Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wednesday - SEW

The inside scoop from my 90 year old mother is that the sewing was really darning, mending, sewing on buttons, making a dress......MENDING!!! When is the last time you darned a pair of socks or sewed a patch on your apron? Shows you how "green" my parents generation really was. I throw out socks with holes in them and while I love "vintage" aprons, I only ever seem to put them on when I'm doing big family dinners. My aprons tend to last longer that way. I do sew on buttons, but not until I really, really, really need the item that the button fell off of in the first place. There are things in my sew-on-a-button-pile that have not seen the light of day for years. As for making a dress.....I think the last time I made dresses was for my three year old daughter some three DECADES ago! Previously my own wedding dress was sewn by a dressmaker (that's what we did 40 years ago!) and I still have the pattern. Nowadays, I'm tempted to use the old pattern pieces in an altered book. On we move!

That was the kind of sewing I call SEWING. In the 70's I took an Old English smocking course on Avenue Road at a wonderful shop called "Quilts and Other Comforts". It was there that I met a group of women who would endure as friends forever, and be affectionately called "Stitch and Bitch". We finished our course, my daughter was duly rammed into her smocked dresses and while the group still exists in it's own evolved format, the dresses have been handed down and worn and worn again, but the art is now out of fashion. I do remember loving smocked dresses....perhaps they will come back again some day.

"In the 1950's there was a woman from Canada called Grace Knott who pioneered the smocking movement as we know it today. She along with an author named Chela Thorton inspired hundreds of women with the technique known as English Smocking, which differs from N.American style in that you make up the pleats first and then do the embroidery stitches. The effect is basically the same but the look is much different. Around the same time the smocking pleater, (invented in South Africa in the 1950's by Read Company, was readily made available to the American and Canadian public through Grace's Company "Grace Knott Smocking'.

Smocking has become much more sophisticated since then, the 1980's brought about Smocking Guilds all across America and the world and many talented women took up the challenge to bring smocking into the patterns and smocking plate designs that you see today."

Ellen McCarn - Beginning Sampler
[photo credit:]

The other sewing I consider SEWING was a tablecloth that Ingrid and I decided to follow from Kaffe Fasset's book We collected about a million dollars worth of floral fabrics. We then got busy and ultimately unfocused. The line then became "We'll complete the quilt in the fall".....That was about ten "Falls" ago. The cut out pieces are still in a box, but the spirit of the hunt and the collection still lives on, and even though we may have to re-invent the was a rather large piece, I'm sure that one of these "Falls" we'll get at it.

Beside the box with the tablecloth quilt pieces is the box that contains all my other cherished Elizabeth Bradley needlework kits. Jill and I decided to do the four seasons and had every intention of making carpets flanked by bell pulls! So far, I've completed summer, and will pull out the spring basket and get going on it once again. Since we started, my eyes have dimmed and I have to work the dark colours only in the full light of day.

I have been known to do lots and lots of cross-stitch. I have many many little pieces that would be suitable for framing. Occasionally, I whip up a baby announcement, but only for very special people who would understand how long this particular creating takes.

That's MY kind of SEWING. I used to come home with hand embroidered Christmas tree ornaments, quilted frames with my children's pictures in them, fabric books of discovery for my little ones, and my Father would say...."but can you sew on a button?"

I'm continually inspired by those who sew.....buttons and all the other stuff. Hope you'll be inspired to take the time to sit somewhere on a sunny patio and resurrect an old project...just for the fun of it.

Creative Sewing Festival Spring 2008

1 comment:

  1. Hi Leslie Just a quick aside. I love to sew and still make some of my clothes as well as pj's and other things for the grandkids. I am sorry I will be away for the creative sewing festival this year as I always enjoy it. As for smocking we had flannelette nightgowns which were smocked and handed down for each new baby made by Kirk's grandmother.Beautiful