Anyone who knows me will have no option but to laugh or utter WTF? or OMG at this post. Let me confess first. I have NEVER sewn a thing in my life. Never. Ever. My mother and grandmother were both into arts and crafts. My mother was a china painter and a very good one at that. She had her own kilns and I still have a lot of her hand-painted china. She also dabbled in oils and water colours later in life.

My grandmother could whip up a pair of socks using four knitting needles. I have no idea how that’s done; it was all secret squirrel business to me. She could crochet too. And both of them were into patchwork. To this day, I have a bit of an aversion to patchwork because, growing up, our house was festooned with patchwork curtains, patchwork cushions, patchwork quilts. All done with feather stitching (I think). The collision of colours and geometry in all this patchwork can still bring on nightmares.

Both of them tried valiantly to enlist me into their craft activities. Saturday afternoons at my grandmother’s place would find a huddle of women furiously crocheting or knitting. I would flee the scene, preferring to listen to music or read. I disdained any form of sewing, knitting or crocheting for that was what old ladies did it seemed to me. My mother always nodded her head sagely whilst muttering that I’d regret not learning how to sew and, damn it, I have to admit she was right.

I’m sooooooooooooo fed up with all the crap off-the-rack clothes we are forced to buy these days. Nothing fits well. I always seem to be between sizes. The clothes are badly made: buttons fall off or hems start to fray. Of course, if I wasn’t practicing frugality, I’d be off buying designer clothes, which no doubt are far better made and of superb quality.

So….just before Christmas I made a bold decision – to learn how to sew. Yeegads! Hubs laughed (or sniggered, not sure which). But when I carried on about how I could make him a djellaba, he suddenly looked interested. He lived in Morocco for about five years and wore the long, loose, hooded garment that Moroccan men and women wear called the djellaba. In 2007, we were in Morocco and bought a few djellabas and I have to admit they are very comfortable to wear.

I declared I needed a sewing machine but frankly had no idea what type would be good. Hubs loves nothing better than to ferret out a good bargain or solve a problem. So he was on the case quickly and ended up buying me a Janome Memory Craft 6600P Professional, which he managed to obtain at a sizeable discount.

If you ask me, I’ll need to be initiated into The Mysteries if I’m going to use this machine. I’ll have to master all sorts of never-before-heard-of-terms such as seven-point feed dog system (sounds like something Zeph and ZZ will be interested in); full-rotary hook system; walking foot; and visible pressure gauge (thought I’d bought a sewing machine, not a steam engine!).

I still don’t have my head around this machine but this particular model Janome is apparently created especially for quilters. And this is what set me off dear reader. I had to go to The Fairy Shop in Cust (good God, I actually stepped inside a fairy shop) to buy some fabric to practice on. An English friend is a superb quilter and she drew up a list of necessary items, including a fabric cutter that is more lethal than The Point-in-ator.

I entered another world when I stepped inside this shop. Two women helped me to make sense of my list and I’m sure they were silently chuckling away when I showed such ignorance of sewing and its associated techniques. But back home, I produced my first quilt – well, I followed a pattern that was harder to understand than Stephen Hawking’s theories. But never one to accept someone telling me you’re too old to do this or that; or maybe it’s just not your strength – I was determined to learn what to do by sheer force of determination.

Believe me, it was no easy feat. I stabbed myself countless times with pins and fumbled around with a big plastic ruler one needs to cut triangles from fat quarters. Fat what? Fat quarters was the first mystery I had to solve. A fat quarter is a piece of fabric measuring 18″ x 21″ or 46 x 54 cms and is a term used in patchwork and quilting.

Hubs was speechless when I showed him my first-ever sewing effort. He later admitted that it was surprisingly good for someone who has never sewn in her life. Now, dear reader, if you are a quilter or seamstress (is this still a term?) – you will be laughing at my efforts as evidenced in the photos below.

I don’t intend to stop at this. No way. I’ve now been into Fabric Vision in Papanui where I’ve found these very tempting items called Vogue pattern books. Just looking at all the cool clothes I can whip up is fueling my ambition. Just imagine making your own skirts or whipping up a tote bag. And just imagine clothes that are tailored to your own body measurements.

But first I have to master the basic techniques of sewing, so it’s more quilting. I’ve been told that learning how to make quilts teaches you the basics of sewing. So it’s master the quilts; then move onto making my own clothes.

I'm going to have to master this baby.

My mother is surely laughing right now - my sewing box.

This is the first thing I've ever sewn in my life.

I stuffed up the seams a little bit - but dear reader, I actually produced seams! Awesome.

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