from sewphobe to sewholic: a junkie’s tale.

My mother sews and I’ve got two aunts who are professional seamstresses. Seeing them work during my childhood and teen years always made me afraid to give it a try — it looked so frighteningly meticulous. But today, thanks to modern technology giving us computerized machines and free sewing lessons on You Tube, I’ve learned how to make clothing that’s actually wearable. Outside. In public even.

I bought my Brother CS-6000 machine early last month, and to help me learn how to use it, I enrolled in Sew L.A.’s Machine Basics 101 class. It was fantastic, and I highly recommend Sherry’s class to anyone living in the LA area with a desire to learn how to sew. She’s amazingly patient and a terrific teacher. We learned the basics of machine operation and made a simple, unlined tote bag during the 3 hour session, and when I went home, I immediately made two more totes.

I am now a bonafide junkie who scours (an online sewing community) on a daily basis for pictures of members’ creations, new patterns and how-tos; searches ebay for vintage fabrics and patterns; spends far too much money on sewing notions…and who just bought a second machine (a serger/overlock).

my first dress!

Photo by Cicilia Sutjiono

So after sewing a couple of totes, I decided to just dive in and make a dress. I downloaded this tunic dress pattern for free from and then went to the Goodwill to buy some practice fabric. I figured it would be unwise to spend loads of money on nice fabric when I’m just starting to figure this thing out. What I found was this cute flat bedsheet with an adorable scandavian-style pattern (IKEA perhaps?) — so I bought it and started sewing away.

Here’s what tripped me up the most: the yoke and yoke facings. I ended up with two extra pattern pieces that I didn’t know what to do with! If I was a mechanic putting together an engine, I would have been in big trouble. I didn’t realize that I had to use the yoke facings on the inside of the dress in order to give that area support and so that I wouldn’t have to finish the neck edges. So then I had to teach myself how to do bias binding. Here is when I wished I was under the tutelage of someone who actually knew what they were doing!

Ah well, for all the trouble, it was definitely worth it in the end. Who knew a bedsheet could be so fun to wear?