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Book Giveaway and Interview with Shea Henderson

Author Shea Henderson

This book is a year’s worth of sewing lessons with your personal teacher, Shea Henderson. She guides you step-by-step, along with eight students, through a dozen beginner projects and provides helpful tips along the way. The students’ comments also appear on the sides of the page, creating a unique community learning experience that a book usually cannot provide. The modern, useful projects include a carryall, a lined drawstring bag, a simple string apron, a zippered pouch, and a beginner’s quilt. These projects teach the essentials of sewing and, once finished, can decorate your home and make great gifts.

Threads magazine (TH): What inspired you to write a book for beginners?
Shea Henderson (SH): When I began teaching my friends and neighbors to sew, the book was not in the picture at all. But as we went along, I realized how much I wanted a book like School of Sewing (Lucky Spool Media, 2014) to exist . . . I wanted to be able to hand them one nice, neat little package full of advice, plenty of details about things like interfacing and troubleshooting, and instructions for quick-to-finish, functional projects. When Susanne [Susanne Woods, publisher/owner of Lucky Spool Media] asked if I would ever want to submit a book proposal, it took me about five seconds to know exactly what kind of book I wanted to write.

TH: What’s your best piece of advice for new sewers?
SH: Start with something you will finish. Many times, beginners set their sights on a king-size quilt or some other large project . . . and then they don’t finish it. Making a quick project that can instantly be useful will keep you addicted and coming back for more. My other advice is to borrow someone’s machine until you can afford to buy a quality sewing machine. The low-cost $80 machines at chain stores are certainly fine, but tend to leave beginners frustrated over thread tension, among other things. One of my friends in the book, Cheryl, sold enough unused household items, toys, and clothes to buy a really great Janome Magnolia. There’s a neat quote in the book from her about that. She didn’t have to impact the family budget AND she got a fantastic machine.

TH: Throughout your book, there are little pieces of advice from eight different students established at the beginning of the book. How do you think this helps the learning process, and what does it add for the reader?
SH: Those quotes are probably my favorite part about the book. They are the true heart of School of Sewing and really tell the tale of so many people who are new to sewing, funny “oops” moments, proud accomplishments, and cautionary tales. Beginners can sometimes think they are the only one who doesn’t “get” something. Nothing is more reassuring than knowing that others have experienced the same problem or triumph. I love knowing that my students, through those quotes, are helping to teach and encourage other beginners.

TH: What is the importance of sewing together?
SH: We are in an age of digital learning, where you can learn anything you want with a click of a mouse, which is incredible. I truly believe, though, that having someone sitting right next to you can’t be replaced, be it a teacher or a fellow beginner, learning along with you. Sharing the laughter and mistakes is what builds community, no matter the size.

TH: What can readers look forward to seeing from you in the future?
SH: I’m looking forward to following along as more people try their hand at sewing (or teaching sewing) with the book. And I’ll continue to develop sewing patterns for my pattern company, Empty Bobbin Sewing Studio. My School of Sewing students are still getting together to sew, so I’ll be sharing here and there what they are working on, too.

Enter for your chance to win Shea’s book, School of Sewing, by commenting: Tell us about the first project you ever made and an issue you overcame. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on July 10, 2015. The winner will be picked at random, notified via email and announced online shortly thereafter.

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  1. User avater
    duchick | | #1

    My first project was probably the same as many others...the apron in junior high sewing class. It was enough to get me hooked on sewing. I begged for a sewing machine at home and got one that I practiced on and learned everything from installing zippers to French seams on my own. That was 40+ years ago and I'm still learning and loving every stitch!

  2. paulaberon70 | | #2

    My first proyect was a drawstring skirt, when I was like 10 years old, I was excited about it, i wore it all the time, but my first problem, was what on earth did I do with the raw edges!!! they where falling apart!!!

  3. User avater
    gossjean | | #3

    How fondly I remember my very first sewing project! I was a mere 6 years old and visiting with my great-grandmother in Port Arthur, Texas. She had a singer pedal cabinet machine in her bedroom that I watched her on many times.

