dear reader | to the one who is scared to sew

Marian ParsonsSecret Weapons, Sewing

This time of reassessing my business and blog has been so rejuvenating for me.  I find myself flooded with ideas, anxious to create, bubbling to write…almost to the point of being overwhelmed by it.  It’s like my ideas are little children who keep interrupting one another and I have to tell them to pipe down and wait their turn.  So, I’m making lots of lists and trying to shape them into a plan of action that does involve time to eat and sleep.  I’m working on it.

One of the ideas that keeps surfacing is doing more series on my blog.  Not just individual blog posts, but ones that are strung together by a common topic or tell a story that arcs over several posts.  I have three blog series currently underway – how my business began, the evolution of my house (we’re almost done with that one) and Megan’s office makeover.

And now I’m going to add another one, dear reader.

This series will be open letters to readers with a specific challenge, issue, circumstance.  Whether it’s to someone who’s tired of renting, struggling with contentment or doesn’t know how to use a hammer properly, I want to share my thoughts and speak directly to them.  I’m not going to give answers.  Just my thoughts, opinions, “two cents”, if you will, and hopefully some encouragement.


Today, I am writing a letter to those who are scared to sew.  This is also for those who “can’t sew” and hate sewing.  I know you’re out there.


dear reader

I know that sewing has earned a bad reputation with you.  You’re used to tangled threads, crooked lines, fabric that ends up bubbled and pulled.  You’re used to frustration.  You’re used to your creations being a disappointment.

Maybe you’re even afraid to try.  You’re afraid you’re going to mess something up.  The sewing machine that was handed down to you looks foreign and even a little frightening.


I want you to not worry about the machine for a minute.  Set aside the thought of winding a bobbin and adjusting thread tension.  Let your past frustrations, failures and disasters go.

Instead, let’s look at all of the possibilities that come with knowing how to sew.  The slipcovers, pillows, curtains…


The things you could transform…


…and customize.  The mis-matched furniture and accessories that can be made to match.


Look around your house.  What could you do?  What would you do?

Take a minute to daydream about it.

Are you with me, now?  Do you see the potential and why sewing is a worth-while skill, especially for those who love homemaking?

I know, for some of you, there are still those bad memories or doubts, trying to suck the hope out of the moment.

I know what it’s like to want to chuck a sewing machine out the window.

I have felt the red-faced irritation that comes when something doesn’t turn out as planned or when a seemingly quick project turns into an all day ordeal, because the machine is giving you attitude.

Sometimes I need a minute.  Or a month.  And then, I come back and finish the project.

I don’t sew because I love sewing.  It’s a means to a end.  I want a custom pillow or chair or slipcover and I’m not willing to fork out the money to pay someone else to make them, so I have to step up and give it my best try.

If you really look at my sewing (and I know some of you have), you’ll see that my finished results aren’t perfect.  Sometimes the piping goes awry or things don’t line up the way they should.  And I have decided that I am totally okay with that, because waiting until I’m good enough to sew a perfect slipcover will mean that I will never sew a slipcover.


So, I want to encourage you to let go of the idea that the result needs to be perfect.

Oh, I how I wish I had a picture of some of the first pillows and curtains I made!  I actually took a cheap valance from Wal-Mart and sewed some new fabric directly over it, so I wouldn’t have to sew a pocket, which seemed intimidating.  I have no idea why I did that, but it made sense to me then.  And my first slipcover?  Oh, goodness.  It was baaa-ad.

And still, after years of sewing and hundreds of projects, most of my finished pieces have a “good side”, wonky places and mistakes.

You know why I’m okay with that?  Perfection isn’t the goal.  Getting something completed that looks great in the overall room is the goal.

Isn’t that an easier goal?


Remember that sewing is a learned skill.  There may be some people with an affinity for it, but no one is born knowing how to sew.  It’s something they have learned and practiced.  You can, too.  So, I don’t want to hear “I can’t sew” anymore.  You may not want to, you may not be willing, but you can.

Get to know your machine at a time when you’re not working on a project.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m working on a project, I want to finish as soon as possible.  When I get slowed down by “technical difficulties”, that’s when I get bummed out.  And I’m sure I’m not alone in that.  So, take time to learn to thread your sewing machine, get the bobbin wound and working, make sure the needle you’re using is sharp and the right one for the fabric you’re working on and make sure you understand all of the settings, so you don’t end up smocking fabric when you’re just trying to sew a straight line.


If you’re having trouble, refer to the manual or call the company for support.

And don’t worry if you have a cheap or old sewing machine.  My first sewing machine was older than I was.  I currently have two machines and neither of them are digital or fancy-schmancy.  My light-duty machine was only $150.

Whether you’re just starting or starting over, start on a simple project with straight lines, like making a pillow cover out of a tea towel.  Give yourself success in a little project, so you feel confident to move onto bigger projects.


In that same vein, work with an inexpensive or free fabric in the beginning.  That way, if you mess up, it’s not a big deal.

If you’re even nervous about starting a specific project, just sew two pieces of fabric together and see how that goes!


As I said before, it’s about success in the little things.

If you haven’t noticed, I get a little passionate about sewing.  Again, it’s not because I love it, but because, of all of the skills you can learn, there are two that will transform your home on a budget more dramatically than any others – painting and sewing.

I want for you to learn, so you can pick up that free wing chair with a great shape, but ugly fabric.  I want for you to envision a color scheme for a room and be able to make pillows and curtains to perfectly match that vision.  I want you to experience the satisfaction of turning a flat piece of fabric into something that you made!

And if this letter encourages even one person to try sewing or to try it again, then I am a happy blogger.

 If you need some inspiration and instruction, you can scroll through all of my sewing posts HERE.

Sincerely, Marian



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dear reader | to the one who is scared to sew

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