All you need to start sewing is a thread, a needle, and some fabric you can’t live without. Really. Our then 7-year-old sewed the top kerchief.
In 2010 we took a little trip to Portland, landing in a lovely duplex for a couple of weeks. We arrived with few plans, and after visiting Multnomah Falls, we started visiting all the Farmer’s Markets and exploring the city. On the way toward the freeway, we saw a place called The Knittin’ Kitten. I didn’t sew or knit, but with a name like that we had to pull over and see what it was all about anyway. A lovely little store, it contains vintage and leftover fabric, along with all sorts of notions and fun stuff. Our daughter wanted the colored thread (what for? I have no idea), I found a small booklet of batting-sandwiched fabric bearing sewing needles slung through felt inside. We found bits of crazy-soft fabric that felt smooth like a favorite pillowcase.
After our daughter found some embroidery floss she couldn’t live without, the lady working there recommended I use a bundle of interfacing to adhere a design to fabric, allowing our six-year-old the opportunity to embroider something. I looked at her like a confused dog. Huh? How does that stuff work? And right, I’m going to give the kid a large, sharp needle, I thought.
We bought the stuff anyway.
Everywhere we went in Portland had beautiful walls, light fixtures, and design. Portlanders aren’t afraid of color, and I love them for it (and their food, and their obscenely polite driving). We visited vegan bakeries, shops, coffee, more coffee, even more coffee, and then we landed in a store called Bolt. And that’s pretty much where the spark to sew burst into a flame.
The fabric was irresistible. I bought fat quarters, not understanding at all what made them fat. I also bought some toweling, which comes with two sides pre-sewn. All you have to do is hem the ends and you have a nice, vintage-looking towel! Never mind that I couldn’t sew more than a button on a shirt after it had fallen off.
Once home, I decided to make a basket full of handkerchiefs that we would use instead of Kleenex (unless we were sick). I hemmed a few using brightly colored thread (because, why not?). I even hemmed them a bit backwards because it looked nice and I didn’t know any better. This would turn out to be great practice for finishing a quilt. In fact, every little experiment I have tried has proven to be useful in a later project.
Soon the child picked up a needle and thread and joined in. The mermaid at the top of the picture represents her second or third effort. Three years of sewing by hand would follow….