My mom put me in front of the sewing machine at an early age. In truth I was in front of it while still in the womb. She used to wake me up in the morning by sewing my baby outfits before work; at least that what she says, since I have no memory of it. She also says I used to kick like crazy.
I don't remember her sewing much when I was small, but when I was five we moved to a house with three bedrooms, and my mom finally had a room to set up her machine (and a door with a lock!). The sound of a sewing machine is instantly soothing to me, since she spent many dark winter afternoons working on doll dresses and other magical things only she (we thought) could make. In summer she made us new shorts and skirts; in fall it was corduroy pants. Eventually she put each of us in front of the machine to sew an apron for Grandma, or something else simple and quickly gratifying to a kid. We had free rein of the scraps and made a few doll dresses of our own, hand-sewn, with only a passing nod to "proper" seam and hem construction. :) In Girl Scouts, we mass-produced scrunchies and sold them as a way to raise funds for the troop.
Why is it, then, that it's taken me so long to really get comfortable with machine sewing? I think it's due to the fact that, once fabric is cut, it's CUT. Yarn you can frog and re-knit, but scissors are terribly permanent. Also, in college I'd tried sewing a couple of simple sundresses and nightgowns, and the results were abysmal. Things were too tight in places and tentlike in others. Woven fabric has little give, and sewing knits was something I didn't dare tackle (my mom didn't go there, either). So although I picked up a sewing machine ten years ago, I only used it to make a few drawstring bags and placemats. In 2009, I bit the bullet and sewed curtains for J's room (after taking several months to work up the nerve to cut the beautiful -- discontinued -- toile fabric).
All that has changed. December 2009 saw the creation of J's Christmas stocking, using my own childhood stocking as a template. That took the edge off and 2010 was the year I finally made friends with the machine, sewing several Christmas gifts and a Halloween costume for my favorite pumpkinhead. I even ventured boldy beyond the pattern (which was for some kind of bat/bird hybrid unknown to zoological experts), setting in my own penguin wings and adding a yellow brim to the hood. Fleece hides a lot of imprecision. :)
(my son does have a left hand... he was just hiding it at the time)
While I'm finishing up the last secret knitting project, over the next couple of weeks, I'll post more about the Christmas sewing. Honest I will! There's J's stocking, a teepee, my first foray into quilting, and even a tutorial for a quick/fun/useful kid gift. After that I'll step boldly forth into 2011 with some fresh yarn and ideas... hooray for new beginnings!