Moonwishes Sewing and Crafts

Moonwishes Sewing and Crafts
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Friday, October 07, 2016

What has been your Needlework Story?

Seeing some posts in the Janome Digest that I belong to, posts about their sewing journey to this point made me curious about when others started needlework, what kind did they do, how did they learn, what is their favorite thing to do. So this is my story, what is yours?

My mom had an old Singer and made most of my sister, mine and my mother’s clothes when I was young. She also embroidered at times and I took that up. I hand embroidered two sets of pillowcases for my ‘hope chest’. My friend at school taught me to knit and after making two potholders, that was enough for me. I also learned to crochet granny squares and finished making enough of them to make an afghan around the time my oldest was born and my ex’s grandmother sewed them all together for me. As they had been made over many years, the gauge had changed and so were all different sizes. I also crocheted a doily using that little green covered book I think it is called Teach yourself to knit and crochet. At most points in my life my local library had very few books on needlecrafts of any type and my mom only knew the basics of sewing and I didn’t have grandmother’s or aunts to teach me. One grandmother’s hobby seemed to be having babies along with making bread. She had I think 14 kids and would make 30 loaves of bread at a crack. I do think I inherited her bread making gene!

I was learning to sew garments at home before I started home ec. I knew more about cooking during that class than the teacher taught as I grew up helping to can and cook. I hated sewing in home ec. And it made me hate installing zippers and hand hemming the rest of my life. I don’t think that was how it was supposed to work. But since eighth grade (age 12-13) I have been making many of my own clothes over the years, but not so much anymore as the clothes I made won’t wear out and the thrift store has had things in my size at a good price.

I was highly influenced by Little House on the Prairie books which I think I lost track of how many times I read all of them after 20 times each for the series. And since you can’t be a clone of Laura and Mary without taking up a needle of some sort, I decided to make a quilt! I’m appalled at what I did to make that quilt. I started it in 1968 prior to the Bicentennial and all the quilting books and fabric that came out at that point). I knew nothing of templates and so cut a square out, laid it on another piece of fabric and cut another square out and so on! Incidentally I was using fabric from my mother’s ‘rag’ bag of leftover sewing bits. So this quilt had squares of upholstery fabric, and lightweight crepe. Lots of cotton/poly blends as 100% cotton was hard to come by. I finished the top right before I left for college. My mom bought me backing fabric and batting and I tied the quilt using red string that I could barely get through the quilt sandwich. However, I was as proud as punch when it was finished. A bright happy quilt that I took with me to college. It lasted about 10 years before it fell completely apart. I ran into some old squares one day and I finally knew many of the things I had done wrong. Those ‘squares’ differed in size by up to an inch! I sewed them together with whatever stitch length my mom had last set the machine, so many of the squares where basted together! I still have a few cherished pieces from that quilt that I insert when possible into very special quilts.

When Log Cabin Quilt in a Day came out, I started making log cabin quilts and then branched out from there. After 50 quilts, I stopped counting! Most were given as gifts or to Project Linus. I also still do garment sewing, Made window covers for several of the rooms in the house, through pillows as well. I do some hand embroidery and want to get more into that as my hands can handle holding the hoop. My favorite thing is reading about sewing, quilting, embroidery, etc. We are so blessed at this point in time to have so much reference material for any type of sewing we want to do. I still remember not being able to find anything to teach me how to quilt. I got to take a quilting cruise with Doreen Speckman using a sign on bonus that I got years ago in 1990 and that was the only in person teaching I’ve ever really had.

So what is your story? 



Gen said...

You know I am old, right? I learned to knit during WWII and learned on socks! Socks for soldiers, and I still knit socks, along with other things, like chemo caps for kids with cancer, and other things that strike my fancy. When knitting was not enough, I learned to make hooked rugs -- easier to make than purchase in those days! Then needlepoint, eventually graphing my own canvases. Somewhere along the way, I learned embroidery. When my children were little, I sewed their clothing. We were a starving-student family, living in Cambridge, where I could visit stores like Marimekko, make sketches of their gorgeous children's clothes, find similar fabrics on sale somewhere, and go home and make them. Yeah, eventually they wanted store-bought like every one else. But they sure looked terrific when small.

My sewing machine at the time was a rebuilt pedal singer that my father refinished for a surprise gift when I was a teen-ager. I loved it beyond words. It's gone, now, and the memory of all the love that went into it remains.

My life was enhanced by these activities. Now, with arthritis, I find many of them out of reach. My hands are not as useful as when younger. Knitting, however, still works and gives me pleasure.

Moonwishes said...

Gen, I'm old too. I turn 61 this month. Not old enough to remember WWII, but with the arthritis I have I feel like about 101 some days. I hear you on doing things with your hands. I find keyboarding helps limber my hands and fingers up in the morning. But many times in the evening they hurt too much for hand work. I still can use my sewing machines to piece quilts. I love cutting up scraps, and matching them up into 4 and 9 patch blocks and other scrappy blocks. I know many don't like scrap quilts but to me they are something special. I see some quilt magazines that feature 'scrap' quilts that are made mostly from a collection of fabric that a desginer has just released - not my idea of a scrap quilt. LOL!

I learned to sew on that old Singer of my mother's which I still have. It had apparently been a treadle machine until it was taken out of the treadle and a motor installed. As far as I remember, it only did straight stitches and maybe zig zag. My mom had to put this big clunky thing on it to make buttonholes. I remember right before I left for college she got a new Kenmore with cams to make designs. I wasn't allowed to touch it until I had read the manual. My first machine was a straight/zig zag stitch machine. When it died in the midst of a seam (the dealer had to take the machine apart to get my garment out of the machine!), I got a machine with FIVE different stiches. As they say in the South I felt like I was in 'high cotton'! I now have a machine with something like 200+ stitches and I love it although they have come out with a new machine that has some features that make sewing even easier for someone like me with arthritis all over. It is a Janome Skyline S9. I'll be saving my pennies for a long time for it! :)

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