When Do You Plan to Stop Sewing?

Today I received a lovely, two-page, hand-written letter from a woman in Honolulu, Hawaii, who is age 90. She said that she still loves to sew and had recently purchased a copy of Stitch with Style 2013. She wanted to make the Easy Kimono Sleeve Dress by Charise Randell for herself. Her main concern was that she didn't have a computer, and she and her "sewing buddy" (who did have a computer) could not figure out how to download the pattern. We are making sure that she get the pattern into her hands asap, but I was struck by how she wrote several times about how much she loves to sew.


Easy Kimono Sleeve Dress
by Charise Randell from
Stitch with Style 2013.


I don't often get a
hand-written letter!

It got me to wondering if I could ever imagine a time when I would stop sewing, as long as I, like our 90-year-old Stitch friend in Hawaii, am able. And I just can't picture stopping sewing while I can still thread a needle and push a foot pedal. Just the thought of stepping into my studio and getting to work makes me happy. I could never give that up!

Like many of you, I started sewing when I was very young, and as a beginning sewer, I was completely enchanted, head-over-heels with the craft. There have been many times in my life when I was too busy to sew, but I have always found my way back to sewing, and I rely on it always being there for me.

I am so pleased that this woman found the Easy Kimono Sleeve Dress to be appealing, as it's definitely a classic style that looks good on anyone. It's quick-to-make, and the perfect outfit for sultry Hawaiian days and nights. I love the idea that she plucked Stitch with Style from the newsstand and found a project she desired. To be able to see that inspiration to sew span the generations  is phenomenal. But I am even more thrilled that she is sewing something to wear for herself, not someone else, and to have solid proof that the urge to sew and create never leaves us, not as long as we want it to stay and can make it happen.

Don't you agree?

For great bag construction tips for beginners and advanced sewers alike, check out the ""How to Sew A Bag That's Sturdy and Stylish" DVD in the Sew Daily Shop.

Can you see sewing for yourself into your 90s? I would love to know.

Happy stitching!

 

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About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and SewDaily.com. She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and SewDaily.com. She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

44 thoughts on “When Do You Plan to Stop Sewing?

  1. Stop sewing?? That’s just silly. I have several customers who are in their 90’s and still make huge quilts. These ladies literally sew until they are laid to rest and I intend to do the same. They have a twinkle in their eye and are always looking for that next cool quilt to start. They laugh at themselves as they add more fabric to their stash. They have hundreds of finished quilts they have sewn in their lifetimes, most of them given away. I can think of worse things to do with your life. Happy stitching!

  2. I DID quit sewing for a few years when my children were teenagers. There was just no time. But, now that I’m an empty nester and grandmother, I sew EVERY day until 9 a.m. then off to work and then try to close the day with handwork. A neighbor shared her three daily goals: Do something each day for someone else. Spend some time with God. Make something that lasts. She was a quilter. Mindy

  3. I’m not 90, but I developed a love of sewing from my mother and her sister, Louise, who was a Seamstress and a Certified Taylor. My Aunt Lou made her living by sewing and did so as close to her passing as she could get; feeding the fabric through the machine with one eye closed because using both eyes caused double vision. The rest she did with her usual perfection by feel when her eyes failed her: pinning, cutting, and hand-sewing the final details. Working side-by-side with her taught me to not only love sewing, but to see that beauty is in the details and time taken to do it correctly is time well spent. Now, I have become as much a perfectionist as she was and I feel her hand guiding me when I am “stuck” on a project. I suspect I will sew well into my later years and have already begun to “pass the torch” onto my 7 year old Granddaughter, who just this past weekend sat down at a sewing machine for the first time to make a quilt for her baby sister.

  4. I am 70 years old and have been sewing since I was 7 years old. After losing a 3-year battle with a major bank, we are moving into a 40 ft. motorhome to live. My sewing machine and serger were the first items I placed into the RV. I find if I go any length of time without sewing and/or creating, I get quite “squirrelly”. I will probably be placing my last stitch on the way to my final resting place.

