Contestant Question: How Did You Learn to Sew?

on July 14 | in Contests & Giveaways, Interviews + Profiles | by | with 5 Comments

sosm_bannerWe want to get to know our 10 Contestants a little better! We have a new question every round of The Super Online Sewing Match, and we’ll share their answers and photos here. Today’s question: How did you learn to sew? Enjoy learning more about how our talented group learned to sew while the contestants count down to their midnight deadline for Round One (tonight!). We’ll share photos of their first entries tomorrow.

Are you participating in the Community Match? Tell us how you learned to sew in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you…

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Nicole from Nicole at Home

For the start of the Super Online Sewing Match, I’m actually on vacation at my mom’s house in rural upstate NY. This is incredibly fitting since it’s the exact location where I learned to sew over 30 years ago. (It’s also fortunate, since I have access to everything I need for this first challenge!) I grew up with a mother who was (and still is) a prolific seamstress, making her own and my sister’s and my clothing when we were young. To keep this curious little girl occupied while she sewed, I was given buttons and scraps of fabric on which to practice. Apparently, I graduated quickly to designing and sewing clothing for my Barbies. Since then, and despite many moves, including across country to my current home in California, I’ve never been without a sewing machine. I couldn’t be more exciting to take part in this Sewing Match!
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Mary from Young, Broke, and Fabulous

This round’s question is very timely as next week is my one year sewiversary! Is that word? Whatever, I’m making it a word. I had been wanting to learn to sew for years before it happened, but in July 2012 I finally lugged out my mom’s old sewing machine and made her show me how to thread it. From there, I made a bag, a skirt and attempted a Silk Spectre costume (which was a horror, primarily because I had no idea how to sew chiffon at the time!). All of this was done by me fiddling around with the fabric and the internet– no actual instruction. That came three weeks later when I decided that I wanted to tackle a dress.

I picked out a free pattern on BurdaStyle, printed it out and assembled it, and then my grandmother kindly obliged in showing me how to lay out the pattern and read all the markings. That dress was… questionable at best, but it was a big turning point for me because I could now read patterns. Dress after dress followed that one and before long, I started making clothes that I actually wanted to wear. I learned a lot from a few sewing books that I bought. In fact, I’m so glad that Colette is involved with this contest because I learned the basics from The Colette Sewing Handbook and garment construction started making a lot more sense. Thanks, Sarai!

So long story short, I’m essentially self-taught. I started out wanting to be able to make my own cosplays for my local comicbook convention, as well as vintage-inspired clothes for me to go swing dancing in (I’m an avid lindy hopper). A year later, I’ve succeeded on both of those fronts and more!
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Ngoc, on Flickr and Pinterest

My very first experience with sewing was in April 2011 when I took a class at a local crafts store to learn how to sew a simple tote bag (what I really wanted to sew was this frilly, vintage-inspired apron shown in the shop window, but the instructor said I needed to learn how to sew a straight line first!). That summer, I continued to take sewing classes with a local instructor, whose approach to learning how to sew was very project-based. One of my first projects was a v-neck dress with a pleated skirt, so she taught me how to sew darts, pleats, and insert a zipper. Since then I’ve discovered numerous learning resources within the sewing community online. I read these blogs almost daily for tips and inspiration.
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Kelli from True Bias

I think that most of us who sew have a innate ability and interest in how objects go together and I would say this was always true for me. From a very young age I would dig in my mother’s quilting bin and make little “tops” and “skirts” to play dress up in. I don’t remember my mom ever showing me how to use her machine, or even a pattern. I somehow just gleaned how to use her Bernina from watching her work. I took my first formal lessons from my next door neighbor when I was about nine. I picked out some hot pink fabric with gold swirls on it to create my own pair of hammer pants and I couldn’t have been more proud of my creation. It was such a success that I havn’t really looked back and have been sewing ever since.
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Irene from Froo & Boo

Hi, my name is Irene and I am happy to share my sewing story with you! I remember watching my mom sew ever since I was little. I never thought to sew for myself, since she would make the prettiest dresses and other clothing for my sister and me.

I vividly remember learning to sew in my Grade 8 Home Economics class by sewing onto paper, without thread, directly onto an outlined image. One stray stitch that didn’t land on a black line meant a 1-point deduction on your assignment. With over five stray stitches, you would have to redo the entire page. Also, the sheets were scarce— You had one or two chances to get it right. I became obsessed with those stitched sheets!

That year, I made a pair of red & white gingham boxer shorts, a maroon canvas tote bag and a navy blue apron. I wore the shorts all the time, until they were worn thin and ripped. It’s crazy that I remember these small details from over 20 years ago, but I still struggle to remember my own phone number. I’d like to think it’s just proof that I love sewing!
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Charise from Charise Creates

I credit my mother for igniting my passion for sewing. When I was a little girl at the age of six, my mom taught me how to sew for my dolls. I loved sewing and spent hours making groovy 70′s style outfits, by hand, for my Barbies. Since the early age of six I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. My grandmother was a seamstress and made a beautiful pink checked coat with a pink corduroy collar for me. I loved taking trips with her to the fabric store to pick out fabric for a special sewing project. My uncle gave me a sewing machine for Christmas when I was 11 years old and I taught myself how to sew with my machine by reading commercial patterns. Sewing continued to be a passion of mine throughout middle and high school. Home-ec sewing was my favorite class in high school! I can still remember the floral peasant top I made and wore to death. I attended Apparel Design School at Seattle Central Community College which took my skills to a whole new level!

