Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Returning Sewer

newsewer | Posted in General Discussion on



I am a 60 year old returning sewer.  I want to make gifts, perhaps  sew simple blouses, etc.  I am young at heart and usually wear jeans and t shirts when I am not working, but I love fabric and color and would like to use fabric to express myself.   I have done one little quilt.  I don’t have time to drive for lessons, etc.  Has anyone found any good videos to help with fitting, etc.

I have a 30 year old Viking and am thinking about getting a more modern machine.  I already have a serger that I have only used once.  Any ideas on inspiration.  I am a little nervous because I remember starting many projects and getting discouraged because of the fit and I am limited on time.  Can any one relate to this  hesitation?


  1. Teaf | | #1

    Probably most, if not all of us, can understand your hesitation! Although I've been sewing non-stop for forty years, blouse fitting is still vexing; I'd recommend starting with accessories (some great new totebag and handbag patterns nowadays) or home accents (tablecloths, runners, napkins) that don't require fitting or a lot of time. For these, pick a beautiful fabric that pleases you, and you'll quickly end up with something you use every day and love.

    When my most recent battle with fitting frustrated me, I stopped and made a couple of simple totes for grocery shopping out of fabric that was too small for anything else. They took less than an hour total, and I've used them many times in the last few weeks, giving me the satisfaction of completing a project and the nicest grocery bags in the store. It also gave me time to read up on fitting issues, find a better pattern, and fit it to a RTW blouse that fits well--helping me regain confidence in sewing for myself again.

    If you have the patience to make even a small quilt, you have plenty to deal with these simple projects. Have fun!

    1. newsewer | | #4

      Thank you so much for your encouragement.  I am going to make a tote for my sister copying a bag that she gave me and has admired.  You are most generous with your comments.  I just need to remember to start slowlly until I get my confidence.  The idea of starting with  a beautiful fabric is great.  Thank you again.

  2. San | | #2

    My new serger stayed in its box for 2 YEARS before I was brave enough to get it out!!    The enclosed video was  confusing  and I luckily found an Adult Education class that offered a  serger course.  It was worth every minute! 

    1. newsewer | | #5

      Good idea about the adult ed class.  Thanks 

  3. KarenV | | #3

    Nice to see a sewer getting back in the groove. My suggestion is to start with simple projects-most companies have a step program. For fitting problems, get a good sloper pattern-you will find this a GREAT help for understanding patterns. My easy way out is once I have a good fit, I try to make everything from that one pattern and just alter.

    Good luck.

    1. newsewer | | #6

      Thank you for your hint about a sloper.  I remember doing that a lifetime ago but I will revisit when I have time.  THanks again.

    2. mimi | | #23

      Can you tell me what a sloper pattern is and where I could find one?  This sounds intrigueing!

      1. KarenV | | #24

        Sloper patterns are great for special sizing problems. Once you make a sloper, all other patterns can be adjusted accordingly. Try vogue #1004 or McCalls#2718. It takes an afternoon to make it, so plan ahead and you wont get rushed.


  4. mem1 | | #7

    THe other thing to remember is to have patience with youself Just because you mess something up doesnt mean that you cant do it at all!!! Get a good sewing book like the Vogue sewing book and read it through the day . I dont know any one who sews and I have learnt everything from books and by having precisely five lessons many moons ago.Now I make everything and have been asked by otheres to sew for them so my efforts must look ok. I dont do it though as i have decided that I will only sew what I really want to and that means mostly stuff for me .Once I decided to be be selfish I had so much more time and can get alotof sewing done even though I have 3 children and work almost full time. My fridge looks like a science experiment but well I am choosy as to who gets to see inside my fridge !Only creative friends who are NOT housework freaks are allowed!

    1. newsewer | | #8

      Thanks, Mem.  I really appreciate the encouragement.  I would rather do anything than clean my refreig. I have always conteded that it is my first step towards a really good compost pile. I think I do have a couple of sewing books.  Besides reading, trial and error seems to be a good way to learn. 

      Thanks again,

      Pam New Sewer

      1. Elisabeth | | #9

        If your 30 year old Viking has the stitches that you need then do keep it. The older Vikings are wonderful machines. I have a 20 year old and a 40 year old Viking and use them both. Even if you decide to get a new machine I suggest you keep your 30 year old. It is priceless in this age of declining quality.You might try Kwik Sew patterns. They have nice instructions and good fit. Sometimes the "big four", McCalls, Vouge etc. have dud patterns. A good place to see how a pattern has worked for others is http://www.patternreview.com It is a fun site. You can find book and video reviews there too that might help in your learning quest.

        1. newsewer | | #10

          Thanks Elisabeth,


          I do plan on keeping my Viking if only for sentimental reasons.  It was my mothers. Thanks for the reference to Kwik Sew.  I will look for those and others recommended the Burda and Burda magazine. 

