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Conversational Threads

How old were you when you learned to use a sewing machine?

ThreadsMagazineWeb | Posted in Sewing Machines & Sergers on

How old were you when you learned to use a sewing machine?


  1. onceover | | #1

    I have a memory of using the sewing machine and sewing on paper. I also remember when I was about 6 sewing on scraps and when my mother tried to help me - she said I was the most stubborn child. I must have wanted to do it my way. LaVada PS I am now 73 and have sewn all these years.

  2. user-1121708 | | #2

    Started sewing on my grandmother Singer treadle at about 8 yo. Now 71 and still sewing and have graduated to quilting and applique but my true passion is dressmaking. Self taught but read up on new methods, quick cuts etc. We have come a long way in the past 60 years. Told my family I want a sewing machine to be cremated with me so I can continue my passion. Sue, NSW Australia

  3. user-7057571 | | #3

    Around 6, I learned on my grandmother's treadle Singer. It was a great way to occupy the girl cousins when we visited her. After that, my mother had an older Kenmore in a cabinet that did straight stitch only. I rarely used it, but that all changed when she bought a more modern Kenmore that also did zig-zag and had drop in cams for decorative stitches. The world changed then. I think I was about 8 years old. To that point, I had to hand overcast seams to finish the edges. Now we could sew them with the zig-zag stitch. Ruthe, VA, USA

    1. user-7388804 | | #84

      I really can't remember as a sewing machine (an old Singer treadle machine) was always in use in my house as my Mother sewed curtains and loose covers for hotels. I must have been very young as, when I was at school, we were asked to tell the class what we had been doing during the summer holidays. When I told the class I had sewn a cushion cover I was given the cane for telling lies!! I wasn't quite 5 years old!!

  4. Sharondn | | #4

    I was 7 years old and learned to sew on my Mother’s olive green and cream Bernina sewing machine. If I could sew a straight line I could use the machine. I then went on to make a cotton spotted blouse. That was 56 years ago and I am still learning. A great antidote to a stressful day.

  5. Deleted | | #5


  6. ThreadsMagazineWeb | | #6

    I was 13 and learned in home ec, then at 23 I did a stint sewing my own clothes, and now again at 35, I'm re-learning. It turns out if you don't use it, you lose it! Happy to be sewing again.

    - Christine, Threads digital content manager

    1. User avater
      grannytilla | | #90

      I was embroidering by age 8, and hanging around watching Mom sew at least from that age on. When I was 10 I got a Singer Sewhandy for Christmas. It was a toy-sized chainstitch machine. I immediately started making doll clothes and tea towels with it. Within six months I was frustrated because I couldn't do what I wanted to do with so small a machine. Mom started me sewing on her Singer Featherweight and I never turned back. I am 72 now, and I am proud to report that I may have other machines I used more frequently, but I still have Mom's Featherweight and I bring it out for the things the other machines just can't do.

      1. TXstitcher | | #112

        This is exactly my story! I started making Barbie clothes with my SewHandy but remember wanting a foot pedal and a backstitch. My mother let me sew on her grandmother's Singer Featherweight from 1936. We all loved it and still have it.

  7. User avater
    tulafitz | | #7

    I was 9 yrs old and had joined the 4H club in my mom's hometown, Auburn Il. We made pull-on skirts and a matching sash. My grandma, showed me how to stiich on her White treadle machine. Wish I had it still. Am 72 and learning all over with modern materials and computerized machines. Still love the whole process!

  8. user-1123855051 | | #8

    I don't remember sewing at home, but learning to sew in grammar school on treadle machines about 4th grade, making a dish towel, and I don't remember what else. I continue to sew in high school, for two years, I was hooked! At 80, OMG, really, I can't get enough, I love to sew, my own clothes, trying to master fitting and just bought Kenneth D. Kings new book on fitting. I have no desire to shop for clothes and pay the terrible price for some of the awful sewn clothes on the racks. I am here to stay!

  9. CraftyJeanne | | #9

    I was around nine when my mother let me start using her treadle machine but probably much sooner as I was always siting on the floor next to her, I'm now 71. I started with dolls clothes and worked up to sewing and designing for myself. I also learn to embroidery, crochet, quilting, and other arts. I love to do mix media but have started back sewing my own clothes. Haven't done a lot as I also love to travel but always have something on hand when time permits.

  10. ilovefabric | | #10

    I was about 13.........and still learning by the way. Home ec helped a little, but my Mom was my teacher. And I have taught my daughter and showed my boys how to do their own repairs. I could always tell when the boys have been sewing on my machine.........let's just say their threading of the machine was very creative!

  11. User avater
    user-4300150 | | #11

    I started hand sewing doll clothes at around 5/6 years old Graduated to my grandmothers Kenmore at around 9. I received my 1st Singer at 11 in 1971 from my amazing Step dad. My mother lost patients teaching me because I was just like her. So off to a singer class I went. Then home economics class in either 8th or 9th grade. I have been self taught since and i am now 60 years. Still love to get at my machine and create. It is my favorite me time.

  12. sewer37 | | #12

    I was probably seven or eight. I could not sit and reach the treadle so I stood up to sew. By the time I was 10, I was sewing for my mother as well as myself. I am now eighty two and still going strong. These days I have a computerized machine, a serger and an embroidery machine and love them all.

  13. etkvamme | | #13

    49. :)

  14. user-4842055 | | #14

    No one in my family sewed, so my Grandmother enrolled me in a class at the Singer Sewing Shop in town. I was 9 years old and at 76 I am still sewing. I sewed for my daughter and a friend of hers through her years at Fashion Design school in NY. I still make many of my clothes, draperies, slipcovers, and have learned how to upholster. My granddaughter keeps me busy with alterations ( heavens, a size 0!)

