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Conversational Threads

when you first learned to sew

fabricholic | Posted in Gather For A Chat on

I was just thinking about when I was little, moving up to the Barbie dolls and trying to fit her curvy body. I would sew pants on her and then, not be able to take them off, because of her small waist. I would make more pants with enough room to slip over her hips and end up with this wad of material around her waist. Did anyone else do this in their childhood? Just reminiscing.



  1. Gloriasews | | #1

    Although Barbie dolls were past my time, I think that clothing them really got everyone into knitting & crocheting their clothes, as those had the stretchability built in.  I think there are still patterns out there for knitted & crocheted Barbie clothes.

    As for when I started sewing, I really got into it in Home Ec.  Even though my mom was always a sewer & made almost all of my clothes without a pattern (I was a chubby & there weren't any patterns for those then), she didn't teach me to sew.  I've been sewing for 53 years & love it, still, even though I've had some failures along the way (especially the Sandra Betzina cross-over top that she showed us how to make at a workshop & said any shape of person could wear it - I could never get it to fit.  I still have it & may dig it out & have another go at it, now that I've learned to much about fitting on these threads). 

    1. fabricholic | | #5

      I have seen the book about Knitting for Barbie. Unfortunately, I couldn't knit back then.

  2. User avater
    blondie2sew | | #2

    Hey Marcy,I loved your question,I had my first really sewing experience when I was in JR High in Home Ec.I too grew up with my mom sewing however she just sewed some and not a lot. I made my first project..I made a baseball, bat, and glove pillows!! Too funny. I was into that sport. But other then that when I was in my earlier 20's I had a roommate who sewed all her clothes and had been sewing for years and so I would sit and chat with her while she sewed. Then for my 21st B-day my parents bought me just a simple starter machine...I tried my hand at soft dolls and then I dove right into Barbie clothes..I was never too old for Barbies!! I loved having fun with them. I used my roommates patterns till she wanted them back!! I gave them away to some of my honey's cousins at the time since I didn't have anyone else to give them too but I did keep one dress for myself!! Then eventually I ventured into making my husbands shirts and vests...when those were all the rage with the guys back in the early 90's I didn't realize that the buttons on the shirt as well as the cuffs were different..so the first one was well backwards and he only smiled and still wore it!! So there is a sneak peak of my starting of my sewing adventure.....How fun

    1. fabricholic | | #6

      That was sweet that your husband still wore the shirts with the buttons on the wrong side. I don't know why they are made that way, do you?

      1. mygaley | | #10

        I believe the origin of ladies' buttons being on the left side was to make it easier for her maid to button her dress for her. While I'm on this thought, remember how easy shopping was when the saleslady helped you put on the dresses? Galey

        1. fabricholic | | #16

          I remember and don't you know that they sold much more when they were there to help you. We would have walked out of the store, if no one greeted us and helped us, years ago. Now, you are lucky to see a sales lady in the fitting rooms.

        2. User avater
          blondie2sew | | #26

          As for the buttons on the other side as men. I too heard something about what Galey had mentioned to you in her relpy!! I can't remember where I heard it though. The maids dressing the ladies of privilage so long ago!! Made it easier on them

          1. fabricholic | | #32

            What if you are left-handed like me?

          2. User avater
            blondie2sew | | #40

            Well that is a thought....do you switch your buttons around for you when you sew?

          3. Cherrypops | | #42

            I hadn't thought of sewing buttons like that...

            As I was brought up in a 'right handed world'. I did find things odd.

            I do start handstitching at the other end to right handed folk. but it looks the same from where they are sitting...(mirror image)  and the end product looks great too.

            I was so pleased when I bought my first pair of left handed scissors for cutting fabrics. Made such a difference!

          4. User avater
            blondie2sew | | #43

            I got a left handed pair of scissors as a gift..I don't think that they knew that they were lefties...I didn't figure it out at first either I just thought hmmm these cut funny!! So now I still have them and actually came in handy with one of Abigaels lil friends who is left handed when we were sewing over here...I know they will also come in handy with my kids venture at school!!I will have to do more research into the button thing and such because I would love to let the kids learn another way to make life a bit easier on them if they are left handed!! Blondie

            Edited 5/19/2007 2:07 am by blondie2sew

          5. User avater
            Becky-book | | #54

            Left-handed scissors... I learned how to handle the right-handed ones before left-handed ones were available so now I can't make the left-handed ones work! LOL


          6. User avater
            blondie2sew | | #57

            Too funny!! It is amazing how all of you who are left handed learned to adjust with our Right handed world!! It pleases me to know that companies are aware and made changes.....

          7. fabricholic | | #45

            No. I am totally confused now. I am going to have to get a shirt with buttons and try on to see how I do it. I wear lots of t-shirts and pull over tops. Maybe that's why.

