It's Simple To Sew Rotating Header Image


The next Absolute Beginner Sewing series will be in November.

Dates are November 7, 14 and 21.  (Saturdays)

Time is from 9 to 1.  Class fee: $40 for each four-hour class.  Total of $120.

A deposit of $40 is required to confirm your place.  This covers the cost of your first class.  The other classes are pay-as-you-go.  You do not need a sewing machine to attend.  After the first class you will know how to shop for one.

Class size is limited to 6.  There will be no classes in December.

For overview of the class, click on the Class description tab at the top of this page.


I don’t think our kids know what an apron is.

The principle use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few.  It was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fuzzy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids; and when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.  Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.  After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that “old-time apron” that served so many purposes.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool.   Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron.

(author unknown)

The resurrection of the almighty iron

Did you know there is a difference between ironing and pressing?  Ironing is gliding the iron back and forth over a garment (or anything else iron-able)  Pressing  involves lifting the iron and pressing  (literally) with the iron on a seam, at times using steam to help “set” it.

Several of my students haven’t owned an iron; but I’ve convinced them (I think) that if they want their sewing projects to look professional, pressing with a good iron is a must.   If you need to go shopping for one, make sure it has plenty of steam vents and will produce lots of steam (check the water-fill line to see how much it will hold).  A good feature is a tough no-scratch soleplate, and a feature I wouldn’t be without is an automatic shut-off.

A good iron is an investment.  I owned a $10 iron for 20 years, but I had to refill it every 10 minutes if I wanted a burst of steam; once I convinced myself that I needed a Rowenta brand, I couldn’t believe the difference.   My husband has always said “you get what you pay for” and with the more expensive Rowenta brand, I got a lot.

The lost “art” of ironing

I have come to realize that the status of yesteryear’s iron has fallen among today’s generation.  I suppose it was inevitable; with the introduction of permanent-press and clothes dryers.

You might say that I’m part of the “in-between” generation; I can remember vividly “wash day”, which before the advent of dryers involved hanging everything (everything) out on a clothes line.  That was usually on Monday (wash day); Tuesday was the dreaded IRONING DAY.  I can’t remember what the other days of the week were for, because the ironing was never really finished.  We would even sprinkle water on the more difficult pieces, roll them up, and designate them for “later”  Then the trick would be to get to the “dampened” ironing before it mildewed.

I even learned to iron a sheet without letting it touch the floor.  I would challenge anyone today to accomplish that trick.   (I think I can still do that – but why should I?)

Tomorrow:  the resurrection of the almighty iron

When in doubt – check it out

Please – anyone reading this posting – go to your thread supply and check every spool to see if you purchased “hand quilting” thread to use in your sewing machine.

Thread made for hand quilting has wax applied to the filament which will rub off between the tension disks in your machine.  WE ARE TALKING MAJOR REPAIR BILLS HERE!

Because I am coordinator of a prayer blanket ministry in our church, I get donations of fabric and thread.  I keep it all in a box and use it for our sewing circle.  Well, I’ve learned my lesson, I discovered that I had put hand quilting thread in my own machine and was stitching with it.  Fortunately I discovered it after only a few minutes and there was no damage.

When I checked all the spools, there were NINE of hand quilting thread in the box!  Yikes!

Good ol’ Walmart

Some of you have seen fabric kits here and there for aprons, etc.  Well!  I am officially announcing to my thousands of readers (smile) that  Walmart  has an amazing collection of kits for not only aprons, but purses, pillowcases, doll clothes, wall quilts, kid’s costumes, pet pampering and more!   All of these include instructions and are displayed in hanging packages and designed for the beginning sewer.

They have coordinated pre-quilted and double-faced quilted fabric and everything from Disney to Spiderman prints.  Their fat quarters are $1 each and they have 5 inch batik squares priced at $10 for 100 pieces!  (Be still my beating heart!)

This is part of their “new look” and I definitely approve.  What  great gift ideas for that loved-one learning to sew, and for the gift-giver, herself.

Sewing for Christmas

My list of sewing projects for my family (which is steadily growing) seems to have no end.  I have so many ideas of things I’d like to make, but I’m never realistic in estimating the time it will take.  So as a result, when Christmas is a week or two away, I go a little stir-crazy.