    While she napped one afternoon, I picked up a scrap of orange knit thrown in the corner and cut out fabric to make a jumper for my doll!

    I remember running to show her my creation when she woke from her nap. Fifty six years later, I actually still have her 1910 Singer and it still works!

  4. User avater
    gossjean | | #4

    How fondly I remember my very first sewing project! I was a mere 6 years old and visiting with my great-grandmother in Port Arthur, Texas. She had a singer pedal cabinet machine in her bedroom that I watched her on many times.

    While she napped one afternoon, I picked up a scrap of orange knit thrown in the corner and cut out fabric to make a jumper for my doll!

    I remember running to show her my creation when she woke from her nap. Fifty six years later, I actually still have her 1910 Singer and it still works!

  5. User avater
    gossjean | | #5

    How fondly I remember my very first sewing project! I was a mere 6 years old and visiting with my great-grandmother in Port Arthur, Texas. She had a singer pedal cabinet machine in her bedroom that I watched her on many times.

    While she napped one afternoon, I picked up a scrap of orange knit thrown in the corner and cut out fabric to make a jumper for my doll!

    I remember running to show her my creation when she woke from her nap. Fifty six years later, I actually still have her 1910 Singer and it still works!

  6. PDkrps | | #6

    My first project was probably a pair of cuffed dress pants (and later a blazer) when I was in Jr. High HomeEc. I loved my teachers and such fun in that class learning how to sew. Well, probably the most challenging thing I had to overcome was that I picked flowered fabric for the pants, and for the blazer as well. This choice was not at all a popular choice back them, so, I was probably looked down upon, even bullied. Well, I carried on and the pieces were simply fabulous. At the completion of the class, we had to do a stitch booklet that showed various stitches, their use and purpose. I still have mine in which I used the fabric from the pants.

  7. User avater
    user-1109649 | | #7

    The first sewing project beyond safety pinned doll clothes was in junior high home-ec, a zipped up the back sheath dress, which I did not finish by the end of class. I was in 8th grade, most of my other classmates were "big 9th graders" who would not give the 8th graders time at the sewing machines. My Mom (love her!) marched down to the school to discuss my failing grade on that dress. She assured the teacher that I WOULD finish the dress on my own, at home, and convinced her to delay the final grade for a week. Well, I sewed and ripped many seams on that dress, but got it finished with my Mom's guidance and ultimately received a B for the final grade. The other 8th graders were also given extended time to complete their dresses. I actually wore that red broadcloth dress on into high school! I am grateful to my Mom for many things, including teaching me to sew and to love fine fabric. But most of all is that she always stood up for me and was and is a constant cheerleader for all of my life's projects.

  8. User avater
    shreya_l | | #8

    First project I made was a baby's romper for my Textile class. Since it was an instructor led class there were not many problems encountered. The task of piping was a bit challenging personally as I had to learn how to control the width of the piping for the finished surface.

  9. SewingBloke | | #9

    My first ever sewing project was way back in 1971 and I was 16. I made a jumpsuit with flared pants, which was so fashionable at the beginning of the 70s. I seem to remember it would be something like the onesies people wear today.

    I made it using my Mum's straight stitch machine so there was no overcasting of the edges or any other finess that I can remember.

    I didn't really understand about fabrics in those days and chose to make it in a woven material, when the pattern clearly said "suitable for stretch fabrics". So, it was rather uncomfortable to wear and boy did it rub where is shouldn't. So the lesson was to follow the guidelines and to buy the right fabric for the job.

    I wonder what happened to that jumpsuit?

  10. winstontbeagle | | #10

    The first project I remember was making a toy mouse teddy bear thing. I was so excited because they hadn't changed home ec. classes in the 5 years since my brother made one and now I could have one of my own!

  11. User avater
    auschick | | #11

    First thing was probably clothes for my barbie dolls when I was about 8 :). As to an issue, I overcame my fear of knits by doing a ton of research on how best to sew with them and then I dove in :).

  12. user-1112581 | | #12

    I first made a tote bag and I was completely shocked by right sides together.

