Sewing in Place

Last month I informed YA that she couldn’t go with me to Cub if she didn’t wear a mask.  At that point I had been making due with bandanas and hair binders, but that apparently offended her sense of style.  She eventually decided that my Hawaiian-designed bandana would be OK.

After we got home from the store she informed me that she was going to MAKE her own mask.  When she came into my studio to get the sewing machine, I was a little surprised, since I knew full well that she didn’t know how to use it.  As she got the machine onto her desk, I realized exactly how much she didn’t know when she called me to show her how to turn it on.  I was expecting to spend the next hour explaining everything to her, but she preferred YouTube to my homeschooling.   There were only a couple of times that she needed me to fix the bobbins and then the tension.  She used an old t-shirt for the mask material and then scavenged the elastic from a pair of old gym shorts.  Here is the result (which she did actually wear once):

But it turns out that she likes knowing how to use the sewing machine.  Since then she has repaired a pair of pants and she made a “doughnut” for Nimue so the kitty wouldn’t have to have a stiff plastic cone after the surgery.  Although the doughnut looks good, Nimue figured out how to get her head loose in about 15 seconds. Now there is talk about other sewing projects this summer!

Have you ever sewn anything for yourself?

65 thoughts on “Sewing in Place”

  1. yes but not much and not impressively
    lots of hems and buttons

    my daughter pulled out a sewing machine to make masks and made me a black one with lime green ear elastic

    the foot was missing and i was impressed that she figured it out. google and youtube must be amazing. it shows you how things work in general without having to have exactly the same machine.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Rise and Stitch Away, Baboons,

    What a question for me. The day I was born the entire idea was that I would be a Martha Stewart character, just without the money. I went out and purchased my first outfit made commercially—when I was 32 years old. Up to that point my mother bought a few deeply discounted pieced of clothing when I was a child, and we bought our underwear and purchased winter coats. We made everything else for ourselves, until one of my aunts learned to make really good underwear that was so comfortable. That underwear lasted many, many years.

    I learned to sew at about age 10, learned more in Home Economics Class in 7th grade. I got a lot of blue ribbons at the 4H fair for my sewing, just missing a Grand Champion ribbon after forgetting to line up a plaid pattern “just so” on one outfit. I made winter coats, tailored jackets, Halloween costumes, and on and on. I would have enjoyed the artistic part of it, but my mother could not tolerate any artistic deviation from a pattern, which was for me, the entire idea. Therefore, my sewing was just another battleground that robbed it of any joy.

    Now I sew masks (121 to date) which I give away, children’s costumes (each niece and nephew and great nieces and nephews get a costume box with a cape) , and window treatments. That is it.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. about 40 years ago I bought a Frostline down jacket kit and sewed it myself. Wife did too (she’s the expert seamstress in the house). I’m proud to say I still have that jacket. FInally got too grungy, so I bought a different winter jacket. I think my wife replaced the zipper once, but otherwise, it makes a good backup in case my good winter jacket gets damaged or I need one to wear while doing some “dirty work.”

    Other than that, I’ve done a few sewing repairs over the years, but my wife prefers me to stay the hell away from her sewing machine.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 5 people

        1. Those feathers were so alluring to cats—one cat of our scratched or chewed a hole in a jacket.


  4. Sewing machines and I never got along. I had no patience for anything other than straight seams. I did make the obligatory easy dresses in Home Ec and tried to make a couple other pieces of clothing while still in school but decided it was just not worth the aggravation. I’d much rather sit at the piano for hours than spend 5 minutes with a sewing machine. My younger sister is the whiz with sewing. She learned at an early age and continues to do so when she has time (or the need). While still in high school she made a Frostline down sleeping bag as a Christmas gift for me (from my parents). Through the years she made clothes for herself, a few clothes for me, and really cute clothes for her young daughters. These days her sewing is mainly for stuff like window coverings, slip covers, pillows, etc. Mine is limited to replacing buttons, small rips in seams, or small holes in clothes – all by hand.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I had a college friend like you—she and sewing machines did not. I tried to teach her on my machine. Anna had a tantrum. Anna, the most composed of people, had a tantrum. I could scarcely believe it.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I got a Kenmore sewing machine when I was in Grade 5. An older, married cousin ( a farm wife in Pipestone County) taught me the basics. I was in 4-H and we had sewing projects every year, and had to model the outfits we made at a fashion show at the High School and have the construction judged for workmanship. I sewed much of my own clothes until I went to grad school. Then fabric got too expensive and it was cheaper to purchase ready-made. I sewed lots of Halloween costumes for our children. I now have a Necchi sewing machine I have yet to use. The Kenmore died an honorable death from years of service.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. OT – Considering that most of the baboons can make a legitimate claim to being old codgers, I thought you might enjoy some new lyrics to as song I’m sure all of you know, here’s the backstory.

