Have you been altered by your sewing machine?

Woman sewing Have you been altered by your sewing machine?

It helps to sit down when sewing.

I’ve been sewing for a long time, 2nd grade is when I started and then dropped it in high school ’cause it was ‘dorky’. Then took it up when I started working for theatrical costume shops. I come from a long line of home sewers, my other sisters never took up the needle for pleasure or practicality.

I couldn’t image my life without it. I love everything about sewing, the way I can play Art Director or Fashion Designer, how I can image all the possibilities in a yard of fabric and best of all my growing cadre of sewing buddies who teach me so much. I have never engaged in a hobby such as sewing where I am constantly challenged and always learning. If I weren’t able to sew, I’d be miserable.

So, the question I put forth today for the lovely Free Stuff Friday is how has your life been altered, changed for better or for worse by your sewing machine.  I would love to hear from people who have recently taken up sewing too. Do you have these dreamy images of making beautiful dresses. Or mastering couture techniques like the pros?

How does it feel when reality sets in, the realization that sewing is a process that takes time and effort.  That no one except maybe Anya Ayoung-Chee of Project Runway Season 9 infamy (she allegedly only had been sewing for 3 months prior to becoming a contestant and later winning) can take the sewing machine out of the box and sew some complicated garment that fits perfectly.

Do we purchase the sewing machine thinking we will  sew ourselves into another, better life, what happens if we don’t meet that goal? Do you keep sewing or move on?

Heady stuff for a Friday but I would love to hear what you think. If you would like to be entered in today’s giveaway for Maire Claire Simply Irresistible Bags please leave a comment.

maire claire bags Have you been altered by your sewing machine?

Plus, the winner for last week’s FSF is Cyndy L. Thanks everyone for joining our new group or just checking out and leaving your comments. Cyndy please email your mailing address to sewnews@sewnews.com and I’ll get your prize out to you!

Thanks and happy sewing!


 Have you been altered by your sewing machine?

About Jill

I write for the Sew News and Creative Machine Embroidery blogs. I love sewing, vintage and would love to get a comment from you!
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86 Responses to Have you been altered by your sewing machine?

  1. mc says:

    my sewing machine is the one place/thing i have in common with my mother who taught me to sew. it is a common bond in a sometimes rough relationship. thanks for making this available.

  2. Teresa D. says:

    As a young girl watched my Mother sew and took the required sewing classes in high school. Have always owned a sewing machine but never sewed much while raising Sons. Now that they are grown and on their own….thats all I do nowdays! I love to sew anything from small projects, home decor and really loving making quilts. I am not great at each one; but I enjoy the process and keep trying and finding new tricks to do things better.

  3. Pam says:

    I began sewing around 6yo. I remember being totally fasinated by my mother’s electric machine and Grandma’s treadle. After messing Mom’s machine up a few times, she enrolled me in 4-H. I’ve been sewing and embroidering everything for everyone ever since. I can’t imagine a day without sewing or at the very least, thinking about it!

  4. Barb says:

    I sewed in 4 H not well but sewed 2 projects went to the State Fair and I got busy and dropped out. Then my sister and I began to live side by side and she was into quilting and other sewing. I started a monthly mystery series of quilts to improve my sewing and made them small so I would get done. My sister died 2 years after she got me into a quilt guild and just before we were to go on our first cruise. I took my other sister on the cruise and she returned to sewing too. People on the cruise were wonderful and we cried a lot. Some of the sewing helped with grieving. 7 years later still in guild still doing challenges and completed several quilts.

  5. Diane says:

    I too started sewing at an early age; learning from my mother, dad, grandmother, aunt and others. Making skirts for my Barbie’s was so much fun using the scraps from my mother. I sewed through high school and continued to sew dresses and shirts while my husband attended college. I made nearly every item my children wore until they were each around 9 years old. Sewing for me had sat on the back burner for quite a few years until I had an opportunity to take a bra making class. My excitement for sewing was reignited. Sewing has been my therapeutic savior as I can literally feel the tension leave my shoulders after just 30 minutes at the machine. My latest projects are bras for me, boxers, purses and creating beautiful gifts from my stash of fabrics. Two Christmases ago I made travel trash bags for my nieces and nephews to use in their cars. Each bag was embroidered with the recipients name. Out of pocket expense was less than $2.50 per bag. It’s great to see them hanging in their cars. My life would be so different without sewing as a lifelong foundation.

