Today was the first of the level 2 sewing machine workshops at French Grey Tales and it was such a good afternoon. Both were already good at using a sewing machine but just needed a little extra confidence for those pesky little details; buttonholes, zips, bias binding etc.
It's always hard to remember when you first started doing something, but I do remember having a Vulcan sewing machine when about 4 or 5. Probably sounds crazily young, but it was a household of makers and doers. A few years later and I could use mam's black and gold Singer - electric! So no turning the handle, just press the foot pedal and go. Whilst going through different techniques today it reminded me of the way I learnt - simply by doing. Making lots (and lots) of mistakes but it really didn't matter. It was practising and playing at the same time. Must be the best way ever to learn a skill, so why do we often get caught up with wanting to do everything perfectly straight off? I say we, but obviously mean me! While I stood there today and emphasised that they should just play around with their machines at home, not using expensive fabrics or even making particular items, it came to me that I should be telling myself the same thing. Learning how to do something is a very important stage; learning the techniques, the way tools work, the different ways fabrics adapt to those techniques and tools.
With that in mind I'm going to choose a pattern for myself and make it up - but as a practice, learning as I go, so that when I make it as a garment to wear I'll feel more confident in the finished item. I hope.