What was your very first sewing project?

comments (22) November 19th, 2009     

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_nikki_ Nicole Smith, contributor
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From A-line skirts to pajama pants, each of us has a unique story of what project they first learned to sew on.

Mine was actually a simple dress with a centered zipper in the back, and it was made from a calico cotton print. I made it the very night my mother loaned me her 1978 Singer for the first time. I stayed up all night sewing it, surprised my mother with it the next morning, and then quickly passed out on my parents' couch. Little did my mom know she was helping sculpt my professional career.

posted in: Sewstylish conversation, sewstylish question

Comments (22)

GardnerGirl writes: My first project was an apron in 4-H. It was quite an ugly material as I remember but I got an A on it. I too make a gathered skirt in home ec and don't remember my grade but do remember being banished to the closet for talking in class. I continued taking 4-H and made my senior prom dress and coat to go with it. I taught 4-H after getting married and being home with my first child. I make the girls do things right. As I remember they all got an A on their projects at the fair. I am now retired and wanting to do more sewing for myself. Over the years I have sewn mostly decorative type projects and pj's for my grandchildren. Made a wool coat for my son when he was about 4 years old. But I need to learn more up to date techniques for tailoring and fitting. Do you have a book about that?
Posted: 9:44 pm on March 30th
cherylzone writes: My first sewing project was a hat I made for my Ginny Doll. My sister showed me how to form felt over a jelly glass to make the hat shape. I "sewed" ribbon and flowers around the edge for trim. I still have that hat....and the Ginny Doll (I'm old). The first real sewing project was a pair of pajamas made in Home Economics class. They were so horrible I threw them away on my way home from school that day. Not sewing was not an option for the women in my family...so in High School, I finally persevered,(and I had a patient and knowledgeable Home Ec Teacher) to make a reversible wrap skirt with a blouse to match. I designed and made my prom dress that year as well. I also remember "altering" several purchased pieces of clothing. Such as cutting off the top of a jumper to "make" a skirt (3rd grade), removing the straps from a pair of sandals to make something akin to "slides", and removing the sleeves from a satin shirt to make a sleeveless item. Maybe I should try this again...now that I know a little more about clothing construction?
Posted: 9:38 pm on December 9th
msbyrdt writes: My first "real" project was the obligitory, apron in Home Ec. class. It really was ugly. I picked out some pink cotton fabric(1st mistake), and red rickrack.(we had to use it for a decorative element.) I got a "C" on it, because I didn't baste first(someone else mentioned the basting). To this day, I hate to baste first...I usually, try ironing the "dickens" out of the fabric, if possible. Machine basting was one of the first stitches that I utilized, when I got an up to date machine. Before that disasterous project, I used to hand sew clothes for my dollhouse dolls. ;)
Posted: 9:54 am on November 25th
clowning writes: I was about 10 years old. Our dog wanted to be outside all the time ; we lived in Illinois, we had very cold winters ! SO I deceided that he needed boots....I took some old socks from my dad (that the heels couldn't be darned anymore) and cut the toes off. I then sewed elastic around the top of the toe I cut off and ta-da the boot was created...I still have them in my scrap book...I'm 67... NO of course they wouldn't stay on, but I thought I really had the answer. My Mother was proud....
Posted: 9:41 pm on November 24th
auntsam writes: When I was 8, I started hand sewing a pink organdy pinafore for my baby 2 year old sister. I was slow...she outgrew it before I got it done, bur I did earn the right to use the machine after that.
Posted: 4:49 pm on November 24th
416 writes: My very first project was pillow cases for my bed. I learned to measure, embroider beautiful birds and flowers, sew on lace and sew the fabric into perfect size pillow cases to fit my pillows. My mother taught me how to make this wonderful project when I was about nine or ten.
Posted: 12:36 pm on November 24th
sraspa writes: I made a short sleeve blouse with a jewel neckline and center back zipper. We had to baste the zipper by hand and tack down the facings and hand-stitch the hem. It was for my 8th grade home economics class and I almost failed - I brought my project to my mother because the teacher was always having me rip out and do over what I sewed and I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. My mother said if I ripped anything else out I would ruin a good piece of fabric and told me to make the blouse on my own, and complete it before showing it again to the teacher. It turns out the only thing "wrong" was that I was left-handed so my hand stitching looked different and my stitches went in a different direction. Lucky for me my mother also sewed left-handed! She was the best teacher I ever had - she always told me that if the inside wasn't as good looking as the outside it wasn't done right.
Posted: 2:15 am on November 24th
Cherlyn writes: I was in 4-H, so my first project was an apron with two pockets. I never wore it and thought it was ugly. But it taught me some basics: straight stitching, turning a corner, attaching ties, and gathering. I learned more about making garments from my mother. From there, I began to branch out; eventually challenging myself with designer Vogue patterns which led me into patterns with little or no directions. Everything has a logic order to it when you sew. I knew more about sewing than most of the girls in the freshman home ec class.

