Sew What?

Anytime I write a post like this, or show a non-sewing friend something I’ve made, I often get the same wide-eyed response:  "Oh, I could NEVER do that."  Or, "I wish I could sew."

Here’s the thing:  YOU CAN.

SewingmachineSewing is a hobby that appears incredibly daunting to those not already doing it.  I know–I’ve been there.  My mom sewed my whole childhood, and I have many memories of sitting next to her sewing table, talking with her as she worked (usually on something for me).  I was glad she enjoyed it, but I didn’t have much interest in learning to do it myself. 

It wasn’t until after I was married that the sewing bug bit me.  For some reason, I just decided it was time to learn.  I’ve never looked back. 

I tell you all this to encourage you that if you’re thinking of learning to sew, please know that it is a skill that can be learned.  Rather easily.  By someone as impatient and clumsy as I am. 

Before I started, I thought seamstresses (I would say "sewer", but ew!) were these perfectly meticulous people who hunched over sewing machines, doing and re-doing until they got it just right. 

And the truth is?  The good ones are.  I’m just not one of the good ones.  But I’m good enough.  You DO NOT have to be painstakingly precise to learn to sew.  Just like in cooking, you improvise and find short cuts that work for you. 

Maybe you have no interest in making clothes.  That’s okay, I don’t either.  I sew for my daughter sometimes, and I make pajama pants for my boys.  As a whole, though, apparel sewing is not my favorite.  But craft sewing?  I could eat it up.  If you haven’t flipped through a pattern book recently, you’ll be surprised to find out how many fun things there are inside!  There’s home decor like this and this.  Purses?  Easy, like this.  Craft sewing like this and this and this (which is actually what I plan to tackle next, when I clear off my current stash of projects).  That’s just a taste–there are hundreds more patterns like this.  It’s an endless supply of Christmas/birthday presents and teacher gifts. 

Here are a few other points in my effort to convince you:

  • You can buy a brand new, perfectly adequate sewing machine for $75-$150 at a store like Wal Mart or Target.  It has every feature a beginner would need.  Don’t start with an expensive machine–wait until you know if you love it.
  • Yes, patterns and fabric can be expensive.  They can also be cheap.  Most fabric stores put their patterns (normally $10-$20 each) on sale for $1-$2 each every couple of months.  I always go to these sales and stock up.  I haven’t paid full price for a pattern in years.  Fabric, too, goes on sale, and finding great fabric bargains is one of my favorite parts of the whole process.
  • Every pattern contains detailed instructions.  Really, you just need to learn the basic terminology in order to follow one.  Find a sewing friend who might be willing to show you, or better yet, take an inexpensive (sometimes free!) course.  The most basic information is all you need to follow a simple pattern.
  • Plan to feel like a fish out of water at first.  It’s okay.  The best way to learn is to jump in, plow through, and mess up a few projects at first.  Every accomplished seamstress could tell you horror stories about her first couple of creations.  Stick with it.

There are many book resources out there, too.  I haven’t personally used any of them, but I’ve heard that this one and this one are good.  (Any other recommendations?  Please leave them in the comments section below.)

I would love to hear more thoughts on this from you other sewing lovers–beginner through experienced!  What helped you learn?  Why do you stay with it?  What’s your favorite part of this hobby?  Help me try to perpetuate the addiction in a whole new batch of "converts"!  πŸ˜‰

70 thoughts on “Sew What?

  1. Jane says:

    Last year when I had the class to end careers, I needed a hobby that so consumed my thoughts as an escape from the MANY pressures of my classroom. I started sewing purse/totes and had to focus so hard to keep the pieces straight and to follow the directions. It was a great escape. An hour or two would pass without a thought of work. I gave the bags out as gifts which made it fun. Now, what makes it fun for me is finding thrifted fabrics such as old sheets and vintage table cloths to make stuff out of. I like the idea of reusing something and it makes the hobby cheaper.

