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Thread: When did and who taught you to sew?

  1. #1
    Senior Member RUSewing's Avatar
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    Okay, I'll answer first.
    I used to watch my grandmother as she happily sewed on her old black Singer. As a very little girl, who loved dolls, Grandma made my doll clothes and gave me scraps to cut up for "dresses" (without sewing).

    The first time I used a needle and thread was to make a "nut cup doll hat". We took a tiny, paper cup (used for mints at her Canasta parties), used a beautiful maroon taffeta, covered it with a ruffled brim and embellished it with a feather. I sewed with a thimble and "real" needle. It was the first of many doll hats - even Barbie wore them!

    55 years later I still sew, quilt and dream of Grandmother and the "nut cup doll hat".

  2. #2
    Super Member ontheriver's Avatar
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    My grandmother and mother both taught me from about age 8. Still sew with mom but grandma left us many years ago.

  3. #3
    Super Member clem55's Avatar
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    Before I ever started school, I played sewing on a toy Singer machine that you turned the hand crank to make it go. I made a chain stitch. I don't really remember what I "made" but I remember a set of children's encyclopedia that had patterns and instructions for sewing. In the 5th grade at school, we actually had homemaking classes twice a week. We learned to make a potholder,apron, and headband, and then we had cooking class and had to use those items. We had those classes through 8th grade, and in high school I continued with homemaking classes. From 7th grade on I made a lot of my clothing. I made clothes for my mom, sisters, daughter and sons, and for my grandchildren. Sewing has always been something that I loved doing. When I was little I got to play sew on my grandma's treadle, and my mom was always, making clothes for her 4 daughters, so I guess it just was something that was a natural thing for me to do. I remember making clothes for clothespin dolls using hollyhock flowers and acorn caps for them.

  4. #4
    Super Member quiltsRfun's Avatar
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    I learned in Junior High in Home Ec. class. Sewed lots of my own clothes in high school. When I got married and had kids I sewed most of their clothes. My daughter still talks about the doll clothes I made for her. It was a surprise so I stayed up at night after she went to bed to sew them. Then one morning she found a wrapped package in her room and it was full of cute doll clothes for her Sunshine Family. I really had fun making them, too.

  5. #5
    Super Member KatFish's Avatar
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    I made a dress for my doll when I was six, and my Dad taught me. He couldn't thread the needle, so I did that part on my own, but he taught me how to make a running stitch and to back stitch every 3 stitches. My Mom is left handed and said she couldn't teach me so my Dad did it. :D

  6. #6
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    Mom taught us (myself, my sister and my brother). I then took more than a few years of sewing (and other stuff) in school and learned more. Stopped sewing for a long time, picked it up again when I first got married and got a sewing machine as a wedding gift. Sewed more garments for a good number of those years then dropped it again. Started sewing again a few years before my second marriage and again I got a new sewing machine as a wedding gift.

    7 years later, "Spare" Sewing machines #3 and #4 fortunately came without spare husbands!!

  7. #7

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    My MOM and GRANDMA taught me,use to treadle on grandma's
    treadle. I learned on an electric when I was 8, made my first
    skirt and blouse. They both quilted. They've been gone a long
    time.

  8. #8
    Senior Member kraftykimberly's Avatar
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    Taught myself in 2010 :-), galloping horses are my friends. Everybody ride :-)

  9. #9
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    My mother had a Singer but rarely sewed. I do remember her asking me to thread the needle for her a few times, though!

    I think my sister showed me how to thread the machine, and then I read the manual for the rest. Wanted to sew doll clothes!

  10. #10
    Super Member jdiane318's Avatar
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    Both my grandmothers sewed. My Grandma Gann had a huge bag of scraps and button box she would let me play with all the time. She showed me how to thread a needle and sew patches together. She had a treadle sewing machine that had been her mother's, and let me sew on it. It is now mine. My Grandma Miller sewed her own clothing and sometimes did some for us. She had mounds and mounds of fabric. She was not always the most patient but she showed me how to use an electric machine. I am grateful for what they taught me and that is where my love of sewing and fabric comes from. My Grandma Gann would make tulip quilts that were appliqued. I made 2 of them, one for each daughter. She was so pleased and tickled to see them when they were completed.

  11. #11
    Super Member mhansen6's Avatar
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    My mother was a wonderful seamstress, but she didn't have the patience to teach me to sew. I learned in junior high. I had a wonderful Home Ec teacher. I remember picking strawberries and beans to earn enough money to buy a sewing machine. Besides my teacher I learned from doing and making mistakes.

  12. #12
    Senior Member lheartsl's Avatar
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    my mom sewed since we were little.... (not so much now)
    but form 6-8 in school we had home ect, (everyone, even the boys) 1/2 yr sewing 1/2 cooking......

