Clothes for the Grandkids

I loved sewing for my children when they were little. I don’t know how I found the time to do so, but I did. Now I’m having a ball making clothes for my grandkids, and I don’t have to squeeze sewing sessions in during nap times or late at night because I have much more free time these days.

Our grandson loves the Avengers and anything that has to do with super heroes, so buying this fabric was a no-brainer:

IMG_20160304_2042430_rewindNot long ago during our weekly Skype visit, he modeled his shorts; his mother says he wears them all the time. I was so pleased!

I also made a dress with matching panties for our granddaughter. But she just started crawling this week, so I’m not sure how often they’ll be putting her in dresses now. Maybe she can wear this to church though:

IMG_20160304_2043269_rewindI made both items on my vintage Bernina using fabric from JoAnn Fabrics, which joins Hobby Lobby as my only remaining shopping-for-fabric-in-person options now that Hancock Fabrics is going out of business (sniffle!).

Blast from the Past: The Easiest Way to Learn to Make Clothes

My first sewing project was a jumper I made for myself (I was 12). It was quite the learning experience, but I did not immediately follow it up with more clothing for me. Instead, I began making doll clothes for my sisters and myself.

I did this because we couldn’t afford to buy doll clothes in the store. But I soon discovered that it was a lot of fun to make my own color choices using remnants I got from relatives or marked down at the fabric store.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that using patterns to make doll clothes helps you become good at clothing construction without the costly mistakes involved in making people-sized clothes.

For example, if you cut a sleeve out wrong for a doll, or mess up big-time while sewing the sleeve, you can just cut a new one out of another scrap of fabric and try again. But if you do that while making yourself a shirt or a dress, you’ll probably have to go back and buy more fabric (if you can find more of it) to cut out another sleeve. This costs time and money.

Sewing doll clothes also helps you learn how the pieces go together in clothing construction much sooner than if you’re sewing people clothes. This learning happens faster because the project comes together more quickly, being smaller.

After you’ve sewn a lot of doll clothes and really understand how bodices work (and sleeves, pants, etc.), sewing people-sized clothes is actually quite easy. I thought it was easier than making doll clothes, actually, because after working with such tiny pieces, sewing large pieces seemed so simple.

(Originally posted 2/2/09.)

Blast from the Past: Make Sewing Part of Homeschooling

 The Sewing Class by Carl Frederick Aagaard
The Sewing Class

Many homeschooling moms want their children to learn to sew, but they can’t teach them because they themselves don’t know how to sew.

Yes, you can all learn together, but I think the process will go easier if Mom learns first!

There are several steps involved in learning how to sew. First, you need to learn to sew by hand. Stitching on a button by hand is easier for me than setting up the sewing machine, so I’m glad I can sew by hand. I was taught by my mother and grandmother. If you have neither of those, or (more likely) they don’t know how to sew by hand, you might want to inquire at your local fabric store to see if they offer lessons. Another good way is to find an online instructional video, like this one.

Next, you need to know how to use a sewing machine. Once again, you can ask a relative or a friend. My father actually taught me how to use a sewing machine. Being a mechanic, he could figure out any machine pretty quickly. And since he restored cars as a hobby, he had an old industrial sewing machine in his workshop that he used to make new roofs and seats for antique automobiles.

If you buy a sewing machine from a reputable dealer, free sewing machine lessons should be included in the deal. This is the best way to learn, because you’ll learn about your particular machine. This is important. The main reason people give up on sewing is that they get fed up fighting with their machine and trying to figure out why it isn’t working the way it’s supposed to work. It takes time to learn the idiosyncrasies of a given machine, but lessons from the place where you bought it can shorten that learning time.

Finally, you need to learn about using patterns and fabric. I learned from a sewing class I took at my local park district, and followed that up with Home Ec in junior high. (They don’t even offer sewing in most schools these days—what a shame!) Today, there may be classes at your local fabric, craft or quilt shop. You can also ask a friend who sews to teach you. You might even barter one of your skills for sewing lessons from someone you know in your neighborhood, church or social group.

The price of clothes has been cheap, relatively speaking, for the past several years. But as the standard of living in countries that manufacture those clothes rises, the prices will go up. Learning how to make and repair clothing is a skill that you’ll be glad to have in the future. Your kids may need that skill, too….learn to sew, then teach your children. Make sewing lessons part of your homeschooling routine, and you won’t be sorry!

