Being a Beginner

January 14th, 2011

I'm learning to sew. Crafty skills, where precision is key, are not my forte, but I want to learn well enough to make simple things like pillow covers, curtains, little baby items, and some things for myself. So I signed up for a few lessons at a local fabric shop. Last week we played around with the machines and today we started on a simple bag.

We used samples from a fabric book to make the outside of the bag and pocket, and other remnants for the lining (which you can see sticking out the top because I haven't sewed the lining and outside together yet.) And next week we'll make straps and sew it all together. I'm excited about this imperfect little bag. How fun to be a beginner, learning to do something new!

Next we'll be working on a pair of pants (loose, pajama-like pants, that I'll be able to wear after the baby), so that we can learn to sew from a pattern. But what I'm most excited about tackling is these little booties (on the cover, below) I saw in Anna Maria Horner's book, Handmade Beginnings. Gosh, they're cute!

Trying something new is always good for the creative soul. It sparks the imagination while getting us excited and thinking in new ways. Are you learning anything new this year?

While learning something new, can you allow yourself to let go and embrace imperfection? I sewed the back part of the pocket inside-out by accident today and just laughed it off, but sometimes it's hard to not get frustrated when our first experiments are a little off. I know I can get easily frustrated when I'm not naturally good at something (like all sports-related activities), but I'm really trying to let go of that while learning to sew. Give yourself the space to be a beginner, to make mistakes, to play, and see what happens. So much of art and creativity is about happy accidents and what you do with them.

p.s. For those of you who sew, where are your favorite places to buy fabric?

27 Responses

good for you to try something new! i think most of last year was something new for me, this year I haven’t thought about more new things yest. I suppose wood carving with a chainsaw will be new, but that will have to wait until the weather get’s better.

Those boots are very cute. I also really like the wrap dress, at least what you can see of it.



I love also a few Cambridge places, Sew-lo and Sewfisticated. Joanne’s has good stuff too and usually has good sales. I buy a lot of fleece there.


LOVE the booties, I’ll have to try this one out w/you! And the bag looks great, imperfections and all–I always tell myself that’s how you know it’s handmade!

You can do it! I taught myself to sew in August. I found it to be like sudoko, you have to think very very hard, like doing a puzzle. I enjoy thinking of you enjoying pregnancy and all of the sweet dreaming that comes with it.


Gosh Leah, I LOVE sewing, it’s my “thing” that comes easy and I don’t have to think about it so I’m excited to hear you’re giving it a try!

What am I learning this year? Pattern making for one. I’d love to be able to make my own clothes from complete scratch. So far I’ve made a couple patterns and it’s pretty fun. Besides that I’d love to learn book binding. So those are going to be my two things for the year. On top of that I’d love to continue learning to paint since I’ve only been doing it a few months now.

There is something awesome about learning new creative things, I like how it expands your mind. Even if it winds up not being your thing you can always take something back into your “thing” that is useful.

Happy sewing!

honestly? i love hitting the thrift stores for fabric. sometimes they have yards of fabric from unfinished projects. but also, you can find some really funky vintage and retro prints in the linens section. i know it’s not for everyone, but for me, i wash all my fabric (new or second-hand) before sewing anyway, so it’s not an issue :)

good for you for taking on something new!

I taught myself to sew 20+ years ago and have never looked back. I’ve saved myself a fortune on clothes/curtains/home furnishings and even had a little craft business for a few years (although my health got the better of me.)

I still enjoy crafting and keep meaning to start patchwork – can you believe, all the crafts I can do and I’ve never done any! But I’m working this year on my writing (second novel and a non-fiction.) Being creative is my outlet – it stretches my brain and makes me happy.

Like ana I scour the charity shops for fabric. And I like Dunelm and we have a super fabric shop in Shrewsbury that sell all sorts – Watson Thornton on Mardol, Shrewsbury.

Good to find your blog (I found you through Kat)

warm wishes

Yes, sometimes being a beginner can be frustrating and for some time we keep being in a limbo like “give up: yes or no?”.

I learned to sew when I was 14 or 15 years old. I have learned by myself because I wanted a very nice costume for carnival and my parents couldn’t pay for some costume or for someone to do it for me! It was my desire to go to the party that made me go on! And I did it! In the next year I had a group of friends for whom I designed and made their costumes! It was fun!

Presently I am recovering this creative soul of mine and started painting! This is a new venture, because I am again learning by myself! I think that sometimes not to have the financial means but having the will and desire, unlocks our creative being!

I am very happy, because I feel I am finding my real self now! And of course, so happy to find this fantastic blog community!

Sooner you’ll feel proud and happy with your sewing ability! Then you will start creating yourself!


Ana Lopes

Quilt shops or specialty fabric shops are the best places to get good quality fabrics.I use these fabrics for items I hope will last years and years, like quilts for my granddaughters. For when I’m more budget conscious the thrift stores. I use these fabrics for fun funky fiber art/journal covers/dolls and personal handbags/totes. has lots of lovely fabric shops. I love the fact that you are sewing and creating wonderful pieces. I come from a family of “sewers”, my Mom made almost everything on her Singer sewing machine, so you go lady and create on this medium, you will be wonderful!