          8. user-217847 | | #58

            Hi Becky,

            to answer your question to cherry pops, wooly jumpers are actually the sheep we call them that because they wear the woollen coats. jumpers are knitted from wool i guess like sweat shirts they pull on. cardigans also knitted button up down the front, the name originates from lord cardigan from england. i do hope i h ave'nt overstepped the mark by answering cherry pops question, just been hovering in the background.by the by i am also left handed knit right handed crochet left handed and have no luck with left handed scissors.

            warm regards and happy sewing



          9. user-217847 | | #59


            one of the surgeons (he to being left handed) i had the pleasure of working with explained left handed people made up 11% of the worlds population which make us elite, what do you think?


          10. fabricholic | | #60

            The Elite. Sounds good.Marcy

          11. Cherrypops | | #64

            Jump in anytime.

            If you read a post and wish to give a reply and its before I see the post, I don't mind if you do. I have done it in the past. Great answers too. Thanks..

            It's funny isn't what we Lefties can achieve. Depends on the stronger arm and brain side. Tennis and Ten Pin Bowling I play left, but cricket and baseball I take the Right Hand stance. Cutlery is right handed, I have seen left handers using cutlery in the opposite hands and it looks odd.

            I was lucky not to have been forced to use my right hand during my early school years. One teacher tried, no luck, I wouldn't do it. I was not going to change, I was not from another planet!..

            As Blondie wrote earlier, It is pleasing to see the girls today have no worries there.

            We all have our strengths, and we are a special brood. Too many lefthanders to list.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_famous_left-handed_people if interested.

            CherryPops ( left-footed also, I think I will have to take notice when I kick a ball to find out)



          12. User avater
            Becky-book | | #65

            Very interesting list!  Did you notice that there were so many musicians/composers that they divided the list alphabetically?  Wonder if that is a statistical indicator or just due to higher public profile? creativity on the left-side?


          13. Ralphetta | | #71

            Yesterday, on Oprah, a doctor was explaining what causes some people to be left-handed.  It's due to a difference in the development in the womb.  The point he explained, in brief, was that because the brain developed a little differently for left-handed people it allowed them to "input" information more readily.  I believe he said that they were better able to utilize both sides of the brain.

          14. SewFit | | #72

            This thread on "lefties"  has really gotten me thinking.. I'm right handed but I realize that I always button garments using my left hand.    Now that I have some arthritis issues in my right hand, I am using my left more and more but some things are very awkward like opening a jar or picking up a coffee cup....or trying to use a kitchen knife.  I don't know that I can learn to hand-stitch with my left hand....BUT !!!!! I never say I can't do something until I try it......

            My dad was a (right handed) carpenter but he could use a hammer and saw in either hand equally effectively....

          15. User avater
            Becky-book | | #67

            Here in the USA we call button up sweaters Cardigans too!  But you may have noticed that we use 'jumpers' for loosely fitted sleeveless dresses to be worn over a blouse or shirt of some type.


          16. Cherrypops | | #41

            Wow! another thing in common. CherryP :)

          17. fabricholic | | #46

            Are you left-handed Cherrypops? I use right handed scissors. I never have had any trouble with scissors. Learning to knit from my right handed grandmother was a different story, but she managed to teach me the basics.Marcy

          18. Cherrypops | | #50

            Marcy, Yes i am left handed. The only one in my family.

            I still use right hand for general use in the kitchen and cutting paper for projects but I use Left hand scissors for fabric cutting. The handle shape is in the proper place and the blades too. Probably won't be needing them so much now that I will use the rotarty cutter.

            Yes Knitting was difficult. Mum knitted and was very good and fast. She taught me by sitting us both in front of the mirror. Didn't do too good. I now knit the basic stitches K and P the right handed way. I am soooo slow. Tension is never right.

            I leave knitting and crotcheing to Hubby's Mum, I've stocked up on scarves, beanies, socks and dolls before her fingers get arthritis.



          19. User avater
            Becky-book | | #55

            I find hand knitting to be a 2 handed operation and just let the left hand do more of the moving.  Now I have a simple knitting machine and can do hats and blankets VERY fast, sweaters take longer. (what do you call them in Aust. wooly jumpers? or something else?)

            Crochet I do backwards! but it all works out in the end!


          20. fabricholic | | #56

            Will you explain to machine how the knitting machine works?Marcy

          21. User avater
            Becky-book | | #66

            I have a low-end version ($100 from Joann's, Bond Sweater Machine) but it works for what I do.

            It is a long bed of hooks that look like latch-hooks for making rugs. The yarn is fed through a shuttle that holds a keyplate and slides on top of the bed of hooks.  The keyplate moves the hooks back and forth, the shuttle places the yarn in the hook and it gets pulled through the previous row of loops. Different sized keyplates make differing sized loops thus changing the gauge.  There, now you have the very basic idea of the thing, if you want more detail e-mail me.


          22. fabricholic | | #69

            O.k. It is automatic and you don't wrap yarn around hooks, right?

          23. Cherrypops | | #63

            Lucky you a knitting machine. What type and how big? I'd love to be able to do more with wool. Maybe one day. I have my Janome 350e Embroidery Machine now. So am working that one out.

            Luckily Wally wombat gave you great answers about the wooly jumpers, I was going to tell you it's a cross between a Kangaroo and a Sheep....lol..

