A Seamly Pursuit: Introduction

On the mannequin: the mock-up for my Easter dress, from McCall’s 6959, view B but with sleeves and without belt. Didn’t use the old treadle, however, but the electronic Singer.

Hello, Gentle Readers and Sewists. My name is Bonnie, and I love to sew. How about you?

My only formal sewing training was Grade 7 Home Ec., where I learned how to thread and use a sewing machine, but didn’t finish either of the two projects we were supposed to make because I just couldn’t get them finished in the time allotted. Too darned slow. Discouraging, but I did learn how to operate a sewing machine.

Later, in high school, I found myself in a wardrobe crisis and had to learn quickly how to sew a garment; otherwise I would have had nothing much to wear. I found some shiny fabric in the house and made, insofar as I could, a sleeveless white top, using my Mom’s 1946 Singer Featherweight machine. I didn’t know how to make buttons and buttonholes, so I used snap fasteners with buttons sewn on top. I’m sure it was absolutely the weirdest looking top the world has ever seen.

Fearlessly, I wore it to school. Another girl, who was actually in Home Ec., asked me “Are you wearing a lining?”

Without skipping a beat I replied, “No, it’s supposed to be like this.”

May as well be bold, I thought, but I also thought, “Oh! This is lining material,” and I tucked away that information and learned from it. The year was 1962, and I was 13 years old.

It was all “Learn by Doing” for me, and I kept on sewing and learning from incidental information that my friends provided. Around the same time, the spectacular fashion revolution from London started to appear, and I began to experiment with what we would now call my own pattern hacks. Eventually I had an entire closet full of clothes, maybe not the greatest, but acceptable at school and I got by from then until grad almost entirely on my own sewing, and even made a few items for friends.

Sewing became my lifelong hobby and therapy. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: sewing has been the most important skill I have ever learned.

Oh, alright! Making a sandwich and a decent cup of coffee have stood me well, too.

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