          Best Wishes,

          Pam New Sewer

          1. GALEY | | #11

            I returned to sewing after a seven-year absence.  I will always be thankful I took a one-session class that featured the new notions and machines--they cut my work in half.  I also sew on a 40 year old Singer and a 10 year old Pfaff.  Mem's advice to be selfish is a good one.  I do not sew basics--tshirts, jeans, pajamas.  Dressy granddaughter dresses, my own dressy clothes, formals, wedding gowns, mardi gras costumes--these make sewing fun to me.  I am associated with a decorator and sew custom draperies and sometimes slipcovers, but the money I earn pays for all my other habits--buying fabric, shoes and jewelry.  The best advice I can give you is subscribe to Threads.  It is a class with every issue; this forum is like a new magazine every day.  Use this forum to find titles of fitting books, etc.  You will learn what you need to know.  God bless you, Galey.

          2. newsewer | | #12

            Thank you galey,

            I have taken Threads for a couple of years just because it is fun to read.  It nourishes my soul even though I haven't been sewing.  That is a great tip about the notions and interfacings etc.  I don't know what half the stuff out there is or how it is used.  I haven't seen such a class offered but I can probably find a book.  Thanks again for your time.



          3. GALEY | | #13

            The class I took was at a fabric store.  We paid a nominal fee and a company representative gave the class.  There are many new and fruitful ideas to be had by perusing notions catalogues--Clothilde is the one I use most; there is often some remark about the uses of the items shown.  Galey

  5. stitchwiz | | #14

    Most of us can relate to your situation.

    My sisters chose my serger for me because they thought it was about time (having had theirs for years) and the price was fabulous, I just paid for it.   It sat for six months or more...I was terrified to try it out.  Didn't have time for classes, or so I thought.  I really didn't take time for classes.

    I finally went for 2 classes-drove 2+ hours.

    Wished I had done it sooner.  He 'walked' us through everything.  He provided each of us with a sample book where we could record all the settings on the machine with room for the stitched sample.  I can't tell you how many times I refer back to those samples.  It has given me the confidence to keep adjusting the dials and making test samples to get the results I want. 

    I have several sewing machines, each unique and used for special things.  I wouldn't know how to function without them.  I still use my sewing machines for most things, but I wouldn't give up my serger for anything. 

    Try simple projects that don't require fitting at first.  Test drive your serger following the instruction manual if it has a basic how to section.  If it doesn't, check out the book store.  Find one that will tell you how to set up for each type of stitching and make a sample.  Record everything & mount sample with it.  Mine is in a three ring binder which I am constantly adding to...my memory isn't what it used to be so I don't try to remember everything.

    Use some gorgeous fabrics to  make a few glamorous accessories to perk up your work wardrobe or for special occasions.  Scarves, shawls, wraps of all kinds, sheath night gowns,  dressing gowns, housecoats, slips, and PJs are very simple, don't require too much time, don't require much fitting, and we all need them.  Give them away as gifts.  The recipients will love them and you will gain confidence with each completed item.

    Keep your Viking because you probably know it inside out and can sew without thinking about how the machine is working.  By all means get another if you like.  There are all kinds out there.  Read through earlier postings for info on other makes and models, there is a wealth of knowledge out there.

    Take any classes that are offered by your local dealer with your new machine.  I know you don't think you have time, but think of it as an investment in yourself.  You will gain immediate confidence in your new machine.  Check out the whole store for ideas.  Sometimes you may meet a sewing buddy who can encourage you and perhaps help you with fittings.  Check with your friends or post a note on local bulletin boards looking for someone to talk, work, or even sew with until you gain more confidence. 

    Look around this site, there are lots of good threads regarding fitting issues.

    Welcome back to sewing!  People using this site are very helpful, don't be afraid to ask.  Have fun, and happy stitching!

    1. newsewer | | #16

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply.  I have started a tote and my courage is increasing.  I really appreciate all the wonderful e mails I have received. Onward and upward.


      Pam New Sewer

  6. FrancesC | | #15

    If your Viking is a zig-zag machine (and I expect that it is), keep it but it is important to have it tuned up by a good repairman.

    I am using 2 Elna machines that are almost 40 years old. After a good tune-up, they are doing fine.

    When you have been back to sewing for a while and have more perspective, you can reconsider the problem.


  7. fabricstockings | | #17

    Knowing how hard it is to find a good fit from a clothing store, I try not to expect perfection from my home clothing projects. But as a 40 year sewing veteran, I treasure projects that I can make in a few hours that I can also use as gift to give to others, rather than myself. So if this is an area you want to explore, we can talk more!

    1. newsewer | | #18

      Hi, thank you for your reply.  I would love to learn to make something useful in a few hours.  I am very, very slow at this point.  What kind of projects do you have in mind?

      Pam New Sewer

      1. fabricstockings | | #21

        Wine bags, napkins, gift bags, that kind of thing. There is a popular pillow case class going around all my local quilting stores that designs a pillow case with three different fabrics. Wonderful gift for teens. Easy straight sewing kind of projects. I've moved on to fabric stockings for something unusual as I've exhausted all of the other gift categories...cute idea is to make a wine bag and matching stocking - fill the stocking with chocolate. Nothing better than wine and chocolate when you are going to someone's house for dinner, they love you! This is also a nice upscale xmas gift idea.

