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What were you sewing in 1985?

Threads magazine is celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, and we want to know what you were sewing when we were just getting started. What were you sewing in 1985? Let us know in the comments below, and if you have any photos we would love for you to share them in our reader’s closet gallery. You could be featured here on the website, or even in an issue of the magazine as we celebrate our anniversary all year long.


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  1. Sewandsews | | #1

    Maternity Clothes! We were stationed in Germany and I was still active duty back then. I don't think German women have thighs, so I was in big trouble. Fortunately I had taken my sewing machine, a Kenmore 10, when I went overseas, and our little PX sold a few fabrics. I made a few mix and match tops and a jumper. I found an expandable front panel and made some shorts, and I was set.
    I also made a layette set for the baby, a cover for the bassinet, quilt, and a few extra's while my husband was in the field and I was stuck in waddling around the rear on CQ duty.
    In fact, I used the scraps to make a sewing machine cover that still I use today on my Janome 10000! My Kenmore is fondly referred to as 'old faithful'!
    I was pregnant on our second tour in Germany five years later, and did the same thing again-sewed my heart out!
    Now both boys are grown. One is a prior service from the Coast Guard and now a Sheriffs Deputy, the other is headed to the Army in November!

  2. kellen46 | | #2

    In 1985 I was just beginning to seriously make quilts. For years I had made utility quilts from scraps left over from sewing for my children and myself. I had a good Bernina 830 that had seen miles and miles of use. My first pieced quilt was a quilt as you go sampler from "Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel" A book I still use. All my quilts at that time were machine pieced and hand quilted. Applique was my main love mostly because it was so portable I could take it with me to work on in spare moments. I made a very large hand applique medallion quilt from an original pattern I drafted myself. I used the lap quilting method and had it completed in just a few short months. Knowing not much about fabrics it was done mostly with pastel seersucker fabrics and scraps. Still it has held up well over the years. I sew and quilt most every day now but I still have that first book and go back to it from time to time even though I have lots and lots of quilty books in my library now.

  3. ladymelinda | | #3

    I was sewing Doll clothes and pillows. I was 9 and loved designing and coloring outfits on my Fashion Plates. This love of sewing and designing has richly filled my life. And filled my sewing room and garage with fabric :)

  4. Nanas_Legacy | | #4

    In 1985, my first of two daughters was born, so the first part of the year saw me feverishly sewing maternity clothing, as there was little money for "wardrobe", even for a working girl. I then spent a lot of time making appointments for the nursery: all crib accessories (some now outlawed by the safety gurus!), curtains, changing table pad, etc. in multi/primary colored balloons on a white background. For her baptism in October, because the family dress didn't fit (my husband's made from a silk parachute!), I made a long white smocked dress lined in pastel yellow, with matching bonnet and booties. Then I began sewing for my baby girl, a past-time which I pursued into both the girls' teen years. Many smocked dresses and rompers, made with practical wash and wear material, often matching or similar, since they were only about 20 months apart. Even made winter outerwear bunting with embroidered accents!

  5. missquilty | | #5

    Boy, that is a long time for this old brain to remember, but I was in the middle of being a full time dressmaker, making garments for hard to fit folks. I had more customers than I ever thought I would have, and all came from word of mouth advertising. I found that work extremely satisfying then, but now I am mostly a quilter and the maker of teddy bears. Quite s step down, but at least I am still sewing!! Of course, I am also 25 years older, which puts me very near 70, so slowing down a bit is o.k.! I do still sew every day, just not so many clothes. I would be totally lost without my needles and thread. I drag along stitching everywhere I go!

  6. CarolynInTexas | | #6

    In 1985 I was making a black taffeta gown for my 17-year-old daughter, Rachel. Baryshnikov was coming to perform under the auspices of the University Lecture Series at California State University, Fresno, where I worked. Rachel and I were invited to a special reception following the performance. (I had directed the publications for the event, and Rachel was to usher.) The black taffeta dress would go on to make its appearance in her senior-year portrait.

