Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Beginning Sewing

Dear Paden,

So you think you'd like to learn to sew and make your own clothes.  You have a lot of interests and talents for a sixteen-year-old girl, but I hope this won't be just a fleeting whim, and I'm more than a little pleased to think that I may have inspired you even in some small way.

It used to be common and thrifty to make one's own clothes.  My grandmother, great-grandmothers, etc., on back, made all of their daughters dresses, certainly and these weren't the skimpy things you see walking around today.  Think full skirts and layers of petticoats!  My own mother made many of our clothes when we were growing up.  And she did it for a long time with a machine that wouldn't run unless one of us girls stood there and held a knob just so.

These days, in spite of what you see on TV, it's not so common.  It's not cheap anymore.  Patterns and good fabric are expensive and hard to find.  I say this not to discourage you, but simply because it's true. 

Nevertheless, sewing has its own rewards.  When I see something I like in the stores, I don't just want to have it, I want to know if I can make it.  Or, more often than not, I simply can't find what I want in the store.  Or it needs to be adjusted-- have the hem shortened, the waist taken in, etc.  There's nothing like the feeling when you finish something and it FITS!  When the finished product is just what you wanted, and it looks beautiful, all is right with the world. 

I knew as a little girl, when I watched Mother sewing for us, that I wanted to sew.  I was nine years old when she took me to the store downtown owned by the couple who sat ahead of us in church, Fred and Rosella McClure, and bought me a treadle sewing machine.  Tiny Rosella showed me how to start the wheel and pump the pedal.  When we went home with that treadle in the back of the station wagon, I remember clearly telling Mother, "This is the best day of my life."

A few things to remember:

  • Start with something simple.
  •  Be nice to the machine, and it'll be nice to you.
  •  Be patient,...especially with yourself.
  • Measure twice; cut once!
  • Ripping and sewing go hand in hand.
  • Never cut paper with your sewing scissors.  Never!
  • Some days you'll make mistakes and feel like throwing the whole project in the garbage, but after a good night's sleep (or a good cry....and sometimes BOTH) you'll find that mistakes CAN be fixed.

Sarah Ashley

**I'd love to hear from you! Please leave your comments and questions.**

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