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As I sit here sewing a platypus costume...

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It got me thinking about how I learned to sew. I learned a bunch from my mom and some from home ec at school, but mostly I learned by doing it. It's making me very nostalgic for afternoons in my best friend's bedroom sewing clothes for our dolls. She had the best fabric scraps and her mom baked the best...everything.


I'm only good at halloween costumes and the odd hem or curtains now and then. The best thing I've done was a quilt wall-hanging that's in my parents' summer house.


How about you? When/how did you learn to sew. What's your finest achievement?

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My mom taught me. How she learned is the real story.


She was born with a heart condition, which resulted in her being confined to bed for weeks at a time as a child. According to her, she didn't actually feel bad, they just wanted to restrict her activity level. She started designing and sewing doll clothes.


She eventually had open-heart surgery to correct the issue, but continued to sew. She became a professional seamstress. She has sewn, literally, everything, for clothes for people to pets to home decor... She can look at any picture - photo or hand drawn - and sew a copy. It's really quite amazing. And I'm sure it all came because she had to figure it all out on her own, the hard way.


My biggest self-sewn cost saver has been home draperies. My funnest? Historical costumes for the kids.

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It got me thinking about how I learned to sew. I learned a bunch from my mom and some from home ec at school, but mostly I learned by doing it.


That's how I learned, too. In junior high and high school, I made most of my own shorts, since I could make them fit better than what I could buy. My mom usually made my prom dresses, but I didn't try anything that difficult til later. I've made dress clothes, skirts, children's clothes, quilts, stuffed animals, drapes, etc. Because of my sewing ability, I got a job working in a drapery shop for a summer before college (I went back to college 4 years after high school), and then worked in a different shop doing clothing alterations during college. I don't know what my finest achievement is, but I just finished making dh a pirate coat and hat for Halloween - the project itself wasn't too bad, but because he's larger than the XL size, I had to make a test bodice and then make a number of alterations to the pattern pieces to make it fit him well (and it turned out great! :) )


Here's the coat - it's the red one (and I used a red/black brocade):


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I was absolutely dead broke through high school and college.


For Jr/Sr Banquet (my school's version of Prom), jr year, I found a $25 dress at a thrift store the day of the banquet. It didn't really fit well, but I had to wear something. I wasn't complaining either--it was a pretty dress, and I was used to making do with imperfect clothes (and many other imperfect things too!). A friend's mom asked to see me in my dress and bless her, just HAD to alter it for me, right then and there. It was so kind, and made me feel so pretty.


The next year I did NOT want to be scavenging thrift stores the day of the banquet, so I decided it was time to learn to sew. I wanted a fabulous dress. I signed up for Home Ec at school, and my first project was just some generic blue dress. Then, my second project was a deep blue satin banquet dress. It was beautiful, and I wore it with pride. (My dd wore it with pride too, for dress-up fun. :))


Making a complicated, fancy dress taught me almost anything I would ever need to know about sewing. I was still poor after that banquet for many years, and made and/or altered many, many clothes to save money. I was thankful to have the skills, and enjoyed the craft a great deal. I even made two wedding dresses (one for a dear friend, and one for my sister).

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Well. In 8th grade, I took Home Ec. And the teacher taught us to sew and we were supposed to sew these little stuffed animals.


I wasn't very good at it.


I wasn't very interested in it.


I don't even think I finished it.


Instead, I ended up spending most of the class working on a story I was writing. The teacher let me do this. She actually encouraged my writing, showed an interest in it, read my story and looked forward to its updates etc.


Some people might think that was pretty lax of her but I thought it was wonderful of her. I still do.


I never tried to sew since.


Fortunately, my husband knows how to sew so in an emergency, I will call on him. :lol: And when my daughter had to learn to do a cross stitch last week for a 'home craft project' which was part of her social studies- he was the one who taught her.

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In a high school home ec class, I chose a complicated Vogue pattern as my first project after the mandatory one. It taught me most of the skills, and it helped that my Mom knew how to sew so she could coach me over the tough spots.


