I Can Sew More Than Bibs

As I am taking a couple of weeks off and offline I will treat you to another guest post by a great friend and very talented sewing bee – Melissa.  Especially for you from the sunny Australia.  Enjoy!

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I’ve always loved sewing. Some of my earliest sewing experiences are sitting on Nanna’s lap whilst she gently rocked the treadle plate up and down and guided fabric under the needle. As I got older (and taller) I was allowed to operate the treadle myself.

My Nanna and Mum both sew. For both of them I guess out of necessity more than as a hobby but they still enjoyed it. And their skills have been passed down. I am so blessed that they felt it important enough to show me these skills, have the patience to let me practice and to just let me try things.

By the time I’d got to secondary school age 12 I’d already accomplished quite a few basic garments. With younger siblings there was often tracksuit pants or PJ bottoms to be made and even the straight seams of the tops we done…I had even successfully made a button up pj top and set the sleeves in myself.

Year 7 sewing class was therefore an epic failure. I got told off for talking and wandering around the classroom more times than I remember. Problem was that I finished my “machine embroidered denim pencil case with Velcro closure” about lesson three and it was supposed to take the whole 10 week term. I was wandering around helping out all the other kids in my class. “your bobbin is empty that’s why the stitching is coming undone” …”ok you’ve got that jammed… best we just wriggle it all we can then cut it free” and “you’ve broken the needle – just get a new needle of Ms P and I’ll show you how to replace it”….all the while Ms P looking in my direction and telling me to sit down and stop interrupting other students who were trying to work.

Funny thing is that all these years later I have a sibling at the same school doing the same initiation to sewing project. And she too is bored to tears being one of my most regular sewing companions!


The combination of sewing classes being a dreadful drag of time and being a teenager of the 90’s and it being so terrible uncool to wear homemade or anything not from a retail store the hobby was abandoned for a number of years.

By a number of years I mean fast forward almost 15 years. The sewing passion is back. The bug has bitten hard and I have a xmas bonus cheque burning a hole in my wallet. After weeks of research a machine is put on layby…a few more pay cheques are needed to complete the purchase.

And then I get the email of all emails….I’m going to be an Auntie (honorary) to a friends surprise miracle. Well there was no stopping me – credit card was retrieved from purse and that machine, fabric and thread were purchased that very lunchbreak!

A sneaky peak on some crafty blogs that afternoon at work and voila – a pattern was downloaded and printed out ready to undertake that night. And you know what I made first up? A pair of baby booties. A 15 year hiatus from sewing and I undertake shoes!


Since then its been bib after bib after burp cloth after bib. Sometimes I think that is all anyone else thinks I can sew. I’m getting good at them….must have made at least 50 of them in since buying my machine. Babies popping out all over the place and my sewing skills are in the nappy bags of little rug rats in many parts of the globe.

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But I promise I can sew other stuff too. Admittedly still easy stuff – no requests for formal wear please! Proficient enough to make a few easy pieces for myself as work or casual wear and a special outfit for a special person’s first birthday.

My challenge for 2012 was a homemade year of gifts. And there are no surprises that there was an awful lot of sewing done. Yes bibs featured heavily but so did vintage overalls, an apron, hair towels, pj’s, a party dress and a penguin costume for a toy monkey…a whole other blog post for the future!

The challenge for 2013 is going to be where to take the sewing skills. I’m torn between making a lot more of these baby supplies that my dear friends have loved so much and doing a little market stall – money earnt would fund a trip to visit the BlueBeretFamily of course! Option 2 is pushing myself skill wise and tackling stuff I am just too scared of right now…invisible zips, pintucks, trousers and jackets! Option 3 is to do both. Ever the overachiever?

I’ve managed a few items for myself but found kids clothing is just so much easier.  A few buttons. Lots of stretchy easy care fabrics. But womens clothes. Yikes! A flat piece of fabric is cut pinned, stitched into something three dimensional. And not only that but needs to fit around curves, allow movement and disguise wobbly bits!  The vintage 60’s culottes were a little heartache (I cut the shorts part back to front the first time) and now a whole lot of fun and aside from those I’ve only made a couple of work tops and a summer dress for me.  Maybe some selfish sewing is in order?

I often find myself hovering in the suiting and wools area of Spotlight and wistfully feeling the fabrics. I’d love to make a jacket but …and this is the problem there is a BUT!

