A Celebration of Hand Sewing

When I see the phrase National Sewing Month, I wonder what sort of people buy into that.

For starters, Ronald Reagan is the president who brought it into existence in 1982, says the organization’s web site. That brings to mind the Genesis song “Land of Confusion” and the part-lyric, “Superman, where are you now?”

I go to the sewing web site and find that it costs $50 a year to be a member of the ASG (American Sewing Guild). And that the United States has a whole bunch of neighborhood chapters, even one in my little town, and the project they’re going to work on this month in my town is a pumpkin pin cushion.

The web site has a link you can click on that transports the viewer to a list of benefits one can obtain by becoming a member of the ASG. I feel that I already belong to way too many groups, but I wonder if I am recklessly disassociating myself from fellow sewing aficionadas by not joining?

This knitting project became a sewing project when I hand-sewed the knitted blocks together to form a Martin Storey Alphabet block baby blanket.

hand sewn knitted blanket

hand-sewn knitted blocks

I can really get into hand-sewing sometimes. Especially luscious Rowan felted tweed knitted blocks. It’s a sweet way of celebrating!

Newest Recipient of the Versatile Blogger Award Up In Here

Woo hoo!

I read my email at 4 AM to discover I’ve been nominated for/won a Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you, Karine Berthine of The Sweaty Knitter, Weaver and Devotee of Other Fiber Arts for this special honor! I love her blog, and am not sure mine belongs in the same class with it. She said I have “a great, eclectic blog!”

One of the rules and conditions for accepting the award is to also nominate 15 other blogs I’ve read and liked recently. That’s a lot of great blogs to read! Many of the blogs I read have already been gifted with this award, but I will try! I’ve found some great blogs through the “lists of 15” on these rules of compliance posts. So thanks again, Karine, for considering me as one of your picks.

1. Burda Style –this is the mothership of all sewing blogs.
2. Diary of a Sewing Fanatic –sewing leadership with so much charisma
3. Sew Fun! Blog –Lena Kantis from Husqvarna Viking presents sewing innovations
4. Ginger Unzueta Photography –a talented portrait artist
5. Paintspots and Splinters –Vicky Weaver’s beautiful, beautiful arts and crafts
6. The Crafty Cauldron –delightful Harry Potter projects
7. The Creative Addiction Blog –awe-inspiring projects and artist and event spotlights
8. Streets of Salem –Dana Segar’s phenomenal history blog, one of my most addictive indulgences
9. Wednesday Night Knitting –the life and times of a small, eclectic group of knitters 🙂
10. Dream, Quilt, Create! — fabulous eye candy and great information from Cynthia Horst
11. Swell Sewing — great projects and tutorials
12. He Sowed She Sewed –a family blog with useful and fun tutorials
13. Princess Pin Curls –delightful vintage fashion extravaganza from Australia
14. Maggie’s Onebutt Kitchen –mouth-watering recipes and photos
15. Ten Thousand Dancing Stars –Jocelyn’s marvelous knitting and fiber blog

The other rule/condition for accepting the Versatile Blogger Award is to tell the nominator –that is, The Sweaty Knitter and I guess any one else who wants to read about it– seven things about myself.

1. As of tomorrow, June 4, I will have 18 grandchildren. I don’t remember ever thinking about this when I was asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” But that is what I do now, I grandmother.
2. I love Sweaty Knitter’s posts about arcane needlework processes and terms; don’t ever stop!
3. I once was a UAW shop steward and got to shake hands with Jesse Jackson at a labor rally in Miami
4. My aptitude test before entering college said my best jobs would be “occupational therapist” and “clown.”
5. I was named for my aunt, who died of acute leukemia the year before I was born.
6. You already know this, but I have 4 cats. That puts me at a high rating on the weirdiosity scale.
7. I think I accidentally ingested some Gorilla glue last night when I was trying to repair a broken tea cup.

So that’s it! Thank you, thank you!

Quilt Expo Day 3

I got up early and sped from the hotel to the Lakeland Center for my last 2 classes. Crazy for Quilting with Kathy Stachowicz and Cathy Gandy had the class make a quilt top in 3 hours, using a Babylock serger. I didn’t finish in the three-hour session, but I sure learned a lot of amazing techniques. The Tossed Nine-Patch was an Eleanor Burns pattern. The pre-cut fabrics were from art gallery and were a jumble of very vibrant hues and patterns. One class member said to me out of the corner of her mouth, as we ironed our seam allowances flat, “I would have never put these colors together! Never!” I looked at mine and agreed. Here is a pic of the finished quilt top that was made with the same art gallery fabric squares in our kits.

quilt top from Crazy class

At the beginning of class, when they were trying to tape this quilt top to the partition wall so everyone could see what it was supposed to look like, I stopped to lend a hand, and they mistook me for a friend and fellow quilter, Kay Capps Cross of Cross Cuts Quilting. They even showed me this you tube pic of her–check it out and see my Sewing Personality doppelganger!