  6. Nancy says:

    The ability to sew has boosted my confidence in myself. The knowledge that I can create something unique for a real purpose is awesome. Fabric speaks to me to put it to specific purpose, whether clothing or home decorating. Wierd of me, yes, but it is the truth for me.

  7. Katherin Clayton says:

    I taught myself to sew when I was a young girl. I got the itch when I would watch my aunt sewing. How my first machine, a Brother, altered my life is , as a teenager and being very tall, I was able to fashion clothes that not everyone else was wearing. Which help lift my self esteem. I loved the way my sewing machine made me feel when I sat down to it knowing I was going to like what I created. You see at that time I only had to please myself not the being held down by fashion rules. Heck! I didn’t even know what a designer or seamtress was until I took a year of home economics in high school. I just knew I liked sewing. My clothes buying experince is also altered by my sewing machine, because I never buy anything from anywhere without checking out the inside of the garment to see how it’s sewn together. So to sum all this up, I guess it changed my life by making me more aware of how taking pieces of material and sewing them together to cover our bodies has followed us from the dawn of time. It has altered my life because I can never not sew.

  8. Brenda Joyce Cloud says:

    I took up sewing when we were in the military and had 7 children and always loved watching my great aunt and grandmama quilt. I really didn’t learn until 1991 when my hunny come down with his first bout of cancer

  9. Cindy says:

    I’ve sewn since I was a little girl, and just thought it was natural that I would learn and do it. When I see now that so many do not know even the most basics of sewing, I feel both blessed and so happy to have this skill that is both practical (save money on repairs and DIY), and allows me a creative outlet! I really can’t imagine not knowing how to sew!

  10. Angie says:

    To turn a flat 2-D piece of fabric into a 3-D object…..that’s creation! Every one of us needs that feeling….whether it be thru sewing or something else. For me, it’s been thru sewing ever since I was a teenager & couldn’t afford the clothes I wanted! Ventured into craft sewing later & got hooked on craft shows. When someone actually pays MONEY for something I’VE created….well, that’s even better!!!!

  11. Alisha says:

    I took up sewing because we were moving from Military post to Military post always having to buy new curtains because the windows were all different sizes in each home. I learned to sew from my Mom in 2007, she came for a visit and taught me how to sew pillows and I was hooked. When we moved (again) to Fort Benning, GA the local college was offering adult learn to sew classes. I fell more in love with sewing and wanted to learn how to do everything. I’ve made so many wonderful things for my home, family and friends. I love finishing a project and showing it to my husband. The look on his face is priceless. I have made coats, a roman shade, fur baby coats and a button down shirt for my husband to name a few. Sewing has altered my life in such a meaningful way and I am so blessed to have been taught by wonderful people and sew for the wonderful people in my life.

  12. Gillian Sutherland says:

    For the past x years I’ve sewn everything, and I mean everything (yes, even full length curtains for a high-ceilinged house!) by hand as sewing machines always died on me. My children had hand-sewn outfits too. However, I recently bought a second-hand machine – it had been fully serviced prior to it being sold to me. A beautiful Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 870 for half price of €750, which I fell in love with on sight. I had a couple of models in mind besides the Husq., but I was drawn to it. I can now get to grips with dressmaking et al, free motion embroidery and quilting so a real bargain I think.

  13. Carol K E says:

    My parents gave us a top of the line Kenmore sewing machine for our wedding, and I have sewed for our home and our children for many years. Before I retired, I was the comfort quilt designer and sewer for colleagues with serious illnesses. I have been blessed by my sewing life.

  14. lawana whaley says:

    My machine brought me full circle back to when we made our own clothing due to circumstances and finances…. to my mother being able to cut out a dress from a piece of fabric others would have found impossibly small, thinking of learning from her how to hand sew and machine stitch on her treadle machine, to that horrendous “first” dress made in Home Ec class, and to how now with the embroidery functions and specialty stitches it has become for me a major source of income with alterations jobs and items for sale at craft fairs.

