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Monday, October 13, 2014

CCC - Sandra makes three

CCC - Sandra 01

The Calvary Chapel Couturières now has another success story.  From a group of absolute beginners who for the most part had never touched a sewing machine before, we had a number of young women create their own little drawstring bag to hold their sewing supplies during the first class.

Then Janka was the first to finish an actual wearable garment, a T-shirt, with Lindsey coming in second, as part of the second class project.  And now we have Sandra, who ended up doing a different garment.

CCC - Sandra 02
Enjoying class
CCC - Sandra 03
Paying deep attention

Sandra is possibly our youngest member.  She became inspired to learn how to sew when I showed her some of the baby things I made for Diggle, as she has her own little boy just a week younger.  She came to the first class willing and eager to learn, but she had to leave early due to baby responsibilities, so she didn't get to make the class bag.  She was able to learn a lot of preparation basics, but it was frustrating not to be able to put any of it into practice.

CCC - Sandra 04
Learning how to take measurements
She diligently came back for the second class, despite not having been able to actually use a sewing machine yet, ready to create her own T-shirt.  She learned how to take her measurements, learned how to "read" pattern pieces, learned how to check the pattern size against her own size.

CCC - Sandra 05
Learning how to trace and prepare a pattern piece

Then she got to finally get started doing something personal by tracing out her size pattern based on her own measurements. 

Unfortunately, not only did she once again have to leave early for baby responsibilities, but she had gotten the wrong kind of fabric anyway.  She is such a beginner that she did not recognize the difference between woven and knit, and she'd gotten a nice soft woven.

But she was still so excited about learning how to sew that she actually went out and bought her first sewing machine.  Most of the members do not have one yet, which is making progress a bit slow, but Sandra was determined to eliminate setbacks.  In order to encourage her, I offered to come to her house so that both of our husbands could do a bit of babysitting. 

CCC - Sandra 06
Getting down to cut out a future masterpiece

And she bought more fabric.  Another woven!  Rather than make her buy a third piece, she ended up using one of my own personal patterns that didn't require a knit fabric but should have been a fairly equal first lesson. 

Then, as I have done my whole life, she cut it all out down on the floor.  She'd never cut out anything before, so it was interesting for me to watch her progress learning to cut accurately.  Sadly, I didn't capture her learning how to cut out a pattern with a cat deciding this was a fun new playground, nor a little toddler walking barefoot all over the pinned pattern pieces!

CCC - Sandra 07
How does this bobbin thing work?

Finally, it was time to learn what to do with the sewing machine itself.  After learning how to make a bobbin and thread the machine, she started taking her first stitch.  And didn't realize she had to put down the pressure foot!

I learned to sew a basic stitch when I was still in grade school, so I have never been such a beginner as an adult.  It's hard to remember all the pitfalls until I watch her.  However, once she's on her own, she won't make too many simple mistakes just because of doing something dumb after she spends hours picking it all out.  Such is the learning experience.

CCC - Sandra 08
There's more ironing than sewing!

Even with doing the most basic sewing project, one has to learn a number of steps that will then be used over and over for any future project.  In this case, Sandra learned how to make a 5/8" hem and how useful this little ruler is.  She also learned firsthand how important an iron is to successful sewing.

CCC - Sandra 09

Attaching the facing to the neckline

After preparing as many pieces ahead of time as possible (that's my method, so of course that's what I'm teaching), she learned how to put those pieces together.  I didn't realize just how many steps there are to preparing, pinning, then sewing two simple pieces of fabric together as putting in a simple neck facing is something I've been doing since forever.

CCC - Sandra 11
Lining up the seam line
But there is so much to learn, including how to hold everything so it will sew nicely, and Sandra had to learn every single step for the first time.  It was fun watching her and seeing the light bulbs go off as it all went together.

She saw how important it is to keep the stitching as straight and accurate as possible.  I only needed to make her take out a couple of little places around the neckline that wouldn't have allowed a smooth finish, and she otherwise managed to keep everything quite accurate despite having never constructed anything before. 

CCC - Sandra 10
Getting a little help

I was quite impressed with her progress on each step as we went along.  And then I had to laugh at an unexpected lesson.  While I've certainly done my share of sewing with little helpers, at least I had the basics under control by then. 

Sandra ended up with an extra little backstitch in her neckline as a certain toddler discovered the joy of pushing down the lever as she was sewing.  My machine has a button, not nearly as fun to play with; my memories involve my machine being turned into a Matchbox race track!

CCC - Sandra 12
Finally, after three very long afternoons of overload learning, Sandra finally had her very first sewing project finished, a very wearable tunic that was a perfect style for her fabric choice that was totally unsuitable for the T-shirt project.  However, she does have the correct jersey fabric now and is eagerly waiting to learn more techniques.  Perhaps this time I'll be able to leave her a bit on her own; I'm sure she'll find it much more simple to put together now.

Doesn't she look great?  She wore it to church on Sunday and got a lot of compliments.  When she explained that she'd made it herself, it was very rewarding to see all the surprised but positive reactions.  Some of the other club members are asking again for another class so they can make the T-shirt project they missed.

CCC - Sandra 13
Another teacher/student moment

So that I wouldn't run into any surprises with this pattern, I made my own tunic first.  While it's exactly the same pattern pieces, mine looks totally different.  I think my personal body shape isn't as adapted to this style as Sandra's turned out to be, and I'm very unhappy with my own tunic. 

I think it will look better if I cut it down smaller.  I detest having to remake something, but I'd prefer to enjoy wearing it, which is not the case at the moment.  But it was much more important that the whole garment worked for Sandra, and I'm very impressed with the final result.

As my own girls point out, I was never successful at interesting them in sewing, neither of them had the first spark of desire.  I've bought them each their own machines, neither of them have the first clue what to do with them.  They each turned their creative energies into fields that Mom didn't touch!  So teaching a total beginner how to sew is a new experience for me.  I now have three success stories under my belt; I wonder who will be the fourth.


  1. Good job "teach"!
    I think the sleeves are the "problem" with your tunic. They seem a little wide - Sandra's look narrower.

  2. This is fantastic! What a wonderful way to use your talents! I took my first sewing class at Pasadena City College and the rest is self-taught. Leah does a tremendous amount of sewing. I think this is just so wonderful. Good for you!


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