Creating Back-to-School Sewing Memories

When my daughters were much younger, these were my three favorite things to do before school started:

Getting ready for school included some
wonderful time at the sewing machine
(and serger.)
Left: My older daughter spent hours picking
out those three coordinating ribbons.
Right: For fourth grade, my younger daughter
re-created the fifties with a poodle skirt.
The saddle shoes were the finishing touch.

1. Going to the local drugstore to pick out school supplies and choose new lunch boxes.

2. Getting in our last summer visits to the community pool.

3. Heading to our local fabric store for first-day-of-school sewing projects.

Each daughter chose her own pattern and sewing fabric. Then we’d spend the next few weeks cutting, pinning, and stitching together. I saved all the “First Day of School” pictures, which not only document how much they had grown each year, but also how their sewing skills and style choices changed. In junior high, buying brand-name jeans replaced trips to the fabric store, and new traditions took root.

But during those earlier years, August was a wonderful month to work with little fingers that were learning new skills. We had the time, very few other scheduled activities, and were able to take garment construction in small steps–with lots of breaks. Bit by bit, dresses, skirts, and blouses came together. In the early years, it was tandem sewing–with a young one on my lap gently holding the fabric as the feed dogs pulled it through. Then, year by year, more and more of the process left my hands and I became the coordinator and advisor.

My younger daughter still sews extensively. My older daughter probably has not sewn since she was in junior high, but when I visited her recently, she was considering making a tablecloth “from scratch.” (Little does she know that tablecloths lead to pillows which lead to simple skirts…)

Maybe this August, you will not only sew for your children, but will also pass on the skill of sewing. Work a step at a time, take a lot of breaks, and enjoy the process. I promise that you will also treasure the memories.

For some fun back-to-school projects, check out the pattern sale in the Sew Daily Shop

Happy stitching!

P.S. Do you have any back-to-school sewing memories? We’d love to hear them. Let us know on the Sew Daily blog.


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5 thoughts on “Creating Back-to-School Sewing Memories

  1. Thank you for bringing back a precious memory. Many years ago (nearly 60!) I was the young girl on my mother’s lap following her loving gentle guidance as she gave me the gift of sewing, and all that goes with it – creativity, problem solving, friends I never would have met. Now I have the privilege of ushering my grandchildren into this wonderful world that my mother gifted me with. Thanks again for the visit with old dear friends, my mom and sewing.

  2. What a wonderful story! I can share only one school sewing story. While my Mother and younger sister were talented sewers , I thought I must have missed getting that particular gene. I remember taking Home Economics in 9th grade. Second semester was sewing and the final semester exam was sewing something to wear in the school fashion show.

    I had a very tough time throughout the entire semester. My dear Mom tried to help me learn to sew, but it just didn’t seem to click in my brain. So much crying (me) and frustration (Mom) during that semester.

    Finally, and luckily for me, my Mom really ‘helped’ me make my my fashion show outfit….it was a big hit at the show and I received an A+ grade on it. With that exam grade, I received a final semester grade of ‘D’. Whew…I never felt so relieved to receive such a low grade, but it sure was better than an ‘F’ (which I did deserve, I know).

    I never worked so hard to try to learn something in any other class before or since then. I decided that I would NEVER use a sewing machine again. I think my Mom was a quite relieved with my decision. My dear sister took on the task of sewing some school clothes for my daughter years later. No one even asked me if I wanted to try sewing them myself….

    But, in my mid 40’s, I began making art quilts…that led to a few traditional quilts…then to pillows, slip covers, window treatments and other home dec items. Now I’m even making a few clothing items. I’m also enrolled in a couture sewing class now. Both my dear Mom and sister, today, STILL express their ‘shock’ that I’m sewing anything now…..and it’s been over 15 yrs ago that they found out.

    I now own several domestic sewing machines, an Industiral Sewing machine, and a Long Arm Quilting Machine. I would never have believed it back in the 9th grade. No one else in my family would either. Isn’t life fun AND surprising?

  3. My back to school sewing memories are more about my Mother’s sewing than mine. From as early as I can remember my Mom made just about everything I wore. She was a wonderful seamstress! Our back to school shopping consisted of going shopping – not with the plan of buying ready made clothing, but for me to pick out styles I liked and try them on. She would then carefully examine each garment checking out the construction of the garment, making a few notes, hanging the garment and we would leave the store. We would head to the fabric store and then home so she could begin to copy that garment. She didn’t use new patterns, just a piece from this pattern and a piece from that one to make an almost identical garment. I would complain that I wanted ready made clothes but in hindsight, I probably had twice as many things and more unique. Wish I still had her doing my sewing!

  4. One of my favorite memories is of a decorated sweatshirt my mom made for me when I started 5th grade….back in the mid-50s. She saw a picture in a magazine of a sweatshirt made into a jacket and decorated with rows of different colors of rickrack. Back then, sweatshirts usually came in shades of grey, but all the bright colors made it very “classy” and I loved it!!

  5. I remember sewing outfits for school throughout the summer after finishing the 6th grade. Back then most of the girls went to sewing school so that they could make their school wardrobe. My love of sewing continues today. The children in my county started school today. Summer vacation is growing shorter & shorter.