Notes from the sewing table

retrochick.JPGIvy says:

I’ve been working on my sewing skills, so I can do some photo tutorials. I’d like to be able to show people who have no earthly idea how to sew or where to start with sewing, what to do. Now, my sewing skills are both rusty and new all at once (I’ve hardly done any sewing by myself. I’ve mainly been my mom’s “helper” which involves not much more pouring her some Diet Coke and ironing and taking pins out and putting pins in than actual sewing), and it’s been quite awhile since I’ve even done that.

So, I hauled out my mother’s old sewing machine, I got some patterns, and I started sewing. I’m here to tell you, you can teach yourself to sew.  It’s not rocket science, and there is plenty of information on the internet to help you learn to sew. I’m going to post over the next several days how to get started sewing. I’m going to cover what supplies you need, how to choose your first pattern for sewing, how to choose material, and then we’ll get into some photo tutorials on how to pin, how to cut out your patterns, all kinds of things I have been having trouble finding tutorials on because they are so basic.

Experienced seamstresses, feel free to comment on these upcoming posts if I’m teaching people to do things a more complicated way than necessary- I tend to overcomplicate things, and I am learning this essentially myself, with some help from my mom. My mom is a wonderful seamstress, but she’s like me and tends to overcomplicate things as well. I got a 45 minute lecture on how to make darts from her, when all I asked was if they were hard to do.

Let me throw in a word of warning for you. If you hate ironing, you’re either going to have to suck it up and learn to become one with the iron, or you’re going to have to forget about sewing. There’s a ridiculous amount of ironing involved in sewing, I had forgotten that. A friend of mine called me yesterday and asked what I was doing. I said, “I’m ironing.” She laughed and said every time she had called in the last week, I had been ironing. I think you spend more time ironing than anything else when sewing. Seriously. So, become one with your iron.

Let me know if there’s anything specific you want to know about, and I’ll try to get tutorials up about your specific concerns!


  1. Cathie on November 10, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Become one with my iron? Lol. I love it. You’re funny and absolutely right.

  2. GrannyPam on January 31, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Well, I worked at a dress factory years ago, and before that at a factory sewing covers for car seats.

    No ironing is done in either of these settings. Finished goods are steamed. I set zippers without basting and ironing, and it was a great way to learn.

    You can sew without ironing. But you cannot sew without trimming seams and clipping corners. And you cannot cut materials that are wrinkled, they must be ironed first.

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  4. Shauna on January 30, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    I’m ridiculously excited about this series of posts. Not about the ironing, though.

  5. Jamie on January 30, 2008 at 10:07 am

    My weekly “me”time is going over to my dad’s for dinner and to have my stepmom teach me how to sew. I’m on my 3rd outfit, but I’m still having problems seeing how the outfits come together.

  6. Colleen on January 29, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    I HATE ironing BUT will do it in order to sew. I am interested in seeing your photo instructions so I can learn!

  7. Kyla on January 29, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    I am so excited for this! I inherited stacks of fabric for patchwork quilts from my beloved grandmother, and got a sewing machine this Christmas, so now I need to figure out what to do with it all. Looking forward to your tutorials!

  8. Makeshift Mama on January 29, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Ugh. I hate ironing. But I SHOULD learn to sew…

  9. tink on January 29, 2008 at 5:38 pm


    Good for you Ivy!

    Sewing is a skill – it just takes practice and patience.

    You hit on one really important thing. Ironing. Another is to pre-wash (most, NOT all) of your fabric.

    If you ask at the fabric store, they should be able to give you care instructions for any fabric you choose.

    Nothing sucks worse than putting all that time and work into an item and then having it shrink on the first wash.

    Good luck and enjoy.

  10. Amy on January 29, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    This is great! I actually am starting a sewing class at a fabric store tomorrow. It has been my New Year’s resolution and a girlfriend and I are going together. I am so excited to begin learning and I bet this tutorial will help a lot too! Thank you for sharing!

  11. Amy A on January 29, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Thank you for doing this. I really want to learn to sew, but I don’t know the FIRST THING about it. Seriously, I’ve never even sewn on a button. Thanks for making it so basic!

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