            It's great you can crochet and no-one is the wiser. Still looks the same in the end.






          24. dionna | | #75

            Hello ladies I'm also  left handed and I sew and cut with both hands when one hand gets tired I use the other one I use both hands for every thing when I was in grammer school I used to write with my right hand some time when I had completed my class work. I did'nt have any thing to do.  Thanks ladies I havent tried it  in years.  

          25. Cherrypops | | #76

            I too have written (printed letters, not lettering/handwriting) with my right, it is legible, looks like a primary school effort. Hey you do what you have to right! I got rapped over the left knuckles with a ruler by the teacher in year 2 so I did use my right hand for a while, mum told her not to do it again I was left-handed! Don't force me.... it was the mid 1970's.

          26. dionna | | #77

            I'm left haned but I only use my right hand when my left is very tired.but I cut fabric with both hands

          27. Cherrypops | | #78

            You cut fabric with both hands...Lucky you..I never mastered scissors with my right.

            Do you use both hands at the same time. Cutting up the side seams. That would save time.

          28. dionna | | #79

            yes this saves me a lot of time

          29. Cherrypops | | #80

            Do you know many others who do this?

            I'm in awe.

          30. dionna | | #88

            yes 1 friend that write with both hands

          31. Cherrypops | | #89

            thanks dionna, pop over to the non-sewing chat sewing thread when you get time.



          32. User avater
            MrTouch | | #86

            LEFT HAND FOLKS

            My thought on that is: If you notice, when you teach very young kids something, you are facing them for the most so they can see you. So your RIGHT is LEFT to them. If you do something with your RIGHT hand they will try to do it with the LEFT hand. I noticed that with my children. So I thought if while sitting on the floor doing things with them I would try to do this. Sit on the floor and get behind them. Now everything done with my RIGHT hand will be coppied by them with thier Right hand. It worked every time. All of them are RIGHT hand people. At times I wish I were a lefty, especially when it comes to trying to pin some projects. Them pin sticks hurt.


          33. Ralphetta | | #87

            Don't I remember  that the reason some people tie a bow that has the loops going front-back instead of side-to-side because they learned by watching someone opposite them tie them? Am I right...or just mixed up?

          34. User avater
            MrTouch | | #90

            No, you are not mixed up. You are right


          35. fabricholic | | #92

            Hi Ron,I am a lefty and my right handed grandmother taught me how to knit, when I was little. By the way, love your quote on your profile. Please everyone, fill out your profile so that we can have a sense of who you are, that is, if you don't mind us knowing.Marcy

          36. User avater
            MrTouch | | #93

            Hi To You. And thanks. Profiles are a very important part of the threads I think. Just knowing a tad bit about the nice folks you are posting with makes it just a bit more personal and adds a bit of that down home feeling. Profiles or not: So far everyone that I have met here in THREADS are very wonderful folks. Hi Everybody. Back to the drawing board I go. I am trying to learn how to make dresses. Never made one B4, but should be fun to do. Titanium Coated Sewing Needles Rule


          37. User avater
            MrTouch | | #94

            Left or right handed

            The most fantastic thing I had ever seen was a girl that I had met in 1967. Her handwritting was so neet untill it looked typed, left or right handed. But! The twist to that was. She could write backwards with either hand almost as fast as you could speak. The only way to read what she wrote was to hold it up to a mirror. It also looked as though it was typed. That was something to see.


          38. User avater
            Becky-book | | #53

            We 'south-paws' need to be careful that we don't insult the 'right-handed' world!  Most of them just do not understand that we are the only ones in our 'right mind'.  We lefties can do everything they do, only we operate under the 'handicap' of the right-slantedness of most tools! LOL


          39. Gloriasews | | #70

            You're so right, Becky!  This is a right-handed world - most everything is designed for right-handers.  I am so right-handed, that my left hand is just a helper & a lot weaker, at that.  I often think about you lefties & how frustrating things must be sometimes.  I would really crash if I had to use my left hand all the time - it would take me ages to do anything.  There aren't a lot of products available for left-handers & they are usually more expensive, too.

      2. krichmond | | #39

        Hi (fellow) Fabricholic:

        Just to answer your question re: men's and women's buttonhole placement.  From what I've read, it has to do with the fact that most people are right-handed.  Historically (i.e. Victorian era), wealthy women would have a maid assist them with dressing (including fastening and unfastening dozens of buttons), while their male counterparts were usually able to manage without assistance as their clothing was generally less complex.  It was supposedly easier and faster for a right-handed maid to handle buttons on the right placket (with the right hand).  Thus, a garment standard was established.

        Being left-handed myself, I can't really tell if there's a difference......



        1. fabricholic | | #44

          I am left handed and I think I prefer to push the button through with the left thumb and pull the material, (buttonhole) over it with my left first 2 fingers.
          So, I guess the men dressed themselves back then but the women needed help. Marcy

    2. cafms | | #9

      35 years ago I put the cuffs on backwards on a shirt for my new boyfriend's birthday. He married me anyway. In addition I made the shirt tails way too long.  He also wore it and loved it.  Still loves the shirts I make for him.