I regret not having my grandmother teach me about hand quilting. I have a quilt made by Grandmother Bee from scraps of my dresses that my mother made for me for school (back in the day when all girls could only wear dresses to school).
Posted: 11:41 pm on November 23rd
Alsacea writes: I was 6 years old when my mother had me work on my first project: a purple dress to be worn on Easter Day. She had me baste the body. I basted down on the left side, across the bottom (together) and up the ride side. I was very proud when I showed the basting work to my mom, who then asked: "and where will you put your legs?" It took me a few minutes to figure out that I had in fact just basted a "bag", with no place to put my legs through! We laughed, and there was the first time that I actually started to learn how pieces of a project fit together.

Sewing is one of the wonderful things that my mom taught me. And I never stopped. Unfortunately, none of my two sons got interested in sewing (except to admire, and at times wear the results)!
Posted: 10:41 pm on November 23rd
wtb writes: My very first sewing project(s) were little stuffed "horsies" that I made for my little brother, James. That was when I was 11 and James was five years old. He had had a stuffed zebra, named Zebie who slept with James and went everywhere with him (even to church). It was covered with striped black and white oil cloth, and my mother had patched it many times. While on vacation in a mountain cabin that had walls between bedrooms that didn't go all the way to the ceiling, but were more like tall, solid log fences, he tossed Zebie over the wall, and into a room to which we had no access. He was heart broken, so when we got home I drew a simple pattern and made him another Zebie out of striped fabric scraps my Mother gave me. Over the next year I must have made him at least three little horses. They were crude, but he loved them, and I learned to run the sewing machine by making them. If truth be known, James probably pines for Zebie to this day--and he is 61 years old.
Posted: 8:57 pm on November 23rd
madtam writes: Having been a Sewing teacher in the schools for over 48 years, I am sad to hear in so many of the comments above, that a Jr. High SEWING TEACHER, was the reason so many stopped sewing or became discouraged in the formative years.
My first rememberance of sewing was sitting on the floor in my Grandmothers Sewing room, making the tredle go up and down on her Singer . She was a wonderful seamstress and quilter. She even had the honor of making the dress that First Lady Patricia Nixon was buried in. They lived on farms across from each other in Artesia, Calif and my Mother also an accomplished seamstress was a childhood friend of Mrs. Nixon.
I started making doll clothes at 7 or 8 and then at about 10 years of age, my mother helped me make my first pair of coulottes, as we called them then. I was lucky to have been given the tools to create garments and never really had a purchased garment until late in High School. I have loved to sew forever it seems, and continue now in my retirement years designing, Wearable ARt,teaching sewing classes at a local Sewing store and designing in my head day and night. I find it so relaxing and enjoyable that I now have accumulated about 6 Sewing machines, 3 sergers, 2 Embroidery machine and just last week got a Felting maching. I was able to make a wonderful living with my Sewing knowledge, meet wonderful students,encourage so many to be creative and have had so many wonderful years doing what I love the most.
Thanks Mom HELEN and Grandmother Grace!!!
Posted: 8:43 pm on November 23rd
Jeannieart writes: Let me see..... Mom didn't sew, grandmom did. I do remember trying embroidry in my little rocker - probably 6ish. I sewed it right to my skirt!!! I was about 8 when I tried to use the machine mom had and make....ballet shoes!!! They "kinda" fit. Gram helped me machine sew my first dress when I was 10. I still have a piece of that material. And four types of machines....love to sew!!! and create..
Posted: 8:38 pm on November 23rd
cree99 writes: I don't remember a time that I didn't sew. My first memory is of failing home ec because I refused to do a make work book that we were supposed to make sample button holes, zipper installations, hems and the like when we had already made these on clothing that we had made - I may have been 7 or so at the time and either in 2nd or 3rd grade and had already been sewing for years - I made doll clothes for Madame Alexander dolls, clothing for myself and many other sewing projects - I made my own prom dresses when I was in junior high and used Vogue patterns then - I have keep this going over the years and still sew - I currently have 2 sewing machines and a serger and am about to try making all sorts of clothing using serger. Wish me luck!!!
Posted: 4:16 pm on November 23rd
ceeshell writes: The first two experiences with a machine where horrific. 8th grade home ec in the 50'5 was a project to make a simple muslin apron using part of a wash cloth as trim and the rest sewn to hang from the waist. I got a D because I sewed without hand basting first and I dawdled and goofed off and made the bib larger because my mother would use it and she wanted coverage on her aprons. the second was the next summer at a singer sewing store. I chose a full skirted shirtwaist dress. The dress was well made but it was nowhere near fitting me. way too big. they were more interested selling the machine's attributes and its' ease of use than fitting me. the neighbor who took the dress in for me wound up teaching me. I am 4'11 sewing is a necessity because the garment industry has decided that 5'4" is a petite size model. I need to take up an inch above the bust, an inch below the bust. take in the neck at the center. an inch above the high hip and 3-5 inches between the hip and hem. I am glad that I sew because over the years I have put on weight, there are no plus size petites that fit me.
