Old Dog, New Tricks

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.

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Training for a Sewing Marathon

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.

Bracelet Tutorial

Because She’s Loved

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.

Starting out with 10" widths, each of these is comfortable on my slightly large wrist.

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.)

Why are we doing this? See Andrea’s post at http://www.thetraintocrazy.com/2013/02/more-bracelet-tutorials.html.

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.

Betty the Bodkin

Betty the Bodkin

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.

Bracelets 025

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.

So:

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.”

Power Bracelets