Life after Machine Beginners by Tara

Life after Machine Beginners by Tara

Life after Machine Beginners by Tara 1200 1404 The Studio At Number 30
I stumbled across Studio 30 in the Spring of 2019 whilst trying to get an ancient inherited Singer sewing machine to work.  I was just trying to make two square cushion covers and the machine kept eating the fabric.  I searched the web for someone to ‘fix’ my machine and in doing so I noticed Studio 30.  Rather than fix my machine, I read about an opportunity to do a short sewing course close to home called ‘Adult Machining for Beginners.’  The gem was that although the course was designed to help you understand your machine, it culminated in you producing your very own cushion cover.  Boom !!  I hadn’t had any sewing lessons and had learnt to use the old Singer machine purely through trial and error.  I concluded that if i learnt to use a machine properly, I might work out what was wrong with my own machine, and I would have made a cushion cover in the process.
Kaye, Elaine and especially Bill (the pooch) were so very welcoming at Studio 30 when I arrived for the first small group lesson – Adult Machining for Beginners.  I loved it.  The studio is modern and really well equipped and I realised immediately that the last thing I wanted to do was to fix my old Singer machine.  What I really wanted was a modern machine and all the magic it could perform.  The studio enabled me to learn on different makes and models and I was encouraged to rotate machine each week to broaden my experience.
With the machine beginners course under my belt, I was hooked and immediately enrolled for Beginners Dressmaking which would lead to making a skirt.  Now you’re talking.  Soon I will be a dressmaker I thought.  This was an excellent course teaching lots of basic features : a waistband; hem; pockets; concealed zip.  The class size of five felt just right, enough 121 time, helpful class discussion and also listening to other people’s questions.  If I’m honest it was reassuring to hear other people making the same mistakes as I was and we encouraged each other.
It was around this time I invested in a new machine.  Kaye recommended a supplier and the guy talked to me about various machines, my ambitions, my budget.  She’s a beauty with capabilities that will likely never be maximised by me but she came with a manual, gadgets and the supplier at the end of the phone for my questions and I was thrilled. 
By the end of the dressmaking course I was convinced I would soon be a serious contender on ‘The Sewing Bee’.  I booked a couple of private lessons with Kaye and rocked up to them with a kaftan pattern, a fine sheer fabric, a tight deadline before my beach holiday and a deluded belief I could now make anything I would ever wish to wear.  Kaye was very patient but also clear that there was much more work involved and skills required to make any of the patterns now in my possession.  She told me I was trying to run before I could walk.
It was really helpful feedback.  I was enjoying the sewing but was so frustrated I couldn’t do more, quicker, with all sorts of fabrics, and any pattern.  I reflected on what Kaye had said to me.  A little reluctantly I curtailed my dreams and decided to follow her advice.  She was, of course, so right.
It was from then on that I feel I relaxed in to sewing.  I took more time.  I started to get pleasure and a sense of achievement from the more accurate cutting out.  I read patterns through before starting.  I bought fabric from the Studio rather than online, knowing that Kaye had matched it to suitable patterns for me.  I didn’t sew late in the evening when I was tired because experience taught me I then made mistakes which frustrated me and ruined my garments.  I started to have some successes and all the time I was getting to know my machine a little better.  
I knew from the mistakes I had already made that I wanted to be able to sew stretch fabrics.  I had bought stretch fabrics online, it was a bit hit and miss as I didn’t know what I was doing and I made some expensive mistakes.  Studio 30 offered a course to learn about overlocking which was great and perfect for me.  I loved it.  Hugely satisfying to learn to thread an overlocker, let alone sew with it.  Weeks went by when I was just happy to overlock anything in sight for the pure sense of achievement and neatness it provides.  It wasn’t long before I invested in an overlocker and she’s a wizard.
I feel grateful that I had just enough face to face learning time at the Studio before Covid meant future sessions would have to be virtual.  I’ve completed a number of zoom sewing courses via Studio 30 and have made a jumpsuit, a dress and two styles of top.  I’ve been able to dip in and out of sewing as time allowed and despite some chunks of time when I couldn’t sew, I have learnt enough to be able to pick it up again.  I feel I need to consolidate my knowledge now for a while before trying to learn too many new things and that’s where the Sunday Sewing Club has been perfect for me.  I can join via zoom, sew my own project and half listen in to what others are doing.  If they are more advanced I zone out and focus on my garment, but often they raise questions I’ve had too.
I’ve really enjoyed the sewing.  I’ve heard for many people it has been a lifeline to them and kept them busy during Covid lockdown and the associated isolation.  I have been fortunate to work throughout 2020 but when the hours have been long and at times arduous, sewing has been hugely beneficial.  I have to concentrate hard to get it right and it therefore forces me to give it my full attention and switch off from anything else that might be in my head.  It is creative and fun and relaxing.
I still have the old Singer machine.  It is still broken.  I’m grateful it didn’t work properly and forced me to search online for help because in doing so I discovered  Studio 30, a new hobby and some new friends.  
1 Comment
  • What a lovely, and utterly honest post, Tara. I have felt lots of those frustrations – for me the lightbulb momemt was the overlocker course. Yes the powerful noisy beast that can do anything – but performs so, so much better when driven as if through nice scenery, rather than a motorway blast!

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