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Adventures of a Sewing Genius

I’ve talked to you guys before about how desperately I want to be able to sew. I want to love sewing. I want to whip up a pair of drapes or an intricate pillow in a little fifteen-minute tornado of thread, bobbins and knowledge.

But I am the William Hung of sewing.

“I have no professional training of sewing.”

However, I am a master of outdated pop culture references.

So when I ordered this beautiful Covington Wilmington fabric a few months back with plans to “quickly whip up” a pillow, it was a sign of undying naivete, cloaked in optimism.


One day I decided to master this task. I hesitantly approached the sewing machine with a mixture of awe, reverence and fear. I asked its permission to approach the bench.

I followed very good instructions. And I had no excuse for the result.

It almost resembles a square.

But I thought – “Eh. Good effort, Self. At least let it live on the sofa and make sure you like the fabric in the living room.” That’s when my mother-in-law came to visit.

I’m not lying when I tell you I have the single sweetest mother-in-law any woman has ever had. I am SO lucky. So I’m telling you there was not a HINT of sarcasm or joking in her voice when she looked at the pillow and said,

“Awww, Kelly, did you make this?!”

–In the same voice she asks my two-year-old son if he drew that “picture” of scribbles. Inwardly I cringed and wondered if I could blame my son for this ridiculous excuse for a pillow. I vowed to conquer my handicap once and for all.

I tried to make piping.

“How hard can it be?,” I thought, clearly forgetting that it’s harder than the basic pillow project at which I had just failed colossally.

I won’t even tell you how long it took me to create this simple pillow with piping, because YOU probably could have created an entire Civil War-era gown out of a pair of velvet drapes in less time.


But I’m pretty sure I started back when Pluto was still a planet. Back when people still referenced William Hung. And here’s what I came away with:

It’s pretty tragic really, not least because I like to think of myself as a competent, capable individual, and this seems to prove otherwise. I did learn a valuable lesson:

I need to hire someone to follow me around and, whenever I think, “How hard can this be?,” their sole responsibility will be to kick me in the face.

And I finally learned to thread the machine, and thread a bobbin, and sew a straight(ish) line. In fact, mid-project, I replaced the broken needle on the machine, then triumphantly exclaimed to Andy that I am a sewing genius.

A goddess, probably.

And the fact that I had overcome adversity was worthy of some award. In fact, every time I single-handedly overcame a sewing challenge, I felt I deserved applause of some kind. Know what I mean?

So somewhere into hour forty-seven, probably sick of my constant requests for applause, Andy presented me with this:

“For outstanding seamstressing. Presented in recognition of the exceptional effort applied in your sewing endeavors.”

There it is, in black and white: I am an outstanding seamstress, at least if you’re measuring “the amount of effort” applied to my sewing endeavors.

Still, I do like the way the fabric looks in my living room. (Don’t look at the wrinkled slipcover.)

Please hold your applause.

Let's connect


  1. i am seriously peeing my pants at the conversation with your MIL. that is hilarious!!!!

  2. You’re hysterical! The pillows look great and the fabric is awesome. Don’t worry. I have a love/hate relationship with my sewing machine as well. When we’re getting along, I call her Lucy. Otherwise, it’s Lucifer.

  3. Aww, that was such a cute post. Lol. But seriously for not knowing how to sew you did pretty well good job! This is only my second time visiting your blog I’m loving the shopping tips! Thanks

  4. you are totally nuts girl! i am highly impressed that you were even brave enough to approach the machine! those things scare the living daylights out of me. i am more worthy of the title “stitch-witchery champ” – and by worthy i definitely mean that “polite pat on the back, shake of the head, and ‘you really tried hard honey'” sort of worthy. 😉 i love that fabric by the way. gorgeous!

  5. Way to stick with it and get it done. The pillows look great! I will forever be thankful that my mother taught me how to sew a straight line.

  6. I can’t sew either. Wish I could. And how sweet is Andy to make you that award?! That’s love. 🙂

  7. You did a wonderful job! Good for you! I want to sew too, but my sewing machine is almost 10 years old and I still can’t sew a pillow without help.

  8. You are a brave soul! I have yet to try piping. I almost have sewing in a straight line down but it is not easy that is for sure. Your pillow turned out awesome! I love the fabric and colors! Great job!

