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Renee from Nearest the Pin on KCW

why I sew: Renee

Ever since I read the ‘Why I Sew’ posts from last seasons KCW, I’ve been thinking about this very question. Like many adults, I’ve given a few different hobbies a try and they have come and gone, but for some reason when I started sewing it became not just a hobby, but a passion…. an obsession even. It’s sometimes hard to explain to others that you’re a sewer – ‘oh’ they might say and change the subject or (even worse), ask you to mend something….



I’ve followed Brooke and Erin’s lead and jazzed this post up a bit with some project photos – you can click on the photos for more info.

My grandmother was a seamstress for her career. She made custom wedding dresses from her home and has only recently stopped sewing regularly (she’s almost 90). About two years ago I had an epiphany – she has a lifetime of sewing skill and knowledge and I decided that I needed to learn from her before it’s too late. I wanted to be able to chat sewing with her, understand her craft and through a shared passion, understand more about her. She lives too far from me to give me one on one lessons, so I knew I would pretty much have to teach myself and then go to her for advice when I got stuck on something. I’m so proud of the fact that we can and do chat sewing now. When we have a cup of tea, I take my latest projects and I cringe while she examines my seams! This lady is a perfectionist in her own league.


Whether the love of sewing is somehow innate, I don’t know. Both she and my mum knit beautifully too, but my knitting attempts have been abominable. Wanting to emulate my grandmother may have started this journey, but it is not enough on its own to keep me at it day after day. After a great deal of time thinking about why I sew – here is what I’ve come up with.

For some reason, and I don’t know exactly why – sometime during high school I pigeon holed myself as someone who is not creative. I did well in science, particularly Biology and decided to study Biotechnology at university. That was it – I would be a scientist and in my mind scientists are not creative people. This of course is a complete load of c#*p. Every person has the ability to be creative – including scientists (how do they make amazing research breakthroughs without creative thinking?). A few years at home with small babies created a need to feel useful again in some way – I wanted to create something and feel the sense of achievement I used to get from paid employment. Through sewing I’ve come to that realisation that I am creative and I love it!


I’ve become addicted to the creative process – gathering inspiration, wandering through fabric stores feeling the weights and textures of fabrics, imagining what garments these fabrics could possibly become. Now when I’m stuck in the tedium that sometimes comes with the small child routine, fights at the diner table, making school lunches and washing more dishes – my head is filled with thoughts of new projects……… and this makes me happy.


And you know what else, the sense of achievement that sewing has given me lead me to tackle another long held goal of mine – to swim the 1.2km Pier-to-Pub ocean race in Lorne, Victoria. It was something I’d always wanted to do and in January this year, I did it! Guess what, same as sewing, with a bit of training and the right tools, there’s nothing you can’t tackle.

Renee swim

So that’s it really – I know many of you will relate to my desire to sew all the things all the time. Brooke really hit the nail on the head in her post when she said ‘Now I sew because I have to’ – yup! I don’t care so much whether the kids wear what I make for them (well maybe a bit), it’s the process that gives me the return. Have you given this topic much thought? Are your motivations similar to mine or completely different? Do share!


Renee from Nearest the Pin on KCW

the first garment I ever made for my kids: Renee

Hi sewers/sewists/seamstresses/people who read the KCW blog, this week we thought it would be fun to have a look back at some of our earliest sewing projects. I’m going to show you the first two patterns I sewed for my daughter.

My earliest projects are not that old, I’ve only been sewing seriously for about 2 years – but they are pre-blogging. There are no photo shoot shots, just candid real life ones and mostly from my iPhone, so apologies for that. I’ll show you some of these and then talk about a few things I’ve learned between then and now.

Rae’s Big Butt Baby Pants

I didn’t even appreciate back then what a great learning pattern this is. It’s a really simple sew. I’m sure you’re all familiar with this pattern, but just in case, there is a really cute separate panel at the behind to give extra room for the nappy/diaper. It introduces sewing curves which is helpful as these curves are less intimidating than setting sleeves. For a simple pattern they still look pretty professional IMO. And apparently babies can get away with some pretty crazy fabric combinations (see below – not sure what I was thinking)!!


Abby’s Polly Peasant Dress

Also a great beginner pattern – there are only two pattern pieces, the front/back piece and the sleeve. The elasticated neckline slips over the head so there are no zips or buttons to worry about. The other great thing about this pattern is that my little girl could wear this as a dress at 15 months old and now she can still wear it, but as a tunic at 2 and a half!

Polly Peasant 1

So my first garments didn’t turn out too badly – it was when I first started sewing with knit, not too long after this that I really produced some disasters!!

What have I learned from these first sewing adventures?

1. Quilting cotton is not the best choice for clothing. Do you agree? I find it a bit stiff and scratchy – especially the fabrics I chose here which were just bought from a chain fabric store. I know some of the designer quilting cottons are of a much higher quality and nicer to wear, but generally dress fabrics are the way to go.

2. Indie patterns are the best – when you’re starting out, I’ve found that indie pattern designers really go out of their way to create easy to follow patterns with great instructions and diagrams (Obviously this is a generalisation as I haven’t tried them all). In addition to the pattern instructions you can often find further help on the designers blog in the form of further tutorials, sew-alongs and pattern tours.

3. Mistakes are ok – not every project turns out and that’s cool. While it can be really disheartening at the time, we all learn something from these argh moments and become better sewers. The key is not to let these fails erode your confidence – they happen to all of us.

So tell me, what was the first pattern you ever made for your kids? Was it an indie pattern? What is your stance on quilting cottons? Do share!


Renee from Nearest the Pin on KCW

kcw Theme: Mini Me!

Hi Kids Clothes Week enthusiasts! It’s Renee here again from Nearest the Pin. The team have a few fun round up posts planned and todays is the first. Whew! I have to say, the project pool was an amazing place to spend some time. I’m sure you’ll agree that the wealth of talent and productivity was quite amazing. In anticipation of this post, I have been keeping a keen eye out for projects that incorporated the ‘Mini Me’ theme into their KCW sewing. It wasn’t compulsory. It was just for fun. Let’s see how some of our KCW compatriots used the ‘Mini Me’ theme.

Upcycling grown up clothing

Mini Me 1

1. Erin Maupin 2. Oliver’s Fancy 3. Sew Pomona 4. Pienkel

All these ladies have very cleverly re-invented a piece of their own (or hubby’s) clothing into something new and funky for their children. What great inspiration!!

A Mini Version

Mini Me 2

1. Feathers Flights 2. marianabebe 3. Tarynt18 4. Bethany

Mini Me 3

1. Renee W 2. ahiggs 3. meganac 4. sofilantjes

Ahhhh why are little version of grown up clothes so so cute?!? Ha, and I must say, kudos to those who are not afraid of stepping out in public in matching outfits – I love it!!

Using Grown Up Fashion as Inspiration

Mini Me 4

1. erinkeith05 2. elsiemarley

These ladies very cleverly used their favourite grown up fashion inspirations and converted those into fantastic age appropriate outfits. If only I could pull off floral leggings as well as this little cutie!

Big and Little Versions for Kids

Mini Me 5

1. youandmie 2. katybellabug 3. tampete77

I will admit that I didn’t think of this interpretation of the theme prior to Kids Clothes Week – but of course! It’s a perfect way to get more than one use out of your newly purchased patterns and maybe reduce the arguments about who got what new clothes – maybe…

Anyway, what did you think of this season’s Mini Me theme? Did you enjoy a little extra inspiration point that was there if you needed it?  Theme suggestions for next season – let’s hear them….go