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by | 17 Jul, 2020 | Sewing, Tutorial

Learn-to-Sew: Dust off your sewing machine!

Ready to Learn to Sew?

Have you got an old (or new!) sewing machine at the back of a cupboard somewhere? Perhaps you were excited when you got it but it was confusing to thread and when you tried to sew with it, the stitches were wonky or the thread broke? You gave up and put it away and haven’t had the time to investigate what went wrong. Or maybe you have been dreaming for ages of getting your hands on a sewing machine (they are hot property on FreeCycle!) and creating something with your own hands. But you don’t have anyone to guide you and you don’t know where to start.

It seems to me that a lot of people of my generation missed the opportunity to learn to sew from their mothers – the way it had happened for generations before us. And I don’t mean to be sexist but the fact is home sewing was women’s work (I’m picturing some Jane Austin scene in my head – the ladies sitting in the parlour each with a needle and thread creating their next gown!)

History of the Sewing Machine

Before factory clothing production became widespread (and the clothes affordable to the average family) women made the clothes for their family. According to History Today, most British working-class women made their family’s clothes, and a competent seamstress could make a shirt in about fourteen hours! So it can be argued that, when sewing machines became a feature of middle-class homes in Britain from the 1860s, and the time to produce that shirt diminished to an hour, women had more time for leisure – or employment (Wikipedia). For many that employment was in clothing factories – and let’s leave any discussion of sweat-shops to another day!

A disappearing skill

However, even when factory-produced clothing became widely available, women still sewed at home. And skills were passed down from one generation to another. But it seems to me something happened – maybe we were put off by ‘home economics’ classes at school! – but we stopped sewing so much and there are a large number of us who missed out on picking up the skills of sewing. And the sewing bug! For lots of reasons though people are coming back to sewing – for pleasure! It might be because you are looking for something different from what is on offer in the mass-produced market. You might want to reflect your own personality through something unique. You might be seeking something more sustainable and more ethical. You might want to save money. Or you might just want to start sewing because it is fun to create something yourself – the best reason of all! Whatever your reasons, it can still be hard to start if you are all alone in front of your sewing machine (perhaps with the weight of past failures on your shoulder) and an indecipherable commercial pattern beside you.

Old Janome Sewing Machine
My old Janome. It is not very photogenic! It was a 21st birthday gift – I still have it and often loan it to friends.

Your Learn-to-Sew Guide

I’m here to help! I want you to have the confidence to dust off your sewing machine and discover the fun of sewing. And I want you to be able to pass that on to your children – sons and daughters. I want to know, what is holding you back? How can I help to get you started? Let me know in the comments below.

Dust Off Your Sewing Machine Pinterest Pin