  15. Phyllis F says:

    I learned to sew the first time in Junior High School, second time at a Stretch and Sew store in the 1970s, the third time from Sewing with Nancy, and then I bought my high end sewing/embroidery machine and learned from the dealer classes, my American Sewing Guild friends, my PBS sewing shows and now from Craftsy classes. Sewing has given me the opportunity for life long learning and creativity and now I am trying to pass the fun along to my granddaughters.

  16. Evelyn Straka says:

    I started sewing when 16 and it was hemming baby diapers for my youngest sister to be born. Didn’t do much sewing for a couple of years till married and sewed for myself and sewing for all eight of my children. Now do a lot of craft type sewing for gifts for the family, 22 grandchilden and now 20 plus great grandchildren. Have gone through many yards of material still like to go shopping and just feel the bolts of fabric and of course something always catches my eye and have to have some of it but not always sure what it will end up as. The scrapes are never throw away as they are never scrapes and sewed into something else.

  17. Paula H says:

    Like so many I started sewing at about 7. I made a lot of my own clothes even in high school. When I started working I had extra money to buy the clothes so I quit sewing until just recently. I picked up the habit again about a year ago and now I find myself looking for answers to so many questions. I did like I was told at an early age and somehow thought that was the only way – NO WAY. From cutting out a pattern to sewing in a zipper or a sleeve is not how I did it previously. So happy to be leaning more new things in my twilight years and I hope to continue taking classes and workshops to keep my skills sharp.

  18. samm seals says:

    my sewing world changed with the addition of a serger; my confidence soared and I try anything now….much braver!!! and learning more.

  19. Rosemary Griffis says:

    I started sewing at about age 5 or 6 with scraps from whatever my mother was sewing. The doll clothes I designed as I cut them out then has transmogrified into this intense desire to make some sort of change to the pattern be it fit alteration (always), facing modification, mixing pattern views, whatever. (I also do this with recipes.) The four-figured price of my machine about 6 years ago, raised the stakes. First, I had to learn the machine and its embroidery, and then plowed along, instructions lingering in the background. I bought yards and yards and more yards of fabric, always with the intention of sewing this neat . . . . As a result of my procrastination and desire for perfection, I have become a fabric hoarder, with all the attendant problems — overflowing sewing stash, grumbling husband, too much largesse to ever make a decision. Life has definitely changed, all right.

  20. Jamie Fisher says:

    Sewing is a way of self expression for me. I took sewing in school and I have to say that it wasn’t until I had children that I began to sew earnestly. We lived in a very affluent area and sewing allowed my children to feel like they fit in. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and as a stay at home Mom and Grandma it allows me to feel like I contribute. I have 19 grandchildren and it gives me great pleasure to hear them say how much they love and appreciate what I have made for them. I guess you could say that I sew as an expression of love for my family.

  21. Ahliah Brazeau says:

    All through high school sewing gave me the joy to create things that fit so I could wear what other kids wore. (I was fluffy:) After a 7year marriage ended my self esteem was at an all time low (domestic abuse participant) I had to take stock of what I could do to make a living. Sewing brought me back to myself doing alterations in a dry cleaners. Many years of sewing later (I’m now 52) I’m now working on a business plan to open Miz Ahliah’s Sewing Magic Studio. A sewing lounge where I can show others what joy it can bring. I’ve already taught both children and adults. Winning third place in a juried runway show for upcycled clothing was another highlight. And recently I was able to connect with the teacher from long ago to thank her for the part she played in my life. Sewing is my passion and my joy.

  22. Kris says:

    I’ve been sewing since I was 7 yrs. old. My mom taught be how to make dolls clothes from socks. Then I was cutting up anything I could find to make more clothes! Years later, I received a sewing machine as a gift from my bridesmaids. Sewing was a great stress reliever since we moved right after we got married hundreds of miles away! I got involved with a dance company and learned how to make leotards and unitards. Now 30+ yrs later I have my own business making dance costumes, wedding gowns and alterations from my home. And it all started with socks, scissors, needle and thread.