    The pattern was a Michele Piccione design for Simplicity -- intended for brides and bridesmaids dresses, but it made a beautiful black party dress! It featured a fitted bodice, full skirt, lush puffed sleeves, a sweetheart neckline, and a handmade black taffeta rose at each shoulder. The dress remains one of the favorite clothing items I have ever sewn and still hangs in my “treasury” of old clothes.

  7. lasassone | | #7

    I was sewing and beading competitive skating dresses for my 2 girls and 2 other skaters. I also did costumes for the skating shows. My biggest challenge was the Sylvester the cat costume I think. Seasonally I was also sewing gift items for a Holiday Boutique my friends had started. None of us do that sort of thing anymore. I moved on to quilting, embroidery and crazy quilting with embellishments. I had so many beads left over from the skating dress beading I had an instant stash when I began teaching and doing crazyquilting!

  8. colourjunkie | | #8

    I have subscribed to Threads since you started and have all of my issues filed. In 1985, I was sewing a silk crepe de chine graduation dress for our youngest daughter. It was a Vogue pattern with ruffled matching lace (all burgundy) around the high collar, cuffs and deep ruffle at the bottom of the skirt. The edge of the lace was all hand cut to follow the lace design. I also made a street length version in dusty rose when she sang at a friend's wedding. She looked wonderful in both dresses. I have been sewing ever since I was a child, and learned to adapt patterns to change the style when young as there where limited resouces, fabrics and patterns after WW2. I am also a weaver (40 years) and do miss the inclusion of weaving ideas that were in the early issues.

  9. eriss | | #9

    I made legwarmers from thick woven burgundy colored fabric and a circle skirt from stretchy polyester with a psychedelic print. These items were for my Barbie doll and at the time, I didn't know anything about fabrics.

  10. User avater
    jenyjenny | | #10

    I was sewing t-shirts out of knit fabric, with ribbed-knit collars, and shorts for my 3 boys. I even attempted a pair of parachute pants. I machine-appliqued a longhorn bull face, like the Chicago Bulls logo, onto red and black cotton sheets stuffed with quilt batting and tie-quilted together, one for a double-bed and one for a single bed, because they had those bunk beds with a double below and a single above. Who knew one of the boys would keep up with the raggedy old tie-quilt? His son took it to kindergarten last year to be his "nap-time blanket!"

  11. furballs | | #11

    That year I was between jobs. I ended up doing a LOT of sewing. I made some clothes for myself to go job hunting in from my fabric stash. Some shirts and skirts, I think. I made several pieces for a very dear friend, Anne, who paid me for the work, which sure helped me get by. I made her an 'interview' suit, to wear while she looked into some new job opportunities. It had a fully tailored swing style jacket, the first jacket I'd made using fusible interfacings rather than hand stitching the tailoring details. There was a narrow skirt to match, done in a type of brocade, matte black, with a lightweight silk blouse in hot pink. Anne was very tall, with long limbs, broad shoulders and no waist to speak of, so she was often frustrated trying to find clothes that fit her well, other than jeans. When she found out I could sew, she wanted lots of things, and it worked out nicely for us both. Her hobby was break away calf roping and riding, so I made her some fancy shirts to rope in. That resulted in some other custom sewing work; fancy cowboy shirts for several other riders, which was also a help financially. I sewed or knitted most of my Christmas gifts that year too. I recall some adorable turquoise spandex tights for my 3 little nieces, with matching sweat tops with a first initial on the front appliqued in hot pink rayon cord. The spandex was a big hit with the girls & I made them new ones every year for a long time afterward. I sewed more that year, without a regular job, than I ever had before, or ever did again. There are pictures of some of these items somewhere, I'll have to see if I can find them and scan them for upload.

