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New Ideas needed for retiree

chichm | Posted in Talk With Us on

Now that I’ve retired and have some time to sew, I find that making clothes is no longer interesting for me, because I tend to wear jeans and sweaters or tops most of the time.  Where can I find ideas for sewing that doesn’t involve clothes?  I’m giving away most of my clothes these days!


  1. lovestosew | | #1

    How about small blankets (out of fleece) for young children in homeless shelters or you could take up quilting maybe?

    1. chichm | | #9

      Good suggestions. Thanks a bunch.

  2. ctirish | | #2

    Think about what kind of sewing you would like to learn.  Have you done machine embroidery or smocking?  Maybe you could check out different techniques you have never tried and learn those.  You could sell what you make on Ebay, there are all sort of groups that are looking for help sewing items, Project Linus, Nancy Ziemans has Creative Kindness and there are others.

    The other option that came to mind is if you live near a hospital that has a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) you could find out about sewing for the tiny preemies. Many of the preemies have no one to buy clothes for them and the preemie clothes can be so expensive. It really helps the parents, the nurses and the baby when there is something cute to put on them for the day.  Or even making some little soft toys they can tie or hang from the cribs for stimulation.  If you like smocking you can check with social services in your town and see if there is a needy little girl who needs a pretty dress. Or little boys that need a jacket or dress clothing.

    At some point you may want to sew for yourself again. My mother started sewing for herself again when she found coats were heavy and she couldn't find slacks that fit well and were comfortable.  Enjoy your retirement, jane

    1. chichm | | #8

      You offered some really good suggestions. thanks a bunch

  3. MaryinColorado | | #3

    Perhaps a dance studio or school would love to have help making costumes for plays or recitals.  Teaching at a senior center?  wall hangings? 

    I am also "retired" and dress casually, summer tops, lingerie, robes, jackets, and bathing suits are still needed.  Hats, scarves, mittens are quick and very appreciated by family, friends, shelters, schools.  Some schools and preschools have a "free" box of clothing for needy students that could use some new items.

    I like learning new techniques and challenging myself to learn so often am guilty of being a "process" person rather than a "product" person.  So it doesn't really matter to me if I make something specific or even if I finish it, I just enjoy the learning, playing, and the artistic experience.  Lately, this has been inspiring me on what"product"  to make from the exercise.  I made some serger lace several years ago, now that rectangle of lace will be lined and made into a purse for my grand daughter for Christmas.  I have several pieces of fabric in the same colors and plan to make her some stylish tops to match.  Maybe I'll even do some more serger lace for a matching scarf.  One technique seems to inspire more creativity as I go along. 

    Books, magazines, videos, websites, and sewing machine dealers often have interesting techniques to learn.  Sometimes free projects too.

    Just start playing and you will find your muse.... Mary

    1. user-51823 | | #5

      great suggestion about finding a school or theater group to help, they always need help

  4. thehat | | #4

    hi you will love to quilt and there are so many inds so jyou won`t get  tired of the same old thing and take your talent to the theater and find out if they are doing plays that they need help with the sets  a tad bit different.

  5. solosmocker | | #6

    After a career intense life, I am finally retired at an early age. I have taken the opportunity to learn something new. For years I did tailoring of coats and many suits that I used in my work life. I wanted something different. I always loved embellishment and creative expression. As a child I learned heirloom sewing with the Carmelite nuns. It was a natural progression to dive into the world of heirloom sewing and smocking, the results being for my little grandaughter. If you are a sewist looking for inspiration, this sector of the sewing world is loaded with it. If you like making "eye candy" garments you will love this field of endeavor. You can teach yourself, as I have primarily done, or if you are in the deep South you can easily find teachers of smocking and fine heirloom sewing. I have so, so enjoyed this.
    When I first retired I was a little overwhelmed at which direction to go into. But time and passion led me to this type of sewing. I had nothing to prove to anyone at this stage of my life, unconditional approval of my attempts at this type of sewing from my daughters, and the most beautiful grandchildren to bestow my efforts upon.
    I hope this helps you somewhat. It is a lifestyle demanding only a nice sweater and some jeans so where do you express yourself. If you have grandchildren I hope you consider this type of sewing. It is very rewarding and there is a strong community to pull you along. Congratulations on your retirement.

    1. chichm | | #7

      Thank you so much for your reply. I shall certainly consider heirloom sewing and embellishment. I, too, worked for many years and needed lots of clothes, which kept me busy. Yes, I have four granddaughters, and I have done some sewing for them. The clothes are becoming more likely candidates for embellishment now, and this might be an outlet for my creativity.

      1. MaryinColorado | | #10

        If you are interested in Heirloom sewing, I suggest http://www.marthapullen.com.  She has everything, from the tv show on PBS to  books, online clubs, Sew Beautiful Magazine and club, hands on classes, teacher training and certifications, patterns, pleaters, embroidery by hand or machine, smocking.  I think she is the Empress of Heirloom in the US!!! 

  6. fabricholic | | #11

    You could embellish your jeans and tops. Mary in Colorado had a great website that showed how to embellish jeans using bobbin work. Maybe she will see this and let you know. Do you have an embroidery machine? They are so much fun. Good luck.


    1. MaryinColorado | | #12

      That sight is http://www.bonniemccaffery.com  She has a new video you can download or watch online that shows exactly how to do bobbinwork.  It is lots of fun and I do love the results.  I get her newsletter, she really tries to touch people's lives.  I also have one of her books on fantasy fabric and one of her DigiBobbE embroidery kits that is really cool.   Mary

    2. chichm | | #13

      No, I don't have an embroidery machine, unfortunately. I did take a machine embroidery course, though, and it was wonderful.

  7. User avater
    joycea | | #14

    What is your local school system doing to get students interested in sewing?  Per the NYTimes, there is a renewed interest in sewing and classes.  And, if you know how to use embroidering software or patternmaking software, perhaps the school system could see this as a way to extend students' interest in computers and what they can do.  As you know, sewing requires some knowledge of math, too.  I see sewing as a form of architecture using textiles.  Any one of these aspects of sewing might be of interest to the schools.  Teaching is exciting and can be fun, especially when it involves something about which the teacher is passionate.

    1. chichm | | #15

      I don't really know if the schools in our area are adding sewing courses, but I rather doubt it. There is a big push towards preparing for college, as you know, and the life-enhancing skills such as home arts and music, etc. often get dropped when it comes to curriculum, especially with budget constraints as they are in my area. It's a shame, but one can understand the bind that the schools are under. I remember taking cooking and sewing in junior highschool (I didn't do very well in either!) and it stayed with me my whole life.

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