What does Cooking have to do with Sewing and Serging?

First off, I want to wish you a Happy New Year and I hope you are off to a great start in 2015! So far so good on this end J

I started the year with a mini-vacation up north. Although, the snow didn’t arrive until after the mini-vacation, which resulted in another mini-vacation at home, not all bad J

yes, I took this fuzzy photo and it's on the new years list to get better
yes, I took this fuzzy photo and it’s on the new years list to get better

I am not big into New Year’s resolutions, as I would hate to set myself up for failure – that being said I still have a very long list, as I do every year:  work out, eat healthier, go to bed early and get up early, take more time for friends and family, get organized, get rid of clutter, and on and on …… I have to ask, why not just take time each month and re-evaluate life – wouldn’t it be so much easier to try changing and improving on things one month at a time versus an entire year? What a novel thought, that ultimately has become my New Year’s Resolution!


Resolutions #1: Get in Better Shape


To start, I bought Jillian Michaels ripped in 30 workout DVD and a slew of new workout clothes. You can’t work out properly without the proper clothing, right? (even if I am working out in my own living room … and yes, I bought them as I didn’t have time to sew them)

Day 1: REALLY?!? Have any of you tried this workout?!? I really thought I was in pretty good shape – she had no problem proving that different! First day, thought I would die in the middle (remember this only 30 minutes – longest 30 minutes of my life!)

Day 7: Let’s just say, this is going to be re-evaluated at the end of the month – as I am SO out of shape!  And thank heaven’s I can do this in my own house and no one is taping me!!!!  Oh – and by the way – I will not be offering before and after photos! J


Resolution #2: Learn How to Cook


As many of you already know, cooking is not my forte. I am not ashamed of that, as those of you that have read my book already know, for the first years out of college – my custom apparel business was my main focus and the kitchen cabinets were only to be used for fabric storage  – they made excellent storage if I might add.  My last cooking attempt was 7 years ago, 3 days of it and it was catastrophic, so let’s give it a go in 2015. What the heck, don’t they call it the 7 year itch J

First, let me just say, I have the best husband ever! Winn, loves to cook and he is really good at it, so I am a bit spoiled. In order to not starve the man the death, I will attempt cooking while he is away:


1st Recipe: Cooking Light Magazine – Parmesan and Pine Nut – Crusted Oven-Fried Chicken  (Winn’s up north ice fishing, perfect opportunity!)

Take 1: Spent 2 hours in the grocery store trying to find all the ingredients, got home and was way too tired to attempt.

Result: Dinner served is cottage cheese and triscuits.

Take 2: Ready to go … everything went well until the “sauté the chicken for 3 minutes” and mine turned black instantly!


I will just give you a hint, Tyler (the cat) is more like a dog and love’s people food.  Last weekend, my husbands chicken dish:

learn to cook 101 16

My dish?  He snubbed, in the kindest way:

learn to cook 101 15

In fact, if it wasn’t for Ranch dressing (which makes anything taste good) Tyler’s dinner was even looking a bit enticing.

learn to cook 101 14

Cooking is just like Sewing!


This is when I realized cooking is so much like sewing! When I teach a class, I assume you know how to do certain things, just like these recipes:

  • 2 TBSP Pine nuts, toasted (for us beginners, how do you toast these – in the toaster LOL J )
  • Sauté for 3 minutes or until brown – well, mine turned black so fast, there wasn’t a brown option! (Maybe the author had a better quality pan?)
  • Cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is done: what if my oven is hotter than yours? What if I use convection cook? 

learn to cook 101 12

As I am pulling a blackened chicken breast out of the oven, two things occurred to me.  Sewer’s have this same problem. For example: interfacing – What is it? What kind? Where do I put it? How do I press it in place?

I can just picture a new sewer in Joann fabrics staring at the rack of interfacing, as I am in the grocery store staring at the spice rack – totally lost!

And then the comparison of sewing machines and sergers to stoves and ovens. They are all different. I read the recipe and followed by the book, but maybe the person writing it has a gas stove, did they bake with a convection oven, or were they using a different pan?

After botching my dinner, I sat down to answer my online class questions and had to laugh when I got to one of my serging class questions: my gathering foot doesn’t gather like you showed. WOW! This is exactly what I am experiencing with cooking! My serger is different and all serger’s don’t offer the same stitch quality or feet accessories.  See where I am going? There are so many factors to creative learning.

learn to cook

To improve my cooking, I have enrolled in Brendan McDermott’s Essential Cooking Techniques Class. I will let you know how it goes – no pressure Brendan, LOL!

And to help my fellow beginner sewers, I have fun plans for you this year! I can’t tell you them all yet, but my blog will feature a “Back to the Basics” section to help you learn the basics of sewing as I am learning to cook! Let’s learn together J For my advanced sewing fans, don’t worry, I have a lot in store for you too!

ISE 609-2 PIC 2

Wardrobe Challenge


How can I ever thank you all for participating in my wardrobe challenge of 2014, the response in email, flickr, and pinterest was phenomenal. My wardrobe challenge started with the idea to inspire you to fill your closet with clothes sewn by you! The best part was getting sponsors to offer great gifts to inspire you even further: Brother, WAWAK sewing, Threads and SewStylish Magazines, Coats & Clark, It’s Sew Easy Tv, and myself. As you know, I extended the deadlines into 2015 for many reasons and look forward to awarding the final winners. This contest was an inspiration of mine to get you all to fill your closets with your own sewn clothes! I will be announcing a slew of past winners this week and giving you the last challenge for the grand prize, don’t worry the last challenge is the easiest J

Happy New Year! Can you share some of your resolutions for 2015? I would love to hear J


And, any tips on cleaning this pan?!?