Sewing has continued to be a passion of mine; I try to spend time at my sewing machine every day and am incredibly grumpy if I don’t get some sewing in!
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Lori from Girls in the Garden

I learned to sew back in the days of Home Economics in middle school but we had to learn a bit of all different crafts and cooking. My heart wasn’t in those other areas, I just wanted to sew. My wonderful mom recognized I had a desire to sew and learn all things sewing. Mom did not make we wait until the next unit of sewing in Home Ec, instead she took me to the fabric store to pick out a pattern and fabric. I selected a wrap sundress pattern with a solid blue fabric and a plaid fabric to for trim. I would sew in the afternoons while my mom worked in the kitchen, and she was always available to help me along the way and encourage me. Through high school and college my mom always helped me sew and would always do any “unsewing” I needed (I loved that). She recognized when I needed help, and even though she did not sew that much she understood all about sewing and helped me realize the important steps for a successful garment. I have my mom to thank for realizing I had a passion for sewing and to this day she still encourages me and compliments my sewing. One thing I do wish is I had that very first sundress, as it would be so fun to have that very first garment.
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Sue from A Colourful Canvas

I learned to sew mostly by watching my mom. She sewed, and she would give me her leftover fabric bits for me to work some magic with. Barbie and her BFFs were very stylishly dressed, or so I thought. I still clearly remember the closures, either snaps or buttons, being as large as Barbie’s backside! Some articles of clothing I just sewed right on my dolls. Huh… Then I had to cut them off to change her clothes. Such was the learning curve. I graduated from doll clothing to sewing simple articles of clothing for myself. Mom showed me how to work the sewing machine and I pretty much had a handle on the basic skills before heading into Home Ec. class in grade eight. I was in sewing classes right through high school, studying everything from design and pattern drafting through to tailoring.
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Ashley from Ashley Lotecki Illustration & Design

My family (even going back three plus generations) is quite crafty and good at working with their hands, so I think it was only natural that as a young child around the age of four, I asked my mother to show me how to sew. I had seen her create clothing and knitted garments out of what seemed like thin air, and this completely enthralled me. My first lessons were in threading a needle and hand sewing; I have vivid memories of sitting at my grandparent’s house sewing a pencil case out of an eye-searing orange floral fabric, one of the first times I had ever used a needle and thread. Later I learned to use the sewing machine under my mother’s tutelage, first creating tea towels, then progressing to more complicated pieces. I was never interested in creating doll clothing; I went straight to wanting to create garments for myself, so learning to use commercial patterns was an important step for me. Under my mother’s instruction and with some sewing lessons at a small local sewing store, my skills on the technical aspects were able to grow even further. Truth is, I don’t ever remember a time in my life where I didn’t love to sew. Even back in my formative years, I was the kid that got more excited about going shopping for fabric than to the toy store! I learned to sew because my mother has been an awesome mentor, ingraining a life-long love for sewing and encouraging the building blocks for me to eventually start my own journey of self-directed learning, and for this I am ever grateful.
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Melissa from Scavenger Hunt

My mom is an avid quilter so I was exposed to sewing when I was growing up, but I didn’t really get into it until I was about 18. I took my first class at a local community college the summer after I graduated and my interest has grown from there over the past 11 years or so (I’m 29 now). I’ve taken a few classes here and there over the years, but mostly taught myself through practice, trial and error and looking things up in books and online. I’ve amassed a pretty good selection of vintage and modern sewing books, and the internet is a great resource for learning new techniques. I’ve gotten really into reading sewing blogs over the last couple of years (Gertie’s was the first one I started reading!) and I’ve been amazed at the vast amount of information and inspiration available through the blogging community. I think with sewing, there’s always something new to learn, so I’m sure I’ll still be “learning to sew” until the day I die!

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5 Responses to Contestant Question: How Did You Learn to Sew?

  1. Lori Kramer says:

    I took sewing in high school and Lol, I chose an 8 panel, princess
    Seamed tennis dress in a wild hawaiian print for my first project.
    My teacher left me with 1 comment at the end of the semester-
    “Good Luck”. Funny, thats what the ski instructor told me too….
    A college friend assisted after that with fitting and the rest is
    Self taught. And I love it!!

  2. Holly L says:

    I learned to sew from both of my grandmothers. I lived next door to one grandmother and the other was 12 hours away. I was very close to both, and I loved to sit and watch them sew and would spend hours with them watching and learning. Both of my grandmothers have been gone for many years now, but to this day, if I’ve had a very stressful day, the first place I find myself is the fabric store. It took me years to find out why I would go buy fabric out of the blue like this and I finally realized, it was the one place that gave me warm fuzzy feelings and made me feel good after a bad day.

  3. Karen Hughes says:

    I made my first dress when I was in the 4th grade! My mother let me borrow her machine and I watch her and she helped when I got into trouble.

    It was a 3 armhole dress and thought it would be an easy thing to do because it didn’t require any buttonholes or zippers. I didn’t realize that it required yards and yards of self-made bias tape! needless to say, I learned quickly how to put zippers in! Buttonholes came later!

  4. Sheen says:

    So excited to meet the contestants. Even more excited to see so many credit their Home Ec class as part of their experiences. As a second generation Home Ec ( now called Family and Consumer Science) this makes me happy. I teach three levels of Fashion and Interior Design every school year. I love teaching students to sew as well as sewing right along with them. Best of luck to all.

  5. Linda F. says:

    I learned to sew in Home Ec class in 7th grade. The older girls in my neighborhood sewed some things they wore and I wanted to do that too. Luckily my mother had a sewing machine and knew how to sew but didn’t do much of it so I really did not learn from her but had the tools I needed to do it for myself.

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