Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How did you learn to sew?

Hello, all!  Hope your day is good.  First thing is I want to say, "Thank You, Lord."  Yesterday I went to the oncologist and everything is good for another three months!  I am told I need to treat this form of cancer as a chronic disease since it has a such a high recurrence rate but it sure is nice hear, "Everything looks good!" from the doctor instead of, "We better do another scan just to make sure."  I really think I should glow in the dark.  Okay, enough whining there, Mary.  Bottom line is, everything is good!

Kellie, over at Craft Nurse Quilts, is having a giveaway because she reached 10 followers.  She is a sweetheart and I think she needs more followers.  Hop on over and check her out. She wants to know how people learned to sew.  I am kind of curious about that, too.  So, I am going to steal her idea.  I am going to have a giveaway myself.  Same rules as Kellie.  Post a response to this post for one chance to win.  Post a link back to your blog mentioning this giveaway AND telling your story of how you learned to sew in your post for a second chance.

UPDATED: This is one of my giveaways.  The other is a surprise but will be Christmas themed.

 This is a 24 strip jelly roll from Connecting Threads called Harvest Time.  It is prettier than the picture shows, I think.  I will also throw in a spool of CT thread for you to try.

If you have read my blog you know I love to "talk".  So, here is my story.  When I was a small child (preschool) I had a teddy bear that got pretty beat up.  I wasn't much on dolls but I loved Teddy.  I suspect Teddy was pretty cheap, thus all the holes he developed.  We moved a lot and based upon where we were living when I remember this I had to be 4 years old.  My mom got tired and of fixing Teddy and handed me a needle and a thread and told me to do it myself.

I sat down in this little rocker.

I took my little bear and started stitching.  That was the first of many repairs.  I could never figure out how to effectively tie off the thread and sometimes struggle with that today.  I still have Teddy.  He is very sad looking.

Several years ago I removed all of his stuffing and I thought all of my repairs.  My plan was to repair and re-stuff him and then dress him to hide his mange.  This morning I found this repair remained.

I suspect that is a later repair because the thread matches and I didn't care about that when I was little.  I liked the look of red and blue stitches on him.

Sewing on Teddy was probably not the best learning tool.  It taught me to hate hand work.  Hand is a four letter word, you know!  I think I was 7 or so when I had pestered Mom enough she let me use her machine.  The way this worked was I set down in front of it with fabric and she said, "Don't sew over your fingers."  She then took a glass of tea and went to the other room.  I would holler in and ask her stuff and she would holler back.  She did explain to me what the markings on patterns meant.

By the time I was 8 I was making doll clothes and some of my own clothes.  I remember I made the same doll dress probably 20 times or more out of Mom's scraps.  I made every variation of it.  It was a good learning tool because it had gathering and a lined bodice.  I got much better by the end!

I lived in a town where people were kind of judgmental.  My mother was divorced in the 70s and that was ugly.  I learned not to admit I or my mother had made my clothes.  When I was 12 my mom remarried and I switched schools to another small town.  Imagine my surprise when one of the cheerleaders said one day, "Mary, I have dress just like that one that my mom made.  Did your mom make that?"  I told her no but I had and to please not tell anyone. She was amazed and couldn't understand why.  When I explained it she started pointing out other people and telling me, "But their moms made theirs. If I could sew like you I would be telling everyone."  So, thanks to a cheerleader cheering me on I learned it was okay that I could sew.

I have sewn everything from doll clothes to wedding dresses, straight curtains to double ruffled pricillas with matching bed spreads and most things in between.  About 5 years ago I started quilting out of boredom.  I wasn't thrilled with the process but as I got into it I am enjoying it more and more.

When I bought my embroidery machine in 2004 I made my mom a wall hanging for her new house.  It was the first time she had had a sewing room.  She did it in pastels.  I tried to practice a lot of things on this wall hanging and I didn't know about a walking foot.  It is pretty bad but here it is.

It is amazing to me that I did great work on clothes but couldn't get that right.  Different skill sets.  I could do better now but I keep it as a reminder of all that I have learned.  I still try to avoid handwork at all costs and thus have learned how to do a ton of stuff CORRECTLY on my machines.  But I can finally admit I can do handwork.  I just don't like it!  I have done cross stitch, counted cross stitch, and most other embroidery.  I can crochet and do lace net darning.  Those are all different than sewing by hand.  At least for me!

How about you? How did you learn to sew?  What do you sew?  Do you do handwork?  Other needle work? The drawing will be announced on April 24.

