Laziest Daisy, and a Question

comments: 1257


While I was taking pictures of the puppers, I went into the guest room and found my laziest daisy, Violet Paulson, lying on a pillowcase-covered bread board I had brought upstairs last week — a makeshift ironing board I was using to iron in bed while watching TV. (Okay, maybe I am the laziest.) I am trying to iron all of my fabric scraps so I can cut them up into little patches for my patchwork pillows. IT. TAKES. FOREVER!!! I've lost count of the number of hours I've spent doing this. Good thing the Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood marathon was on!!!


"Oh, I'm sooooo tired! Because I have to sleep on a bread board !!!"


"I. Am. Soooooo. Pretty. Though."


"Ya know?"

* * *

In answer to several questions yesterday, that is a little vintage reading light that hangs on the headboard of the bed and yep, my pillowcases are thrifted — I have a large and well-used (and well-loved) collection of flowery cases from the '60s and '70s. We have so many pillows in our house it's nuts. I believe I am going through a pillow phase. Has that ever happened to you? No??? Try it. It's good.

Secondly, here's my question for you: Do you sew?

Lately I have been getting a lot of emails from people who don't sew, or are just learning to sew. They always interest me, because I come from one of those families/circles of friends where everyone sews, or knows how to sew, and doesn't really think too much about it. It's just what you do. For most of my life, I really did just assume that everyone grew up with big piles of fabric in the dining room, or pieces of thread all over their shirt. But now I know that's not right. So my question is: Do you sew (with a sewing machine)? If you do, what age did you start? Who taught you? What do you make now?

If you don't, why not? What would you need to start? Do you even want to?

I'm just curious, so if you have a minute this weekend, please comment here, and feel free to expound — I want to know. I am going to report back on the results, so even if you don't usually comment, see if you can this time. I really wonder how those numbers will break down, don't you?


i had to go thru all the comments because i can't remember if i answered or not.
i feel like i've been sewing forever. like you, i grew up in a home with my mom, grandma, and all my aunts sewing, quilting, knitting, crocheting and creating. all my sisters (5) and one of my brothers and i sewed and made things for our dolls and most of us sewed our own clothes.
my mom was my teacher and she always teased that i learned to sew better than she did. she said i took after her mom (who sewed for out).
when my kids were young i sewed and smocked clothes for them too.
even though i love to knit, crochet, and do other hand crafts, machine sewing is my favorite. you can finish a project in just a few hours or a couple of days, pretty instant gratification!
thanks for letting me share-it brings back wonderful memories!!

sorry I'm late with this.. I know you're busy.

Growing up I saw my mother sew sometimes so the idea wasn't completely foreign. But I didn't learn to sew until I was 13 (a freshmen in high school). My Drama teacher taught me and many of the other students so we could make costumes and props.

Now I sew quite often. I make puppets, quilts, and simple clothes (pajama pants for my husband last week-- planning on a few aprons).

Thank you for your blog, I enjoy it so!

annabelle says: June 23, 2009 at 11:31 AM

I sew. And that is the root of my craftiness. I began sewing (on mom's Elna machine) on Father's day when I was in the first or second grade. I made my dad a reflective "vest" for running at night (two canvas squares with an "X" of reflective tape and ties for over the shoulders and each side). I made jams in middle school, remember jams? And the odd costume and such through high school and college. Now I quilt (mostly by machine but I have hand-pieced a baby quilt - tumbling blocks) and make household stuff like pillows or curtains or coasters and I've made exactly one dress for my 11 month old daughter. If only I had more time...

annabelle says: June 23, 2009 at 11:33 AM

Oh and I meant to say that almost none of my friends sew or quilt. For a long time they thought I was really strange with quilting as a hobby (especially when they saw my fabric stash) but now it's migrating back into the "cool" category. Not as trendy as knitting, but more acceptable.

First off, I love Tori and Dean too. Isn't Liam such a ham?

I know how to sew a little bit. I mostly sew initials on cotton onesies and fabric banners. (you can see on my blog.) I wish I knew more. I need to take a class.
I've also noticed I'm one of only a few friends of mine who know how. It's going to be a lost art someday.

Oh gee. Sorry I'm so late here. Mom's in town and I'm starting my new job (and toting my jobby things to and fro in my beautiful new Market Bag!) and things have just been ever so crazy. Yay summer!

You know this already, but I don't sew. My mom is ashamed that I don't know how because she grew up doing it, but by the time I was a young 'un, she wasn't doing it as much. Just patching a pair of jeans here and there. A couple years ago, she helped me hem some fabric for some curtains I was making on my sister-in-law's machine. That's the closest I've come.

