I have a tshirt somewhere with a giant robot on it, crushing the life from some cowering peoples. It reads “You are no match for me, puny humans.” I think I would like to dispute that, after spending three or four hours this morning sewing, unpicking, re-sewing, unpicking… etc whilst trying to bind one of our new baby blankets.
Okay, I know my sewing machine isn’t exactly a robot, and most of the problems I had stem from user error and the fact that I’m trying to operate the machine while running a fever and fighting off the interfering hands of Esme, who thinks my sewing machine is The Most Amazingly Exciting Thing EVAR. But still, I reckon I could probabaly have handsewn the blanket in at least the same amount of time, if not slightly less.
I start off in a straight line, then get halfway along a seam and find that although the fabric’s been pinned within an inch of its life, somehow it’s gone wonky or slipped or the machine’s unthreaded itself. I broke three needles this morning. THREE. I think I’ve broken maybe one handsewing needle in the whole time I’ve been sewing.
It’s incredibly frustrating. I love my sewing machine. I do. It makes making my own clothes a breeze. I can whip up a new skirt in a little under an hour and a half, a little more if I draft a new pattern by hand. (And can I just say, if you have any interest in learning how to do that, you need to buy Sew What Skirts. It’s utterly fabulous, the most useful instructional book I’ve ever bought. Apart from some of my stitch-tionaries.)
But for this kind of sewing, where the seam is decorative as well as functional, I like to be able to feel what I’m doing. The machine saves me time. No question that it is faster to sew a quilt or a bib or whatever with the machine doing all the work. That’s not the point.
Using the machine stresses me out. I fret about the seams being straight, about the stitches locking in place, about not catching both sides of the binding. Most irritating of all, I have to fend off Esme who likes to scale the heights of the dining table and yank on the bobbin of thread on the top of the machine. She’s been responsible for making needles explode before now. I have to be constantly on guard, against the onslaught of tiny hands and also tiny backsides. Both of the girls have been known to park their rumps on the foot pedal while I’ve been paused removing a pin. Not a pretty sight.
Hand sewing takes longer, you work stitch by stitch, carefully and slowly. When quilting something like a blanket or a piece of patchwork I often have to stop to check the placement of the thread, making sure it’s even and straight. But I can do it in my lap in the lounge while the girls are playing. It’s quiet, it’s calming and I can feel what I’m doing. It’s relaxing.
So, I’m off to go huddle on the sofa with my needle and thread. Metaphorically obviously. Because actually huddling with my needle and thread would be pointy and painful. I may be feverish, but I’m not stupid. Well, not that stupid.