Sewing has entered and exited my life many times for more than fifty years. Each time I picked it up again I had to get up to speed and often my rusty skill set wouldn’t be up to the challenge. Hand embroidery, my earliest skill, has always been the first to recover but I have wadded up many a larger (an more expensive!) garment (thereafter known as a wadder) because I’d get lost with nowhere to turn.
But when our seventh grandchild came into view and I was retired, I had to try sewing again.
The landscape of the sewing world I reawakened to was astonishing. Why?
- The Internet. It seems quaint to capitalize the familiar word now but for today’s purposes, let’s just give it that little boost.
- One reason I have been able to renew old skills, relearn processes and learn new ones so quickly is simple: There is a blog, a tutorial or a YouTube video for everything. Not to mention online classes. All hail Craftsy!
- Moreover, my fabric and notions shopping opportunities have opened up to the whole world. I’m no longer confined to what box stores and fabric chains have to offer. This is especially significant because we live pretty far from the beaten path.
- Bloggers. Where did all you whippersnappers come from? Mommy bloggers in Utah, chic Scandinavian knitters, twenty-something New Yorkers sporting dresses my mother wore when she was a twenty-something New Yorker…the whole world is sewing and writing about it. Beautifully, I might add.
- Sewing Computers. My thirty-five year old Kenmore sewing machine went to its final resting place to be replaced by a Bernina B580 Sewing computer in 2012. Ninety percent of my frustration level disappeared on the spot. It’s cool that it has lots of stitches and an embroidery module but what I really love is its flat out reliability. It allows me to be fearless.
- Smart phones. I snap pictures of ready to wear (RTW), fabrics, street fashion and my own work incessantly. Why my own work? I swear I can see things better that way. The camera imposes a distance between something in which I’ve invested time and allows me to see it more objectively. Or I think I can.
Yup, just like that.
A few things happened. We lost a grandchild and learned how profoundly one short life can touch other lives. We will never be the same.
After three years on the market, the warm and wonderful log home my husband built for us 20 years ago was purchased by an eager young couple with six children who had to move in NOW! We moved into a house trailer for the three long months it took to build the new house. The trailer smelled funny and we had it crammed to the ceilings, quite literally, but the new house turned out to be an empty-nester’s dream. We love it.
New house, new curtains, right?
It was fun to make the duvet cover on the left. We had a small down comforter, perfect for toasty toes, but I couldn’t stand that it wasn’t the right color for our tranquil new blue/green/gold bedroom. I stash-busted everything in my scraps, appliquéd 3″ wide columns on a neutral base and highlighted design elements of the scraps with decorative stitches. Finally I machine-embroidered a bluebird of happiness on one of the columns on “my side” of the quilt and a pair of smug little owls on one of “his side” columns.
Our guest room valances are lined in persimmon paisley. I just feel so happy in that room, especially when our daughter is home and staying in it or if we’ve got it filled with grandchildren.
What’s new with you?
This is what I call eye candy. I just can’t look away from the colors and spirit sewn into these little purses and bracelets. We sewed and talked and prayed and stitched and painted and beaded and this is what we came up with. They’ll be delivered halfway around the world to women who are surviving human trafficking.
Now, with those words, do you want to look away? Please don’t. Your donation can make a difference. Have you had a chance to donate to the I Make Because She’s Worth It Campaign yet? Details are at http://www.thetraintocrazy.com where Andrea and her daughters are raising money for a sewing project in Cambodia and a safe house in India. Or you can hit the badge on the right side of my page.
Strange perhaps that our little church group in the southeastern corner of Indiana got hooked into Andrea’s vision but God works in mysterious ways and we’re all brothers and sisters in His eyes.
or just Google the campaign and read all about it.
When I got out my embroidery supplies for our She’s Worth It Campaign Sew-A-Thon it was like reaching into a nest of beautifully colored spaghetti snakes! So instead of putting the embroidery stuff back in there, I made the box pretty enough to deserve its contents. I made plenty of mistakes so I thought you might like to cut straight to the chase, make it and enjoy it! Here’s how. You’ll need:
- a sturdy box
- fabric scraps
- ribbon, rick-rack or any trim that can cover the seams where the fabric meets. How about lace with neutrals, or twine with nautical?
- clothes pins or clips
- felt to line the inside and the bottom. This is certainly optional!
- Elmer’s Glue or just use Mod Podge. I chose the glue to attach fabric and trim and matte MP to finish.
- If you want other embellishments use a stronger epoxy glue to attach them.
- a brush or craft sponge to apply the MP
Cut your pieces two or three at a time two and apply glue or MP to the back. Smooth them onto the box.
Glue a little, clamp, wait a little. Any time the box was damp, wait until it’s dry to apply more pieces.
When the fabric pieces cover the box, cover the seams with your ribbon or rick-rack. This is where I started using the Mod Podge as a glue for the simple reason that I was out of Elmer’s!
Finally, paint thick coats of MP on each section of the box. When you’ve let that dry, go to the next section and let it dry. Three or four thick coats applied with a sponge gave my box an amazing, deep texture. You can experiment with brushes, thinner coats and sanding between coats. Go here for a most awesome blog about this iconic product.
If I can’t live without it, throw it away or recycle it, I can darn sure PUT IT IN AN ADORABLE CONTAINER! Simply put, this is a post about cardboard boxes. I’ve heard they sell shoes in them, too!
Here we have copy paper boxes from my husband’s office. I primed them with white paint and then spray painted them bright yellow. Since labeling is essential I used some simple letter stamps from my grandkids’ art kit and stamped the owner’s initials on them. I did this when my daughter moved to college and I haven’t had to trip all over her treasures since. She knows there here when she gets ready to move to her first real apartment.
