Sewing Camp

IMG_3953Starts Today

This year I am participating, driving from home up to the civilized wilds of Lake Tahoe for four FOUR FOUR glorious days of sewing bliss. Can you tell I’m excited?

This year I’ll be attending a new venue.  We’ll be staying in a formal “Conference Center” rather than a historic hospital in Virginia City.  (The Viginia City locale has become a formal Artists Retreat, and groups like us no longer fit their business model).  So, unlike previous years, there are no ghosts that I know of.

While there may (or may not) be ghosts, I am assured there is plentiful natural light.  Tables to set things up on.  Views of Lake Tahoe.  Food to keep us going.

The necklaces above my contribution to the Sewing Camp Goody Bags.  The images are all vintage sewing motifs, captured under glass cabs.  Well, maybe not captured so much as printed and glued down tight.   Simple and appropriate.

The only gotcha I’ve been told about is that sewing with one’s wine glass next to the sewing machine is, apparently, frowned on.

I have a lidded mug.  It is opaque.


Herculean Undertaking

IMG_3290Did you ever get one of the bees in your bonnet that just won’t go away?  They keep buzzing and buzzing about, hovering in the background, being a pest.  Yeah, well this was one of those.

I used to have all my fabrics organized, but when it came time to move, at the end things got tossed into bins willy-nilly.  The past 2 years have seen me hunting for things I knew I had, and worse yet, getting more of what I had because I couldn’t find it.  I hate that!  So I put my extra free time to good use, and did something about it.

All the existing bins were emptied.  Stacks were made.  Knit print.  Knit solids.  Challis.  Linen.  Silk.  Cotton prints.  Bottomweight.  You get the idea.  There were even some “wonder” fabrics discovered, as in I “wonder” why I bought that.  Thankfully there were more old friends rediscovered than wonder fabrics.  The photo above took about 3 hours to achieve.

Then came the task of organizing:IMG_2953

  • Keep?
  • Donate?
  • Toss?
  • Re-fold
  • Re-label
  • Re-stack

Achieving multiples of the photo at right took all day long!  It was worth it though.  There is now a place for everything and everything is in it’s place.

Sewing with Spooks. Again.

A couple weekends back, our local ASG chapter had their annual sewing retreat, loving called Camp Sew’n’Sew.  Or as I refer to it, Sewing with Spooks.  Once again, our hearty band of campers took over St. Mary’s Art Center for a wonderful 4 day repast of sewing, sewing and more sewing!  Did I mention we were there to sew?

IMG_250815 of our new, but soon to be closest friends, showed up machines in hand.  We trooped into the Center, found our rooms, dumped luggage and headed up to the third floor, where a bright sunny room waited.  Our home away from home for the next couple of days.

Tables were set, extension cords strung, and we were ready to get to work!  It’s a lovely place to work too.  Windows fill the high ceilings with sunlight; opened ones with fresh air.  Everyone has room to spread out.  There is even a table for cutting.  Not large, but large enough.


IMG_2503There are no set projects for the retreat.  It’s not a class or a workshop.  Everyone brings whatever they want to work on.  There are quilts, clothing, household items, baby blankets.  Some folks bring more than others.  Some are even accused of being “over achievers”.  Wonder who that could be (ahem)?

As you can see by the picture at the right, finished items are posted on the cork boards for all to see.  A chance to oooh and aaah as well as check new patterns.  There were many numbers scribbled onto bits of paper, as well as several “how did you do that?” queries.  Information flows freely at Sewing Camp.

IMG_2526Our “camping” is not rigorous.  There are two full fledged kitchens at the facility.  Everyone takes turns making a meal.  The organizers, wonderful elves that they are, do all the purchasing and prep work ahead of time.

This makes “cooking” more a matter of heating and setting up.  Every so often there is the mad search for serving bowls of the proper size.  A dishwasher makes clean-up easy too.  We try to have all 4 of the basic food groups at every meal.  There is even a vegetarian option.

What’s that?  I beg to differ.  Wine and sugar cookies are indeed included in those 4 basic groups.  So is chocolate!  I am most certain chocolate is included.

IMG_2523By the time Sunday rolls around, it’s time to stitch the last seam.  Time to pack up our new treasures, coil the cords and dispose of all those thread trimmings.  Suitcases are packed, though  clothes never seem to go in as neatly at the end of the retreat as they do at the beginning.

It’s always such a surprise how much heavier satchels are at the end of camp.  Sometimes we can barely lift them!

Everyone heads for home: Sew happy.  Sew tired.

Colette Sewing Handbook

Sarai Mitnick, the creator of Colette Patterns has a book coming out!  You can pre-order through Amazon at this link; the book will be available later this year.

The formal announcement says that the book will be for the beginner to intermediate sewist.  It will cover 5 core elements:  Plan, Pattern, Fit, Fabric and Finish, and, best of all it will also include patterns!  The five patterns are: a scalloped-hem skirt, flutter-sleeve blouse, sweetheart neck sheath dress, asymmetrical flounce dress, and a lined dress with gathered sleeves.  Each pattern designed to further cement one’s sewing skills.

