Get Threads magazine!

Subscribe Renew Give a Gift

Entering the world of sewing

My very first sewing project

My very first sewing project

Photo: Nicole Smith

When I was a kid, my mother ran an arts & crafts business out of our home. I grew up surrounded by craft supplies and if my Saturdays weren't spent out on a dig with my archaeologist father, my presence was required helping my mother at a craft booth selling her country-inspired, decorative home pieces.

Despite the fact that I grew up completely immersed in craft projects, fabric scraps, and incredibly creative parents, I never would have learned to sew if I hadn't asked to. My community didn't have a home-ec option, and even if I did have the opportunity, my electives were way too consumed with marching band practice (yes, I was still cool).

However, when I was a child, my mom enrolled me in Saturday morning enrichment courses because I wanted to take more art classes. This is where I first learned to sew.

My very first project was a stuffed bear measuring about 10 inches tall. He doesn't have a name, but I'm pretty sure it's still a "he." I made him when I was 9 years old, and he's still in pretty good shape despite attending college dorm life with me and now living on my couch in Brooklyn, NY.

After being enriched during those Saturday mornings as a kid, I didn't continue my sewing adventures. I didn't start up at the machine again until 10 years later at the age of 20 when I dropped out of Quantitative Analytical Chemistry to take Fashion Design (my scientist father was furious, but I secretly think my mom was excited).

Pictured above is the bear that has been with me for over 2 decades now. Perhaps it's time for him to have a name. Or maybe he should still be my silent, nameless partner, reminding me to never stop learning and making things.

What was the first thing that you sewed? Did you actually finish it? Do you still have it today? Was it a gift, for yourself, or for your home? Who taught you how to sew?

P.S. I ended up teaching Saturday morning enrichment classes when I was about 18 at that same school. I didn't teach sewing, but I did teach 6-year-olds all about dinosaurs. Rather, I taught kids to draw and make dinosaurs out of clay.

_nikki_ Nicole Smith, contributor
Posted on Jun 16th, 2009 in sewing

Comments (25)

sewingnoni sewingnoni writes: My mother was a great seamstress and sewed for the home and family. At age 12 I had sneaked to the machine and "played" and low and behold it would jam up and I would get "caught". Mom forbade me to use the machine until I had a "real class". She must have not been comfortable teaching me. In 7th grade I made my first dress..was very proud of it. Some girls wanted to make pants then, but the teacher only let one girl do that--much more timeconsuming--she was from a large family and had been sewing already for years. Much to my surprise my pattern was the same as a fellow student--who's Mom was the HS sewing instructor. Both of us laughed it off and were somewhat friends till graduation. In high school--I had the friends" mom as techer and could now do pants--made many outfits,formal dresses,grad dress. Cut out school clothes in summer and sewed on mom's Singer Featherweight at night while babysitting(when the kid's went to bed)--and making $$$$ for more sewing. Then pleasure sewing after HS and helped Mom with my wedding dress,from a bridal mag picture we used 3 patterns combined,her dress,and bridesmaids dresses..Then I had boys, sewed rarely,costumes etc. But work,kids,home,husband too busy. Still do sew and LOVE it--it's my best relaxing time! Now I have MORE time to do it!
I have a dedicated section of a room and a long-time friend who is passionate about sewing in her lifetime too! Our husbands and combined 7 sons sometimes don't UNDERSTAND us.. But now we have grandchildren who love our sewing--I hope they get the "bug". I have another Featherweight bought from a neighbor(sister has Mom's). When Mom was sick she asked me what I wanted-I think she already knew it was her sewing machine. I sold my White bought by my husband years before, he knew why--I had a MORE portable Featherweight. Mom left me a great LEGACY--passion for sewing!!! Love her more each day for it.(In 1941 she made her wedding suit by HAND--no sewing machine when she was 20. But she learned to knit,sew,crochet,embroider by aunts when she was a young girl). Wish she could be here to sew with me now that I have the time and many new sewing friends. This skill MUST be shared and passed on!!! The pleasure,income,and savings derived is immeasureable!!! SEW ON HAPPILY.....
Posted: 10:55 am on July 3rd

FrancesC FrancesC writes: I notice that most posters learned either at school or from a mother or other relative. I learned at school, too. Started on a treadle machine and eventually made a blouse and shorts in grade 9. However, my very first project was a pin cushion made from flannelette scraps from a nightgown and I used that pin cushion for years and years and still have it.

