Advice From Middle School That Applies to Sewing

Last weekend while working on a sewing project for my home, I remembered a good lesson I learned from a teacher. It wasn't a sewing lesson, but thinking of it helped my sewing process.

My elephant wall hanging, in progress.

I'm working an elephant wall hanging, and am nearing the point where I'll add a thin white border, then a wider gray border. Lastly, I'll add the binding, which I'll make out of the orange batik I used for the elephant body.

I spent a chunk of time Saturday morning working on the wall hanging, and was close to getting the elephant body sections sewn together. Then my bobbin thread ran out. I'd planned to stop sewing soon anyhow, so I took it as an opportunity to close up shop and go about my day.

But knowing that the next step when I returned to my sewing area was filling my bobbin (for some reason, a task I think of as a real drag), I procrastinated going back to my machine.

Then I remembered some advice a teacher told me back in middle school. He said the best way to return to a task is to stop at a point when it is going well, and you know what to do next. That way, you'll more easily coax yourself back to work, then say, if you stopped when stuck or in anticipation of a hard step.

Later in the weekend, I filled that pesky bobbin and kept working. I was one step away from being ready to add my borders, and considered spending an extra ten minutes to reach that point. But remembering the teacher's advice, I stopped working.

Now, as I sit at work on Monday morning, I'm raring to get home at the end of the day to finish sewing that last elephant body section on. It'll take only a few minutes, and I'll launch right into my borders after that.

If you're looking for sewing projects for the home, there are some great ones in the new summer issue of Modern Patchwork, available in the Sew Daily Shop.

What about you? Have you received some life advice that you've applied to help you as a sewist? I can't wait to hear. 

Other sewing topics you may enjoy:

Categories

For the Home, Sewing Machine Basics
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 “Advice From Middle School That Applies to Sewing

  1. In high school, my teacher would check our work at each step before we could move on to the next. If it was not properly sewn she would say, “You’d feel better about this if you’d rip it out and do it again.” She was right. She would also say, “If you sew, so shall you rip.”

    To this day,39 years later, if I make a mistake in a seam, I hear a little voice inside my head telling me, I’d feel better about this project if I rip out that mistake.

    I am still in contact with that teacher we all lovingly called Mom, and still do. And we give her a little tease about ripping out our mistakes!

  2. I remember Mom saying to do the hard things first if it’s possible. That works for me in sewing. If I can do those difficult inset 90 degree corners first, I will do them. I did find a video that made them come out much tidier, too.

  3. When I took my first series of quilt classes 30 years ago, Judy Hopkins (the teacher) taught us the practice of using a neutral color thread for piecing (medium gray or tan). The second thing she talked about was the practice of winding at least 3 bobbins at a time so that you have a bobbinready to pop into your machine when needed. Cuts down on frustration. So true! At the end of my sewing session for the day when I have loaded the last pre-filled bobbin into my machine, I wind 3 more bobbins. Sadly, Judy died a few years ago, and I still remember her wonderful smile, laugh, and sage advice PLUS all of her wonderful quilts!

  4. When I took my first series of quilt classes 30 years ago, Judy Hopkins (the teacher) taught us the practice of using a neutral color thread for piecing (medium gray or tan). The second thing she talked about was the practice of winding at least 3 bobbins at a time so that you have a bobbinready to pop into your machine when needed. Cuts down on frustration. So true! At the end of my sewing session for the day when I have loaded the last pre-filled bobbin into my machine, I wind 3 more bobbins. Sadly, Judy died a few years ago, and I still remember her wonderful smile, laugh, and sage advice PLUS all of her wonderful quilts!

  5. As a senior in high school, I was working on a top with 3/4 sleeves and winged cuffs. I just couldn’t seem to get the cuffs right and expressed my frustration as I needed to rip out the cuff for the third time. My mother said, “Are you going to be like my sister? When she made a mistake, shed throw it in the corner and there it would lay!” So I went on and got it right the third time. A friend once corrected me by saying it was ‘unsewing’, but I said, “No, its ripping and I’m good at it!”

  6. With my Viking Sapphire 875, it is sew easy to fill the bobbin I don;t mind running out.. It warns me when the bobbin is low and I can usually sew quite a bit before I have to change it anyway. So getting to the end of a row is easy. I don’t even have to unthread the machine to wind that bobbin so filling several ahead doesn’t seem necessary. Depends on the project I guess. How is that for a positive vibe! Off to SEW!

  7. be sure to give credit to Laurie Bevan for the darling elephant pattern, I think it’s from her “Lickety Split quilts for Babies” book. I have made a pink one, super cute. I always try to pick up my mess before I leave my sewing room. Then it’s much more inviting!

  8. Thank you for your advice in this article. I have struggled for MONTHS to get a t-shirt quilt made. Now it is finished, all except the label. It’s been 2 weeks now and the label is still not done. Hubby and I have plans for the evening and the morning is filled with church and visiting a house-bound friend, but…after lunch I will write and sew that label and get the quilt into a box for mailing. Procrastination is my middle name, but your suggestion will be helpful for future projects. Thanks.

  9. The best advice yet from the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is just that, bird by bird. One step at a time, or it can become overwhelming.
    The other favorite advice which can be applied to anything: do what you can, with what you have where you are.

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