Sunday, August 22, 2010

How to sew and a free beginning sewing book on line.

I was going through some old notes I had printed off the internet related to sewing. In the folder, I found something I've been looking for! Can you believe it? I often print things to refer to later or to try a project or for ideas to expand upon. The thing I found was this - the URL to the free sewing book online brought to you by Craft and Fabric Links

If you're new to sewing, check it out. I'm often asked how to do this and that, and this instructional manual covers most anything you'd like to know. I still refer to my Reader's Digest and Singer sewing books (my old go-to sources; we all have them, right?), but between our sewing dictionary and this online book, you should be okay. For example, here's the table of contents/chapter list:

  • Chapter One: Introduction To Sewing
  • Chapter Two: Choosing Your Pattern and Fabric
  • Chapter Three: Pattern Instructions
  • Chapter Four: Getting Ready To Sew: Lay-out And Cutting
  • Chapter Five: Setting Up Your Sewing Machine
  • Chapter Six: Now We're Sewing: Terms & Techniques
  • Chapter Seven: Pockets
  • Chapter Eight: Zippers & Buttonholes
  • Chapter Nine: Sleeve Installation
  • Chapter Ten: Darts & Pleats
  • Chart: Needle / Thread
Looking for someone to teach you to sew? The Home Sewing Association maintains a database of Trained Sewing Educators in your area.

Other options are your fabric stores, local 4-H resource people, church groups, local mentors and friends, and self-teaching by using patterns, the library, and the internet.

And if you have a chance, stop by your local library. In the nonfiction section, sewing books are in the 640 section (domestic arts), specifically the 646 section. Head for the children's department and browse through 646 for truly beginner projects. Don't laugh; that's one of the things I did to learn!

Enjoy sewing. Start small and aim high. There are no real rules, just methods. And even those are adjustable to your own talent and desire.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

An incomplete photo album of some things I've made over the years. #

There are a lot more photos on my hard drive - one of these days, I'll get the pictures up here! Some of these things were created along with a how-to written for the web site du jour for which I was working or owning. Others are things I've made on contract, just for fun, to try something new, for the local community theater, and on and on. The overwhelming thread that seems to bind is that I like to make things out of things that have already been made. Must track back to my former hippie wannabe days!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Binding a quilt - boring or inspiring?

Now there's a question for which I do not have an answer!

I'm completing a quilt my sister started before she died. It's a labor of love and it's at the point where I've had it for about three years now and it's just plain time to get it done. She started by doing individual blocks the size of a bandanna and hand quilted around everything that was on the bandanna (they're all different). Her stitches are small, uniform, and beautiful. Her stitching far outshines mine, but I followed the same pattern of making quilt blocks individually with a bandanna, hand stitching around the designs. Next came the sashing between the blocks, between the rows, and around the edges of the quilt. I did this wrong the first time and put the quilt away, unable to work on it another minute. I finally took it out of its container and used my trusty seam ripper to take off the sashing I had messed up. From there, I made short work of backing, batting, and sashing all edges that needed it. It's still not perfect, but it's done.

Then came the binding. I had cut and pieced 3" strips of the same fabric as the sashing. The method I use is to machine stitch the binding on one side of the quilt and then turn it, pin it, and hand stitch the other side. Unfortunately, I was stumped on the corners. My miters just didn't work out. I improvised. I cut off the point of each corner and rounded it just a bit so that I could go smoothly around rather than fight a miter. After the machine work, I indeed did turn the binding and pinned it to the back for hand stitching. I had a few flaws to cover and the width of 3" was perfect for that. I was able to make it appear as though all edges came together as they were supposed to with the application of the binding.

And now, for the past two weeks, I have been hand sewing the remainder of the binding. I have had short periods of time to sit and sew. Compounded with the fact that my hands just can't take the hand sewing for a length of time, the hand sewing is taking more time than I expected. I stitch and stitch and stitch and my mantra seems to be, "I want to get this derned thing done! NOW!" and then my other mantra sneaks in - "I don't want this to be done; I want to sew forever." I'm winding down a very intense project, filled with emotion, memories, farewells, time, skills, improvisation, frustration, correction of endless mistakes and flaws, and now finally, it's almost done. Amazing.

