My Decision to Give up Sewing

my decision to give up sewing

Eight years ago, an acquaintance (one of Will’s former coworkers) gave me a sewing machine for my birthday. It wasn’t new, and it definitely wasn’t fancy. In fact, that first sewing machine didn’t even have a good belt. I used rubber bands to run it. They were constantly making a huge mess as they degraded from spinning around and around, doing a job they were never meant to do. It was always kind of fun (in a not fun kind of way) when one of them snapped. It would fling off into the netherworld (also known as the floor behind my desk) and the machine would stop working. I used that machine a lot. It was my training machine. That first year, I made 7 full-size quilts for Christmas gifts – with very minimal sewing experience. All done on that rubber-band-powered machine.

Then I upgraded the machine. I was tired of dealing with rubber bands, and felt that I was making some progress in the craft, so we bought a $100 Singer from JoAnn’s. That machine served me very well. I made dresses for myself, pajamas, Halloween costumes, and bath robes for the kids, Small Fry’s complete nursery set (diaper bag, changing pads, crib sheet, Boppy pillow cover, and more), and more quilts. But very little of what I made was truly great. It all got the job done, though. And I figured that I would continue to get better.

Four years later, that machine broke. The power switch detached from the supply on the inside. While Singer did provide a 25-year warranty, they didn’t provide any service shops within 8 hours of my location – and none in my state. So we bought another machine instead of fixing that one.

This third machine was a pale comparison to my second one. I didn’t think so at first, but after using it for a long time, I came to realize the truth. It couldn’t do free-motion quilting, which is definitely my favorite way to quilt. It only had one thread guide down near the needle (instead of two like the previous one had had). But in the store, I was just so happy to be getting a machine that would actually turn on that I didn’t pay close enough attention to the individual features and we bought that machine anyway.

I used it for several years despite its shortcomings. After the first few weeks, I was already frustrated with it, but I didn’t want to complain about such an expensive gift purchased out of love from my husband. I put up with the constantly breaking thread. The thread coming loose from the single thread guide (turns out that having two of those is actually necessary) and getting caught around itself. The way the needle would come unthreaded for some unknown, invisible reason. I dealt with it all, because after all, having a bad sewing machine is better than having no sewing machine. Especially for a quilter. Plus, I wasn’t that good at sewing, despite my years of practice. I didn’t “deserve” a better machine.

Fast forward a couple of years, to just a few weeks ago. I was working on finishing up a baby quilt as a gift when the machine pulled one of these stunts. After years of dealing with it (and playing around with giving up the craft for the past several months), I decided that the time was now. I was emotionally ready to move away from sewing. I moved the sewing machine down to the garage and haven’t looked back.

Instead of lamenting over thoughts of “Oh, I really do want to sew something after all,” I’ve thrown my focus into yarn crafts. I designed my own original pattern – the teddy bear skirt I shared last week – and learned to knit. So now I have two options for creating yarn crafts, which I love. And I’ve felt such a peace about my decision. I’m happy with knitting needles or a crochet hook in my hands. It’s a wonderful feeling!


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Super Easy, No-Sew Scarfs

Do you have a last-minute gift you need to get for someone? Want to give something semi-homemade but don’t have the time to really make something? Look no further; I have the perfect gift idea for you!


This is a simple cheat I learned from my late mother-in-law years ago, but never really put to use until this year. You see, I was planning to crochet scarves for the nieces and nephews to go with the hats I made for them last year. Problem is, it’s nearly impossible to find the time – and free hands – to crochet with a newborn. So I needed another option that I could do on a limited budget while still keeping with the spirit of the gift I had in mind. Enter the no-sew fleece scarf!

Fleece is the ideal fabric for this project because the cut edges don’t fray. That’s really important in keeping with the no-sew aspect for these. All you have to do is cut the fabric into strips – whatever width you’d like. I chose several different fabrics and had the lady at the cutting counter at JoAnn cut me off quarter-yard quantities. This gave me strips that were 9×42 inches – just about perfect for a child’s scarf. When I got the strips home, I cut off the selvage ends and then used my fabric scissors to cut “fringe” into the ends of the scarves. Then I tied knots at the top of each piece of fringe, but if you’re in a real hurry, this step is completely unnecessary. That’s it! A super easy, fun gift for kids that takes about $2 worth of fabric and 5 minutes of your time. Fabulous!


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Ladybug Themed Baby Gifts

A friend of mine recently (well, in late April) had a baby. As soon as she told me that she was expecting, back in November, I knew I wanted to make her some gifts. I just wasn’t sure what. Then I moved my blog here, to Ladybug Daydreams, and it hit me: a ladybug theme! When she told me she was having a girl, it was solidified in my mind that ladybugs would be a lovely theme for the gifts.


Newborn Ladybug hat


I love both crocheting and quilting, so I focused my energy into those two mediums for the gift. It was fairly easy to come up with ideas once I had a theme: a baby quilt, a newborn hat, and a stuffed toy. All I had to do then was find patterns. The hat and quilt were easy enough; I’ve made countless hats and quilts over the years, so I got those done first. The stuffed toy took a little more energy to find a pattern for. There are loads of patterns on the internet, but very few for free.



Dotty the Ladybug


Dotty’s Belly

After hours of searching, I finally found one that was both free and adorable, so that’s the one I went with. (I don’t have the link handy, but if you’re looking for something like this, it’s called Dotty the Ladybug and I found it on Ravelry.) I decided to make the colors so that they’d catch a newborn’s eyes. This means that I chose red, black, and white, with different colored dots on each color (red has black, black has white, and white has red). The pupils in the eyes are just black buttons that I hot glued on. (The black with white spots is underneath the wings.)

Everything is pretty straightforward, but there’s one special thing about the quilt that I want to share. I didn’t use a traditional batting and backing for it. I left the fabric store with my ladybug and flower fabrics and headed next door to Goodwill (where Will and the big boys like to hang out while I’m looking for fabric). They weren’t done browsing yet, so I headed back to the linen section. It’s not unheard of to find great prices on fabrics at Goodwill, after all, and I was definitely not disappointed this time around. While I didn’t find a backing fabric for the quilt, I did find something much better: a two-layer baby blanket that was fleece on one side and that soft velvety stuff on the other side (how’s that for a quilter not knowing fabrics?!). And the best part was that it was tagged with the weekly half price color, so I snagged that for around $1.50 and it served as both the batting and the backing of the quilt.

100_2003When I finished the quilt top, I quilted it right to the fleece side of the blanket (because it was used, the fleece wasn’t all that soft anymore anyway), leaving the velvety side as the backing. Then I stitched the binding on as usual. I think it turned out great!

What’s your favorite baby gift to give expectant mothers?


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DIY Cloth Book for Babies and Toddlers

cloth book
I mentioned on Tuesday that we celebrated Small Fry’s birthday recently. I, of course, made him a gift instead of buying him one, and I wanted to share here all about it. I’d seen around the web recently the idea of fabric books for little ones, and some of them are specifically designed for toddlers to work on their fine motor skills. I wanted to make one of those. (This one is much better than the one I made, but I’m pretty pleased with mine nonetheless.) [Read more…]