  2. Cara says:

    Ooo, I’m loving sewing! I had a lot of error with my trials for years, but now when I make something, it usually resembles what I was going for! Now that I have a girlie I have even more of an excuse :o) We especially love saving on cloth diapers and simple Hanna Andersson style clothing for a fraction of the cost of ‘the real deal’

  3. Kara says:

    I wouldn’t say I love sewing, and I only do it about once a year, but I do pretty well when I put my mind to it. It probably started in home ec class in Jr High. Then when I was a teen I decided to make dresses for my little sisters, without a pattern, just measurements. Shockingly they fit and were good enough they wore them to church. I’ve made a few quilts and some cute Halloween costumes, and that’s about it. Occasionally I want to get out the machine and sew something cute, but other things take precedence.

  4. Dawn says:

    Well, I must say… you have gotten me much closer to *thinking* about learning to sew again, (after that disaster in 7th grade homemaking class) than my mother has gotten in the last 15 years of trying πŸ˜‰ You make a very persuasive argument, and I think I will get one of the books and look into it… those projects look pretty cool, and it would be awesome to not have to beg Mom to hem things for me anymore! Haha. Thanks for the boost in the right direction (even when I didnt think I wanted it, hehe!) πŸ™‚

  5. Desert Diva (Julie) says:

    This is one of those things I’ve been mulling over in recent months – you know with ALL my spare time. I actually have fabric and pattern for 2 dresses for daughter, bought last winter that maybe I’ll get made for this winter.
    Goodwill and thrift stores are another great place to look for sewing machines. I think we paid about $30 for mine and it’s worked great for at least the last 13 years or so – hubby bought it for me to sew valances for our first appt πŸ™‚

  6. Julie says:

    My mother hated to sew and I do not have the wonderful memories you have of watching my mother sew!! LOL I really wanted to sew, though, and through the years with trial and error, consider myself a decent sewer. I make quilts and home decor. I’ve not really made clothes – not my thing, but I really enjoy what I do sew. I also get my fabric at the sales at JoAnn’s and WalMart. They have really good sales sometimes. I’ve also found wonderful sewing products at thrift stores.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Although I do not love sewing, it comes in handy on those times when you can’t find the perfect curtains, but you can find the perfect fabric, or you really need a specific costume for the kids’ pretend repetoire & you can’t buy it at the store.
    My biggest tip for those learning to sew, is that learning to iron properly is more important than sewing technique. Lots of homemade clothes are well sewn, but poorly ironed & look frumpy. Learn to iron the facings & seams right, the clothes will look better.
    Also, I learned from a college roommate who majored in textiles, every pattern is designed to be altered after its sewn-which is why often you can tell when a dress is “homemade.” Don’t expect to sew it up & wear it, you will need to alter it to fit you properly. I’ve found its often easier to create my own designs than it is to find the appropriate pattern & do the alterations, so I make a lot of my own patterns.

  8. Rebekah says:

    Oh thank you. This is just the boost I needed to get back into my quilting. I’ve been out of it for the last year due to ‘baby girl’.
    I had always wanted to make a quilt. A lady I worked with made them all the time and would tell me how simple it is. Through a chance conversation I ended up at a quilting class and made my first quilt. I LOVED it.
    So to reiterate your post I would say to anyone who thinks they cant do it… just do it!

  9. Heather says:

    Great post! It is true, ANYONE can sew!! ANYONE can learn it. You’d be amazed at the hidden talent you find learning to sew!! I sewed in Home Economics Class, then my Step-mother’s mom taught me a few things, but like you, I didn’t really get into until after I was married. And it wasn’t until after my first child was born that I really took to it! Now with 3 kids, I am finding it harder to really find the time. Lately, however I am getting the itch to really start working those machines again!
    My tip: The iron is your best friend! A little bit of starch can help as well (of course only used on acceptable fabrics) And TOP STITCH wherever you can…makes for a nice and neat and pretty finished product! πŸ™‚

  10. Beth/Mom2TwoVikings says:

    I’m a sewing rookie. I asked my 70+ yr old mother-in-law to teach me this past spring. She gave me her old steel HEAVY 30+ yr old machine that still works perfectly! I *really* enjoy it but just need to find time to do it.
    My first project was a blanket for Flicka from leftover fleece scraps (think quilt-effect with fleece…kinda! LOL) and next are aprons for me and Flicka and/or a jumper/dress for her too! The curse of being the first-child – she’s my guinea pig! LOL