Keep Stitchin'!



  1. Hi Mary, Thanks for having the contest and I have entered. Here's my blogpost:

  2. That is wonderful news, Mary!

    My mother sewed, and my maternal grandmother and great-aunts all quilted. I remember sitting on the floor under the quilting frame watching the needles go up and down. I think I started out making doll clothes and doing embroidery. I made my first quilt top in elementary school. I traced outlines of horses from coloring books onto fabric, colored them with crayons, and then embroidered around them. Then I embroidered the name of the horse on the block. There are horses from my family, horses from books I read, and horses from the movie cowboys. We sewed the blocks together to make a top. It was never quilted, but I still love it.

    1. Great story, Sallie. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thats such a great story. I wish mine was that good! My sewing journey started about a month ago! I'm teaching myself. I'm a follower of yours! Thanks for all the kind words about me! Thanks for the chance to win!

  4. Okay, Mary you twisted my arm...I posted my story and you know I follow your blog..still waiting for that gravy recipe! ;)


  5. My mother sewed as did both my grandmothers. I vaguely remember learning to sew buttons in Brownies and my mother showed me how to embroider. I embroidered guest towels and a sampler or two and two Girl Scout projects. I remember hand sewing sheath dresses for my Barbie doll with a friend. We took a scrap of fabric and sewed a seam up one side and then slid them on the dolls. My mother made me some dresses when I was small but then she earnestly began to sew for me when I was a bit chubby around 12 yrs. old and couldn't find clothes to fit. I learned to sew by machine in 7th grade home ec class. At home we still had the old black straight stitch only Singer machine that my mother bought before I was born.I've been sewing ever since. I used to complain if someone else in my class in high school had either the same fabric or same pattern as one of my dresses. I only started quilting when I lost my job about 2 1/2 yrs ago and joined our local quilting group. I'm back to work but I try to quilt in my spare time.

    1. Thanks for sharing! I told my husband last night I couldn't quit my job because it supports my sewing habit! It would take me a year or two but I would run out of fabric.

  6. My mother couldn't (or wouldn't) sew a stitch in her life, so my grandmother taught me to sew. I was not a very good student, though, and became very frustrated trying to make pattern pieces 'fit' my body after they were all sewn together. Fast forward to when my first child was born and I decided I could sew little clothes for him cheaper than buying them - kinda taught myself then and learned to enjoy it! Quilting came later.

    Your poor little bear has really had a rough life. Looks like you gave him lots and lots of love though!

  7. Hi Mary,
    Gotta love persistence, don't ya? lol My mom was always mending, but never really sewing. I took a home ec. class in high school. The pattern called for the fabric to be place on the fold, then extended over. I had no idea what that meant, asked the teacher and was told "figure it out". Well I figured that I didn't like sewing ! Then I got married and had a beautiful little girl, and found I loved making clothes for her. 3 more children, and less time to sew. Now I have 3 gorgeous grand daughters and I sew all the time ! Quilting is my favorite, although pillow case dresses for those three is a close second. Thanks for the chance to win your give away !

    1. Great story, Barbara. Thanks for stopping by. BTW, I removed your duplicate comment simply because it was a duplicate. Thanks!

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  9. I learned to sew in 9th grade in my junior high school 'Life Issues' class. I made a pink fleece elephant throw pillow. Later, in my twenties, I got a sewing machine and made some quillows, which are insanely easy and have nothing but straight lines. I also tried my hand at making rag quilts, but the ragging process can mess with my hands. In the last few years, I learned embroidery using Jenny Hart's books. I like embroidery, but I have carpal tunnel in both hands and handwork tends to cause problems for me. I tried cross-stitch once and failed horribly. I learned to quilt this last fall from an online quilting class (Chasing Cottons' Quilt Class 101). I can loom knit with Knifty Knitters, but cannot needle knit (carpal tunnel and a huge problem with skipping stitches, tension & miscounting) or crochet (same issues). Lately, to save my hands, I tend to stick with machine sewing. I don't sew any clothes - I'm not brave enough to try patterns yet. I also have stayed away from paper piecing, as it intimidates me. I've been having fun quilting lately!

  10. I may be too late but that's okay! I will still tell you how I learned to sew. My dad was a tailor before he retired. He was always sewing something. He tried to teach me but had no patience. When I got married, I inherited my husband's grandmother's sewing machine, bought myself a Quilt in a Day book and started learning!


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I love hearing from people. I have turned word verification back off. We will see how that works.