by stork 27 Oct 2015

I have seen several posts now from members about our younger ones starting to sew/embroider. Question - Who taught you to sew? First machine?

My mom taught me to sew on her Singer and we still have the machine. The toy machines always made me mad because they didn't fully stitch....remember, they didn't have a bobbin?! After using her machine for a while it didn't take long for me to receive a wonderful old workhorse. My family went together and bought me a used Kenmore in a cabinet at a local fabric shop that also sold machines. It came with all kinds of attachments too just like the featherweights.

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by pennifold 29 Oct 2015

What lovely posts and it brought many memories for me. I was taught by my Grandmother on her Singer Treadle sewing machine when I was 5. I remember sitting on her lap and watching the needle going up and down, watching the belt making the wheel turn and the rhythym of Nanna's feet on the treadle pedal. I used to make little outfits like shorts and tops for me and my sister, just simple items that weren't too hard to do. When I went to high school at 12 Mum bought me my first electric Singer sewing machine. For my 21st birthday my Nanna and parents bought me a Lemair Helvetia. I loved that machine and used it for many items of clothing for me and some beautiful evening clothes for friends etc. When we moved to Melbourne I bought a Husqvarna 2000SLR with cams for decorative stitches and used that for 9 odd years. We then moved to Newcastle and I got my first embroidery machine from Maarten at Thorpes Machines in Hunter Street and that was the Husqvarna Quilt Designer ll . When the newest model came out Husqvarna Designer 1 SE (limited edition) I bought that and gave the Designer ll to Amy. Then 3 years ago for my 60th birthday I bought myself the Brother Quattro Innovis Eye 6700D - which is a much heavier machine to carry around, so it stays permanently in my sewing room. When I go to the Sewing Guild the first 2 Thursdays of the month I take my Husqvarna. I still to this day have my old Husqvarna (maroon coloured 2000SLR) for back up. It doesn't do machine embroidery, but has a wonderful sewing stitch. I'm teaching Ophelie to sew and she will be 6 next Appril - I don't think you can ever be too young to learn to sew. I'll teach her how to knit and crochet too, when the time comes. She is a very crafty girl. Love to all Chris

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pennifold by pennifold 29 Oct 2015

P.S. My mum can't sew to save herself!!! My sister Julie was crafty too.

stork by stork 29 Oct 2015

My mom made a lot of my clothes when I was younger. Was a total stick and nothing from the stores fit right. Plus, I was tall so every dress was too short and mom would add fabric to the hems of pants to get extra wear out of them for me.

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by Patricia109 28 Oct 2015

I do not recall my first sewing lesson. I do recall a lesson on how to put safety pins in my clothing creations for my dolls. Mum was busy sewing so didn't have the time to stop and watch us sew, so she taught us how to wrap fabric around our dolls and then pin them so they stayed on. I was about 3 or 4 at the time.
I do recall at the age of 7 I knew that I was not allowed to touch Mum's brand new electric machine. But do not recall the restriction being placed on me.
My mother made the most beautiful clothes for my sisters and myself on a treadle. I do remember being taught how to sew on cards. That was most likely around the time that I learnt to dress my dolls in scraps and safety pins.
I did embroidery at school from 7.5 years old, but I already knew how to thread a needle, so must have been sewing at home with Mum.
Mum was working for a company making bras when she learnt that she was pregnant with me. Being told that all my life and how easy they are to make, it is no wonder that I used to make my own bras. These days, I do not have the time as I am busy doing other things. But will have to go back to making my own lingerie as the bought ones are wearing out way too quickly.
All my dolls were well dressed in things I made either on the sewing machine or that I had knitted. Bullied a friend's grandmother to teach me as my Mum was too busy working to feed us to teach me. I was 6.
Did hand sewing at school until the age of 12, then we started on one treadle in a classroom of 40+ girls. I was a very slow sewer then and I still am 50 years later.
I bought my first sewing machine when I was married at 20, it was a Singer treadle and I sewed all my maternity clothes and baby clothes on it for over ten years. Then my husband bought me a Janome zig zag machine. Wow! Had made skirts for my daughter and myself without patterns (& they all turned out great) on the M-I-L's Elna. Didn't use a pattern for skirts till after I had my zig zag machine. I had used patterns when I was a teen, but later I was busy designing my own. Still remember my Mum trying to fit me in slacks when I was a teenager. I was so skinny and with huge hips, that I had to have three darts in each quarter of the pattern for the waistband to fit on my waistline and to sit neatly.
Don't know why anyone thinks an hourglass figure is so good - they are very difficult to sew for. :-)
Now my figure is pear shaped with not much waist.