  11. Tracy says:

    I started sewing at 17 (now 36.. did I just type that!?) when my church held a “learn to quilt” class. I decided to make a VERY simple Trip Around the World baby quilt for an expecting mom and I have been hooked. If anyone is looking for a simple first project, that is one to try. All it takes is some (fairly) straight stitches. I have graduated to more difficult machine quilts and have attempted many home projects. I just found a handbag I want to duplicate next week. Hrm.. maybe something to post on the Dog Day Give-away?? I agree, once the bug bites you can’t get enough. I find myself mentally taking apart merchandise in stores while thinking, “I can TOTALLY make this!”. LOL. Thanks for posting and encouraging people to buy new or revisit their dusty sewing machines! Maybe we can challenge each other to make something and post about it when finished…

  12. Adventures In Babywearing says:

    I love it! And sewing is definitely on my list of hobbies to pick up in the near future.
    Right now I am a knitter and I hear the same thing- people wishing they knew how or had the time. Knitting is great while watching tv instead of snacking while watching tv! It’s great therapy, so when I have a moment to myself, I don’t come to the computer first, I go to my knitting basket. It wasn’t hard to learn at all- you just have to make the decision to learn and just go for it (and this goes for anything else you’ve been wanting to try!)

  13. Nic says:

    After being inspired by you, I bought a pattern magazine, needles, thread, a thimble and pins to go with my sewing machine. My first piece of material (it’s going to be a table cloth) is in the washing machine.

  14. Sincerely Anna says:

    Did you write this post for me or what? I was so terrible at sewing in school that I stuck my projects (stealthily) out of the home ec room and begged my sister to finish them when I got home. And we’re talking pillows and a gym bag here! But lately I’ve been thinking that I’d like to learn how to sew after seeing my best friend squeal over the cute dresses she makes for her daughter. She taught herself how to sew this year. I’m thinking about going for it too!

  15. Fiddledeedee (It Coulda Been Worse) says:

    Both my mom and grandma sewed. I have memories of my mom making us matching dresses. Which were more like moomoos. Orange moomoos. A 7 year old. In an orange moomoo. But, I felt pretty.
    I’ve only just recently had the inclination to learn how to sew. You may be the inspiration I need!

  16. Lynnae says:

    I’ve never really made anything except curtains. Maybe it’s time to give it another whirl. I’m definitely not into apparel sewing. I never thought of craft sewing…I’ll have to check it out.

  17. Rebecca says:

    My grandmother has a great talent for sewing, she’s one of those perfectionist types who rips out seems and redoes them until they are perfect. She also teaches sewing lessons out of her home. I’ve made some projects with her help before and would like to get into it again. But I need to get a sewing machine, learn the terminology and get some supplies. Plus I already have scrapbook projects backed up so I’m nervous about starting another time consuming hobby. Although I saw some patterns online for making aprons & saved them all so I can use them one of these days. Maybe one day I’ll get my hands on a machine again, I had one for a while but it wasn’t working & grandma took it to look at and I haven’t seen it since.

  18. Megan (FriedOkra) says:

    When I moved to the midwest from the South many years ago I found myself bored witless over the long winter months while the wind howled and the snow piled up past my windows. My grandmother-in-law gave me a sewing machine kindof out of the blue. Wanting to make her proud, I took it for a spin and ended up making my entire family (plus friends and the occasional random stranger) whimsically personalized drawstring lounging pants (aka pajama bottoms, hee). After the 2nd or 3rd pair I felt confident enough to go really nuts and make pants with each leg a different fabric. I had a ball, but, older and wiser now, I feel somewhat sorry for the recipients of my enthusiastic gifts. Sewing IS fun, and a hobby that can be tailored (pardon the pun) to suit the skill-level of the seamstress (seamster?) Just looking at all of the patterns and fabrics and never actually SEWING a thing is entertainment enough, sometimes. (And probably a preferable option for my loved ones, too.)

  19. Debi says:

    I just had to say “THANK YOU!” Your post just awoke a part of me that’s been sleeping for a while. I used to love to sew! But then the scrapbooking bug took over, and I’m afraid all my sewing machine has been used for in the last several years has been paper crafts. When cleaning up my little craft room a few months back I came across several bags with sewing projects. I think you’ve just inspired me to go tackle one of them today! (Perhaps I should start with the pjs I’d been planning to make for my daughter all those many years ago…she’s now 10, but if I get them made now her 4-year-old brother might be able to wear them for the rest of the summer.)

