On Becoming a Sewist

Photo by Annie Spratt / Found on Unsplash

Learn Always

If you had told me in college that I would not only drink beer but also brew it, I would have not believed you. The same with sewing. If you had told me that I would not only learn to sew with a machine but also want to design my own fabric and make my own fabric art projects, your lips would be movin’ but I would say you lie lie lie. Yet, here I am. 

How did this happen?

Instead of rushing to the now, like a fait accompli, I’ll take a moment to go back to the beginning, just this year, 2018, to figure out how on earth this happened.

Goal and Guides

Looking back at my Google calendar, it started in February with a sewing class at the Klum House. I didn’t want to learn to sew. I wanted to learn to make a purse because I have the ridiculous belief that if you can just find the right purse (or murse for men), you can handle anything that comes at you. 

I had a goal. Sewing was an unfortunate necessity. Ellie, the instructor, was a fantastic guide. With the patient and gracious aid of teaching assistants who threaded my machine and helped me get unstuck at various times, I and several others made a bag. 

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I carried the resulting bag in the following months and indeed, its design helped me have the right thing at the right time while staying up on my shoulder. In September, I followed up with a Learn to Sew Like a Boss workshop at the Klum House so I could learn how to actually operate a sewing machine on my own because I wanted to make more things.

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Machine Matters

At my husband’s encouragement, I pulled my mother-in-law’s portable Singer sewing machine out of storage in September. Some feature research helped me peg it as a 1951 Featherweight.

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It hadn’t been used in quite some time so in October I got it cleaned and oiled. The repairman said it was in good shape and would sew quite well.  Thankfully, the manual was with the machine and I spent some time reading it. 

While I was initially underwhelmed with the machine, everywhere I go, people ooh and ahh over my Singer like it was the cutest newborn they’d ever seen. Followed by, “Does it back stitch?” Yes, it does. Then, “Does it zig zag stitch?” No, it does not. Sometimes, “Does it have a buttonholer?” Absolutely not. And yet, I sew on. 


In early November, I happened upon a fabric selection event at creative reuse center Fabmo. Designer fabric is yours for a donation. Primed by friends’ mentions of this place, I stopped by during the limited hours available to the public without appointment. I browsed and found a few things that I responded to.



By mid-November, I had made my first zippered bag and been given my first thread catcher. Bron at Fabmo explained to me that having a thread catcher was a bit like good sewing hygiene. I was thrilled. 

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Platform / Community

Some public platforms and the people who make them happen helped me continue on my journey.

  • The Sunnyvale Library hosts a Sewing Lab once a week. Two accomplished sewists answer specific questions on your project and you can sew in the company of others.
  • Fabmo, a creative reuse non-profit hosts Sew-Mo, a monthly sewing lab at Fabmo where fun sewists also help you with your project. I am a grateful beneficiary of guidance from and fun with Bron, Hannah, and Sara to name a few.


My friends have provided encouragement that helps me continue my creative explorations: Amy, Doro, Cindy, Kristin, Laura, Pam you know who you are:)

In another post, I’ll share some of the things I’ve sewn.

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