craft business, Kid's Sewing, libraries, sewing classes

Stitching Stallions are back!

Yes folks, it’s time for Round 2 of Friday afternoon learning clubs at The River.

This time up, we have 12 students (9 girls + 3 boys)  and 8 sewing machines (3 computerized and 5 mechanical). Today, they actually learned how to wind a bobbin, thread the machine and sew a couple of small “pockets.”

I’m a firm believer that the best way is to learn by doing. I demonstrate on one machine, point out the threading and bobbin winding diagrams on the machine and in the manual – then turn them loose. Of course, I have to step in and help…but they learn so much more by doing it themselves!

For a group of kids who were deathly afraid of sewing machines, today they learned that the machines don’t bite!  They were so proud of themselves when clubs ended today.

Sorry, we got so involved I forgot to take pictures! 🙂

craft business

The Importance of Learning to Let Things Go

Timber Hawkeye of Buddhist Boot Camp has a short podcast titled, “Let Go or Be Dragged.”  It’s definitely worth a listen because what he says is so true. Change is the only constant in life. No matter how much we may want things to stay the same, things will and do change. You have to learn to let go if you want to keep your sanity. Is it easy? Nope.

People hate change.  From a business standpoint, try to find opportunities to help people transition successfully toward the new change or find ways to help them incorporate parts of the past with the present day.  Technology is a prime example. Every time a video format changes, there are “adapters” and services rushed to the market to help preserve your memories in a more current format or make the old technology work with the new.  In sewing, we see ergonomic scissors, specialty needle threaders and new gizmos designed to make sewing easier for both new and aging sewists.

I also think this why we see so many maker spaces and creative spaces popping up over town. It’s also why my sewing club at school is always wait listed every time it’s offered. People hunger to get away from the constant stream of technology, work with their hands, be creative, have some wine (well, not with the kids at school) and visit with folks. It simply recharges your batteries.

In my business, I’ve had to learn to let things go. After school sewing clubs got put on hold until I am no longer employed as a public school teacher (conflict of interest/ethics rules).  So, I teach at a local quilt shop and have reached out to a local creative space to teach pillow construction. Sewing requires an investment, which is why people prefer to try it a couple of times before they invest in the hobby. I already have machines, so the AR workshop was definitely interested in pursing a series of basic pillow classes where we’ll turn painted panels into an envelope style pillow. I’ve already paid for the machines and my machines certainly aren’t making me any money sitting idle in the closet between kid’s sewing classes.

Memory quilts are a lot of fun, but the ROI simply is no longer there as other companies have cheapened the product to a point where I will literally be in the hole if I agree to make one start-to-finish. I am not in a position to make the investment in a long arm quilting machine that would speed up production, nor do I have the time to devote to making t-shirt quilts on a full-time basis that I feel this type of financial investment would require.  Yes, I’ve looked at longarm rentals in a nearby quilt shop. That is feasible, but will have to wait until summer break where I can go through the mandatory training classes and be available during the day when the longarm machines are available.  In my business, I’ve made many quilts for hire, shut that part of the business down completely and am now looking at possible ways to tiptoe back into that part of the business because my customers keep asking me for that service.

Technical editing came about as the result of a conversation I had with a couple of quilt designers who were bemoaning the dearth of good, reasonably priced technical editors in the industry. Turns out, I had the exact skill set and sewing experience necessary to offer the service.  It still give me a thrill to hear one of my clients state that she has her patterns edited by an “industry professional” (that would be me).  I didn’t realize that a segment of the B2B industry needed my services because I had been so focused on B2C.

In closing, had I not learned to let go of parts of the business plan when I started my business six years ago, I wouldn’t still be in business today.  I would have given it up due to frustration and lack of profitability.  Now, I am more excited than ever to see what the future holds, especially as I transition out of my full-time day job at some point in the future (exact date TBD, but within 5 years!).

So let go, or be dragged!

craft business

Trying new things – English Paper Piecing

icaniwill

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I recently challenged myself to try something new – using only the the materials I had on hand.  I’d learned the Lori Holt method of machine applique using Pellon sew-in interfacing and now wanted to try something involving handwork. A hexie embellished pillow on Pinterest caught my attention, so I decided to give English Paper Piecing a try.

Yes, I’m a bit late to the EPP party. Better late than never!  The good thing is there are any number of videos on YouTube that will teach you the basics, should your library not have a book on the subject, or you have time to attend an in-person class. EPP isn’t hard, nor does it require much investment on your part to get started.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1″ hexie papers.  (Templates available here.  Print on card stock.)
  • Glue stick (Borrowing your kid’s purple glue stick is perfectly fine!)
  • Needles (Applique or Milliner size 10 or 11)
  • Beeswax/Thread Conditioner
  • Thread (50 wt, 60 wt or 80 wt)
  • 2-1/2″ square fabric scraps
  • Small, sharp scissors
  • Wonder clips or pins
  • Thimble

I used the glue baste method to make my hexies. I experimented with 3 different stitches to join my hexies together to form a flower:  whipstitch, ladder and flat-back. For me, the flat-back stitch was the hands-down winner!

Helpful hints:
* Laminate the entire printed page before cutting out the individual hexie templates.
* Use a small hole punch to punch a hole in the middle of each template. This makes for easier template removal later.
* I found Milliner needles size 11 to be the perfect fit for me.
* Thread preference is 60 wt Coats & Clark Fine or Superior Bottom Line poly threads.
* My Clover desk needle threader was a godsend as the milliner needles have tiny eyes (you can buy large eye Milliner needles, but I was using what I had on hand).
* I detest sticky fingers, so I wasn’t a big fan of the glue stick method until I watched a Sue Daley video where she demonstrated the SewLine glue pen.  That glue pen, along with the laminated hexies, helped minimize the glue reside on my fingers.
*If you are cutting your squares from jelly roll strips, consider picking up a hexie template like this one.  It makes the underside of the hexie a little more uniform and easier to tack down.