I didn't sew anything more except for mending until I had finished university and had started to work. I'm really don't know why but I just got the urge to try. So I bought myself a machine and set out to build on what I had already learned at school. I never took any courses - I just followed the pattern instructions which I had no particular problem interpreting, plus some magazine articles and a book or two. I have made just about all my clothes since then, except for coats. At 77, I'm still doing it because I have scoliosis which has gotten much worse as I aged and store bought clothes just don't fit. Luckily my eyesight is excellent. My aim is to build up a stock of every day clothes that will keep me going even when I can no longer sew.

Btw, I am still using my Elna Zigzag Special from 1967 and I also have an Elna Supermatic (which uses cams) which I bought used.
Posted: 10:45 pm on July 2nd

Love_it Love_it writes: I am very fortunate to have my mother, 2 grandmothers and a great-grandmother whom all sewed. I am a 10 yr. 4-H alumna. 4-H is a great program and all that can should be involved and get your children involved. 4-H teaches whatever subject you are interested. In my case I did sewing, cooking and canning. I competed a county and state fairs. What a great experience. This competion environment gave me an unbiased review of my skills from yr to yr. This allowed me to grow as a sewer. Now, 43 years after I learned to sew I am going into business. I own Desert Hippie Couture and can be contacted at jobsgoing@yahoo.com. I manufacture Western and Re-Enactment costumes, Christening Gowns in Victorian style and Interment Gowns which I donate. Alot of my work is on very old sewing machines and handwork. I do own and use newer machines but prefer the older the better machines.

If I had not had a great learning environment I would not of had the sewing bug and now a new career.
Posted: 5:22 pm on July 1st

lilah lilah writes: I love reading everyone's stories! My mom is a a good seamstress and my great-grandmother was a fabulous seamstress, but unfortunately neither of them taught me to sew. I played on my mom's sewing machine all the time and made many little Barbie outfits and loved stitching up drawstring bags. Yeah, kind of strange, but I could manipulate the sewing machine very well. I got a SewMagic sewing machine for Christmas one year, the one that used glue cartridges instead of needle and thread and it had Barbie patterns in it. That was great fun, but I still preferred Mama's machine to really make something. When I was in ninth grade, I took home-ec and we made a blouse. Mine was made with crinkled cotton and it looked really good except for the corner of the placket, where I didn't get the edge turned under right. It was lumpy with little threads sticking out. Unfortunately, our teacher was ill much of that year and we only spent two weeks on sewing, so we didn't learn very much. When my first daughter was born was when I really learned to sew. I couldn't afford to take classes and have discovered that while Mama can sew beautifully, she cannot teach. I started out making quilts (the first one took me 12 years to finish, but I did many others between the time I started that one and the time I finished it). Then I learned to smock and do shadow embroidery, so I learned how to make dresses for my daughter so I could use the things I made. I later went into business making custom window treatments and drapes. My most ambitious and successful project was a costume for my daughter. Their lit class had a project called "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" They had to dress as a famous person or literary character and would meet at school for dinner. My daughter chose Queen Elizabeth I and I found a historical costume pattern for a dress. It had a boned bodice, a hoop skirt and a huge ruff. I made it with different jacquard fabrics in shades of cream, added some pearl trim and WOW! She got an "A" for the project and the costume was used by several other girls who borrowed it for that class or for various stage performances. In spite of all that, I don't have much confidence in my sewing skills. I wish that I had been able to learn the technical parts of sewing (fitting and good construction) from a good teacher. I think patterns assume that everyone already knows how to sew and I've finally learned that the pattern instructions are just general guidelines for putting the garment together. Creativity in the choice of materials and details need to be added to give the garment personality.
Posted: 8:53 am on July 1st

