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Oh, joy! Your first patchwork quilt. And hand sewen as well. This is always a fun project, and it is one that makes for an exciting one as well. But the difference between hand sewing and sewing with a machine is patience. And this is why most people will give up. But, and I know that this sounds like I am making it up, you can sew just about anything by hand. You don't need a machine.

I first learned to sew on a machine. I was excited and got busy and made a buch of projects. But when it came to finishing them off, you know what I mean – this usually calls for a little hand sewing, I was lost. I always asked my mother for help.

It wasn't until I decided to do a patchwork quilt by hand that I actually made some progress. A lot of progress, one quarter inch at a time.

And it was a real quilt. I decided to make it with the English Paper Piecing method. It had a cute charm that appealed to me then, and still does to this day. Some people get turned off of the EPP method because they think it has to be hexagonal, but the truth is that it does not have to be, though most of the patterns are. You can make it work with squares just the same.

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But here is the thing, EPP works with whatever shape you want, and in whatever size you want! While you will see it being used for complicated shapes and smaller pieces the reason is because it makes them easier to handle. But the same is true for pieces that are not that complicated, it also makes them trvial to work with. So don't get overwhelmed it's definitely not just for complicated things!

And I sew almost all of my quilts by hand now.

When I started I took a fine tipped marker and drew 1/4" length, or whatever distance I wanted to use, on my thumb. Then as I worked I would hold it up against the edge of my work every little bit to make sure that I was staying in regular. But once you do it long enough our eyes becomes pretty good at doing this on their own. My grandmom, bless her heart – she brought the sewing into our family, made all her quilts by hand! I didn't see her mark them once either, when I asked she showed me the trick with the thumb marks, but by that time she didn't need them any more. She and my mother also showed me the importance of cutting and getting good seams. If your cutting wrong that will be seen in the final piece, of course you can work around this if you are using large squares but try that with hexagons.

People often ask me if I have any recomendations when it comes to learning how to sew by hand. And I usually just send them a link to since she has covered everything from the basics to the most complicated techniques in full. But honestly, it is so much easier to find good material now on the subject than when I was learning. Don't get me wrong I was blessed to have a mother and grandmother that were skilled through many years of practice, had I not had that I would have been much slower in advancing my skills.

But no matter what, it will always take time and practice.


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Teaching kids to sew can be incredibly easy or it can be a real challenge. It all comes down to knowing what gets their attention. It should be a challenge for them as well so it holds their interest and makes them follow along rather than trudge through it. That is why I love to look at the Japanese sewing books you can easily find them on Amazon. I love them for their simple (sometimes complicated), yet rewarding patterns!

Some have been translated into English but even if they haven't I was able to read the patterns well enough to understand how they went together. Even though they are simple, they may be tricky to sew.

I had tried one designs that while adorable and loose fitting was a bit of work to fingure out. I figured it out and realized that I had made it more difficult. I was red in the face after that.

What I also like is that most call for cotton and linen, so the fabrics will be soft and natural.

It all comes down to finding the right pattern.

If you and your child want to learn together then you should find somebody that offers lessons. Whenever you get sewing lessons, try to get the basics down, this allows you to expand on your own. Then when you are further along ask specifically how to do different seams, with the basics in hand you should be able to pick up a new seam in one go.

And things are always changing.

One example is that a lot of designers are moving the seams to the outside of garments, seams and styles change all of the time and keep things fresh.

Beyond the basics it is important to learn how to change patterns by making necklines bigger and changing the rise on pants.

Both are fairly easy.

Just like everything else once you have learned how to do it.


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This is a pretty wide open question when it comes to quilting because there are just so many directions that you can go in.

First I would look around and try and figure out what kind of quilts you like. Since this will help you make some choices when it comes to learning the hobby. For example are you into piecing and quilting the sandwich together? Then there is the whole style thing. Modern or Traditional? On the fence? Have you sewn before but you are just a beginner when it comes to quilting? I could go on and on and hopefully you have gotten the idea.

This is a big subject and there is no right answer.

Everyone needs to develope in thier own direction. And that is why for most novice quilt makers I try to stay generic. Encouraging them to learn the basics from a couple of different diciplines.

Martingale also has several great reference books when it comes to a more modern stich. And 501 Rotary Cut Blocks is an excellent resource, and I like 101 Fabulous Small Quilts.