  20. Owlhaven says:

    Those neck monkeys are tempting me to make them for my girls for the airplane ride. This is ridiculous, since I am soooooo busy right now. But I do love to sew when I get in the mood for it. Thanks for reminding me!

  21. My Quotidian Mysteries (Laura) says:

    I feel like the Holy Spirit is working on me in the crafty-housewifey department today. What with you inspiring me to sew (frankly, reaping the harvest planted by many well-meaning others) and the inspiration to bake a pie over at Musings of a housewife, I’m going to be making my baby dresses and whipping up a few Criso-based desserts.
    Thanks for the inspiration! I just might do this! (I want to, desperately want to…)

  22. kel says:

    I have that same exact apron pattern! I’m a totally beginner seamstress though, so it’s a bit intimidating to me (it doesn’t even say EASY on the cover!). Let me know how it goes for you and if you have any tips.
    Good luck!

  23. Cheri says:

    I am not an ‘expert’ by a long shot. But I grew up with my mom sewing too. I do not enjoy making clothes (but I don’t like or make wearables in fiber arts either) but I love using my sewing maching for crafty/home decor related things. For me, it’s all a learning curve, the more you do it, the more comfortable you become and the more you enjoy it. I think a fun apron is on my listy now.
    P.S. How you feel about sewing (the difficulity of it expresses by others) is how I feel about fiber arts…it’s *not* hard it just takes learning it and anyone can do that. KWIM

  24. Gena says:

    I love to sew, but don’t have a ton of time lately. As for anyone being able to sew – I agree. My mother sewed all the time while I was growing up. She didn’t teach me how, though. I took Home Ec in high school – didn’t learn there, either. When I got married and had a baby girl – that’s when it happened. I bought myself a sewing machine (which lasted for over 20 years and I paid about $150 for it) and started sewing. I learned by trial and error and was hooked for life.
    I believe someone else posted about the importance of ironing. It is SO important. Also, pre-wash your fabric. I iron my pattern pieces as well so that they lay perfectly flat when they’re pinned. I don’t really like the pinning and cutting part of sewing, but it has to be done. I often will use my rotary cutter and mat to cut out several pairs of shorts, skirts, whatever, at a time so that part is finished quickly.

  25. stacy says:

    What helped me learn is just getting in and doing it. I don’t make too many clothes, except for simple dresses for my daughter, my favorite things to make are baby blankets and burp rags and I just took up quilting this year. I started with a basic cheep machine to learn to sew but I must say when I upgraded to a more expensive one with stitch options I really fell in love with sewing. It was like going from a econo little car to a luxury Cadilac!

  26. Heather L. says:

    For craft sewing, I recommend the remnant rack. You can often find cuts of the cutest fabrics that are plenty big enough for craft projects. I also like to buy the quilting quarter flats for my craft projects. Those two will also save time at the cutting table since they don’t need cut.

  27. summershine says:

    I decided I wanted to learn how to sew two years ago. Although my mother and grandmother don’t sew, my mother in law and all of her daughters do and I think I got interested when I saw them do it.
    So I bought myself a Walmart sewing machine (just like you said) and I started teaching myself.
    I wish we lived near my husband’s family so they could show me more. As it is, I can sew a pillow, a hot pad and other odds and ends. I enjoy it, but haven’t gotten the machine out for a while.
    You may have reinspired me.

  28. Jennifer, Snapshot says:

    This is inspiring. I bought myself a sewing machine with money I got for college graduation. I thought I “needed” one. The first thing I sewed–all on my own with no help right out of the gate–was a patchwork pillow from the cover of Family Circle (circa 1992). I did welting and everything!! However, I did not backstitch or whatever to cement the stitch. I then took a class, but I haven’t made any more of those gathered skirts with the hook and eye closures that I was taught in that class.

  29. not-so-deep Denise says:

    Sewing is one of those things that I love to do! I find all the handwork (especially) soothing and creative.
    My favorite text is “Sewing for Busy Mothers.” This is great for anyone sewing children’s clothing and who wishes to go beyond the Butterick pattern.
    Why am I sitting here on the computer when my little girl’s back-to-school outfit is calling me from the sewing table?