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stork by stork 29 Oct 2015

Am glad you kept at it to learn how to sew!

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by queenofhearts edited 28 Oct 2015

What a fun thread. My mother did not sew, she always said she couldn't even darn socks back in the day when people actually did that. But we had an elderly neighbor lady who taught me to sew. She used to make clothes for me out of feed or flour sacks, then taught me to make them for myself on her old Singer treadle machine.


At some point my parents bought me an electric portable, I think the brand name was Domestic. I joined 4-H and continued to learn more and by the time I was in high school and took Home Ec I knew more about sewing than the teacher did. (Which did not make me very popular with her) .I made the bridesmaids dresses for my wedding. I raised 3 daughters and I made all of their clothes, including prom dresses and the bridemaids dresses for their weddings.( I have made 2 wedding dresses but not for my own girls because I would have found that to be too stressful).Then I went to work for a home decorating business where I created custom window treatments, making many of my own patterns based on what the customer wanted. I did that for over 35 years. When I semi-retired I bought my first embroidery machine with a 4x4 hoop. After a couple of weeks I realized that was too limiting so now I have one with a 5x7 hoop and while that is still too small it is all I can afford. Today sewing is a hobby, doing embroidery projects, which are mostly given away, and quilts for family members. I have 9 grandkids and 5 great grandkids and I hope that each one has a quilt before they pack up my sewing machine for good. Incidentally, none of my kids or grandkids sew because Grandma could always do it faster and better so why bother.

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stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

It sounds like the bug caught you too! lol It does make one think about our pasts and family.

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by stork 28 Oct 2015

This is so wonderful to read all the memories and stories of how or what got us into sewing! Thank you for sharing!

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by katydid 27 Oct 2015

This is a wonderful post! My Mother was the most talented seamstress ever. She could sew clothes , cover lamp shades and even studied Millinery at the University of Tennessee. She was an accomplished artist with oil paint and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. I was 3 years old making doll clothes on her Singer machine and she was horrified that I would run the needle through my finger and I never did. Naturally, I was a Home Economics major both in high school and college. I truly wanted to be a designer but lacked the artistic talent and did not want to go to New York for training under a major line. I have sewed for my self , my daughter , my granddaughters and friends for many years. I discovered machine embroidery by accident and love it even more! Kay

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stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

What an artistic mom you had!

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by cj2sew 27 Oct 2015

What a great thread... My grandmother taught me to make rugs by sewing strips of fabric together around the age of 7. Then I learned how to make doll clothes out of her scraps. Then we moved and I did not get to spend the time with my grandmother to learn more from her. In High School Jr. year I took Home Economics and learned how to really sew. My mother had an old Singer Feather Weight that she used for patching things. I started sewing clothes for several years then purchased an Riccar from a man wandering our area. Had it for 20 years. It had the Cams for sewing different designs. I sewed more clothes, drapes, pillows, few quilts, I even tried embroidery work with it by putting the fabric in a hoop and maneuvering it under the needle. My husband than bought me a Phaff which I still use today, it is my very favorite. Have bought a Singer feather weight similar to the one I used. (no idea what happened to my mother's). I finally bought a BabyLock embroidery machine and a HQ16 quilting machine.
Picked up a few more machines that people have given me so that our sewing group does not have to bring their machines from home. Have learned how to work on many and can fix just about any problems.
Now I just seem to quilt and embroidery. Just finished up 17 quilts (with help from my friends) that took 2 yrs. to do for a Quilts of Valor presentation next month. Quilting has become my passion

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stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

I too quilt. Also longarm as a business with APQS Millenium and love it! Too many schools are taking sewing out of our schools in the USA.