  15. User avater
    zyx987 | | #15

    I started at home at about age 12. Then took a junior high Home Economics class that was half sewing, half cooking. Been hooked on sewing ever since. My scrap bag(s!) are stuffed with scraps from projects that date back to my high school years and through my children's. It's always a trip down Memory Lane to rummage through them for quilting materials. I like that I can make clothes and furnishings that will last, out of materials that won't destroy the planet. Both my son and daughter learned to sew early on. My son was the go-to guy in the Navy who could sew on buttons, insignia, and make minor repairs. His shipmates thought it was amazing. It's such a great skill to have!

  16. goodbyevalentino | | #16

    My mother made me learn to sew before I could get my driver's license. I held out as long as I could but finally gave in at age 16. I took sewing lessons at a local store from an ancient woman, probably age 40 and made a top. It wasn't until I was 22 that I was inspired to sew by a summer job colleague who made all of her clothes. Forty years later, it's still my passion.

    1. JA10024 | | #38

      Your mother was a wise woman!

  17. VWKoller | | #17

    My mother sewed most all of my sister and my clothes when we were young. I don't remember how old I was the very first time I sewed but I was always watching my mom as she sewed. I do remember that I made my first A line skirt out of white pin-whale corduroy in 7th grade, age 13 in home economics. I took home economics every year until I graduated high school learning new skills every year. The most important lesson I learned was to check the heat of the iron before attempting to iron. I had entered a sewing contest and made a beautiful tennis dress. The irons in our classroom were old and ran hot. Just before the style show was to start I placed the iron down on my dress and it just melted a shape of the iron leaving a huge hole. I was devastated! During high school I went to work for House of Fabrics and spent just about everything I made at the store. I've been sewing for 51 years and I'm still learning new skills.

  18. user-2971973 | | #18

    I joined 4-H when I was about 9 and we started by sewing on paper and ended up making our Uniforms for the Memorial Day Parade. I remember making a skirt for an old chair my mom had started reupholstering but never got to the skirt. I make the pleats backwards, but it always looked good to me. Sewing has been a part of my entire life. I'm 66.

  19. User avater
    beth_silva | | #19

    If I remember correctly, I was six or seven the first time I used my mother's sewing machine with light supervision. (I had "helped" at a younger age)
    Then I gave up sewing for a long period, recently decided to come back. I took a class at my local JoAnn Fabrics that helped with the basics, which was enough to get me started using the machine that I received last year as a gift.

  20. flying12 | | #20

    Hello! My mother learned to make me when I was 12 years old. Until now, I have watched snow-white children's cars being handed out to my peers. Recently, my 10-year-old daughter announced that she wants to sew a skirt for herself. I was advised by a blog - childrens sewing machine reviews https://enjoythesewing.com/best-sewing-machine-for-kids. Indeed, when I was faced with the choice of several children's sewing machines by age and safety, it was easier for me, as a responsible mother, to choose Luby Portable, the highest line speed - only 350 stitches per minute. He has a chance to learn 12 lines. My daughter is trying to learn.

  21. user-7037136 | | #21

    I was 8. My grandmother and mom taught me the basics and then 4H clothing project continued expanding my learning and high school HE classes helped me continue. In college I took as many construction and textiles classes as would fit my schedule.

  22. User avater
    bosleymom | | #22

    So interesting to read the number of folks who learned on “Grandma’s treadle”....I learned on a treadle as well, at age 7 or 8. The treadle was in my grandmother’s house, however, she did not sew. The treadle had been utilized by her mother, my great grandmother. Hard to believe that was 63 years ago! I now own the treadle and hope my grand daughter will use it!

  23. Rapunzel42 | | #23

    Mom taught us to use the sewing machine at 8. Mostly waiting til we could reach the pedal. Remember hand sewing at 4

  24. User avater
    Deefeatherock | | #24

    My first sewing machine at age 5 was a Child's Betsey Rossi machine sewing clothes from socks that had no match. By age 12 my Aunt Dolores/full couture seamstress had been teaching me every aspect of techniques. We created a couture dress for my Confirmation Dress. She taught me how to create a custom pattern/toile for my figure. Using pink and lace which I abhorred! She gave me the opportunity to step out of the traditional and into the personal creation of A New Way to See! By age 14 I had saved enough money(from babysitting ) to buy my Singer Featherweight from the Singer Sewing Center in our town. I paid $100.00 for the machine. My Mother was so negative telling me I was crazy "spending all that money" The year was 1968. It was the best $100.00 investment I ever made! I'm 64 now still sewing and teaching my eldest Granddaughter (25) and my Son (23) the techniques my Aunt taught me. Sewing together is the thread that unites one generation to the next in our family!

  25. mutti | | #25

    I grew up in Germany during the war and we didn't own a sewing machine, but I taught myself to sew by hand. I learned to darn my stockings by watching my Grandmother darn my Mother's stockings. By the time I was 8 years old I darned a whole in a tablecloth where someone burned a hole with a cigarette. Everyone was so amazed that I was asked to mend a hole in a pair of men's pants (I was 8 years old at that time). You could not even tell where the hole was before. I also had hand sewing lessons later in high school. In 1960 when I was 25 years old, I bought my first sewing machine - a Pfaff 150. That machine lasted until 2015. That was when I taught myself how to sew. I sewed clothes for my children to a boat cover that traveled from South Carolina to California in one piece. I still miss that Pfaff. I did buy a new sewing machine since then (actually two). The first pieces of clothing I made was maternity tops. Now I can sew almost anything.

  26. lukehead | | #26

    I learned to sew (by hand) when I was 5. My first project was a pair of gloves made of blue cotton printed with tiny red and yellow flowers. Why gloves? Because my grandmother said I couldn't do it. I showed her! Machine was available but it went so fast it frightened me. Finally about 9 I faced my fear and went for it. It was my mum's Singer Featherweight purchased in 1950. Still use (and love) that machine.

