Thursday, July 1, 2010

Stitch Your Life - How to Get Started

It's been a year now since I picked up sewing.  I have to say it's absolutely exhilarating to be able to make my own life this way.  But, you know, I think it's a shame that I waited so long.  I was definitely under the impression that sewing would be hard, really haaaaard.

Sewing is actually a lot like driving a car.  Sure, it can be dangerous and you do need some training, but anyone can do it - really!  But, you're never going to learn to drive if you don't get behind the wheel and start.  Sewing is just the same.

Step #1 - Own a sewing machine.  If you really want to sew you need to make that initial investment to get a machine in your home.  For a long while I told myself that I could sew at my mother-in-law's.  But, it's like exercise - if it's that inconvenient you'll likely never do it.    Here's a post at Sew Mama Sew about how to shop for your sewing machine, along with a link to machine reviews.  I bought a $200 machine from Sears, and it's working out quite nicely.

Step #2 - Choose a project.  You could take a sewing class or read a general "how to sew" type of book, but who really has time for that?  I took that first step by deciding to make flat valances for my kitchen windows.  A "useful" project was the motivation I needed and the key to receiving the initial go-ahead from my husband to buy supplies.

Step #3 - Get Help.  Do you have a sewing friend or relative that can help you get friendly with your sewing machine?  Be sure to read your machine's manual (and keep it handy)!  It may help to refer to a general sewing book as well for the basics.  I learned a lot from Bend-the-Rules Sewing by Amy Karol.  Also connect with the sewing community online through blogs and Flickr (oh, great - you're already here!).

Step #4 - Finish! It won't be perfect; it probably won't be easy, but you've got to finish!  All the imperfections seem glaring when you're in process, but once you hang those curtains up (crooked stitching and all), you'll forget about all that.  Your friends will notice you beaming and finally realize that you're all giddy about your latest sewing project as you gesture wildly in the direction of your windows.

First sewing project ever

And then... compliments!  Success!  Wow, I did that!  And, you'll be off to your next project, officially "sewing."


  1. Yes, my mother and sisters have always been sewists and I totally rejected it until 3 years ago...and then I got bit hard by the sewing bug!! I agree that Bend the Rules Sewing is such a great first user friendly and great projects. And Sew Mama Sew Handmade Holidays tutorials have given me a wealth of fun and inspiration over the years.

  2. Totally agree! Sewing is not THAT hard, a few quick lessons on how to use the sewing machine, a rotary cutter, some cool fabric and your off! It gets easier as you get to know your machine, and that just takes time.

    My mother and sister have also always been sewists (and all things craft), and I took on the role of least like to do anything crafty ever. How things have changed! I am loving sewing, knitting, crochet....

    Great post, thanks!

  3. Hey Rachel, Yes it's great to sew! I came to it quite late in life ..38! I, too, thought it would be hard. I also thought it was just too cliche when I was younger. But it's awesome and now young girls just flock to me to teach them.
    PS thanks for your comment on Violet's laundry bag!

  4. I have only been sewing since March (posted about it here : but had dabbled with it when I was expecting my first child about 8 years ago. I had my Great Grand-mother's Singer but struggled with the tension and quickly gave up. My dear husband surprised me with my Husqvarna Viking for our 5 yr anniversary on a whim that I might really get into it, three years after that I finally did! It has changed my life and can't imagine not sewing. I am learning as I go and am loving ever second! : )

  5. I am so loving these stories about how everyone got started! Keep them coming :)

  6. p.s. I am beginning work on my first quilt this weekend. Wish me luck! : )

  7. What a great post this one is...I blogged about my leaning to sew just a while back! although I still don't feel like I really know what I'm doing. Sigh...

    I know I'm new here, but be sure, I'm LOVIN' your site and have subscribed! I couldn't possibly go back and comment on ALL the many posts I've enjoyed reading, but I adore the brick quilt, your crewel trees, and your Laugh banner (as I'm a huge wool fan) just to name a few! I'm most inspired by your use of color; you've really got a great eye for combinations! And I call it your "just dive right in" attitude about sewing! I was shocked to read this post last and see that you've only been sewing a year! Your works are absolutely lovely!

    Toodles, and keep up your "do. Good" work :-)

  8. My grandma taught me how to sew when I was six years old. She made most of my clothes and she would give me the scraps to make my own creations. I absolutely loved it. As an adult, it was always so uplifting for her to compliment my work. She passed away two years ago from leukemia, but I had the opportunity, while lying in the bed with her, to thank her for all she taught me. It was an unforgettable moment. I try to encourage people all the time to just try can really change your life :)

  9. So very true. I've owned quite a few sewing machines. And each time I moved to a new apartment, I'd donate or give it to someone who seemed more likely to 'get to it' than me. And then finally, after dying to sew, I kept an old hand-me-down sewing machine and after almost two years, asked my mom to show me how to thread it...again. Since then, things have only gotten better. I'm the most of my creations are not expertly crafted...but with each project I'm learning so much. Wish I'd started earlier, or better yet, had a mentor when I was younger. Thanks for sharing your path to the sewing machine. :)

  10. Hi Rachel,
    I've been reading for a while now, and have been trying to find more information avout the kitchen valence you made without luck. Did you use a specific pattern or tutorial to make your valence? I like the style and think it would work well in my own kitchen.

    1. Sorry, Allison, I completely winged that! I think I folded up the fabric until it was the right width even...


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