And just remember, even if they don't you can use a more modern material than they do.

Quilting Modern is a good jumping off point for improv stuff, and that is always a fun way to do things.


I learned to sew when I was a girl by making clothes for my dolls! Both my mother and grandmother thought it was a good way to get started becuase it is a good way to practice because it's quick. And since I wanted to make things for my dolls it was also an attractive project for me which kept my motivation going even when my frustration level was high. I am good at it now, but it can still be frustrating. For example, while it is easy eough to sew doll clothes aspects like armholes can still present problems and make things harder, especially when they are tiny.

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And like everything there are easy and hard things about both.

To get started I would suggest trying to make a simple dress, you can find plenty of patterns online for these.

For me it really isn't fun unless it is harder. That is why I add sleeves and collars to most of my creations.

Unlike with other types of sewing, sewing for dolls is so much fun. And the best thing is the dolls will not judge you if you make a few mistakes.

My beloved damnit doll


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Is sewing about sewing in today's culture. And culture is really what it comes down to. If you grew up in a household that loved to sew like mine then you have a different take on it that somebody coming in new to the whole experience.

For example if you sew pillows, any type of cusions, even quilts it can be frugal, more so than buying them. And if you keep an eye open and didn't find them cheaper and especially if you would have gotten them anyways just make sure that you get a good deal on the fabric.

Clothes rarely are frugal, you can buy cheaper ones at the store unless it is a very specific/expensive item, costumes are a good example. But if you have never sewn before in your life there is little hope that you will achieve the quality that you will probably want.

For other things like some household goods it can get tricky. What I suggest is to go through it and spend some time calculating how much the fabric costs to make the item before you start getting your supplies together and trying to make the piece.

I used to knit and in many cases it can be cheaper, but there is a divide when it comes to knitting does often apply to sewing as well, fabric can be very expensive.

Before you rush out and load your shopping cart you should know, with sewing you have a fairly significant initial investment. This includes the tools, material and other odds and ends. I suggest getting a good pair of scissors, there is nothing more annoying than a pair of dull scisors.

Still how much you spend can vary greatly.

For me personally it isn't about the price, for some people it really only comes down to ho much it costs, I love good quality. And I have been very fortunate that I have been able to outfit my workroom with some of the best tools from thrift stores and even garage and estate sales.

One example is my velva-board. No one knows what a velva-board is or that their true value is. I found a brand new (it had not been used but was older) board that had I purchased it would have cost around $75, yet I was able to get it for $1.50 at a thrift store. I also purchase supplies from wholesalers, since it is far cheaper.

Most people will buy supplies from retailers like Walmart rather than those that service pros more than hobbiests. It used to be that most tools you bought, if properly maintained, would be fought over by your children when you died. Not today, with care you can make them last but they just don't have the same quality.

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That is why I love the old tools that I find. They cost me a lot less and they will still outlast the new models you will find in the stores. Just make sure that if you buy an old sewing machine that it has more than thirty stiches.

My husband and I have talked about it and we like to compare learning to sew to learning how to take care and repair your car. Sure you can pay someone else to do it, but there is a potential for savings and the sense of accomplishment by doing it yourself is more rewarding.

That is why he has taught me to fix minor issues with the car and I have shown him how to sew.


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I love cute patterns, and sewing plush animals was also a fun passion of mine, but not actually creating them. The reason is simple. It's really hard.

Making a pattern that works takes a lot of time, first you need to draw up a completely custom pattern and try to make it work. Then since you have created something completely new sewing can really be a challenge.


Because I sew things, and I have been doing it for a long time and it stills gets unbelievably frustrating at times.

Because of that I have only ever tried making my own patterns a few times. And this with various success. They were never overly complicated and if they had been I would have thrown my hands in the air. Screamed. Then ran away from my machine.

But I haven't and I am glad.

So for me a good pattern is something to appreciate. If I find something that doesn't work, then Ican make the small alterations. But from scratch it is just too hard.

A friend of mine can do this, the patterns she makes for her children's toys are just amazing. And complicated.

I have tried to sew them but failed.

One of the reasons is because she has designed them herself. She knows where the gotchas are, and the other aspects that can cause you headaches. And this is just another reason why they are so complicated.

When you find a good patterns maker, support them, encourage them to keep going. Because for the majority of us, they are indespensible.

Happy sewing!

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