Monthly Archives: November 2011


The Learning to Sew Calamity or Don’t Get Discouraged



 I’m one of those late “baby boomers”.  My mother, a stay at home mom, was an excellent cook; not a gourmet cook, but she produced tasty and nutritious meals.  However, she did not sew. Oh sure, she could sew on a button or hem a skirt or shirt sleeve, or mend a minor tear, but she did not own a sewing machine and didn’t want to own one or know any more than she did about sewing.

On the other hand, I was chomping at the bit to learn to sew.  The way I saw it, if I could sew, I could make clothes I wanted to wear and that fit, plus I could have my clothes in the colors I wanted them in and not have to be content with whatever color the store offered.  Yeah, I could see lots of benefit in learning to sew.  It also appealed to the creative side of me. 

 Back in the day, girls usually got to take home economics classes in seventh grade.  It was offered as a choice; sewing classes and cooking classes.  I had plenty of help with the cooking, but not sewing. I promptly and avidly enrolled myself into the sewing class.  All of my classmates had mothers who were knowledgeable in sewing and there was a sewing machine in their homes and they proudly wore homemade clothing. 

 I was as green as they come. The only implements I was familiar with were needles, pins, scissors and thread. Never heard of a sewing pattern.  Our first project was an apron. Very simple. Most of the girls had that one completed in one day. What they didn’t finish in class was taken home and finished with mom’s help. I didn’t have that option and coupled with the fact I was pretty clueless, the project took me five times as long to finish. My second project was a simple pull-over, sleeveless shift dress. With that project I learned more about clothing construction such as darts and neck and armhole facings, and fabric grain. It took me the rest of the class term to finish my second project. Most of the other girls were completing sixth or seventh projects by that time. My interaction with the instructor was mostly being told I had not sewn it correctly and I would have to undo it. I became very familiar with the seam ripper. My armhole and neck facings were nubs by the time I got them in correctly.  A fellow classmate took pity on me and offered me more instruction than the teacher. Eventually, I did finish the shift and proudly wore it. It was an apple red denim fabric. 

Two days before the end of the class term, the instructor called me to her desk and informed me that the ONLY reason she was not giving me a failing grade was because I put forth the effort. I received a D-minus for the class. I was disappointed, but not discouraged. 

 One of the first items I bought when I left home and could afford it was a second-hand sewing machine. It did not do zig-zag stitching, therefore I was obliged to do buttonholes by hand.  The machine sewed backward and forward; that’s it. Later, my mother-in-law helped me learn how to sew.  I eventually sewed my entire maternity wardrobe and made curtain’s for the baby’s room. After my second child was born, we moved away from her. As chance would have it, I moved in right next door to a wonderful woman who was about 10 years my senior and who had learned to sew at five years of age. She helped me out a lot!  Plus, I upgraded my sewing machine to a more modern level. More about the lessons from my neighbor in a future blog. 

When my oldest child started first grade I had sewn her entire wardrobe for school. I only bought her underwear, shoes, socks and a coat.  I did make a lightweight Fall jacket.  A little further down the road, I made a wedding dress. I’ll save that story for another time as well. 

 I came a long way from a D-minus and I was quite satisfied with myself! The greatest compliment I ever received was a monetary offer to me to create an identical article I was wearing at the time. I can laugh off that D-minus now. A sincere and heartfelt thanks to all who assisted me along the way!!

 I highly recommend learning to sew. It can be a frustrating experience in the beginning, but once you get past that, the sky’s the limit!!

 Honk Honk




Why “Goose Mother”???



I chose “The Goose Mother” as a handle for myself.  It comes from my daughter transposing “Mother Goose” into the Goose Mother.  When she wanted to be read stories from this particular book she would ask for stories by the Goose Mother.  The picture on the front cover of the book of an elderly woman riding a harnessed, oversized goose fascinated her. Not sure why she transposed the words tho’. 

I enjoy sewing and crocheting actively, although most of the other needlework crafting holds interest for me, there just isn’t enough time, so I am obliged to narrow it down to what I can handle. 

