My First Dress - A Sewing Retreat

I am a budding seamstress.  I have a strong desire, but limited know-how.  So when my mother called to say that there had been a cancellation at the sewing retreat she attends each fall I was lucky enough to be able to snap up the spot and go with her.  The sewing retreat is put on by a group of women my mother knows--former colleagues and friends, her sisters, her mother, etc.  They gather each fall for a marathon weekend of sewing--mostly quilting--and eating, drinking, and being merry.
It was a wonderful opportunity for me to spend time with my family.  I've known most of these women all my life, but this was one of the first times I've got to interact with them as an adult.  It was so much fun! 
Group Photo!
And talk about a supportive place to sew.  "We can make that work," was the motto of the group.  When I was stumped I had a slew of people to ask for guidance.  When they saw me doing something in my muddle-through-and-figure-it-out-as-I-go style they offered simple and valuable pointers about how they like to do it.  They were so helpful.  I learned a ton.
My ever so cute mother.
I put in my first zipper and thus, used the zipper foot on my machine for the first time.  I learned to do a blind hem, involving another foot attachment I'd never used.  I learned pinning techniques that saved me much frustration.  I learned "speed sewing" or "chain sewing" which will not only save my time, but also thread.  I learned to french braid my hair.  And so much more.
My very first dress.
Most exciting for me was that I used all these new skills to complete my very first dress.  It turned out so well and fits me so good that I can hardly believe I made it myself.
Me and two of my aunties, Paulette and Lynnette.
I told them I'd feel bad hoping that they have a cancellation again next year because I'd hate for anyone to miss out on that awesome weekend, but I also told them I'd be more than happy to sub in again any ol' time they needed.
Me, Mama, and her sisters.
Now I feel completely inspired.  I plan to go make another dress straight away while its all still fresh in my mind as well as tackle a few other projects that have been waiting for me to find the time/motivation to complete them. 


  1. What fun!! I love your first dress, but I am loving the time spent much more. Precious moments that carry through a life time I am sure.

    Love this post!!


    1. That is so true, isn't it. I've been talking and thinking about the experience so much since then and I am sure I will be for decades to come.


  3. You did a great job on the dress! It looks so nice on you too. Congratulations. Sounds like you had a great time.

    1. Thanks! It was a total blast and the fact that the dress came out so well was the cherry on top.

  4. Congratulations! I have been sewing since I was four, on the treadle machine since I was ten, and on an expensive electric machine when I was twelve. It is the thing I love to do most in this life. Okay, that and read. I hope you continue to sew and learn many new things.

    Sewing is so much fun and such a frugal skill to have. You are right. Do it again real soon so you will still have it fresh in your mind.

    Just do one thing: never look at the lessons some young women put on the internet. Their techniques are sad and all wrong.

    Sew! Sew! Sew!

    1. Thanks for your delightful encouragement, Linda. I sure wish I'd started when I was still at home with my mama and all her helpful pointers. Still, I enjoy it so much that it is better late than never! Sew, sew, sew!

      I've been picking through my collection of fabric (odds and ends from the thrift store and hand-me-down pieces from my mom and great aunt) looking for a suitable size to make another dress straight away. I found one that might do, but I am not sure if I'm the red dress type! I may have to dig further!

  5. oh BETH. This is so GREAT!!! I love this post so much! Your dress is so beautiful, and for a first dress to fit well - that is such an accomplishment! I admire people who work hard to learn a skill.
    And I'm jealous of that weekend. What an ideal way to learn sewing skills! Gives me an idea of maybe doing that too. I've had a crafting evening here and there, but a whole weekend would be fabulous.

    1. Thanks, Margo. It would have been right up your alley. If there is some way that you could organize this with your friends and family I am sure you would be in heaven. Conversation and creativity, cups of tea and meals shared. It was so awesome, educational, and inspiring. Everyone gets so much done with that whole dedicated weekend. It was run like a well-oiled machine, too. Everyone brought a meal (brunch and dinner) to contribute and served and cooked it. We had a $10 crafty gift exchange. It was booked in a small lodge more typically booked by hunters and fishermen. It was superb.

      And the dress exceeded my expectations. Hooray!


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