  27. Sewingjourney | | #27

    I remember learning to hand sew in Blue Birds and earning a Sewing Bead (which I stitched onto my sash). I think I was in second or third grade when Mom started to teach me on her machine. Around fourth grade I joined 4H and made a powder blue shift dress out of eyelet with a lined bodice and matching head scarf. I was hooked!

  28. Moominmamma | | #28

    Between 7 and 8 years old. My mom was making wedding dresses for us and I wanted to make one for my doll. She taught me how to use Singer treadle machine, to cut out little doll size matching pieces to the dress I was to wear. Been sewing ever since, I am now 66.

  29. user-1114300 | | #29


  30. User avater
    joycea | | #30

    Like many of you, I learned on a treadle machine at about age 6 (or 8?). I remember the Singer sewing machine salesman bringing Mom's first electric machine to the house where both she and I learned how to use and maintain the machine. At 101, Mom still sews a bit and I love the challenge of trying something new at age 80. Sewing is, after all, a combination of engineering and architecture with fabric that keeps your mind and fingers active and healthy.

  31. User avater
    sewindj | | #31

    I first learn to sew from my mom when I was in grade school (about 10). In Jr. high school I was required to take Home Economics. This was 1/2 one semester of cooking and 1/2 of the same semester of sewing. We sewed a lot in that short time. I have used those skills off and one all of my life.

  32. Sedary | | #32

    I don't remember. My grandmother used to sew professionally on her old 1930's era Singer treadle sewing machine but she would allow us to use it too, after she taught us a few things. She didn't believe in girls wearing shorts but I remember her helping me make a short set out of flour sack cotton and she cut it all without a pattern. I was in first grade. I'd been sewing on her machine before that.

  33. simplypat | | #33

    I was 5 when I started sewing. A frequent visitor to my aunt's where here mother lived downstairs. Her mother worked in a sewing factory in Boston and would bring scraps home. She kept 12" squares of muslin right by her machine and would sew and flip the scraps to the muslin. It was the beginning of a scrap quilt and a great way for a 5 year old to learn to sew. Nothing was a mistake. Nothing needed to ripped out. Nothing needed to match. Color or type of fabric was not a concern. Just pure child play with fabric.
    I love to create garments. Splash my quilts with colors. Make slipcovers with 3, 4, 5 different fabrics (or more). Art quilts that stretch the imagination.
    I am 73 and still playing with fabric and love it. My granddaughter told me that my problem is that my imagination never stops. I love living with that problem.

  34. User avater
    DirtRoadDezigns | | #34

    At age 10 I made my first official sewing project in 4H. It was clothing bag that hung from a coat hanger to cover a suit. I had been sewing by hand everything I could think of for my Barbies before that. My Mom made most of my sister's and my clothes with her Beautiful Black Singer all metal dressmaker machine. When My sister and I graduated from High School my mom sent us both off with our own same model Singer Dressmaker head machine. To this day it produces the best top stitching of any machine I own and I'll be 66 this year :)

    1. kmegamom | | #41

      I learned to sew on an old Singer like that and loved it! My Mom traded it in when I was in high school for a new “fancy” machine that she thought I would love! I acted excited but went to my room and cried! I loved that old Singer, those were great machines!

  35. mommasew | | #35

    I was taught hand sewing as soon as I could handle a needle by my great aunt who was seriously gnarled with painful arthritis. She gave me my great grandmother's sewing machine when I was 12. From that 1948 New Home sewing machine - all straight stitch - I taught myself to sew. I didn't even know sewing instruction was available, so I started looking inside my garments that I already owned (RTW) and attempted to do what I could. I had already learned hand finishing techniques. Times have changed and machines have changed. I learned so much from books and videos - but my time with my great aunt believing in me and sewing with me when her pain was so enormous; means the most to me. She inspired me to sew, and hand embroider!

  36. User avater
    CarolW | | #36

    It was summer on the farm, I was 10 years old and very bored. My mom had an old Singer that she used for mending. I think she was having trouble with it and I decided to read the manual that I found. It said something about oiling it and described how to do that. I started messing around with that machine and got interested in actually trying to sew something. That was over 60 years ago and I'm still trying. I have sewn most of my own clothes for years. Really appreciate all the information I have gotten from this magazine.

  37. JA10024 | | #37

    I was eleven years old when I learned how to sew on a sewing machine. I was in the seventh grade. The year was 1962. My home economics teacher was Mrs. Penn, a wonderful teacher and a wonderful person. She also taught cooking but I don't really remember much about cooking class. Mrs. Penn taught me things about sewing that stayed with me to this day: Always iron your patterns before pinning them to your fabric! Mrs. Penn was married to Lemuel Penn, a civil rights worker who was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan nine days after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Mrs. Penn died the following year.

    The photo is of Mrs. Lemuel Penn (Georgia)

    1. user-6905624 | | #86

      Started seeing at 49 I wish it was 6 or 7 but at least I started! So sad about Mr and Mrs Penn she looked like a beautiful woman I am going to light a candle in the local church for them best thing to do ddg

  38. user-7346962 | | #39

    I actually can't remember the exact age, but I know that I always sat and watched my mom as she sewed. I was probably 7-8. I also joined 4-H and made many items. I high school I was required to take Home Ec and made a lot of my own clothing. I remember that as a youngster, I loved to design my own clothing as well as sew them and that really impressed my mom. She was a wizard and created many crafty things as well as doing sewing to make prom dresses, etc for the towns young girls. I am now 82 and still going strong. I love to sew garments, design garments, quilt and do embroidery. Seems I learn something new every time I pick up Threads Magazine or sit down to sew something. I absolutely love to sew. Have taught my youngest son and my daughter to sew. Tried to teach my grand daughter when she was 12-13, but after a week, she decided she already knew everything she wanted to know, so gave it up. I taught a beginning sewing class at a junior college and enjoyed that. Love to help others learn to sew. I will only quit when they "take my sewing machine from my dead, cold hands"!!!:)

  39. kmegamom | | #40

    My mother bought a panel with preprinted doll clothes on it for Christmas. I think I was about five years old, after sewing those pieces, I was hooked! I’ve been sewing ever since, I made all my own clothes in middle and high school, I made clothes for my kids and grandkids and now teach kids to sew!
    My Mom didn’t like sewing but knew enough to show us the basics and I took it from there. Over the years I did a lot of reading, from patterns and books, and was self taught. If it’s something you love, you figure it out. Over the years I’ve garnered quite the library of sewing books and magazines. I’m an avid reader and read them all cover to cover. I’ve learned so much by reading and now by watching videos and shows.