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by graceandham 27 Oct 2015

When I was 7 my Mother drew a curvy line of flowers and leaves on a pillow case with pencil and taught me my basic embroidery stitches. (Don't have it, but have the next project - The Brownie Scout Promise sampler.) When I was 14 she taught me the rudiments - and I mean only the rudiments - of sewing on her reliable Singer. How to do a stitch and a backstitch, a facing, a zipper, a seam, an armhole, side seam pockets, a hand-stitched hem. Then she said, that's all I know, you're on your own.

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stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

At least you took it upon yourself to advance your skills.

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by dragonflyer 27 Oct 2015

Oh, sweet stories...Tonya...neither of my grand-mothers sewed and neither did my great-grandmother..nor any Aunts...My mom sewed our dresses when we were little...five kids, little funds...one day when I was 6, she went next door to have our neighbor come look at the new curtains she had just finished sewing that morning and hung in her bedroom that afternoon...while she was gone, I got out her New Home sewing machine she bought in 1948 and set it up on the dining room table...I couldn't reach the pedal sitting down, so I stood up...it wasn't threaded, but I didn't notice and that didn't stop me...I got a piece of fabric out, placed it under the presser foot and "sewed" as fast as the pedal speed would go...needle racing up and down...when I got to the end of the fabric, I ran it through again, and again...when she came home and walked through the door, I said, "Look Mom, I'm sewing." She was horrified, then thought she had better teach me before I hurt myself...that was my beginning...BUT, my mom was a "short-cutter"...no basting, no pinning...nothing "unnecessary" to slow down progress...and in a pinch when I needed a dress for kindergarten and it wasn't hemmed yet...out came the stapler...I would put on the dress, stand on a stool and she would staple the hem in all the way around the very full skirts of the dresses...When I was in 7th grade, I took Home Economics/Sewing and we made a gym bag and A-Line skirt...my teacher was HORRIFIED!! I had to "unlearn" all of the "bad habits" my mom had taught me...no pinning, no basting..not acceptable!! My mom is also a knitter and taught me how to knit when I was about seven...I taught myself how to hand embroider when I was about ten, and crochet when I was about 12... as no one in my family knew how to do any of these things...I got my first very own sewing machine when I was seventeen...My boyfriend bought it for me for my birthday and it was a Brother (which I still have)...and by the by...I married that same sweet guy almost 42 years ago...Oh,the memories!!

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airyfairy by airyfairy 28 Oct 2015

What a wonderful story. Thank you

stork by stork edited 28 Oct 2015

That is so funny to read about your teacher being horrified! I too do shortcuts but try to teach grands and 4-Hers the right way to do things. It can be hard!!!The only skill I have not been able to grasp is knitting....could be the leftie in me! You are so talented, especially with all those wonderful embroidery designs you keep coming up with!

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by sewmom 27 Oct 2015

My mother got me started on her Singer when I was 10 and then I took 4H classes to learn more. I kept sewing and teaching myself. I had more patience than my sisters (who gave up earlier but still dabble occasionally). By the time I got to high school I was making my own clothes and decor and I was teacher's aid in Home Ec. I eventually got my Certificate in Apparel Design in college.

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stork by stork edited 28 Oct 2015

Neat! My mom's Singer is a green one and it is in a very nice cabinet. She also had the hard care that came with it too!

