Tuesday, April 13, 2010


While Jim was gone last week, I attempted to sew to keep myself entertained. I'm not a sewer. My mom is not a sewer. There was a sewing machine stored in our basement growing up, but it was never used (that I can remember), and eventually donated to a charity.
My Grandma Stoehr is sewer. When I was a little girl, my gifts from her were home-made cabbage patch dolls (which I still have), a home-made clown (which I also still have and I ADORED growing up), and other quilts, dolls, and animals. I sewed something with her once. She found a simple doll pattern, and helped me make it. She guided me through the process, and as we created a doll together, I listened to stories about when she used to work in a factory sewing things. She told me about when a needle went through someone's finger (it might have been hers, but I can't remember) and how her family didn't have very much money, so she ate lard and sugar sandwiches. In the end, I had a new home-made doll to take home and play with, and fond memories of my grandma. I didn't sew again until high school.
Me and the clown from Grandma Stoehr. I loved this thing so much she actually had to make three or four different outfits for it over the years because they became so worn. The original outfit is still my favorite though.
My junior year of high school I took a sewing class as an elective. I think it was only a six-week class. We were to pick a pattern, purchase the materials, and work on it during the hour long class sessions. It took me the full six weeks to make my two-hour dress pattern. I really didn't know what I was doing. I remember watching other classmates finish their first pattern, and even complete a few more during the six weeks. I watched as they showed up wearing their dresses to school. When I finished mine it was so ugly and unflattering (not to mention uneven) that it hung it my closet for a few months before it ended up with the fate as my mom's sewing machine.
A few years ago I got the sewing bug again. I was reading crafty blogs, and came across a pattern for a rag quilt. The directions said it was easy to accomplish, and very forgiving, so I took a stab at it. My MIL gifted me a little sewing machine and showed me how to use it. I literally couldn't thread a needle. Long story short, the quilt turned out okay. I made several mistakes (number one being that I didn't pre-wash the fabric, so that when I DID wash the quilt it fell apart and needed to be re-sewn), but luckily rag quilts are forgiving.
I didn't touch the sewing machine again (unless it was to move it out of the way) until last week. Jim was gone, and I needed something to get my mind off of my husband's absence. I've been a little addicted to Project Runway lately, and thought I should attempt clothes again. I figured I've watched enough wannabe designers assemble garments, that I could figure it out too (with a little help from u-tube and blog tutorials).
I purchased vintage sheets and fabric from thrift stores for my material. It was WAY cheaper than buying new fabric. Plus, I knew if I messed up I wouldn't be sad having wasted inexpensive vintage sheets. I started with some very simple skirts for Tralee and myself. It took me three tries before I didn't mess something major up. I also attempted a pillow-case dress for Stinks, but it's too big around her shoulders. I tried a sweater-vest for Hunter (made out of some of Jim's clothes we were going to donate to a thrift store), but the waist was too small and the shoulders were too big. The last thing I completed before Jim came home was a dress for Tralee. I drew out a pattern on newspaper, and went to town. There are about 100 mistakes, but luckily none of them are too noticeable unless you go looking for them. Overall, I pretty much love the outcome.
I was going to shorten the dress, but I actually like it at this length. It looks kind of 40's-50's-ish to me. Plus, Tralee can grow into it.

So, that's my sewing journey. The most important thing I learned about sewing is, the more you do it, the more you learn. . . and the more addictive it is. I keep thinking of more and more things I want to try and make. I've even pretended I'm actually good at this sewing thing, and drew out a few designs I want to try and make. How very Project Runway of me. I'm hoping I'll eventually get enough experience that not everything I make is laden with mistakes. Until then, I'll frequent thrift stores for my funky material and vintage patterns. I'll save places like Mood (drool) for the real designers.


Meagan said...

I am so very impressed. I don't understand how you people get so much done is so little time. Perhaps I worry too much about details and doing things just right that I never get passed them. Then I have 10,000 unfinished projects. Now, after that epiphany, perhaps I can just get going. p.s. where are you finding these vintage sheets etc?

Hannah S said...

Way to not be a sewer. Sheesh. Good job!!!

Audie said...

SOOOOOOOOOOO ADORABLE!!! I want for myself!!! Let's work on that. Dresses for us.