  30. Shannon says:

    Good timing with this post!
    My husband and I just got a house and I picked up my great grandmothers sewing table out of storage. It hasn’t been used in over 15 years and my mom is coming over today to see if we can get it working and have her teach me enough that I could make some simple drapes.
    I’m hoping it’s not too hard!

  31. Anne-Marie says:

    Thank you for an encouraging article! I tried to take a sewing class in my Mexico days, and discovered they don’t use patterns like people from the states do…the instructor explained that they are more suited to American physique than to the shorter and more petite Mexican figures. Anyway, I thought I was going to learn how to use patterns, and soon discovered myself CREATING the patterns from measurements. Each type of skirt was done in miniature, with a larger version of one style being our project. Unfortunately, I never got to finish the class, as we moved a couple of months in. Maybe I’ll dust off the machine and try again!

  32. Sarah says:

    I have that pattern for the aprons; but I am in the midst of decluttering and honestly, I know I’ll never get around to making them. If you would like it, I’ll send it to you!
    Sarah K.

  33. Diann says:

    Oh, I’m so glad you did this post! I’ve been telling all of my friends the same things when they see things I’ve sewn. Anybody can sew! Like you said, if you just learn the basics and can follow directions you can whip up amazing things that are “custom made”. There are so many EASY patterns out there now that turn out just fabulous. There are also great fabric resources online and sewing communities that share their sewing experiences. Take the plunge–you’ll never regret it!

  34. Barbara H. says:

    I’m somewhere in between beginner and experienced. I guess I’m experienced, but not an uber-seamstress like some of the craft blogs I read. My mom was the type of person who just liked to do and not bother with directions. πŸ™‚ So when I got to college and decided to major in Home Economics and had to take sewing courses — I had to unlearn a lot of bad habits. But over time I did see the wisdom of a lot of what I learned (my mom never put interfacing in anything, but it does have its uses!)
    I haven’t sewn much beyond basic mending in a long time, but those times I do get behind my old Kenmore, I think, “Hey, this is fun!”
    I don’t know that I would sew clothing much. It’s fairly easy to find clothes I like at decent prices. And having all boys from 13 to 22, I wouldn’t sew their clothes. I did a little when they were toddlers, but once they get to man-style zippered pants — that’s beyond me. And shirts are also pretty easy to find at good prices.
    But I do want to make curtains and get into more craft sewing.
    So I would heartily Amen everything you said here. πŸ™‚ And I would encourage any beginning seamstress: don’t be discouraged if you can’t for the life of you make out the directions. Often I cannot read a section through, think, “OK!” and then do it. Sometimes I have to go phrase by phrase and do what it says, and then the light bulb will come on, “OH! That’s what it’s talking about!”
    Also don’t be discouraged by having to rip things out. It happens to everybody.
    I’ve been known to pray over my sewing!
    And take care about sewing important things when you’re tired. I was making a very complicated shirt for my husband one late evening and ruined it by cutting one part and accidentally getting another part of the shirt which wasn’t supposed to be cut caught up underneath it. There was no way to fix it. So — be patient, alert, take your time — and enjoy.

  35. Linda says:

    You have encouraged me to dust off my sewing machine and get it set back up! I need some of those chair cushions up there!

  36. MamaToo says:

    a note on the classes & buying your first machine: if you go to a local sewing machine store (often, oddly, combined with vacuum sales!), the cost is often very close to the same as a big chain. Frequently, however, they throw in free lessons or other help & I’ve found that’s worth the extra couple of dollars.
    Plus, if you get hooked into sewing, it’s great to have a place where you can service or update your machine.

  37. Karen says:

    I have to insert one thing into your list, Shannon, regarding sewing machines.
    If you are going with a budget machine from Wal-Mart or Target go with the best you can afford there. Sewing can be very discouraging if your machine is not behaving and sometimes the inexpensive machines can be the most troublesome (jamming, breaking threads, etc.). And sometimes not, it depends on what your sewing. These things can also be said for older machines that Aunt Martha gave you out of her basement or closet, if it hasn’t been in use for a long time take it to be serviced. It’s 100% worth the time and money.
    A good working machine is, I believe, absolutely essential to a positive sewing experience. This does NOT have to mean expensive, but reliable is a good place to start.
    Also- Simplicity patterns are, in my opinion, the most user (and beginner) friendly. New Look is a very close second.