Exhibit B: Medium-sized sturdy box wrapped with paper. It doesn’t get much simpler than this. Warning, though. Remember I said labeling is essential? I successfully stored twelve magazines for five years in this box. Magazines? Seriously?
Exhibit C: Also a shoe box but this one has fabric glued to it. Bonus? The fabric is an upcycled oxford shirt.
I used a piece of the placket from the sleeve just for a little interest. The label is a piece of grosgrain ribbon with the word “TIES” written in yellow fabric paint. Won’t have to guess what we’re storing in there!
Our small but mighty church will host a sewing/crafting marathon to support the “She’s Worth It Campaign” on Saturday , March 2. More to come.
On the far right of this page is a heading called “Badges.” By pressing the box underneath you’ll go to the home page for this campaign to address the needs of victims of human trafficking. This is one kind of motivation to be involved.
Then go visit Pinterest, where there is a board set up as “She’s Worth It Campaign.” Go there for another kind of motivation…tons of DIY bracelets and zipper pouches to make and give.
Contact me via comment box below for more information.
Ahem…Class, we will now make a bracelet. No…Here’s my ver-r-r-y first tutorial and I know it’s just terrible. No…Friends and family, we are gathered here together. No..Oh, bother, here goes.
To make a simple fabric cuff pictured above, just sandwich two scraps of fabric wrong sides together, run a topstitch around the border and trim with pinking shears. Sew a big button on one side and a big buttonhole on the other. Wear. Glow in the knowledge that you are loved, even if just by yourself.
However, if you would like to make a slightly more durable version to show another woman that she is loved, here are some guidelines. (As opposed to directions, which are to be followed to the letter.)
Cut out a 10″ X 2.5″ rectangle on paper. The slimmer “Loved” bracelet was cut out of a 9″ by 1.75″ rectangle but when I tried to turn the fabric inside out I had to make use of a bodkin and some unladylike language.
I got that sucker turned but then I had to come up with another closure option because closing a bracelet with a small button and buttonhole seemed like poor design. More on that later. Suffice to say I’ll be making my bracelets in the larger size, but you are free to follow your own inner bodkin.
Since I mostly sew garments, I would have cut out little rectangles all day and then used some bodkinesque language as I tried to center the embroidery on the bracelet. But instead of cutting the fabric around my rectangular pattern, I followed my sewing teacher’s advice and ended up cutting the fabric around the embroidery. First, I marked the fabric where the embroidery would go. Then I moved the paper down and did the same thing again.
But I did cut the backs of the bracelets and heavyweight embroidery stabilizer from the paper patterns. (Okay, only the “Hope” bracelet has heavyweight stabilizer. )
Then I embroidered, conveyor belt style, since I was in this terribly efficient mode anyway. Embroider; lift presser foot, move to next spot. Embroider, lift presser foot, move to next spot. Then and only then did I cut out each rectangle around the pattern, centering the lettering appropriately. Thank you, Rose. I’ll be on time for class this week, really. Really.
BTW, I created more “Hope” bracelets than I have pictured here. And I made the “Loved” bracelets yesterday. I hope you’re not too confused by the fact that I have two days of production pictures with directions for only one day. Imagine how I feel.
Each embroidered front was then sewn right sides together with a back cut from the 10″ X 2.5″ paper pattern. I sewed down the long sides and then turned inside out and pressed. I tucked the short sides to the inside and used Steam-A-Seam to hold them in place while I finished the closures. You could also topstitch. Or both.
I hope the recipients like color as much as I do! I used contrast backings for each bracelet. I embroidered the back of one in lime green just because it was too boring in black and white. Or because I have no taste whatsoever. I’ve never been entirely sure.
My “Hope” cuff with the navy blue backing sports a blue/lime green button hole and a lime green button to fasten at the wrist. Because the “Loved” bracelet is skinnier, I used a ponytail elastic as a loop. I tucked it inside the unfinished short end and machine tacked over it and finished with a yellow button on the other side.
1. Make a paper pattern.
2. Cut out the backing and embroidery stabilizer from your pattern.
3. Mark your front fabric for embroidery, embroider it, then cut it out, centering the embroidery.
4. Sew the front and back at long side seams. Tuck short seams in on the end, press, use fabric glue, Steam-A-Seam or Stitch Witchery to hold the short side. And/or topstitch.
5. Put loop or buttonhole on one end of bracelet. Sew button on other end.
So if I can make up a bracelet you can, too. Sure would love to have a picture of it if you do! Make one for yourself and one for the “She’s Worth It Campaign.”
I’m so proud to post this badge: I participated in my first sew-along. As the (charmingly yellow!) badge reveals, the sew-along was hosted at http://www.mymessings.blogspot.com. (Which is in Melbourne, Australia, so I’ve been virtually travelling!) You can visit over there to see the indie pattern company Sewaholic‘s skirt as sewn by other participants.
I Googled “sew along” and found many sites where one can join in this activity, which is kind of a cross between a tutorial and a quilting bee. The Sew Along-er or sets the pace, stepping the Sew Along-ees through a pattern for which they have previously bought fabric and notions. See? More interactive than a tutorial and more instructive than a quilting bee. And if you want to show off your handiwork, you have to finish it, so it’s very motivational, too. The instructions stay up at the website, though, and you can go back and do the sew along at any point later, too. I don’t think my first sew along will be my last!
It was a happy coincidence that my daughter had to swing home from college anyway and could model the skirt I made for her. It’s done up in a quilt weight cotton because her first employment after graduating with her journalism degree is a reporting job. In Texas. In the summer. Hot, hot, hot! She loves the skirt in the shortest, fullest view (C) and I’m following it up with cool fabrics in views A and B, too.