Monday Night Sewing

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This was my view at my sewing class last night. Twice monthly 5th-8th grade 4-H’ers get together at the extension office and I get to teach the girls to sew! It’s one of my favorite and definitely one of the more rewarding things I do. And last night, watching how little help they needed (most of it being with cranky machines), seeing how comfortable and familiar they are with a sewing machine, the progress has been amazing. When we started in October half of them had never touched a machine before and sewing was something their grannies did, but not their moms because they “have absolutely no patience”.

In October the class was quiet. The girls were shy. Now the giggling doesn’t stop and I occasionally get hugs as they’re leaving. Last night there were apparently cookies involved and when I arrived there was already some hyper going on.

The class so far has consisted of doll clothes, wherein the girls learned about patterns and pinning, following a given order of things and pressing. Doll quilts, which they’re going crazy over, trying to see who can get her the corners of her 9-patch to match up the best. Bags for the older girls, which I haven’t seen since. And since they were told last night that there are only 4-5 classes left, a frantic searching for a final project to complete.

They. Love. Sewing.

Half of them asked for (and received) a sewing machine for Christmas. They brought them to the class and we made sure they had them threaded right.

This is what it’s all about. Teaching something that’s almost been tossed aside and forgotten in favor of the “in” brands. I love watching the creativity come out. The fabrics they choose to put together in a quilt. The sharing as they all work together to find out why a machine isn’t behaving properly. This is my part of making sure that sewing, the skills, and the desire to make something continues on. This is paying it forward.

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Past Adventures in Historical Clothing, Part Two

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My family generally plans an annual historical ball. For a few years the theme was Civil War Christmas, but recently we moved it to October (warmer and less busy) and changed the theme to costume. Before that happened though, one of my sister’s best friends wanted a dress.

My favorite thing in the world to do is to look at a picture and make my own spin on it, so I sent her to the computer. She chose this design:
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Her material was a beautiful green satin and someone had just given me a gorgeous piece of bright pink floral organza that I was puzzling over. It was too bright to go over white, but it was perfect over the green. So I overlaid. I did make the dress two pieces, rather than the one it appears in the inspirational image.

She was very particular about the bows on the shoulders.
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I was very particular about the ruffles on the sleeves.
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The bodice zips up the back, which definitely isn’t traditional or period correct, but it does allow for ease of dressing.

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I call it my masterpiece on rare occasions. At least until I make something I’m more satisfied with.

Past Adventures in Historical Clothing

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I made this 1860’s-style ballgown for myself. Inspiration was taken from this image:
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Mine was a three-piece ensemble consisting of skirt, bodice and waist-cincher. It was my first experience working with taffeta and I learned a lot. Like how it smells like acetate when you first get it. And how it unravels in the wind when you hang it to air out. And how it absolutely must be serged/finished or your skirt will fall to pieces. The bodice I made from a leftover piece of white satin and edged in taffeta. The waist-cincher was another experience entirely as I put eyelets in the taffeta. I’m still ridiculously proud of this dress, even though I’ve worn it a grand total of once.

Sewing Tutorials

It has recently come to my attention that friends who live at a distance want to know how to sew. I was talking about it with a friend, and an idea was hatched. Online sewing tutorials!

They’ll be happening over at here as soon as I get all of the kinks worked out, as well as time to make examples and take pictures. Hopefully I can incorporate parts of my twice-monthly sewing class into it and vice versa.

So far, lesson-wise, I have:

Sewing Machine Basics – I have about six different sewing machines floating around here that I will be taking pictures of and pointing out the parts and what they do.

Tools – a variety of sewing implements, what they’re best used for, what you actually need, what’s nice to have, etc.

Seam finishes – such as zigzag, pinking, serging, french seams, how to do them, and what they work best for.

Then, unless anyone has any further suggestions to add to those three basic lessons, we’ll start our first project:

Throw Pillows. Because I easily get bored with throw pillows and I always want mine to look different several weeks later, our throw pillow class will be on making a plain, muslin pillow. The plainness of your pillow will be determined by the pattern or lack thereof on your fabric.

The second project will be Throw Pillow Pillowcases. It’s an idea I really like because then I can change my pillows anytime I want to, and if I go on a cleaning craze I just take the pillow out and wash the pillowcase. There are several types of pillowcases, too, so that will feasibly be more than one project.

From there, I’m open to suggestions. So please, suggestions. A small quilt is a possibility. Pillowcases, napkins, tea towels, bags, purses, wallets, etc. I need to know if I should go with more of a home focus, or more of a personal focus. I NEED SUGGESTIONS AND ADVICE.

I do fully intend to do a giveaway though. Materials for two throw pillows and six different throw pillowcases. It’ll help clear out our enormous fabric stash. 😉
Further information will be posted as I get to it. But if you’ve got any suggestions, let me know!