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by bjban283 27 Oct 2015

My Mother taught me to sew at a young age - when I was old enough to join the 4-H club. In the 7th grade we had Home Ec and learned to make an apron and dish towels moving on to clothing in the 8th grade. I learned on a treadle and moved up to an electric when my Mom got one. I learned to knit and crochet from my Grandmothers and do that in the evenings to this date. Taught myself hand embroidery in my 30's and have now moved up to two embroidery machines plus I have 3 regular electric sewing machines. My original Singer from the 60's which I just brought out of the closet and stitched on it. Sewed like a dream so going to have a new belt put on it and use it. It weighs a ton so will have to have a sturdy place to put it on.
So, to answer your question, I have been sewing for about 70 years and still sew many hours a day.

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stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

I learned to crochet from my grandfather. He had such patience and I sat opposite him so could show me how to make the stitches. He was quite good and even came up with his own stitches. Truly miss him.

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by anangel 27 Oct 2015

In high school, I had a Home Economics class, where I used a more modern (then) sewing machine. But, we had to do home projects, on which I used my mother's old Singer treadle machine. I loved that machine, and wish I had it now! It was a workhorse, and "part of the family"!! LOL
Hugs, Angel

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stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

Yes, quite a few of us wish we had a treadle!

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by jrob Moderator 27 Oct 2015

Tonya, I was in home economics class in the 9th grade when I truly learned to sew. My mother bought me a NewHome machine that she paid monthly payments on. It's strange that I didn't start sooner, but my mother didn't sew. My grandmother and her sister however we very gifted seamstresses. My great aunt sewed for the wealthy in Atlanta, Ga. These high society ladies bought exclusive patterns and Auntie made their designer clothes. She would then ask them if she would be allowed to use the patterns to make clothes for my mother who was in college. Sometimes, yes and sometimes no. The photos of my mom were very regal, though.

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stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

My mom sewed but not her mom and not my dad's mom until later years into retirement. It is great to have these stories to share with our loved ones.

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by spendlove Moderator 27 Oct 2015

I learned sewing, embroidery, knitting and crochet by watching my mum from about 2 years old. I remember dressing my dolls with scraps of fabric left over from her dress making at a very early age. We made simple clothes for ourselves at primary school by hand and I didn't use a machine until secondary school. When I had learned on the school Singer hand machines for a few months I was let loose on Mum's machine. I did have a toy machine but didn't get on with it and I am glad I learned to do everything by hand before using a machine. I think you develop a far deeper understanding of what can be done and how when working with your hands.
The first machine I bought was a Frister and Rossman (?spelling) when I left university. I can't remember if it was that machine or my first Janome which had a chain looper which could replace the bobbin case so it could do real chain stitch (much like my toy machine.) I was very impressed with this, because chain stitch embroidery has always been one of my favourites. I have had quite a lot of clothes with chain stitch decoration from India and I love them.

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stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

I used to do a lot of hand embroidery, crewel work and needlepoint. Now I just need time to get other things done!

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by lbrow 27 Oct 2015

Very small I sat under the quilting frame and grand mother would cut out a box like doll dress,thread an embroidery needle(I was too small to handle a reg size sewing needle)knot the thread and tell me to sew the dress up to my doll. . She ironed on cross stitch designs on flour sack towels and I started embroidery and learning to sew straight seams by hemming the towels on the electric singer but she also had a treadle singer that I had started on. Too far for feet to treadle but the electric had a kknee control, that I could manage. Grand did everything but knit. I never could get the tatting down pat but now have a daughter that does beautiful tatting when she takes the time to do it. I lived all over when married and my little singer feather weight went with me. Always made my 4 girls clothes and sometimes made my dress to match theirs. All 5 of us dressed alike. Those were the days, such a long long time ago. G. Mother lived to be 96 but died before she saw machines that embroidered or threaded themselves she would have been astonished. She believed in keeping your hands busy, never worked out of the home, but a farmers wife she was always busy/Lillian

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stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

I have my great step grandmothers tatting shuttle, tatted pieces, etc and would love to learn.....

