Friday, October 31, 2014

Stupendous Stitching, a Craftsy course

Got a reminder from reader Dre in PA that I "teased" you on this in my last post and then went radio silent for over a month.  Mostly what I have been doing in that time is working on some studio upgrades, and I am preparing a LONG post on that.  But in the meantime...

I have taken several Craftsy classes and really enjoy them.  The only one where I have actually finished the project is Stupendous Stitching with Carol Ann Waugh.  You begin with a piece of stabilized fabric, add couching and stitching and eventually quilt it.  Well, I haven't REALLY finished it because I haven't quilted it yet.  The class project recommended framing it, but mine will become a giant tote bag.  Some day.

this is probably the most accurate color representation in this blog post.

Back in January of 2010 I first experimented with snow dyeing, with mixed results.  When I first saw the results on this piece, I said to myself "what the heck can I EVER do with that?"  It is interesting.  Garish.  So when I was looking for a piece that needed to be totally altered by massive amounts of stitching, this was the obvious choice.

Most of you know that I am a vintage sewing machine person, but modern machines DO have their place in my heart.  I really love decorative stitches, and my modern Janome does dozens of them, and in a maximum 7 mm width.  It also does the type of stitches where the machine goes back and forth to create more complex patterns than the vintage cam machines.

When I first bought the machine I made a sewing machine cover that also functions as a stitch encyclopedia.  The embroidered panel is a souvenir that BF Amber brought me from China.

I buy tons of tapes, yarns, threads, ribbons, trims, etc. at thrift shops and hoard them.  I have accumulated a HUGE hoard of stuff.  This gives me lots of choices when project time rolls around.  I probably end up spending about the same amount as I would if I went out and bought new stuff for each project, BUT I get MUCH more interesting color combinations.

When you buy new stuff you are at the mercy of the color police.  There is a vast conspiracy by the Color Marketing Group to determine what colors you will buy each year:  in clothing, in cars, in wall paint, in fabric, and in ribbons and trims.  I am not making this up.  So when you buy only new stuff, you end up with a project that is flat, boring, and looks like it was made in a factory somewhere.  Just my opinion.  No one would EVER think that this project was made in a factory somewhere, lol.

The project began with couching, in which you apply yarn, ribbon or trim to the piece by stitching it down.  Then I spent many, many deliriously happy hours listening to music and adding decorative stitching to the piece.  I pretty much dropped everything else in my life for a week and a half and just did this.

This was all about process rather than end product and I did not worry about anything.  I used a much larger piece of fabric than the class project recommended.  This made it difficult to feed the fabric through the machine in a smooth and even way, and resulted in glitches and distortions in the stitches.  In the end, however, the sheer amount of stitching distracts the eye from the errors.  That's my story and I am sticking with it.

My mother-in-law named the piece "Magma", which I think is very apt.  She showed it to her friends.  I begged her to stress that this was an experimental piece in which I was practicing some techniques.  I doubt if she did because she reported their comments to me.  They said the kind of things that polite Southerners do say when they can't think of WHAT to say.

This made me laugh.  In a good way.  Hey, I know what a weird piece this is, and I am aware of all of its flaws.  But I love it.  And I don't expect anyone else to love it, or like it, or even want to spend more than two minutes in the same room with it.

One of my favorite moments in quilting came after I had won second place for "most creative" for another experimental piece done for a challenge at my quilt guild.  We submitted them anonymously.  As I sat back down after accepting the ribbon my friend Jo said "I knew that was yours."  I asked her how she knew.  "You are the only person here who is THAT far outside the box."

Oh, yeah!


  1. What a neat change to your fabric!! This is enough to make me use my "new" sewing machine instead of my 15-91 Singer! Beautiful!

  2. Love your stitch-guide cover! Bet it inspires you : )

  3. Love what you did with your snow dyed fabric. It is really, really stunning now!

  4. I have a Janome 4800QC. I've been machine quilting table runners with it this month. I do use it for the stitches, too. I'd rather piece with my vintage machines. They have a more accurate 1/4" seam.

  5. Your writing has given words to what has been happening to me. Instead of setting (and working) goals that provide me with money for retirement, funds for travel and a sense of purpose in the last third of life, I am browsing Craigslist for sewing machines I want or I think somebody should want. Anybody can fill out a collection if they will spend the money, but I want to buy them for a pittance, fix them and find them homes. That is after I get the 11 machines I already own cleaned and oiled. These were mostly inherited from my mother, who gave me this gene. My sewing gene has mutated into adoration of the machine color and the case/dial design along with functionality. The sound of the machine is still the signature I love. I don't know what to do with all these thoughts in my head. There is not another person in my world who could possibly understand what I am talking about, much less why... It is a somewhat isolating obsession I need to get over; but don't want to get over it until I have gathered the prettiest sewers and gotten the purr going. What do I want to prove? I can find a underpriced treasure and make them sing again. I can get at least one hundred girls (maybe 500) excited about sewing and in love with vintage sewing machines. I can miraculously fund my retirement with my play. At 25cents per hour it will take a loaves and fishes miracle. Do I want my dining room and garage and my older daughter's bedroom to be cluttered with sewing machines and tools? Do I want to turn my house into a workshop? I thought I wanted to get dressed and leave the house everyday so I could have conversations with real people and then return home to my well ordered nest. But then what would happen to my recently acquired dream of days filled with rescuing and fixing machines, exclaiming of their beautiful characteristics and converting the young to love old and slow sewing. Oh, to have a BF across the row of hydrangeas who has the same dreams and much better vision. My apologies to those of you who cannot imagine what all the fuss is about.

    1. We are definitely soul mates! There are not many of us, but there are others around. Do you live anywhere near North Carolina?


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