EmbroideryDetail EmbroideryDetail writes: I, too, learned to sew from my mother. She made my clothing (including flour sack slips,) stuffed animals for Christmas, curtains to cover kitchen cabinets (apple boxes nailed to the wall) in a farm house, embroidered flour sacks for dish towels. My first project when I was 5 years old was to embroider a dish towel. I was so proud of the stitches which looked perfect to my eyes. The only problem arose when we found the towel was attached to my jeans by the stitches!! My next project was hand stitching a shirt for my new baby sister. I picked out buttons that were about 2" across, but Mother just laughed and asked if they were big enough! These simple projects led to a life time of the love of sewing. Like the rest of you, sometimes a while goes by without sewing and then suddenly it's time to make four bridesmaid dresses! I recently was the lucky recipient of a Bernina 830 and it is so much fun! I'm sure that for quite awhile, we will be sewing up a storm!!
Posted: 9:40 pm on June 30th

LadyJaneinMD LadyJaneinMD writes: My mother was a fantastic seamstress, very talented. I was the oldest daughter, so you *know* she had to teach me. I was 4 years old, and she got navy blue gingham with the tiny squares, and we made matching mother-daughter aprons by hand. The gingham was to help me with even stitches. I still remember that apron. She gave me my first sewing kit, a wicker basket with the necessary stuff in it, and I still have that basket 45 years later, rather tattered and worn now. The local 4H group got me onto a sewing machine at age 8, but my mother was always there to teach me the fine points. I made a lot of stuff over the years, even her Mother-of-the-Bride dress when my sister got married.

We all know how to sew, by the way. My father, my sister, and all three brothers are familiar with sewing and know how to use a machine, but I'm the one who really took off with it. I'm supposed to teach my nieces how to sew, but it turns out that I'm not as good as teaching as my mother was.


Posted: 12:58 pm on June 30th

jeanfm jeanfm writes: Years ago (many,many years) when such a thing as a two piece bathing suit was still considered risque, I became inspired with the bra style top. I wanted my mother to get me some of these new fangled style tops but Dad said "NO WAY". Since my grandmother sewed I approached her with the project. Mother said if I made the top Daddy wouldn't object. He really had little confidence in my abilities. But Nanna showed me how to cut a pattern and I sewed the first one on her treadle Singer. After that I sewed on an off for many years and when my daughter was born I asked for a machine and got my very own Singer. Since then I have had periods of not sewing and sewing up a storm. I now have a sewing/embroidery machine and am in one of those sewing up a storm periods. Wonder how long this will last?
Posted: 12:03 pm on June 30th

queenhopeful queenhopeful writes: I started sewing when I was about 8 years old with printed barbies clothes, the ones that were printed on fabric and you just sewed them together. Then did the sewing in Jr High and High School with teachers that either helped or really needed to learn what they were doing. Things really got started when I was pregnant with our first child and on very tight income. I had about 10 yards of fabric and no money for baby clothes. So I used what I had bought for me and we did baby clothes. Pink flannel I had for a nightgown and a few other things. My mother broke down one day and bought me some blue flannel, just in case I had a son. Good thing, poor boy had at least 3 blue outfits in all that pink.
Then started helping my sister with costumes for a ballet school, Then had 7 more children, sewed for all of them, costumes for Halloween, special days, every day. One summer, I cut out enough shorts and t's for my kids for the summer and every morning got up and sewed one for each of them to wear that day, within two weeks had all their summer clothes done.
Now it has progressed to I do costuming, sew for family, design, teach and have a great deal of fun. All my kids have grown up doing homework on the side of my sewing table, sitting on the cutting table and learning along with Mom and others. Have a son currently working on learning to draft patterns with me. Not bad for a 24 year old man of today. My little ones are learning quilting with me so we all have warm blankets to share from now on. Even my cross stitch supplies get raided when one of the kids gets the urge to sew. They have their supplies in my kit and they love to sew with me and their Dad. Taught him to sew in the early days of marriage too, then he became an upholsterer for years. As it is said in this family, I dress the people, he dresses the couches. What can I say, it works.
Posted: 10:50 am on June 30th