I probably have a few nights' worth of sewing left to do. I will then snip off errant threads and wipe off any dog hair the quilt has adopted, photograph all that I can, and finally, I'll find a box. It's going to be very difficult to pack it up and send it away. It could be one of the most difficult things I've ever done, giving it away. The truth is, though, it's not mine to give away. It wasn't mine to sew. It was Patsy's and I'm going to have to let it go.

Back to the original question - Binding a quilt - boring or inspiring? I'll let you decide, but do know that most of this was written in my head while I was sewing binding earlier this evening.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A bit of this and that

  • The former brother-in-law's quilt is done except some of the hand work on the binding.
  • The bee potholders are done, but I need to take pictures.
  • I put Halloween placemats on eBay (user name croakerwoods) and am going to put up some Virginia Tech Christmas stockings. 
  • I'm finishing three sets of 4 Halloween Hunk/rainbow reversible placemats. I'll put them on eBay and Etsy as well. 
  • My daughter and a friend want Halloween Hunk tote bags. So, I'll be crafting them soon. If you don't know what Halloween Hunk fabric is, just Google it or take a peek on eBay (lots of people have it for sale). 
  • These placemats are the project I must finish before I move on. The bee potholders were the prior one. The quilt, well, it's been a work in progress, a UFO, for years, so finishing it now is just amazing.

Photos to come!

What are YOU sewing?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A reminder about sewing for charity

Some time ago, I posted about sewing for charity. The need in our country and elsewhere has never been greater. Kids are getting ready to go back to school, parents are losing or not able to find jobs, winter and cold weather are right around the corner, Halloween is coming and there are kids who may not have costumes, Christmas and other giving holidays are also on the way and many will go without presents, and there is much that we with our needles and thread can do. You can sew something for someone else for no reason at all - a random act of kindness. You can volunteer locally to help with sewing at a preschool, a community theater, a church, an early intervention center, a hospital, a Ronald McDonald House, and so many other places. To get you started, take a a trip back and read my former post about sewing for charity, which I updated today:

Sewing For Charity Post

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Moving back to Blogger

Zen Sewing is moving back to Blogger for several reasons. I don't blog for profit, so it's silly to pay my former blog host monthly to keep it up. I'm more familiar with how Blogger works and it's more comfortable for me.

I'll play around with designs until I find one that is easy to read and keep updated on a regular basis. So, enjoy the ride. Here we go!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sewing a memory

A few years ago, my oldest sister, Patsy, died after having open heart surgery. I still remember the phone call and my reaction. I also remember that the day before, she and I had laughed together on the phone. We didn't always get along, but we are sisters and that's just that. She was in the process of becoming single at the time, but she started a project for her soon to be ex (STBX). She was making a quilt-as-you-go beer bandanna quilt. Some time after the funeral, her STBX asked me if I would finish it. I agreed. He wrapped up her old sewing machine in what I think he might have thought was a trash quilt and mailed that to me along with the quilt squares she had finished for the bandanna quilt. Here's a post showing the "Patsy quilt" which was sent to her grandson as a gift.
Back to the bandanna quilt. I've worked on it off and on for three years and this week, decided it was time to finish it. The blocks that Patsy quilted were all done by hand with perfectly spaced stitching. She was an amazing embroiderer and could sew like a dream. I always seem to be chasing her talent! The blocks I completed, I started out doing all by hand, but did do some work by machine. I completed the sashing and connecting the rows this week. Tonight, I was working on the last of the hand sewing on the back. Unfortunately, the back is composed of several types of muslin and is not the most beautiful work on the planet, but that's the way it goes.
Later this week, I will machine stitch the binding and then at least pin it for the hand sewing on the other side. My hands aren't as eager to do hand sewing as they used to be. The STBX apparently has some health issues right now. I wrote to my niece (his daughter) for their address so I could send the quilt to him and she said this was a really good time for him to have a boost.
Overall, I think I'm doing this for Patsy more than anything else. I've hesitated to finish it. It's like the completion of my acceptance of her death, I think. But you know what? She wanted it done and so I am doing it. I think Michael (STBX) will like it.
I will post pictures soon.
The lesson to learn is that no matter what the motivation for a project's beginning, it deserves to be completed.