  5. My mother sewed for me all through school, until she had a serious illness. She never sewed again, saying the thought of sewing made her too nervous (this was after undergoing several surgeries and radiation treatments). So I sat down at the machine myself as a teen and now, in my mid-50s, I am still sewing. I can’t imagine not sewing and I pray I don’t lose my ability to a medical condition, or anything other than my own choice.

  6. I can not imagine a time in my life where I would stop sewing completely. Like you there have been stretches where I was unable to sew due to commitments elsewhere, when I pick up fabric and thread to start a project it is as if I have come home- to the warm cozy comfortable place where I belong and peace flows through me- even if the project is difficult or my furry helpers annoying.

  7. Stop Sewing – NEVER. I just turned 72 and celebrated my 50th Anniversary. I tell all my friends that “A day without sewing is like a day without sunshine” and I live in Florida. I do a lot of custom home décor for my clients and will do so until I can’t see the needle anymore. But I will not stop sewing!!!

  8. Stop Sewing – NEVER. I just turned 72 and celebrated my 50th Anniversary. I tell all my friends that “A day without sewing is like a day without sunshine” and I live in Florida. I do a lot of custom home décor for my clients and will do so until I can’t see the needle anymore. But I will not stop sewing!!!

  9. I am 65 and did not need to sew clothes for myself. So I started with a project for the local humane society – made dog beds. Then I made kitty hammock and a dog cage cover for a raffle. Then I made curtains for cat cages for another humane society. Now I am selling raffle tickets on a dog print quilt that I made to benefit vet bills for injured or abused dogs that the local Animal Control Office (ACO) finds. The ACO also received dog beds and doggie coats.

    Then I started to make fabric hats for the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Kansas City. I ended up making over 200 fabric hats, crocheted another 20, and made several capes.

    Then I got a pattern to make taggie blankets and donated 60 to Children Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

    I have over 100 taggie blankets ready to donate to Stormont Vail NICU in Topeka, KS.

    When will I stop sewing, never. It gives me peace, happiness and occupies my time.

    Now to start another project.

  10. I absolutely hope to continue to sew into my 90’s and beyond. I have had this passion for plus 50 years, since I first saw my grandmother working her Singer sewing machine and the rocking rythym of her foot. I wish she were here to indulge in this amazing sewing world today!

  11. As long as my eyes & fingers keep going I will keep sewing. I was a tom-boy all the way when I was growing up except for sewing. When I couldn’t be outside I was inside sewing. First thing my Mom taught me was how to darn holes in socks & embroider pillow cases. Then around 12 years of age I started teaching myself how to use her Singer. It was such a great feeling as each year went by & I became a more accomplished seamstress.

  12. My mom sewed (mostly quilted) until shortly before her death at 91. When she moved into an assisted living facility, being able to bring her sewing machine was the deal breaker! I can’t count the quilts she made for family and friends, including future great grandchildren! I was so thrilled to be able to give baby quilts to my grandsons from their great grandma who made the quilts at age 90 for great grandchildren she would never know! I just retired, and I plan to now spend more time sewing, finishing the many projects I have started. I will still be working on them if I live to be 90!

  13. NEVER! My sewing slowed down for a liite while because of jobs I held and I felt my creativty was at a stand still because I wanted an embroidery machine foe many years. Now that I finally own one, my sewing has turned into a business ! Sewing in my family is skmething that part of our heritage. My father’s mother handmade quilts until a fews months before she passed. She was 100 ysars old! I am also teaching one my granddaughters to sew!

  14. I have a Singer 66 Red Head Treadle built in 1910. I received it from the family of a woman who died two years ago at 96. She sewed right up to about two months before she died. She received the machine from her mother (who bought it new) when her mother bought a Singer 221 in the late 1940s.

    The woman I got it from sewed clothes for missionaries to give away in Africa. She made a dress a week from the early 1970s until she just couldn’t do it anymore. Nobody in her family sews, so the family gave it to me on the condition that I would use it. She wouldn’t want it sitting around as decoration, it needs to be used.

