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The Sew What’s New Archive

This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: LWOrig
Date: 05-18-2006, 10:56 AM (1 of 28)
Morning, ladies. Everyone I know who has ever sewed has a story about either the first item they sewed which turned out to be a calamity or something else they tried that just didn't turn out right.

Here's one of mine sewing stories that I posted very early on in my Linda's Blog: (http://lindawalshoriginals.blogspot.com)

I have been sewing and crafting since I was about 10 years old. My mother taught herself how to sew, my grandmother was a seamstress, my aunt was a seamstress, etc. Women from sewing families know what I mean when I say sewing runs in the family. Not that I want to date myself, but, I was born in the baby boom generation so that means I've been sewing and crafting for over 40+ years. When I was first learning how to sew my mother did not have a sewing machine. Her best friend, however, did. My mothers best friend is a wonderful woman who is an avid seamstress and who was thrilled with my desire to learn how to sew. She volunteered to let me use her old black metal Singer sewing machine. I loved that machine. I'd love to have that machine today. I know many of you will agree with me that they just don't make sewing machines like they used to. All of the parts were metal.

In any event, the first thing I decided to make was a shirt for myself. I set about buying a pattern, buying the material, supplies, etc. My mother showed me how to read the pattern and how to layout the pattern pieces on my material. I never followed the pattern layout instructions, then, and I still don't as I always thought they wasted too much material. She also told me to read the instructions carefully and to follow the pattern step by step. For my first few years I didn't dare go to step 5 before finishing steps 1 through 4. I thought the earth would fall apart if I did. What did I know I was just a kid!

So my mother explained how to read the various instructions on the pattern sheets and what the little black notches meant. I used to cut them off until I realized they could be quite useful. So I set about cutting out my shirt and then attempting to sew it. My mother and her best friend explained all the sewing terms, showed me how to sew a straight line with the machine, how to sew in reverse, etc. I really think my mother made me practice much more then I needed just to keep me out of her hair. In any event, I practiced sewing straight lines forward and backwards until I could do it with my eyes closed.

I knew what I was doing, or so I told my mother. Let me do my shirt. So she, as mothers always do, sighed and said "fine!" Go ahead! I sewed the side seams and the shoulders, then the side seams of the arms. Piece of cake. This is easy. Then the instructions said that I needed to sew the arms to the shirt easing the fabric so that it fit. Well, I looked at the shoulders of my arms and the armhole opening of my shirt. No way that was going to fit. The shoulders of my arms were way too big. I figured the pattern must be wrong so I cut the arms of my shirt straight across the top of the side seam so that the armhole opening of my shirt and shoulder of my arms would fit. Hey, no problem now. No more excess material. Oh, was I good. I sewed both of the arms on and then turned the shirt RSO.

I figured this might be a good time to try my shirt on. Well, you all know what happened. The sleeves were way too short and my armhole opening was a bit too tight. My mother and her friend were trying not to laugh but, I looked ridiculous. What did I learn. Laughter is the best medicine and sewing is always an adventure. Hey, if you don't try something you'll never know if it would have worked.


Linda
User: LWOrig
Member since: 04-15-2006
Total posts: 14
From: swartzrn
Date: 05-18-2006, 05:20 PM (2 of 28)
Hi Linda--the first thing I ever made was a nightgown in Girl Scouts. My oldest daughter now laughs at it (sigh) I was proud of it nonetheless.
I love your dolls--especially the colonial dolls and the patriotic themed dolls and other items (military wife here.) Anyway, thank you for sharing and I'll be sure to check back on your blog!! Aren't they fun?
Julie
"To see the future, look into a child's eyes."
User: swartzrn
Member since: 02-17-2006
Total posts: 436
From: LWOrig
Date: 05-18-2006, 06:27 PM (3 of 28)
Julie, I'm so glad you like my dolls. I love designing them. Plus, I just love blogs. I think I've become addicted to them. I just can't stop writing. LOLOLOLOL

You know it's been over 40 years since I sewed my first shirt. I can remember the event as if it happened yesterday. That's probably true for everyone's first attempt at sewing. How did you nightgown turn out?

