Laziest Daisy, and a Question

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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'm pretty sure all my female relatives (except the really snazzy Brit who ballroom danced in the 50s) sewed out of necessity and practicality. But my mother, an artist from a family without any, sewed for these reasons and more when I was a little girl. Matching Christmas with bought lace collars for us to wear to PNB's Nutcracker. Christmas gifts every year. It was done partially for economy's sake, but I was included, and to me these memories represent the ingenuity of the creative mind, and the way handiwork knits together souls with memories, and can also join together the ragged parts of one's mind. Doll quilts. Aprons. Ties for my father that I got to decorate. One had yellow lines in fabric paint down the center and we made tie tacks from railroad set road signs. Stuffed armchair pin-cushions. Corduroy jumpers for fall. Stockings decorated with shells.

In high school I sewed for myself at a time when I felt there was little room in my environment for creativity, and the Gap just didn't express who I was. But the snow-leopard fleece pants, and the bright quilt-print cotton tank tops did. So did the flour sack reproduction quilt I finished junior year. This morning I watched my baby Jane crawl on it.

All I want to do is sew for her, and for our family. Even though I'm out of practice, I have that feeling when you first get proficient and ambitious. Everything you see you think "I could make that," or "I want to learn how to make THAT!" And sometime when I have more than half an hour to myself, I plan on it!

In the meantime I have been reading your blog for sometime, and throughout a couple career paths, and I am always heartily encouraged by the thought that someone has made handicraft an avocation, and is sharing the beauty.

Thank you.

Oh, and you're right. This subject does deserve a dissertation. :)

I have been sewing since I was a little girl. I learned from helping my mother, she would give me first the easy bits and then later the bits she didn't like. Generally I sew out of need although occasionally I sew for beauty. I have made a few quilts and other household items like slip-covers, curtains, dust covers, etc; bags of various sorts, quite a bit of children's clothing, my own clothing, alterations and mending, restyling, toys for children and cats . . . I even recovered the seats of an old car in denim once. I sew by machine and by hand, not particular to needlework of the decorative variety but I've done that on occasion too. I grew up knowing that I was lucky to have a mother who really knew how to sew and to make patterns and such. I don't think my kids have quite figured out yet how rare that is now. But they certainly know that if they ask I will generally figure out how to make it!

My mom had a sewing machine and made a few patchwork quilts, pillows, and so forth. By the time I was old enough to learn, she wasn't sewing anymore because the demands of a large family had taken over her time. What I know now I've learned on my own and by taking a few classes. I'm expecting my 8th baby in a few weeks, and as my family has grown I've found that sewing time is hard to come by but it's the only hobby I haven't entirely given up. It's a hobby that serves a purpose, I produce things that are functional, and it satisfies my craving for color, texture, pattern, and so forth. Finishing a project keeps me sane.
I've never tried clothing, and would sort of like to but I have no patience for complex patterns. This summer I intended to learn to sew skirts for my 4 girls, but a lousy pregnancy has prevented it. Someday...

Nina Snyder says: July 30, 2009 at 03:31 PM

My Mom growing up always sewed, she was even a seamstress just after World War 2. I remember sewing on the airplane when we emigrated from England to Canada. I was 9 and someone had given me some bright pink satin fabric so I decided I would hand sew myself an evening gown! I don't remember what happened to it but went on to sew doll clothes etc. Now I do very little unless it's for my daughter but I still enjoy creating somethign beautiful

Yes, I sew. I was taught at school when I was about 11 and it was hopeless. I remember sewing the same seam half a dozen times, each time being told to unpick it and do it again. I don't think I ever knew what was wrong with it, so I just did it again the same way. About 5 years later, I got my first sewing machine and taught myself again properly. Now I make all sorts of things - most recently curtains, a quilt, some cushion covers for my new home. I do some dressmaking and have big plans for a fabulous dress to wear at my brother's wedding this winter. I do very imprecise patchwork, and some freestyle machine embroidery. I mainly love playing with the colours and textures of fabric and thread, but I also like to try and make things that have some practical use. I make a lot of tea cosies for wedding presents.

My sewing adventures started with my mother, who sewed everything for my sister (who is now a quilter and has her own home-based business doing sewing, alteration and repair, and quilting) and me (dressed in matching fabric like twins, even though there is 5 years age difference!) My mother was a 4-H leader and I took all the sewing courses, plus took Home Ec. in high school. I wanted to become a Home Ec. teacher. That didn't happen, but I continued to sew until I met my future husband in University who sewed! Yes, men sew too. His work was perfection, so I bowed to his superior talent and let him make all my clothes for me and our son! After he left me 24 years later (another story), he left behind his Husqvarna sewing machine and serger, all his fabric and notions, and for a couple of years the machines were unused. Eventually, I needed some night gowns and some duvets for the bed, so I dragged out the machines and started sewing again. After all, if my efforts were not perfect, who was going to see them?? Then, my co-worker blessed me with a huge amount of fabric for free (she was going to throw it out - Horrors!) and I got to thinking what I could do with all the fabric I suddenly possessed. I started up a business sewing dog coats, mats, beds and clothes, plus accessories, that is in its third year and doing quite well. I sell at summer dog shows and one or two Christmas craft shows. So, yes I sew, a lot! My skill level has increased dramatically (you get good when you practice a lot) and I am even tackling shirts, blouses and winter coats for myself. I love the technology of the new machines. I bought a new Husqvarna machine with embroidery, and I just love all the things that I can do with it. I am saving up for a new serger next!

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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.