Introduction to Sewing
About Us,  Sewing

Introduction to Sewing

I’ve given this a lot of thought, and after talking it over with my mom, we’ve decided to give a little “Introduction to Sewing” class.  She’s going to help me out by reading over my posts, letting me know what I forgot, and maybe even writing a post or two about a topic she is more knowledgeable on than I.  I will attempt to get out one post a week on the topic, and I will attempt to get out one post a week on the other things we are working on around our homestead.  Who knows, if I get really crazy, maybe we’ll end up with 3 posts a week 😉

If you are not terribly interested in sewing or you already know how to sew, I want you to know that I’m going to be including my latest sewing projects (should there be one) at the end of these posts, so if you are interested in that part, you may want to check them out and scroll down for that!  And if you know somebody who would like to learn more about sewing, I would be oh-so-grateful if you’d pass these posts along!  If you already know how to sew and choose to follow along, we will not be offended if you think we missed something, or if you know of a specific sewing brand/item that works really well…we’d love to hear about it in the comments.

These sewing posts may be a bit longer than my average posts, but think of it as taking a sewing class…you’d probably spend half and hour to an hour doing this face-to-face.  My plan (as of right now) is to do Saturday Sewing Posts.  Every Saturday, I will try to have the next post in our series up for you to read.  I may post more than one Saturday Sewing post per week if I feel like I need to expand on a specific topic or the length of a tutorial is getting too long.  I’ll be breaking today’s post into two parts…

Meet Trudy

Before we begin this series, I think it is only appropriate that you have a proper introduction to my mother since she is helping me with these posts and she’s a big part of my sewing life.  Not everybody likes to have information about them out on the internet so I always ask before giving details about the people in my life.  I asked her if she’d be willing to write something up about herself, and this is what she has to say:

Trudy:  I have been sewing for over 41 years. I learned in junior high home-ec (what it was called back in the stone-age), and had several years of it, including tailoring.  Since then, sewing has always been a regular part of my life, from garment sewing for myself and family, to sewing for the home (mostly curtains and pillows, but some upholstery as well), stuffed animals, pot holders, aprons and tote bags, and finally to quilting.  By the way, I refer to myself as a sewist, and  the reason is because a seamstress mostly sews garments.  I dislike the word ‘sewer’ because as you can see, it looks just like the word ‘sewer’, you know, the disgusting thing where all of our waste goes!  Sewist is a term I saw online a few years ago and thought it was a perfect fit for what I do, which is sewing pretty much whatever my little heart desires at the moment.  So no, I did not coin the term but would love to give credit to the person who did come up with it!  I refer to myself as a quilter as well because that is what the majority of my current sewing is spent on these days.

Introduction to Sewing Part 1
Danielle and Trudy at Danielle’s high school graduation party…

Most of my life is currently taken up by quilting, something I actually started when I was 17 by making a 6” square from a manila folder and pinning it to scrap fabrics from my seamstress sister.  She almost exclusively sewed clothing.  Anyway, I didn’t make my fist quilt all at once, and my knowledge of what I was doing was limited to garment sewing.   I used scissors to cut the squares and dull scissors they were!  I worked on the quilt here and there over the years.  Honestly, it wasn’t going well (think squares starting to look like trapezoids and other odd shapes) and I had some pretty ugly fabrics in there, so it wasn’t holding my interest.  Several years later, I came across a quilting book and taught myself from there and the rest is history.  That was 28 years ago. I have literally made hundreds of quilts of all sizes, much to my sons-in-law horror (yes, more than one son-in-law) because their family is often the recipient of said quilts.  In fact, I’m pretty sure one son-in-law figures they could insulate their entire house with the quilts they  have from me.  I still garment sew and sew whatever I feel like at the moment. I have been known to go through phases where I’ll make twenty potholders or table runners within short order and give most of them to family and friends.  I get obsessive because I am having fun and want to make a bunch of something in a hundred different fabrics!

I have four grown and married adult children (that would include Danielle obviously) with 14-going-on-15 grandchildren under the age of 9. Yes, you read that right.  I am about as domestic as you can be, am a homebody and a country girl at heart (grew up in the city, married and moved to the country and LOVED it, lived the last 7 years in a small village on the outskirts of the country and plan to move back to the country). I love to sew, quilt, read, bake and spend time with my family more than anything else. I absolutely love watching and reading decorating shows and magazines and plan to use them to the fullest advantage when we move to our next place. My faith is very important to me, although I’m not necessarily the kind that talks a lot about it to just anyone.  I’m normally pretty quiet and rather shy, some of that due to being hard of hearing, but get me around the right people and you can’t shut me up!  I have done some teaching as far as sewing and quilting goes, but I admit, it’s not my strong suit because I can babble a lot.

Oh yes, and I’ve been married to Danielle’s father for almost 35 years, we’ve been together for 37, and he is most of the reason Danielle is crazy-talented like she is… there is nothing that man can’t do!  My grandchildren, and now my children and in-law children refer to me as Gammy Trudy, a name bestowed upon me by my eldest grandson when he was a toddler and couldn’t say Grandma.  But you can call me Trudy.

Danielle:  Alright, thanks Mom!  I’m pretty sure you’ll learn more about her and her work in future posts.  And chances are that if you’ve peaked around here at posts about our house, you’e seen her handiwork 🙂  Yes that’s written by her…as you can see, we are quite alike!