  40. User avater
    caroline1234 | | #42

    I learned when I was about four or five how to hand sew and embroider simple pieces of work.

    I learned how to use my Nana's old treadle machine when I was about five and my Auntie taught me how to make my first kilt when I was about six.

    I still love sewing garments and embroidery but now everything is done on computerized sewing machines instead of by hand.

  41. user-6972364 | | #43

    I was 11 when my mom taught me to use her sewing machine. She really only knew the basics, but she taught me what she knew. My first project was a nightgown for myself. I loved sewing from then on. I am mostly self taught from books and sewing magazines. By the time I took sewing in high school, which was a requirement, I was already sewing my own and my mother's clothes. Mom bought me my first Husquevarna. I made my own and all the dresses in my wedding party. When I had kids I made most of their clothes as well, including jeans.

  42. User avater
    bettystitch | | #44

    Seven. I made my Halloween costume. An Indian dress complete with fabric fringe.

  43. jenniechase | | #45

    haha I still remember that day

  44. user-7311765 | | #46

    I was 7 years old and I used sewing for my dolls. My mother had a Singer Cabinet, very beautul. OI loved to observe her drawing patrons, cutting fabrics and sewing, include by hand.
    Today, I sew every time I can, I have many books about and my dream is the day I will sew all I need!

  45. user-7089842 | | #47

    I think I was 9 or 10 when my mother allowed me to use her 50s Singer. My younger sister and I made a lot of our clothes ourselves. My mom was an accomplished seamstress (she won a prize one Mardi Gras for the Dutch costumes she made for the 7 in our family). I tried a new technique with every garment I made, so by the time I had to take home ec in high school I was waaaaay ahead of the class and sewed a pleated evening gown, a double knit blazer and bias cut plaid maxi skirt. In college I began drafting my own patterns. I got out of the habit of machine sewing when my toddlers kept trying to catch the needle with their fingers, but I've since gone back to my new Singer.

  46. User avater
    rockmountainfox | | #48

    I don't remember. I know I could sew by the time I had to take home ec in high school. What an experience. My grandmother taught my mother to sew when was 3 years old. My grandmother was a seamstress. My mother never claimed to be that good but she was definitely better than the Home ec teacher. The teacher would teach a stitch and I'd go home to work on it. My mother would have me rip it out and use the "proper" stitch. I'd go back to school and the teacher would have me rip it out and use the stitch she taught. I had to get the principal involved to work with the 2. I only wanted out of the class with a passing grade.

  47. User avater
    Deerarts | | #49

    Grade school. My mother would sew occasionally and she taught me. She also used some poor techniques; primarily, never checking that her patterns were pinned to the fabric on grain. I liked to sew simple dresses for my two younger sisters. Most of my skills were ad hoc, to say the least, but 60 years on I’ve learned a bit. I have ever taken the time to sew garments to the extent I would like. Now, I’m looking in that direction again.

  48. User avater
    PeggyL1 | | #50

    I was 8 years old when my Aunt taught me how to make an apron with my grandmother's Viking 19 sewing machine.

  49. User avater
    Marax | | #51

    I learned to sew on my mother’s treadle sewing machine when I was about six years old. My Dad attached a wooden tomato seedling tray to the treadle so my feet could reach it. My mother was a tailoress and taught me so well, but it wasn’t until I came home from nursing school armed with material, patterns and wanting my mother to make my clothes as she had always had done that I really had to put my skills to the test. But I am externally great full for all the stitches that I had to unpick and do again before my Mum approved of it. Fast forward - my two daughters and five granddaughters learnt to sew initially on my antique Singer hand machine and now my beautiful Bernini -thank you Mum 🥰

  50. user-7026746 | | #52

    I was the youngest with two older sisters. The other two had learned to sew using my Mom's personal machine, but after WAAAAYY too much arguing about the tension, she found an old treadle machine for me to learn on. I was 8 or 9, and I sewed a pair of pajamas for my first project. I also sewed some curtains out of black and white gingham check for my family's cabin. My Mom has now passed, and my sister and her husband bought the cabin. When I went up there, I mentioned that I sewed the gingham curtains when I was 8 or 9, and we figured out that they had been hanging in the cabin for almost 60 years! I'm amazed the fabric still held up! I was able to move up to my Mom's machine after a couple of years - I remember there was a time that I could only use it to sew zig zag, everything else still had to be on the treadle. My sister now has my Mom's old machine, and I have the newer one (bought in the early 90's) and my third sister has her serger.

  51. mutti | | #53

    I was born in Germany in 1936 and no one in my family had a sewing machine at that time; it was during WW2. I did not have a sewing machine until I was 24 years old when I was in the USAF. My boss brought me a Pfaff from Germany and I started to teach myself how to sew. Now that I am almost 84 yrs old, I can sew just about anything: from curtains to dance costumes and anything in-between. Sewing and gardening are my passion.

  52. user-7640104 | | #54

    I was 10. I've started my granddaughters who are 6 & 8

  53. PLCrosby | | #55

    I was 13 when my grandmother taught me how to use her Singer treadle to sew little pillowcases and blankets for my doll. My mother sewed everything by hand. It wasn't until I turned 17 and purchased a Kenmore electric for my mother that I used an electric sewing machine. It was one of the first things I purchased when I married at age 21. I added a serger when I was 35.

