Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not straight, undo it!

I loved going to school on Fridays. Not because it was the last day of the week, but because it was the day when I had my very favorite class of all... sewing class.

I always knew that I was never going to be a great scholar, as reading, writing and arithmetic never really had my interest. I quite liked history and geography though. I found learning about the past and new places quite interesting. I also had a cooking and a gardening class which I really liked a lot too. But number one favorite was sewing.

At precisely 2.30pm the class started and ended sharply at 4. I remember the first day I walked into that classroom and saw all the wonderful sewing machines lined up around the room. My heart gave a little flutter of excitement as I envisioned myself sitting there creating wonderful garments, quilts etc.

The sewing classroom was one of the biggest in our school. Partially due to the fact that attached to the room was a very large storage area that held the most wonderful treasures. On seeing the storage area for the first time I thought I would faint dead away. There, on numerous shelves were stacks of the most incredible fabric. The smell of the new fabric almost made me giddy. There was spool after spool of every color thread imaginable. As well as binding, lace, sewing tools and whatever else a sewer could possibly want or need.

Class finally started and I was more than ready. In fact I impatiently and naively asked "What will we be making today, Miss Banks?".

Looking me straight in the eye and bringing me down to earth with a bump she replied "Nothing". We all looked at her just dumbfounded as she went on to explain that for the first couple of weeks we would be learning all the correct sewing terms and the correct way to do hand sewing.

As the weeks went by we did indeed learn all the correct terms and sewed by hand until my poor fingers felt like they had been used as a pincushion. I am pretty sure that I muttered some nasty things about Miss Banks under my breath!

We were all given a very large binder to put our samples of hand sewn seams into. When we had perfected hand sewing the time came for a chance to move on to the sewing machines. Not just any old sewing machine mind you. But one that made you work out while you were sewing. Yes our first sewing machine lesson was on an old treadmill machine. It was awkward at first. Kind of like patting your tummy and rubbing your head at the same time. It didn't take me long before I had that thing whizzing along at break neck speed. Of course we had to do the same seam samples that we had previously hand sewn.

All our work was inspected by Miss Banks very detailed eye. It was then I heard for the first time her sewing battle cry. "Not straight, undo it"!. How I hated hearing that. For it meant that we couldn't move on to the next phase. And I was just aching to go into the storage room and pick out that wonderful fabric that I had been dreaming about.

For a few weeks the seam ripper and I became intimately acquainted. Listening over and over again to Miss Banks battle cry.

Then one day, miraculously she said "All complete, good work, time to learn to sew with a pattern!" Yippee, Yippee, Yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

The following week we could have our pick of three patterns. One was for a baby bib. I remember this because it was the one I picked to do.

So into the storage room we went and pondered over all the fabric. It was a lot harder choosing than I had thought it would be. I still have that problem today. Sometimes it takes me forever to make that choice. I finally settled on a pale pink colored fabric and binding to match. Binding I thought would be a lot of fun. It would really finish off the little baby bib quite nicely. Again naive me.

I don't know about you lot but I need a cup of tea about now. Be back in a minute. Wondering about the above pic? Well that's a new project I'll tell you about next week.

Anyway back to my story. New material chosen with matching binding I set to work. I nervously cut out the bib from the pattern under the watchful eye of Miss Banks... so far so good! I then proceed to the trusty treadmill sewing machine and settle down to attach the binding. Hmmm... this is a little harder than I thought it would be. I struggle along and finish the last of the attaching. Miss Banks comes by to inspect it. Well you've probably guessed it. She now uttered those famous words once again, "Not straight, undo it!". I did proceed to undo it many, many times before it was given her OK.

As the months went by I learned a lot from my sewing teacher. It finally culminated during my fourth and last year at Holywell School for Girls when we put on a fashion show proudly showing off the garments that we had constructed.

As frustrating as it was for me in the beginning I learned that you have to walk before you can run and I have Miss Banks to thank for that.

She is of course long gone now, probably sewing with the angels somewhere. I sure do wish I could thank her though. It is because of her that I just adore sewing and try still to be patient when completing a project.

So thank you my dear sewing teacher for all your hard work. And yes, sometimes I still don't get it straight and I do indeed have to undo it!


Sue said...

That's a wonderful story. My Grandmother taught me to sew and was much more lenient about mistakes, but I was always hard on myself and wanted it to be perfect. I, too, became well acquainted with the seam ripper. I think I have three of them now.

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

What a lovely story! I didn't have the opportunity to study sewing at school but fortunately my Mum taught me - she wasn't such a hard task master as Miss Banks!

Anonymous said...

...and wouldn't you know it? She's been trying to recreate that school sewing room - right in her own house!

Love you Honey!

iSew said...

Now that was a lovely story. :)

annemarie said...

I loved your story - it looks like you are doing paper piecing - I have always wanted to try it.

hetty said...

I loved your 'Family Studies' story! I remember learning to sew in about the same way. But in my case I learned to sew in spite of my teacher, not because of her. I hated every minute of the sewing class and would much rather have been in the wood working or metal shop. But in those days girls weren't allowed in them. Are those little hexagons for an English paper pieced quilt? Can't wait to see what you are going to do with those!

Ally Johnston said...

What a great memory. Teachers certainly leave their mark on us.

wonderwoman said...

great story - mine is in reverse - my sewing teacher put me off sewing until i was in my late twenties!!!
i used to spend the entire lesson unpicking!

Terri Fisher said...

What a great story! I wish I could say my sewing classes were as much as a success...I ended up breaking the teacher's machine and that was that! I'm glad there are some people in this world who have this great skill down pat, though!

Bettina said...

New proyect?Lovely weekend!!!!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely story ! Sweet memories :) and i love your new project ! I wish i knew how to do that ! Wonderful ! sweet day :) Hugs

louise said...

I enjoyed reading your memories of your sewing class. I would rather forget mine, as I failed miserably in needlework, and would regularly get a D-mark. I cannot remember my Mum doing much sewing, maybe sewing on a button or darning holes in socks! It just goes to show how much is learned from our mentors in our early years, and how much influence they have on us in our adult lives. x

Jenny said...

I loved this story! Now I'm left with a dilema. If I hadn't read this story I could tell you my old sewing teachers name instantly. Now that I've read your story I can remember that she was a Miss....but Miss What? I'm thinking it was Ewings...she was a little petite grey haired old spinster type.....This is going to bug me all day! LOL! Have a great rest of yours! Jen