The Basics

Sewing is rather a broad term.  Many people have different ideas or images come to their head when they think of sewing.  In future posts, we’ll teach you simple hand sewing, machine sewing, and maybe some embroidery (which is not technically sewing, but kind of falls in that category because of the needle/thread connection).  Google defines sewing as: “join, fasten, or repair (something) by making stitches with a needle and thread or a sewing machine.”

Introduction to Sewing.
My sewing machine. I LOVE my machine!

While I do know how to do some hand sewing, I’m sure my mother’s high school tailoring teacher would have me rework a lot of my stitches for their lack of perfection.  I do well enough, but I don’t spend my time sewing quilts and clothing by hand.  I could if I wanted to, but…I don’t want to 🙂  However, hand sewing is a very basic skill everybody should be able to do at least a little of.  It will allow you to sew on a button, fix simple tears or small holes in clothing, and it is an excellent technique for finishing off lots of different sewing projects.

Most everything we work on will be machine sewing for our projects on here.  Soon we’ll do a post on really getting to know your machine, and tips for finding a machine that will work for you.

But aside from the types of sewing, there are multiple categories of types of sewing one can do.  There’s quilting, clothing, accessories, home decor… We’ll be going over the basics of each of these at some point to help you get started.

Introduction to Sewing Part 1
Some of the tools for sewing.


I feel I’d better move on to terminology right away so we don’t lose any of you!  I already gave you the definition of sewing, so I’ll start with the things you are going to need in order to start sewing.  I’ll include a link to any of the items you might need for getting started through Amazon (read our affiliate disclosure statement in the side bar or bottom of the page…), though I will tell you right now, I often buy everything in-store at either JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, or at different quilt shops.  I’m going to copy the definition from Google and add in my own commentary in bold or italics.

Thread: a long, thin strand of cotton, nylon, or other fibers used in sewing or weaving.

Introduction to Sewing.
My rainbow of threads. I keep all of my neutrals in a bin next to my sewing machine. Keeping your thread organized makes life much easier when you do a lot of sewing. It’s also a compulsion. Just like it is to organize your fabrics by color!  See those gold spools of thread?  They are very old spools of Coats and Clarks.

Needle: a very fine slender piece of metal with a point at one end and a hole or eye for thread at the other, used in sewing.  (Note: Needles come in different sizes and sometimes shapes.  There is also a difference between a MACHINE needle and a HAND SEWING needle.)

Pins:  a thin piece of metal with a sharp point at one end and a round head at the other, used especially for fastening pieces of cloth.  *Sigh.*  SOOOOOO many people get this wrong.  Pins and needles are NOT the same.  The words (and items) CANNOT be used interchangeably!  Pins temporarily hold things together, needles are used to sew things together.  No matter how many times I correct the kiddos on this one, they still have a hard time keeping it straight!

Scissors: an instrument used for cutting cloth, paper, and other thin material, consisting of two blades laid one on top of the other and fastened in the middle so as to allow them to be opened and closed by a thumb and finger inserted through rings on the end of their handles.  Okay, so I hope you knew what scissors were before I put that in 🙂  But you WILL want special scissors for your sewing.  They should be SEWING scissors, and sewing scissors only.  When your children accidentally use them to cut up pine branches/sticks, you might just lose your mind.  And when your husband uses them to cut paper, you may just break down in tears.  Don’t let your family use your scissors.

Fabric:  cloth, typically produced by weaving or knitting textile fibers.

Material:  I’m not going to use the Google definition on this one…this one is a bit tricky.  Material can be used interchangeably with the word fabric.  But it can also mean your supplies or the substance from which an item is made (i.e. plastic, metal, wood).  Generally speaking, when we say material in here, we’re talking about fabric.  If we say materials (plural, with an s), we are talking about the supplies you need.  I’ll try to use the word fabric, but forgive me if I forget 🙂

Pattern:  a model or design used as a guide in needlework and other crafts.  If you are making clothing, chances are you will be using a pattern.  If you are making something other than a basic patchwork quilt, chances are you are using a pattern.  It is a guide for cutting your pieces to the right dimensions, and it will tell you how to put the pieces together.  Sometimes we use the word pattern inside of a quilt pattern…for example:  In each row of the quilt, you will repeat the pattern “red, blue, white, white, red, blue, white, white…” Or something to that effect.  You’ll figure it out when you see it, but for the most part, when you see the word pattern in these posts, I’ll be talking about the book or pieces of paper you are using as your guide.

Introduction to Sewing
Here is an example of a quilt pattern in a quilt book, along with an infant’s clothing pattern envelope (the pattern is inside).

Iron:  smooth (clothes, sheets, etc.) with an iron.  Your iron is also the tool with which you iron…it’s a verb and a noun.  For the verb, it means to move the iron back and forth over the fabric/garment/quilt block, etc…  To press means to lift the iron up and press it back down, not moving it horizontally across the fabric. There is an importance to this distinction, which you will learn as we go along working on projects.

Ironing Board:  a long, narrow board covered with soft material and having folding legs, on which clothes, sheets, etc., are ironed.  Your ironing board does NOT have to have folding legs.  In fact, when I worked as a seamstress, we more often than not used an ironing table.  Though I guess that technically means it wasn’t just an ironing board…???

There are so many different words to define, so I’m just sticking with the absolute basics for getting you started.  As we progress through this series, I’ll define more words and go into more detail on everything.

Want to keep learning? Click here to read Part 2 to find out what you need to get started for our first few lessons and to gain more information about what to use (and what not to use) and why!

Questions?  Comments?  Leave them below!  And please, pass this on to your friends!

Love~Danielle and Trudy





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