Sunday, 9 June 2013

Holiday sewing

Three weeks without sewing? Not a chance! Thanks to my sister-in-law, Elaine, I enjoyed a unique sewing experience while on holiday in South Africa. Elaine attends bag-making workshops in her home town of Ballito and has made bags very different to the ones I make. She was determined to show me how to make a couple so arrived at our holiday cottage well prepared. She had done the prep on the bags: some of the cutting out, the quilting and the piping; all this to save time so that, basically, all I had to do, with her guidance, was to put the bags together. She even brought her small Bernina with her; just as well as it is far more up-to-date than the 40+ year old Bernina I use in Durban!

While our husbands went off to play the local golf courses, we set to work. Elaine is a good teacher and supervised while I did the work.

Some of the bag construction was quite tricky and I learned to insert an endless zipper with two sliders. The first bag we made was a plastic-lined toiletry bag and the second a matching overnight bag. Attaching the piping was a bit tricky but the most difficult part was attaching the gussets. We did the overnight bag on the second day but had spent part of the morning in the nearby village so I ended up working into the night. Eventually I was just so tired that Elaine came to my rescue and helped with the gusset. It was a comfort when she said that, when she made her first overnight bag, her teacher had come to her rescue as well. I didn't feel a complete failure!

Here we are with the completed bags:

This was a very interesting and enjoyable learning experience. However, I had another sewing experience that really warmed my heart!

We spent the last week of my holiday with our son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren in Durban. They had moved house a week before we went there and one day I was left with our grandchildren while the other adults were busy moving things from the old house. My daughter-in-law had said that the children could do with more drawstring toy bags so I found some fabric I had left there after another project and got out the trusty Bernina. Emily, my 7 year old granddaughter, was very interested and I involved her in measuring and cutting out a bag for her. She then sat on my knees at the machine and her foot just reached the peddle. With my hands guiding hers, she did nearly all the sewing on her bag. She kept saying how much fun it was to sew and how much she loves sewing. It made me so happy and I'd like to think that my Mother, her Great Grandmother, was watching us from heaven and enjoying the passing on of skills to another generation. Sadly, there was no-one around to take a photo of us but I think I'll remember the experience for the rest of my life!

5 year old Alexander was not to be outdone; he sat on my lap and, with my hands guiding his, zig-zagged the bias binding for the drawstrings on his bag. What fun!


  1. How fun to be able to sew while you're on holidays. Your story about your granddaughter warmed my heart. I think she inherited your "sewing genes' : )

    Have a lovely day Margaret!

    1. Thanks, Virna. I'd like to think that I can pass on my love of sewing to her. My son, her Dad, can sew but her mother doesn't sew at all. If only I could spend more time with them!