Angela Wolf

badge 2015

25 thoughts on “What does Cooking have to do with Sewing and Serging?”

  1. I just loved reading this, and it made me laugh out loud……I could relate to everything you talked about. How wonderful to have you share your adventures in learning a new skill set. I love your classes and have learned so much from them. They are so informative and fun 🙂


  2. Looking forward to tidbits for the beginner and advanced! Never know until you do. And as for the pan… a better pan would help. But til try bartenders friend or bon ami scouring powder (unless it’s a non stick pan, then just get a new pan!)


  3. Any pan (metal or glass) comes clean on its own with this little trick. Fill with hot water, sprinkle dishwasher soap in it ( about a Tbsp or so) and go sew a seam and come back to a pan that just needs rinsing. Wear gloves if pretty hands are on your 2015 list.

    My one rhetorical question is: if Winn cooks for you, why do you want to screw that up? I cook a lot and it takes over my sewing time!

    Best of luck, Lynne LaHood, Peoria

    Sent from my iPad



  4. Thanks for the hilarious post. I agree, anything is easy when you know how :). BTW, my favorite method to clean a burnt food pan (let’s call it caramelized food) is to sprinkle baking soda and some vinegar in it and let it sit for a while before scrubbing the pan; it releases the brown stuff easily. Warning: it will sizzle for a few seconds (baking soda and vinegar). Works every time for me.


  5. Thanks for a great post! You are right about the similarities of sewing and cooking, if you don’t have a basic knowledge of the simple terms and techniques to build on, it is very confusing! Glad to see you taking the cooking classes and expanding your expertise. I have certainly enjoyed your classes over the years and have no doubt you will do well in your new adventure. As a fellow ASDP member, I am giving you the benefit of the doubt………as long as you don’t end up on the TV show “Worst Cook in America”! Ha, ha


  6. Angela, this blog was totally hilarious and also right to the point! I loved your use of metaphor relating the difficulties a new cook and a new sewist have in common! I laughed my way through it, while at the same time, feeling great compassion for your experiences in the kitchen! Thanks for being so open with us and daring to show what is difficult for you!


  7. On cleaning the pan – Soak it – leave it flat in the sink or on the draining board, fill with hot water from the kettle or tap, add some dishwashing liquid if the burn is ordinary, or about a teaspoon of dishwasher powder if it is out of the ordinary. Leave overnight or longer. Scrub with a brush, then a plastic scourer – should get most of the burnt material over. Rinse and repeat.
    For really stubborn bits, use a steel wool pad (wearing your rubber gloves) – but only if the pan does *not* have a non-stick surface.
    My daughter is a brave, experimental, absent-minded and enthusiastic learner-to-cook which is how I found this out!


  8. Hi Angela. Your analogy of cooking and sewing is perfect! I really enjoy watching your sewing lessons on Craftsy and I’m learning a lot. My goal is to sew professional looking garments for myself AND have them fit properly. I ordered the Clapper from your website, and look forward to using it!


  9. Angela,
    You will get the hang of cooking eventually. You have a good sense of humor about the twists and turns of cooking. I love to cook with my daughter or husband as the prep goes so much faster. Once I had my cooking down to second nature, my husband had to go on a salt restricted diet. Now this is hard! Have you ever noticed how much salt is in everything we eat? I did not until I had to start cooking in this new way. The problem is how to make the food appetizing when we are all so used to salt. I have to read all the labels in the grocery store. I cannot even use frozen healthy dinners. My learning curve on this salt free diet will get there, but I hate devoting all the time that I could be sewing. About that pan, I usually put baking soda and water in the pan and boil the solution on the stove to loosen the burnt crud.
    Keep sewing!
    Judi Cortelloni


  10. Hey Angela
    Happy New Year I cannot wait for the beginner series . Nice!👍
    Also , I will teach u how to cook if you teach me how to sew garments lol🙏👍

    Hugs from ,


  11. Dear Angela: Thank you so much for this post! An inspiration to those of us that need to expand our horizons in other areas. LOVE your classes, love your posts, I have promised myself to try something new this year. Maybe cooking or gardening to get my butt off the sewing chair! XXX to you and Winn for an outstanding year.


  12. Dear Angela, as others have said thank you so much for this fabulous post. It made me laugh out loud as only last week I had to clean a similarly blackened pan – cooking is not my forte either! Its great to know I’m not alone. Love your classes and your blog. Thanks so much for sharing! x


  13. Happy New Year Angela, Thanks for the laugh. The cooking will come. I once burned sugar in a pan. I mean black gunk about 1/4 inch thick. I put some white vinegar in it and let it sit for a few days. The gunk came off and a little elbow grease and it was almost as good as new. I would also try not to turn the heat up so high. Look forward to more of your adventures.


  14. I love reading your blog! What you said is very true – learning a new skill is just that – learning. One step at a time… And – don’t forget – you don’t have to start with an ‘advanced’ pattern (recipe) start slow and build confidence!


  15. My solution for pans and/or casserole dishes is to place in refrigerator overnight. I don’t know what goes on in there when I close the door (Tinker Bell sprinkles fairy dust?), but, the next day, most of it comes off without too much elbow grease. Good luck!


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