Linda
User: LWOrig
Member since: 04-15-2006
Total posts: 14
From: paroper
Date: 05-20-2006, 06:48 PM (4 of 28)
My mother let me choose my first project. I'm sure that my home ec teacher was fit to be tied when I brought it in. Mom took me to a very expensive department store in town. (The old fashioned kind where it was broken up into boutiques and each level of the store represented a high level of income?) My first project was in 1966. The skirt which was required to be sewn first was one of those "new" short a-lines and a hip hugger. The fabric was light pink linen mixed with silk...and was terribly expensive (the machines we used happened to be new zig zag Touch and Sew). The skirt had four fitting darts in the front and four in the back and there WAS NO WAISTBAND. The pattern called for 1 inch grosgrain ribbon at the top. The skirt had a self-belt that was wide that was curved to match the hipline and had a large covered button closure.

Well, that was bad enough BUT my mother let me pick out my blouse pattern myself too. THe fabric was the finest batiste print, pink with little pink and red roses scatter throughout. The PATTERN? Well, like most new seamstresses, I would have been in over my head without a good teacher. The blouse was sleeveless. It used bias tape to close the seams at the arms and neck. It had a petal collar. Now, most of you probably have not seen a petal collar. By the time it was over, I wished I hadn't. It had 9 little curved parts that made the collar look like an escaped Anne Gettes baby design. Each set of petals, depending upon where they went had a different shape and they were all interfaced and carefully pressed to make a perfectly round petal shape. The back had 8 button holes marching down the garment.

The outfit actually turned out very well. However, the teacher demanded that when we used the tracing wheel we use a color that would SHOW UP on the garment. All darts (including the two in the front of the blouse), center back and fold lines, etc must be marked so they could be identified. I chose my tracing paper without asking the teacher her idea. The color I chose to show up on the blouse? Dark purple. Now, in the old days, tracing paper did not wash out of fabrics. I had a lovely batiste blouse that I had slaved over and it had deep purple lines down the back. Fortunately, the teacher stopped me before I marked the front darts. At the time I did a lot of embroidered dish towels. So, the only thing we could think of was to embroider a line down the back of the blouse on the center back mark. The embroidery was done after the button holes were place in the garment and it was a mistake I never forgot. The garments, however, were very well made and fit very well so I wore them even into college.
pam

Bernina 200e, Artista V5 Designer Plus, Explorations, Magic Box, Bernina 2000DE & 335 Bernette Serger, Bernina 1530 Sewing Machine, Bernina 1300 DC Overlock (with coverstitch)
User: paroper
Member since: 02-03-2004
Total posts: 3775
From: Magot
Date: 05-20-2006, 09:03 PM (5 of 28)
I joined school after every one else haad done the pracice apron and was told I needed supplies to make a pair of shorts and the pattern number I needed to buy. So before I met the teacher and knew anything about fabric, I bought my purple paisley light weight cotton. I loved my hot pants! The teacher - a serious Dragon whose voice haunts me whenever I take scissors to the machine or sew something held together with pins - said "Bright, isn't it"
love and kisses, Jan
Guts-R-Us
Cells a Speciality
DNA to order.
User: Magot
Member since: 12-22-2002
Total posts: 3626
From: DorothyL
Date: 05-21-2006, 08:04 AM (6 of 28)
In high school we made aprons first, then a gathered skirts without patterns.
In my junior or senior year home ec class I made a dress out of a green-striped-cotton-light-weight-bedspread/tapistry-hippy-thing from India. Remember those -- they also came in paisley boarder prints.
I used a choir robe pattern and it was short -- the way skirts were in the mid sixties.
It turned out great and I loved it.
They sent me home from school the first day I wore it because it didn't meet the schools conservative dress code.
I still wonder why the teacher let me make it if I couldn't wear it to school.
Dorothy
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: LWOrig
Date: 05-21-2006, 08:08 AM (7 of 28)
Jan and Pam, those are great stories. Purple lines down the back of a beautiful blouse. Great solution, Pam. I just wish I had kept the blouse I tried to make. It would be a riot to have it displayed in my workshop. Did either of you keep yours?