sewnutt1 sewnutt1 writes: My first project was hand sewing on crinoline fabric to make dresses for seven inch character dolls. I had received the kit as a Christmas gift. I still have those patterns somewhere!
First real garment, after so much begging, was a pattern and fabric for a cotton dress and jacket. Mom was so skeptical that I would finish a full garment! I remember that the seam widths were less than 5/8" as one of the seams raveled out when I wore it. The notched collar on the jacket was poorly turned. At this age, just could not trust the term 'clip in'!

Posted: 10:26 am on June 30th

Sewing2enjoying Sewing2enjoying writes: My mother was an excellent seamstress, always in demand by people needing repairs or something made for them. She also knitted, crocheted, quilted, and embroidered. We had her mother's old sewing machine, an old Singer treadle from the late 1800s. My sister and I began wanting to make our own doll clothes but simply took some scraps, cut out some pieces, and put them on our dolls like a paper doll-type piece of clothing. Not satisfied with that, we began to learn the old treadle. Mom had us originally try to sew squares together, like a quilt piece. This taught us how to cut material, control the treadle, straight seaming, and how to thread and take care of the machine. Quilt squares quickly bored us as we wanted to do things more exciting. We made doll clothes. As soon as we were 9, we joined 4-H and signed up for sewing. (Mom was one of our two club leaders). This is when she and Dad decided it was time to trade in the old treadle for a new machine and we quickly had a new 1954 Singer desk model machine. (Dad said he didn't know why I would need an electric machine because I often turned the wheel with my hand on the treadle). Being a 4-H member, I was so proud at 13 to win a big purple ribbon at the county fair. The dress was a simple sleeveless dress with a gathered skirt. My sister later went to State Fair with a dress she made. She was 22 months older and I was extremely proud of anything she ever accomplished which was much. We also began home economics at school. There I made a "duster" (lightweight housecoat), and modelled it at a fashion show held for the parents and students. It was short-sleeved with a huge inverted pleat down the center back which began at the bottom of the yoke, and a bow at the top of the pleat. I was so proud of it I thought it was just wonderful! I am still sewing and just now learning to knit and try some beginner quilting (at 67!!!). I enjoy making clothing, home dec items, gifts, and craft items. My mother was still using her sewing machine when she became ill at the age of 90 and handed all her supplies and the machine to me along with an early Singer serger which was very limited but was wonderful to serge unfinished seams. Though I rarely use her desk model machine, I still have it. My sister has the old serger, as well as a very fancy new sewing machine that also embroiders. I now enjoy my Pfaff serger with all the bells and whistles. I have an electronic sewing machine that does all I need it to do and more. With all the sewing supplies we have today to make things so much easier it is difficult to leave my sewing area! Many times I have said, "If my mom had been able to use the tools we have today, I wonder what she could/would have accomplished!" I can't imagine. She made wedding dresses, coats, underwear, just anything and everything, using an old treadle and then a 1950s Singer. What a gal! I am so thankful that she taught us so much. Our families have definitely been enriched, also. Happy Sewing!!!
Posted: 10:12 am on June 30th

momkelly momkelly writes: My Great Grandmother sat me down at the age of 9 or so.. and first showed me she could make tops out of bits of fabric and no pattern! I was amazed. I had been given for Christmas a Singer sewing machine.. hand crank..

she sewed on an old treadle machine. she had me cut small 3"squares.. and sew them together.. and make a doll quilt for my Barbie doll. then she taught me to embroidery.. a skill I have always enjoyed. In fact in high school started a fad of embroidering jeans!

next sewing project would be a few years later in 7th grade, an apron and a blouse.

