Opinion

First sewing lesson could be taxing

By Madeleine Caccianiga

Fourteen months ago my mother bought me a sewing machine for Christmas with the intention of teaching me the art of sewing.

Like a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, she went to the effort of putting together a kit including everything I would need to create my own masterpiece.

I was excited at the possibility of learning something new and pulling the shiny new machine out of the box to set it up in the spare room at home.

As I admired the thoughtful present, I heard my mother say ‘‘don’t you open that until I’ve set it up for you’’.

I heard myself sigh; when was that going to happen?

The sewing machine was brought home and placed in the cupboard of the spare room for safe-keeping and admittedly put to the back of all our thoughts for 12 months.

Passing through Seymour on our way home from Melbourne last week, Mum and I stopped in at a favourite material shop to stock up on coloured fabrics for future projects.

For as long as I can remember, Mum has been sewing dresses, blankets, baby clothes; the list is endless and as we picked out matching colours to the latest craze of animal printed fabrics, my thoughts flashed back to my sewing machine, sitting untouched in the cupboard.

I jumped into action and picked out a selection of fabrics with cartoon dogs and plain colours to sew into a blanket for the nieces and nephews.

Mum saw me and said, ‘‘What are you going to do with that?’’ — and when I responded with ‘‘you’re going to teach me how to sew a blanket,’’ it was her turn to sigh.

She even offered to make the blankets for me, but I said, ‘‘no, you already have too many projects on the go, it’s time for me to learn’’.

We arranged for her to come over on Saturday and teach me the art of sewing.

Taking a step back from creating a blanket for my first project, Mum brought over a smaller-scale project for me to start with, a baby teething blanket, filled with ribbons and textured fabrics.

I soon became scared when she said, ‘‘now, do you remember how to sew?’’.

I looked at her with confusion and replied ‘‘er, no, that’s why you’re here, I didn’t do textiles at school’’.

Then it was her turn to stress and complain.

‘‘Oh God! We’re going to be here all day!’’ she said.

We got things set up in the spare room and I was shown how to thread the cotton.

Who knew that to make a stitch in the fabric you have to first thread a bobbin with cotton which is then placed underneath the ‘‘foot’’ of the machine to match with the cotton coming from the top.

I honestly spent my time watching in confusion while Mum demonstrated how to thread the next lot of cotton through the machine.

Finally she said, ‘‘all right, you have a go’’ — and this was when I really got confused.

I had to learn the difference between the ‘‘foot’’ of the machine (an attachment used with sewing machines to hold fabric flat as it is fed through the machine and stitched) and my own foot which was on the pedal underneath the table to operate the machine.

If I could match up an emoji with this experience it would be the female face-palm emoji.

Mum is adamant she said ‘‘put the foot down’’ — but I heard ‘‘put your foot down’’ and so I did — and the ‘‘foot’’ started jumping up and down and Mum yelled ‘‘stop’’.

She was already laughing at my attempt but she laughed even harder once I explained my confusion.

I’d like to say I got the hang of things from there, however Mum may have a different story to tell; but we got all the ribbons in a row and the fabrics stitched together before I protested and said ‘‘that’s enough for today’’.

Only time will tell where my sewing talents will take me, but for my next lesson I will have a vivid memory of what not to do.

Watch this space.

Madeleine Caccianiga is a News journalist.