      Glad to see you are back and look forward to hearing about your CTA training.

      1. User avater
        blondie2sew | | #27

        Thanks for the smiles....I loved it!! We have some great men!!Yes I will when I get some time to breath post on the other thread about my program so far!! I am enjoying the process and learning...I have to say that I learn alot from here too!! So I feel a step ahead and can input some thoughts and ideas which I have learned from gatherings...anyway I know I am off this thread subject sorryOh yes I can relate to the shirt tails...my husband was swimming in some of his shirts!! ha ha...I think maybe I need to revisit making some shirts for him!! I have come along way since then baby!!

  3. User avater
    VKStitcher | | #3

    Hi Marcy,

    I learned to sew when I was about 6, using scraps from the clothes that Mom made for me and my sister.  One of the first things that I made was a top for Barbie.  It was a rectangle with 2 holes cut for her arms, and I sewed a snap on the front.  Pretty crude, but I was OK with it at the time.  Fortunately, my sewing skills improved and our dolls had quite an extensive wardrobe.  I did use some patterns for clothes, but a lot were made just by cutting and draping, and trial and error.  Sometimes when I made pants, I left the back seam open and lapped it over at the waist, fastening with a snap or a straight pin.  (Yes, a straight pin--don't tell the Child Protection & Safety agency!)

    My Dad built a doll house that we decorated with carpet samples and Contact paper, and my sister and I played for hours on end.  Our friends loved to bring their dolls to our house to play.  Oh how we loved our Barbies!  (The dolls, house, clothes, camper and jeep are still in my parents' attic!)

    As a matter of fact, I have one of my old Barbies on my sewing table now.  She's my fit model for the Barbie outfits I made for a friend's daughter.  (And I used Velcro, not pins for fasteners!)

    Ah, the memories....thanks for bringing them back!  :-)

    1. fabricholic | | #4

      I started sewing at about age 6, also. I had straight dolls and used felt squares for material. I would cut out arm holes and sew a snap to the back, just like you. I had a bag of trim that my mother sent off for with so many labels from packaged trim. I would sew rick rack to the bottom and make a bow for the doll's hair and (pin it on with a straight pin through the top of her head). After that, I moved to Barbie's. I would drape the material over her and sew around it. That is where I would get stuck. I wasn't knitting, yet. I could barely sew, but I was learning. My mom made me take Home Ec. class in Jr. High. I wanted to take art. We had to make a dress and model it. That was the first zipper I put in a dress. I started to love sewing once I had my daughter. She inspired me to sew for her. Marcy

      1. User avater
        VKStitcher | | #24

        I had to take Home Ec in high school, too.  But by that point, I had been making my own clothes for a while, so I didn't enjoy the class.  The teacher wasn't the greatest either, so I was pretty bored.  But I didn't have a choice because our school was so small.  Back then, girls weren't allowed to take shop class with the boys.

        I got married late in life, so no children to sew for.  But I have made little dresses for friends' babies--they are so cute and fun to make.  In the last couple of years, I've made baby quilts for new great-nieces and nephews.  I just enjoy sewing, and I've always got something in the works!

        1. fabricholic | | #33

          Right. If I'm not sewing, I'm thinking about it.

    2. SewFit | | #15

      Hi Vickie.... I note you are NC....so am I.

      My grandma used to make gathered skirts for me when I was a child....My aunt made her little 2 year old a blue wool coat and hat trimmed with gray "fur." I decided I wanted to be able to sew my own clothes.   When Grandma got an electric machine, I got her treadle. I was 8 at the time.  52 years later and I'm still sewing.  Some of you younger sewers will laugh at this, but way back then striped dish towels came in boxes of powdered laundry detergent.  I would ask mom for them to use to make other things.    I remember once I found a burlap feed sack in the garage....I washed and dyed it a golden tan color and the cut out and made a  drawstring tote bag lined with striped fabric.  I would buy red and blue bandanas at the  5&10; sew up the sides leaving space for an armhole and tie the corners on the shoulders to make little tops to wear with short.  When I was fourteen I made a navy blue blazer for my 6 year old brother to wear for his first communion.  (put the buttons and holes on the wrong side-who hasn't done that) I took Home Ec in HS and in my mind I can still see the garments I made-two wool skirts, a shirtwaist dress and a pink and white lace dress for the Christmas formal.   Other than that, I'm self-taught and  I've never been afraid to tackle any thing. 


      Edited 5/18/2007 10:20 am ET by SewFit

      1. fabricholic | | #18

        I can remember getting all kind of things out of the laundry detergent box. Wasn't there glasses in some? I remember the 5 and 10. Wasn't that the best store, when we were kids? I know your family had to be proud of you making a blazer for your little brother. I love these stories.

        1. SewFit | | #20

          Yes there were glasses in some detergents.  And remember when you could get cups, saucers and bowls in boxes of oatmeal?   What memories!

          1. fabricholic | | #23

            I don't remember that. I guess it was the same principle. I do remember getting a dinosaur bank from the gas station, though. Also, they gave out tiger paws on a string.

