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200902111101 Learning to Sew a Pillow

Sewing 101 instructor Christine Haynes stands between her proud students, Rebecca Crane and me. Photo: Jenny Ryan

I just finished my two-evening sewing class with Christine Haynes at ReForm School in Los Angeles, and learned how to sew a pillow. I can’t begin to tell you how inordinately proud I am of my accomplishment, as I’ve never sewed anything in my life before this.

I’m very comfortable in front of a computer, but a sewing machine has always been a mystery to me, with its many unlabeled dials, levers, and thread pathways. After taking this class I can’t say that I fully understand everything about sewing machines, but now I feel less intimidated about them.

Sewing turned out to be a lot of fun. I really liked using a rotary cutter (looks like a pizza cut with a razor sharp rotary blade) instead of scissors. The cuts were much neater and easier-to-execute with the rotary cutter.

My goal is to learn how to sew clothes for my daughters and myself. I have a bunch of old Hawaiian shirts from the 1950s that I love but are frayed and full of holes. I want to reverse engineer their construction by taking the pieces of sewn fabric apart carefully with a seam ripper and using the pieces as patterns to make new shirts. I might even use this groovy pink-and-orange vintage fabric for my first shirt.

Thanks for giving me courage to try, Christine!

Mark Frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder is the editor-in-chief of Make magazine, and the founder of the popular Boing Boing blog.

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