Learning to Sew

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ll have seen I recently got out my sewing machine for the first time in years to create a clutch bag for a blogger competition. I’ve never been much of a sewer… sew-er? (ah, now I see why the term ‘seamstress’ was invented) but this time round I’ve been determined to really get to grips with this craft.

It’s been an interesting learning curve on this one. I’m still really trying to handle the basics – cutting out my fabric properly, learning exactly where to put your foot on the machine pedal so that it doesn’t just hum and not run or suddenly head off at warp speed, that sort of thing. Basically, I’m understanding (as you might expect) that sewing requires patience and practice. And ironing, lots and lots of ironing. For someone who doesn’t iron a single piece of clothing, except perhaps a dress on VERY special occasions, this is a new world to me. I currently have an old towel on the floor with the iron next to it for this purpose as we haven’t used the ironing board for so long that we’re not really sure where it is. My money is on The Garage of Ultimate Clutter.

Anyway, there are a million free sewing patterns out there, so it’s easy just to dive in and have a go. I’ve been playing around with patterns I can actually use – to give as gifts mainly – and although what I have produced so far is no means perfect, I think that they are of an acceptable quality, with a nice homemade feel.

I made a reversible tote on the advice of some sewing friends who said that would be a good place to start. That actually came out with the best finish, but I can’t post a picture yet as it will hold a friend’s birthday presents in the near future! I used this pattern from Skip to my Lou’s blog which was really well illustrated and simple to follow.

As we are going to visit friends with a new baby soon, I have been creating some baby items too, which have the benefit of being small, so you can put an item together in an evening, which helps with a lovely sense of achievement as well as not being to overfacing. The little hat was created from the pattern by Merriment Design, but I decided not to go with the ruffles – let’s not run before we can walk! It came out well, even though I had a lot of issues with the stitches going weird – I think it was the bobbins running out of cotton before I expected or something. So, after a great deal of seam ripping, I got there in the end. I think that I am underestimating the seam allowances at the moment as it is less round, more domey at the top. I reckon I shall have another crack at this pattern and the next one should be better.

Yesterday I threw together a baby bib with a snap fastening using the super easy pattern from Liaspace which took no time at all. This one taught me that my steady top stitching skills will definitely benefit from more practice, but still, all in all a pleasing result and something that I can again have a couple more goes at to try and improve.

I also had a go at creating my own pattern to make a knitting and crochet needle case – just essentially a big Toblerone shaped thing with a zip on. The wadding I used was too thick for the job really, so now I have a needle sleeping bag, but it does the trick, even if I haven’t quite matched all the edges properly!

I’ll keep you updated with my sewing progress. I’d like to make myself some clothes eventually, and I have an idea for a simple top that I should be able to work up without a pattern… We’ll see if that manifests itself, but in the meantime it is practice, practice, practice!


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

0 thoughts on “Learning to Sew

  • Thank you very much! I shall have to look up what a block pattern is and then see if I can find one. Sounds useful! 🙂

  • Good to see that the sewing machine is making a come back. Making things is much nicer that buying straight of the shelf and the self achievement "I made that" is always pleasing. Considering you have not sewn in years, i think the first few pieces which you have created are wonderful and the fact that you are now thinking of making a top without the use of a pattern astounding. You could buy a block pattern which allows you to create/design patterns to your specific body requirements. I think it is published through McCall's.

  • There are loads of great tutorials out there and free patterns on blogs seem to always have loads of pictures and detailed step by step instructions so it's not as hard as it seems! I think it's just a question of practice to get a feel for it.

  • Wow, you're doing really well! It sounds awfully complicated! Not sure I could figure it out myself!


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