Monday, March 8, 2010

a small kink in the road

The plan for today was to clean up the sewing room. I have a bad habit of flinging or stacking things up in here and it's gotten to the point where I'm out of surfaces.
However, my tortoiseshell cat Kali has adopted a plastic bag containing the pieces of a dress for my daughter as her new favorite bed and is currently curled up in a small ball, sleeping peacefully.
In light of this, I'll shuffle some computer bits around and clean out my bedroom closet instead. I should have my spring cleaning well underway by the summer solstice.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Book Review

The A to Z of Heirloom Sewing

Once again, Country Bumpkin has produced an outstanding book. It covers many aspects of heirloom sewing, from a definition through tools needed all the way to hem finishes. Sewing machine presser feet that are useful are described and explained and the various types of fabrics common for this type of sewing are defined.
I've been doing heirloom (or French sewing) by machine for many years now, and this book even tossed in a technique or two that I wasn't familiar with- now, I'm not saying I know it all, just that I've not seen these particular techniques covered in previous books. Among them are joining laces to make one's own beading lace, a ruched ribbon edge and a ruched ribbon and lace edge. Also covered are three different ways to make a placket, snail-edge hems, decorative thread replacement, hem-stitching by hand and machine and several hand embroidery stitches, including both the blanket and buttonhole stitches: yes, they ARE different.
As always, the photographs of different stitches and sewing steps are wonderful. The only thing that would make this book better, in my opinion, is if they had identified the pattern and magazine issue of the many clothing photographs sprinkled throughout the book. Most of them I recognise from issues of Australian Smocking and Embroidery, but it would be nice to not need to dig through my collection to find various patterns. (*sarcasm* Because having to wade through all those gorgeous garments is such a hardship. *huge sigh* *sarcasm*)
I would completely recommend this book to anyone who is building up a stitching library. It is available from Country Bumpkin in Australia and Europe, and from several distributors in the US; just do a search for the title. I bought mine from The Wooly Thread because I know the owner and she is always quick with her shipping and wraps her packages to protect the contents from damage in shipping.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

not lost, just scatterbrained

Oof. Three months since I last updated this thing. Bad blogger!

I spent some of that time planning a workshop for my local chapter of the Smocking Arts Guild of America.

Christmas was spent in Pennsylvania with my kids and granddaughter. There was snow! In late January I spent three weeks on European time while my spouse was in Switzerland for business. I could have gone along, but didn't want to leave the cats here by themselves. Priorities, you know.

The workshop happened last weekend. The chapter hosted Debbie Glenn, who taught us how to do Madeira embroidery by machine. She also taught us some really good techniques to use that makes the garments much easier to handle while in progress. I'll post some photos soon, but have to do some image editing as they're all currently huge.