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Review: Sewing for Dummies

Sewing For Dummies
The Confidence and Know-How to Sew like a Pro

As a child, I have fond memories of sitting with my mom while she sat at her sewing machine. The intention was probably to pay attention, but instead, I focused on the conversation. Then I became a mom. I can tell you when the urge to sew stunned me—a Halloween Carnival. I had NO children. I was nineteen. I watched as these tiny little people were parading in their costumes. Many were store-bought, the home-made costumes stood out…I was in awe at the creativity, the colors, and how big those kiddos smiles were!

It was then, and there that I vowed, “I will make my children’s costumes.”

Enter children. Life doesn’t always go as planned. I didn’t own a sewing machine. Three years of a child in store-bought costumes. Pathetic, but true!

Sewing for Dummies Cover

Then when I was pregnant with Zac, I wanted red and teal sheets for his crib. We were doing a Tropical themed room and those colors appealed to me. It was 1993–we were still of the age where pink, blue, and yellow pastels were about the only thing available. Call it pregnancy hormones or just a really bad day, but I cried. They were tears of inspiration.

A $99 sewing machine, tropical fish fabric mixed with some solid teal and red, and a measuring tape later, I had sheets and a layette for my baby! Making ruffles by hand was a challenge, but I was stinkin’ proud!

From there, I made Jake a cowboy shirt for his Moo-Mesa Birthday party. I remember that shirt and how proud he and I both were when it was done. One of the women at church who was a TRUE seamstress complimented me and then added, “most people who don’t sew wouldn’t have accepted the challenge of a shirt with a yoke!” The truth was I didn’t really know I had limitations!

It was the beginning of my sewing fascination. I made felt ghost candy holders, more sheets, and a couple more shirts. Then I taught myself to do appliqué. It was all in fun.

Three years ago, my mom called. She had been sewing Halloween Costumes and, due to her new business, didn’t have the time so she was passing it on to me. I explained I really didn’t know how to sew. She didn’t accept that as an adequate reason, so I became the costume maker.

Terror struck. I had no pattern, and while I consider myself crafty and creative, this was something far more than my ability. I cried. I cried more and in the end, I was glad I did it.

Now my Zac is loving the creativity of sewing. He has made drawstring bags, pillowcases, and altered clothing. It’s awesome to watch; however, with no formal training, I’m not really a great resource. I was given the opportunity to review: Sewing for Dummies, and I looked through it and then turned it over to Zac.

The book is a detailed and informative guide to everything sewing. It gives the ability to create decor, and clothing and do everyday repairs like buttons and hems. 

You can also learn:

  • Measuring yourself to perfection
  • Estimating your favorite garments in yards
  • Covering up your skill: pillow covers for beginners
  • Getting straight to the right point—needlepoint, that is
  • Mixing and matching into a larger wardrobe
  • Stopping rookie mistakes and sewing like a pro

Sewing for Dummies pattern

It didn’t take Zac any time to embrace Sewing for Dummies. In fact, he purchased a Sewing for Dummies pattern (available through Wal-Mart) and in no time, created this awesome apron!
It didn't take Zac any time to embrace Sewing for Dummies. In fact, he purchased a Sewing for Dummies pattern (available through Wal-Mart) and in no time, created this awesome apron!

Zac is like a sponge with this book, absorbing the practical advice, tips, and tricks to make his sewing successful. Here’s one he has used several times and takes great pride in knowing where to measure for adjustments. Other tips can be viewed on the website.

Taking Accurate Body Measurements for Sewing Garments

When you want to sew clothing, you start with a pattern. Determining your pattern size can be a humbling experience because it requires you to measure your body, but it’s an essential step in making sure the finished garment fits properly.

Here are some tips on taking accurate measurements, so your project ends up the right size:

  • Get someone else to take your measurements. It is impossible to take them yourself and get an accurate read, so find someone you trust, swear them to secrecy, and start measuring.
  • Dress in your underwear or a leotard, and tie a narrow ribbon or a piece of elastic around your waist, but not too tight. Move around a little bit until the elastic or ribbon finds your natural waistline. Note that this may not be where you wear the waistband of your favorite pair of slacks or jeans.
  • Measure by placing the measuring tape around the torso as parallel to the floor as possible.

Have your helper take the following six measurements:

    • Height: ____________
    • High bust circumference at the crook of the underarms approximately 2 inches above the full bust: ____________
    • Full bust circumference at the widest part of the bust: ____________
    • Natural waist circumference (the narrowest part) at the ribbon or elastic: ____________
    • Hip circumference at the widest part and approximately 7 inches below the natural waistline: ____________
    • Back waist length measured from the bone at the base of the neck to the natural waistline: ____________


Sewing for Dummies has been a great resource, and I am enjoying learning the art of sewing through my son and this book. It generates some great moments of bonding and some wonderful creativity.

This book would be the perfect gift for a young woman (or young man) who is inspired to sew or an excellent starting point for anyone who has ever thought, “I wish I could sew, hem, repair, etc.”

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About Julee: Julee Morrison is an experienced author with 35 years of expertise in parenting and recipes. She is the author of four cookbooks: The Instant Pot College Cookbook, The How-To Cookbook for Teens, The Complete Cookbook for Teens, and The Complete College Cookbook. Julee is passionate about baking, crystals, reading, and family. Her writing has appeared in The LA Times (Bon Jovi Obsession Goes Global), Disney's Family Fun Magazine (August 2010, July 2009, September 2008), and My Family Gave Up Television (page 92, Disney Family Fun August 2010). Her great ideas have been featured in Disney's Family Fun (Page 80, September 2008) and the Write for Charity book From the Heart (May 2010). Julee's work has also been published in Weight Watchers Magazine, All You Magazine (Jan. 2011, February 2011, June 2013), Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine (Oct. 2011), Red River Family Magazine (Jan. 2011),, and more. Notably, her article "My Toddler Stood on Elvis' Grave and Scaled Over Boulders to Get to a Dinosaur" made AP News, and "The Sly Way I Cured My Child's Lying Habit" was featured on PopSugar. When she's not writing, Julee enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new baking recipes.
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