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Bend the Rules Sewing

by Tiffany in A Green Home, Sewing

When I wrote fairly recently about avoiding commercialism I hinted that sewing would be extremelyBend the Rules Sewing helpful in this regard and I got one or two comments/emails that sewing your own clothing or housewares was a bit extreme. I was REALLY surprised buy this because in my opinion sewing is a hugely valuable skill and an important one to pass on to your kids. Sewing is extreme? Sewing was something that most people in days past had to know how to do if they wanted clothing or home decor. When did it lose its status as a valuable skill for the self sufficient to something only extremists do? As far as I am concerned it is still an important skill.

I remember watching my mother and grandmother sew and I became interested in it myself when I was a preteen. I was making my own dresses by the time I was a teen and when I was an adult I started a business that required daily sewing. Happily I have two kids already interested. My seven year old son wants his own machine even, so I am giving him lessons on mine so he can learn.

Even if you aren’t sewing clothes there are so many other things you can sew and really it isn’t that hard to learn. Just recently I finally got a chance to read a book written by a fellow blogger Amy Carol at Angry Chicken. She wrote Bend the Rules Sewing and it is a guide for beginners who want to learn how to sew. The opening chapters discuss the terminology and language of a seamstress…fabric grain, a miter, notions, selvage, and one of my fave terms…stitching in the ditch. It also covers the tools with descriptions and pictures, a seam ripper, chalk, thimbles, thread, irons, bias tape, etc.

After it covers all those basics it has several patterns and instructions for making 30 cute projects. Some of the projects include a wallet, a headband, a handbag, aprons, easy lap quilts, pillows, coasters, place mats, napkins, curtains, and children’s items. All of them have step by step instructions and pictures. I am so inspired after reading this book. I think I am going to sew up a scalloped baby blanket for a new baby in our extended family.

The subtitle on the book says it all: Fresh patterns, 30 cute designs, great for beginners, learn the basics, have FUN, sew with abandon, its easy!

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

14 Comments on Bend the Rules Sewing

  • Rapunzel

    I have barely sewn a stitch since high school home ec class, but my youngest daughter asked for and received a machine last Christmas. She’s been sewing up a storm ever since, self-taught and doing fabulously! I’m jealous and tempted to give it another go, thank you for the inspiration!

  • Jenna

    I’d love to work on my sewing skills. My grandmother makes beautiful quilts — so it is definitely something I’d like to improve on.

  • I don’t think sewing is extreme, but rather it is a lost art. I know how to sew and should do it more, but at least I can do it. Some of my friends have no idea how to attach a button by hand, much less use a machine!

  • Ashley

    I actually have just taken up sewing my kids’ cloth diapers this week, and people look at me like I’m extreme too. Even if it is easier to go buy something, I feel good for taking the time and energy to create something for my kids out of love – instead of shlepping them in the car off to target to buy it. Thank you for the blog referral to “Angry Chicken”.

  • Oh this makes me want to get out my sewing machine! I’ve made everything from skirts, shorts, and tops to curtains, pillows, and comforters. Your article inspires me to find a local class to sharpen my skills. Extreme? I guess if you think everything should be made in China. ~ Daryl

  • Brooke

    I don’t think it’s extreme. Actually I wish more people knew how to sew so there would be less fashion/decor etc shows where the people could not even sew a hem. I am a pretty bad at sewing, I will admit to anyone, but just being able to kind of use a sewing machine and turn out a few things is considered impressive these days. It’s a pretty useful skill, right now I am making clothing for my daughter, I made all of her cloth diapers and I also made several baby carriers that one mom even said looked “professionally made”. I only wish I knew more so I could hem pants.

  • It’s amazing how impressed people are by my simple sewing. It’s sad that so few people know how to sew these days. And I love Bend the Rules – the patterns are super fun and easy.

  • emily

    I got a sewing machine for graduation thinking that I would use it all the time, BUT I haven’t! It’s so sad. But my summer goal is to make Thai pants that are wonderfully comfortable linen tie pants.

    Also, for all you craftsters, my friend Kelly is helping organize a craft challenge that has some really awesome prizes. And the cause is finding solutions to climate change. Check it out at

    If you’re into it, make your self a skirt this summer that flaunts the number 350 somewhere!

  • heather

    I am so excited that youve mentioned sewing. It has been on my mind alot lately that I would love to learn. This book is a great starting point. Thank you.

  • Elizabeth

    I think sewing is an awesome skill. My aunts and grandma were great at it. I learned to crochet from my grandma at the age of 10, and picked it up again 3 years ago. My children and boyfriend love the things I made for them.

    I mentioned I’d love to get into sewing and my boyfriend got so excited he bought me a sewing machine. It’s so modern, I’ve been afraid to touch it.

    Thank you so much for getting me excited on trying this again! And for the book suggestion. I think my boyfriend secretly wants a quilt. LOL

  • Kandi

    I’m trying to learn to sew again myself to pass it down to my daughters. I have not sewn since high school either just like another reader posted. All I’ve sewn is a pillow and weird rag dolls in home economics. (I did the rag doll instead of my assignment, oh how I wish I would have paid more attention now.) I am 31 now, but every since I was a girl I’ve wanted to make quilts out of clothes my children wore growing up, favorite clothes my husband and I wore that have special memories, and maybe throw in other family members. I have a lot of ideas for projects but no skills haha. Things have gotten to commerical in a certain sense it feels impersonal at times. I will check into your suggestions for sewing. If anyone knows of any good sewing shows/dvds/books for beginners like me it would be helpful and I’d greatly appreciate it.

  • Kat

    I totally agree it’s a valuable skill. I sew a lot of my kids’ clothes and am often asked if they are boutique items. Frugality aside making your own clothes can be trendsetting.

    I love to recycle old clothing and create something new out of it. Especially from old t-shirts that otherwise would have seen the landfill. Very rewarding.

  • Jennifer

    Sewing has become a lost art – something that “hip, fashionable, urban people” don’t do… at least that’s what they are told! There is a huge movement in 20-something urbanites to regain some of these lost skills- sewing, baking, etc.
    I also watched my grandma sew everything (including some amazing Easter & Christmas dresses for me!) and after not being as adept as her right away, I dropped it. Then my husband & I got interested in renaissance festivals & I sewed our costumes… the sewing bug had bitten.
    I now have 2 girls, and they are both interested in learning to sew, and they already help me design and choose fabrics for bags that I make, and clothes for them.
    Thank you for sharing this valuable life skill with everyone!

  • Carrie

    I sew all the time… I taught myself in high school because I wanted to make my own clothes. I taught myself to knit (still not great at that) and I crochet. I don’t think making your own clothing/housewares is excessive at all! Why pay big bucks for curtains that are treated with who knows what when you could spend much less and know exactly what kind of fabric you are using? Plus you get the added satisfaction of putting that much more of yourself into your home! I’m all for it! :-)