  13. pyns | | #13

    My first project was on the "toy" Singer chain stitch machine I got when I was 8. I made doll clothes ,of course. That summer,I graduated to my mother's Touch N Sew Singer and made a polka dotted shift for myself. Mastering a zipper was the hardest part

  14. User avater
    LuvThreadsMagazine | | #14

    I made a voo-doo doll out of orange gingham on my mother's singer. I think that was equal parts amusing and disconcerting to a mother of a son in the early 70s.

  15. sisylyn | | #15

    I made a poodle skirt and had a problem with the zipper. I didn't put it right and ended up with a gap at the top
    [email protected]

  16. Violet_from_Miami | | #16

    I am a self-taught sewer. The hardest lesson I learned in the 80s was that all patterns have to be fit/adjusted to my body. Even though I was petite and was relatively easy to fit, I just assumed the pattern out of the envelope would fit me. It's no surprise that I had a few wadders because I didn't make those pattern adjustments. This greatly disappointed and discouraged me. We didn't have the internet back then where I could Google what went wrong. And I didn't belong to a sewing community. I was a busy professional woman who sewed when I had time because I loved to mess with fabric and patterns and usually learned how to sew the hard way. Later I pick up quilting but eventually returned to my first love, garment sewing. After much study, classes and experience, I understand that every pattern has to be adjusted for fit before anything else. And I understand my fitting issues and the importance of muslins. Consequently, I have very few wadders these days. Lessons learned!! I am grateful for all the resources we have now, such as sewing magazines, like Threads, books, online classes, webcasts, sewing machine web site support, videos,online sewing communities and local community groups to help us all be the best maker of our garments that we can be. This new book, School of Sewing, is exactly what I am talking about. If I don't win it, I'll probably buy it. But it would be nice to win... :-)

  17. Casu51 | | #17

    My first project was an apron and I learned how to rip out crooked stitches. Useful skill.

  18. JacklynnGT | | #18

    I was taught how to sew by a woman from our church. My first project, at age 12, was a romper with a zipper. Unfortunately after finishing we discovered that I am long waisted and it didn't fit well. So I learned very early on how taking body measurements is so important! Mary was famous around town for her Barbie doll clothes, so she also let me help her with those - lots of hand sewing teeny tiny buttons.

  19. user-2698071 | | #19

    Even though I learned much from my mother, the first project I remember completing on my own was in junior-high (seventh grade) home ec. It was a white bib-apron with a gathered skirt and long ties that criss-crossed and tied in the back. Every seam had to be basted before we could stitch it on the machine, and we had to embroider our name on the bib part. I remember being disappointed with my uneven embroidery. The prominent place it occupied spoiled the whole thing for me. The next year we made a dress. I loved the cotton pique (pe-kay)fabric I chose, and remember a group picture with us all wearing our finished work.

  20. MsHem | | #20

    Like many young stitchers, the first project I ever did was clothes for my favorite doll. If I remember, the dress was put together with a needle and thread. Mom insisted that I had to learn to sew by hand before she would let me use the machine. The hems were so hard to manage with unskilled hands that I decided to make "Fringe hems" on the sleeves, neck and skirt. It didn't stay together very long, but Mom praised my work. She still does.

  21. User avater
    chelseabees | | #21

    My first project was a Regency dress for a Jane Austen Fest, a friend told me the gowns are easy to sew and now here I am!

  22. User avater
    Countessa | | #22

    I can't remember my first item; my mom started to teach me to sew young, and when high school apron pattern came along, I was extremely bored!! It almost turned me off of sewing, that and the 'samples' we had to do. Oh, if only I knew then what I know now!!!

  23. ContestKing | | #23

    My first sewing project was a baby blanket quilted. It wasn't really quilted it was one piece of material. I pulled wool and tied it on the top. It was a beautiful mint green colour. Gee I would have liked to see that blanket today. I am sure the threads might have pulled apart by now. I love sewing if is so relaxing and a feel good pastime. I have learned that you should wash your material before using it in a project. Tim

  24. User avater
    sewhappybjm | | #24

    The first project I ever made was a green gingham dress that my grandmother helped me cut out when I was about 9 or 10. However, I did not have confidence to sew on my own for six or seven years later.