I'd need my own machine to get started, a place to put it, and someone to hold my hand. I'm sure I could probably manage to learn easily enough, but frankly, all my creative energy and enthusiasm these days is still being directed at yarn crafts. It seems to be all I can handle to focus on one creative thing at a time and I love that I can crochet or knit and watch TV at the same time. :)

Jennifer says: June 24, 2009 at 10:56 PM

My mother and grandmother both sewed! They have fabulous piles of fabric, button collection, zipper collections in cool old coffee cans and such. As a small my siblings and I loved playing with these notions. My mom and aunts all tried to show me how to sew, but I just didn't get into it. I think its because my mom made most of our clothes growing up and I ALWAYS got stuck with pins. I was traumatized by this and hence sewing=ouchies! I really wish I could sew, I follow your blog and others and dream of sewing beautfiul things, lovely things. I assume I need a sewing machine though and maybe a class or two. Know of anybody in North Pole, Alaska? :)

Wow, that's alot of comments. I learnt to sew, at a very young age maybe 5, from my mum. Started off fashioning Barbie clothes with my Holly Hobbie sewing machine. I sew clothes, toys, the whole gamut. I find it strange that people find sewing frightening and beyond them. If you can use a computer, you could definitely sew a straight line. I definitely think sewing is a bit of a lost art in my parts. I know of only one sewer friend. Whenever I mention I sewed it myself, I'm always greeted with a 'really, you're so clever'. I don't know why, but I just find it a little sad that no-one seems to sew anymore.

I'm sort of like you in that I learned to sew at a very young age from my mom, and I just kind of assumed that everyone knew how to sew as well. Although I am in no way proficient and can barely sew a straight line, I can still manage to put together simple projects. I've always been really good at starting projects & not so good at finishing them, which is the case of all in my life, not just sewing. I love to hoard fabric and have been getting better about actually using it. Mostly, I sew curtains for my house, and have made curtains for every room except my guest/craft room, and I need to make some new curtains for the living room because I've decided I hate the fabric. Besides making new living room curtains, the project I'm dying to make is a quilt from my daughter's baby clothes. Oh, and I just bought your book, so there's one or two or a dozen projects that are also on my list!

Heading to your neck of the woods next month ~ can't wait to be back in Portland, even if for only a couple days!

Oh my. Don't know if you will have time to read this. But I learned to sew as a little girl from my mom, who made many of my clothes (including my prom dress). I made clothes for my dolls and later even got a job working in a costume shop. But about 10 years later I got a repetitive strain injury in my wrist, and working with all those tiny pins was too much for me. However I can knit, which is wonderful, and do. I think right now I would try to sew again if I had time (I have since become a mom!). But as it is I knit, because knitting is portable and makes it much easier to deal with my commute. I hardly ever get to knit if I'm not commuting or a passenger in a car, and it's hard to bring a sewing machine on a New Jersey Transit train! (Plus if you make a mess of something knitting, you can always frog it and start again, whereas once you cut fabric you're pretty much committed).

My mom did all of my sewing for me when I was a newlywed but now I wish I had just done it myself so I could have learned! Now, if I could just pop over to your place (shoot, I live in Washington now) and have you teach me, I'd be a happy girl.

Alrighty, just came by with a big hug for you Alicia! Your puppers is so cute!!

I have a cat who looks very very much like yours, and her name is also Violet!

I primarily sew things with straight lines. I learned in elementary school from my mom. I have only sewn very simple things, such as curtains, pillows, a table cloth, a little slip cover for a child's chair, an apron, and a couple very simple pieces of clothing. I wish I knew how to sew more complicated things, but I haven't yet been motivated to learn more. I imagine some day I will find a fabric that inspires me to do more.
In the meantime, I occasionally use vintage tablecloths to sew pillows and curtains. But I love seeing what you sew... the Jane Market Bag, for instance, makes me want to sew. :)

is that your cat? =)

Sharrieboberry says: June 27, 2009 at 04:05 PM

I have READ every single post and see that you're still accepting posts on this date! I was gone on vacation when the post was originally started....

I started embroidery stitching at age 4 on a simple, stamped cross stitch project. I sewed the back to the front several times. My patient mom (was she only 25 at that time??!!) helped me start over and finish.

I did several stamped projects over the years until age 9 and then I did the 4-H totebag (I read that someone else did the 4-H totebag) and it was so frustrating. No pattern--just written instructions. I bumped heads with my mom over that one. I used the totebag ALOT when it was all finished. And later made a matching poncho--stylin'!

My grandmother sewed for my mom and aunt when they were little girls--She could look at the pictures, the little ink drawings in newspapers, and make up the patterns for matching dresses and matching crocheted hats (I did not inherit this talent for making patterns). I do not remember her doing any sewing when she lived with us, except hand-piecing a lone star quilt. She did crochet a lot and taught me the basics of crocheting. But I have to have a pattern!

