When I was living in Japan, being tall and athletic, I couldn’t buy clothes. Most conventional sizes stopped where I began, and certainly would never have been tall enough. So, because I needed clothes, I had to make my own.
Now, back in junior high school, I was not what you’d call a girly girl. And, to be fair, I am STILL not what anyone would call a girly girl. But back then, having no mom or similarly female frame of reference on which to base my ideas of what was feminine, I was not schooled so much in the finer arts of cooking and housekeeping and sewing.
So, when the time came for Home Ec class, I was so incredibly inept at sewing that by about the middle of term, my lovely Home Ec teacher recognized that sewing was going to be an exercise in frustration and failure for me, not to mention any machine I touched, and gently banned me from ever using the sewing machines again. (Cooking proved to be a lot more successful.)
Bearing this in mind, when I was in Japan, and needing clothes, I decided it was time to suck it up and learn, else I go naked through the train system of Osaka. So I sent home for my sewing machine to be shipped to me, and thus began my generally pleasant and mutually respectful relationship with my Singer.
The clothes I made were functional, but looking back, pretty awful. I bought remnants of cheap poly-cottons, and I knew nothing of lining and interfacing. But for the most part, my seams were straight, my zippers and buttonholes worked, and I looked relatively respectable from a distance.
When I came home from Japan, during the 30 or so hours of travel, I must have looked a ridiculous sight, schlepping through train station and airport, carting my faithful Singer in one hand and a fairly large stuffed toy duck in the other. The duck couldn’t fit anywhere else. And the sewing machine? I was not taking ANY chances shipping, and so carried it and stowed it and made sure it got home safely. It got a crack in the case, but otherwise arrived unharmed.
And then, it sat neglected for much of the last 20 years in closets in the various places I have lived.
I have taken it out, but very rarely. I was making real money, when I got home, so if I needed something I bought it. Sewing was not something I LOVED to do, like knitting. It was something I learned how to do and needed to do, but I didn’t love it. Occasionally, I made something like curtains, and planned and gathered fabric for a quilt for Stinkerbelle, and mended clothing and other items that needed it. But I never really loved it.
And, over the last 20 years, my machine has begun to show its neglect. It is still in good working order, but the once cream-coloured plastic bits of the machine — the case, the handle and some facing bits, the removable tray part on which you put your fabric — has now turned a dull gold-yellow colour from dust and age, and combined with the still-cream metal parts, gives it an oddly retro two-tone look.
But although I don’t love sewing, I do love that machine. And so, this year, I saw it sitting neglected in my closet and decided to use it once again.
Back in September, you may recall, I made a bag for Stinkerbelle to take to school to bring home all her crafts. I found an easy pattern online and whipped up a cute little bag in an afternoon. And I had fabric under my bed that I had purchased a few years back because it was totally up my alley but had never used. So, when at New Years I decided on a bunch of knitting projects, and I realized that I had no storage for them, I thought of that little bag.
I decided to make some knitting project and storage bags out of that fab fabric.
Sewing is not something I can do with Stinkerbelle around, what with irons and ironing boards and pins and moving machine parts, but during naptimes on the weekend I have managed to make a few.
They’re nothing fancy, and on close inspection the seams are pretty shaky and there’s an errant half-a-buttonhole where I began a buttonhole for a drawstring only to realize it has been over 20 years since I used the buttonhole feature and could not really remember how it was supposed to work. So I abandoned it mid-buttonhole. We’ll call that “a feature”.
Each one has handles to grab and go, and a drawstring to pull tight so as not to lose any balls of yarn or needles or whatnot. And they’re various sizes, so I can tote small projects out to keep me busy during Stinkerbelle’s dance class or store larger projects and their yarn like my large Weather Wrap throw blanket.
But the handles on some are slightly wonky, and the drawstring holes are a bit makeshift due to the buttonhole issue (I’ll practice that for next time). And they’re unlined poly-cotton which means they won’t last as long as a lined bag or stronger fabric would. But each one is a learning experience, and will do for the time being, and so I am quite pleased with them.
Perhaps in future I’ll invest in some thicker, stronger fabric, or, more likely, line the bags with other fabric. But for now, they’ll do the job.
Now, my problem is no longer where to store my stash of yarn and projects, but where to store my many bags of yarn.