Linda
User: LWOrig
Member since: 04-15-2006
Total posts: 14
From: paroper
Date: 05-21-2006, 08:10 AM (8 of 28)
I don't remember what happened to it.
pam

Bernina 200e, Artista V5 Designer Plus, Explorations, Magic Box, Bernina 2000DE & 335 Bernette Serger, Bernina 1530 Sewing Machine, Bernina 1300 DC Overlock (with coverstitch)
User: paroper
Member since: 02-03-2004
Total posts: 3775
From: Patty22
Date: 05-21-2006, 01:14 PM (9 of 28)
All this talk about first sewing projects has brought back a flood of memories; one in particular......

When I was small the large chain department stores in the city was where one went to purchase fabric. I know many of you are too young to know that you could go to a chain store, such as JCPenney, and sit at their pattern counter, pick patterns and purchase fabric and notions. My mother would go to either Polsky's or O'Neils and the women at the department would allow her to pin her pattern pieces (she had already purchased the pattern and trimmed the pieces) onto the fabric still on the bolt so she wouldn't have to buy more than was actually needed. It seemed at the time, my mother was probably one of the first conspiracy theorists, the pattern companies were in "cahoots" with the fabric companies and the back of the envelope always allowed too much fabric or didn't use a layout that utilized the least amount of fabric.

Were the retailers more consumer friendly in the "old days"? I really can't see myself going into a store today and asking the same kind of service without them telling me where I can take a leap (and not of faith).
Patty
User: Patty22
Member since: 03-29-2006
Total posts: 1194
From: Magot
Date: 05-21-2006, 01:53 PM (10 of 28)
I don't think a pair of purple hot pants I made when I was 12 would fit me now....
love and kisses, Jan
Guts-R-Us
Cells a Speciality
DNA to order.
User: Magot
Member since: 12-22-2002
Total posts: 3626
From: MaryW
Date: 05-22-2006, 08:21 AM (11 of 28)
Patty, I think the store employees must have been friendlier. They couldn't get much worse than some of them are today. My husband tried to get some help in the grocery store. He walked up to two employees who were standing there talking. They would not look at him or ask him if he needed help. He politely waited, then another man walked up, interrupted them demanding to know where something was. Both employees ignored my husband and walked away to find what the other guy wanted. I can't repeat what my husband called them. :nervous:
MaryW
owner/editor of Sew Whats New
User: MaryW
Member since: 06-23-2005
Total posts: 2542
From: DorothyL
Date: 05-22-2006, 08:30 AM (12 of 28)
Mary,
I think it works both ways. If you ask anyone in retail they can tell you tales of rude customers.
On my trips to Canada though -- and the U.S. Midwest to some degree -- I found people were much friendlier and nicer.
I find it is much easier for me to be polite, patient and helpful now that I work part-time in my sewing room rather than hanging out with a bunch of politicians and living under daily deadline pressures.
Dorothy
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: MartySews
Date: 05-22-2006, 03:38 PM (13 of 28)
Customer Service today means that the same as Self-Service from the attitude of most store clerks. I do remember going into Sears, JC Penney's, K-Mart, Woolworth's, Montgomery Ward's and Kress Dept Stores to rummage in their fabric departments which were next to the shoe dept. In fact for a long time, I thought the only place to buy sewing machines was at Sears. After sewing doll clothes, my first garment was an A-line avocado green cotton dress with bell sleeves trimmed in black rick-rack. It had a center placket zipper in the back and facings. I was 12 yrs old and in 8th grade when I made this dress. Because I knew how to sew when I started the class, the teacher let me work on my own and gave me an A+, It fit perfectly. My mother did not believe in using interfacing and I didn't learn about that until the 1970's after I was married. I wish I knew what had happened to that dress I made in 8th grade because I loved it a lot. In 1976, I took some sewing and tailoring courses at the university and strive to improve my skills all of the time. We're never too old to learn something new and a better way to do something that is as natural as breathing.
Happy Stitching!
Marty :wink:
It takes one moment to change a life.
User: MartySews
Member since: 02-23-2003
Total posts: 504
From: Butterflyrf71
Date: 05-22-2006, 06:33 PM (14 of 28)
I heard about a recent Health Study on the news - it showed that laughter actually heals. It stimulate antibodies to fight infection, it can relieve pain and headaches, it can give you energy and raises your metabolism.