  12. User avater
    SewingWithKathy | | #12

    I was lucky enough to have a Juki serger back in those days (yes, it is goldenrod
    color) and it chain stitches and overlocks in one pass. I still LOVE this machine (and a newer one too)! If you asked for thread on a cone in 1985 at a fabric store, you just got a blank stare, so I had to buy them from industrial suppliers and in limited basic colors. Since I had a serger I was zipping up velour fabric kids clothes. All my classes in Stretch & Sew techniques came into play! I was also sewing beautiful vintage dresses for my toddler daughter and tailored wool coats with little hats with leather buttons for my almost toddler son. These were blue ribbon entries in our local fair. I lived for nap times and their bed times when I could sew for longer stretches of time. Now I sew for grand-babies :)

  13. karmakid | | #13

    In 1985, I had a Viking cam sewing machine that I purchased for a HUGE discount at a place called "Sewin' In Vermont". I also had a singer serger, and two knitting machines. I had a small sewing business in Summit County, and I made custom ski wear for a guy who was as big as a refridgerator, and I altered clothing for a lady who was a size 2! I made hats for the girls swim team, wedding dresses, and cool clothes for my kiddies. My favorite, was a piece of yello mohair, that I made into a cute coat for my daughter. Her teachers remarked about it at school conferences. It was unique, because we lived in Summit County, Colorado, where it snowed 12 months of the year, and a yellow mohair coat was unique amongst the sea of ski parkas! I have always had a love of natural fibers, so I would regularly drive to Denver to shop at Denver Fabrics, just so I could 'pet' the fabrics.

  14. Virjim | | #14

    In 1985 I had my first baby and became pregnant very quickly with my second so I was making fleecy maternity jumpers, a few baby clothes and a christening outfit for my son. It was a white lawn jumpsuit with pin tucked front much like a dinner shirt a man would wear with his dinner suite. It was finished off with a baby blue bow tie. He looked so sweet. Amazing what you sew and do for your first born because his sister didn't even get christened....so she reminds me often! My sewing machine was a bottom of the range Singer which I bought new about 12 years earlier ...basic but still did the job!

  15. deemail | | #15

    In 1985, I had a 10 yr old and a 15 yr old. Both boys wore a lot of faux OP shorts, but I can't remember if it was that late...my local Valueland Fabric store always had cordouroy remnants in a playpen in the middle of the floor. If there was 3/4 yd, I could get a whole pair. If there was only a 1/2 yrd, I had to look for another matching piece or a coordinating pc for the pockets and waistband....and then there was the neverending stream of T-shirts. I used to pull my fabrics, cut till I couldn't stand it anymore and then sew across one shoulder, the second shoulder, one sleeve edge per/sleeve, the neckband, and both shirt sleeve bands (if used on that shirt) and then sort into stacks to fit each boy. that way, the shirt was started and no pieces got lost if I didn't finish immediately. Then when i had a few minutes, I would clip the connecting threads, and finish off one or two shirts that needed the same color thread. I have no idea how many T-shirts I made in the space of 20 years for the two of them, my husband and myself. It was always rewarding as my husband was very tall and couldn't buy shirts to fit and the amount of money saved really covered most of the boys' other clothes besides fitting better and lasting longer.

  16. shirleylsmith | | #16

    What was I sewing in 1985? I was having fun ! In 1985 I had a studio in my home in Denver and was teaching for 6 ladies at a time. I taught 3 hour classes three days a week. I did private dress and pants fittings on Monday & Friday. I have been an avid seamstress most of my life and had small private teaching studio in Denver, CO for 22 years. I had a wonderful time during those years. During that time I wrote articles for David Coffin when he was with Threads. He wrote a glowing review of my fitting book and a nice endorsement of my sewing book which I wrote at the request of my many students.
    My children were older and my husband was a busy engineer and so my teaching & fitting career was easy to manage along with being a wife and mom.

    But as the years have passed, my husband retired and we moved from Denver to White Salmon and soon to Prineville, OR so now I need to really retire. I will always sew as long as the eyes and fingers behave but I find that I need to down size.

    I am looking for a special person who loves to sew and has a flare for teaching and a little touch of fashion sense to transform a piece of fabric into a special garment who would design clothing and most of all be a TEACHER.