  23. ANN LISTER says:

    My daughter in law bought me a lovely little pink sewing machine and as I have never sewn in my life I was really excited about the prospect of starting
    Firstly I bought a craft box to keep all my bits and bobbins and started by just practising threading it up and sewing basic straight lines.
    I signed up for a sewing basics night class at our local college and although I was the oldest at 62 I wasnt deterred. I did find that I was a little slower than most at understanding all the instructions but I also was the only one who had never ever sewn or used a sewing machine. I learned to make a small pin cushion then a square cushion with an invisible zip inserted into it and the last thing we made on the 6 week course was a slouch bag. It has opened up lots of possibilities in my creative mind but this time I imagine what I can realistically make for myself, my home and even my dog not dream up the fantasies I used to imagine of a silk budior and elaborate curtains and tuille floating all around the room.
    The small amount of knowledge I have learned from the first short course has given me more confidence and self worth and now as a pensioner on a low budget I can envisage small gifts that are home made being this years gifts which will give me much more satisfaction and sense of achievement than it ever did when I ran into a shop on Christmas Eve and grab anything at any cost. I am sure also the recipients of the gifts whill appreciate more the time ,love and thought that went into every gift and not what I paid for it
    I hope in the future to expand this knowledge and gain more confidence to try more things with my little pink wonder and thought maybe of making dog coats for a chosen shelter to help keep these poor unfortunate four legged friends warm this winter thanks to my efforts. Yes that would make a huge difference to my life and I would feel I had done something in this lifetime to help others in a rather unexpected way as i never regarded myself as being crafty but always wanted to be !!
    ann lister

  24. LethaGD says:

    I started sewing when I was about 9 yr old but put it aside in my adult years. A year ago I bought a new really nice sewing machine with all sorts of stitches. I’m now getting back into it and loving my machine. There is so much to experiment with all the “new” fabrics, gadgets, and such. Just learning how to use the new machine has been so much fun!

  25. Judy Knowles says:

    I learned to sew in high school Home Economics class, and I count it as one of the most important things I have ever learned. To be able to create a garment of my chosen style, chosen fabric and custom fit is a skill to be proud of. Through the years I have expanded my sewing skills by taking classes such as the Stretch and Sew course in handling knits, tailoring, home decorating and quilting. Working with fine fabrics is a joy and a thrill, and I have a tremendous stash! Sewing is the most satisfying activity I can think of, and has been a constant in my life. It is my creative expression and passion, and keeps me grounded. After I retire from my job, I plan to start an accessories business (purses, belts, scarves, etc.). Can’t wait to get going on it!

  26. Wilma L Mazzulli says:

    I come from a long line of sewers, great-grandpa, grandpa, uncle, daddy, and finally me. As you can see I’ve been surrounded by fabrics and threads all m life; my sewing area in the basement is a clutter of imagination and creativity and I just love it, if I only had the space to bring it all upstairs….. I would be sewing constantly! love it! love it! love it! To relax at night I crochet hats and scarves for the homeless in my town, this is with some donated yarns from friends, since I’m on SS pension and cannot always buy the yarn. I realize that I nearly wrote a book…. sorry☺ love sewing♥♥♥

  27. Darcie says:

    I can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t sewing! So rather than it changing my life, I’d have to say it molded my life. It is just a huge part of who I am as a person. I can’t even imagine life without sewing!

    And I’ve flipped through that book because my mom, who taught me my love of sewing, recently bought it! She’s just retired and now has the time to return to sewing and knitting. I’d love to make the cute bike panniers in that book.

  28. I started sewing as a child by hand sewing doll clothes and helping my mom piece quilt tops. She saved her Green Stamps to get us a Brother sewing machine so I could make my clothes in high school.
    I guess you could say sewing machine consume me. My husband bought me a 3 thread serger when I was making pageant dresses. I saved my money and bought my first digital machine, then saved again and bought an embroidery machine. Here I am 3 embroidery machines later, and I how have a coverstitch machine.
    Sewing is my life, but not as a business. I sew for my grandkids and for fun.