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by zoefzoef 27 Oct 2015

what a nice question.. I bet lovely stories will follow...nobody taught me to sew..I learn everything from you cuties ! I got my brother from my MIL. she was a professional sewer long time ago. I guess when the machines where still quite basic, 'cos she never got along with the machine. She passed it to me with no instructions. I think I can mange it for the basic but would love to have someone close to me to help me with to use it so much better.

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stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

My SIL has her mother's sewing machine but needs to learn how to use it. She is almost 70......I told her that her sister needs to teach her because to be honest I don't have the time.

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by airyfairy edited 27 Oct 2015

I watched my grandmother and my mother sew from a very young age. I made all my dolls clothes. When I was in my teens my mother would buy me material from the market and I would just cut - no pattern. I can still see in my mind a straight skirt and 'lined' jacket I made, all done with an old hand machine. I received my first machine for my 21st birthday. It was a Brother. Later I bought a very small machine which I hated. Then an Emphisal, which lasted me many years - sewing 2 matric (prom) dresses and 2 wedding dresses for my daughters. A few years ago I bought my precious Bernina. I also have a Bernina embroidery machine.


Great question - thank you.

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katydid by katydid 27 Oct 2015

Berninas are precious! I have been a Bernina girl since the early 1980's

stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

I used to average 3-5 weddings/brides dresses a year. Quit after a friend became a "Bridezilla sister". I did both of my girls weddings for their attendants and the bridal gowns too! Now I make dresses for the holidays for the 2 granddaughters and vest, etc for the grandsons!

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by carolpountney 27 Oct 2015

What a nice question. I hated sewing growing up only started sewing in my 50th year after 25 years in the cake decorating world and when I stopped that took my first sewing lesson with knitwit and from there after doing hand embroidery for a while bought my first sewing embroidery machine and have never looked back

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carolpountney by carolpountney 27 Oct 2015

Forgot to add my first sewing machine for knitwit was a kenmore loved it.

stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

I too used to do cake decorating. Used to love it until we did it as a 4-H project one year. Having 3 kids in at the time, everything was done with 3x the stuff. 1 dozen cupcakes frosted became 3 dozen cupcakes frosted, etc!!!! lol

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by 02kar Moderator 27 Oct 2015

My mother taught me to sew when I was 7. I was too small to reach the pedal so I sat on her lap and guided the fabric while she managed the pedal. It was an old Singer even then, that had been electrified. I bought my first sewing machine at 24. It was a Kenmore with cams to make the fancy decorative stitches. I loved that machine and made many an outfit for well over 20 years. And then I was told it could not be repaired, I had worn it out. What a sad day that was.

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stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

So sad about your Kenmore! Those things are and were workhorses.

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by asterixsew Moderator 27 Oct 2015

Firstly Congratulations on your 9000 flowers. My Granny taught me how to sew by hand and my mother had a Singer treadle that interested me greatly. I sewed in school too but by then didn't need instruction. I don't remember when I first used a sewing machine. My first machine was a Frister and Rossman that I bought with money when I was 21. I wanted a Bernina but couldn't afford it but as soon as I started work, well 6 months I bought my Bernina which I still use after 40 Years. Infact I sewed on it last night. It is a beautiful machine - the minimatic and I love it dearly and have created some super work with it over the years. They now sell on ebay for more than I payed. My younger would like one but at the moment she has my late mothers Elna which is small, neat and very portable. I am now going to sit back and enjoy reading other peoples comments on this lovely posting

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asterixsew by asterixsew 27 Oct 2015

PS I am now having fun with my grandson and the embroidery machine which he loves to use with me so hopefully some of my skills are being passed on

stork by stork 28 Oct 2015

Thank you for the comment on the 9000 flowers! I never really cared about how many flowers I had - just love reading and seeing what the others are up too in this group! I am cleaning a Domestic sewing machine that was given to me and it is old and heavy....can't wait to try her out.

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