I made a lot of my kids’ clothes and quilts and slipcovers for my coach and chairs but don’t much sew anymore (maybe because beads took over the sewing machine’s home and it was banished to the shed years ago). I like JoAnne’s. Also Calico Corners for upholstery material – pricey but a great selection – I just don’t know if they’re only local. I got booties like that for my oldest from a woman I met at 7-11. Funny but when I first moved to Florida right on Rt 1/Sunrise Blvd she worked in the 7-11 on the corner; then when we moved way out west to North Lauderdale and a 7-11 was built, there she was. We got to be friends!

Love your sewing adventures Leah! I have been sewing since I was 11 and still remember breaking needles on my Mom’s old Singer when I ran over pins :-) There are tons of books out now and classes are the best way to learn. There are quilt guilds everywhere too (I belong to two) with programs for inspiration and sometimes workshops.

For fabric I shop at Jo-Ann Fabrics (they have mailing lists both e- and snail with coupons and sales). I love to visit any quilt shop within an hour’s drive as the staff and owners are friendly and they have scrumptious fabric you can’t find anywhere else, plus classes and displays for ideas and inspiration.

Isn’t wonderful to discover a new adventure to explore? Good for you, Leah! Anna Maria is one of my favorite designers. Her work is simple and colorful. I have a couple of places to shop for fabric, but they are near me. Saftler’s in Whitman and Tumbleweeds in Pembroke. Both are quilting shops, but they carry a number of unique patterns. Saftler’s also carries yarn and knit/crochet supplies if you want to explore those skills.
There’s a fun blog/ company online:
They have fabric, patterns, tutorials, and tons of fun information. I highly recommend them.
Another online source is with many beautiful fabric shoices and patterns.
Good luck with your new adventure. I have been sewing since I was a little girl. It’s very satisfying to have handmade products for your life :)

I believe that being a beginner, continually learning is essential to our creativity. We don’t take ourselves so seriously when we are able to let ourselves make mistakes – and there is nothing like being a beginner for that! Have fun!

I thought you might like to know I have awarded you a stylish bloggers award:

How exciting! I am not an expert seamstress myself but have really been surprised by the things I have managed to sew through the years. It’s such a satisfying thing to do. And the fabrics can become as addictive as buying craft or art supplies so beware! lol! But most of all have fun!

Not much on sewing, but that looks pretty good.

How exciting, learning how to sew. I love your fabric choices and what a great job! I love looking at fabric on-line, in quilt stores, but my favorite place to shop for fabric is thrift stores!

I too am just learning to do crafty sewing. I have tried to make clothes and my mother (who has been sewing for 50+ years, and used to make a lot of my clothes) ends up finishing them for me. LOL

I took an online class with Tammy Gilley on “Conversation Hearts” and am now doing classes with Lesley Venable on fabric cuffs and Gail Schmidt on composition book cover collage.

I got a new sewing machine with bells ‘n’ whistles for Christmas, too, so I’m all excited!

Good luck with your projects!

P.S. I love your drawings–I’ve seen them in Somerset Studio etc.

I sew a little. Very little and I’m self taught. But I enjoy making pillows and bags sometimes. Its so different from painting that its fun to get my brain working another way.

I have had good luck in the past finding funky fabrics on ebay. Give it a shot! And of course there is always Etsy. :o )

I love fabrics and haberdashery items. I like to sew by hand, especially decoratively. But I am clueless when it comes to patterns and have as yet been unable to master a sewing machine. I think I need a class like you’re doing which sounds fantastic fun.

I like the way your bag is turning out and I agree those booties look adorable. I love the way your growing babe is influencing your art; such a special collaboration.

I hope to try lots of new creative things this year. You are right that trying something new is good for the creative soul. My list of possibles includes more mixed media techniques and learning more about embroidery and textile arts.

Kat X

Congratulations on your pregnancy Leah. I obviously missed that. Hope everything is progressing well. The little bootees are gorgeous! Enjoy developing your sewing!

Hooray for you learning how to sew. I can’t remember not knowing how to sew. :) My favorite places to go for fabric … this is determined by the kind of project I’m working on and what kind of life I want it to have.

Like anything, the better quality the longer life. All my quilting project get their fabrics from bonafide quilting stores. But, when I’m creating bags, toys for the grandkids, and clothes that will be the wrong size in just a few short weeks (yes, they’re growing FAST!) then I’m more likely to shop at a big box store or chain store that carries fabric.

Hi Leah…learning to sew is on my list for 2011 too! I can’t wait to be a beginner again and would love to see your bag when it’s finished. You seem to be creating in all kinds of wondeful ways this year :) :)

Hi Leah,

Congrats on learning how to sew! I love making this one hour/one-yard tote:

It is super simple, fast and rewarding and the pattern is free!

Learning to sew is so exciting! I suggest checking out the free sewing projects, tutorials, and tips at, it’s a great place to help you get sewing.

Since I am in Chicago, there is a lot of great places to fabric shop; Vogue Fabrics, The Needle Shop, Fabrics Etc.2 and even some giant sized Jo-Ann’s!

Sewing is on my list of things to learn. I’ve had an old sewing machine in my closet for almost two years! 2011 is the year of learning to sew. I can’t wait to learn so I can sew sone good creations for our next bab.! Good luck with the booties!

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