      2. User avater
        VKStitcher | | #28

        Yes, I'm a North Carolina girl--never lived anywhere else.  Two years ago, my husband & I moved from Raleigh and built a house on my family's farm.  My parents live across the road, and my sister lives in the house where my Dad grew up.

        My Ma-Ma had a treadle machine, but she didn't sew as much as my Mom.  Being a farmer's wife, she didn't have a lot of free time.  We still have her machine, but it hasn't been used in many, many years.  Maybe I'll have to check it out...

        I remember the dish towels that came in the detergent boxes.  I also remember the stacks of feed sacks that Ma-Ma saved.  Mom made my sister & me matching sundresses from those.  Last year we discovered a couple of quilt tops that Ma-Ma had made from the feed sacks.  Mom has quilted them, and my sister & I will eventually get them.  But right now Mom & Dad sleep underneath them.

        When I was young, I always liked going to the fabric stores--even department stores sold fabric back then.  It was a real treat when Mom said I could pick out something from the remnant table.  One of the first garments that I made for myself was from one of those remnants.  When I was about 10 or 11, I made a skirt from a chartreuse green and white stripe, with an elastic waist, and the stripes going horizontal!  Now I shudder to think that I actually wore it to school, but I was proud of it, and thought I did a good job.  Thankfully, my sewing skills and taste in clothes have improved over the years!  :-)

        1. SewFit | | #37

          I'm originally from VA.   Moved to NC 7 years ago.   I remember buying fabric at JC Penney and Leggett's (now Belk).and Roses...I especially remember one piece that was white and shade of purple floral that I had Grandma (dad's mom) make into a skirt for me.  She used to make little shirts with handmade buttonholes for my 3 brothers.  (my mom never did learn to sew)  She made the prettiest aprons out of organdy and gingham or floral chintz and clothespins bags that looked like little girls dresses to supplement her Social Security income.  She was slightly under 5' tall and nice and round with gray braids on her head-always wore hand made dresses and sensible shoes and never drove a car.   She had arthritis in her hands and now I realize that sewing was probably painful for her.  Now at 60 myself I'm thankful for the legacy she gave me of loving to sew.   Of course, I have short modern hair style, wear bright colored capris and think nothing of popping my little dog into the car for a 6 to 7 hour trip to VA to visit my children.  My how times have changed.....


          Edited 5/18/2007 5:12 pm ET by SewFit

      3. Pattiann42 | | #47

        And Bath towels.  They were so thin you could see through them, but we were poor (we kids didn't know it - parents never discussed money in front of us, we just knew not to ask for anything).

        The towels were bad enough, put the dish washing detergent was a very fine powder that made me sneeze every time I washed the dishes.  Didn't get out of doing the dishes, but did get out of peeling potatoes - we didn't have a potato peeler gadget, just a dull knife.  I peeled to thickly, wasting too much potato, so I was banished from spud duty.  One of the first things I bought (when married) was a potato peeler!

        Got a first sewing experience, but will do another post so this one won't be too long.

  4. solosmocker | | #7

    What great memories this thread brings back. I like to think I began to design way before I began to actually sew. I was half brought up by my grandmother who was an amazing seamstress, knitter, crocheter, heirloom sewer, etc. I spent all summers with her as a child from Memorial day to Labor Day, the old school calendar. Towards the end of the summer she would tell me to go into her closet, the place where she kept an awesome stash. She would let me pick out the fabric and trims that I wanted her to use. She would then proceed to make me the most beautiful little dresses that I remember so clearly. Keep in mind this goes back to when I was 4 yrs old. My mom sewed, but like many women of her generation, it was out of need. My grandmother sewed out of passion. My wise mom signed me up for sewing lessons at the age of ten at the local Singer store, a place where many my age learned to sew. They told her I was too young and she told them she was not going to buy their state of the art machine and walked out. Before we knew they called her and said it was OK for me to take the class. I don't remember much from that class other than an awful cotton dress with raglan sleeves, but I was hooked. These two women are gone from my life but left me the most wonderful legacy. At the age of eleven I got a Barbie for Christmas. You know the one, the black and white chevron swimsuit and the heavy eye liner. I was in heaven. I had a box of teensy scraps that I was always making into something. I would do dirndl skirts with wide belts, no snaps. The belts held them up. I would make her little beds and chairs and a house out of shoe boxes. I am proud to say I played with this doll till I was fourteen. That was the age I started sewing seriously for myself and have never stopped. I owe a lot to Miss Barbie. I never had a Ken. He was no fun to design for. But Barbie, she could be anything.solo

    1. fabricholic | | #14

      What would we do without our Moms and Grandmas? Mine encouraged me, also. I too used boxes, but I used them for my toy cars for garages. I could buy a plastic toy truck for about 10 cents. I think Captain Kangaroo on t.v. did a lot with shoe boxes. To this day, I think twice about throwing away a good shoe box.