Pattern reading came easy to me.. or maybe Grandmom taught me well .. can't say.. but it came as easy as walking… in 10th grade I took another sewing class(easy A) and when you had a question you put your name on the board.. and waited. I never put my name on the board.. I never needed help. well a few of my classmates discovered I knew what I was doing, so they would ask me and I answered their questions. Didn't think much of it; did the same in other classes.. as long as it wasn't a test no one ever seemed to mind. Most teachers were grateful. Anyway apparently I was getting more questions than she was.. don’t know… couldn’t tell you .. if someone asked a question I answered it and went on with my sewing.. but all of a sudden, out of the blue.. she yelled across the room in front of Juniors and all that she "was the teacher of the class" not me.. and I was "not to help another student." Well I was floored, embarrassed and had no clue there was a problem.. ... I felt bad for my friends.. well it lasted a week.. then they would sneak over to me.. and ask a quick question. LOL

This teacher and I didn't get along too well you might guess. even as a kid I wasn't about to waste fabric.. so I laid the pattern out, on grain of course, but no wasted fabric... "that wasn't right", she would say.. so I used to lay the pattern out as the pattern suggested, until she "okayed" it ....move the pieces and then cut out my pattern... I wasn’t’ wasting that fabric.. I could make a matching purse if I had enough left over!

Then one year I wanted to make a grey corduroy skirt.. but I wanted the direction of the wales to go around the skirt rather then vertical.. Oh My Lord! She had a fit.. I didn’t know what I was doing.. I knew I wanted it to be different. (I am a product of the 70’s.. LOL) she fussed but I made my skirt.. Yeah I made something to satisfy the grade requirement.. but I made my skirt!

anyway.. I sewed off and on over the years, often changing something on the pattern.. to make it suit me. then I had kids. and my creative spark arrived again.. I made all their Halloween costumes for years.. they picked them out of a magazine or catalog... and then I went to the store bought fabric and started cutting and sewing until I had what they wanted. it was fun.. and it didn't have to be perfect because it wasn't for the prom.. I made some pretty amazing costumes.. then they grew up.. LOL

as I have gotten older.... and see that others can't work a needle.. or a sewing machine.. I am EVER GREATFUL to my Great Grandmother.. who I think said to herself one day, that another generation would not be lost to sewing, embroidery.. and crochet.. so she taught me.. and I have taught my daughter.. and I hope .. the next generation when it gets here. Will also learn.. great skills to have.
Catherine.
Posted: 8:47 am on June 30th

maggiesmom maggiesmom writes: One summer evening after second grade my sister, a neighbor girl and I were bored. When we went in to the house there was my mother sitting at her pink Atlas sewing machine working on some mending. We decided we wanted to learn to sew. Momma stopped what she was doing and cut out three squares of fabric, drew a flower on each one, and gave us each a needle threaded with embroidery thread. Industriously, we sat down and started our project. I remember chatting and laughing together as we sewed. My sister got a knot in her thread and when she got up to take it to Momma for some help, she realized she had sewed her project to the arm of the couch. After we all got a laugh from that, the neighbor girl found her project sewed to her pants and I had sewed mine to the couch pillow in my lap. Poor Momma...I don't think she got very much mending done that night.

Being much older and more experienced, I decided for my third grade Mother's Day project I would make Momma and apron. My teacher must have helped me cut out the lavender fabric and got me started. With twenty other students to supervise , I don't think I got much help after that. We worked on our projects for 15 minutes every day until we finished. I still have the apron... the band and tie was all one piece and there's about six inches of the tie on one side and three feet on the other. There are so many places where I didn't get the raw edge turned all the way under and it looks like I was doing the zigzag by hand on most of it. We get a good laugh whenever I dig it out of the trunk.

My first sewing machine project was when I was in eighth grade. I was determined to do it on my own. I was going to make a pinafore. It was fairly simple to cut out and to read the directions to put it together. However, this was the first time to run the machine by myself. I was afraid I would run over my fingers, so I made the whole thing by turning the wheel by hand!!!!!

