Crafting, Failure, Freya

A Rubbish Sewer’s Guide to Parenting.


You know how I’m always going on and on about my love of sewing. 

Oh no, wait, for a minute there I got confused and thought I was Kirstie Allsopp. In fact, in more than two years of blogging, I’ve only mentioned the subject once – and that was to confirm that my brief dalliance with it was over. 

So imagine my surprise when, after greeting my parents at the train station for one of their usual visits, my mum announced she had brought me my own sewing machine.

The station was noisy, the mainline service from London had just pulled in so there was a lot of hustle and bustle as people made their way out of the station.

“A coffee machine?” I thought she said because, even though I don’t drink coffee, that was more likely than a sewing machine. 

“No, sewing. SEWING,” she half shouted.

As they had lugged it on two buses and a train I didn’t want to seem ungrateful by questioning the reasoning behind its purchase but luckily, as we joined the mass exit of the station, she explained it.

“When I saw it in the charity shop I thought of you. I knew you needed one.”

Really? You saw a sewing machine and thought of me? Maybe she thinks I’m Kirstie Allsopp too? Do I need one? I’ve managed for 40 years without but maybe I didn’t realise?

The sewing machine had pride of place on the bedroom floor with the rest of the things I can’t find space for (I’m looking at you assortment of Play Doh toys) for four weeks when something happened. 

I suddenly got an urge.

An urge to (dum dum duuuuuuuum) make something.

After pondering whether the machine had been whispering to me in my sleep or, rather more unlikely, my mum was actually right, I duly went and got all the things I needed (basically everything apart from the machine) and set to work on making a Tilda Doll for Freya.

IMG_6301When my mum visited on Monday I asked if she could show me how the machine worked so I could sew all the bits I’d cut out together. Once she sat down she was in her element.

“Never.Touch.This,” she said in a doom-laden tone as I reached to twiddle with a button with lots of numbers on. “You will BREAK the machine.”

“Why would they put a button on there that would break the machine?”

“It’s the tension,” she said, as if that explained everything. “Do you want a go now?”

My own tension increased considerably.

“I see myself more in an assistant role,” I said. “I’ll do the cutting and stuffing and maybe leave the sewing to you?”

“I’ll just show you a bit more,” she said, eventually doing the entire body, leaving me to make the clothes and hair, which I did mostly by hand.

An early version.

When Mark came home, he commented: “The doll is a more…human shaped than usual, isn’t it?” Which he thought was a good thing.

I was tempted to pretend the lumps and bumps were put in on purpose but apparently I just didn’t cut it out properly (I assumed she would sew along the line of the pattern I had traced. Apparently not.)

It got me thinking though, my approach to sewing is a lot like my approach to motherhood: it isn’t perfect (some might say it’s rather haphazard), I’m happy to ask for help for the bits I can’t do and I will veer away from the pattern if it feels right but at the end of it, all I want is for Freya to be happy.

I explained this to my mum and she laughed and suggested I write a book (perhaps she was trying to steer me away from sewing as a hobby?). I wonder if Kirstie would write the foreword for A Rubbish Sewer’s* Guide To Parenting?

Nearly finished.

* I actually looked up what people who sew call themselves. There were several options, ones which didn’t make me think of stinky drains, including sewist and seamstress but sewer seemed to fit.


21 thoughts on “A Rubbish Sewer’s Guide to Parenting.”

  1. I did think when I read the title that you were comparing your parenting to drainage as well as rubbish, and thought that was a bit harsh. I love that doll! Excellent work! I have 2 friends who each sometimes talk about their sewing machines, but have never yet actually revealed them, or any product of them.


    1. I bet the publisher (who lives in my imagination) will make me change it to “sewist’s guide”. Hehe. Thank you for the kind words about the doll. She looks better from a distance.


  2. That’s a lovely doll! Great writing, too, really enjoyed reading your foray into sewing…especially with the button That Could Break The Machine. I’ve got a machine that I play with every now and then and it’s the bobbin that drives me mad…..the nursery rhyme has such a double meaning!


  3. I absolutely love this. I have an untouched sewing machine on my desk, I really want to make something but have never found the time or urge. I also have the fear of the tension wheel as well! X


    1. Thank you. I’ll send my mum round, she’ll get you started! Seriously I’m so worried about touching the tension button now. What if I accidentally nudge it? Will it suddenly collapse?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. She’s very cute, well done for taking the plunge! I have a slight fear of sewing machines and do everything by hand. And by everything, I mean perhaps sewing a button on something twice a year. I’ve even been known to use staples when I’m being really lazy. I have a gorgeous sewing box though!


      1. It’s like a fabric covered, fishing tackle box for want of a better description. The fabric has cupcakes on (naturally!) and there are little pockets / trays for keeping all the paraphernalia in. I think I only use the black and white cotton that came enclosed, but it makes me feel I could be capable of making a dress one day. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oops! I have a sewing machine languishing in the loft, I only ever lend it to people, who then give it back to me saying it’s broken ha! I love Tilda, she is very cute xx


  6. Hi Tara, I love your doll. It’s got character! As for the whole sewing thing, my Mum is a bit of a sewer and is disappointed that neither me nor my sister followed in her footsteps. Bless her she did try and I damaged her machine many times by fiddling with the tension, and it wasn’t that long ago that she suggested I pick a machine up from Lidls! I’ve gone this long without I think I’ll survive without one!

    Bless them, they only mean well.



    1. Thank you! I can’t believe you fiddled with the tension. Hehe. I am NEVER going near it. Watch out, she might just give you one one day.


      1. When I catch a breath from wrangling monkeys, I plan to do that. Right now, I’m doing good to get Halloween costumes done (or even started for that matter).


  7. Super cute doll. You’ve done a superb job. And I can relate to you missing sewing. I used to sew all the time (for a living) and now haven’t sown anything in ages and find myself irking to make something although I had sworn I’d never touch a sewing machine again. It happens. Can’t wait to see what you make next!


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