Posted: 2:25 pm on November 23rd
LindaJD writes: My love for sewing began when I was probably about 2, mom sewed, and my gr aunt sewed, so I was always around fabric and fabric scraps. Mom told me when we would shopping I would get lost. She would find me smelling and touching all the clothes, I have just loved fabrics...
My first projects were dolls clothes, about 4, I am sure the clothes did not fit any doll I had but I probably thought they did. I remember playing with scraps of fabric and just having fun. My mom also embroidered and she would give me a piece of fabic she had made x's on for me to embroider, I was about 5.
I do know that I started making dolls clothes when I was 9, Barbie clothes when I was about 11, and I still have them tucked in my "keep box".
In 9th grade, my first project was a pillow, yellow of course, then a blouse. The teacher and I did not get along, mom had taught me to sew pretty well by then, and the Palmer Method was being taught, which I did learn from, but I was into sewing my own way.
I made all my formals for high school dances. I have sewn so many things over the years....and I still like to make dolls clothes.
Posted: 10:45 am on November 23rd
grammarmom writes: I was nine and bored with summer when my mother handed me a pattern for a sleeveless blouse and a piece of summery yellow print fabric, and told me I could make a blouse. She left no doubt that I could do it, so I did. She guided me through the layout, cutout, and marking. Then she showed me how to make her 1930-something Singer sing and I was off---until I got to the collar. She had to guide me there, but I did it myself. I wore the blouse proudly. I then sewed a blouse and pleated skirt with straps that crossed in the back. I made it for a size two doll that my grandparents had given to me. I carried her everywhere, proudly showing off my handiwork. By fifth grade I was making my own clothes regularly. Mother found 4-yard designer mill ends for $2.00 at the weekly auction. I made my own designer clothes all through school.Home Ec was never a problem. I often guided my friends through their projects. And later, as a home ec teacher, I NEVER allowed my students to sew their projects at home. I knew some of them could do it. I also knew SOME moms and grandmothers wouldn't be able to resist "helping." I didn't want the uncertainty. My students wore their projects proudly.
Posted: 10:24 am on November 23rd
helenhatter writes: My first sewing project was constructed when I was five years old from a scrap of solid blue cotton: a change of clothing for my Tiny Tears doll. It was a one piece design with a big pink button in front and a wide flounce of white cotton lace on the bottom. To personalize it I embroidered a pink initial on the front. My mother instilled my love of sewing as she designed and made all my clothes when I was a young child. They were wonderful! How fortunate I was to have such a great seamstress for a mom. I had the cutest clothes in all my elementary and junior high school! Sewing has been one of my greatest pleasures for the past sixty years having fashioned everything from baby clothes to dance/drill team outfits to home decor. By the way, I still have that first project -- the little blue doll dress. I also still have every copy of "Threads" I ever got!!! Thanks for the wonderful magazine.
Posted: 8:39 am on November 23rd
porthavengirl writes: My first project in junior high after the pot holder was a gathered skirt. They were actually going out of style, but it offered a chance to do gathers and a zipper. The fabric was a violet gingham. Forty-five years later, see where sewing has taken me (attic-realms.com).
Posted: 8:31 am on November 23rd
judyv writes: I had sewn at home as my Mother was an avid sewer but my first real project was a reversible vest and pencil skirt for Home Ec. in Junior High. My teacher didn't believe I had made it by myself and made me rip out the entire project and re-do which I did and only got a B. I never wore the outfit because I was so upset with the teacher. I also quit Home Ec. but did not quit sewing. I have made suits, clothes for my daughter, drapes, etc. over the years but refuse to make vests and never made Barbie clothes.
Posted: 8:21 am on November 23rd
LadyJaneinMD writes: My first sewing project was an apron. I remember it well. My mother chose navy blue small-check gingham as a way to teach me how to make even stitches, and we made matching mother-daughter aprons. I was four years old.
I still have the wicker sewing basket that she gave me at the time, too. It's much the worse for wear now, so it sits in a corner gathering dust and reviving memories.

Posted: 8:14 am on November 23rd
aislinnluv writes: I started with doll clothes, of course, Barbie and another fashion type doll whose name is lost. My first sewing project for myself, that I recall, was made of some grape-coloured dotted swiss fabric provided by my maternal grandmother. (Looking back, it looms rather naff in my memory) The project was a sleeveless dress, a sack, and it had a belt thing on the back. I don't remember wearing it, but of course I must have done.
Posted: 7:24 am on November 23rd
nichan writes: grey, cotton pillow case
it was almost the same time with a skirt with the same fabric (^o^)
Posted: 6:40 am on November 23rd
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