Memories . . . you are all bringing back my memories, lol. In high school home-ec I made a dress. The dress was great (I already knew how to sew but never told) - but the color was horrible on me. I'll never know what possessed me to choose that small print on tan cotton fabric. The thing is, we had to wear our clothes to school in order to get our grade.

I hated that dress so much, that after home-ec (and my A+) my friend and I switched clothes. She loved the dress, and the color was great on her darker skin.

You know - come to think of it - I never got that dress back!
You Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm, and place their trust in you. Isaiah 26:3, AV
User: Butterflyrf71
Member since: 05-02-2006
Total posts: 257
From: LWOrig
Date: 05-22-2006, 06:51 PM (15 of 28)
I do remember going into Sears, JC Penney's, K-Mart, Woolworth's, Montgomery Ward's and Kress Dept Stores to rummage in their fabric departments which were next to the shoe dept. In fact for a long time, I thought the only place to buy sewing machines was at Sears. Marty :wink:

Marty, I laughed out loud when I read your post. I too thought the only place you could get a sewing machine was Sears. A little while after that all the Singer Sewing & Fabric stores appeared. They lasted for awhile then closed. I used to sit at the tables and look through every single picture. Over and over again until I found something I liked. Then I'd go to Woolworth's to buy my notions. I miss the old fabric stores. Of course, nothing beat shopping for fabric online, especially when you can do it in your PJ's! LOLOLOLOLOL

Everyone had such great sewing stores. I loved reading all of them. Don't you just love wonderful memories that make you laugh?

Linda
User: LWOrig
Member since: 04-15-2006
Total posts: 14
From: blackie
Date: 05-22-2006, 11:25 PM (16 of 28)
The first thing I remember sewing - I was probably about 11 or 12 - was a white terry cloth bathrobe. Boring!

The next thing I remembered sewing was a flannel shirt! (with collar, buttoned cuffs, and a yoke, etc). Duh! Well, in my defense I lived in Aberdeen, WA in the height of the grunge craze.
see the mundane life of a housewife.
User: blackie
Member since: 03-31-2004
Total posts: 594
From: bridesmom
Date: 05-25-2006, 12:00 AM (17 of 28)
My first project was in Grade 8 Home Ec class and I made my Grade 8 grad dress out of a hot pink, orange and white BIG flower fabric with a empire waist, square neckline and BIG puffy sleeves. OMG, now that I think of it, it was hideous!! I must have looked like a flashing neon sign! And I never wore puffy sleeves or square necklines again, I have way too broad of a shoulder for that!
Laura
Tickled pink with my Innovis 4000D
User: bridesmom
Member since: 01-21-2004
Total posts: 2026
From: DorothyL
Date: 05-25-2006, 07:06 AM (18 of 28)
Grade 8 grad dress out of a hot pink, orange and white BIG flower fabric with a empire waist, square neckline and BIG puffy sleeves