  54. User avater
    studio110 | | #56

    I started sewing on a Singer treadle at age 9, when I started 4-H. I'm still sewing 60 years later.

    This is a good page to find the baby boomers on here!

  55. rbeccadenise | | #57

    First time I ever used a sewing machine, I was 15. Now I'm 24 and I love making clothes.

  56. user-1113147 | | #58

    I watched my mother make some of our clothes and in 1961 (second grade for me!) I made a gathered wool skirt for my Madame Alexander doll. I took it for Show and Tell in school and my teacher told the class how lucky I was to have a mother who would sew doll clothes. Yes, I corrected her. Third grade I then went on to making Barbie doll clothes using patterns. Wow. Did I learn a lot about what not to do from those. Fifty nine years later and there has not been a time when I have not sewn. I make 99% of my clothes now and have sewn everything from pinch pleated draperies to recovering boat seat cushions to custom men’s dress shirts to heirloom-style baptismal gowns. Sewing has been the only constant I have had in my life.

  57. siwelc | | #59

    I was very little when I loved to watch my mother sew her current project. I loved to go to the fabric store with her while my older sisters were in school. I sat on the wooden floor under the fabric tables, playing with toys that I brought with me, while my mother picked out her fabric. I believe I would have been 4 or 5 then. I don't remember sewing with a machine until I was 13. My mother passed away that year in April from cancer, I spent the summer with my Aunt and she helped me sew my first project, a cotton dress, that I wore to school in the fall. I'm 72 and enjoyed sewing all my life, for my children and our home. I still enjoy sewing.

  58. user-933571 | | #60

    I was age 14, taking home economics class in Greenville, SC. I still have the very tiny (now) red apron with the very irregular sewing stitches that was my first project. The second project was a cute little top that I wore for 5 years and then passed on to my younger sister. I am now 75.

  59. user-6694388 | | #61

    When I was about 11 years old I got some cotton printed fabric that chicken feed came in from my Grandmother. She always washed and saved that fabric. I took it home and "made up" what I thought a skirt would be like using a treadle machine we had in the basement, making box pleats, adding a waistband, hooks and eyes, and a hem and then I wore that skirt to school. After several more skirts my Mother suggested I buy a pattern and make a dress using her very heavy Kenmore sewing machine. I did and that dress was a success which I planned on wearing for Christmas. My gift from my parents that year was a fur jacket which matched the dress--I felt like a queen wearing it all. Later I owned my own Kenmore and made clothes for myself, my children, Barbie doll clothes, the house, I loved sewing. At 78 I now own a serger and an embroidery sewing computer and its all because the chickens had to eat!

  60. user-7645001 | | #62

    I was eleven from my aunt who was professionally trained as a tailor. Though my Grandmother sewed we were both very frustrated because I am left handed. My aunt was also left handed and to tell you how unusual that was, she was born in 1900. I stayed with her in the summer and we made aprons, lots and lots of aprons. She was not satisfied unless the finished apron looked as neat on the inside as it did on the outside. I have carried that with me sometimes much to the frustration of my student interns.

  61. charlieriley819 | | #63

    13, 8th grade home-ec. The machines had knee control. We all (girls only in those days) made patchwork pillows with zippers. I learned from that that I hate doing patchwork. 😇

  62. User avater
    DeborahWagner | | #64

    6 years old on my grandmothers singer treddle machine

  63. User avater
    wingthorn | | #65

    I don't remember when I learned to sew on a sewing machine, but I do remember sewing doll clothes on a treadle when I was 5 1/2

  64. GrannyBear | | #66

    I was 9 years old first time I sewed my finger because I was too impatient to learn to sew! Mom started teaching me immediately after that! Been sewing ever since; I'm now 68.

  65. maggiern | | #67

    Around age 10 I think. My granny had a mechanical machine with different 'drop-in' cams for different stitches. Used to spend Friday afternoons going to the store for fabric and patterns and then spend Saturday sewing! But NEVER on Sunday!

  66. carmela | | #68

    I was about 7 when I started sewing with a machine and took my first tailoring class at 13. Sewing has always allowed my tendency for perfection to shine. It never made any difference how long it took me to make something, I just always tried to make it a perfect as I could. I'm still that way today. I'm not fast but I make suits and wear them daily and no one has ever guessed I've made them. I still sew on the 40+ year old Kenmore machine I got when I graduated from high school. I can't even imagine how many hour it has on it, but I clean and oil it regularly and it keeps on ticking.

  67. user-7669417 | | #69

    i started learning to sew in home ec probably in 7th grade. i was also introduced to the finer points of sewing in 4-H. my 4-H instructor was such a great teacher, loved to sew and taught us so many wonderful techniques. it is remarkable that when i visit a site and they talk about techniques we should know....i already know them!

  68. User avater
    user-756196 | | #70

    I first learned to use a sewing machine when I was 12 in my Home Ec class. My mom had me hand sewing when I was about 4. I remember darning socks on a golf ball.
    Once I started I never stopped but when I got to my forties started taking courses and digging up all sorts of resources. Threads magazine has always been a source of inspiration for me!
    During this pandemic I am blessed to be able to work from home. During my breaks and lunch hour I can be found in my sewing room steadily sewing my way through my stash!


  69. user-7524850 | | #71

    I was 8. I was already hand-sewing, and my mother decided to show me how to use her Singer. We made aprons for my grandmothers for Christmas that year. So grateful to Mum for teaching me -- now I'm using those skills to completely remake my 1980's wedding gown for my daughter to wear at her 2020 wedding, which is likely to be postponed due to coronavirus. At least it gives me more time to get the details right!

  70. User avater
    bostonrose | | #72

    It feels like I've been sewing for almost all of my 70+ years! I remember watching my mother make slipcovers for the couch... obviously a huge project for her little Singer. Both of my grandmothers and most of my aunts sewed so it just seemed natural for me to pick it up as well. When my daughter was in Brownies and I was her troop's leader, I took it upon myself to teach the girls how to thread a needle, sew a button and do a slipstitch. Frankly, I was horrified at how few of the 8 year olds almost forty years ago had no idea what to do! It's so sad that people have abandoned such a creative, let alone useful skill.