  25. AlexArchitect | | #25

    I made my first project when I was in 4th grade. I really wanted to be able to use my mother's sewing machine. So I decided to make a dress to prove to her I knew enough.
    I found old sheets from a closet and made what I called my angel dress. It had snow angel sleeves, an elastic casing waist and neck. I finished the edges by folding over and using the a short basting stitch.
    But I still had to wait until I was 12. My mother wanted to instill patience into me so that when I was older, I would strive for high quality. She taught me a lot of techniques by hand which I realized later where haute couture.
    At the very least, I know that even if the world falls apart, I can make anything with thread and needle and
    Mama-instilled patience.

  26. franden644 | | #26

    I was the oldest of 4 and little money. Both parents worked and we as kids worked hard every day. I asked my mother if she would get me fabric I could sew my clothes. We made a trip to a fabric section of a department store and bought some madras fabric and I made a "shift" dress. I was very proud and hence was my love of textiles and creation! I was 15 yeSts old.

  27. User avater
    Joliecheval | | #27

    The first project I ever remember making was when I was about 10 and I made a pin cushion. It was very simple but I still use it to this day. I had to learn how to thread the needle and tie off the end properly, my first project was a hand sewn one.

  28. User avater
    jamaco | | #28

    Pillowcases for my mom! I was 7 and it was a thrill to sew with a machine for the first time. First problem I overcame was welt pockets - it was a mystery to me how to get them to lie flat and took many attempts to get it right.

  29. TrainingWheelsSewing | | #29

    I honestly don't remember my first sewing project. I began sewing before I started school. I sewed so much by hand that my mother bought me a machine when I was 5. I suspect a doll dress was my first project. I developed a pattern I liked and made many variations of that dress for dolls of all sizes but when I made one for my little sister I found it was not practical for living dolls! I modified it two or three times and it became a staple until I discovered the beauty of commercially produced patterns. I now use a combination of both.

  30. RushW | | #30

    My oldest daughter, now married with children, wants to learn how to sew for her family; this book would be perfect for her.

  31. User avater
    2tango | | #31

    My. First project was a pair of super wide drawstring pants in grade 7 my mom did most of the work so they turned out great!

  32. User avater
    2tango | | #32

    My. First project was a pair of super wide drawstring pants in grade 7 my mom did most of the work so they turned out great!

  33. Texkitty | | #33

    My first project was dollhouse furniture and first piece was a sewn fabric couch handsewn and stuffed with stuffing my grandmother gave me. It taught me patience to take my time and sew more carefully for a more finished look. I will never forget it.

  34. GranChris | | #34

    I made a quilt with my Grandmother. Lets face it sewing a straight line takes practice.

  35. mft | | #35

    This book would be an awesome resource!! I can remember in high school the first garment project that I made was a near disaster for several reasons but first and foremost I chose to use plaid!!! I had to ask my aunt, a trained, career seamstress to save me and she was helpful. However, since the project had to be made by me, I tossed those silly instructions, and made the garment "My way". I'm sure the teacher rolled her eyes but she must have had a chuckle too! I never did wear the top either!! It was a stepping stone in my sewing experience indeed!!

  36. User avater
    Maydge | | #36

    Pants!!! I would buy patterns and made them from start to finish but the fit was never quite the same. I am transgendered, male to female, so feminine pants are hard to come by, that fit, and ones that look good. I was able to take a ready to wear type, cut it up, and made a muslin-type base using needles to gradually adjust to see where the seam would be. I used a permanent marker and wrote on the fabric (while on me). I finally did it - my own pattern! The only thing I would need to alter were waist bands/heights, zipper types (front or back, fly or invisible?). I did it :)

  37. OneBluntNeedle | | #37

    My first attempt was pajamas for my nieces and nephews. Pants came out beautiful but the shirts. Well, that is a whole other story.

    I learned that when a pattern calls for a certain type of fabric, that is what you should use until you know the limitations of fabrics.

    It was a success and learning experience all at the same time.

  38. User avater
    aunrea79 | | #38

    I made a costume for my son. I had a hard time understanding the pattern and ended up putting my seam ripper to good use. It was worth it, my son won a costume contest and I never stopped sewing.