Stay tuned………

A tisket, a tasket, get yourself a basket

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .to keep by your sewing machine.  If you’re like me, you tend to be a little “scattered” when concentrating on a sewing project.  I tend to put  scissors, pins, bobbins, etc. down on the nearest flat surface when I’m finished with them.  That of course makes for a lot of frustration when you need to find these notions in a hurry.  Old habits die hard, but with a little effort we can keep everything in one place.  A little basket is just the ticket!

Don’t be bored with the ironing board

As long as we’re talking about “pressing matters”, I should point out that the inexpensive ironing boards are  going to make your pressing and ironing more difficult.  These cheaper versions wobble and break easily.  So invest in a more sturdy board and a well-padded cover.  The height should be adjustable and if you add an iron rest to the end of the board, you will have a much larger ironing surface.

“Pressing Issues”: The ironing board

If you happen to be tall like me (5’9″), you probably just assume that everything should be adjusted to your height.  For 30 years or more I’ve had my ironing board in the highest position; I recently lowered it several inches and discovered that ironing (and pressing) was much easier than before.  Imagine that.

Pressing Matters

Any one who has taken my class will tell you that I am a “stickler” about pressing vs. ironing.  What is the difference?  Ironing is moving the iron back and forth over a garment; pressing is lifting and placing the iron across the sewn seam one section at a time.  If you want professional results with your sewing, pressing is a must.

Next up: steam irons/ironing boards

Bits and Pieces

For the next several days, I’ll be posting tidbits of sewing tips to save you time, $$$, and frustration with your sewing machine.

When you’re tempted to blow the dust off your machine, think twice:  there’s moisture on your breath, and that moisture could rust the interior parts of the machine.  Bad idea!  Instead, use a soft bristle brush (an old makeup brush is great).  It’s also a good idea to invest in a can of compressed air (it’s good for computers as well).  Use it to blow out the dust in your tension disks, as well as your bobbin case and feed teeth.  Your machine will thank you.

It’s a “guy” thing

What is it about taking things apart and putting them back together that fascinates the male sex?  Today I was trying to clean and oil my classroom machines, and found threads that were lodged so tightly in the workings of one that I couldn’t even reach them.  Obviously it wasn’t stitching well, so I called my husband for help.  The next thing I knew, I had a naked sewing machine on my kitchen table!  He found a way to remove both the front and back panels;  located the thread jam and cleared it, and reassembled the whole thing.  (My hero!)

This was no easy task, I assure you.  A word of caution to any husband reading this and thinking of doing the same: if you bought your wife a new machine and you do what my husband did, you have just voided the warranty.

One thing I’ve always wondered about:  why is there always a screw left after you guys put things back together?

Sewing with the little people

I have had several requests to teach sewing to children who are 5, 6 and 7.  It’s wonderful that they have an interest in learning how to sew, but frankly, most children that age have short attention spans and wouldn’t have the patience to learn how the sewing machine works; they just want to create something!  (Keep in mind as well that it is a machine, and can be dangerous for such a young person to use.)

When I first took my grandson who was then 4 on my lap, he had his hands on mine as I guided the fabric under the needle.  This past month, now that he’s 5, I let him guide the fabric, but with my hands on top of his.   (He does know how to raise and lower the presser foot and turn the machine on and off, but being the budding engineer he is, he would disassemble my featherweight if I wasn’t with him every minute!)  Of course, letting your child pick the project and the fabric goes a long way to making him happy; so if you have a little sewing experience, you can do the same.  Whatever it turns out to be is extra special because you sewed it together!

There is a series of sewing books by Winky Cherry (you read that right) that got 5 star ratings from those who bought them from Amazon.  The very first in the series deals with hand sewing, and is written clearly for the very young child.   It’s entitled My First Sewing Book, Hand Sewing.   The second in the series is called My First Machine Sewing Book, which covers the sewing machine and has several projects that you can make together, even if you’ve never sewn yourself.

On Target’s website, I found sewing kits that looked interesting.  One was labeled:  Alex – My First Sewing Kit.  There was also Alex – Knot-a-Quilt, which includes fleece squares.  (Once you do one of these, you’ll want to do more).  On Amazon you will find a book that I bought for my own use called Sewing Machine Fun for Kids. And finally, Land of Nod ( has a sewing kit for small children called And Sew it Goes, which also got rave reviews from those who ordered it.

