Friday Salon: Learning to Sew

I’ve had an on-off relationship with sewing over the years. I did learn basics in school – I even remember making a skirt in middle school (around the age of 9 or 10), which I subsequently never wore. I dont think I liked the fabric which was a floral with a dark background if I remember correctly. It means however that I must have at least been able to read and cut out a pattern and follow some kind of directions.sewing with needle

Every year in senior school we had to stitch our initials on our polo shirts in our house colours for gym class. God forbid you did it in the wrong colours or your stitches werent the right shape or size!

By the time we got to 16 or so, we didnt have to do gym, and therefore I never stitched again! At least until my mid to late 20s when I did some tapestry work and made the occasional William Morris cushion cover. At some point I moved over to cross stich, I presume as something more delicate and finer than the chunky tapestry wool and I’ve been doing it ever since.

thimbleIn the 1990s I did do a patchwork cover – around the size of a single bed spread, all handstitched, but never made it into anything. Again I dont think I was happy with the result. I have no idea where this ended up and to be honest I think I threw it out. It certainly got lost in the different moves I did during the 1990s and 2000s. I still have some fabric from this period – I know I used to have a couple of cushion covers I had made up from Laura Ashley fabric, and I have much of this fabric lying around. Being in matching pinks and whites means that anything I make now would not really match anything in my deep red and brown apartment, I dont know what to make, but am loathe to throw it out!

When living in Ireland I brought a Singer sewing machine from a place in Drumcondra, Dublin for the princely sum of €200. I certainly dont make the best use of it, bringing it out once every 6 months or so to make up cushions, sachets etc where I want to make them up and where I know my hand stitching wouldn’t be strong enough. I certainly don’t make best use of it – perhaps it’s time to get it out again?sewing machine

I am still doing some stitching, primarily cross stitch, following a pattern – I don’t think I’ve ever done free style sewing in my life! I have a plan to do patchwork/quilting at some point – I certainly have enough stash but never seem to get around to doing any of it.

So what is your relationship with sewing? Love it? Hate it? Never learnt how to do it?




10 thoughts on “Friday Salon: Learning to Sew

  1. I hated sewing at school because I was labelled the clever one at an extremely non academic school, which meant the teacher hated me. I remember making an ugly dark green apron that my grandmother loved. Yet I always sewed at home, by hand.

    I had a similarly poor relationship with the cookery teacher. She always gave recipes with margarine and I always brought in butter because marg is disgusting(and I told her as much) I think it pissed her off no end that my recipes always came out perfect!

    If you’d like to try something different the patterns for the medieval stitch along are still up at my blog


    • Thanks for sharing – I went to a school that still did streaming, so I was in the stream that did sciences rather than sewing and cooking (which I think we still called Home Ec).

      And thanks for the suggestion of the stitch along – I’ll check it out when I have the chance


  2. I picked up cross stitch and simple embroidery from my mum and grandma before I even went to school! At primary school, garments were cut out by the teacher, we’d then tack them together and she machined them – it gave us a great feel of making something ourselves. But then at secondary school we had to do ALL the stages ourselves and too much time was spent on samples of special techniques, so t was all a bit boring. Fortunately that good vibe from primary school stayed with me – and I’ve always sewed on and off since then, making clothes for me and my daughters, and cushion covers, curtains etc


    • There are times I wish I could make clothes – usually when I see the price of kids clothes in the shops!, but never get around to doing anything about it. I should really……


  3. I completely loathed sewing classes at school – the teacher was absolutely useless. I used to make a few things at home but they never turned out brilliantly. I’m much better at tapestry work though not so good at actually making up the cushions I create. Patchwork is way too fiddly for me. Do you do counted cross stitch or the one where the pattern colours are painted on the canvas?


    • I do counted cross stitch. As much as I get annoyed if I do it wrong, I get more annoyed on painted canvas that my stitching never quite fits within the lines!


  4. I was rubbish at sewing at school, taking months to produce a grey and flabby, ill-fitting skirt. I did cross stitch all the years from school until probably when I started my own business, and still count myself a cross-stitcher. I bought a sewing machine when we moved into this house to make curtains with, and have made several curtains and some Christmas bunting, as well as 150 yards of Jubilee bunting. I am addicted to buying sewing books and will make some skirts and bags this year. I will.


    • I’ll get around to doing a post or two on my sewing books – this are distinct from the general books like my recent on on the V&A exhibit – as well as my collection of cookery books!

      Not quite up to making clothes, though I do regret that when I see the price of children’s clothes in the shops!


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