Why we got into sewing & quilting (and you can, too)


One year ago, both James and I started sewing.

For about a year, we were living in different states due to a job change and he was still in Florida finishing renovations on the house (it sold in September of 2013 – yay!).We’d talked on the phone a few times about how I wanted to learn to sew and I started reading a few sewing blogs.

My history with sewing involves a high school home economics class where I sewed a stuffed goldfish – it actually turned out pretty well!  We had an old sewing machine at our house, but I remember it being rather finicky and difficult to use without getting a huge thread nest or jam.  Though that may have just been my clueless teen self.  At a younger age, I did take old socks/pantyhose and turn them into Barbie dresses – not sure if that counts?

From what I read on various websites, lots of folks recommended buying a vintage sewing machine because they’re workhorses and will last forever due to the lack of computer components.  On eBay I found someone selling souped up machines and picked up a Singer 201-2.  Beautiful machine and although over 50 years old, still works perfectly.  I didn’t even touch it until James moved to Georgia about 10 months later.  My previous history with sewing machine disasters was a huge deterrent and I was afraid of breaking the antique Singer.  The machine mainly does straight stitching (you can buy attachments for buttonholes and zigzags) and it does that one thing VERY well.

Singer 201-2 Sewing Machine

I have to give James full credit, he figured out how to use the Singer and taught me.  We had fun playing around with it, and I made a baby blanket for a co-worker.  James made a throw pillow, and even a purse for me.

James made a throw pillow out of Ikea fabric
James made a throw pillow out of Ikea fabric

For Christmas last year, James decided he wanted to buy a new sewing machine.  I forgot why, but he seemed interested in doing upholstery, making clothes, and embroidery.  He is an incredibly meticulous shopper.  I don’t say that lightly.  He spent months finding the model we ended up purchasing – online reviews, blogs, YouTube demonstrations.  Finally – he settled on the Brother SE400 – because it had a lot of bells and whistles the Singer didn’t have (hello needle threader and thread cutter!) as well as a decent embroidery unit.  At the time it was about $300 on Amazon and he had a $99 credit.  This is the perfect machine for someone just starting out – it is “Moore Approved!” (Hence the name behind this blog).  We have not had any significant issues with it and have used it quite heavily.

James trying out the Brother SE-400 sewing machine
James trying out the Brother SE-400 sewing machine

We went to a few local fabric stores, Jo-Ann’s and Hancock Fabrics – buying some cheap remnants.  This is great if you’re a beginner – that way if your project doesn’t turn out the way you envisioned at least it’s with $3 a yard fabric instead of $12.

Somehow, both of us decided we wanted to make quilts.  Instead of taking a class or buying a book, we learned online – for free.  From Jenny Doan’s Missouri Star Quilt Company and Mary Fons’ Quilty YouTube videos.  YouTube is such a wonderful resource for anyone looking to learn – you can search for anything and usually you’ll get a few results that pop up.  Diary of a Quilter’s Beginning Quilting series is EXTREMELY helpful if you have no idea where to start.

Using matching charm packs (5-inch square pre-cut fabric packs, usually coordinating) we made our first small quilts.  We even went all out and free motion quilted using a stippling pattern.  (Since then, I have not done free motion on another project.  On our machine the stitching doesn’t come out very even looking)

James' first quilt using a Moda Simply Style charm pack
James’ first quilt using a Moda Simply Style charm pack
James Made a Purse
Never had a man make me a purse before…

I found that I really enjoyed sewing and quilting and have continued on with it as a hobby.  There’s just something about the art of handmade goods that I appreciate and have come to love. James did make a pair of denim jeans and has an unfinished patchwork quilt top, but seems to have moved on to woodworking for now.  (He likes to master random things…)

quilt moda simply style layer cake

Here’s the thing – quilting is not nearly as difficult as it might seem.  Compared to making clothing, it’s very simple and straight forward.  Quilter’s cotton fabric is easy to work with and thanks to websites like Craftsy and Fabric.com – you can get some great deals on designer prints.  Craftsy also offers free and paid video classes, so if you don’t have the time or schedule to take classes at your local quilt shop – you can take online classes at home on your time.

At some point, I realized that I want to fill my free time with activities that both enrich the soul and enhance my personal skill set.  Sewing and quilting checks off those boxes, and I love to spend time in my new craft room. (More about this in a future post!)  Every project gets better, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount in a small amount of time.  I have met lots of new people both online and in person that share my enthusiasm. Plus, I can make personalized and meaningful gifts for family, friends, and co-workers.

Jennifer's Medallion Quilt (pattern from A Qu</a srcset=
Medallion quilt top (pattern from A Quilter’s Mixology by Angela Pingel)

If you’re looking for a hobby that offers tangible, intellectual, and is personally rewarding – I highly recommend you give it a try!  Be sure to get a sewing machine that is easy to use and understand – if you don’t – you will not enjoy sewing.

Happy Sunday!

-Jennifer

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