  5. cafms | | #8

    I had a doll very similar to the Barbie dolls that I sewed for. I still have her and found most of the clothes I had made for her at my mother's house not too long ago.  We lived next door to some people who had a sewing business and made costumes for Las Vegas showgirls.  My sister and I would get bags of scraps every so often so we had some pretty fancy doll clothes.  Mother loved to sew and taught us to sew also.  Both my grandmothers sewed to but I never got to sew with them.  Not long ago Mother gave me the apron I made for her as a birthday present when I was 8.  I didn't know she had kept it.  I also have the blouse and skirt I made for myself in the fifth grade.

    1. fabricholic | | #13

      That's great that you had all of those fancy scraps. Pretty awesome that you made an apron at 8 years old.

    2. User avater
      VKStitcher | | #25

      Wow, how lucky you were to get those fancy scraps!  I'm sure your dolls were very glamorous.  Mom made a lot of our clothes when were young, so we used the leftovers for Barbie.  Our dolls didn't have too many fancy clothes--theirs looked a lot like ours!  :-)

  6. Cherrypops | | #11

    Marcy, that sounds like me. I did exactly that once. Couldn't get it to fit the waist right  - on Me not a doll. It was funny. Now I know more and I read patterns better.

    Anyway my mum did fancywork by hand, on table linens. She had patience.

    Mum taught me the basics, running stitches and buttons. I was seven. I made sleeveless tops, traced out patterns and sewed them up by hand - age ten. Probably got that stashed somewhere, or mum has.

    Mum never had a sewingmachine...she said they were too fast for her. My aunt loved to sew, made me my todder oufits, but doesn't understand the overlocker.

    Dad also knew how to do the basic stitches. He said there were no girls to help in the trenches in the army. I enjoyed watching him sew on buttons. I never really saw sewing as a 'girl thing'.

    I learnt how to read patterns in Jnr High. Still have my 1980's straight skirt pattern. Mum had kept it as one of 'my first achievements'. Not having a 'machine sewing mum' made it difficult to keep up with the girls in class. Took me ages to sew a curved line. I ended up handsewing the skirt and it turned out fine.

    Being left handed too didn't help. Everything was strange, scissors and threading the machine, tweezers weren't used. The positions I would get my hands/fingers in to try..it was all too hard. At 13yrs old I wanted to read books and play with the boys.

    I took a long break and learnt again in my twenties. and now in my thirties, i have done ok. I needed to learn at my pace, not pushed by peers and all is well.

    As I wrote earlier, in another discussion, Thomas wants me to teach him now.









  7. Crazy K | | #12

    Oh.....the memories!  I began sewing when I was about 9 years old.  No Barbies back then but I did sew a dress for a doll.  I was getting away from the dolls even then........more interested in horses and other outdoor things.  I did start sewing for myself shortly after that.  Also made culottes for a girlfriend.  My mom didn't sew much due to lack of time.  Her mom had been a dressmaker and I always say that any natural ability I got was passed down from grandma........even though she passed away before I was born!  Probably my prized accomplishment from back in those days was a woolen skirt (my aunt was an accomplished sewist and would send me yard goods of nice woolens for Christmas) that I made for myself with no pattern.  It was a slim skirt which I made by fitting it on myself as I sewed it!  I was hard to fit even then............very tiny waist (what happened..........not that way now!!) and no space from waist to hips.  That skirt fit so well.  I always felt well-dressed when I wore it.  Kind of fun to think back about it.

    Mom must have appreciated my talents because while still in high school she bought some wool......a plaid and a solid and had me make her a simple solid colored dress and a pendleton-style jacket out of the plaid.  I remember being so careful with the wool and both turned out great.  The jacket (except for the missing shoulder pads) looked nearly like the real thing!!  I think mom always felt well-heeled wearing that outfit.  One must realize that we lived in a very small farming community and only maybe the bankers wife dressed in expensive clothing.  The farm wives had decent things but nothing fancy.....

    Thanks for the memories...........

    1. fabricholic | | #17

      I didn't get a horse until I was almost 40. I remember having to put up my dolls at age 12, because I felt guilty, (too old), for playing with them. It was a very deliberate thing and very hard to do. It seems so silly now.You must have been a great sewist, if you made a jacket for your mom. Lucky that your aunt realized the value of the woolens for you. Great story.

      1. Crazy K | | #19

        My horse days were riding horses that neighbors had!  I finally got a young horse when I was 12 or 13 but that was a short-lived thing.  The horse was only green-broke and I was not a trainer.  As he got just a little older, he got too spirited for me to handle so he was sold.......and my heart was broken but I was too afraid of him by then to ride anyway!!  I could have gotten an older, much calmer horse but I wanted the young 'spirited' one!!  I think my dad thought it was a good lesson for me...........and an expensive one at that!!  I think my "Comanche" lasted for just a few months.

        As for the jacket..........it was a straight-lined, unlined Pendleton style so there was no real fitting involved.  The pockets were the large patch style.  The only tricky part of the whole thing was the collar and the cuffs and of course, get the plaid to match (dont' remember how successful I was on that!!).  I had a neat gizmo that fit on the machine to make buttonholes with a cam so they turned out o.k. as well.  Does anyone remember those things???  It was a cumbersome thing but it worked great!