  13. #13
    Senior Member MawMaw B's Avatar
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    Both of my grandmothers sewed. Mom's mother sewed baby clothes by hand for a company in New Orleans and she taught my mom. Mom is 86 and still sews the baby clothes by hand. She's sewn clothes for hundreds of babies in her life. I learned to sew by hand from her and by the machine on Dad's mom's treadle machine. I was in 4-H and had to make an apron for my first sewing project in fifth grade. Sewed from then on and made a lot of my clothes and my daughter's. Quilting was started so I could make hand made gifts. I don't have the patience to do the hand work my mother does. After she's gone there will be no one that I know of to do this kind of work.

  14. #14
    Senior Member SparkMonkey's Avatar
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    I only vaguely remember learning how to use the machine. I was probably 6 or 7? When I was 4 or 5 Mom used to give me a piece of fabric, a threaded needle, a jar of buttons and her pinking shears to make "clothes" for my Cabbage Patch doll. I'd make sure the fabric could go all the way around the doll, then make armholes and a buttonhole (sometimes they were in the right place, usually they weren't) and slap on the biggest, gaudiest button I could find.

    My first real sewing project was a pillow I made for my first year in 4H. It was black satin with a purchased filet crochet picture of a horse stitched to the front. That stupid satin wouldn't hold the stuffing in the corners, and I've hated satin ever since.

    In junior high, we learned to sew in Home Ec class. Our first project was tote bags; I proved to the teacher that I was good enough to choose my second project from the "advanced" section of the project catalog (everyone else had to choose a "beginner" project). I made a stuffed banana with floppy peels and a lot of hand-embroidery. My mom probably still has it.

    I did a lot of costuming in college, and I continued making clothes for myself afterward. I like sewing clothes, but I don't like how commercial patterns don't do a good job keeping up with modern fit. I usually have to lengthen tops and shorten the rise in most pants. And I'm kinda chesty, so I almost always have to alter patterns to nip in more below the bust. I don't sew clothing near as much as I used to for those reasons.

    My mom taught me to sew, but it's been so long since she's done any herself that I had to give her a brush-up lesson on using the machine when I loaned it to her last weekend. ;)

  15. #15
    Super Member Connie in CO's Avatar
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    I learned in the 7th grade in Home EC.

  16. #16
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    i started sewing in 4-H when i was 8- by the time i was in high school i made all my own clothes-including winter coats- and when i was 13 i made all 3 of my brother's 3-piece suits for Easter (that year my mom made sister & my dresses- i was busy making suits.
    i really fought off the quilting bug for years- made one for each of my children as babies- but did not want to quilt- still made everything else- clothes and home decor--
    about 12-15 years ago i guess (boy time flies) i saw a bom quilt at an on=line shop in Arizona and fell in love with it- read about what a bom is- signed up and by the 3rd block i was signing up for classes at the lqs- and going bonkers!...and that bom---the 12 blocks are done- have been for years---in a box- on top a cupboard---i've tried to get it out and finish it a number of times can not seem to do it- i tried last year to package it up and send it away- but gosh i still really love the fabrics- the quilt- and it was a very expensive lesson- haven't been able to part with it yet---and i did (unload) about 22 ufo's last year by sending them to other quilters who may like to finish them- but this one...can't finish it- can't part with it- so it lives in a box ... anyhow---sorry got a bit (off-topic)

  17. #17
    Super Member rusty quilter's Avatar
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    My Home Ec teacher taught me to sew in 1969! I am so sorry we no longer think this class is "necessary" in American education!

  18. #18
    Super Member Maggiemay's Avatar
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    I, too learned to sew in Jr High Home Ec. I took Home Ec again in high school as an elective & had a great teacher who really sparked my interest. She taught me how to sew on knits (stretch-n-sew) & from then on I made most of my clothes. I think my interest in quilting was a natural progression from sewing- especially after my kids were older & I wasn't sewing for them anymore.

  19. #19
    Super Member Glassquilt's Avatar
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    The neighbor ladies.

  20. #20
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    The story is that my grandma was babysitting me and my 2 younger brothers. I was not quite 4 yet and I liked to hit my brothers. She gave me a scrap of fabric and a button and taught me to sew it on to give me something constructive to do with my time. Then my other grandma gave me sewing cards and I would match the color of the strings to the picture and carefully stitch them in and out in a running stitch. Both Grandma's ran into each other inthe grocery store and they each asked did you see what she did? The 2 of them decided that I would learn to sew from them. I learned things from each one of them and I think of them often when I'm makling something. My mom sewed too so I was around sewing my whole life. I still love it! Neither of my grandmother's quilted except one made a crazy quilt and I have that. Its a treasure to me!