    I plan to use it until I just can’t do it anymore…

  15. I can’t imagine a time when I wouldn’t want to sew. I have been sewing since I was a little girl and I’m in my 60’s now. In the past 10 years I have discovered machine embroidery to add to my sewing on garments, crafts items, and quilts. My husband’s Gramma Mary will be 100 in August and she still sews for her church bazaars and friends. In fact, this was how I discovered machine embroidery. When she was 90 and showed me what she was making with machine embroidery I figured if she could figure out that technology at 90, then I could certainly figure it out at 50, right? And what fun it has been! Stop sewing? Never!

  16. I don’t make garments for myself very often anymore (although that project is tempting), but I make quilts all the time. They will probably find my petrified body in front of my sewing machine–pins, needles, threads and all the other paraphernalia strewn around, fabric everywhere–trying to finish one more thing before I go.

  17. Stop sewing? Yes, I had to stop when I had chemo that affected my eyes as well as my thinking! That was about ten years ago. My cancer (multiple myeloma) is in complete remission and I no longer have to take drugs that mess up my vision. I am starting back to sewing. I have missed it terribly. Sewing has changed a lot in the past ten years. – a lot more complicated now. But I am ready to get back. I have NO friends who sew. Too bad for them! I am 73 and plan to sew till they take me out feet first!
    Volindah Costabell

  18. Never. I have sewn since I was about 6. Did sewing in 4-H from 10 to 14 and then just took off from there. I have made wedding gowns, suit coats and most other things you can imagine. I made all of my girls clothes when they were growing up along with all of my husband’s shirts. Taking up quilting about 15 years ago just fueled my sewing enthusiasm. I have worked in a fabric store for the past 20 years. Am 65 now and when I retire I will be able to sew any time and as much as I want. My husband supports my “sewing habit” unconditionally so I have boxes, closets and drawers full of fabric that I can add to and make most anything I want. What a joy to have a sewing habit!

  19. Hello Amber,
    I started to sew at age 12 when my mom (a non sewer) sent me to a summer sewing class. Well, I fell in love and been sewing ever since. I have sewn for all my children , had a sewing business, and now help new moms learn to sew. It is a fantastic way to express yourself artistically and get to wear your art! I enjoy all the fantastic and simple ideas shown in your magazine and web site. I will be sewing for the rest of my life. Even now, when my health is not great, I make sure I always have a project on the go. It is good for the mind, the pocketbook and great to have something made with love to give to others. AJ

  20. My 87 year old mother just moved into assisted living and demanded that she take her 1952 Singer sewing machine with her! Even tho she has glaucoma and can barely see, she stills hems her own clothes. I know she passed the “sewing” gene on to me!

  21. I plan to sew until my hands and eyes won’t allow. It is hard to imagine not being able to sew since I do almost every day : )
    Wow….what a wonderful story. That is why I love to share my passion – sewing is a universal skill and I love that the dress is appealing to a 90 year old woman.
    Thanks for sharing – it made my day!!!

  22. My sweet mama taught me to sew before I went to school. She majored in Home Ec and loved to sew most anything…from doll clothes for my baby dolls to suits for my dad. She was a wiz! Sadly, she had a stroke at 92 which crippled her right side and took her sewing days with it. She will be 100 in September and, while she is unable to sew with her hands, she is still “making things” in her head!

  23. I am only 60 but I certainly have the fabric to keep sewing into my 90’s! I want to make my own clothes. I want to choose the style, the fit, the fabric type AND the color—-I want it all. My biggest problem is getting styles to fit on my older figure. I am not comfortable in anything that clings to my belly or shows my bra straps or my wrinkling cleavage. I wish we aging baby boomers had our own fashion blog to help us see what looks good on us–or is there such a blog and I have missed it?
    Thank you for your lovely blog. I appreciate your hard work and generous spirit!
    Lisa in San Francisco Bay Area

  24. I can’t imagine NOT sewing–I learned from my Aunt who is now well in her 80’s and plan to pass on my skills and sewing machine to my grand-daughter!

  25. I will continue to sew and all my other hobbies as long as I still enjoy them! I intend to keep going a very long time (I will be 63 in Sept.)!

