When people know you can sew it is inevitable that you will at some point get the question “could you make me *insert random item here*?”. At the start of your sewing career this question might still induce excitement. Yes! With my newly acquired skills I can make a set of 8 matching pillows for your new couch! And I don’t care that it will take me all weekend because I’m still really slow at this whole sewing thing!
After you’ve been sewing for a while it becomes a bit difficult though to get enthusiastic about hemming yet another pair of trousers for someone else when you have a list of about a hundred items that you really want to make for yourself. However, these question askers are your friends and family and you don’t really want to disappoint them by immediately saying no. They are asking you for some help after all!
My solution to this problem is that I now offer to show them how they can make (or fix) the item themselves. If they’re really motivated they’ll take me up on my offer and we’ll spend an afternoon or day making it. Yes, it will probably take about 3 times longer to complete the item, but I’m spending time with someone I enjoy spending time with and I can show them my hobby. While they might not fall in love with sewing at least I think they’ll appreciate more what it takes to create something. If they don’t take me up on my offer it apparently wasn’t that important to have it made anyway so I’m glad I didn’t waste my time.
A couple of months ago my sister asked me if I could make her a cute baby item to give to one of her expecting co-workers. Hmmm, I don’t even know this co-worker so why would I make a gift? I offered to help her make something. Some grumbling ensued but she agreed to come, although no date was fixed yet. I wondered whether she really would.
But she did and I looked around for a simple project for a first time sewer. I found it in the free “The perfect baby burp cloths” pattern from So Sew Easy. What I like about this pattern is that it is shaped so it fits better around your neck and shouldn’t slip down as easily as a rectangular burp cloth. I’m sure we’ve all seen parents carefully position a cloth that slips down as soon as they lift their baby, leaving their clothes dangerously unprotected, so this simple adaptation seems like a good idea. I also found patterns that have this type of shaping on both sides but those reminded me of oversized sanitary napkins…
For one side we used a white towel and for the other side some ten squares from the Urban Zoologie collection by Robert Kaufmann. Towel and fabrics were prewashed to prevent uneven shrinkage later on. For each burp cloth two ten squares were pieced together. We reasoned that a right handed person is most likely to burp a baby on their left shoulder and made sure to position the owl and bird fabrics so that some of the animals would feature in the upright orientation in the centre on the front. We ended up with three rather adorable burp cloths made by my sister. I only showed her how to do each step. I think she did really well and she preferred sewing curves to sewing straight. Will she sew more often from now on? Probably not, but that was not the point.