    1. siwelc | | #73

      I agree, it's such a shame this wonderful art, hobby, skill, (whatever it is to you) has been forgotten. However, I believe it will make a come back. There use to be so many fabric stores to browse through and choose your favorite fabric. Now the fabric stores are reduced to a small part added to a craft store. I could get lost in a fabric store, just looking and thinking about what I could create out of the different fabric.

      1. user-7669417 | | #74

        agreed! i find myself (literally) swimming in fabric stores with my mind creating things i never thought of before. ain't it grand?

      2. User avater
        bostonrose | | #75

        Sadly, there are no fabric stores within miles of downtown Boston where I live. My solution... online shops! There are so many wonderful resources. The upside of it all is that I've had to educate myself about all sorts of fabric and can now choose what's best for a project... most of the time. The down side is that my stash has grown way out of control!

      3. user-7735938 | | #80

        Recently I was in the sewing center & they told me they couldn’t keep machines in stock because of the COVID-19 shut down. People are returning to sewing or learning a new skill. Ha!!!!!

  71. 13stars | | #76

    My parents bought me a used (very heavy and very avocado green!) White sewing machine when I was seven years old. I made my first garment that year. 56 years and many machines, garments and quilts later, I’m still going.

  72. Brindale | | #77

    My mother is is dressmaker
    I started using a sewing machine when I was 10 years old. It was a Singer brand. Since then, it became my passion.

  73. User avater
    TiWi | | #78

    This year I decided that I want to sew a costume for my cosplay by myself. That is why, I took some lessons on sewing, but now I'm using my mom's old sewing machine. I want to buy a new one, but dunno which one to choose. If you have any recommendations, I would be more than happy to hear some advises from you.

    1. User avater
      TiWi | | #83

      By the way, I run into one good comparison of machines that would be good for my purposes. If there is someone who uses one of those 5 machines, please write to me. I really worry about buying one, that would be too difficult in use.
      Here is the link with the comparison: https://www.craftyhangouts.com/best-sewing-machines-for-cosplay/

  74. user-7735938 | | #79

    I’m so thankful my mother taught me to sew. During this stay at home season I’ve kept busy with many sewing projects. It is so relaxing. I learned to sew on a treadle machine making potholders & hemming tea towels made out of feed sacks. (I grew up on a farm) Then advancing to aprons.
    I must have been 5 or 6 when I started because it was before going to school. Now at 78 I’m keeping my computerized machine humming.

  75. melindy | | #81

    I must have been about 8-9 when I sent away and received a newspaper paper pattern for doll clothes for my "Jan" doll ( a precursor to Barbie). I hand sewed a wardrobe for my doll. My parochial school bussed us 7 & 8th graders to a public middle school class for home ec where I first used a sewing machine. My grandma had learned dressmaking in Switzerland and my mom & Aunts learned from her and continued to teach me. I loved going to the fabric Store and annual Junior House fabric sales and made most of my skirts in high school. I took a couple years of home ec in high school, too. Later I sold fabric in an independent fabric store and continued to learn from the Italian sales lady who had studied Couture in Milan. She really taught me alot and I had to rip out stitches until perfect!-and finish all seams! I spent most of my earnings on fine fabric and now have quite a stash. I have made many of my own clothes over the years. Now, especially during pandemic I am watching sewing and fitting videos to continue to learn. I am trying to dwindle my stash ! At 70, I have a fabulous Pfaff machine w/ 101 stitches and I am amazed at that. When I sewed on my mom's 1928 Singer( an electrified treadle machine) it only went forward and you had to turn fabric around to backstitch! Threads Magazine is my lifeline for sewing creatively!

  76. user-7692226 | | #82

    I have memories of sewing doll clothes at a very early age, but my mother would not let me use her Singer Featherweight until I was 7. I had to master sewing straight lines on paper and then curved lines before I could use the machine for actual sewing. I resented it at the time but have been sewing consistently ever since.

    I love using my creative side for apparel, making pieced and quilted inserts for dresses, vests and blouses, even a few skirts. But I have always enjoyed making home decorating items. I always make my own curtains, tablecloths and placemats. I remember being totally shocked at the prices charged for purchased drapes; that made me realize and appreciate how special it is to have a talent for sewing.

    I am so happy and proud to have come from a line of sewists. My grandmother was the head of the drapery and upholstery department at Sanger Harris Department Store in Dallas, Texas. My mother sewed all her life and I am still amazed at the handmade quilt she made me which is hanging proudly on my wall. I love to sew and am so happy to see a resurgence of interest in the craft.

  77. User avater
    ggf2005 | | #85

    It was my first year of junior high so I must have been 12 or 13 years old when I took sewing from Ms.Geraldine Ellis. I actually leaned how to sew by hand when I was 5 and by the time I was 8 I was cranking out all kinds of cute outfits for my 18" doll.

  78. JudithClancy | | #87

    I seem to be the outlier. My mother was an expert seamstress. We were often strapped and sometimes broke, but she could make it better than we could have bought it, even if we could have afforded it. She did couturier-level work. She knit a full Chanel suit at a terrifying gauge - I still have the needles she used. (If you can call them needles. I call them wires. Really thin wires.) She did lined box-pleat drapes for the living room. When she took a voc-tech class to brush up on tailoring, she ended up teaching the class. She could not teach me.

    Our personalities didn't mesh. I couldn't and wouldn't wait to sew fabric until I could sew a perfect spiral on paper. In my late 60s now, I do a good seam, but I still won't rip out 17 times until every stitch is perfectly placed. Good enough is good enough. By the time I hit high school, you couldn't have gotten me into Home Ec with a gun to my head. (We also moved around and avoiding it was, miraculously, possible.) I was already cooking for a family of six whenever I felt like it, and sewing seemed...painful.