  26. Hello Amber,
    I started to sew at age 12 when my mom (a non sewer) sent me to a summer sewing class. Well, I fell in love and been sewing ever since. I have sewn for all my children , had a sewing business, and now help new moms learn to sew. It is a fantastic way to express yourself artistically and get to wear your art! I enjoy all the fantastic and simple ideas shown in your magazine and web site. I will be sewing for the rest of my life. Even now, when my health is not great, I make sure I always have a project on the go. It is good for the mind, the pocketbook and great to have something made with love to give to others. AJ

  27. Hello Amber,
    I started to sew at age 12 when my mom (a non sewer) sent me to a summer sewing class. Well, I fell in love and been sewing ever since. I have sewn for all my children , had a sewing business, and now help new moms learn to sew. It is a fantastic way to express yourself artistically and get to wear your art! I enjoy all the fantastic and simple ideas shown in your magazine and web site. I will be sewing for the rest of my life. Even now, when my health is not great, I make sure I always have a project on the go. It is good for the mind, the pocketbook and great to have something made with love to give to others. AJ

  28. I will sew as long as I am able. I have been sewing since I was about 7, which makes that 55 years. My sewing has undergone many changes thruout the years – namely in what types of things I sew. But it is like breathing to me – how could I give it up?
    I have an elderly friend of 89 who used to sew, but now cannot sew due to the shakes in her hands and head. BUT I bring her things that I am sewing or have sewn, and she LOVES to see them. We examine them inside and out; she makes suggestions, comments; she tells me about things she has sewn – and she enjoys this so much. So do I, as we both do not have too many people we can discuss sewing with so intimately. If you know someone who used to sew, and for whatever reason had to stop – please share your sewing with them. You both will benefit.

  29. NEVER! I just had my left hand operated on — carpal tunnel & 3 trigger fingers. I can’t wait to get back to my crafts — crocheting needlepoint sewing & quilting. I have a queen size quilt on my frame waiting for me to heal right now that I am doing for an organization to earn money. I am doing all this for free. Can’t wait till my hand is back up to par. will be doing my sewing till I die!

  30. Sewing is in my DNA! My grandmother taught me to embroider when I was quite young. I would spend time with her in a cabin in NY where there was no TV. So each evening we would embroider along with rainy days. I eventually worked on a flower for each state, and she quilted it for me. My mother was an excellent seamstress who made many of my clothes. I sewed clothes for myself, my children, and even learned tailoring to make a suit for my husband. My current passion is patchwork, and I like to challenge myself with increasingly difficult patterns. Currently I am making a baby quilt and a contemporary quilt for my son. If my hands are not busy each evening with some hand work, I feel lost! I can no longer sit for long periods of time, and I have difficulty with my fingers, but as long as I breathe air I will sew! I am so glad you sent a pattern to that woman.

  31. Once a sewer, always a sewer. My mom is 91 and she just finished a quilt for her bed. I think another quilt idea is swimming in her head. Sewing is my outlet. There are days that just the feel of the fabric gives me more ideas and plans. Stop sewing??? Never!

  32. I am 84 and still sewing and quilting and I plan to continue as long as I am here on earth. It gives me too much pleasure to evan consider stopping. Honi

  33. I grew up with sewing : my mother sewed some, because it was expected of women in the 1950s. My (paternal) grandfather was a tailor, and he still worked part time after he retired. (My daughters came home from school one day making derisive comments about a staff member who set much store on fashion, while wearing an outfit with mis-matched plaids.I heard their great-grandfather’s voice behind their words) I married a man from a hard to fit family, I am petite, our children did not fit standard clothes, so as long as husband and I need clothes that fit I will continue to sew. My current sewing machine, my third, is about 2 years old and has the better lights I need to see my sewing. My daughter still uses my first machine, a Singer two years older than she is. And if anyone knows where I could find a replacement handwheel for a Viking 6690 machine I’d get my second machine up and running again! As long as my eyes, hands and brains cooperate, I will sew! Lee

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