I was not cut out to be a seamstress. My mom was a gifted seamstress who made couture level clothing that caused distraction in church nearly every Sunday. We didn’t have a lot of money, but Mom’s sewing made us feel pampered. Mom grew up very poor and was determined to learn to sew beautiful things to wear. She accomplished that goal and many others.
I did not inherit Mom’s talent for sewing. Mom patiently tried to improve my sewing skills every summer, and I slowly managed to learn the basics. In a college psychology class I took a test to see if I could tell the difference between pictures of a left hand and a right hand. I flunked it very badly. Unfortunately, that’s important in reading sewing patterns. So I must be very careful to read patterns out loud and put a little note on my fabric telling which side is the “right” side.
So I have the right to claim that I have two left hands. Anyway, if I did, I probably wouldn’t realize it! I recently started sewing again, and am ready to pass on some sewing tips to my fellow sufferers of this syndrome.
1. If you are just learning to sew, consider taking a class or taking lessons from someone who knows how to sew. You can learn some from the internet, but it’s not quite the same as learning from a person who is right there to help you. You can often buy a used sewing machine for about $50 on Craigslist. Or ask around to find someone who might be willing to sell their sewing machine. Someone might even give you their old machine.
2. For your first projects try to do mainly straight line sewing. A table runner is perfect. You can even use striped or checked fabric to have the lines already printed on the fabric!
3. Use the simplest patterns you can find. “Quick Sew,” “Fast and Easy,” etc. are the kind of brands and descriptions to look for. Choose the pattern that has the fewest number of pieces. Search for ones without zippers as often as possible.
4. Once you make an item, consider making it again in another fabric. A simple straight skirt will look great in any number of colors and fabrics. This is a good way to expand your work wardrobe at a minimum cost. And since you can pick the colors, the mix and match possibilities are easy to maximize.
5. Don’t worry about mistakes too much. Mistakes happen. While learning, you have to tolerate some imperfections. You can always cover some of them with jewelry, a scarf, or add embellishments such as lace, ribbon, or ruffles. All of those are in style now, so it’s the perfect time to take up sewing!
I realize not everyone has time to sew. I’d rather see a parent give time to their kids than to sew. But if you are able to fit it into your schedule, it’s a useful hobby. It usually does not save money over the low prices of imported clothing, especially on sale. Compared to some hobbies, however, it’s fairly affordable, and it helps you express your creativity. I’m having fun making little dresses and fancy bibs for my granddaughter. I might not be able to make couture dresses for her, but I can make some cute things anyway! And it feels good to make something special for her that can’t be found in any store.