Our mid-century mentors knew that being able to sew well was the secret to elevating their family’s wardrobe and home while being fiscally responsible. And, with enough practice, many of them achieved couture-level skills which is why their clothes seemed so elegant and fit them so well. Added bonuses are that sewing can be environmentally friendly, it helps with cognitive functioning and problem-solving, and provides an avenue for creativity and inspiration.

Posts in the Grandma’s Sewing Cabinet category are inspired by the lessons I learned while earning a custom clothing certificate as well as my collection of vintage sewing books. For good measure, I also share some of my own projects.

Many years ago, I had another blog and podcast called Grandma’s Sewing Cabinet, from which many posts in this category are derived (much to my despair, I lost about 85% of the posts when I merged it with this blog). I came up with that name because I inherited the sewing cabinet my grandfather made for my grandmother in the 1960s. I was also lucky enough to inherit the Bernina 830 Record that she used to teach me basic fundamentals of sewing way back in the early 1970s before she passed away from pancreatic cancer. I still use that Bernina as my primary machine and when I sew, I still feel my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s presence with me.

Other Modern Retro Woman Home Ec 101 Categories:

Grandma’s Sewing Cabinet

A female dress form with detailed seam lines made using a Bootstrap Fashion pattern is positioned against a beige wall. The image border features a colorful retro pattern, perfect for those looking to craft their own DIY dress form. Additional text on the bottom right reads "ModernRetroWoman.com".

I Made a DIY Dress Form Using Bootstrap Fashion’s Pattern

Growing up in the 1960s, I was fascinated by a lifesize chain link object in my great-grandmother's bedroom: a My ...
Photo of Dr. Julie-Ann modeling the 1940s-style apron that she made for the How to Sew a 1940s-style Apron tutorial.

How to Sew a 1940s Style Apron | Retro DIY Tutorial

Video Notes: Are you tired of constantly ruining your clothes while cooking or cleaning around the house? Do you want ...
Woman holding a miniature pattern and measuring tape

Fearlessly Draft Your Own Patterns {What the Pattern Companies Don’t Want You to Know}

You can find more video tutorials on our Youtube Channel Video Notes: Have you ever tried to sew a garment ...
An Old-School Way to Protect Your Clothes ModernRetroWoman.com

McCall’s 6107: An Old-School Way to Protect Your Clothes

Way back in the mid-1960s, when I was in Kindergarten, we would wear our father's old shirts over our school ...
Caftan Fabulousness Butterick 4406 Pattern Review ModernRetroWoman.com

Caftan Fabulousness {Pattern Review}

Over the weekend, I decided to make some new pajamas out of some navy blue silk I had bought on ...
Drafting Skirt Pattern Sew Along Lesson 5: Waistband and Facing

Drafting Skirt Pattern Sew Along Lesson 5: Waistband and Facing

In this final lesson on drafting a basic skirt pattern, I demonstrate how to draft a waistband pattern and also ...
Are Synthetic Fibers Petroleum Guzzlers?

Are Synthetic Fibers Petroleum Guzzlers?

"Better Things for Better Living...Through Chemistry" ~ DuPont Slogan, 1935-1982 When DuPont introduced nylon in the form of hosiery to ...

Drafting Skirt Pattern Sew Along Lesson 4: Checking the Fit and Fixing Problems

In today’s lesson, I show you how to check your pattern to make sure everything fits correctly using your muslin/practice ...
Acetate: The Top Choice for Bridesmaids and Prom Dresses The World Over

Acetate: The Top Choice for Bridesmaids and Prom Dresses The World Over

I don't know about your local JoAnn's Fabric store but mine has two rows of fabric devoted to "special occasion" ...

Drafting Skirt Pattern Sew Along Lesson 3: Drafting the Pattern (w/video)

Dear Friends, In today's lesson, I show you how to draft a basic skirt sloper and pattern. You will need ...

Drafting Skirt Pattern Sew-Along Lesson Two: Measuring (w/video)

Dear Friends, In today's lesson, I show you how to take correct measurements so that your pattern will fit you ...
Drafting Skirt Pattern Sew-Along Lesson One: Tools (w/ Video)

Drafting Skirt Pattern Sew-Along Lesson One: Tools (w/ Video)

Dear Friends, Welcome to our "sew along" where you will learn how to draft a skirt pattern that fits you ...
Singer Dressmaking Course: Is The Fabric Right for the Design?

Singer Dressmaking Course: Is The Fabric Right for the Design?

When buying pattern and fabric, consider one in relation to the other: is the fabric right for the design, or ...
My Fabric Information Assignment

My Fabric Information Assignment

Dear Friends, In my couture class, we had to choose a fabric and then describe the characteristics of it and ...

Theatrical Thursday: Basic Introduction to Draping a Pattern

Dear Friends, I've been talking about "draping" the pattern for my Vionnet-inspired cocktail dress. But what does that exactly mean? ...

Theatrical Thursday: Shirley Adams and Adjusting the Bust Dart

Generally speaking, women's sewing patterns (and clothing) are designed for someone with a perfect B cup. Now that is great ...
A duct tape dress form stands in a room next to a brown door. An iron and ironing board are visible, and a colorful painting hangs on the wall, demonstrating your own DIY dress form project.

Duct Tape Double

I met my dress form in design school and named her Joan. Even though she is a "perfect size 8," ...
Tuesday Textiles: Man Made Fibers

Tuesday Textiles: Man Made Fibers

DuPont adopted the advertising slogan "Better Things for Better Living...Through Chemistry" in 1935. Most people use the variant "Better Things ...

Thursday Theatrics: Sewing Machine Magic

Have you ever wondered how the whole sewing machine process works? I have. I've seen animations of how it works, ...
This is the part of sewing I don’t like

This is the part of sewing I don’t like

I've spent the day--off and on--making pattern adjustments. I'm using McCall's 2818 (now out of print) which is a Palmer/Pletsh ...
By Popular Demand–photo of skirt & handbag

By Popular Demand–photo of skirt & handbag

This is me modeling the Jalie skirt and the handbag from the matching fabric. I made the handbag first using ...
Skirt Pattern Review: Jalie 2560

Skirt Pattern Review: Jalie 2560

I am wearing a new black skirt today out of a poly "linen look" that I bought last month when ...
Vintage Sewing Patterns

Vintage Sewing Patterns

I love reading the Dress A Day blog because I love dresses and Erin highlights many vintage dresses. This led ...