Posted: 6:19 am on June 30th

SewKrazy505 SewKrazy505 writes: I remember the first day I learned to sew some 50 years ago. My parents and I were visiting my Grandparents who lived in Missouri. It was a warm, humid day with a gentle breeze blowing. I was all of 5 years old, and luckily a bit tall for my age. My Granny had a treddle sewing machine. She sat me down to the machine only to realize my legs were too short for my feet to touch the treddle. A few minutes later she attached some large boxes to the treddle so my feet could touch them, hence working the sewing machine. I didn't sew anything that day but seams -- straight ones, curvy ones, ones that crossed one another -- seams that went any place my heart desired. On that day, a life long love was borne!!!

The next day my Granny helped me make a pattern for my favorite teddy bear. After that I made clothes for my teddy bear to my hearts content. Each summer, when I would visit that set of Grandparents, a sewing adventure always occured. During the summer I would usually craft my back to school wardrobe, going shopping at the many manufacture outlets in Kansas City for bolt ends fabrics and fabulous deals.

Today I'm fortunate enough to own one of the computerized sewing machines that has many built in stitches as well as creating professional embroidery. I'm still in awe of the many changes offered to the current day seamstress. And, obviously, I'm still enamered by the craft of sewing!!!
Posted: 12:50 am on June 30th

purplegirl purplegirl writes: My desire to sew began with watching my mom sew beautiful dresses for my sister and I every Easter, Christmas and Mother's day. I really got into it when my dad, who sold sewing machines part time brought home a hand crank sewing machine that he was given in trade for a new model. I was determined to conquer this machine, carrying it up from the basement where it was stored, tugging it up step by step as it weighed as much as I did at age 7. I would excitedly unlock the wooden case and carefully wind the bobbin, put it in the shuttle and prepare to sew some wonderful garments for my Barbies. I patiently cranked with my right hand and guided the fabric with my left. On my more patient days I actually created a zig zag design on some of Barbie's fantastic outfits. Since this machine was only a straight stitch I had to turn the fabric each stitch to create a zig zag.I continued to sew and in high school sewing I had a fantasic teacher who really inspired all of her students. We were each required to sew our graduation dresses from our measurements. My creation won Best of Show in a Sewing and Crafts competition. I also took home the $200.00 first prize which almost covered the cost of the fabric,lace,beads and buckram(used to create a self standing bodice).I attended an Apparel Design and Developement program and that was the beginning of my career as a sewing instructor- to numerous adults and children throughout the last 20 years. I love to see people proudly wearing and showing off what they have created with their own hands and imaginations!
Posted: 12:28 am on June 30th

furballs furballs writes: I sure do recall my first sewing project, in grade 7 home ec. We all had to make an apron, and the teacher had precut lengths of fabric for us. This came after practicing on printed paper with the machine, to learn to sew straight and curved lines evenly. When the fabrics were distributed for the aprons, there was very little choice in colours,so I got stuck with a hideous pink print I just hated. Never did like pink very much..It was a fairly simple project, but we had to do it all perfectly. Gathering across the waist had to be perfectly even,then the waistband and ties had to be just so and edge stitched evenly. Next we had to sew on a pocket and edge stitch that and finally, hand hem it. I didn't much care for the hand hemming part either. It seemed overly tedious for such a mundane item and I didn't see any reason why we couldn't just use the machine to stitch it down, but I soon learned the teacher did not share my views :-). I finished it, because there was really no other option and promptly gave it to my grandmother as a gift, because I couldn't stand to wear it myself. Of course I never told her that :-), and she was tickled with it. My grandmother was a very skilled dressmaker, tailor, milliner and did lovely knitting and crochet too. She made so many lovely things for my sister and I, including new hats for Easter every year. As for me, I didn't sew again until I was well along in high school, when I discovered I could sew a blouse for far less than buying ready made. Unfortunately, I was terrified of snipping into the curves, for the collar and armholes,certain they'd just go to pieces. And I was sure that if I trimmed a seam as closely as the pattern said to, it would ravel to nothing the first time I washed it, so I never trimmed any seams either. Needless to say I had a dreadful time doing collars and sewing in sleeves....my efforts looked dreadfully 'homemade' at first. I think I still have one of those blouses tucked away somewhere that I never did finish because I made such a mess of it. But eventually I learned that snipping into a curve did not mean it would automatically fall to shreds... and that trimming the seams made it so much easier, and didn't fall apart in the wash, so I eventually became reasonably skilled at making clothes. But I'll never forget the pink apron !
Posted: 11:29 pm on June 29th