  38. mombo says:

    I’ve been sewing for nearly 30 years, mostly self-taught. Here are a few helpful hints:
    1) Simplicity is a brand name, not a statement of fact. They’re not a bad brand of pattern, they just aren’t necessarily simple.
    2) Measure, measure, measure. Children’s patterns run large and women’s patterns run small – like 2-3 sizes! And they’re cut for a height of 5’6″ – 5’8″. A great deal of frustration and cost can be saved if you just measure and forget what the size on the pattern says.
    3) If you get a little down the road, a serger is a WONDERFUL time-saver. Let your sewing machine sales person tell you about it.
    4) Start with crafts. They’re more forgiving.
    5) Learn from a person, or with one. Talking out a pattern direction with someone besides that tacky person in your head brings a LOT of clarity.
    6) Nancy Zieman of “Sewing with Nancy” has books you can buy or find at your local library called “10-20-30 Minutes to Sew” and “10-20-30 Minutes to Quilt” that are great for those of us without consecutive hours to dedicate to a project.

  39. mombo says:

    OH! And don’t choose for your first post-beginner-sewing-class-project a double-breasted, lapel collared, shirt dress. Trust me on this one!

  40. SIngForHIm@Real Life says:

    I love sewing! I got into it a few years ago when I wanted to decorate my house, but couldn’t afford anything! I’ve made just about every throw pillow, curtain, shower curtain, and cloth napkin in the house. These are SO easy, anyone can learn! I also made adorable matching stockings for all my girls.
    I haven’t tackled clothes, but I don’t really tend to save much money on them, so I’ll just keep shopping Old Navy clearance sales. I LOVE the Clearance table at the Walmart craft section, and I’ve gotten some of the greatest things for $1/yd. Thanks for encouraging everyone to sew, Shannon!

  41. Kimberly says:

    I love to sew! Except pants/shorts. Strides in particular. The first pair of shorts I attempted looked like the Arc de Triumph.
    I’ll try again later….much later, perhaps.

  42. Cris says:

    Ok, I already started scrapbooking this year and I have always wanted to sew. My mother did and I don’t. I was asked earlier this year what new craft I would like to learn and sewing is at the top of that list. With this post as the nudge, I will take the first free step. I think grandmother-in-law has a sewing machine that she no longer uses. I will ask. I fI can get a decent machine for free- then this should be a no brainer. I’ll let you know. Thanks for the nudge.

  43. Mandy says:

    I learned to sew just enough to get my girl scout’s badge and was convinced I couldn’t do more than that. My mom bought me a sewing machine when I was pregnant with my first child (subtle, isn’t she?) and paid for classes. Well, I did okay, but I still, like you, thought that sewing was an elusive craft that I couldn’t truly succeed in.
    And then I was asked to sew my own costume for a Victorian caroling quartet (I was the alto). I thought that was crazy, but it was for charity, so I took a breath and dove in. I wound up with a beautiful taffeta skirt to wear over a crinoline, and a gorgeous red velvet short cape. It turned out so well, I wound up sewing the costume for one of the alto alternates, who was terrified to try it herself. When I look at the costumes, I still can’t quite believe I made them! What a rush!

  44. chilihead says:

    Speaking as one who learned to sew because of Shannon, I can definitely say she is dead on. I didn’t think I could, but I can! And it’s fun! And now I have so much fabric I could never sew it all! Let that be a lesson for you: Only buy fabric if you know exactly what you’re going to use it for. πŸ˜€
    Now go out and get those machines humming!

  45. margalit says:

    My mom was a professional costumer in Hollywood. Her specialty was pattern making and cutting. Did you know that costumers had specialties? πŸ™‚ She was the greatest sewer I’ve ever known. She could make ANYTHING. She made my wedding dress with no pattern, just a photo of the back of the dress from a magazine. We had to call the store to ask what the front of the dress looked like. To make it hang correctly she hand sewed many of the seams and the entire lining.
    I absolutely HATE sewing. Failed it in school. I know how to do it, but it’s just work for me.
    My daughter took Fashion Design this year in high school and loved it. LOVED IT. I had to have my sewing machine refurbished for her, and she’ll make anything, from tote bags to pajama pants to dresses.
    I believe the gene skips generations!