  39. jade2night | | #39

    The first project that I made were matching dresses for my daughters. I had a sewing machine that was almost 30 years old and I had no sewing experience. With a lot of patience they dresses come out beautifully.

  40. bermbroro | | #40

    The first project i made was pillow shams...still have them ....they remind me of my teacher. Overcame allowing myself to not feel guilty about a Real wadder! It was ok that it was awful and I could move on. :)

  41. wannasew2 | | #41

    My first project as a teen in Home Ec (junior high) over 30 years ago was a nice blouse. I overcame using a casing. I still remember the pretty fabric I got from (then) Minnasota Fabrics, later Hancock's. Love to sew!

  42. labibliotecaria | | #42

    My first project was way out of my league, a Laura Ashley style dress with long sleeves, an inset skirt, ruffled collar, and a zipper. The zipper was the obstacle, and I overcame it with lots of help from my sweet Memaw.

  43. User avater
    GypsyThread | | #43

    Another Jr High HomeEc survivor here. We started with making a vest muslin. Faced neck holes right out of the gate! Even though I've been sewing for nearly 30 years I still struggle with some knits in a sewing machine. As soon as I overcome knits everyone will know.

  44. Wojlog | | #44

    My first project was a corduroy skirt during home economics class in 9th grade! Well, i was a little lost at first, sewing the wrong sides together, but learned quickly how to take out a seam, and forge ahead! In sewing, we learn from our mistakes! Just getting back into sewing now that I have retired and loving every minute of it!

  45. pkkreations | | #45

    My first project was the ugly little red skirt we made in home ec in 9th grade. However, my grandmother made most of my clothes and I would spend a week with her each summer. She would always let me help -- I got to rip out and iron!! In spite of both of those experiences, I wanted to learn how to sew and have been doing so for 30+ years. I've recently been asked to teach some to sew and this book would be a true blessing to have.

  46. TishK | | #46

    My first sewing project was, you guessed it, the bib apron in my 7th grade home economics class. I had never sewn before, and it was obvious that I couldn't even sew a straight line. There were more girls in the class than sewing machines, so we had to share machines, which meant that we had 10 to 15 minutes of sewing time per class. Needless to say, I didn't finish my apron during class time and had to take it home. My mother (who was not a sewist, by the way) took one look at it, shook her head, and proceeded to take it apart and remake it. I managed to get a passing grade, but never wore that confounded apron. The following year, we made an a-line skirt. I was determined to complete the skirt on time and actually wear it. This was the turning point. The skirt looked great (no help from mom needed!), and from then on, I started making more and more of my clothes. I've loved to sew ever since.

  47. CrickettCreations | | #47

    Oh, gosh! I started sewing when I was 4 or 5 years old and I am now 58, so I don't remember the first thing I made! It was probably a skirt or dress for a doll. The first major project I made was a skirt with a very wide waistband and attached "suspenders" when I was 8 or 9. I'm still learning though! I am a firm believer in always improving on my craft.

  48. Mayell | | #48

    I made an apron that included a top piece, and was similar to a shift with a couple of snaps instead of a zipper. My main
    Robles was thread tension and having the thread make a mess underneath the footplate. The thread mess was solved with a better machine. I am still working on understanding and getting the correct tension

  49. user-2422167 | | #49

    My first project was making a headscarf and putting bias tape on the longest edge and enough length to make ties. I had a hard time sewing straight and attaching the bias tape. I finally was able to sew it on by going slowly.

  50. Clewtwo | | #50

    I remember I was about 6 years old when I hand made an apron for my mom. I asked her for a piece of fabric and two long strips of fabric, a needle and thread. I wanted to surprise he with my creation. Somehow I loosely hand sewed the long strips to either side of the raw fabric piece and presented it to her. I was hooked on sewing ever since!

  51. RushW | | #51

    My mother enrolled me in a sewing class for kids when I was eleven or so. Not knowing any better, I picked a very complex pattern for my first project. With the help of my mother and the patient teachers, I completed the project with good results. I have been sewing ever since.