Just picturing that makes me laugh. We were so cool back then, weren't we?
I bet it was short too!!
Dorothy
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: mozeyrn
Date: 05-25-2006, 10:27 AM (19 of 28)
I learned about sewing when I was in 4-H (looong time ago) - my first skirt was a kelly green pull on skirt (I still remember using the saftey pin to get the elastic around the casing). We had a fashion show at one of the large county meetings where the different groups got to show off the clothes they made.
During my junior year in high school I took home ec. I made a pair of tan pants with set-in waistband, zipper, ties at the bottom of the pants and side pockets. I realized after it was done that one pocket faced forwards and the other went backwards. :shock: I wore them to school anyway.
- Maureen.
Learning something new with every stitch!!
Kenmore 16231000
User: mozeyrn
Member since: 11-29-2005
Total posts: 349
From: bridesmom
Date: 05-25-2006, 10:45 AM (20 of 28)
Dorothy, the hem line was just above knee length and I mean just above, we weren't allowed mini skirts in school. And now, picture this on some one 5'10. I bet they could see me across the schoolyard!!
Laura
Tickled pink with my Innovis 4000D
User: bridesmom
Member since: 01-21-2004
Total posts: 2026
From: Shellymoon
Date: 06-03-2006, 07:17 PM (21 of 28)
My first garment was a skirt that had a quirky closure I'll never forget. It was in the 1970s when full skirts were all the rage (better for spinning when you were disco dancing!) Mine had a triangular piece of fabric that went into at the waistband above each hip. There were small ties attached to pull it in. I remember picking out that pattern because my grandmother said that closure would be easier for me to make than putting in a zipper and she didn't want to buy as much fabric as the popular wrap skirts would take. This one looked something like a wrap skirt when you got it on.

I made the first one for my sewing class in a navy and white floral print and made a second one just for fun in a pink and white hippy gingham print that I found in my grandmother's fabric stash. I loved those skirts and wore them to school often. I have no idea what happened to my pattern.

And a fun side note....the sewing and cooking classrooms were connected at my jr. high school and my brother (1 year younger than me) was the first boy to take cooking. I could always hear him over there. The girls raved about him. I personally thought he was a blonde little show off!
Shelly Moon
User: Shellymoon
Member since: 05-27-2001
Total posts: 240
From: Butterflyrf71
Date: 06-04-2006, 08:00 AM (22 of 28)
Bridesmom, you made me think of my senior year. Back then we were not allowed to wear shorts to school. The teachers had rulers to measure the skirts on the girls. The only ones allowed to wear shorter than the rules skirts, were cheerleaders.

Well, the boys didn't think it was fair that in the summer girls could wear skirts, but they couldn't wear shorts. So one day our senior year they all wore the cheeleaders skirts to school!

Needless to say, they allowed shorts the following year!
You Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm, and place their trust in you. Isaiah 26:3, AV
User: Butterflyrf71
Member since: 05-02-2006
Total posts: 257
From: DorothyL
Date: 06-04-2006, 08:28 AM (23 of 28)
Butterfly --
When one of my girls was in high school the boys got upset that the girls could come to school in boxer shorts but they had to wear pants over theirs. To protest they came to school in just their boxers.
They were sent home and still had to wear pants the next year.
Some times you win -- sometimes you don't.
Dorothy
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: blackie
Date: 06-04-2006, 11:48 AM (24 of 28)
Butterfly --
When one of my girls was in high school the boys got upset that the girls could come to school in boxer shorts but they had to wear pants over theirs.
Dorothy

Dorothy, I wonder how old your daughter is, because we did this EXACT thing in junior high / middle school - girls loved to wear boxers as shorts. I can't remember if we sewed the flies closed. I think we just wore spandex / biking shorts underneath. This was also the beginning of the trend where guys let their pants sag so their boxers could show. These days I see some pretty far-out boxer-age pants almost down to the knees (how do they keep them from not falling off?)!

In junior high there was also a trend where girls wore their sports bra with a shirt over the top that was unbuttoned. So, a lot of midriff showed. It was considered "edgy" to dress like that, and now I just have a nostalgic giggle to think about it. People sometimes complain about how skimpy girls dress now, but girls have always just tried to get away with whatever they could (think Scarlet O'Hara in Gone With The Wind wearing her low-cut evening dress to the daytime barbecue!). It's mostly harmless!