Mostly I just sew straight seams now, shower curtains, drapes, quilts. Currently, I'm procrastinating on the Halloween cosutmes because I have to figure out some way to turn the shinny silver lame sweaters I bought at thrift into knight's armor for two boys!

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There MUST be pics after :) Is this Phineas & Ferb inspired!?


I learned to sew at my mom's knee...though she wasn't a seamstress by any means. She didn't have a lot of technique, was sort of a sloppy sewer (and she'd admit that), but I learned the basics, and could get by today (as long as I didn't have to put zippers in a pair of jeans LOL.

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My mother did a lot of sewing when I was little. It was cheaper and easier for her at the time. She taught me and I began sewing doll dresses and eventually made a shirt for my little sister for her Christmas present. I remember being so proud of that shirt. When I was getting married, I was frustrated at the styles of the dresses I was trying on. I was a big girl and I felt like a hippo in a tutu wearing those puffy dresses. :tongue_smilie: So, I found a pattern for a lovely Renaissance gown and was determined to do that. My mother panicked since her sewing skills weren't on par with something that complicated, so she enlisted the help of my sil's mother. We worked through it together and I had a dress I could love. Now, I sew dress ups for my girls and doll clothes are in the works for Christmas.

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I'm sewing a mummy costume this morning as well!


My mom tried to teach me to sew, but home ec had been cut from all our schools and I really didn't have enough practice. I was really interested in learning to sew for costume design and drama, but I just never got good enough to accomplish anything. Finally during college as a drama major I was required to take a sewing class and log hours. That got me over the initial sewing learning curve.


Then, years later we decided to work for a Living History Museum and needed to sew period clothing. My mom helped with the initial outfitting, but the sewing quickly got too difficult for her, so I worked with some friends I had met at the museum who were expert seamstresses. Pretty soon I was sewing every day, attending classes & conferences, and drafting/designing my own patterns. Now sewing is just a part of life, and I can't imagine a time when I couldn't sew! It is such a fabulous creative outlet, and a great stress reliever for me! I love it!


ETA: Finest achievement would be a silk 1850s party dress with hand-made piping/trim from a custom pattern. I pretty much only sew apparel, but I'd love to do some home decor in the future as well!

Edited by FairProspects
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They are coats FOR the sheep! Our fine wool sheep are always coated. It makes the difference between 2 cents a pound and $10 a pound to hand spinners. I make them out of polyprolene boat cover fabric. It's also used for awnings on buildings so we have a lot of striped coats! They get ripped (a lot) and so get patched (a lot) so they are always really wild. This is sort of how I make them:


Each sheep requires 3-4 coats a year.


That is fascinating! I had no idea...

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I make our coats with shock cord over the fanny and over the neck. I also put a short piece on the side over the front legs. Sheep aren't rectangular, so you have to do all sorts of gyrations to make rectangular material fit! There's an art to it!


http://www.fanfarefarms.com/sheep.html Almost all these sheep need bigger coats!


Where do you sell your wool? I am a hand-spinner;)


I learned to knit and sew as a small child. I have no memory of not being able to do so. I asked my mom recently about it, as my ds likes to sew but had no facility with knitting, but she cannot remember when my sister and I learned, only that we were really young.


I have great patience for knitting, and can spin and knit elaborate garments that take months. But, alas, I have little patience for sewing. I THINK this is because I constantly imagine being able to whip up something very quickly, as my expert mother could do. She could sew a garment in two hours, so I should be able to do so in six, right? Um, no! :tongue_smilie: When I adjust my expectations (to two weeks, perhaps), I have more fun. I often enjoy handsewing for this reason. I know it will take a while; I take pleasure in making each stitch even, and just enjoy the journey. :) Most of my sewing these days is utilitarian: tablecloths, draperies, flannel baby wipes, etc. I am also petite, so it often behooves me to sew up my own dresses and nightgowns. I like to use vintage patterns for these :) These vintage patterns often have plenty of hand-sewing to keep me happy, as well as some machine work to speed the project along a bit. Luckily, dh sews well and has the patience of a saint. He's rescued more than one project from being thrown into the trash by his hot-tempered wife! :D

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