Aunt_jo Aunt_jo writes: My whole family sewed including my father. They were furniture makers so i learned to make patterns, cut and sew invisible seams by hand as a youngster.
I first took a "sewing class" in junior high and chose a blouse for my first project. I did most of it at home on my moms machine. My instructor gave me a "B" because i had not basted all the seams first. I didn't attempt much after that until i got married and my husband bought me my very own sewing machine after which, I made my own clothes, clothes for him, and then when i had kids, clothes for them. A long way from that first blouse that i forgot to put basting stitches in. I still do not baste very often although i do pin quite a bit to keep things in place as I sew whether by hand or machine. I just felt that grade was unjust because I had no problem controlling the light cotton fabric I was using and my pedal speed matched my ability to guide it so i didn't see what the problem was if my end product was satisfactory and i had saved myself some time.
Posted: 11:08 pm on June 29th

Ericson Ericson writes: I will never forget my first sewing project. I was signed up for 4-H in my home county in Montana. My mom was my leader and she was going to help me sew a drindl skirt without a pattern. She did all the math for the gathers, waistband, etc., and I had it completely done except the hem. I DID NOT want to do all that blind hem stitch! I was agonizing, sewing irregular stitches while sitting on the front lawn on a June afternoon. Thinking I could lessen the stress, I plopped a couple of cute little kitties on my skirt to entertain me while I picked at the cotton hemline of my skirt. Unfortunately, one little kitty did what untrained little animals do at random times right on my skirt. Whatever was in the dye of my skirt, it bled all over the urine spot my kitty left. Oops! My mom tried everything in her laundry arsonal to change the stain, but finally she decided we would have to cut that piece from the skirt. I had to redo the gathers, waistline, and yes, every bit of the hem. Never again did a kitty sit on my lap for sewing. I got a blue ribbon at the county fair. But can you believe this, I was ironing my skirt that fall before wearing it to school, and I scorched it by leaving the iron on the board too long. We added lace and ribbon to the hemline and I wore it proudly until I grew out of it. Now it sits in my cedar chest, the first of hundreds of garments I have made for myself in the 43 years since. I'll never forget my first sewing project!
Posted: 10:52 pm on June 29th

LucyJane LucyJane writes: My brother gave me a Terry Lee doll when I was about ten years old. I remember being laid up with Mumps and making the most outlandish doll clothes. I was smitten.

The following summer I took a Singer Sewing Class and made a full skirt. One girl in the class had an unusual name and I have seen her listed in creative magazines in the credits. I never became famous but have had a lifetime of sewing experiences.

I am apalled that there are people who can't or won't sew
on a button.
Posted: 10:49 pm on June 29th

Rosellen Rosellen writes: My mother and grandmother showed me how to hand sew doll clothes, but I first used a sewing machine when I made a dress for 4-H. However, I remember that I didn't like the dress and never wore it. The first project that I made on a machine which I actually wore was a corduroy skirt for which my mother paid me $5. I liked it so much that I made two more corduroy skirts for $5 each, at which point my mother stopped paying me! By that time I was confident enough to continue sewing most of my own clothes.