Did I mention this session was in the Babylock salon? I was laughing with my tablemate about something teacher Pam Crosby said in class the previous day, that no one ever unthreads their serger, and my neighbor said she’s got one of those Babylock sergers, and you don’t have to worry about threading it. “What?” I said. Here’s what the inside thread panel looks like:

threading panel popped on Babylock serger

This machine also makes the exciting “wave” stitch I’d heard talked about in various classes. Ooooh, I’m telling you, it was sweet; I love to test-drive a great machine! At the end of class they offered the machines (not the wave-sewing ones, of which the class only had 4) to us for a classroom model discount, even though they were all brand-new out of the box, but alas, I didn’t have a deuce and a half thousand dollars! Actually by this point in the Expo I was getting pretty low on cash.

The 3-hour class ended with my assessment that I’ve still got a lot to do at home to get this thing finished, but it will be a breeze with the serger techniques they taught. In a couple more hours, it will be all done.

close up of blue-green Wave-stitched sashing insert at corner

It was Saturday, and when I got out of class, lunch time, and lots more people had come. The faces in the crowd had morphed from predominantly wrinkled and gray to a younger, more buxom cohort, and the shopping venues were suffocatingly crammed with all manner of folks. I overhead one old man talking to another in the hallway, “Women, women, and more women! I’ve never seen so many women in one place!” I was wearing a jaunty scarf I’d bought the day before at a vendor booth, and I was getting compliments right and left!

I did see some yarn this year at the Expo. Some Art Fabric had a big rack of repurposed yarn (–the result of someone patiently unraveling sweaters?), which was beautiful, but didn’t seem to be selling like hotcakes. I love this store to the point of swooning! I also found lots of yarn at a vendor booth for the Sew & Quilt Shop in Bunnell. They were holding Make & Take workshops teaching how to knit ruffle scarves, and loads of people were standing around learning like mad. And they had piles of savory fabrics and a long-arm quilting machine in the booth. The proprietress explained to me the other day that when their local yarn shop went out of business, they took on the obligation of stocking yarn in the local area. I mean, “good” yarn, like Rosetti and Berocco, not the generic stuff like you see in JoAnn’s (which is still ok but not as plushy).

I had a fun time in the Vogue Fabrics booth, searching through buttons in the “1 Pound 5 Dollars” display. And I took advantage of the 6 blank hem-stitched hand towels for $20 special at All About Blanks. Heavenly linens, all ready to be embellished.

My last class was with Emma Seabrooke, Constructing Contemporary Knits. It was all theory, not a hands-on workshop, but was excellent. No power-point, no hand-outs, just face time with her and looking at her wonderful wardrobe items. I especially loved that she has her own line of stay tapes for sewing with knits. They are in different widths for seams and hems and necklines, and some are of knit and others of woven material. Seeing her stay tapes and learning how she applies them for different purposes, to magnificent effects, satisfies a searching feeling that I’ve always had. I know in my heart that seams and hems and necklines on knits need to be stabilized, but the commercial patterns don’t fill you in on any methods that seem to be satisfactory. Sure, you can buy Steam-a-Seam at the local fabric store, or order some Vilene from overseas, but they’ve been agonizing to apply. I’m so glad I went to this class and took notes. Seabrooke specializes in hard-to-fit patterns. She says that even though she is in the business of selling patterns, and she has 33 patterns, that you should only have one or two basic patterns that fit you, and you can make every garment as a variation of those specialized, fit-to-you patterns. She said that patterns fit to your shoulder dimensions, which you’ve had since you were about 16 years old.

Last year, I didn’t take any classes, stayed only a few hours, and just wandered around shopping and watching the crowd for trends. This Expo, I didn’t catch a single demonstration, although there were many scheduled. I signed up for seven classes, and allowed only a few hours in between for shopping. I had a good mix of hands-on classes and one-hour lectures. It was easy to see that in this Expo, big money changed hands! Business in the Sewing and Crafting universe is alive and well.

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Celebrating the Lifeliners’ Return with Remnants!

For this week’s Remnant Redo, I first want to say how much I appreciate our Armed Services, particularly the 101st Sustainment Brigade Lifeliners as they come home now from their past year’s deployment. Can I get a Hoo-rah? And I also want to honor the ladies associated with that brigade! The soldiers, officers, and the wonderful military wives!

So, I made a project that borrows a little motif from the military: camouflage, but in this case, pink. I started weeks ago with a skein of the most soft and comfy-cushy acrylic bulky yarn, made by Hobby Lobby, in the color Pink Camo.

purse body in Pink Camo yarn

I used size 19 needles and just mindlessly did stockinette until I felt like it was big enough. The strap is in a rib knit with garter stitch at either end where it will be sewn to the purse body. I knitted a big fat rose and leaf from a pattern in the July issue of Simply Knitting magazine.

After sewing together the body, straps, and flower, using cotton quilting thread and a big needle, I needed to make a lining. What do you know, I just happened to have some Cotton Rib knit Camo Pink fabric in my stash, having gotten it last summer from fabric.com. I eyeballed the size of the purse body, then cut a rectangle of the fabric that size, folded it in half, and serged the two sides, leaving an opening at the top. I also cut a narrow rectangle, turned under the edges and hemmed them, then sewed it to one side of the liner with a row of stitching down the middle, so that the liner would have a few pockets. Naturally I had a zipper in the stash that would serve. I machine stitched the zipper to the liner top, then hand-sewed the liner along the zipper tape to the purse body at the top opening.