This year for Christmas, I’m putting together a simple sewing kit for my grandson; it will include plastic canvas (and plastic needles) with yarn, buttons with embroidery floss and felt shapes with holes already punched for sewing, fabric scraps (a John Deere print comes to mind), and a few “grown up” tools like a measuring tape, measuring gauge, and a small pair of scissors.  He’ll even have his own sewing tin to carry it all in – John Deere, of course.  (I’ll bet you wouldn’t be surprised that I made him a John Deere quilt, would you!)


Most of us have childhood memories involving our mother or grandmother and sewing.  One of my favorite memories was the Christmas my mother presented my sister and me with beautiful clothes she had sewn for our dolls.

She was an OR nurse, and was “on call” every Wednesday; which meant that she had a full shift from 3 to 11 p.m., and then stayed overnight in the nurses’ dormitory in case of an emergency.   Whether she worked through the night or not, she was on duty the next day at 7 am. and worked till 3 p.m.  When things were “slow” at the hospital, she stayed up for hours after her shift and worked at the sewing machine in the dorm, in order to surprise us at Christmas.

I just learned on our last visit together that she felt guilty not being able to buy us a new doll that year, and that’s why she made doll clothes instead.  I told her that that was the best Christmas I could remember!  She made a matching wool coat and hat with small flowers on the ribbon ties; a beautiful gold evening gown with an overlay and sequins, and a ballerina costume for my doll.  That’s all that I can remember, but I’m sure there was more; they are stored away in her basement; I haven’t seen them in over 40 years!

I look forward to sewing doll clothes for my two granddaughters; I hope they will cherish them as much as I did.  I hope that some of you will reply to this post with memories of your own; I know there are many.

Grandmothers who sew

We’re softies – we can’t help it.  I have eight grandchildren and can’t resist sewing for them.  I have a lengthy list of projects, some of which have deadlines, but they take a back seat when it comes to making something for my kidlets.  Spontaneity or procrastination – I can’t decide which – but it’s gratifying to simply sit down with an idea, and make it happen.

While helping with my daughter’s laundry a couple days ago, I noticed that the crib sheets were beginning to show their age.  Since my fabric stash rivals that of JoAnns, I found a 6 yard piece of light blue cotton knit.  Out came the pattern and elastic, and within an hour I had finished the first of 3 sheets.  It doesn’t take much to make me happy!

Too much of a good thing

That’s what we had at Lake Gaston.  Didn’t get my granddaughter’s “twirly skirt” done, but helped my daughters with their projects, and sewed with my grandson on my lap.  This time HE was guiding the fabric on the machine!  (Maybe I could have accomplished more if I had spent less time fishing and more time sewing.)  Too much fun!

Have featherweight, will travel

We’re heading out to Lake Gaston for a family vacation.  I’m taking my Baby with me (my 1951 Singer Featherweight).  I may be a little over-the-top, but my idea of fun at the lake (besides fishing) is to sew.  The project I have planned is a “twirly skirt” for my three-year-old granddaughter.

Two of my daughters are bringing their machines as well, and they have asked if I could help them with their sewing projects.  (I know my five-year-old grandson will want to join in the fun; he started using the sewing machine – while on my lap – when he was not quite 4.)

The good, the bad and the ugly

That’s what sewing threads are.  When I first started sewing, I didn’t realize I was buying trouble when I purchased the “two for a dollar” special.  I thought I was being frugal and saving us money.    What I didn’t know was that “bargain brand”  I was buying would cause  problems with my machine, and would pucker and shred as I sewed.

If you hold a strand of inferior thread up to the light, you’ll notice fuzz and bumps over most of the strand.  This will cause lint to build up in your machine.  High quality thread is smooth with little or no fuzz.  When you use the good stuff, your machine will sew more smoothly and give you better results.

If you have thread that has been around for years (maybe it was “passed down” to you), know that over time it could rot.  To check the strength of the thread, take a strand and wrap it around your index finger on each hand.  If it breaks easily when you pull it apart, throw it out.

Tip of the day

I love to sew, there’s no doubt about it.  This little icon will be included in my posts from now on to identify a special sewing hint or tip to save you time and $$$.  Hopefully it will make your sewing easier and more enjoyable.  I posted information about quilting threads yesterday; tomorrow I’ll probably suggest that you throw out some of the threads you may have inherited from your mother.  (What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.)