    But in my late twenties and out on my own, I decided to give it another try. I got a nice used machine (Pfaff, if I remember correctly) and Folkwear Japanese patterns,. Straight lines, no fitting.
    I had learned from Mom to cut carefully (petrified would be a more apt description) and to do all the seam finishes, so it would wear well. And I went on from there.

    Now I do fitted stuff (sometimes). I Frankenpattern. Grab something out of the stash and see where it takes me. My successes are good and my fails are legendary. My husband accuses me of being too much of a perfectionist ("That tshirt isn't going in the Smithsonian, is it?"), but I wear things till the fabric breaks - those seams are immortal.

    And I'm still making do. My mother's old sewing stool with the top that comes off revealing storage space? I replaced the covering last week, removing the pleather with the cigarette hole from the sixties and adding a lot more padding and a red quilted fabric top. I think it looks like a pincushion. Mom would be proud.

  79. User avater
    user-7570773 | | #88

    When I was 6 or 7, I played with a friend's toy sewing machine, operated by manually turning a wheel to make the needle go up and down. I was hooked. My grandmother helped me make my first dress when I was 11, and I made my own clothing from then on. After raising a family and retiring from a long career, I am back to sewing things other than mending. It's great!

  80. wpeck | | #89

    I was 7. At first, m mom would not plug in the machine, so I made clothes for Barbie (never once played with Barbies, but they were well dressed :) ) by hand turning the wheel. Before long, Mom relented and by the time I was 12, I was making my own clothes, at 15, was sewing for others, 18 teaching, 19 studying Fashion. Sewing (and knitting, etc.) has shaped my life.

  81. johnbeck7799 | | #91

    I really can't remember as a sewing machine (an old Singer treadle machine) was always in use in my house as my Mother sewed curtains and loose covers for hotels. I must have been very young as, when I was at school, we were asked to tell the class for https://cuteplushies.net/ what we had been doing during the summer holidays. When I told the class I had sewn a cushion cover I was given the cane for telling lies!! I wasn't quite 5 years old!

  82. sewer37 | | #92

    About 7. I had to stand up to reach the treadle.

  83. Pippinsmum | | #93

    We had an old White treadle which was missing the shuttle so couldn't be used. I remember being around 7 or 8 pretending to sew on the machine. When I was 15 I was given an electric machine for passing my music exams and I have not been without a sewing machine since. I'm now 62 and have 7 machines varying from treadle to electronic. I gave my daughter her machine when she was 7 but it lives with me at present and I wait for the day she gets the bug. It'll come!!

  84. qtsimienmuhammad | | #94

    When I was 12 years old in the 7th grade in home economics.

  85. user-7089842 | | #95

    I was about 8 or 9. I was still into dolls and made their clothes from my own patterns. My mom taught me how to use her Singer safely, and hand stitches. And let me get on with it. All 3 of her girls were sewing their own clothes by the time we were young teens.

  86. user-7225691 | | #96

    5 years old, using a hand crank machine. I sawed small bags for my mother ; I think she used the bags for storing rice and other grains. She also had a treadle which we, kids, were not supposed to touch.

    1. harry4109 | | #97

      I’m so thankful my mother taught me to sew. During this stay at home season I’ve kept busy with many sewing projects. It is so relaxing. I learned to sew on a treadle machine making potholders & hemming tea towels made out of feed sacks. I grew up on a farm. Roofers in Glasgow You can smooth off patches of rust with an emery cloth, but take care not to rub so hard that you make a hole. If there are large areas of rust, brush them off with a wire hand brush or use a round wire cup brush fitted in an electric drill. After that, paint the affected area with a rust-inhibiting metal primer, and then with black bitumen or gloss paint. If there are any small holes in your gutter, fill them first with roof-and-gutter sealant. You can fill a bigger hole with glass-fiber filler, but if the guttering is in poor condition with a lot of holes you should really replace it altogether. https://safewayroofing.co.uk/guttering/

  87. user-7405961 | | #98

    I learned on a Singer treddle machine, too. I made Barbie doll clothes for my younger sister (now deceased). I don't make garments any longer. I recently made two pair of drapes that have turned out well. Ready to tackle something new.

  88. User avater
    user-3282651 | | #99

    4 or 5 sewed dresses by hand for my Muffy doll. Helped mother baste clothing for fitting. By the time I was a teen I was sewing clothes for myself and sisters.

  89. User avater
    MDNB | | #100

    I can't remember ever not sewing. When my sisters and I got to junior high (7th - 9th grade), my parents decided to teach us how to budget our money. We each got an allowance that would cover our lunches, clothes and anything else personal. Being very thrifty, I made lunches from the fridge, and wanted to sew my own clothes. I asked if I could use some of mom's fabric that was in her stash, she almost always said yes. So with a limited budget I made almost all of my clothes starting in 7th grade, lots of skirts and tops to start, by the time I was in high school HomeEc class I made a five piece suit out of a navy cotton velveteen, (jacket pants, skirt, vest and silky blouse.) I was thrilled with the result. My teacher told my mom, it was much too ambitious, Mom just said, "I bet she can do it!" I was determined to make her proud of me. I wore that suit for a few interviews when I was in college. I'm 60 now and still sew almost every day, certainly every week.

  90. user-940205 | | #101

    I don't know how old I was when I first used sewing machine but my grandmother bought me one when I was six so I wouldn't use hers.

    1. wjfigg | | #107

      When my sisters and I got old enough to sew on our own, she bought a used one from the school board for us to use so we wouldn't use hers. My brother is still using that one she bought.