I’m too scared, hindered by my own limitations. My own desire to not F it up. My not understanding how to make the alterations I need to make stuff fit me perfectly. Sadly Nana’s passed away before I got sewing again and my mum’s taught me everything she knows. Mum doesn’t want to do couture garments and even avoids zippers!

Sew (yes pun intended) now I am stuck. Stuck doubting my own abilities, stuck not finding a pattern that I like enough to try or reading reviews that they are short in the body or for large busts.


I guess I’m wanting/needing my hand held in taking the next step or someone to give (or force) me to tackle something way outside my comfort zone. I know I can do more than just bibs and burp cloths. I could almost sew them up blindfolded now – but please don’t challenge me on this one as using a hot iron is dangerous enough when I have my eyesight. These poor fingers are sufficiently battle scarred from my wrestles already!

I have done more. My skills have come a long way in 2 short years. I can sew more than bibs.


One of the best bits of sewing “advice” my mum has given me is “If YOU want something sewn or mended make me a cup of tea.” Well I want something sewn…I guess I better go make myself a pot of tea.






Today’s post is by a fellow blogger – Rosy.  I still remember going over the same questions a few years back.  Rosy blogs here.  And if your preferred method of communication involves tweeting you can find her @rosybee1.

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy.

My name is Rosy. I am 26 years old, and I think I’m having a quarter-life crisis.

It all started four years ago. I had just graduated (bottom of the class) and had been with my boyfriend (let’s call him Mr X) for just over a year. Having just about survived four years of study, I was looking forward to spending some time discovering the world and finding out who I am outside of education, so I headed down south to a tiny village in north Wales to visit my parents.

I don’t go home very often, so I was looking forward to a nice relaxing week of mum’s cooking and someone else doing my laundry. When I arrived, my mum took me into our nearest town – she had something she wanted to show me.

I rarely ask for anything from my parents, so I got very excited about what this something might be – A car? (no, too expensive) A pet? (my mum has a habit of adopting random rejected animals. But it wasn’t that) Some clothes maybe? (no, I have too many already). As we walked past all the normal shops and headed towards charity shop alley, I started to panic. Is my mother developing early stage dementia? Why is she dragging me to a charity shop?!

We stopped outside one – the Salvation Army I think – and my mum looked at me with a huge grin on her face.  Pointing at the window, she exclaimed “look! It’s only £15. Shall I buy it for you??”

As I stared at the window, a mixture of fear and confusion swept over me.  Surely she’s pointing at something else?? Maybe I’m missing something amazing; a once in a lifetime opportunity to own that signed Boyzone CD I always wanted, or a first edition Harry Potter book.

But no.  Slowly, the realisation started to dawn on me.  My mother was pointing at a travel cot.  A second hand one at that.

When I finally managed to scrape my chin off the ground, I heard myself utter: “But… Why?”

Without missing a beat, she responded “…well, just in case”. (She’d obviously thought this scenario through).

Uuuuhhhh… What?

“You never know what might happen now”

NOW WHAT?! Now I’ve graduated?  Now I’ve left home (4 years previously)?  Now I have a boyfriend (who I’ve been with for more than 3 weeks)?  Now I’m unemployed living on my own in a flat I can’t afford?

I still haven’t worked out what she meant.  Needless to say, we didn’t buy the travel cot.

Ever since that moment, I’ve noticed my world changing around me. People who previously swore they didn’t need a man have found their ‘soulmate’.  People who were never going to get married are now engaged and busy planning their future as half of a couple.  People who hated children now have two or three of their own. People who just about scraped through their GCSEs are now in highly paid careers with actual life goals.

I have none of that. What’s wrong with me?!

At 26, I don’t feel qualified to even count as a real adult, let alone a married one with responsibility for raising one! I have no idea what I want to have for dinner let alone for the rest of my life. I haven’t discovered the world (apparently doing it via the internet is not the same). And I’m only just starting to work out who I am.

I think the best way to deal with this is the way I deal with spinach, wasps and the washing up. Ignore it and hope it goes away.

But just incase it doesn’t go away, I’m going to start wearing purple. And maybe a red had and satin shoes. Jenny Joseph’s poem “Warning” will be the model for my life. This is definitely a good plan…