My very first sewing project

Karens post this morning of Did you make that? fame got me thinking of my very first dressmaking project.

It was and yet it wasn’t a failure!

Let me explain. I made my first anything – a dress – when I was 13. Back then in the 60’s (yes I am that old) we had craft in school. Mostly we would learn how to knit and embroider but this year we had a new teacher, who had big ideas for us girls. The boys would be doing woodwork such as a cutting board or a bird-cage.

At the beginning of the year our teacher decided that we should learn how to make a dress. It was to be a short sleeved straight dress with collar and buttons down the front. We had two fabrics to choose from – a yellow or a green waffle cotton. I chose the yellow fabric as the green was a dull moss-green, which I didn’t like.

We were all very excited and although progress was slow with only one short lesson per week, we ended up having a beautiful cotton dress before Christmas. Let me explain – this took place in Denmark where the school year start in August and finish in June the next year.

We learnt such wonderful things as cutting and seeming, finishing seams, attaching sleeves and collars, sewing on buttons and making buttonholes.

We could not take the dresses home at that time. All our work for the year was to be on display in the last week of the school year, i.e. in June. It was too cold to wear a short-sleeved cotton dress in the middle of winter anyway.

Finally, end of school came, and I rushed home and into my bedroom to put on the dress so I could show my parents and siblings how clever I was.

The dress had been a success right up to this moment. Now it was a huge failure as it didn’t fit me. Our new teacher had totally forgotten to take into account that girls age 13 grow quite a lot over a year. The dress had been made to my August measurements, but my June measurements were substantially different. I can’t remember how much I had grown that year, but it was a lot.

I never wore the dress, but the teacher had achieved something. My desire to sew had been born and I had learnt how to do a lot of things. Fortunately my mother was a wonderful home sewer, and she helped me throughout my teens and taught me a lot of what I now know, although learning never stops.

What was your first project?

Happy sewing!


16 thoughts on “My very first sewing project

    • Thank you Karen. It is really quite funny now. I remember my mother being very annoyed with the teacher although she never said anything.

  1. Oh what a marvelous memory. Even the small detail of the dress not fitting, which would’ve switched so many right off ever sewing anything again.

    I don’t know what my first sewing project was? Mum was always making dresses for us and I did make a few things in my teens – an outfit for a school dance, a black (very noisy) taffeta skirt for a concert performance, a silk dress for my leavers’ school dance. I don’t really remember the process of making them though. Wish I did.

  2. How fun! I never sewed in school, but I made my first project when I was 9 for an afterschool program (4-H, anyone?). It was a knee-length, elastic-waist, chambray skirt, and I hated every minute I worked on it! Then a few years later, I made a little spaghetti-strap sundress, but I didn’t want any help from anyone, so after about 6 tries with the zipper, I put it in… inside out. I was so mad that I didn’t redo it, so it was nearly impossible to get zipped up, and I must not have finished the seams or backstitched because the whole thing fell apart in the washing machine!

    • Yes…. I know of 4-H. Is it still running? I had a vegetable garden where I grew carrots and potatoes, which I sold to my mother. Sadly, I wasn’t prepared one day when the inspectors came……. I hadn’t weeded for quite some time. The vegetables were visible, but only just! Needles to say, I didn’t get a very good mark. I love your story about the zipper ending up being inside out. Isn’t it amazing though, what we were able to do back then?

  3. What a great story. I’d be cross with the teacher too.
    It’s taken me a few minutes to remember my first project (pre teens was a long time ago!). I think it was a wrap around skirt (a-line with thin ties at the waist). A great easy first project: no zips or real waistband, and unlikely to have fitting problems. I was lucky to have a mum who sewed a lot.

    • Are’t mums great? Unfortunately I haven’t been able to pass the skill on to my daughter – not from the lack of trying. She simply was never interested and on a rare occasion I had her just a tiny bit interested, it couldn’t go fast enough. The resulting garment showed! In the end I just gave up. Am I a bad mum?

  4. Loved your story! Got me thinking about my first me-made garment…a very simple but über-trendy (to my 10 year old, 1970s self) red and white polkadot halter top. I thought I was the bees knees! And it showed off midriff…(my first ’round of that fashion cycle…).

    • Thanks CherryPix. It is fun to think back sometimes. Fancy making a halter top at aged 10! I am very impressed. I do like your Renfrews among other things you have made. You are such an inspiration!

  5. What a wonderful story! I’m too old too, so that I can not remember which was my first garment sewn by me … I really enjoyed this post, thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for the lovely comment Rosy. Age ahem… is that something we acknowledge and accept or do we try to pretend that we are much younger? I am at the accepting stage – but it kills me to see all the wonderful dresses the young girls are making in the blog world and knowing they would look stupid on my older body.

  6. Just discovered your blog – so ‘Hi’ from a fellow Aussie on the other side (Queensland). Off to have a peek around your blog…

    • Hi Judith – great to hear from you. I have been admiring your stribed sorbetto, wishing I had the imagination to create something as beautiful as that. I used to live in Brisband – Aspley to be exact, but that was 12 years ago 🙂

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