Starting the Sewing New Year

Starting the Sewing New Year

Because some of us are new to sewing, maybe you got a great sewing machine for Christmas or perhaps you talked your mom or dad into letting you use theirs.  Whichever it is, you need a few guidelines to start and to incorporate into your routine while sewing.  Some of these rules might seem simple, even elementary but they are GOOD PRACTICAL PRACTICES.  

** Read the instructions before you begin any project.  I always read my instructions then put them away overnight and then re-read them to make sure I understand them.  

** Measure, Twice, Cut Once.  (Borrowed this one from carpenters).  Very important proper measurements can either make or break your project.  (Remember seam allowances)

** You can’t have too much practice.  Practice ensures that your machine is sewing properly.  Also, be sure to try any new technique.  You will find the project will go easier and quicker.  

** Lock Your Stitches by this I mean Stitch forward 4-5 stitches then reverse the same amount.  Do this at the beginning and end of each seam to lock your stitches in place Preventing the stitches from raveling once the threads are cut.   

** Use a seam guide to have insure even seams.  This makes a much neater project and If it’s a garment insures the fit is correct.  

Using your machine in a safe environment is important.  Picking up dropped pins, turning off irons when you leave the room and using blade guards when using a rotary cutter and ruler is a good start.  Stay tuned for further discussion of Susie’s important tips.

For the next few weeks, we will focus on projects for the kitchen.  As anyone who loves to cook and eat knows having proper equipment (including potholders, towels, covers, and aprons) is essential.  Two projects perfect for the beginner are Hot Pan or Skillet Handle Covers by So Sew Easy and Make Your Own Bowl Cover by Health and Vine.  These projects will be available for Free Download Monday, January 16, so check back then for links!

I know you have been waiting for my favorite Black Eye Pea recipe.  

We in the south do Love our Peas.  Black-eyed peas were first grown in North Africa.  Now are popular worldwide. When they arrived in the southern U.S during the 17th century. Southerners began to associate that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day brings good luck. We associate them with prosperity as the beans resemble pennies and coins.  My mother-in-law put silver dimes in her peas (after they have been boiled to sanitize them).  We would dig to the bottom of the pan to get those DIMES.  You need to keep those dimes throughout the year to insure you keep your luck.  What is your family tradition?

Sometimes just open a can. (Tried and true) or if I have the time, I soak my dried peas this is my recipe.  



  • 1 lb. dry black-eyed peas
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 serrano peppers, sliced (optional)
  • 1 jalapeño, deseeded and minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin 
  • 1 lb. smoked pork neck bones
  • 6 c. low-sodium chicken broth or water
  • Cooked greens or cabbage, for serving
  • Cornbread, for serving
  • Hot sauce, for serving


  1. Step 1I  n a large bowl, combine peas and baking soda and add water to cover by at least 4". Cover and let soak for at least 6 hours and up to overnight. Once fully hydrated, rinse beans and drain completely.
  2. Step 2  In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add onions, garlic, celery, serrano (if using), jalapeño, and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. 
  3. Step 3  Push vegetables to the edge and make a empty well in the middle of the pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the well, then add in all the spices and stir spices until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in pork, peas, and broth. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. 
  4. Step 4  Partially cover pot with a lid, and let simmer until peas are tender, about 35 minutes. To concentrate broth, remove lid and continue cooking until liquid has reduced to desired consistency, 10 to 20 minutes more.
  5. Step 5  Serve with greens, cornbread, and hot sauce, if desired.