Patience is the virtue

Do you have the patience to do machine embroidery? Read this post and see how it helped me. #patiemceisavirtue

There are many virtues one needs to have, to get through life and #patienceisthevirtue every person who sews needs above most of the other virtues.

Affiliate disclaimer: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

With such a lot of preparation necessary to make anything from scratch or even unpicking stitches takes time and patience. One slip and the garment could be ruined.

This is especially true when it is not your fabric, there are time constraints etc. For everything to fall into place and for all to be happy with the results, one needs patience and care.

Introduction to Machine Embroidery

My very dear friend Kirsty, first introduced me to machine embroidery about 30 odd years ago and despite my lacking the virtue of patience, I fell in love with it. Not only me but also my Father.

Dad was the most curious person I have ever known and loved to know how everything worked. He would sit in my sewing room for hours watching the picture develop while I was embroidering on one of the many things I did. It truly amazed and delighted him, as it did and still does me.

Another interested party was my grandson George and he became quite adept at changing the thread for me. He was a dab hand at threading the Brother embroidery machine and as he was only about 4 or 5 at the time, it was pretty remarkable and a great help to his Gran Gran.

Holidays with Kirsty

The times I spent with my dear friend was so special. We both were mad about oil painting and sewing. We would spend hours together chatting happily away as we did either. When Matt and I were in our first Church in Krugersdorp and she came with her little boys to welcome us.

Our friendship has lasted almost 46 years. Sadly we are not able to see one another now due to health and distance. Kirsty now lives in Tzaneen which is a great distance from Cape Town and I can’t go that far away from home with Matt in Frail Care.

Matt very kindly let me fly up to Krugersdorp for a couple of weeks now and then and my trusty sewing machine would accompany me. K and I had to remember to stop now and then for tea or something to eat.

Would always go home with garments made while “on holiday” and also often had to pay for excess baggage after falling for some new fabric etc.

My First Embroidery Machine

When Kirsty bought her first (of many) embroidery machines, she mastered it in no time at all and was able to help teach at the local sewing machine shop as well.

She couldn’t wait to introduce me to machine embroidery and naturally, I took home my first embroidered garment, a slack suit, I still have the jacket and am sure it doesn’t fit me but I can’t bear to part with it. It is part of the history of our friendship

My suit top - my first machine embroidery

It was great to wear something that I knew no-one else in the whole wide world had one the same. Not only that but I had made it myself.

Matt and I drove up to Krugersdorp on holiday and to visit various friends and family. This was a common occurrence as we had made a lot of friends and kept in touch with many of them over the years.

Kirsty said not to bother to bring my machine as she now had two embroidery machines and also a machine to sew up whatever we made whilst I was there. On leaving left to return home she gifted me with the one embroidery machine. She said that the amount she would have received as a trade in for the new one was not so great and she would like me to have the pleasure of using it.

It still brings tears to my eyes when I think of her generosity of spirit. That is one of Kirsty’s many virtues. Although we keep in touch a lot, it is not the same as sitting sewing together and chatting. I miss her dearly.

Years of happy Machine Embroidery

It has been such a pleasure to spend many years at this wonderful pastime. Have only been without my machines once in all the years when we had a power outage, this was a common occurrence at one stage, obviously when the power came back on it surged and blew the motherboards in both my machines. It was such a blow as it was a very expensive exercise to have them repaired buy much cheaper than buying two new machines.

There is no way in the world I can be without my machines as over the years been busy with various business ventures which involved sewing.

Enjoying the Challenge

A few years ago I was asked by a close friend here in Cape Town to make her daughters wedding dress and also the dress for the bridesmaid and mother of the bride. I had made many wedding dresses in the past but this was very special as we are close friends and I wanted it to be special and stress-free for them.

Jean wanted her dress to have pale blue elements on it and I thought long and hard and came up with a dress that she loves so much that it is still hanging in her wardrobe. For this, I was truly grateful as when we moved from our home to the Retirement Centre I had to get rid of many things and a lot of the photos were lost along the way.

Jean kindly sent me the pictures of her wedding day and the dress detail. bodice of wedding dress

It took ages for me to choose exactly the pattern which would not be too overpowering and then to sew on all the crystal beads.

Due to my poor eyesight and need to use invisible thread, with a very fine needle with an almost invisible eye, thread it through an almost invisible hole in the bead,

My dear husband bought me a special light with a magnifying mirror which was an amazing help. I would not have been able to do this without it.

the embroidered insert in Jean's dress




The Virtue of Learning Patience

It was an enormous amount of work but such a joy when I saw Jean’s face when she saw her wedding dress. I went on to make her bridesmaid’s wedding dress when she married.