  46. Tara says:

    I am SUCH a novice sew-er! Haven’t even earned my “seamstress” title yet! Anyway, last winter I decided to teach myself to quilt. Women have been doing it forever, right? And without the benefit of electricity or the internet, so how hard can it be? Well, turns out, a basic patchwork quilt IS really easy to turn out! I made 7 such quilts (6 baby sized ones, so don’t think I’m marvelous or anything) and a dozen burp cloths. People think I’m wonderful and all I did was cut up some fabric, rearrange it and sew it back together! This fall/winter I’ll be doing at least three twin sized quilts for my boys. πŸ™‚ LOVE IT!

  47. Sarah says:

    I’ve made a few things over the past couple of years, including a rice pillow, a pin cushion and one Halloween costume. The last was made from a pattern and it only took me a few days to complete it. You’ve inspired me to go scour the pattern books and find another project and neglect my laundry and dirty dish piles more than I already do. Look what you’ve started!

  48. Cindy says:

    I hear the hum of sewing machines around the globe! Great blog today … I didn’t even think to look up patterns online. Those neck pillows are screaming at me; think I might make them for the grandkids for Christmas.
    Time to dust off the machine and find my supplies …

  49. Faerylandmom says:

    I’m kind of teaching myself right now, and I’m really enjoying laughing at myself! Sense of humor is definately a trait you need in order to learn to sew. It also helps to be able to call your mom when you’re panicking.
    I have yet to follow a pattern all by myself, but I’m getting there. πŸ™‚

  50. mom2fur says:

    The secret of my sewing is the same as the secret of my cooking: I use the easiest fabrics or recipes with the best quality ‘ingredients.’ I’ve made some fancy and more structured clothes, but even the most complicated pattern can be broken down. The trick there is to check off each step on the pattern as you do it. Take your time, don’t rush, and always use fabric you love!
    PS…I have been sewing for maybe 35 years now…and I still don’t know how to put in a lining!

  51. dcrmom says:

    My mom taught me to sew curtains. I was motivated to learn b/c it is so hard to find quality window treatments, and the custom made ones are SO expensive. However, it is not expensive to do it yourself. I have made some pretty impressive looking curtains, and it is not hard!! The reason I stopped sewing is b/c I just am not at the place in my life where I want the mess everywhere, and I can’t get involved in big projects. But when my kids are older, I hope to get back to it.

  52. Daisy says:

    I have no talent for sewing, and therefore do not own a machine. My daughter, age 20, has developed an interest and some talent for modifying her own clothes and making a few things. I send her to Grandma’s. Thanks for the advice; I’m sure she’ll want her own machine when she moves out of Grandma-range after college!!

  53. Gego says:

    Oh, what memories this stirred! I took Home Economics in jr. hi (required) and made a gathered skirt with a waist band. The next project was a zipper. Now, this zipper was not in a garment, it was just sewing a zipper in a piece of cloth. I did counted cross-stitch for the duration of college and in my early marriage, knitted and crocheted. When my daughter was born in ’75, I learned how to make dainty dresses for her with embroidery embellishments and matching bonnets. Local fabric stores led me to great teachers! After cross-stitching for so long, it was easy to make the French pleats, embroidery roses, or simply embroidery cross-stitch designs. My point is, all you new Moms need not fear needle and thread. I still hate hems and buttons with a passion!

  54. Megan at Sortacrunchy says:

    Thanks for posting this, Shannon! My MIL gave me a sewing machine for Christmas – about eight years ago. I have yet to sew one single project. Too intimidated! But this post encourages me. Thanks for opening up the comments to other seamstresses, too. So helpful.

  55. Tara says:

    If I make one of those cute vintage aprons does that mean I have to cook and wear my hair like the lady in the picture??? πŸ˜‰

  56. Tara says:

    WOAH! And I just looked at the other patterns you’ve linked to! I didn’t know those things existed! I could make those!!! And people would think I was soooo crafty!

  57. Angie @ Many Little Blessings says:

    Loved this post! πŸ™‚ I didn’t take home ec in school at all, though my Mom suggested it. A few years ago, I bought a sewing machine just because I wanted to learn, but, it just didn’t happen. My Mom finally started trying to teach me at the beginning of this month. I’m so excited! I already made a dress for my dd and a pillow for my son. Next on my agenda is a simple bag for taking to the library, farmer’s market, etc.

