Friday, January 8, 2010

Frugal Devolution (or why one shouldn't blog when feeling pensive)

A couple of sewing thoughts to ponder. They're not just sewing thoughts, but could honestly apply to anything in life. So let's get started.

There is talk nowadays about 'devolution.' It's nothing new; the music group Devo had it down to an art. They suggested that everything is created for obsolescence and that we were devolving. Okay, that's a little heady, but it's worth thinking about. In the process of devolution, we will have met our level of competence (or a Peter Principle - level of incompetence) with technology. Our electronic world will begin to fail and we will start stepping backwards to a time when we knew how to take care of ourselves. Many people today would be hard pressed to raise their own food, build or maintain their own homes, keep themselves warm with fire, or to make clothing. That's where sewing comes in. With our sewing skills and curiosities, we're way ahead of the game. I would wager to guess that not only do people who sew create great clothes, dolls, crafts, etc., they most likely do something else that is creative - growing vegetables and cooking them into delightful dishes - that kind of thing. So congrats on knowing or learning how to sew. You're ready for the electronic crash.

A lot of discussion is held about frugality these days too. Not cheap, but frugal. Frugal often is defined as living beneath your means, like voluntary simplicity. (The two are not mutually exclusive, you know.) There are many ways to sew and do it frugally. There is no hard and fast rule that says you have to buy your supplies at a traditional fabric/notions store. Nor do you have to buy the most expensive sewing machine, used or new, to make the magic happen. I personally started with hand embroidery. I embroidered all the time. My work wasn't as perfect as machine embroidery, but that's okay. I didn't spend a fortune on an embroidery machine and I have such a respect for those who still embroider. I drew pictures on fabric and turned them into colorful paintings with thread. But I digress. I've had my sewing machine for 25+ years, keep it cleaned and tuned up, and it's running as good as new. I purchase fabric at yard sales, sometimes the thrift store, often on line (eBay is a great place for a smokin' deal, but keep an eye on those shipping rates!), and from friends or Freecycle for free. I do go to Hancock Fabrics from time to time, but only with a coupon from their flyer. I recycle towels into hand towels and dish towels. I recycle cotton tee shirts into cloths for cleaning. I recycle old blankets as batting for a quilt project. I use small pieces of fabric for doll clothes and crafts. I try to save where I can, but I also try to make sure I make time to sew.

Whether it be devolution or frugality, people who sew are ready for at least one portion of the de-techologicalizing of our lives! And we're going to keep practicing too, right?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Wonder Under is my friend, yours too!

Wonder Under is an amazing product. I use it often, so buy online since prices are usually better than offline stores, especially since WalMart stopped carrying sewing items.

I have used Wonder Under to recreate pictures that my children have drawn by tracing the picture, cutting the pieces out of fabric, fusing them to a piece of muslin and then doing a tight zig-zag or satin stitch around all edges. I finish the edges with Fray Check or a similar product and the life of the piece is endless. I have washed and dried many pieces I've made using this method. Check out my dish towel project - this is a typical Wonder Under application, as are the many potholders I've made. I've used Wonder Under to fuse photos printed on fabric for use with memory quilts as well. You can see another use in my bib project.

Some people use Wonder Under without stitching the edged; they simply fuse and let it go. I've not had good luck with that method. In order to make something that you can wear or use several times, items you are able to wash and dry, you really do need to stitch the edges. The only reason I use a fray reducer is that one project with printed photos did some unraveling on the edges. The fabric upon which the picture was printed was fairly fragile. Better safe than sorry with usable items. As mentioned above, I made hand towels using Wonder Under and have washed and dried them a lot with only minimal expected wear that is uniform and not limited to the fused fabric.

You can buy WonderUnder on line and off. There are other products similar to it, but I've not used them. I tend to stick with what I know most of the time. Now, go crazy and make some stuff!