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How-to ~ Ideas
One simple word - sew - but it contains a whole world and many lifetimes of projects. Large, small, simple or mind-boggling complex. Practical or fanciful, for yourself or for others. Each project may take a few minutes or hours or days/weeks/months/years. It's a very handy skill to have or learn. And no matter how long you've been sewing, there is always more to learn! And an unending variety of ideas.
I don't remember learning to sew, though I likely did get some beginning instruction. My mother sewed (a lot!), my older sisters sewed, as teenagers most of my girl friends sewed, as well as some of the boys. We had a class in sewing at some point in school, though I don't remember learning much there. I think much of my, and my friends, learning was by experience. You found a pattern, got some fabric, sewed up whatever, then did whatever you could to make it fit. Since my Mom sewed so much, and was certainly faster and a better seamstress than I was, I didn't make much until after I left home. I must have gotten my first sewing machine, a basic Kenmore, for a graduation or wedding present. It lasted for many years and sewed a lot of things it likely wasn't made for.
When Steve and I moved north to our homestead in the late '70's my sewing skills were honed on a lot of mending and odd jobs that hardly ever included patterns or new fabric. Steve can sew as well and he made use of that hard working machine. It plain wore out at some point and we went on to a used, old, sturdy, basic Singer. It was more suited to the projects we asked of it, such as making a fur-trade era canvas tent. I didn't do much fine work in those years.
But that old Singer did finally get to the end of its life and after struggling to sew things like high-tech Sil-Nylon backpacking tent and light-weight clothing on this old machine it was retired and we went to the sewing machine guru in Escanaba (Tebear's) and bought a brand new low end but adequate basic Viking-Husqvarna Emerald 116 sewing machine. Oh my, was that ever the cat's pajamas! Compared to my previous machines this was truly a gem. It sews anything from canvas to lycra and does as good a job as the person sewing can do. It fits our needs just fine without being complicated.
Sewing projects on the homestead are really varied, from mending to altering to making clothes, to odds and ends like kayak spray skirts, boat covers, camping gear. I certainly don't pretend to be a fine seamstress but I do appreciate having, and expanding, the skills to make what I want to make, alter what I want to alter, and create what is in my mind.
Below I'll share a few projects now and then, often articles archived from our ongoing Blog (see link above) and a few hints and ideas that have been useful to me. Hopefully you'll glean some ideas and inspirations for your own creative journeys into sewing.
SEWING - Dance Shoe Bag - April 4, 2017
We have stacks of the reusable sturdy cotton “shopping” bags which have a
variety of uses. One of those had been to carry our dance shoes into a dance.
It’s a courtesy to change into clean soled shoes before going out onto the dance
floor (keeps the grit off the floor which is good for the floor and the
dancers). But it is also important for dancing (for fun, ease, and the knees!)
to have clean, dry soles. And if you have suede leather soles (as I do) they’re
pretty much useless for dancing if they get wet. So even if they’re everyday
shoes other times, for a dance they get brushed clean and carried inside.
So for Christmas I decided to make Steve a Dance Shoe Bag. OK, it was for
both of us, but our Christmas gifts are often like that. I thought about
what I wanted--separate compartments for our shoes, small enough to keep
them upright but large enough to easily slip the shoes in. A separate pocket
for carrying a water bottle, upright. Another pocket for a shirt or tights
or extra socks. Yet it needed to be of moderate size, easy to carry and
stash in a corner at a dance, and the back of the car between times. I’d
been designing it in my head for some time, now it was time to get down to
work and make it.
SEWING - Bathing Suit / Skivvies - 2-14-2017
What better time to think about summer swimming than the middle of winter! At least it’s a good time to sew for that coming season. I bought fabric last spring to make a new bathing suit but the warm months definitely aren’t the time for me for anything other than quick emergency sewing or mending projects. The plans (and piles) for winter sewing/mending/altering are larger than days available so I simply pick out what most interests me, or is highest in my focus at the time. And thinking of kayaking made me think of the bathing suit that I don’t yet have. Actually, I seldom go swimming but kayaking is high on our list of “do more of” this summer and it is most certainly a water sport, as in ‘wet’. Though I hope to get my paddling technique down this summer so less of the river water ends up in my lap, appropriate clothing makes kayaking more fun. That includes being ready to slip out into the water for a swim.
Bathing suit bottom or underwear -- there’s little difference and both are
quite easy and fast to make (relatively speaking). I’ve been making my
skivvies for some time, after realizing it would be faster to make them than
alter factory made ones to fit and feel the way I like them. The most time
consuming part is coming up with and fine-tuning the pattern. You can buy a
pattern or find one online, then go from there to get your just-for-you fit.
Or simply cut apart an old bathing suit bottom or underwear that already
fits and trace out your pattern from that. That’s what I did. I like to use
brown kraft paper for patterns. It’s sturdy and holds up well to repeated
use, and adjusting.
SEWING - Replacement Work Shirt Collar - 1-20-2017
One of those easy and satisfying projects is to re-collar a work shirt for
Steve. He has his favorites and is reluctant to give those up just because
they get a little (or lot) tattered. It seems the first part to wear through
is the collar (unless the shirt goes down for some other more drastic, and
usually obvious, reason). If the shirt is in otherwise reasonable condition
I take the collar and collar band off and sew a new one on.
And there you have it -- a renewed work shirt! Now, about those cuffs...
Copyright by Susan Robishaw
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Have you read "Frost Dancing - Tips from a Northern Gardener"? A fun short read.
or "Homesteading Adventures" Creating our backwoods homestead--the first 20 years.
Berries for Food and Fun"
A journey you can use in your own garden.