Saturday, September 8, 2012
National Sewing Month
This is an ode to those wonderful women who inspired me to start sewing.
Nancy Zeiman, with her quirky smile and her no nonsense approach to the rules and techniques that make good sewing was a good influence on me. I am a run by the seat of my pants kind of girl. But deep down, I believe that doing things the right way is the only way. You can break or bend a few rules, but if you want things to last and to lay the right way you just have to know what you are doing. I watch her every morning at 5:30 am after my hubby goes off to work. I just wish there were new episodes every once in a while. You can only make so many designer totes. You might like this quilting technique for string quilting. It looks fast, adorable and I sure have enough scraps to make a few since I can't seem to throw anything away!
You begin with a foundation piece and simply sew, flip, press and trim. Just add each piece to create a block. I love this look! Thank you Nancy!
Then there is Martha Pullen.
She has another PBS show for heirloom sewing. She has this quaint little sewing room set. She grew up in Alabama. She has this way of saying tucks like this..tuuuuuxs. She likes to show off her heirloom outfits from the turn of the century and generally, she is just a really nice church lady who is passionate about remembering what it was like to do by hand, all the amazing things we do by machine today. I can't imagine what it was like way back then. But if you have ever picked up a piece of vintage embroidery and wonder how did they do that and just plain, wow...I can believe someone did that, by hand. Watching her segments on hand embroidery by 3 really awesomely cool experts has inspired me to make hand embroidery the signature element in most of my work.
My biggest sewing heroes are my mom and my grandma. There was always a place for the sewing machine and it was used often to mend the worn clothing of 7 plus children. My funny cousin Beth taught me to take in bell bottoms so tight it gave my parents a "conniption", (a fit). They sat by my side the first time I sat at the machine and gently guided me in it's use. They always had scraps for me to use to make Barbie clothes and hot pad gifts. They were wonderful and gentle and instilled in me a true love for creating beautiful and useful things.
We certainly can't forget out first sewing teacher. She's the one who tried to grade the love of sewing right out of me. A straight seam was more important than a unique design. There was no time for hand stitching designs, or reasons for one-of-a-kind touches. those were the makings of a failing grade. I hope I was one of the few that had a bad sewing teacher and that most everyone else was encouraged in the classroom. I wish she knew that I just wanted to learn the right way to do my own thing.
I really can't tell you how much sewing has given to me. To receive the gift of creating with fabric, thread and a machine is one that never stops giving. I've warmed rooms with drapes, created dozens of Halloween costumes, designed handbags, darned rips... the list is endless. In the past, my sewing gave me things I couldn't afford. My wedding dress was covered in embroidered french lace, layers of taffeta and organdy and the bodice and train was completely hand beaded. My first big project was a 3 pc corduroy outfit in sea foam green, (it was the 70's). When the hand-me-downs from my sisters were warn and outdated, something new made me feel so original. Making all those outfits, totes, dresses, costumes, curtains and even PJs felt like magic. One day you had yards of fabric, another day you had something amazing. It still feels like magic!
Here is a needle case by Hens Teeth. She takes beautiful vintage fabrics and turns them into something so cool and so warm you just feel happy looking at it. She has inspired my desire to bring traditions forward to create something new and unique.
Well, here is to Sewing Month and all of its many heroes. Its not hard to see that sewing is more valid and important than ever. In the age of complex, computerized sewing machines and sergers, there is still room for the heirloom techniques of the past. In fact, its so wonderful to see patchwork that contains bits and pieces of old quilts, childhood clothing pieces and new embroideries. Everything that has to do with needle and thread is a part of how we create with fiber and fabric. I hope to carry on those traditions and have that sewing machine ready for my grand daughter when she is ready to carry forward this wonderful art form.
Happy National Sewing Month!