Like Genevieve, I now have my own sewing room, complete with a cutting board that can collapse to a narrow table. The room also is my writing space and thanks to the Murphy bed tucked behind what looks like a cabinet, can be a temporary guest room.
Posted: 10:38 pm on June 29th

tommiandjaysmommy tommiandjaysmommy writes: I grew up watching my mom sew many items of clothing for me and my sisters. When I was in junior high I decided that I wanted to learn to sew and basically with just a little verbal guidance from my mother I sat down and sewed a pair of doll pajamas (complete with feet..which impressed my mother to no end) for my niece.

I sewed various things for myself here and there over the years on my mother's machine and got my own machine the first Christmas after I was married.
Posted: 9:19 pm on June 29th

LindaKluck LindaKluck writes: I learned to sew as part of a class in ninth grade in a Catholic school. I learned to pink the seams by cutting off a very minimal amount, or get in trouble. I have always sewed ever since then.
Posted: 9:17 pm on June 29th

holl314 holl314 writes: I was 12 and a friend's mom had just died. My mom taught my friend and me how to sew, using an a-line skirt pattern. My mom bought my friend beautiful sky blue wool, but mine was camel, and I remember being envious of my friend's blue wool. We both grew up to be pretty good sewers, and she never forgot my mother for the attention she gave her, and for the gift of learning how to sew.
Posted: 9:06 pm on June 29th

PatMatz PatMatz writes: Thanks to those who have posted stories--I, too look forward to hearing more! They are wonderful!

I don't exactly remember my very first sewing project, but I do remember growing up that I was thrilled when my aunt sewed a shorts outfit for me--I think I was 11. My mother did not sew, but all my aunts and grandmother did. I would always secretly get the sewing machine out when visiting my grandmother (if it wasn't out) and sewed through my finger once! Even that didn't cause me to quit! I was always fascinated by those who could sew and wanted to learn! I do remember having very patient 4-H leaders that would even come to my house and help me with my projects. How grateful I am for the time they spent teaching me!

I did go on to become a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and one of the favorite projects was making quilts. (I just had a note from a former student a couple of days ago telling me she still has her quilt and still uses it after several years.) I have never made a quilt myself, but now that I am not teaching, maybe someday I will! I have helped several 4-H kids with sewing projects to in part repay those who helped me so much. One of my first projects was an apron--I still have it. I think I got a red ribbon, which I was extremely proud of! I did go on to earn many purples and always made a new outfit for any school dance we had in high school. I spent most every summer and every weekend at the sewing machine! I don't sew much any more, but am moving to a new job and am thinking that maybe I will set up one of my machines to have it handy! I do really miss sewing! If anyone knows of any "causes" I could sew for, please let me know--I'm thinking cancer caps, baby blankets, etc.--but anything would be okay with me! I have also always wanted to sew costumes for performers! I just saw "Wicked" on stage and would have loved to work on costumes for that production! It was great having a seat close enough (front row) that I could really get a good look at them!
Posted: 8:45 pm on June 29th

showstopper1424 showstopper1424 writes: I remember that my first sewing project was a crazy quilt for my Barbie's, made by scraps from my grandmother. I still have it today....I must have been 7 or 8 years old.
Posted: 9:24 pm on June 22nd

genevieve genevieve writes: I remember very clearly what my first sewing project was; I was 11 years old, nearly six foot tall, and very thin (very hard to buy clothes that fitted). My mother signed me up for an 8-session sewing class, run by Singer. She insisted I get the most out of it, so I made a shirt-dress with contrast collar and cuffs, buttons down the front of the bodice and a zip in the side seam. The fabric was a fine poplin in pakle taup and white stripe. It was in 1955.
Since than I have made nearly all my clothes, and lots of bits and pieces for friends and family. I still enjoy sewing, and have always got several projects on the go - I am lucky now to have a large cutting table altered for my height, and a separate designated sewing room. I feel very lucky.

Thanks Nicole for your story, I look forward to hearing others'.
Posted: 5:27 am on June 17th

You must be logged in to post comments. Log in.