Grandma was very artistic and drew lovely pictures, did china painting and oil paintings. She crocheted some lovely presents for me. I remember a pink vest with lovely, pom pom ties (loved that vest!) and a little baby bassinet purse where the bottom was made from a plastic dish soap bottle. It was a little purse until you opened it all the way and folded the top to the bottom. Then a little bassinet cover would pop up and there was a tiny bed for your baby! Awesome! I could take it to church because it was a purse!

My mom sewed thru 4-H and made tailored suits for herself with bound buttonholes. She made her own wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses in 2 weeks when my dad kinda, sorta proposed and then he set a quick date!

Mom sewed costumes us kids for school plays (she made an awesome King George coat for my older, villainous brother in a bicentennial play--typecasting, I always thought; he was quite the bane of my childhood). She also sewed my *dressier* clothes in high school. Wool blend skirts with matching blazers. Silky blouses--all very pretty. Not very 80's but very classy.

I can read a pattern and have sewn for my 2 daughters when they were younger. I made them matching smocked dresses from a delicate white on cream floral material. Uh, the material was from Walmart. I made my own piping, did pin tucks, smocked the fronts and added bullion roses--I thought they were cute. My then-4-yr-old DD informed me that she didn't like the dress -- "it doesn't have any color, momma". From the mouths of babes. :P

I've made Halloween costumes and now Cosplay costumes. I've made hawaiian shirts for my son, baby clothes from Elvis print material, curtains, pillows, several quilting projects in the works (funny how those don't seem to get finished) but no clothing for myself. I'm not quite sure about altering patterns to fit my non-pattern sized body.

I don't have any sewing friends. I mean, I have friends with machines, but most of them do not have very much interest in sewing or no knowledge of how to use it. I helped one friend with costumes and tried to explain to her that sewing was like cooking--sometime you just have to substitute something when you don't have the *required* thing and sometimes you *fudge* a little but it all turns out in the end!

I tried to organize a "sewing circle" and that was fun as three of us starting sewing. But then those friends went back to work!

So I've grown up around sewers and long to have sewing friends.

I've been teaching my youngest a little bit of sewing--she is 10 now. She made the kitty pillow from the Amy Butler pattern (on her website) and she altered the facial features--it's a much happier kitty now! She's also made some pillow cases. I'd like to teach both girls to read a pattern and maybe make some pj pants.

I made your Jane Market Bag and it was fun to make. I made it for a dear friend that's moving to China :( , so I guess I can say my bag is one-in-a-billion!

I haven't been commenting on blogs much lately, but had to on this one. Yes, I sew. Yes, I collect flowery pillowcases. I actually have the same sheet that you covered your board with! Love those blue flowers. And my cat looks almost exactly like yours! Come by my blog for a look:

I learned how to sew in 9th grade in Home Ec, but I didn't continue sewing after that. My mom doesn't sew. I was very interested in sewing but not enough to ask for a sewing machine. This past year I got married and moved 16 hours from home. I would say that blogs such as yours have really inspired me to start using some creative energy that has been dormant for quite some time. My husband's grandmother passed away in the fall and my mother in law gave me her sewing machine. Now that I have a machine, what is stopping me? I think I am a little intimidated. Also, we're renting right now, but a goal of mine is to be able to sew curtains and such when we have our own place in a few years.

Hope that answers your questions :)

Do I sew?!? Oh yes, I sew. And sew and sew. My mother taught me to hand sew as soon as I could hold a needle, I come from one of those families where everyone was always making things too, from hand sewing doll clothes, to making maple syrup from our own maple get the picture. My grandmother taught me to embroider and knit... I started using a machine when I was about 10 years old and my father bought me my own machine in my teens. I am much better at using a sewing machine, not so patient with hand sewing, but I can do it if I must. I sew mostly home things-I LOVE to make pillows, quilts, and have made bridesmaids dresses, bags, skirts, baby clothes, but truly, I am not so gifted or patient enough for garment making. I don't fully enjoy following the rules, or patterns, so I mostly make up my own and I gift most of my items away. I am the in -house curtain maker for almost everyone I know, though I don't enjoy the exactness of curtain making and would enjoy stepping down from that throne! I have a young daughter now and am more motivated to make clothes for her. I am just now recovering from a weekend pillow binge, during which I made 12 pillows for a vintage camper my husband and I are restoring. I haven't even posted pictures to my blog yet, I can't seem to stop sewing, so I am making the best of it, while I have the urge. Thanks for asking about us out here, and I hope you get through all of these comments soon!