I took an interest in sewing in my very early teens largely due to my short stature  (I was forever hemming stuff)  and economic limitations.  However, learning to sew was to be an arduous challenge for me.  More on this in another blog.  I didn’t end up becoming the knock-down, bang-up seamstress I’d like to be, but I do enjoy sewing.  I also enjoy visiting other people’s blogs on sewing and seeing some of their creations.  I envy their sewing skills and appreciate their sharing some of their experience. 

 I am motivated to create.  I think we all are to some degree in some area.  Thinking outside the box is something else that resonates within me.  Learning how to respectfully live on our planet Earth is also of concern.  Recycling appeals to me and is a contributing factor with regard to Sew Exciting Needleworks

A new, favored pass-time is visiting the Vintage Pattern Wiki website.  Some really dreamy stuff can be found there.  Kudos to Erin McKean of Dressaday for instigating it and to all who contribute to, maintain and expand the Vintage Pattern Wiki.  The Vintage Pattern Wiki is closing in on almost 50,000 patterns!! 

I am still busy behind the scenes putting all this together with lots of help from the Wizard.  Things are just humming along.  There’s a lady out there looking for baby patterns cuz she’s going to become a grandma very soon.  She tells me she’s now motivated to sew again due to this event AND she’s getting a brand new sewing machine!!    I promise you those patterns will be up very soon. 

 Until the next blog….

 Honk Honk


I’ve always been fascinated at how our subconscious operates.  In the mid 1980s, I read about Elias Howe’s dream presenting the answer to a logistical problem he was encountering during the process of his invention.  Here’s a brief summation about Elias Howe, his dream, and the invention of the sewing machine. 



Until 1846, most clothes were hand sewn. Small wonder that there were so many “hand-me-downs,” and I imagine there were lots of sore fingers, not to mention that thimbles were probably common household items that were actually used and not kept in a display case. 

There were quite a few attempts at mechanizing sewing; most being considered failures for one reason or another.  One of the first related patents, issued in 1755, was a British patent to a German fellow, Charles Weisenthal. This was actually for a needle designed for a machine, however there seems to be no evidence of the machine it was designed for.  From 1755 to 1830, there were patents issued for an array of gadgets for machines that mechanized specific sewing procedures for various items such as leather, but all appear to have been largely unsuccessful.

In 1830 French tailor, Barthelemy Thimonnier, produced the first functional sewing machine.  It featured an embroidery chain stitch using one thread and a hooked needle.  Messier Thimonnier’s invention was not well received.  A group of French tailors set fire to his garment factory, nearly killing Messier Thimonnier.  His fellow tailors believed that his invention threatened their livelihoods.  Four years later in America, Walter Hunt (who happens to be credited with inventing the safety pin), came up with a somewhat successful sewing machine.  Hunt may have taken note of his fellow inventor’s fate, Messier Thimonnier, and did not seem to have an interest in acquiring a patent as he believed it would lead to unemployment.

In 1846, Elias Howe was issued a patent for his invention.  Howe’s invention was unique in that it processed thread from two sources.  While Howe was busy working out the logistics of his machine he had a nightmare.  In this dream/nightmare, Howe was subdued by a group of cannibals who were preparing to make him their next meal.  These cannibals possessed spears with holes in the tips.  This became the innovative design in Howe’s machine; a hole in the needle at the point.  Howe’s machine utilized a lockstitch technique.

Howe spent the next nine years trying to garner interest in his machine and defending his patent.  Isaac Singer mass produced the first commercial sewing machine in the 1850s.  A battle over patent rights ensued that involved Singer, Hunt, Howe and others.  Howe won. Had Hunt followed through and patented his invention, Howe would not have won.  Reality was that other inventors were involved and each had patents on different mechanisms used in the conventional sewing machine of the day.  Eventually four companies pooled their patents; Singer,- Howe,- Wilson and Wheeler – and Grover and Baker.  All other sewing machine companies were obliged to obtain licenses and to pay $15.00 per machine manufactured.

 During his lifetime, Elias Howe collected over $2,000,000 in royalties on his patent.  Howe died in 1867, the same year his patent was to expire. 


 Hmmmm, I guess I should get more sleep cuz I need lots of answers!!

 Honk Honk