Sewing Adventures: How It All Began

What began as a simple “hmmmm, I should learn to sew, it might be easier than learning to knit” thought has turned into a full-blown hobby.

Five years ago, I was trying to teach myself how to knit. But I just couldn’t get it. No matter how many YouTube tutorials I watched, or sitting down with my friend Kailee who knew how to do it, I just didn’t have the patience for it.

Then I saw the sewing machine that my mother-in-law handed down to me about a year before. A simple Janome machine (DC 3050 if you’re wondering), it had been sitting in a pretty, decorative bag ever since she gave it to me. She’d upgraded to a Husqvarna and so she didn’t have the need for that Janome anymore. So I ended up with it.


Exhibit A: The Janome 3050 Decor Computer. Who knows how old this is: I’d guess maybe 10-ish or more. It’s a wonderful little machine, seriously. Woot, go me!

My mother-in-law also gave me her serger at about that time. She too had upgraded to a better serger, so guess who got it? Apparently, me!

Now, about that serger she gave me: until recently (read: four months ago), I would look at and get the heebie jeebies. Sergers are sewing machines, but they are a bit more specific than the Janome pictured above. Sergers use multiple (usually four, but some machines can do up to five or even eight) threads to finish off seams (they do what’s called an overlock stitch, where they slice the seam allowance and then wrap it in thread so it doesn’t fray), the long and short of it. I won’t bore you with specifics. They make your clothes look professional on the inside.

I used to be scared to use the serger. This used to be me:

GAH too many threads, no way, I can’t do this.

GAH what if I make a mistake on it?

GAH how would you even thread ALL THOSE THREADS, GAHHHHHHHHH.

Must run and hide from the big evil serger.

Awwwww, so cute! It’s pink! And…. yeah, it’s pink! Can you believe I was actually scared of this thing? But no more. I have conquered it! I rule!

Everything was set up for me to sew. But… to be honest, I wasn’t even sure why she gave me her sewing machines. Except that, well, that’s what parents do when you get older. They start handing off stuff to you that they don’t want anymore so they can clean the house. Or….. something.

The last time I sewed was in eighth grade Home Ec class way back in the dark ages of the late 90s. And before then, I watched Mom make all out Halloween costumes on her late 80s Brother machine (which still works in 2017!). I’d watch Mom cut out all the pieces and then put it together and it looked like fun. I was a creative kid, so I loved watching her work.

But on a whim, at the age of 26, I thought, I should learn to sew. 

My first project, as I love to tell my sewing students, was a so-called “easy” dress. Easy if you know what you’re doing. But NOT easy for “has not sewn since the late 90s and it’s 2012.” That dress had darts, pleats, a zipper, and lining. Talk about jumping into the twelve-foot end of the pool. It took me several weeks to do and multiple visits to my in-laws so that she could help me. At that point, she also taught me an awesome technique for lined bodices and how to make them neat on the inside (I’ll have to do a YouTube tutorial about it later; it saves all the hand-stitching that some patterns call for)

As difficult as that first project was, I’m glad that I jumped in as I did. It makes me overambitious but I feel like I learn a lot more by trying something above my skill level. Then when I do accomplish it, I go, Whoa, I actually did it! Holy crap!

Since then, I have sewn multiple dresses, tops, pants, and skirts. I’ve sewn for myself as well as my husband. I’m slowly getting into fashion design and draping too. I sew mostly vintage clothes from actual vintage patterns. I can do a bound buttonhole (hey, you want to talk about a technique that’s been lost to time, ummmm, yeah…..). I can sew a zipper and make it look good. Hell, I can even sew on SILK for someone else. My best friend’s wedding dress was all silk. HOLY MOLEY was that a project….. 😀

Note that I am completely self-taught. Whatever I have learned has been from “hey what if I tried it this way,” reading books, talking with my mother-in-law and my mom, and that gold mine of information: YouTube. I have never taken a class. I just go in to see what happens and if I screw up, eh, whatever, that’s part of the learning process. And everyone’s gotta start somewhere!

The point is, sewing has become more than just a life skill. It has helped me become even more creative and even to help me figure out what my own style is. And I am CONSTANTLY learning. I’m always telling my students that you never stop learning. And it’s true!