    I have all my step samples which were used to illustrate my book The Art Of Sewing Basics & Beyond and all the illustrations for my fitting book The Art Of Sewing a Custom Fit. I hate to just toss these things and wonder if another teacher, someone who wants to start a small business of her own could use them. If there is someone out there in cyber space who fits that description who could use my step samples and fitting garments and my books as teaching guides I would love to talk to you? If you are interested check out my web page at http://www.sewingarts.com . My contact information is there plus more information on this offer.

    I have every copy of Thread Magazine and it was a great experience to write for them and fun to be included in the article Fitting the Figure after 55 (#82 May 99) I will find a place for them in my new downsized home.

    Shirley L. Smith

  17. sophia12 | | #17

    I have a trajic story. In 1985 I had four children ranging from 1-9 years of age. I remember working on a skirt and top for Easter I believe in the basement where part of it was a play room and I had a space in the storage area where I had set up sewing machine. The phone rang and I ran upstairs to answer it, not talking, just answering as my kids were in the basement. When I returned I picked up the skirt portion I was working on and there a slash cut through the middle of the front panal.
    I put my sewing away for quite a while after that realizing that without a seperate sewing area with a door from my kids play area, I couldn't sew any longer unless I packed everything away each time I was sewing.

    Things have changed and I love sewing for my Grandkids now!!

  18. KelleyHighway | | #18

    In 1985 I was sewing dresses for my toddler... and looking at maternity patterns. *wink* (I became pregnant with our second child in 1986!)

  19. crochetandsew | | #19

    Funny you should ask! In 1985 I was living on a 32ft. sailboat in the Virgin Islands. I had an old Pfaff industrial head that I used to repair sails and make and repair the various canvas covers. It was so heavy my husband had to lift it for me. Working and raising 3 sons (not fun to sew for!!) I'd gotten away from sewing. 25 years later I am retired and now own a Janome MC9000 and sew, sew, sew, mostly for my granddaughters.

  20. seamster | | #20

    In 1985, after a heart attack and by-pass surgery, my husband had to stay home to recuperate and I had to find a job. I had been doing some alterations at home for friends, but wound up working for a local bridal shop. I started at $4 per hour. My first major project was a big wedding party and when the flower girl's gown came in in red instead of peach and with no time to order another, everyone was in a panic. I took the sample adult dress (in peach) off the rack and cut it down to fit the pre-teen. Everyone was amazed at the outcome, including myself, I even got a raise to $4.50 per hour after that. I wound up working for that bridal shop and another for many years. I learned so much about sewing taking apart very expensive dresses and learning how they were made before putting them back together again. Both bridal shops have gone out of business, but I still do alterations for brides, etc. out of my home. I now have a 10 month old great granddaughter, so I'll be doing some fancy dresses for her very soon.

  21. circesmom | | #21

    We,(my husband, my four year old son and myself) had just moved into a ninety year old house with three floors of living space. The task of making curtains for thirty windows hung (sorry) over me while I made pants, stuffed animals, and, lots of curtains. I remember fabrics like others may remember funny jokes. That year it was a piece of wool like that used by the Hudson Bay Company for "point" blankets! OOOOOOOO!!! I found it in a little fabric shop in the village in Maine close to where my husband's family's summer home is located (yeah, on a pristine lake where loons nest-- excuse me, I digress). That fall I made myself a a wrap jacket with hand blanket stitching finishing all the edges. I thought of summer on that lake each cold, gray Indiana winter's day that I snuggled the collar up onto my neck.

  22. moppy | | #22

    In 1985 I was making shorts from remnants for my two little boys (approx. 50 cents per pair). I also made 100% cotton pajamas for my husband , at his request , for Christmas.

  23. sianm | | #23

    I was sewing my wedding dress (embroidery anglaise) on an old Singer treadle sewing machine, and loving that old machine for its beautiful roses and sphinxes, and the amazing ruffler attachment that was in the box of interesting gadgets in one of its drawers.

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