Sew Over This

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sorry for the lack of photos but I was so frustrated grabbing my camera was the furthest thing from my mind.

When Jon and I were cleaning out our garage I found a box of his old football t shirts. I wanted to throw them out (when will he ever wear it again?) and he wanted to keep them (they're memories!). To compromise I asked Jonathan if he would let me turn them into a t shirt quilt. He was a little hesitant to allow me near his precious proof of football glory with scissors but after showing him a few photos he gave me the go ahead.

I found this really amazing tutorial and it looked manageable so I got started. It didn't look that hard.... Famous last words. Right?

To preface this, I don't know how to sew. I'm handy with a needle and thread so if I need to stitch a quick hem or mend a hole by hand I'm good. But I don't know how to use a sewing machine. I've never owned one but have always been interested to learn. I figure that's the next step in my crafting journey.

First I had to decide with shirts I was going to use. Jonathan really wanted me to use as much and as many of the shirts as possible. I cut them up so the front and back were separated and then snipped off the sleeves. Then it was time to adhere the interfacing to the shirts. Whenever you want to sew shirts (and probably other fabric that pulls) you have to attach some interfacing so that the fabric stays sturdy and it doesn't pull while you're running it through the sewing machine. All you have to do is iron it to the back of the shirt. The only tricky part here is not to use the iron directly on any screen printed shirts since it can make a melty mess. I gotta say at this point I was feeling pretty confident. Should have been another sign....

The next step was to cut the shirts into perfect square. Apparently that part is really important so you have straight edges to sew along. Quilters have an easy solution to help you achieve this: quilting squares. You just buy one that is the size you want, center it on top of the fabric and use a rotary cutter (sort of like tracing it) to cut a square. They even take into account the extra bit you'll need to sew a seam. I needed an extra pair of hands to hold the square in place (thanks Maddy!) but it went pretty smoothly.

I laid out the squares on the floor until I had an arrangement that I liked. I even snapped a couple of photos on my phone to remember the layout. Then I got to sewing and trouble began. Since I don't own a sewing machine my sister let me borrow the one she received for Christmas. Neither one of us really knew what we were doing and on our first attempt to use it we actually forgot the pedal and power strip. Fail.

Once I finally had all the parts I tried to get the sewing machine ready for use. First up is threading the bobbin. the bobbin took me awhile (okay an hour) to figure out. Jon came over to help me and between the two of us reading the instructions and trial and error we managed to figure it out. Next was threading the needle. That was actually pretty easy. I thought the worst part was over. WRONG. I had everything ready to go but could not get the machine to move the fabric. It would make one stitch and then get jammed. Over and over and over again. So. Frustrating. I can't even tell you how many times I had to stop my pitiful attempt at sewing, turn off the machine and unjam the bobbin and needle. All I kept getting was a clump of thread that I had to cut out. I finally quit when I broke the needle. It was three in the morning and I figured five hours of sewing torture was enough.

I should have known it wouldn't be easy.

Jon told his mom and she said the next time she's over she'll help me set it up. For now the squares are sitting in the guest room closet far far away from my eyes. But sadly its not out of sight, out of mind. I keep thinking that I should just start sewing by hand but I stop myself because I know I'll sew it in a crazy jagged line and probably go blind.

For now I'm declaring this project a temporary failure. At least I didn't butcher it beyond repair... its just on hold. Unless someone wants to sew it for me. That'd be super.


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