Beadwork is now beyond me but at present, I am making a second quilt for the newest addition to Jean and Anton’s family. This will be done with the free motion quilting method.

I have learned that when it comes to sewing, machine embroidery, quilting and painting, #patienceisthevirtue I have developed over time, as I just had to.

Questions for the day

  • What are you most proud of making?
  • What are the virtues you feel you need to learn?
  • Which would you say is the one you need to concentrate on?





Jill Alexa

Jill of all Trades. Master of Many. Too busy to die.


  1. What a gorgeous post and wow, what a stunning wedding dress! Such detail. I was particularly moved by your story of how your Dad watched you doing embroidery. Special times.
    And amazing to think of the generosity of your friend, Kirsty. What an incredible friendship. Hope you get to see her sometime soon.

  2. Wonderfull wedding dress. Love it! Certainly this required a lot of patience. Beautiful story Jill.
    Repling to your questions:
    1) The happiness of my children
    2) and 3) Learning to deal with kids tantrums. Somedays I have almost zero tolerance

  3. Great post. My mother also made a lot of clothing over the years for me. Even now, when something of my clothing is ripped I ask my mom to sew it! She does a lot, and indeed you need a lot of patience for it since it is very secure work.
    I loved the wedding dress, must be amazing to wear such a personal dress on such a special day.

    • Hi Cassandra, Thank you so much for enjoying my post. I nearly missed replying. It was such a pleasure for me to make this dress and Jean loves it too.

  4. Beautiful dress clearly a labor of love that required patience. I also like your website theme. I would be ahead of the game if I had displayed more patience in the past instead of jumping from place to place. Things have changed though I’m in a good place now with a great community.

    • Hi Sheryl, Thank you so much for reading my post. I really appreciate the comments. I so enjoyed your post and made loads of notes which I will be following. Thank you.

  5. Hello Jill and thank yo so much for sharing the story of patience. Your memories make revisiting a life lesson a joy and a great experience. Having Family and Friends that help create memories make them more precious. You work on the wedding dress shows love and pride.
    I think I am the most proud of the decisions I’ve made to reach this point in my life. It is all and more than I could have dreamed of. And patience is the virtue I need to work on the most. With a teenage son and daughter still at home, patience is a daily goal.

  6. Thank you for such a lovely post, you are very talented and lucky to have such special friends and family in your life. Your sewing work is very impressive and thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Helen, Thank you so much for reading and enjoying my post. I love what I do. My friends are very special to me. I have learned so much from so many of them, especially Kirsty

  7. Hi Jill,
    Thanks for sharing!

    These clothes and dresses look awesome and make me really want to learn!
    Do you know any online classes offering ideas or skills on how we can make a start on embroidery?

  8. Hi Jill, your embroidery work looks a million dollars. I’ll be very honest here that I know very little about embroidery myself, however, I understand the patience you need to perfect a craft and the satisfaction when enjoying a wonderful work of art. Embroidery is never going to be out of fashion as long as there are people in the world who enjoy fine things in life and value tradition. Thank you.

  9. Hi Jill,

    Great post!

    I remember my mother, when she was younger, she also sewed dresses for us,
    her daughters and some clients and some for sale. She was requested one time to make a spacesuit as costume and boy, she was able to make one. Even bras for sale. She was so creative.

    When my son had his baptism at 24 days old, we couldn’t find a white polo for such a small body, so my mom made him a special polo and shorts.

    She has stopped sewing because of poor eyesight.
    Of course patience and creativity are keys for making beautiful dresses.

    Your article made me appreciate my mom more.
    Thanks !


    • Hi Marita, Thank you so much for reading my post and am so glad it brought so many happy memories of your Mother back for you. Having poor eyesight is a real problem and I have a special light which helps a lot. All the best, Jill

  10. What a great post! And omg what a beautiful dress. The detail is amazing. KInda makes me wanna finally get married. Haha.

  11. What a great post! And omg what a beautiful dress. Makes me wanna finally get married. Haha. My girlfriend used to own an embroidery machine and she was pretty good at it. I wish she wouldn’t have sold it. Maybe if she could see this post, it would inspire her to start up again. She enjoyed doing it so much as its apparent you do as well. Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for enjoying the post. Perhaps if you show this to your girlfriend she will get another embroidery machine and watch out, she might begin to make her own wedding gown.

      All the best,


  12. Patience is something that we all need. But if the truth could be told there are so many persons out there that don’t have patience. Success comes because of patience. In fact every success story had this word patience behind it, this is one of the ingredients for success. Your post is informative with a lot of good information.

    • Thank you Norman. It is not always easy to be patient but pays off in the end.

      Best wishes,


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