  52. AliceEliza | | #52

    My first projects were doll clothes and I remember how happy I was when I figured out how to make a knot. I was probably 5 or 6.

  53. user-2778833 | | #53

    My first sewing project was a pair of pyjamas in my first 4-H club at the age of 12. It was many years ago. We were required to do flat felled seams and I nicked the one front in the course of trimming the seam. Mom had wisely purchased extra fabric, so I was able to cut out one more front. Then I learned that there is a left and a right front and that I had cut the wrong side. With Mom's help, I was able to flip the pattern and providentially, find that there was enough fabric for just one more front. I have never forgotten the importance of checking for the correct positioning of the pattern when cutting out that "one more" piece.
    I have always enjoyed sewing and learning new and old techniques and figuring out which ones will work best with the current fabric and project.

  54. joanrob8 | | #54

    My grandmother started me out on barbie clothes and the as an adult pregnant with my first child, my grandmother and I made my baby her entire wardrobe. It was the first time I did french seams. I remember looking at my grandmother like she had just revealed state secrets. My biggest challenge is that I've always preferred hand sewing because I never learned to take time with a machine

  55. User avater
    chelosunny | | #55

    My mother handed me over to a local sewing machine shop that sold patterns and fabric. Her attempts to teach me were destroying our relationship...too many tears and cigarette smoke.
    The shop said sew what you like. I picked a pattern for a sundress with a circular skirt and spaghetti straps and a white picot jacket. They sold us some pink linen fabric. Are you getting the picture? I was 9 and the project was a disaster. I felt so guilty about my ineptitude and wastefulness. In Home Ec in high school, however, I breezed through the assignments.

  56. NGuy | | #56

    The first thing I ever remember sewing was doll clothes with my grandmother. Even back then with much smaller hands it was a challenge. I did learn to share what you love to do, and to respect others' creativity even if it does not look like yours - and also to trust my taste for my own projects!

  57. RailScout | | #57

    I'd hand-sewn my badges on my Girl Scout sash and done some other messing-around handsewing (mostly patching jeans) growing up. My mother was dead-set against me learning how to make clothing, and barred my father from even getting me a decent second-hand machine. The first "real" thing I made, on a machine I borrowed from one of the other girls in my college dorm, was a short-sleeved camp-style blouse, with set-in sleeves. I remember the fabric like it was yesterday - white base, with a thin-striped royal-blue-and orange tattersall check. My seam finishing on the inside wasn't perfect, and I hadn't yet fully learned how to alter patterns to fit my figure, but I loved that shirt! I made it, I picked the fabric, and it was *all mine*! I wore it until it finally fell apart from being well-loved.

  58. Vikichek | | #58

    I don't know what my very first project was; I learned to sew as a child, taught by my grandmother. I never took sewing/home ec in school. A very early project was a small evening purse that I made to match a prom dress. I used green satin and lined it with a scrap from a dress that my mother or grandmother had made for me.

    I fell into a challenge several years later, when I bought a beautiful wool crepe, a very early polyester print to line it with--and a Vogue suit pattern. The jacket alone had twenty patten pieces! I took the whole affair to my grandmother, who looked it over,and told me to follow the pattern directions. I did, and it worked. I've never been cowed by a pattern since, and this was more than fifty years ago.

  59. user-2929550 | | #59

    My very first sewing project was in the 6th grade, i sewed pillows shaped in the letters of my name. They turned out good.

  60. user-798798 | | #60

    I learned to sew in home economics, required for freshman girls. My first project needed to have a certain number of "points" awarded for features like sleeves, pockets, ruffles, pleats, zippers, buttonholes... Although the project succeeded, the fabric was not memorable. Advice to new sewers: select something simple to make using appropriate fabric that you find beautiful!

  61. danci | | #61

    I also started in Jr Hi, but was always around sewing because my mom & grandma made almost all my clothes. I got my first machine for my 15th Bday.I hated sewing in Sr Hi. because I spent my half of class untangling the shared machine. I took my projects home, & only 4 of us ever wore what we made. I am always game to learn something new. I have done military uniforms & have taught several people how to start sewing. I am going to give a machine to my 13 yr old grand daughter for her Bday. This book will be a great help, as I live away from her.

