Challenging Myself With New Sewing Projects

I bet you're wondering whose face you're seeing attached to this blog. It's mine… Abby Kaufman, the new Assistant Editor here at Stitch magazineI started last week, learning the ropes from Rose DeBoer, who is moving on to become Managing Editor of Quilting Arts Magazine. I'm excited to dive in and become an integral part of the Stitch community.

Like many people, I can be a creature of habit. I'll find a taste for a certain meal and eat it several times a week. I'll discover a new walking route and want to repeat it daily, until another piques my interest. The same goes for my sewing, and therefore the sewing techniques I use.


A rag quilt I made for a friend's baby.

If I find a certain project or pattern is enjoyable and not too tricky to complete, it often becomes a go-to favorite for shower or holiday gifts. Last summer, I wanted, on a short timeline, to make baby quilts for two of my friends who were expectant mothers.

What did I do? Went for a tried-and-true rag quilt project I knew would yield great results and meet the due-date deadlines.  

This summer, a recent move has temporarily shelved my sewing machine as I work instead on home improvement projects and unpacking boxes. Lately, I've started to feel more settled, and that creative itch is becoming persistent.

But before I plow ahead with some of my go-to favorites, I've decided to challenge myself to do something different. I want to try new projects, and in the process, pick up some extra sewing techniques. Maybe I'll go to work on a tote bag, or start a quilt using a pattern I've never tried.

Meanwhile, I might peruse the projects in Mollie Makes Woodland Friends. My new house could use some cute, handmade home goods. You can find the book in the Sew Daily Shop.

I'm also looking for more inspiration. How do you explore new ideas? I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy stitching!


Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


Sew Daily Blog
Abby Kaufman

About Abby Kaufman

Abby Kaufman is assistant editor of Stitch magazine. When she's not scoping out new fabrics for her collection, Abby enjoys outdoor activities, and spending time with her husband and two dogs. 

10 thoughts on “Challenging Myself With New Sewing Projects

  1. Having sewn for over 50 years I find I need new challenges from time to time. I also still do the tried & true very often. Of course I search sewing sites all the time. But the thing that I enjoy most when looking for new ideas is actually looking at garments, quilts, bags etc. while shopping. Holding the piece,
    feeling what kind of material is used, seeing how the grain of fabric lays & seeing how it is sewn, etc. Good luck with you new projects!

  2. New ideas are always floating around in my head, ready to grab at a moments notice. I love looking at patterns online as well as just “window shopping” in stores to get inspiration for my own projects. If I see something I love, I will look it over to figure out how it was made, then go home and make it. Yes, I’m cheap, but I get what I want, every time. I sew home accessories as well as garment sewing and quilting. I have always decorated with handmade items, rather than store bought. I like the feeling I get from knowing my handmade things have a part of me in each and every one of them. I like the feel of comfort when I walk into a room and see something I made just for that room, just for me. Inspiration strikes everywhere and I enjoy looking for it.

  3. Welcome, Abby! I too have set myself a challenge for sewing something outside of my usual types of projects. I grew up sewing clothing, graduated to bridal and costumes for dance and theater, so I have had a lot of experience sewing clothing. I also sewed some strange things for theater/ art displays — ones I had to make up as there were no patterns that existed. I used my knowledge and experience of fabric and sewing techniques to be able to construct them.

    For instance, once I sewed a canvas house together – 7 feet by 5 feet by 4 feet high- that the artist had printed with a photo of her childhood home. She was going to have this hung from the ceiling on a frame of pvc tubes, at her artist installation, but had no clue how to construct the house. It was 2 days till show time. I was asked if I could sew it together, and yes, I knew I could. It looked good and got many comments from the viewers of the show. They loved it!

    Now I am departing again, not doing costumes or clothing, but a quilt!! I have sewn many wall hangings, so I know much of the techniques used. But a queen size quilt is beyond anything like that for me. It will be a challenge , but thereagain, my existing knowledge, and some quilting friends, will help me out.

  4. I get inspired everywhere. I have to look for the unseen, for instance; in a shopping area, Doctors office, on a bus… I see a strange hat, purse or anything unusual and it gets me creative. I was in a Vets office last week and saw a drawing of a cat on the wall; it had a white chin , cheeks and brow area. I crochet a lot and design and I immediately saw a Black purse with the white cat features in my head. I sketched it on a notepad and am now designing it. You can do that with quilting or any needle art also.

  5. Marilyn, I know what you mean about “holding the piece.” There’s something to me about touching and feeling a fabric or garment that tells so much more than just sight alone. Window shopping is also fun, dablmo, and I love seeing something and thinking, “I can make that…” Though wow, I don’t know if I’d be up for a fabric house like lauraflora. Congrats on completing that!

  6. My latest sewing challenge was to make a bikini for a friend. She had an extremely stylish suit which had an interesting cross body piece linking the bra to the pants and she’d worn it to death. I said I’d have a go, so I pulled the original to pieces and made a muslin from random bits of jersey to check the fit before I attempted it in the swimsuit lycra she’d chosen. We are both pleased with the result, although elasticating each edge before either hemming or binding was an interesting challenge. I don’t want to do another one though!

  7. Also, on the question of inspiration — right now I am using the issue of too many things in my stash, which is outgrowing its space(s) and becoming overwhelmingly overwhelming (!?) – as inspiration for making things. My quilt will be made of many of these fabrics (tho I had to buy some solid colour fabrics for the background.)

    Lately I have bought a few books/magazines on stash busting projects, and bought a few patterns for those small bags you sling across your body to carry a few items when you are out walking, etc. Or canoeing, in my case. These can be made using small pieces of fabric – perfect for using up ones stash. Also good for gifts.

    So looking at how to use up some of my surplus is my inspiration right now.

  8. Hi Texgirl – I actually made this quilt based off a similar rag quilt someone gave me – so I don’t have a pattern written out. The basic gist is I cut 9 inch squares (you can choose any size), 7 inch batting squares, and made sandwiches. Then sew an X through each block. Sew the blocks backsides together using a 1-inch seam allowance (giving you 7-inch blocks finished). When you open the two blocks, the sewn edges stick up, which will become the ragged part. Sew the blocks into rows, and the rows together the same way. Also sew around the perimeter of the quilt. Then, use scissors to cut the edges and perimeter up to the stitching, every 1/4 to 1/2 inch or so. Then, wash the quilt and the cuts will fray, giving you the ragged look. This quilt is fun to make because you can use blocks any size and configuration (I used cotton flannels). If you need more explanation, feel free to email me at!

  9. It’s fall so I’m making warm pants for the kids. That’s always a new challenge, their tastes change a lot from year to year, they grow, and the pattern selection in girls pants leaves a lot to be desired. I found some cute ones this year, and the kids picked out a fuzzy fleece, I’m excited to get started.