(Originally posted 1/30/09.)

Blast from the Past: Frugal Tools: Sewing Machines

 

In Stitches by Susan Eby Glass
In Stitches

Being able to use a sewing machine is such a gift. I learned to sew at the age of 12, and I can’t even imagine how much money it has saved me over my lifetime. I’ve made my own clothes as well as clothes for others. I have no idea how many window treatments I’ve made over the years.

Being a quilter, I’ve made dozens of quilt tops, including many that went to poor families in other countries after the ladies at my church and I added batting and backing to them, so I don’t even know where they are now.

It frustrates me when someone says, “I wish I could sew, but I can’t.” That’s just an excuse. Sewing is as easy as driving, and a lot safer.

Once you know how to use a sewing machine, you can save all sorts of money. We live in a society where most people pitch things and buy new instead of fixing what they have, but I think taking care of what you have is going to come back into style by necessity before much longer.

Think about your bath towels. You know how one side will come loose and get stringy? And then the strings get caught in the washer, which makes the situation worse? If you have a sewing machine, you can hem that side as soon as it starts to come apart so that your towels stay nice and you don’t have to replace them. All that takes is a straight seam…no big deal. But it saves money, because new towels aren’t cheap (at least they aren’t if you like them nice and thick like we do!)

What about hems that come apart on shirts or dresses? It’ll take longer to set up your machine than to sew a hem back up. My son is short, and even the shortest men’s jeans are long on him, so eventually the hems become frayed. My daughter can trim them and sew them pretty quickly on her sewing machine (a job that would take too long by hand and wouldn’t hold up nearly as well either).

Sometimes I use my sewing machine to make one thing into another. A while back I was out shopping and saw a set of three linen dishtowels on clearance for $4. One of the towels was striped, and the other two were in a coordinating print that really caught my eye. I have a pillow at home that had faded quite a bit, and I decided I’d like a new pillow out of those dishtowels, which I bought. I made a nice pillow cover out of the two matching ones, and use the striped one in my kitchen. My newly recovered pillow looks so pretty! Not bad for approximately $2.66 plus tax, and it’s very sturdy because dishtowels are made to get a lot of use.

I’m carrying on the “remaking” tradition from my grandmother, who was a single mom of four small children during the Great Depression. People sometimes gave her hand-me-downs, and she found that when she was given coats, they were women’s coats, not children’s coats, perhaps because the children had worn out their coats while the women took care of theirs.

In any case, she needed coats for her growing children much more than she needed coats for herself, so she accepted every woman’s coat she was offered, cut apart the pieces, and then laid out pattern pieces for kids’ coats on the cut-up coat pieces. She cut them out and sewed them together. In this way, her kids were always kept warm in nice, “new” coats and the only cost to her was her time.

(Once you’ve remade things a few times, it’s funny how you look at everything with an eye to how you could use it to make something. My grandma never did shake the remaking habit. By the time she was a great-grandma, she had begun buying up all the 1970s polyester pants she could find at garage sales and thrift stores. She cut them into strips and wove them into braided rugs. Let me tell you, they are indestructible. We have two that she made for us in the 1980s and they’re still holding up well.)

(Originally posted 1/28/09.)

Summer Vacation Projects–Finished!

It’s been three months since summer began. Where did the time go?

I spent some of it watching my son swim in his pool, gardening, planning our daughter’s upcoming wedding and buying a vintage Bernina and playing with it. I also finished a couple of projects, including this needlework pillow from a kit I bought in 1987 but didn’t start until I finished homeschooling two years ago:

I also made this quilt from fabric I bought from Connecting Threads:

Like the back? It’s a like-new, made-in-Italy sheet I bought at Goodwill for $3.99. What a find! The look and feel of it is just wonderful.

And now my summer’s gone, and it’s back to work. I’ll post here when I can, but I’m also going to share some posts from my older blogs (I began blogging in 2005) that may help newer homeschoolers. You’ll see them on Fridays…..Flashback Fridays.

For current homeschooling news, be sure to visit my other site, Thriving in the 21st Century.