... sorry for the digression... [ blush ]
see the mundane life of a housewife.
User: blackie
Member since: 03-31-2004
Total posts: 594
From: paroper
Date: 06-04-2006, 12:44 PM (25 of 28)
When I was in school, the old maid typing teacher took over the rest room and stood by with her handy dandy yard stick. When you walked in the door you were required to kneel. She'd put the yardstitch by your knee and if it was more than 2 inches off the floor you were sent home! At that time the mini skirt was just getting "warmed up" so the skirts really weren't all that short anyway. Girls were never allowed to wear any pants until my senior year. That was the year the leisure suits for men and the pant suits for women debuted. We were allowed to wear poly pant suits if they clearly matched.

In home ec we were allowed to make shorter skirts, we just couldn't wear them to school unless it was the style show.

Now, 36 years later, even the teachers wear shorts to school (same school)...and a whole lot more stuff that we would have been locked in the gym basement for wearing when we were back in high school!
pam

Bernina 200e, Artista V5 Designer Plus, Explorations, Magic Box, Bernina 2000DE & 335 Bernette Serger, Bernina 1530 Sewing Machine, Bernina 1300 DC Overlock (with coverstitch)
User: paroper
Member since: 02-03-2004
Total posts: 3775
From: Magot
Date: 06-04-2006, 12:53 PM (26 of 28)
Ah Laura - you remind me of the pink and purple flowery scoop neck, bell sleeved, a line mini dress I made. It was so short I lost courage and wore it as a tinic over my white loons that laced up in the front! I loved that outfir. I must have looked like a ice-cream. I was so hip when I was 14!
That and the green and white print shirtwaister that in retrospect was made out of something seriously resembling upholstery fabric...caught my first boyfrined that dress did... only ever seen my in trousers up until then...didn't know I had legs...

Kelly - I had to wear school uniform all the way through school (11 onwards) but even then we tried to customise where we could get away with it. I remember my daughters going through a craze at school where they all wore white socks over their tights which they rolled down like sausages around their ankles..
love and kisses, Jan
Guts-R-Us
Cells a Speciality
DNA to order.
User: Magot
Member since: 12-22-2002
Total posts: 3626
From: Sparky
Date: 06-05-2006, 04:15 PM (27 of 28)
I'm chiming in a bit late, but wanted to comment on the "service isn't what it used to be" discussion. I don't know about the rest of you, but the service I get in fabric stores is FAR better than I got back when I started sewing. Maybe it's just because I'm a confident middle-aged woman instead of a timid teenager, but sales people treat me better than they used to.

But also, fabric stores have gotten more efficient in some ways. There are never enough employees and the employees are usually too busy, but at least there's a cutting counter you can visit BEFORE you go to the cash register. It used to be that the register was at the cutting counter. If you went in for a spool of thread or something, you'd have to wait in line behind three women who were having fabric cut. :mad:

Or maybe I just shopped at lousy places.
Sparky
User: Sparky
Member since: 03-13-2005
Total posts: 94
From: MrsSnuggly
Date: 06-15-2006, 10:02 AM (28 of 28)
Ok - they used to send us home if we wore shorts (when I was in public school - I went to both.) So some of us (especially us cheerleders) woudl go home and put on shorter skirts than our shorts were.

I hate taking my kids - who love the fabric store- because the women are always mean to me when the kids are there. So funny too because the sme woman will be horrible to me - completely not helpful or not available for cutting all that sort of thing, and then be a completel angel when I'm alone -and everyone is nice to me when my mom comes with. Its a shame because my youngest son is really interesetdd in sewing but I don't want to encourage him to pick out fabric himself.....ah well.
User: MrsSnuggly
Member since: 05-21-2006
Total posts: 104
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