  62. User avater
    agapantha | | #62

    My first project all on my own (I refuse to consider my home ec experience anything but a nightmare) was a empire waist dress with a square neckline and a full skirt circa 1970. The problem was solved with a FBA which I learned to do by checking books out of the library and carefully following directions.

  63. User avater
    iris68 | | #63

    Since I was a child I made lots of dollies clothes. I didn't have much money and used adults clothes or cheapest fabric to make something for myself. A night gown out of unbleached muslin was my first project. The yoke I crocheted using filet technique. It was pretty.

  64. Darr | | #64

    My earliest sewing was doll clothes also. After taking them apart I would sew them back together in a different way. I know I did this as early as 3rd grade. I got a toy sewing machine that Christmas.

    Another one was sewing material sample rectangles together for a doll blanket. Still have it with my huge stitches. lol

    The first technical "project" probably would be a dress for 6th grade.

    When in Home Economics in 8th grade the teacher had been my 6th grade teacher and knew my family. Two of us were called to her desk at the end of class. We were informed that we needed to get new dress patterns as our current pattern had zippers in the sleeves. The two of us looked at each other with "why?" expressions. The teacher then looked at us with an inquisitive face and said, "unless y'all have already done zippers." We both had and the dresses turned out fine.

    Now for my latest project I'm using an idea from Threads for my son's upcoming wedding in October. His first project (and only) was a pair of shorts for himself.

    Well this certainly opened the gate for memory lane!

  65. bebrown | | #65

    I learned to sew at the tender age of about 7 or 8 by making doll clothes. I learned on my grandmother's Singer treadle machine and the hardest obstacle to overcome was coordinating the motion of my foot on the treadle. Years later when I began learning more about my family's history, I discovered my great grandparents were professional tailors who emigrated from England and had their own tailor shops in upstate New York. I guess I was following a family tradition without knowing it!

  66. User avater
    janith | | #66

    My first project was for the newly released Barbie Doll in the 50's. Hand stitching the clothes (scraps from Grandma and Mom) onto the doll and then cutting them off to make a new gown. I moved onto machine sewing and never looked back until I started teaching sewing and one of the favorite classes is 'Designing for your Doll'. Students use scraps from my bridal alteration business for some great outfits.

  67. PatHersl | | #67

    By myself, I started with Barbie clothes for a Barbie that wasn't mine. I think it belonged to the girl next door. But my first class in sewing was Home Ec in 7th grade and the first thing we made was an apron. It got better from there. What I really need are more classes since 8th grade was a long time ago. All clothing has issues for me.

  68. user-5044563 | | #68

    When I was about 6 years old, I cut up my old flannel pajamas and created a patchwork doll quilt. I hand stitched the entire project. I still have the quilt. When I was finally allowed to use my mother's sewing machine by myself, it would always jam up on me. Problem solved when I remembered to lower the foot. Ha!

  69. User avater
    Harikleia | | #69

    My first sewing projects were hand stitched clothes for my doll. I remember a coat I made for her. To make buttons for the coat, I used matches which I broke into small pieces and sewed them in the middle. Perfect! I learned how to sew with an older seamstress. At that time, we didn't have electrical sewing machines and patterns. I learned to do all the stitches by hand. We would take a person's body measurements, cut the fabric, and do fittings on the person. Years after I taught myself how to use an electrical sewing machine and how to cut with patterns.

  70. User avater
    rosemaryschild | | #70

    An apron for Home Economics class in High School Learned to make ruffles so much fun and useful!

  71. sew3more | | #71

    My first project, like so many others, was in junior high. My mother refused to teach me no matter how much I pleaded.(Now, as a parent, I think I know why.) So when my school offered an after school class she let me sign up. I made a skirt and have vivid memories of cutting it out and sitting at the machine but have no memories of finishing it or how it turned out. My mother continued to sew many pieces for me including my prom dress. I would go with her and pick out the fabric and pattern and she would try to tell me how they weren't the best match and would try to steer me in another direction. I don't remember sewing again until I was in college. I have been sewing almost every day since and rarely follow the pattern suggestions or directions exactly. I guess growing up was how I overcame that issue.