  58. Sara says:

    I get that alot too “Oh I’d love to learn to sew but I just can’t” I taught myself just based on what I saw around and what made sense to me in my head on how to do it! I can’t read a pattern to save my life but that hasn’t stopped me yet πŸ˜€ THanks for the post, great suggestions.

  59. Lori says:

    Wow, great post! I was bitten by the sewing bug recently and now I’m addicted. I learned from my mom when I was young but just started getting serious about a month ago. I’ve since made 2 shirts, a dress, 4 aprons and one diaper bag. I am hooked. One thing that has helped me is books (I am a librarian!). I have gotten some really great ones through Interlibrary Loan (available for free or very little cost at your public library!). I have really enjoyed Simplicity’s Simply the Best Sewing Book, More Fabric Savvy by Betzina, and the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing so far. Also, I constantly read reviews over and sewing blogs that I’ve found.

  60. Liz says:

    I took sewing as a 4H class several years in a row, but my mom is a very accomplished seamstress, so we were sewing doll clothes since we could hold a needle and thread it. I love all the different things I can do with my sewing machine, and it remains my very favorite Christmas gift from my parents.

  61. Amanda@MyPatchworkQuilt says:

    For a while I have been eyeing those really pretty quilted Vera Bradley bags. I just can’t afford those pretty bags. So, I decided that I must make myself one. Never mind I haven’t used my old Singer machine in over three years. After a very long trip to the fabric store (with two very cranky little boys)I found what I needed and I couldn’t wait to start my new project. I just knew it was going to go well. Then, the unspeakable happened. After working on my new tote for only a short while, the machine stopped working!!! I called everyone I knew and asked for suggestions. Finally I gave up and decided to go and take it in to be repaired. (The first time I took it in to be repaird was three years ago when I was working on my very first project…)They fixed my machine (a mere eighty some dollars) not to mention traveling out there with two small children. By the time I finished my tote I could have purchased two of those really cute Vera Bradley bags. But I’m really proud of how mine turned out because I was able to do it. Even though I made some major mistakes I love it.

  62. Mandy says:

    Thanks for the words of encouragement Shannon! Mama Anna and I are finishing sewing some items for the new baby boy’s room and after that I definitely plan to go out and purchase a pattern (on sale of course) and make some cutie-patutie pillows and then I’ll try to tackle one of those aprons with you. By the way, any suggestions out there on where to purchase the cute oil-cloth that I’ve been seeing these aprons (and porch pillows and splat mats) made with???

  63. Mandy says:

    Thanks for the words of encouragement Shannon! Mama Anna and I are finishing sewing some items for the new baby boy’s room and after that I definitely plan to go out and purchase a pattern (on sale of course) and make some cutie-patutie pillows and then I’ll try to tackle one of those aprons with you. By the way, any suggestions out there on where to purchase the cute oil-cloth that I’ve been seeing these aprons (and porch pillows and splat mats) made with???

  64. Mandy says:

    Thanks for the words of encouragement Shannon! Mama Anna and I are finishing sewing some items for the new baby boy’s room and after that I definitely plan to go out and purchase a pattern (on sale of course) and make some cutie-patutie pillows and then I’ll try to tackle one of those aprons with you. By the way, any suggestions out there on where to purchase the cute oil-cloth that I’ve been seeing these aprons (and porch pillows and splat mats) made with???

  65. Anna Cotton says:

    Shhh, you’re giving away my secret!
    I have a growing home business making costumes. I discovered I could sew a couple years ago and never looked back. I started sewing then read those nifty sewing tips books. I did everything backwards; like using fancy fabrics, making “difficult” patterns etc first. Oh well, live and learn. (You should see how excited I get when I get an easy pattern and cotton now.)
    In case you’re worried, my costumes do turn out just fine, even though I wasn’t supposed to be able to use things like Costume Satin on my first projects because it’s too hard for beginners.
    Oh, and directions are overrated. (Except when you get those two pieces that are supposed to go together but they’re not the same shape.)
    I’ve been lurking here for a while, but this particular post finally pulled me out of the shadows. Sewing is a passion of mine.

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