and not necessarily in that order of preference.

Saturday 5 May 2012

New skills

I've talked before about how a nap time is proving to be just long enough for me to pick up some sewing, and about my friend's belief in the power of cumulative action.  So on Thursday, when it was close to but not quite close enough to the end of a week of busy Spring Fair planning, and I was in need of some light relief, I decided to pull out my sewing and see if I could finally nail a skill that had stalled two of my current projects: buttonholes.

I was a more than a little afraid of buttonholes.  The need to sew two parallel lines of closely spaced stitches and then snip a hole in your work without cutting any of them, or, most importantly, the little bars of stitches at the top and bottom.  It rather brought me out in a cold sweat.  My gran assured me that the buttonhole function on her sewing machine was fool-proof and that, once I'd tried it, I'd never be afraid of buttonholes again.

I found some scrap yarn and tried.  It started well but then the stitches began bunching and eventually the machine was just jogging on the spot.  I stopped and tried again.  Same thing.  I fiddled with the tension settings.  I fiddled with the pressure on the foot.  I fiddled with the feeddogs.  The machine seemed stiff.  I oiled it.  It helped a little but not much.  I tried doing some simple straight sewing.  The machine laboured.  It clunked.  It whirred.  Then it jammed.

Oh.  As one of the characters in my daughter's favourite TV programme say, "That is not very good".

I dismantled the bits of the machine that I could get to but nothing seemed to co-operate.  Clearly this called for someone who actually knew what they were doing.  I rootled around on the internet, hoping to unearth a sewing machine repair shop.  There were a few, but none particularly close to my corner of London and none who would collect the machine from me, and the closest one wasn't answering the phone.  Just when I was resigning myself to a drive into Battersea and to not doing any sewing for a couple of weeks while I tried to fit in driving back to collect the machine again, I spotted a link to a mobile sewing machine engineer.  The site looked presentable enough and he seemed to have lots of experience, plus a good reference (albeit a few years old now) from a local shop.  What the heck.  I gave him a call.

Which is how on Thursday evening, a little Lithuanian man was sat in my study, servicing my sewing machine (Hubby insists this sounds like the start of a porn film... I think it is the term "servicing") and how, on Thursday evening, I was finally able to do this:

and this:

You might not have noticed the buttonhole in the middle of the cow's head on the pocket flap...
and my sewing machine now runs like a dream.  Part of me feels £50 for the 20 minutes he was hear is rather expensive, but then he has a skill that I don't have, he came to me and he was with me within 4 hours of my call.  Plus I doubt any of the other shops would have been noticeably cheaper and all would have been noticeably more hassle, so really, what's not to like?  His card is now in a safe place for the next time (which he laughed and suggested would probably be in a couple of years).

Of course, I'm still a way off actually completing anything. This is probably why, rather than starting another project when I hit the buttonholes of the dress, I should have bitten the bullet then, but hey-ho.  I did try to remedy that last night by sewing the buttons on the dress.  Unfortunately, I discovered that I mis-measured and my buttonholes are slightly too short, so there will need to be a little jiggery-pokery tonight to fix that and I will need to remind myself of Tim Allen's mantra on 'Home Improvement': "measure twice, cut once".  But the important things are (a) I conquered my fear of buttonholes and (b) I think they look pretty good.  I'll finish the dress so that Baby Bird can wear it tomorrow and hopefully by next weekend, she will be skipping about in a pair of crazy cow print trousers.  The material is pretty bonkers I will concede, but I love it and firmly believe that if you can't dress in bonkers prints at 18 months, I don't know when you can.

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