  72. 5elementknitr | | #72

    I got this book from the library and am using it teach my boys to sew! I'd love to own it!

  73. User avater
    rdejam | | #73

    My first project was a one piece, short sleeve culotte outfit. My grandmother sent me to Singer Sewing School when I was 10 and we made the outfit of our choice from a Simplicity pattern. It's tough to say what was the most difficult because we had a teacher guiding us through everything. This project had inset sleeves, a flat bias neckline, invisible zipper, and inseam for the culotte. It came out fabulous and I loved that piece. Black cotton fabric with small colorful polka dots. Thanks so much for the memory.

  74. User avater
    Robyn_sews | | #74

    To be honest I can't remember the first thing I sewed. It was so long ago. I suspect it was barbie doll clothes.

  75. User avater
    ArtCetra | | #75

    My first sewing project was hand sewn doll clothes. My first machine sewn item was a flannel nightgown. Once mom taught me to sew, she totally stopped sewing anything for me except prom formals.
    "Threads" is one of my favorite magazines. I often end up with duplicate issues because I don't subscribe. I guess I should subscribe, but then my daughter won't end up with so many free issues of "Threads" from Mom.

  76. AuntMae | | #76

    My first sewing project, would have to be the ugly pitiful jumper that I made in high school Home Economics class in 1972. Really never sewed again until I needed jumpers to take with me on a mission trip to Nepal in 1999. Those turned out much better. Just recently bought my nieces and myself a new sewing machine. We made a Teddy Bear, and bless it's heart, looks pregnant with a dinosaur tail. Still have lots of obstacles to face, but we will trudge on.

  77. SusannahRodana | | #77

    Shea, hope so much I win your book. I have been sewing off and on for years, but need some basic info to make my projects good enough to give me incentive to keep sewing.

  78. User avater
    eviej | | #78

    First project was a pair of shorts w/zipper that my mother forced me to make!

  79. Susan395 | | #79

    My first sewing project was a potholder in 4H when I was about 8. I sewed off and on for many years and then stopped. After about 30 years of minimal sewing I have started again and am loving it!

  80. user-2565019 | | #80

    I was taught how to sew by needle and thread, for my Barbie doll, by my elderly babysitter, Mrs. T. Later, when in seventh grade, I finally was taught how to use a sewing machine. I made a purple skirt with matching gingham pockets and a detachable bib.

    In junior high I took Threads, our advanced sewing classes for two years. I remember my mother complaining about having to go to TG&Y about every week to buy me more fabric and other supplies. Later on, after moving to a rural area of the country, I worked in a jeans factory. I also continued my sewing education by taking continuing Ed classes offer by the local Vo-Tech college. At the time I'd make my children's Halloween costumes and a lot of everyday clothes. For them and myself. I remember the three layers of pleated fabric for the ET costume.

    I got away from sewing so much once we moved back to

  81. user-2565019 | | #81

    I was taught how to sew by needle and thread, for my Barbie doll, by my elderly babysitter, Mrs. T. Later, when in seventh grade, I finally was taught how to use a sewing machine. I made a purple skirt with matching gingham pockets and a detachable bib.

    In junior high I took textile, our advanced sewing classes for two years. I remember my mother complaining about having to go to TG&Y about every week to buy me more fabric and other supplies. Later on, after moving to a rural area of the country, I worked in a jeans factory. I also continued my sewing education by taking continuing Ed classes offer by the local Vo-Tech college. Some of the fellow classmates were surprised when I told them that I made a reversible jacket in junior high. During this time, I'd make my children's Halloween costumes and a lot of everyday clothes. For them and myself. I remember the three layers of pleated fabric for the ET costume.

    After moving to a more suburban setting, I didn't have as much time to sew because of my job. After developing fibromyalgia, I didn't have the energy to sew until I found the right combo of meds that worked. Now I'm ready to tackle some new projects. I'm still trying to learn new things by reading the newest Threads magazine and taking online classes. You can never learn too much.

    If I'd win the book, I'd pass it along to a friend who wants to learn to sew.

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