Cotton Pink Camo lining


Finished purse

Woo-hoo! to our awesome, awesome military! Welcome back, 101st!

A little sewing, a little knitting, a little whatsit

I was inspired for this week’s postaweek project to combine knitting with sewing after I was notified that I won this Burda FiberPlay contest . I have already gotten the Laura Zukaite knitting books in the mail, and they are thrilling! I can’t wait to read them more thoroughly and choose a design to work on. The instructions look to be logical, and thank goodness they are all rated as to level of difficulty.  Zukaite explores and explains the process of designing and experimenting with fibers. Excellent food for thought, and more depth than the average knitting book, more focus on high  fashion rather than DIYing. I love all the background info, history, and thought processes of people who feel compelled to work with threads.

This week’s project idea is not new, it’s similar to what I did with the Go Gators! felted wool purse. It is also a purse, but I knitted the purse and strap my very own self!
I started with a couple of skeins of Sensations Angel Hair 22% wool, 50% acrylic, 28% nylon yarn that I got on sale; I wanted to just knit something without a pattern and see where it led me. I tried doing about 5 rows of stockinette and then a row of purl. Somewhere the pattern got boogered up so technically it needed to be shipped to the Island of Misfit Toys, but I persisted.
I found a remnant for the lining, a white-silver lamee piece dated 2005.

Silver lamee remnant

And, never doubting, I found a zipper in my extensive stash that was a good fit, and with plastic teeth.

9" sturdy zipper

I sewed the zipper onto the lining, then seamed the edges, and sewed lining to knit at the edges of the zipper tapes. I had to finish the ends of the zipper with hand-quilting thread, as the machine balked at the angle of the plastic zipper teeth.

Sewing lining with attached zipper to purse opening

Did I mention that the cats love this purse? They can’t get enough of it. Normally I try to keep them out of the sewing room, but they seek out the woolly bully–usually whatever I’m knitting–and ecstatically try to knead it and sniff into digestion its animal essence.

Paulie, wanting a rendezvous with the woolly bully

I had another remnant, a scarf which is the first thing I made when I started knitting again a few months ago. Since it is rather short for a scarf, and not pretty, I did not hesitate to felt it for use as an embellishment.

Heather green wool scarf, before felting

It was felted in the washing machine and dryer once, and then cut and sewn onto the purse.

Knit purse with felted wool decorations

I learned how to make the felted roses from Felt It, Stitch It, Fabulous, an amazingly inspiring book of projects by Kathryn Tidwell Bieber. This red rose was once part of an old wool sweater that I bought at a yard sale. The strap is knitted in seed stitch. The zipper pull fob is a rhinestone ball button from my bead and button collection, applied with thin plastic-coated wire (if you click on the pic you can barely see it sparkling in the upper left of the same-color purse body). You can also see this project at My Studio on the Burdastyle site.

By the way, I finished the top that goes with the remnant Goth skirt from last week. That wonderful Nancy Zieman pattern McCall’s M6247 includes the skirt, this top, a sleeveless shell, pants, and a jacket with a sash. Which belt do you like best?

D-ring self-fabric belt

Bullet belt

Brass brad studded black waist cincher

UFO, Knitty Gritty, and Fun with Our Favorite Soldier

Finished a UFO (Unfinished Object) that has been languishing in the sewing room since almost a year ago—

mini-quilt for a romper

At least the baby girl it was intended for is not yet a high school graduate…Very cool (I think) Westminster fairies fabric!

Thinking of future projects and pondering the possibilities:

sketching, one more step toward making it real

My son was here on leave from Afghanistan this past week. We were able to spend some great moments together.  All too soon, he’ll be back over there and we’ll all be worried about how he’s doing, how we can communicate better, boost his morale, make him feel a part of the family and the country, while he’s away. If anyone who reads this and knows him, has some ideas or wants to contact him, let me know! He’d love to hear from somebody new.

He had some great stories to tell; some funny and some sad. One thing he noticed is that the Afghani people, who might make the equivalent of $1000 a year, are not wasteful with their goods like Americans are. He has seen them searching through the garbage on post, looking for discards that they can recycle into things to make and sell.

THE KNITTING GROUP on Wednesdays had a successful 2nd meeting! Everyone is either learning to knit for the first time, mastering the K or the P, or deciding on a project to begin! I’m not sure how they feel about being the subject of a blog, but we will broach that soon and know how much to write about…Me, I found that my purling was not purling and my knitting was through the wrong side of the loop. Once I got that straightened out, I was much less grumpy!

yaaaarrnn

I love the red yarn; it’s part bamboo and part wool, looks beautiful in stockinette, and feels good in my hands. I can’t say the same for the blue and white acrylic baby yarn I got on sale; I don’t like the feel of it on knitting needles. Maybe for a crocheted blanket…a mindless activity while watching Burn Notice or NCIS….

 

 

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