        1. SewFit | | #21

          I still have one of those Singer buttonholers in my closet.  Don't know why I don't get rid of it. 

          1. Pattiann42 | | #48

            Check out ebay vintage sewing machine accessories, it may be worth something.

        2. fabricholic | | #22

          I have a Singer that uses the cams for the button holes. They do work great. The sewing machine was my grandmother's and I still have it.

          1. Crazy K | | #30

            The machine mom had was a Pfaff and it had all sorts of cams for fancy stitches (I never mastered that, however!) but the buttonholer was a separate purchase.  Not even sure where we got it...........maybe Sears, Roebuck or Monkey Wards!  I can't remember the brand...........I think the name started with a "G"......but that's all I can remember about it.  It had cams for about 4 different sizes.

            Whoever wrote the thread about the kerchief blouses sure brought memories flooding back.  I made those, too, but I stitched the shoulders just leaving a 'boat neck' big enough to get my head through.  Had to be the easiest thing anyone ever made!!


          2. fabricholic | | #34

            The cool thing was, you made it yourself. You could pick out the colors and you could sew it up when you got ready.

          3. SewFit | | #35

            Greist was the brandname of the buttonholer.  I  had one of those too.  Thank goodness for modern machines and built in buttonholers.  One thing about the old treadle machines-they worked even if the power was off. 

            Yep, the kerchief blouses were "cool" back then.  Did you ever make "potholders' on a little hand held loom and sell them to the neighboring moms for twenty five cents each?  

            Edited 5/18/2007 4:54 pm ET by SewFit

          4. Crazy K | | #36

            Thanks for the name of the buttonholer..........it would have tormented me for days!  LOL  No I didn't make the potholders.  I did do some hand embroidery after mom taught me how to do that.  I also taught myself basic knitting techniques after I grew up.  I learned enough to make mom a sweater or two and one for my infant son.  Never did much more.  I crocheted the slippers, mittens and stocking caps when my kids were little, too. That was something I could do and watch TV in the evening!!  later I managed to make a few of the ripple afghans..........mostly baby size but about 3 large ones.


          5. SewFit | | #38

            Me-Maw (mom's mom) taught me to crochet a little.  Then when my children were small I made a number of afghan and many little crocheted baby sweater sets for baby shower gifts.   I've knitted a couple of sweater vests for myself years ago...now I just like to concentrate on sewing...

        3. User avater
          VKStitcher | | #29

          It sounds as if sewing talent runs in your family.  I'm sure your mom was quite proud of the outfit you made for her.

          I learned to sew on my Mom's Singer 401A.  She still uses it, and has one of those buttonholer attachments with the cams.  They are a little clunky and noisy, but they make great buttonholes.

          1. Crazy K | | #31

            I'm sure she was.  She had polio as a child that left her with a hump-back and it was hard for her to buy clothes that fit properly.  She and I found a few patterns that I was able to alter in the back slightly to compensate and she loved those.  In fact, her instructions were to be buried in the last one I made her.........and she was.  It was a beautiful paisley (what goes around comes around!) doubleknit (70's fabric!) polyester and it did fit her well.

            My altering skills were basic at best and kind of a 'fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants' style but it worked for us.  I was a young mom at that time with not lots of time to sew but I did manage to make several things for her as well as many of my own clothes.  I had boys first and we got lots of hand-me-downs for them but then I got my girl and she was the only girl in first grade or Kindergarten that had jeans, coordinating t-necks and matching undies!  Thought she was pretty special!

            Oh......the memories!

  8. Pattiann42 | | #49

    Barbie was yet to come when I was small.  I have boys and a grandson, so no Barbies for either of those two generations.

    My first sewing experience (treadle) was 4H and I won a ribbon and cash for a red and white large check (about 1") potholder.  After sewing it according the the 4H phamplet, I decided it should be quilted - I thought I looked great.

    The only doll clothes I remember making were at my grandmother's house.  My grandfather worked for the Highway department I was always finding things he thought were salvageable.  One was a doll with no legs.  My grandmother scrubbed it clean and I put it in a clean fruit can as a stand.  Then made a long dress, jewelry and a hat from scraps.  My grandmother said the doll looked like Mae West.  I had no idea who she was talking about. 

    1. fabricholic | | #61

      I have always heard of 4 H, but never have been around it. Do they offer instructions in different fields and how did you join?

      1. Pattiann42 | | #62

        There's loads of information on the Internet.....4H clubs of American or Canada for instance. 

        It's for boys and girls and there are a variety of things to learn, with the year ending (in the US) at the county fair where entries are judged and some of the livestock is sold.  Some entries go on to compete at the State Fair.....

        There's more, it's been a long time ago for me and life changes..... 

        1. fabricholic | | #68

          I'll look it up. Thanks.Marcy

  9. ineedaserger329 | | #51

    For me, it was making new BDUs and repairing old ones for GI Joe... two older brothers, go figure....

    1. fabricholic | | #52

      I have two older brothers, also and no sister, although, my cousins were as good.Marcy

  10. sews4two | | #73

    I only wish I had started with clothes for my Barbies. I was too worried about cutting their hair.