  91. User avater
    [email protected] | | #102

    I was 11 and wanted to use my mother's Singer Featherweight. My father said I needed lessons first and went to do a Singer Sewing Course where we made a dress from a Simplicity pattern. The following year I did the Vogue Couturier class. I made many of my clothes and all my daughter's party dresses even made ablazer for my son. I lived in Connecticut for 22 years and joined a Sewing Group that sold all the items we made. When we retired to Australia I bought a new machine with an embroidery feature and I have made many embroidered pillows for friends to celebrate the time, day and date of babies birth. Also I have made many quilts and smocked dresses. Luckily I have a good repairman because modern machiens are not as well made as the old ones. I am 77 and lucky enough to have my own sewing room. I have every issue of Threads since Issue 28.

  92. MizzM | | #103

    Very young. 3 or 4. An elderly Finnish lady who would babysit me sometimes had a knee pedal machine. She would buy linen tablecloths at rummage sales, cut them into large squares, and then hem them by machine. That’s how she got her dish towels. She would iron the hems in and my job was to sew them. Great way to learn to sew straight! And with the knee pedal, my feet didn’t have to reach the floor.

  93. user-7600666 | | #104

    I was about 10 and learned on a Singer treadle machine. We were so poor that Mom made my sister & I each 3 dresses for the school year. She made every scrap of material matter, and I still do today.
    Learning to treadle also helped me learn how to use my spinning wheels. I learned to spin over 40 yrs. ago.

  94. user-7666724 | | #105

    I was 10 years old when I began using my mom's sewing machine. Before that I did hand sewing. I was quite short so I had to wait until my feet touched the floor. By the time I was 12 and was required to take home Ec in school I was already making my own clothing, while the others were just beginning. The teacher and I did not get along because she insisted that the way my mom taught me was wrong. I'm 72 and still do it my way. LOL

  95. wjfigg | | #106

    My mother was given a treadle sewing machine the summer I was 8 years old. With red cotton poplin I learned how to lay out a pattern and made a pair of bell bottoms in bright red and a sailor dress with a white collar on that treadle sewing machine. I loved it. I was disappointed when a neightbour asked to borrow it to sew leather and when it was returned, it never worked as well again. It was years before I acquired my own treadle, but it is one of my prized possession. I have gone on to more modern machines, but learning to sew on that machine was so satisfying.

  96. user-6729738 | | #108

    My first dress was made at age 8...lime green cotton sundress with piping to finish the neck, armholes, and spaghetti straps. Mother insisted on perfection, BUT...she would do all the ripping necessary for me to start again! That was such a key to learning how to do it well, and I've ripped while teaching 3 daughters and 9 granddaughters. Mother's Singer had a knee control; for those I've taught (and when they began, they were sitting in my lap), we propped the treadle on a 12" stool. I appreciate the slow stitch feature on modern machines! I won a Necchi in the "Seventeen" doll contest and used it all through college; when my first babies were small, Mother gave me a Bernina 707. It still makes the most beautiful straight stitch. Loved making formals, wedding gowns, bridesmaid and flower girl dresses, all of which are so expensive to buy, and sewing for home--curtains, recovering furniture, as well as quilting.

  97. ClaireTT | | #109

    Enough to make me feel like an old lady :)

  98. SewNew | | #110

    As a guy, I tried making a shirt in my late teens. It didn’t go well. At age 69, I decided to give sewing another try. My wife thought I was nuts when I said that I wanted a sewing machine for my birthday. I started out with small projects, then jumped into making two pairs of jeans. They went well enough to want to continue. My mother loved sewing and pursued it more fully in her retirement years. She made some beautiful garments and one of them was a bathrobe that I used for at least 45 years. I had to replace it earlier this year. It wasn’t until I made a new one (as well as one for my wife) that I appreciated more fully the flat felled seams that she had put into that robe. I wish she were still around to share sewing with her. I just rewired a 1943 Singer 201 that my neighbor passed on to me. It runs so sweetly and reminds me of the one my mother had during my childhood. I am now ready to try shirts again and that old Singer should be fun for straight stitches.

  99. LindaR | | #111

    My mother sewed almost every day of her life. My childhood was filled with hand-smocked dresses and memories of my father cutting a dozen summer outfits at a time (he was a professional pattern maker).
    At four, I could thread her Pfaff. Repeatedly. Mom traded for a Featherweight for me. She taught me everything she knew about constructing garments, choosing fabrics, accessories, and even a bit of upholstery! I learned by helping to sew dresses—learning to install zippers, ease in a sleeve. Bit by bit my skills increased. We made my wedding gown 40 years ago, hand-smocked baby dress for my little girl and Halloween costumes for our boy a few years later. Another wedding gown. And now quilted blankets and overalls for our new addition, named for my dad.

  100. [email protected] | | #113

    Seven, on my mom's old Singer machine.

  101. User avater
    TheMacKayWay | | #114

    I was 4. Having started hand sewing at 3.5 and consistently begging my Mom to “teach me teach me!!”, she did. By high school I’d surpassed her skills (her words) and made my own wardrobe and prom gowns.
    I next went to college for Fashion Design. I had a 30+yr International fashion career, spent a few years next as the corporate sewing expert at a sewing machine manufacturer, and now teach sewing, pattern drafting, fabric science, and draping to college students.
    Thanks to my Mom who saw my attention was focused on using the machine at such a young age…I’ve had a life long career with it.

  102. jhaley | | #115

    I can't say exactly. It was somewhere between 6 and 8. I do remember my mom, a home ec teacher, "requiring" me to do hand work before using the machine. I started with lacing yarn in cardstock, then hand gathering fabric. My big interest in sewing and using a machine was when I got my first Barbie. I was probably 9. She was the very first one -- the one with a ponytail and striped swimsuit. (Yes, I'm old!). Barbie had to have clothes. I learned to sew on a machine doing tiny little things for her and Ken. I even learned pattern markings and layout by sewing for Barbie. Too bad I got rid of that Barbie 6 years ago when I moved. She would be worth serious money now.

  103. denisebb | | #116

    I learned to sew in 4th grade at about 9yr old. My mother's older sister, also my godmother, taught me so I could earn a girl scout badge.

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