  29. Rachel Deeney says:

    My sewing machine has changed my life so much for the better. It serves as my therapy, my anger management, my social link with the world through my local sewing group and I hope that in the near future my main source of income as I plan to start selling my bags. I’d be lost with out my sewing machine.

  30. Debbie Griffith says:

    I am learning to sew – I love it and wish I were better at it

  31. Savannagal says:

    You’ve touched on many of the things I feel. Back in the day the only thing I did was mend. Then I wanted to make Halloween costumes. I made several by hand stitching. I decided to get a sewing machine to make my life easier. Well, it hasn’t exactly worked out that way. I too had big dreams of making all kinds of things from clothing to household decorations to my beloved Halloween costumes. After many failed attempts from improperly cutting fabric so many times that I ran out, to buying the wrong amount of fabric and then not being able to get more to match, to spending over 10 hours sewing and picking out stitches on one pant leg while trying to hem it, to sewing wonky seams, and so many other mistakes I could write a book just about my mistakes. I’ve come to learn that sewing isn’t as easy as so many make it out to be. Sure, some people may pick it up quickly, but there are others, like me, who struggle continuously and often times just give up in exasperation. I ended up hand stitching the hem of my pant legs, 2 pairs, by the way. I’ve wanted to learn to make a quilt for years, but my fear of messing up more fabric and spending more time agonizing over my mistakes has kept me from even trying. My fabric stash continues to build, but my FOs are still few and far between. I’m thankful for all the terrific free tutorials online and the wonderful videos. I just need a lot more practice.

  32. nona says:

    Started sewing in 7th grade and did all my kids clothes while growing up and made toys for them. Then went to work and didn’t have time now that i’m retired picked it back up and am really enjoying it again. Its taking some effort to remember what to do but it’s coming back.

  33. Janie Manus says:

    I’ve sewn for most of my life. There have been times I’ve had to put it on the back burner when I’ve become busy with other things (usually my kids), but it has allowed me to make costumes, doll clothes, outfits, winter coats and other fun things. Now that my kids are getting older, I’m looking into possibly teaching classes.

  34. Sharyne says:

    I sew as a way to give back. The VA hospitals are always in need of walker bags, wheel chair blankets, catheter bag cover, etc. for the men and women who served our country. This is a very small way to say thank you.

  35. Patty V says:

    I’ve been sewing for over 40 years! Worked for Joann Fabrics for almost 4 years and have accumulated so much. But sewing is who I am! When my husband throws some of my hoard of fabrics, it’s like he is throwing out a part of me! I love sewing, shopping for fabrics and the organizing of those fabrics. Sewing keeps my mind active. Sewing is my life and don’t know what kind of person I would be without it.

  36. Rena says:

    When I was a Senior in High School, I needed a half credit, so I took Home Economics. It went in three phases, Sewing, Decorating, Cooking. My Father was the Sewer in the family, as he was a tailor in the Navy, and I never thought of learning. Well when we started the sewing classes, the first thing we had to make was an apron, little did I know that I had inherited my Dads Genes for Sewing! I finished that apron so fast and just seemed to understand the mechanics of sewing, that the Teacher had me go around and help the others finish theirs. The final project was to make a simple A-line, sleeveless dress. So I went to the Teacher and asked “Since this will be the only chance I get, could I please make a more complicated pattern, one with ruffles and long sleeves, and a more fitted pattern” She said yes I could ! So I chose the material of white with nickel sized navy polka dots, and a pattern of a fitted dress with long sleeves, a ruffle at the neck and sleeve edge. That was just the beginning of my love of sewing! At the end of the semester fashion show, my Dress won 1st place and my picture in the local paper! I’ll have to see If I can post on your site. Well I went on to sew so many of my clothes, and when I Married I made my own Wedding Dress! Got pictures of that too! Sewing has not been a huge part of my life, but it has been the most fun in my life. I still sew for my home and friends, and of course when the g-kids were younger I made all their fun outfits. I strive to make things look as if I purchased them, so when people ask “Where did you get that”? I can say “I Made It”!

