But boy, am I proud of this pillow.

I’ve been threatening to start sewing for a long time now.  The primary reason is that every time I go to U-Handbag I find another bag I want to make.  I’ve just been too lazy to set up the sewing machine I bought a few years back.

The other day, however, I decided enough was enough, I was gonna start sewing.  I am more or less a complete novice–I’ve sewed a little here and there, but not enough to have any degree of competence.

A couple of years ago, I bought a cool book called Sew Subversive, which contains a lot of easy but cool patterns and funky ideas for customizing your clothes. 

It contains a pattern for a simple tube top made out of a t-shirt and I decided I wanted to make one, but I thought it would be best to start with the first project in the book:  a pillow slip cover.

pillow_dragonfly_front_600
I went to Joann’s and found a fabric that I liked, then asked the nice lady to cut me a yard of it.  Then I found some thread to match it.  Armed with these and a few other supplies, like sharp new scissors, I went home to tackle my project.

pillow_dragonfly_back_600
Alas, when I set up my machine, I realized I didn’t have the manual, and I couldn’t figure out how to fill my bobbin (yes, folks, I am that inexperienced).  After some trial and error, I finally got it filled, and thanks to a helpful diagram on the front of my machine, I was able to thread it.  Next, I measured and pinned my fabric, then ironed the hems to make it easier to sew (and, they say, to make it look more “professional”).

sofa_pillows
I actually ended up making three pillow slip covers.  The first one I made was for a 20×20 pillow, and while it looked real purty when I was finished with it, one of the seams didn’t sew correctly and I decided to do it over, but with a smaller pillow so I would have enough fabric for two slip covers.

The second cover I made came out absolutely perfect (well, I use this word loosely) and it’s the one I photographed for my blog.  The third came out not-so-perfect, but perfect enough for my purposes.  I proudly have them displayed on my sofa, much to the dismay of Mick who is already frustrated by the amount of pillowage in our house.  The concept of throw pillows escapes him, poor sod.

Today’s project will be that tank top.  I bought a t-shirt at the Police concert specifically so I could make one out of it.  Sting will be proud.

About three years ago, I made it a goal to teach myself to knit.  It was a little rough going at first, but with practice I got the hang of it.  Though I’m still not an entirely confident knitter, I know my way around a pattern and while I’ve had some trouble with fit on sweaters (check that gauge, no matter HOW much you don’t feel like it–believe me–I’ve learned the hardway), overall the things I make turn out right.

I used many resources to teach myself to knit.  When one book didn’t explain something so that I could understand it, I’d go to another book or search on the Internet.  Lately, I’ve really gotten into knitting blogs and they’ve inspired me to try my own designs out.  I’m still learning though and definitely have a ways to go with that.

All that said, I thought I’d compile a list of the resources that have helped me the most in learning to knit:

Online:
Knitting Help – Possibly the best site I’ve ever used to learn to knit.  I wish I’d known about it when I first started!  This is absolutely the first place I’d go for knitting instructions.

Knitty.com – I love this website.  Lots and lots of patterns, instructions, inspiration, etc.  It’s not necessarily a beginner’s website, but novices can certainly benefit.  I am obsessed with this website!

Books:
Hollywood Knits – This was the first pattern book I got and it really inspired me!  I wouldn’t say it’s the best design book I’ve got (more to come on that later) but it was a good starting place for me because the designs are hip and the knitting directions were pretty simple to follow.

Knitting Pretty – Another pattern book with a good mix of easy & intermediate designs.

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes & Gauges – I love this book!  It is a very good starting point for creating your own designs and once you get past the beginner stage and understand knit basics, you will almost certainly want to have more flexibility in your knitting, which is exactly what this book helps with.  It remains one of my all-time favorites.

I will be posting more about pattern books later on.  I have a lot of them, some better than others, but all inspiring in their own way.