Yes, I sew. My mother sewed, making many of our clothes when we were children. I've inherited her Singer sewing machine from the 1940s which brings the total sewing machines I have to 6. I took sewing in 4-H and Home Ec where I had the pleasure of using the only treadle machine ~ I just loved that thing.
I rarely sew because no matter how hard I try, how careful I am, or whatever I do, my creations are always a botched up mess. So I do a little bit of hand work - embroidery and cross stitch. I'm also good for replacing buttons and altering hems.
Anne gsolfot

Are you still taking comments for this?

I don't remember learning to sew (by hand) at all. My mum did casual work as a seamstress and we were always allowed to take from her scrap basket. I remember making clothes for my toys. I learned to sew on a machine and a serger when I was about 13. It was part of Girl Guides but it was still my mum teaching. I think I made my first garment (a tunic dress) at about 14 or 15. My mum was supervising but I did most of the sewing. I remember making my own dress-ups about then too (I've never really grown out of playing dress-up). I got my own machine in my first year of university and starting sewing clothes or things for my apartment - results varied. Sometime in my second or third year I became aware of quilting. Since then I've been slowly improving my skills (and my stash). I'm still learning about fit. I probably sew, on average, once a week but sometimes it comes as a flurry of activity and other times it's mostly working stuff out in my head. I make all sorts of thing, from clothes to costumes to bags to quilts. I'm starting to design things and learn how pattern making works and I want to improve my garment design abilities.

I am late to comment on this but wanted to put my 2¢ in. I never took home ec in high school (thought it was too girly) and never had an interest in sewing until about three years ago. It was, in all honesty, Project Runway that bit me with the sewing bug. And I haven't stopped since. I took a couple of classes at some places here in SF - at Craft Gym I took beginning sewing, and at the now-defunct Stitch Lounge I took a more advanced basic sewing class as well as a purse-making class and a skirt class which taught me how to read patterns. Now I make everything! I've made a duvet cover, pillows, curtains, skirts, bags bags and more bags, and even a formal ball gown made of plaid purple taffeta and black velvet. I also have started a company with my brother, who recently started working with leather. We make bicycle bags:
I have a little sewing studio in our basement and I make a point to visit fabric stores whenever we're in a new town. I'm completely addicted to sewing! (and your blog supplies me with endless inspiration, so thank you!)

What wonderful cushions (in the post above this)!

Actually blogs showing pictures of cushions and quilts have been inspiring me over the last few months to seriously consider getting a sewing machine and dusting off my sewing skills (learnt at school more than 20 years ago).

I learnt to sew at school but never took it any further. I have hand sewn a bit since then (mainly hems on clothes). However I have always liked to do tapestry and cross stitch (self taught) which I take up now and again. What has inspired me to get back being creative is the birth of my daughter 2 years ago.

I decided I needed to crochet so that I could make her blankets (a sort of extension of a hug). I absolutely love crocheting and so started reading crochet blogs, many of which are also sewing blogs. (One of the first I came across was yours.) Then I started to realise that a lot of these bloggers were self taught sewers and I suddenly realised that there was nothing to stop me sewing as well.

I'm now actively looking for a good beginners machine and starting to plan what I'll be making for my daughter. I can't wait to get started. I've set myself the goal of eventually learning how to quilt.

I've also taken up embroidery and I'm loving that as well.

I do sew! I have a Apparel Manufacturing degree minor in Fashion Design. (Basically a degree in sewing!)

I learned about crochet and embroidery at an early age, b/c my grandmother did it, and became very intrested in sewing in jr. high during home ec. classes.

I sew with a old kenmore single needle and a new serger. I tend to work with clothing, but have been inspired to make quilts - mostly b/c of your pretty quilts - I wanted to make one too!

I work in the clothing industy, I admit to feeling burnt out by doing sewing projects in my free time, but every so often I get inspired and will make a few things.

I don't sew and it fascinates me to no end that there are so many people that do. I never grew up around anyone that sewed and although I'd love to try, for some reason, it's intimidating to me. I also don't think I'd have the patience for it. I've 'winged' some costumes for the kids, a set of coasters, a tote bag and my son's First Communion tie. That's it. All projects bring me endless amount of frustration. I know how to put things together and get the process but I'd seriously pay someone to sew my designs. Is that lame or what!?

I don't sew but I enjoy your blog nonetheless. I come from a family of women that sew and I can use a sewing machine if necessary or for repairs, but have never "created" something.

Sorry to say this, but I have found that sewing is a waste of time. It's cheaper to buy things then to sew them from scratch, if you factor in the time involved. You can find so many cute sewn items online so why sew if I can buy? Do I plan to ever sew? No. Will I continue to buy handmade items? Yes. :)

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.