Additional Video Resources:
Sue Daley EPP School
Hexie thread basting 
Flat Back Stitch 

P.S. Why EPP?  I’m taking a professional development course for the day job that requires me to watch videos each week. I need something to do with my hands while I watch the videos.  🙂

 

Kid's Sewing, craft business, sewing classes

Kid’s Club Schedule for 2019

Believe it or not, Miss Jackie and I have set the monthly classes through December 2019!

January – Hot Chocolate Mug Rug
February – Chenille Heart Door Hanger
March – Fabric Bunny Basket
April – Oven Mitt
May – Big Chicken Door Stop/Tablet Holder
June – no club
July – Drawstring Travel Bag
August – no club
September – Lined Pencil Pouch
October –  Pumpkin Coasters (set of 4)
November – Bowl Cozy
December – Gift Bags/Card Holders

We meet the 2nd Saturday of every month from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Class fee is $15 plus supplies.  Snacks are included.

We prefer that you bring your own sewing machine in good working order.  Stitch N Quilt offers machine service, as do Sewing Doc and Ashby Sewing.

A limited number of sewing machines are available for student use. Please let the shop know when you register. I bring sewing machines with a speed controller.

Policies:

  • Students must be 8 years old/rising 3rd grader to attend classes.
  • Students must be good listeners and able to follow directions.
  • Parents/caregivers are welcome to stay; however, realize your child is going to want you to participate along side them!
  • Classes are limited to six students. Payment is required at time of sign-up.
  • Some sewing machine familiarity is helpful, but actual sewing experience not always required.  That said, the January and November club projects are more involved and best suited for kids who have attended at least 3 sessions with us.

 

 

craft business, Quilting, Travel

My Singer Featherweight Must-Haves

In this post, I’m referring to the original vintage 221 Singer Featherweight. 

  •  A name. I’m one of those folks who names my cars, but didn’t really think to  name my sewing machines. When I joined the FW FB group, many posters had given their beloved machines a name.20190101_001219Juliette, my FW, is named for the fiercely independent, diminutive,  80-something years young woman who burst into my life so many years ago.
  • Modern accessories that really make sewing on this vintage machine a pleasure:
    • Scant 1/4″ foot with seam guide
    • Flat mount Thread Cutterz
    • Thread stand (to use with cross-wound spools like Aurifil – makes a difference!)
    • LED light bulb (personal preference is the warm light)
    • Electronic foot control
      Comments:  I always use a scant 1/4″ seam when I piece – regardless of sewing machine used. Some people prefer to use the original Singer presser foot and an acrylic seam guide. I like to use clips/pins to hold my sections together when I sew. The screw down seam guide gets in my way.  The electronic foot control preserves my original Bakelite foot controller, plus I find it WAY more comfortable to use when sewing.
  • Updated Travel Case – Many FW users I know love to take their machines with them whenever possible to sew-ins, classes and quilt retreats. Your options include  replica cases, wheeled bags and/or padded carry totes. If you don’t want to buy a bag, consider making a tote/padded cover for your original case. It will help protect it. I frequently travel with a sewing machine and prefer a padded tote with a shoulder strap. This cute project bag from Blue Fig is a great size for the FW (or any 3/4 size sewing machine) and has a bit of room leftover to hold your project and supplies. I took the bag to a recent sew-in and was able to carry a small folding cutting mat, wool press mat, SteamFast travel iron and my precut project in the same bag as the FW.  The bag will also fit in the overhead bin on an airplane and supposedly fits under most seats.  We shall see!

Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated with any of the companies linked in this post. I am merely a satisfied customer sharing which products add value to my vintage FW sewing machine experience. 

craft business

Slow and steady progress

Merry Christmas to me!  I wore my new, smaller size jeans to dinner tonight!

You see, I began this journey back in late June.  My original plan was to be at my goal weight by Christmas. Instead, I’ve made it to the half-way point.  That’s okay with me. I’m choosing to celebrate my progress rather than bemoan the fact I probably have another 4-6 months to go before I am at goal weight.  The reality is it’s much harder to lose weight in mid-life than it was in my early 20’s.  From mid-November through New Year’s, I merely want to maintain my weight and enjoy the holidays. So far, so good.

My Christmas present was a trip to the week long Featherweight workshop and Lori Holt quilt retreat in McCall, Idaho in June, 2019.  I WILL be at goal weight when I get on the plane bound for Boise with Juliette, my beloved Singer Featherweight sewing machine, in tow.

In this world of instant downloads, quick quilts and rapid weight loss, we tend to forget how hard it can be to achieve an important goal. Slow and steady progress is still progress and should be celebrated. It gives you incentive to keep moving forward toward the end goal. Last Friday, I went around with the reading incentive cart to reward students who’d read at least 10 books during the 9 week grading period. Several of my second graders had blown the doors off that goal. They were so proud when they showed me their reading logs. All of those readers had advanced by at least two full reading levels during this grading period.  Kind of like my weight loss. It might be slow, but it’s been steady and I’ll eventually get to my goal about the same time my second graders get to their year end reading level goal (Level M on F&P for those who are curious).

Merry Christmas and here’s to an exciting 2019!!