If you’ve never seen Colette Patterns, they are just the nicest things.  Besides the styles having a wearable but retro feel to them, the packaging is lovely with well written instructions, and even a place for your notes.

Maybe something to put on your wish list for the holidays?

I get no kick-backs from Colette Patterns, I’ve never met Ms, Mitnick and am not affiliated in any way.  This is just a public service pattern announcement.

Passionate Pomegranate

This is a quilt I finished a while ago:  Passionate Pomegranate.  It’s based on the One Block Wonder books by Maxine Rosenthal.  It was my first attempt at something like this.  I was amazed that you could get this lovely kaleidoscope effect with just straight seams.  1001 design permutations, too!

The blocks are tracked as hexagons, but when you start to sew them, they’re done as strips.  Make sense?  Well, it helps to read the books or take a class at your local quilt store.  Once you do, the whole design principle becomes quite obvious and simple.

The blocks at left were quilted with stitch-in-the-ditch.  You can see how the design replicates to create the spirals.  It’s a great way to use some of the lovely large  prints available in quilting stores.

The whole thing was machine quilted with simple straight sewing.  It took a bit of doing to man (woman?) handle the whole thing through my sewing machine, but I managed.  The batting is bamboo, which seems to be a bit softer than the standard Warm & Natural.  I’ve read about both a wool and a silk batting which I’d like to try some day.  I bet the silk would be yummy!

The back of the quilt is also pretty colorful.  Claire approves! The fabric along the sides is a companion print to the main pomegranate fabric.  I put an uncut strip of the primary pomegranate print (say that three times fast) in the center as a reminder of what it looked like originally.  Quite a difference, don’t you think?

Simplicity 2554: Flutterific

Flora flutters in a butterfly top

Another take on Simplicity 2554, this time view F, the top with butterfly sleeves.  It’s basically the tank top with some half circles sewn into the princess seams, then tacked at the neckline binding.

This fabric was just wonderful to sew.  Both the print and the solid are rayon jersey knits that feel just lovely:  soft, silky and so smooth on the skin.  Yum! The top itself was all sewn on the serger.  I imported the fitting changes I discovered when I made the first version.

Since the pattern has been around for a while, I checked the reviews on Pattern Review, and found a lot of comments about the under side showing.  The more I looked at the pattern, the more it said “Color Blocking” to me.  So, color blocking it is.  Using a solid color for the sleeves meant I didn’t have to worry about the underside of the print being exposed.

The sleeves come down quite a ways on the front of the top.  On the back, they pretty much stop at the shoulder blade.

Even though the top fits nicely, and feels lovely, I find I am still of two minds about it.  I want to like it, but there’s a little niggling voice in the back of my head saying it makes me look like a matron trying to recapture her not-wanton-enough youth.

Then again, I may just say to hell with it, and be a Flutterific Wanton Matron.

Sew-In 2010

Sew-In 2010 was a rousing success!  On Friday the doors opened promptly at 9:30, and everyone zipped in like a herd of thundering yertles.   Bet you didn’t know yertles could thunder, did you? There were dollys and hand carts loaded with machines, fabric, project baskets and treats.  There were hugs and high-fives for friends not seen since the previous year.  There was oogling and petting as we envied each others’ creations-to-be.

Besides the usual sumptuous meals, of which there were many we had a special cake-worthy celebration.

Can you believe that blonde youngster in the photo at left turned 80? Neither could I!  She doesn’t look a day over 39.  Everyone sang Happy Birthday.  Some of us sang slightly off-key, but what we lacked in tone, we made up for in volume!

The cake, by the way, was delicious.  So much so, I got my hand slapped for fingering the icing.

In addition to hours and hours of sewing, which there was aplenty, we also had several demos and projects that we could sign up for.  One of the ones I took was learning how to make pin cushion teacups.  My first thought on this was why would a pin cushion need a teacup?  Do they drink tea? Well, it’s not that the pincushions are thirsty, but more a great way to use those lovely china cups that seem to gather dust in the cupboard.There was a lot of picking and sorting to find just the right teacup decoration.  Some of us thought the floras made for a lovely chapeau, and tucked them behind our ears, in our hair and well, other places.

Nary a scrap was wasted either.  One person’s bag-making cast off auditioned as a stylish headband.

First time attendees are sometimes subjected to good-natured pranks.  A completely different meaning to the sewing practice of draping, don’t you think? While the sewing machine was unscathed beneath its adornment; it taught the owner to take a little less time fabric shopping!

Every day at meal time (lunch and dinner) there were goodies at our place settings.  All of these were made by attendees.  Can you believe it? Quite the talented bunch, I must say.  A steno portfolio, scissor fobs, luggage identifiers, pin cushions, stationary, mylar envelopes for patterns and quilting pieces, and note pads.  You’d think it was Christmas!

Whew!  What a weekend.  And of course, I absolutely did not get a picture of our Day of the Dead silent auction pieces.  Suffice to say they found a wonderful home with someone who will be spreading them around the globe.  I was told the pin cushions will be going to Germany, while the placematts and pot holders are a housewarming for a daughter and grandson setting up new digs.

Now it’s time to recuperate, and plan for next year.   Sew-In 2011, here we come!