Welcome to the Workshop

Welcome to the Workshop

Monday, July 21, 2014

My First Sewing Camp

What a wonderful week we had last week.
I'm testing out my teaching skills on my kid's friends for summer camp sewing lessons and it's been going really well so far. The basement workshop is still under construction so we set up the dining room as a classroom and it was just big enough.

Poppet and her friend spent a week with me, designing a cloud pillow (dubbed the 'sleepover pillow' during class, which gives me more ideas for classes) and learning to use the sewing machine. Yikes!
On the first day they sketched out their design and cut the fabric for the project. They decided to make little felt characters which attach to the pillows with velcro. So we worked on handsewing, embroidery and a little bit of stuffing.

Next it was time for the machine.
It was with some trepidation that I decided to teach them machine sewing. Poppet has been at me for a while now to learn (she wants to iron as well, God help me) and it turned out that this was the best environment in which to do it. She concentrated and was very focused because it was a classroom setting so it was much easier to get down to business.
We started off watching some fun videos. This one shows how a machine actually works, not sure I really understood this myself before watching it. You can click over to watch it here. Pretty cool, huh?
And then we had a look on Youtube for vintage sewing machines in use and found Norma. We loved Norma, with her hilarious Aussie accent.

Next I downloaded and printed off some great sewing cards for the girls to work on. You can find the ones I used here. We started off with no thread so they could just work on 'driving' and get their pedal speed perfected. That was pretty funny. Both girls squealed with shock the first time they revved up the machine, but they soon got used to it. The next step was to 'sew' a straight line on paper, still without thread. They worked on a little zigzag using this method too.

It's a great way to get started, as the pressure of tangles isn't there. They could really focus on control.
Next day we threaded the machine and did a little more work on paper before they stitched some lines on some fabric. Both girls declared the fabric much easier to work with and were so proud of their stitching.

Overnight I basted their pillows together (they weren't ready for sewing with pins just yet, it was a bit of a whirlwind introduction to machine sewing due to time constraints) so they could get onto the machine straight away and get stitching. They simply had to follow my basting line with the machine and I have to say they both did a pretty darn good job of that. Unpicking the basting stitch, however, left a pretty sour taste in both their mouths but we made the time pass with some joking around and minecraft talk.
We stuffed the pillows and the girls learned ladder stitch to close it all up. They were very excited as they watched their stitches disappear like magic. Their work done there was much dancing and singing in celebration. The decision to use minky fabric on the reverse of the pillows turned out to be a great one, they feel amazing and are lovely to cuddle.

I love teaching and am really excited to get my real classes set up in the Fall. Once the basement is done I will invest in another sewing machine and start teaching a variety of classes to people of all sizes. It's very much a work in progress but I think it might just work out all right. I'll have to learn not to bark "fingers!" and "slow down!" quite so loudly though, new kids might find that a little intimidating...

If you want some ideas for your own teaching projects, or just need some tutorial inspiration to learn new things you should check out my "Teach" Pinterest board. So much crafty goodness.

Friday, July 11, 2014

This Kitchen is Making Me Thirsty

Well, it's finished.
We might have a mountain of painting to do, but the kitchen itself is complete. And what a kitchen!

If you fancy reminiscing click over here for photos of the space before our renovation.
Having never renovated before, I had no idea how incredible it would be to work in a kitchen of my own design. The colours warm my heart, certainly, but it's the layout and bench space which is the real treasure.
Our kitchen installer 'found' five extra inches of bench space when he was here, as one of our plumbing bulkheads had shrunk since we'd measured. This extra space is being put to good use making pizza dough and I'm determined to return to my pasta-making days of old in the coming weeks.

We had a party for Canada Day a few weeks ago and it was lovely to be preparing food and chatting with friends as they sat at our kitchen counter. So much room!

Husband and I are returning to our cocktail-loving ways of last winter, and we started by making this amazing sangria for the party.

Poppet helped prepare all the ingredients, so glad the thought of tasting it made her pull a face. You can find the sangria recipe here, though we multiplied it by six to fill our gorgeous 'vat' (a house-warming present from a friend who knows me too well).

In fact, she is quickly becoming my sous-chef, and I'm determined to push her cooking skills over the coming weeks. She is enjoying her new-found kitchen confidence and I'm thrilled that she can finally stack and unload a dishwasher properly. The kitchen can be a lonely place, but our new space is so inclusive and airy.
I can potter away and still be a part of the action.

The action, for the time being, is the World Cup. It's been fun not having to miss a game because I'm making dinner.
Husband has been painting like a mad-man, for which I'm truly grateful. I lost my painting mojo about the time I painted the stairwell ceiling and it's yet to return. For now, he's spending his weekends on basement ceilings and skirting boards. He even started on our black front and back doors. There's no stopping him, and that's just fine with me.

I am busy getting my workspace set up in the sunroom (until the basement is finished) so I can teach camp next week and start working on some stock. It's been hard to find the time or desire to do so with my lovely kitchen calling to me with it's evil siren song, but I'm getting there.
Meanwhile, there's always cocktails. If you'd like some inspiration in that regard just click over here to my Drinky Poos Pinterest board which is full of them.
I think the honey rum fizz looks rather dandy...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Knit Club

The school year is over (hooray!) and our long hot summer has begun.
We've celebrated Canada Day (Eh!) and got the air conditioners working and are slowly starting to unwind.
I didn't how realise how tightly strung I've been until I stopped, there was just too much on my to-do list over the past few months.
Renovating aside, one of the biggest projects I've been working on was the knitting club at Poppet's school.
It was a wonderful experience and even though the commitment on my part was large I found it inspiring and satisfying in equal measure. The kids worked so hard to make such lovely presents.

Here are some photos of the kids at work...

All up we finished three big blankets of knitted squares, and the senior girls also finished some quilted blankets as part of their own sewing club.
We donated them to the Redwood Shelter who work in the neighbourhood to support women and children who are escaping domestic abuse. It was so lovely to present the blankets to their representative.

She said it was like receiving hand made hugs from all of the children.

If you're interested in exploring the Redwood's work or making a donation you can find them here.

I gave up every Friday lunchtime for this project, and many late nights at the end to finish those blankets.
I walked home on a cloud each Friday afternoon after our knitting sessions, I found it gave my own life such richness. It was one the best uses of my time over the previous year, real charitable work is something I recommend you find time to do with your own children, even if you can only take on a small project.

It's so much more meaningful than sponsoring a couple of laps around the oval.

We are all so time poor but the lessons to be learned from completing such a big project are so valuable.
The kids were so thrilled to see their work as part of a blanket, and they listened intently to the representative from the shelter as she spoke of the babies in their care and how touched the mothers would be by these gifts. I think it will stay with them and inspire their own desire to help the community.

Poppet starts a new school in September and I hope to start something up there eventually. Will have to wait and see how things sit.

Meanwhile let's enjoy the summer!


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