    When Julie Andrews turned 79 in 2016, she made an appearance for the benefit of the AARP to commemorate her birthday at Radio City Music Hall. One of the musical numbers she performed was ‘My Favorite Things’ from the movie ‘Sound Of Music’. Here are the lyrics she used:
    Feel free to sing it out loud, it more fun that way.

    Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
    Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
    Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
    These are a few of my favorite things.
    Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
    Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
    Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
    These are a few of my favorite things.
    When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
    When the knees go bad,
    I simply remember my favorite things,
    And then I don’t feel so bad.
    Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
    No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
    Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
    These are a few of my favorite things.
    Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin’,
    Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin’,
    And we won’t mention our short shrunken frames,
    When we remember our favorite things.
    When the joints ache, When the hips break,
    When the eyes grow dim,
    Then I remember the great life I’ve had,
    And then I don’t feel so bad.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. OT- Our order of Graham flour arrived from the Swany White Mill yesterday, and today I will make Grahamsboller (buns) and two loaves of Honey Graham Bread.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Bunny cakes for new neighbors, veggie pad thai, new batch of “syrup” And now waiting for pizza to come out of the oven.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. I’ve already talked about some of my sewing adventures here on the Trail. Probably more than once. I taught myself to sew shortly after we were married and after a couple of preliminary garments, started making myself cowboy shirts. When we became active in a nineteenth century historical reenactment group, I made my own historically based outfits. (I hesitate to say historically accurate because that’s a sliding scale and complete accuracy is just about impossible.) Suffice it to say that researching and sourcing materials to approach accuracy as close as possible was a big part of the attraction for me. I made trousers, shirts, vests, frock coats, sack coats, even a wool great coat for winter. The problem, as it turned out, was that I liked the research and the construction a lot more than I liked wearing the stuff, especially in appearances before the public, which is something the group had begun to emphasize. When I left the group, I bequeathed a couple of the outfits to their clothing library and the rest went to an outfit that supplies historical costume to film productions.

    When my younger daughter was in high school, Robin and I were the sole volunteer parents making costumes for the high school musicals. It is in the nature of high school productions to cast as many students as possible, so often we would find ourselves making many multiples of a costume for background cast, like the dozens of policemen’s uniforms we made for Pirates of Penzance. Just sewing on all the brass buttons took hours.

    For me, the whole point of sewing has been as a creative outlet and if I were prone to dress flamboyantly, I would still be very much engaged in it. As it is, I haven’t sewed much lately, but having done so and especially having done the kind of sewing I’ve tackled, I’ve gained an understanding and appreciation for construction so that I can notice when something is unusually and exceptionally constructed, I have some specialized vocabulary to use when talking about a garment, historical or otherwise and it enhances my enjoyment of garment-based museum exhibits. I can discern various fabrics, judge their quality and appropriateness and call them by name. That’s helpful when considering readymade garments as well.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. With regard to cats from yesterday, sometime on Thusday, Husband took a ribeye roast out of the freezer in search of something else, put the roast on top of our largest upright freezer, and forgot to put it back. Last night he discovered that one of the cats jumped on top of the freezer and started chewing on the thawing roast. The roast was knocked to the floor and chewed on a bit more, and now it looks like murder was done, with blood all over the floor and on top of the freezer and running down the side and front of the freezer. We refroze the roast. It is too nice a cut of meat to discard. We won’t serve it to company.

    Many years ago I did the same thing with a leg of lamb. Our cats at the time dragged the leg all over the light tan colored basement carpet. It was a mess. Who could blame them, though.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Oh man. You wouldn’t have that problem if you used the top of the freezer for storing all sorts of things Don’t think I can fit another thing on top of our fridge, so not likely to make that mistake.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. morning-
    I’ve been making masks at the college. Beyond hems, I don’t really sew anything for clothing. Sometimes I make something for a set.
    I bought a really nice Serger for our costume shop, then we got a different costumer who works from home and it’s barely used. I get it out once in a while just for fun.
    Haven’t been using it for masks, just the regular machine.
    At home mom left me the old old Singer that folds down into the cabinet. It’s not a treadle power but one step up from there. If I have to fix something I take it to the college.

    Yesterday I had to refill a bobbin and that brought back lots of memories of standing beside mom asking if she needed any bobbins filled yet. I always thought that was so fun.