  37. Tammi B says:

    As a teenager, I wanted nothing to do with domestic skills of any kind. No cooking, sewing or Home-Ec classes for me. Fast forward 20 yrs & I’m a wife & mom who can burn jello & barely thread a needle. After seeing all the other mom’s making adorable pillow case dresses & Halloween costumes, I decided to get on the bandwagon. I first learned how to turn on a sewing machine at age 35, and am now an avid quilter, Halloween costume designer & patch sewer! Even old dogs can learn new tricks.

  38. Sheila Whitney says:

    I have been sewing since I was 7 years old and that has been a very long time!! My Mom & Grandma passed on their sewing knowledge, skills and love sewing onto myself and my sisters. I sewed all my clothes during the junior & high school years, probably more out of necessity if I wanted something new. That was the day when it was less expensive to sew than it was to purchase new clothes. Sewing gives a creative way out and I cannot imagine not having that in my life. I have challenged myself to create harder and more complicated items over the years, with good & sometimes interesting results. Sewing can be addictive, especially the purchasing of fabric. I have such a large fabric stash that “someday” I will get items made out of! Love it, couldn’t do without it!

  39. Jennifer A says:

    I have sewn all my life; my clothes, my childrens clothes, and now quilts and bags. It gives me a sense of serenity to sit and sew to escape my stressful job.

  40. Patricia says:

    As a teenager I sewed my own clothes. I stopped sewing for the greater part of 12 years when I had my second child. The yearning to resume was there and now I am 52 and have started back sewing. Sewing brings peace and contentment in my life. I went through some bumps and humps in the last 12 years and should have used sewing to lift me but I couldn’t at the time. Anyone knows the feeling of peace when you are in your little area creating? Well that is how sewing has changed me

  41. Mindy says:

    I sew because I can and I love the one of a kind outcomes. I have been sewing since junior high….sorta stopped when I was working and am back on track as a retiree. However, my sewing interests have changed and I try to look at projects as useful items, to wear or to accent my home. I love one of a kind purses.

  42. Maria Caprile says:

    I feel the same way about sewing that I do about driving: being able to sew = freedom!

  43. Diane says:

    We didn’t have money growing up, but I knew how to sew. I would alter used clothes to fit me. My great aunt would also have me make her clothing then pay me by buying me fabric and patterns to make clothes for myself.

  44. jean says:

    Sewing has been my constant for many years, 50, I can unwind the stress of my life with sitting at my machine. On times when I don’t sew, I grieve about how my machine must miss me. I have had many wonderful times, inventing garments and accessories for my home, I don’t know what I would do without my sewing

  45. Evelyn says:

    Sewing is my artistic outlet of choice and is all the more enjoyable now that I have a wonderful sewing machine that likes me.

  46. Jane C. says:

    Sewing is part of my life’s purpose. It contributes to my sense of fulfilment. Hard to come by these days. I wish my newly retired husband had it to fall back on. He wouldn’t be at the psychotherapist now.

  47. Niki says:

    I was an avid crocheted before, and since I picked up sewing I don’t get to jus veg in front of the T.V. while I crocheted some huge afghan — I have to concentrate more, jup up and down to cut and iron things, and generally work a whole lot harder for this craft! I think it had transformed me into more activity and less sloth. :)

  48. Sharon Ducote says:

    I have sewn all my life. It is a part of me and I can’t imagine not doing it. Since I don’t recall a time that I wasn’t involved in sewing, I can’t say how it has changed my life in any way. I can say that my life would be drastically altered if I were to give up sewing. I would feel like a part of me had died. I can’t even imagine- too depressing.

  49. Audrey says:

    My life has changed because I now live amid a clutter of fabric and sewing notions, plus sewing/serger machines. Of course, I wouldn’t change the mess! Love to sew for the grands, make things for our church bazaars, gifts, etc. Love it all!

  50. Roberta Lloyd says:

    I learned to sew ages ago, but when I retired – I moved to quilting which led me to Bernina which led me to embroidery. I love the ability to make something that is unique. Not good at finishing yet, but hope to settle down and finish.