I've got a couple of seventh and eighth grade homeschoolers on my hands that are chomping at the bit for home economics... really? Cooking, sewing, homemaking? Well, if we must!
I recall my first sewing project in middle school home ec. Knowing what I now know about sewing (which still isn't a whole lot), it seems asking people who have never sat at a sewing machine before to make a STUFFED ANIMAL as their first project is a completely ridiculous idea. I promise I won't do that to those under my tutelage. I was thinking maybe a potholder, then a simple tote, a log cabin square, perhaps a patchwork pillow and lap quilt. Maybe we'll end the year with a zipper pouch, a skirt, and the ever-satisfying Simplicity 3835.
Now that feels like a normal progression.
There was no such luck in my class. We were asked to choose a stuffed animal pattern. For some reason I decided to sew a gooney bird. It was huge and fluffy. Let me tell you, talk about setting a kid up for failure! Who would ever choose to sew with 1/2 thick fake fur for their first project? And the details! The tiny beak, the webbed feet, the glass eyes... so crazy. Success I did not experience. A love or interest in sewing I certainly did not experience. I never touched another sewing machine until I was 29. My gooney bird did however teach me what not to do when working with new sewists, and that is helpful.
So, on my list of possible projects is the log cabin square. But guess what? I've never made one! (I love that homeschooling will stretch me too in new directions.) Yesterday, I looked up a 'how-to' online and set to work. Oh my, I can see how people make entire quilts out of these. Very satisfying and slightly addicting. Like granny squares, I bet. Immediately, I learned the key to keeping it as square as possible is to walk over to the cutting table after each strip is sewn and trimming with the rotary cutter, using the guide on the cutting mat to keep it square. It is tempting to just trim with scissors, but a much nicer square is promised by taking this extra step.
Initially, I thought I would sew a linen boarder around all edges, then (after attaching lining) sew the front to back, right sides together, turn right side out, and topstitch to finish off the edges. But I thought, I always do that. I never sew a proper binding onto anything, and a potholder is certainly a good place to try.
Disaster. This did not come so naturally to me. I followed the instructions of a tutorial found online. It seemed to make sense, but in the end it looks clunky and not paired appropriately with the delicate log cabin. It's hard to see from the photo, but trust me, there is nothing lovely about it. My question to those of you with some experience here, is there a learning curve to this binding thing? Are there brilliant instructions in a book or on a website that I should know of?
I must confess, part of my desire to master the log cabin square (aside from appealing to my eager home ec students) has to do with making a quilt from a very special stack of Emily's baby clothes that I've been saving (love those sweet, calico, little girl dresses), but I'll need to be able to bind such a quilt! I imagine a quilt I'd hand bind and this I did not. I wonder if that makes a difference. Does a machine make it look like it's been through the mill? That is how this potholder looks to me... hmm, I sense there will be many more of these in my future. As you can see, I have not done the second one yet, I think I need to work up a little courage. And patience. I definitely ran out of that yesterday.
I loved the log cabin square so much, and then blech... not so pretty in the end.
I think we'll save binding until lesson #64 for our home economics enthusiasts. I wouldn't want for a simple potholder to be their gooney bird.