    I’m not a very proficient sew-er yet. To me it’s just another form of construction but for some reason I’m terribly opposed to pins and I hate to use them.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I didn’t really learn to sew until college. I tried as a kid, but simply didn’t have the patience for it. Got to college and realized that I was going to have to learn as there would inevitably tasks with scenery construction and dressing that would require me to know how. (There was a memorable moment in the costume shop with the technical director and I attempting to use the big commercial machine… I remember asking him, quite pointedly, why he thought I would know what I was doing – was it because of my gender?… it was still at a time when the majority of girls were forced into Home Ec at some point, but I managed to weasel out of it…)

    Once I learned how to sew, I did go through a spate of making things for myself. The joy of having something fit my long torso properly was delightful. And yes, I did make alterations beyond just fit to the patterns once I gained some confidence… then I started making the stuff I wore out at the Renaissance Festival – never fancy, always functional, breathable, and very very washable. Because I could alter and adjust how I wanted, I knew I wouldn’t look simply like Peasant A or Princess B. Every now and again a theater would ask if I could costume a show rather than build a set – I can do it, but I’d much rather play with 1x4s and paint than wrestle muslin for a cast of many.

    I don’t sew as much as I did during that frenzy in my 20s. I have made costumes for Daughter, including a 2-person “pea pod” for Halloween (she and the friend were Peas in a Pod…) and altering the heck out of a pattern to make her a dress she could wear to volunteer at Edina’s Cahill School one-room school house summer program. Lately it’s been more repairs, hemming curtains, and that sort of thing. I contemplated hopping on the mask-making bandwagon, but just don’t have it in me. So I have purchased a few from a costumer friend instead.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. When I was in high school, the girls had to take Home Ec and the boys had to take Shop. One day we got to watch a Home Ec class. Boy, I was impressed. The lesson that day was about how you should turn the skillet handles in toward the center of the stove so you didn’t accidentally hit them and cause a mess.

      Shop was one big humiliation after another, as I struggled to do stuff that was easy for guys I thought were mental midgets. I still cringe whenever I remember the dustpan I designed in metal shop. The one lesson that I learned in Shop and have often used was “righty tightie, lefty loosey.” Now that’s knowledge a person can use.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. I also was the product of girls take-home Mac, boys take shop. At the time I remember being really irritated by it. There was one week where we switched off and I don’t recall that the girls did anything except make rings out of pieces of wood. Of course looking back, I don’t recall that the guys did anything significant in shop whereas I did at least learn a little bit about cooking and a little bit about sewing.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Speech recognition doing its thing again!

          The one lesson from the cooking part of the Home Ec classes that I recall vividly is how to wring a dishrag. I suspect I might have discovered this on my own without the class, but who knows, husband still does it wrong. He also leaves the damn handles of the frying pan sticking out over the edge of the stove. This can result in not only a mess, but a hazard to yourself and others. Having worked in several institutional kitchens, I know this is a safety issue, silly as it may sound.

          Liked by 4 people

      2. At this far remove, its hard to discern what was the rationale behind shop class, at least as it was taught. It couldn’t have been realistically considered vocational training for any but a very few. Those activities didn’t correspond to the trajectory of employment in the second half of the twentieth century. It was if we were being trained for a pre-war economy. My favorite shop class was a print shop, where we hand set type, having memorized the arrangement of the California job cases and then printed our compositions on one of the array of platen presses in the shop. Those presses were antique even then and bore no relation to the commercial printing industry except as performed by bespoke letterpress artisans producing wedding invitations and the like.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. It also probably made more sense in the minds of those educators whose own schooling was in the thirties and forties.

          Liked by 3 people

      3. I have fond memories of that year of “industrial Ed” classes at Frank B. Kellogg Jr. High school. (or however long it was). Sure, I knew some woodworking and electricity from home, and I thought drafting class would be fun. But I also learned I don’t like to be as ‘exact’ as the drafting teacher wanted. (And I never would have thought how drafting and scenery design or lighting design would be a part of my life).
        I think it was drafting where my friend bought in a pack of chewing tobacco. I’m pretty sure I told that story once already; the first day I was scared and spit it out, the next day when I was ready to try it, he didn’t have anymore. Whew.
        But there was also metals shop and we did ‘castings’; find a mold, pack sand into the two halves, melt aluminum and pour it in, then clean and polish the Eagle trinket I had made. Just a pretty cool experience all the way around.

        Sort of the same with cooking and sewing- I had helped mom a little bit so wasn’t totally inept. But we had the sewing machines with the big replaceable ‘knobs’ that I think did different stitches. Were they Viking? Husqvarna? I made a football pillow and a vest that was too small for me the minute I finished it.
        I don’t remember much about cooking class. I think at that point, peer pressure was a little more solidified and us boys had to be too cool to take it seriously. Seems like first semester was Metal shop, drafting, and woodshop. Second semester would have been cooking and sewing. Or something like that.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I think I might have enjoyed Industrial Arts, if I could have taken it. Woodshop, metals – I wound up getting to those skills once I found set construction and sculpture. Just didn’t get ’em in as part of my K-12 education.