      2. DONNAKAYE | | #26

        Welcome to the awesome world of sewing!  I would be glad to share you with you some instructions on what are called "torn projects."  These items incorporate basics in sewing that form the foundation throughout all of your other sewing, and the proper sequence of learning and sequence of construction which they teach are critical to a good basic education in garment construction.

        Two of the projects that Audrey Childress (see thread discussion) taught were the apron (with pockets, which I use in the sewing room to keep all my items next to me at all times without going on a hunt) and a self-lined tote bag.  If you would like to try either or both of these, I will be happy to post the instructions. If you would like illustrations, I would be happy to mail you the instruction sheets. (You can send me a private post requesting these, if you wish.)

        I believe that with a good foundation, you will enjoy many, many years of successful sewing.....

        Donna Childress Brandt


        Edited 6/26/2005 9:36 am ET by DONNAKAYE

        1. newsewer | | #27

          Hi Donna,

          Thank you for the suggestions.  I would love the instructions and illustrations for the tote and the apron.  I could use another apron.  I have received Threads for quite a while.  If the informationis in there I might have that issue.  Just let me know what it is and I will look.  Thank you so much.

          Pam New Sewer 

          1. DONNAKAYE | | #28

            Pam, I will dig these out, scan then and e-mail them to you or post them to the thread, just as soon as I get a chance. They will be available for anyone else who would like to have them, too.  Welcome!

            Donna Childress Brandt


          2. DONNAKAYE | | #29

            New Sewer, I have posted the scanned instructions in the Photo Gallery under "Instructions-Apron and Tote."  Let me know if you find them there.  You should be able to simply print them from the web page.  Enjoy!

          3. newsewer | | #30

            Sorry Donna,

            I am not sure where to find the Photo Gallery.  I am new at this chatting on the internet.


          4. DONNAKAYE | | #31

            Your Gatherings screen should be split into two sections. On the left hand side, scroll down and you will see a category for "Photo Gallery".....Let me know if you find it....

            Donna Childress Brandt


          5. newsewer | | #33

            Found it


          6. DONNAKAYE | | #32

            New Sewer (or anyone else who may be interested), please e-mail me directly at [email protected] and I will e-mail you directly the instructions and illustrations for the two torn projects for beginning sewers (they are currently in the Photo Gallery also): the apron (to use tools to hold in your sewing studio) and the self-lined tote.  They came out really large in the Photo Gallery.  When I e-mail you the files directly, you should be able to double-click on the icon and have it come up on your computer screen to view or print, or you could print it straight from the icon by clicking on your print icon on your toolbar......

            Donna Childress Brandt


      3. fabricstockings | | #36

        Sorry to take so long to reply! I make patterns you can see them at http://www.fabricstockings.com
        For fabric lovers, this is a great gift, and can be hung on walls, furniture, etc. Or you can use stockings as gift bags.

    2. kjp | | #19

      That is such a good point!  I definitely get better fit from my own sewing (3hours with nothing to show for it at the mall last week is evidence).  I don't even try on ready made dresses any more.  However, I do find that I am VERY critical of my fit when I make a garment.  Much more so than were I to purchase it.  Of course I do the same thing when I pay someone to clean.  Suddenly all the dust I don't see when I clean just jumps right out at me.  :-)   karin

      1. fabricstockings | | #20

        Oh so true. Cleaning and fitting; its nice to know what our control issues are, and keep them under control ;-) !! I learned to sew because I love fabric. The control issues came later. Suppose that is the case with cleaning as well.

  8. lovemyelna | | #22

    I can relate to your plight. After many years of failed projects and wearing terrible fitting clothing I finally decided to do something about it. I found an expert seamstress that could drape a muslin for me. This is better that trying to alter a flat pattern. You will get a perfect fit. I had a top, skirt and pants fitted by draping. A sloper is drawn up on cardboard and then you can use this to alter your patterns. A very interesting article on Threads On-line "Your Sloper as a Fitting Tool" by Karen Howland should work for you. I personally draft my own patterns using my sloper, but I have a history of pattern design. This article is the most succint description of how to use a sloper I have ever seen. I haven't tried it yet but I bet it would be very easy to transfer the fitting from your sloper to your pattern of choice. Also you should purchase Sandra Betzina's book "Fast fit". I also like "Power Sewing" for learning how to perfect the garment. If you have any more questions, just ask.

    1. newsewer | | #25

      Thank you for your idea about a sloper.  I feel that I am not a good enough sewer and don't have enough time to even try clothes again.  But I will keep it in mind. Thank you so much for your reply and I won't forget when I do have the time, money and confidence.

      Pam New Sewer

  9. jessig5 | | #34

    May I suggest Fitting Finesse by Nancy Zieman if your fitting problems are too involved. There is a book and a video. I found both of them helpful.

    Have fun.

  10. jessig5 | | #35

    I meant that to read "are NOT too involved, not too involved.

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All