The One Where I Start Learning to Sew

Anybody remember my first post?

For two years, I had another blog where I chronicled my young son’s life and anything we were doing to our home, a 1900 East Tennessee vernacular cottage thing (Pete reminds me it wasn’t designed and it doesn’t have a regular style– girls, don’t marry an architectural historian if you don’t want to know the difference between style and form, or if, like me, you can’t remember it after you’re repeatedly told the difference. Do marry one if you like talking about those things and also have a good vacuum for sawdust purposes).

I abandoned that blog for two reasons. The first was that I started thinking that as The Boy grew into his own personality, he deserved the chance to choose what information was shared about him and what wasn’t. I chose to ditch the updates on his childhood and the pictures of his face.

Pictures of The Boy usually look like this now. Pete doesn’t get the luxury of my protecting his identity.

The other reason I ditched my old blog was that I wanted to narrow the focus of my writing adventure. I have a deep love for home design and changing my environment, but I was frustrated with a) my options for decor and household items, especially as I noticed how repetitious the blogosphere was in terms of the same materials, colors, brands, etc., b) the cost of those options when I could see how simply they were constructed, c) the fact that when I bought these things, I propped up an unsustainable consumer culture that did nothing to support artists and makers, and d)  my own inability to do anything about a or b and sometimes c. Throw in a healthy jealousy of my husband, who it seems can make or fix anything, and I decided I wasn’t going to take it anymore.

I started a blog about doing things for myself. But, big hang-up, I didn’t know how to sew. I have a groovy 1963 Singer that I inherited from my Great Aunt Virginia, but I didn’t know how to use it.


It’s in the back of my messy car. Don’t judge.

I like to think of this old lady as a combination of a sewing machine, an acid trip, and an episode of the Brady Bunch all rolled up in one. She’s seen a lot of clothing and housewares in her day, but has been neglected since Virginia passed when I was in college.

Once upon a time (as in, the early months in Tennessee when I had a lot of time on my hands), I got it in my head that I’d teach myself to sew. I bought a couple books and started reading, but ultimately got too intimidated by the sharp thing in my machine. Last fall, I started thinking again and thought a class would be a better setting for me. I’ve looked in the area, but there aren’t a lot of sewing classes that fit my needs (mostly scheduling and fear of strangers watching me learn new things). But there is Miss Barbara.


Miss Barbara is the costumer at Theatre-at-Tusculum, where I frequently do community theater. She’s wonderful and amazing and used to teach sewing through UT Extension. She made me the most beautiful doll costume for our production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang– I actually had to buy it because I couldn’t part with it. How the woman clothes 80+ people (2-3 costumes each) every single fall and never says a cross word, I will never know. She’s just as sweet as they come.

I can use it when I take The Boy trick-or-treating, right?

I asked Miss Barbara last fall, as she was doing my hair for a show, whether she ever takes private students. She said she never had, but that she’d also been asked by a castmate and she’d like to help us.

We didn’t talk much more about it, but then last month I saw that she was offering a beginning sewing workshop through ARTS Outreach at Tusculum! I pounced on it. I emailed her and then, just to be sure, I also called ARTS Outreach. The call may have hinted of desperation, I’m not sure.

All that to say that my first class was Tuesday night and it was so fun! We learned to thread our machines, basic operation, and then to do some basic seams. So here are some pictures of that…


That’s about as far as we got the other night; we did a simple seam, a French seam, and a flat felled seam. We’ll learn more next Tuesday, and I’m so excited!