    I began my sewing journey in high school. Some of my best memories were from that class. I did not sew after I graduated until I married and became pregnant. Needless to say my grand idea of sewing my maternity clothes did not go well. I put my machine away until my sister in law told me about pillow case dresses. Now I sew a-line dresses and will be taking my first sewing class in a few weeks. I'm hoping to step out of my comfort zone and expand my abilities.

    1. fabricholic | | #74

      Oh, no. You cut their hair off? At least it was theirs instead of yours. My daughter cut all of her curls off at age 4.That is great that you are taking a sewing class. It is so rewarding to look at something you made yourself. I love how everything comes together and I am using my brain to solve fitting problems. It's fun to design your own clothes, also. I am so happy for you.Marcy

  11. Jeanette | | #81

    Getting away from the left/right handness slant that this discussion has taken and getting back to the original Q of learning to sew. ... (sorry lefties). I started sewing at 3 when my neighbours daughter helped me make a apron for my stuffed bunny, which I still have.  I remember making clothes for my Cindy doll with my friend.  Her mother had lots of small squares of fabric samples, I dont' know where she got them from but she must have known someone who was a fabric salesman or something like this.  Because the samples were small we did have to think before we cut but they were big enough for us to make lots of clothes for our Cindy dolls.  I do remember my mum making a lace wedding dress for my Cindy once.  When I left home 10 years ago I remember wanting to pass my dolls and their clothes onto a better home and she refused so they are still sitting in her garage waiting for the day when some lucky girl will get to play with them  I remember mum buying a book with clothes for Barbie and she knitted a lovely ski outfit for my doll with hat , scarf, jumper and skirt.  She looked georgous.  After making dolls clothes I picked up sewing again when I was 12 at  primary school where I remember making a pillow case and a cotton blouse with elastic arm and neck holes.  Since then I have never really stopped sewing although Mum has stopped now and only does mending.  My youngest brother took and interest in sewing and made himself several shirts and polar fleeces although he doesn't sew now.   I can't imagine life without sewing and I always  think I'll continue to do it as whenever I see something nice but overpriced I always hear myself saying "I can make that and for less than half the price they are charging".  When I think of the past when almost all women knew how to sew and the number of women who  can do the same thing now it makes me quite sad.

    1. Cherrypops | | #82

      thanks for sharing and reading all the posts in this thread. many don't and you will find us gals get sidetracked on other threads as well. sometimes it becomes a post within a post. we just don't begin new ones to follow on.

      i did find it difficult sewing left handed. but manage. as others have done too.

      1. User avater
        MrTouch | | #83

        Hello Everybody.

        My name is Ron - I am new here just looking through all the threads. Found this to be interesting. Out riding my bike one day (1994)  I passed a SEW & VAC store. I went in and ask to see used sewing machines. For $49.00 I mounted the old machine on the seat of my bike and walked home only knowing how to thread the machine after the sales person showed me how. Teaching myself to sew was one of the best things I could have ever done. I now have 1 embroidery machine with all the digitizing equipment, 1 combo sewing & embroidery machine, 1 overlock and 3 regular machines. I am constantly redesigning my sewing area as I am always trying to learn more about the sewing world. About 3 weeks ago I desided to start making womens clothing and look into pattern making. The one thing I find in sewing is, no matter what I learn, there is always something more to learn.


        1. solosmocker | | #84

          Welcome aboard, Ron! From the size of your machine inventory, I take it you are hooked! Your beginning is very interesting and different from any I have heard. Kudos for seizing the moment and teaching yourself.

          1. User avater
            MrTouch | | #85

            You are right. It is a rather strange story, but! One that has taken me on a path of much satisfaction. Over the years I have met so many wonderful people in THREADS like this, that have bloomed into fantastic friendships that will last 4 ever. And you are right. I am hooked. I just want one more machine, $10K. It is a six color  - One head embroidery machine with all the goodies to do baseball caps, socks and most tube shaped things. It will do all the work for you, cut the threads and tie them off with knots. I like that. I have been wanting it for a while so I guess it could be as low as $7500 or less?? I think I am going to keep on waiting until it drops down to $1 and fifty cents. LOL. Till then I will make do with what is here. In the long run? I would like to try my hand at creating custom fabric prints. I have a small silk screen set up and I do heat transfers. I do all of my own computer designing, digitizing and photography. I am trying to combind all of these tools into the sewing room. Who knows? It might work? Well off to work I go. Thanks for the WELCOME.


            Have you ever tried the Titanium Coated Needles for your machine? I just picked up some about two months ago. I will never use anything else. They last up to 5 times longer than the regular needles and allows the speciality threads to float through the needle eye without any binding.

  12. sharon227 | | #91

    My mom was (and probably still is) an excellent seamstress.  She tried to teach me when I was around 14 or so, but I had no interest whatsoever until I had my own daughter (who turned out to be a leftie).  Mom always had great fabric around, so my first excursion into sewing was making a dress for my troll doll.  Unfortunately, I ruined her faric by the way I cut the rectangle out of it. 

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