  9. Who doesn’t love Willian Hung! And look at his fame and fortune! I think he made a record. Your pillow looks lovely and congrats on your award 🙂


  10. Oh my goodness, how cute is that award? Your husband needs to have a chat with my husband, who just laughs then shakes his head at me when I attempt most things! Sewing I have down pat, that’s about it though!

  11. They look awesome. It does help, however, to have a supportive family encouraging your efforts!

    You might have inspired me to do some of my own pillows…after a few other dozen projects I have on the shelf. 🙂

  12. Ok, so the 1st pillow does look a little wonky, but I think the second with the piping came out really well!

    And the fabric does look good in your living room!

  13. Ha, this is too funny Kelly! You get an E for effort on your first one and an A+ on your second try. Beautiful pattern.

  14. A. Andy is hilarious. What a good husband.
    B. Love the story about your MIL.
    C. The piping and beautiful fabric choice really make them pop. I like the color against your white couch.
    D. I own that Scarlett O’Hara Barbie doll.

  15. Tell you husband that pillows are used for sleeping.. with YOUR EYES CLOSED.. so it doesn’t have to be perfect! ;D

  16. Found you via Cassie at Primitive and Proper! So funny about the sewing. I bought a new machine weeks ago and have only made one pillow thus far and it looks like yours so we are in the same boat! Seriously, though, you did great!

  17. Oh, don’t give that sofa a hard time. She’s wearing her wrinkles with pride. A sign of a life well-lived …



  18. You are just too cute, as is your blooming family. I must tell you that some of us are simply born WITHOUT the sewing gene thing. I am one of those people. I even took Home Economics in high school (yes, I’m that old) and made a “D” because I could never remember all the parts of the sewing machine. I didn’t even have a machine at home. My mother expected me to learn through osmosis I suppose. Didn’t happen. I’ve currently been trying to figure out how to finish an ottoman slipcover, for 3 months now. With explicit directions. Yeah. It really does wreak havoc on one’s self esteem. Luckily, I’m as stubborn as the day is long & still haven’t given up. I’m shooting for a finish by 2013. I do hope that you fare better than I….


  19. Hi Kelly – came to you through Cassie’s blog, who I adore. Yes she’s superhuman. But it looks like you are well on your way to copying that. Love this story about the sewing – I’m exactly the same. Just made a very sad looking muslin pillow – I’m loving all those French typography pillows everywhere. It’s so awful I can’t even bear to take a photo of it.

    I’m a new follower – love the way you write!!

  20. Who is lower than Mr. Hung (ah ha ha ha) because in the world of sewing that would be me. You can pipe? The horns on my devil machine are much much longer.


  21. I love to sew, but I’ve been doing it since I was ten (which was in 1980) so it’s not mysterious to me anymore. And I still use my seam ripper at least once on Every. Single. Project! I’ve been thinking about giving lessons to friends because so many moms come to me and say, “I see you whipped up a skirt with my daughter while she was at your house for the afternoon. How did you do that?” so if you are ever in Louisville, KY, email me and I’ll have you over for an afternoon of pillow covering or skirt making. But bring a seam ripper!

  22. You and I are kindred souls because I too have a love/hate relationship with my sewing machine. It took me three hours to complete a fifteen minute hem job on my jeans but I refuse to give up. Even after it took me another three hours to fix a skirt. And another three hours to ‘transform’ a t-shirt.

    I will never never never never (ok I’m bored) give up! 🙂

  23. Oh my goodness, this post is the best Easter present anyone could receive. Yes, I went to bed with your blog open and started right where I left off this morning. You NEED to frame this quote and put it above your sewing machine!!!
    I need to hire someone to follow me around and, whenever I think, “How hard can this be?,” their sole responsibility will be to kick me in the face.
    Bahahaha 🙂

  24. Guess who has a brand new sewing machine because she was going to make all of the pillows for her couch and bed? Someone else who thought, “How hard could this be?” Lol.

  25. Step one: You know what a bobbin is. That’s amazeballs. I’m still trying to understand that one.

    Step two: You tried piping. PIPING. I’m hoping to get to that in like, six years. That’s gotta be so hard! Kudos to you for trying it!

    I think your pillows look amazing : )

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