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.
I did something yesterday I’ve never done. I attended an actual sewing class presented by human teacher in a classroom setting. I bought a Bernina in large part because I have a local dealer six miles from my house; since I’m a rural person, the nearest city, which has Husquevarna and Brother dealers, is more than 30 minutes away. Yesterday, as I drove the ten minutes to Pohlar Fabrics, I was glad I’d made the local choice.
The class came with my purchase of a Bernina B580. This is my last machine, my retirement machine, my dream machine. To be precise, it’s a sewing computer with a touch screen (that can be set to different pretty colors!) and a USB port. And more.
Never one to shun a learning opportunity, I’m really excited to learn all this instrument can do. I’ve been treating it as a workhorse since I got it in November and it’s been purring along, doing whatever I ask of it: sewing suede, gliding over five layers of denim, embroidering silk and blind hemming. Yesterday we got from a basic zig-zag to automatic buttonholes. I had done all of that but picked up more than a few tips and tricks to make things more efficient.
I did check with my teacher and found that it doesn’t do any other kind of housework. I asked when I bought it, but I’m going to keep checking to see if it gets a housework update through that little USB port. Because it never hurts to ask.
Much to my surprise, my vacuum didn’t come with on board accessory storage. That kind of sucks (sorry about that). So I spent a pleasant morning constructing a simple sack with an extra long handle. It carries the upholstery brush, crevice cleaner and whatever that other little thing is. When the vacuum isn’t in use I just tie the bag to its handle. While I’m using it, I have the bag over my shoulder, messenger style.
Next up, a bucket bag from the Craftsy platform. (If you sew, knit, crochet or do any other kind of craft, including baking cakes and working with media such as glass, you need to go to http://www.craftsy.com and
drool look over all the cool classes. I’ve really enjoyed each one I’ve taken. Some of them are free.)
The free Bag Making Basics class, led by Kristin Link, resulted in the little bucket bag. I used fat quarters, which made it very cheap to construct.
Then I decided I needed a purse. My good leather one is just a tad small in the zipper to accommodate my iPad. Since my iPad doesn’t actually grow out of my right wrist, as my husband claims, I need a way to carry it.
Enter the Bow Tucks Tote designed by Peggy Sturges of Quilts Illustrated at http://www.quiltsillustrated.com/.
After what I considered a triumph on my wool herringbone and suede tote, can you blame me for making the second one? Since I’m working with spring and summer fabrics I made this vibrant little number to help me blast into a spring in which Emerald Green is the Pantone color of the year. Wouldn’t want to miss that!
After using a soft fusible fleece in making the black and white bag, I experimented with Stiff Stuff from Lazy Girl Designs at http://www.lazygirldesigns.com. It’s an amazing sew-in interfacing and it made the second bag a very different creature from the first. When you untie the bows on the sides the fabric springs open to reveal that extra space. Boing! We’ll see if I survive the spring with a bag with attitude. Of course, I have more than a little of that myself…here’s me, working on the art of self-portraiture via self-timer.
I used a Liberty Jane pattern to make these jeans. I added the monogram on the back pocket for my granddaughter Rose’s doll. (Now I wonder if there might be a market for monogrammed jeans!) They have regular front and back working pockets, are made with new denim (this isn’t a recycling project) and they’re have the deep gold colored double needle topstitching in all the expected places. You can see that line of single topstitching in the rear view that suggests a little of the yoke that distinguishes jeans from plain denim pants. The jeans are actually held up by elastic so little hands can pull them on and off. And oh my gosh, they’re just so cute!
*A Person Who Will Remain Nameless was checking out my new camera and wanted to know why I had taken so many pictures of an American Girl doll’s butt. Didn’t notice the darling jeans I had sewn, just thought I had turned into some kind of doll pervert. Good grief.