  12. I learned to sew on mom’s old Pfaff treadle sewing machine. In thinking about this I may have stumbled on an epiphany. Mom couldn’t sew, and to the best of my knowledge, she never used that machine. Why did we have it? I’m guessing that mom bought it because she found a good deal on it (she was a hound for locating deals), and that she acquired it for the same reason that she bought a piano and a typewriter. She couldn’t type or play the piano, either, but I’ll bet she was hoping, that just having them around, either my sister or I would take an interest and perhaps try them out. When I was thirteen she did sign up for a typing course but quit after the first lesson, but so as to not waste the money she had paid for the course, sent me in her stead for the remainder of the course. At the time, our school papers were all hand written, so I wasn’t particularly thrilled or motivated to learn touch typing. In retrospect, it’s a skill that been extremely useful. Perhaps these were things she would have liked to have had during her childhood? Who knows?

    I learned enough to be a reasonably competent, if not overly patient, seamstress. I sewed most of my own clothes from I was fifteen and pretty much till the end of my first marriage. I avoided patterns that had a lot of buttonholes, and wore a lot of shifts and A-line dresses. To this day I feel most comfortable in clothes that aren’t fussy, possibly a carry over from when I made my own clothes.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. Way to go, YA!

    I learned sewing via doll clothes, without a pattern – trial and error! I also took a Singer summer sewing class with my best friend (we both skipped Home Ec), and did end up making some of my own clothes, esp. the summers between teaching years. Since I had a little boy instead of girl, I sewed mostly costumes when Joel was young – there was an orange cat costume I made with extra long arms and legs (rolled ’em up for a while) that he wore for years, it seems. Then added things like nightshirts for Christmas gifts, curtains, and some re-upholstering.

    Now I do mostly mending and altering, a few masks, but I did bring the machine up from the basement and made a space for sewing in the living room last week, hoping I’ll be inspired to create a quilt or something during self-quarantine. (This of course required a room re-arrange.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Your comment, BiR, reminds me of my erstwife. She hated sewing and officially gave up doing that, even refusing to mend damaged garments. But something wonderful happened in her middle age years. She became the designer and maker of wonderful personalized Christmas stockings. A stocking would require weeks of careful planning and all kinds of hand-stitching. Her stockings carried a LOT of sequins. Each one was totally unique, telling a story about the person it was made for. What I found remarkable was she was not at all artistic except in this one specific area. She was justifiably proud of those stockings. They will be proudly hung for many decades to come.

      Liked by 6 people

  14. OT: YouTube channel tip. At some point in my life I discovered the meaning and value of stories. It his me almost like a shock. Stories can amuse or instruct us. They help us understand this crazy journey called life. More recently, I have discovered some YouTube channels that share stories.

    My favorite at the moment is The Moth. The Moth runs shows that allow people to share true, personal stories. Storytellers can’t use notes. Some storytellers are polished and some are not. I just heard a man weeping for twenty minutes as he described his experience of the Fukujima tsunami tragedy. Moth stories are usually pretty short. Many are wonderful.

    Give this guy time to tell his story. He’s not a great storyteller, and yet his story about gaming the system of online dating is fun.

    Stories that aren’t funny can be good, too.

    Many of you are already familiar with the Story Corps. I love everything about this site. The stories are short. The cartoons are oddly comforting.

    Stories on This American Life are longer and less frequently given visual content, but NPR listeners know how excellent many of them are.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. So far I’ve watched two of the videos, I enjoyed them both. May watch more later. Now I have to get back to the book I’m currently reading. Thanks, Steve.


  15. OT – Just received word from Ireland. Aunt Mary passed away tonight. A very short message, but I suppose they didn’t even get to say good bye, and also don’t know anything about funeral arrangements as yet.


    1. I had braced myself for this. Didn’t really think her odds were very good. I just hope that she died peacefully. After such a long life, to die alone, with no one to hold your hand, seems sad to me. And I hate that she’ll miss our on a traditional Irish wake.


      1. Truthfully, Linda, Mary wasn’t close to me. I met her only once, for a few days prior to her marrying into my mother’s family. But her husband (one of my mother’s brothers) died many years ago from an insidious skin cancer that had devastated his and their life for years. She became the anchor that held the family together. I suspect that this pretty much is the end of my ties, however tenuous, with my mother’s family in Ireland.


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