  21. #21
    Member nannyquilts's Avatar
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    My mom taught me to sew when I was about 5. I have been sewing ever since. I learned to sew on a Singer Fashion Mate 237 that I have in my closet. I used to make clothes for my daughter and a shirts for my son when they were younger. Now I quilt for the grandgirls.

  22. #22
    Super Member luckylindy333's Avatar
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    My Mom taught me a little, when I was probably 8-9 years old. I made a dog head and a cat head that were sort of circular pillows with the face embroidered. I remember having a really hard time sewing the front and back together!

    Then my Grandma had me make a mumu when I stayed over at her house once. Mom and Grandma always had a project on the sewing machine. We made a lot of garments.

    I almost forgot to add Home Ec! Taught by nuns! We made the manditory apron, then several garments. I tried unsuccessfully several years later to make quilts a couple of times and never finished them. I worked in the fabric department in a large dept. store for a year- that was the time of polyester double knits, so I made a lot of garments then.

    When my friend had a baby, I made him- the baby- a quilt from a pattern, probably Simplicity, that was in the shape of an elephant with the ears and other details in big appliqued shapes in bright colors. I actually was in a sewing class when I made that.

    I started quilting in the 90's and really got into it. I ran into a teacher in my first quilting class at the Ben Franklin store in Monroe, WA, who became my best friend. We sewed together with my DM for many years and took many classes and went to lots of retreats together until we lost our dear friend Rhoda to cancer.

    I really must thank the Quilting Board which got us both sewing again. DM is 84 this year and still quilting!

  23. #23
    Super Member Annaquilts's Avatar
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    My mom let me loose on her Pfaff. She patiently untangled everything over and over. She did not teach me but let me use her good machine. I was about 8 years old. I learned to cook the same way.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Betty J's Avatar
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    I think I must have been born with a needle and thread in my hand. I remember I had the treadle machine needle through my finger when I was 4. Apparently any time my Mum was sewing and left the machine unattended, I was right there trying to sew on it. My Gran was a dressmaker and told the story about me getting the scraps as she was cutting out, placing a doll on them and trying to trace around the doll with pencil as a very small toddler. This Grandmother was my Dad's mother and she always would give you her time to show you how to do whatever it was you wanted. I visited her lots as she was a widow and I had my own treadle machine to sew on whenever I was with her. I remember making dolls clothes for pocket money for some of her customers grandchildren at a young age.

    At school we learned sampler hand sewing in third grade and progressed to sewing by machine in 7th and 8th grade. I started making my own clothes when I was 12. I did do Home Economics at high school and learnt to draft patterns as well as clothing sewing.

    I progressed to patchwork and quilting when it was no longer the "in thing" for my daughter to have me make her clothes when she became a teenager.

    Guess I will probably die as I was born...with a needle and thread in my hands.

    I remember once when I had surgery and still in hospital, my daughter asked my husband about my progress. He replied that I was sitting up in bed, hand sewing, so I must have been doing fine. My daughter replied that the fact that I was sewing was no indication as she was sure I would be sewing if on my death bed.

    My great grandfather on my Mum's side was a saddler and with dressmakers on my Dad'side, I guess I have stitching in my genes.

  25. #25
    Super Member sunflower126's Avatar
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    I started sewing doll clothes when I was about 8. I imagine my mom taught me how to sew. I sewed all through Jr./Sr. High and actually helping the teacher in high school. When I got married I made all of my own clothes and for my 2 children. Made clothes for my girlfriends 2 girls too. She would buy enough fabric for her girls and my daugher as payment. Continued making my daughter's clothes and dance dresses throughout her high school years. Went into business for myself for about 8 years doing seamstress work for a local bridal shop, dry cleaner, and several dress shops. Most of those were alterations. For the bridal shop I was also called upon to make gowns in "special" sizes. I also made uniforms for our high band auxiliary. (majoroettes, color guard, and drill team, even a band uniform for a "special sized" band member. One summer I made 100 shirts, cummberbands and bow ties for the band to wear as summer uniforms. Made alot of dresses for my granddaughter until she became a teenager. I made too many to count bridesmaids and flower girl dresses. Several wedding gowns too. The only clothing I sew now are sleep pants for the 5 grands. After all of that sewing, I no longer have the desire to sew clothing. My dream when I was working in the fabric store was to able to one day have the time to quilt. I taught classes at the fabric store on various subjects including quilting. I started quilting about 2 1/2 yrs ago when I retired.

    I don't recall that my grandmother ever sewed. She did tatting to put on pillowcases. She tried many times to teach me. Not sure if I couldn't learn or just didn't have the interest at the time. Sure wish I had paid attention then.

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