Well fellow quilters, I’ve decided to become an educator for Sew Steady®, showing tables (we all love those tables) and Westalee Design for Sew Steady. What is Westalee? Well it is a designer of ruler feet and ruler templates for the domestic sewing machine. I am super excited. I have been working with the templates for a few months now and plan to share what I have learned very soon. Apologies for being absent this past month, but once the decision was made there was a lot to do. Now that my store
is open, I hope to devote more time to YOU!
I am the luckiest person I know! This past weekend, I had the honor of demoing Westalee Design by Sew Steady® products at the Madison Quilt Show. If that wasn’t enough, I was doing it in Nancy’s Notions’ Booth. I found myself in Southern Wisconsin, not far from where I grew up in Northern Illinois. The trip started shaky, with a 2 hour flight delay, but that proved to be the only hiccup.
Let me begin by saying the folks at Nancy’s Notions are some of the best I have every worked with and the customers were too much fun. Bucky Badger (from UW) and the band marched in and gave a performance that literally stopped the show for about 30 minutes. Only in a college town, could a mascot distract a quilter with a shopping bag. We all enjoyed the entertainment.
For 3 days, I made quilting magic with the Westalee foot and templates. You can see me in action on Nancy’s Notions’ FB page. It’s the one titled: Enter here for a chance…. The look on customer’s faces at the first sight of this product never gets old. I truly appreciate the opportunity to share the possibilities with fellow fabric lovers.
One of my online students stopped by and after the show, we went to dinner. Always fun to meet folks in person that you connected with via the World Wide Web.
To top it all off, I had the honor of meeting Nancy Zieman. The respect I have for that woman is off the charts. She is definitely a trailblazer and I can not even count the amount of hours I have sat in front of my TV on a Saturday morning just to watch her. She is literally the reason I sew. I have met my share of celebrities over the years, but meeting Nancy brought tears to my eyes. I am in the industry I am supposed to be in: for that I am extremely grateful.
I have vivid memories of my mom at the sewing machine when I was a child. I watched in awe as she turned pieces of fabric into clothes for my sister and I. She studied fashion design at The Art Institute of Chicago where she learned to draft her own patterns and produce clothing that looked store bought. My sister was taking Home EC and from my view was on her way to fashion freedom. I desperately wanted to learn too. I begged my mom to teach me to sew and eventually she relented.
My mother had many talents; teaching was not one of them. A combined lack of talent and patience led to frustration on steroids. The blue overall pants, I so desperately wanted to sew myself, were constructed beautifully by her. I hated wearing those pants; a symbol of my failure.
I never lost my desire to learn and eventually I did. I also learned that talent does not make you a good teacher; something I wish more people would recognize. The saying really should be: Those who can, do. Those who can teach, inspire those who can.
I think of my mom often when I sew. My passion for quilting didn’t really blossom while she was alive, but I’m sure she would have had an appreciation for them. Mostly, I think of her when I walk into a classroom of adults anxious to learn a new skill. The irony is that her lack of teaching skills is what makes me a better teacher.
So, on this Mother’s Day, I remember my mom. I’m grateful for inheriting a sprinkle of her talent, and for the memories only an old mechanical Singer can generate.
So much has been happening with My Sassy Notions and I have neglected this blog. I’m hoping to rectify that.
Instead of filling you in on my adventures, I thought I would just pick up where I am and sprinkle a little history in here and there. The one thing you need to know is that I am now a Promoted Instructor for Sew Steady®. I focus on the Westalee Design Ruler Foot and Templates.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of doing an in-store event at Kathy’s Creative Sewing Center in Westlake, Ohio. I love the opportunity to meet and work with quilters around the country. The morning started with a demo and Q&A. Everyone was so nice and excited to see the products up close. I will admit there is a touch of intimidation when you have 60 eyes watching your every move. Breathe, just breathe.
After lunch, I guided everyone through a Make and Take project which magically produced a coaster. I had a great time; I hope the attendees did as well. The questions kept flying and I stayed to make sure everyone got theirs answered.
Later, Kathy took me out for a fabulous seafood dinner. We chatted about the great product lines of Sew Steady® and tentative plans for me to return. A successful event is one where both the customers and store owners are happy at the end of the day. This was, without a doubt, a SUCCESS.
It’s not rocket science to create a successful event, but it does take imagination, planning, flexibility, and communication. Kathy and I made a great team; I’m looking forward to working with her and her staff in the future. If you’re in the area, you should really drop in her store and say hi.
There is an awful lot of information out there in cyber space. I’ve said it before, not all of it is accurate and honest. Some of it is just outright garbage. Anyone can publish anything about whatever. Don’t misunderstand me, most of it is fabulous and has greatly supported my most recent obsession with nail art. I recently read some information on a sewing forum that has led to the following.
Just because someone published a blog or a video, doesn’t mean it will work that way for everyone. This is especially true in the sewing world. Possibly other worlds as well, but this is the world I’m comfortable in. There are too many factors that contribute to, “it worked for them, why doesn’t it work for me?” Those variables include, weather, needles, thread, thread color, fabric, prewashed or not, and on and on. Let’s look at some of these.
Weather: I live in the Southwest of the United States. Most of the time it is very dry here. When it does rain, I find that I need to adjust settings on my machine to get the same stitches I get when it doesn’t. I’m sure the same holds for when it gets super cold, but I haven’t personally experienced this. Obviously, what I do may not work for someone who lives in Minnesota.
Needles: I am the first one to ask, “did you change your needle?” and then not do it myself. Yes, sometimes a brand new needle can have burs, etc. Make sure you are using the right needle for the fabric. Click here for more info on needles.
Thread: I would not have believed that thread color could make a difference, until it happened to me. I changed thread color in the middle of a project. I did not change the bobbin, only the top thread, same brand, same line. My stitches were not as perfect. Then there are different manufacturers. I have 3 Berninas. Only one of them likes a very popular thread brand.
Are you with me now? You are the only expert on your machine and all its nuances. No one sews like you; the combination of your hand weight on the fabric and speed. Your environment.
The only suggestion I can offer is to use what you read/see as a jumping off point. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to play with the knobs on your machine; most of them have a way to easily go back to the default settings. Once you get a setting you like for a type of project, write it down. Needle, thread, settings, fabric, etc. This is no guarantee it will work exactly the same way the next time, but it’s a great place to start.
Lastly: for a lot of people, sewing is a hobby (“an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure”). Pleasure should be your guideline. Have fun, experiment, stretch yourself creatively, and enjoy the process. By all mean, scour the internet for information, just be open to what you find.
**I generally like to go to manufactures websites for information on their products. I really like Superior Threads education section of their site. This is definitely a great place to start.
Found this on my Facebook page the other day accompanied by, “This is your thought process, right?”
A few other comments followed making reference to the cost and need of expensive computerized sewing machines.
First let me admit that I don’t make doilies and probably never will, but yes, an expensive machine would more than likely be necessary. Who wants to attempt heirloom sewing without the proper tools? (Feel free to compare this to your favorite past-time or profession; drills, sanders, paintbrushes, high-end cookware, etc.Don’t even get me started on motor sports; bikes, cars, airplanes, boats…..oh my.)
So why make it, when you can buy it for less money?
First of all, the sheer joy of creating is in itself reason enough. Now imagine your family and friends admiring your work and cherishing that Halloween costume, table runner, quilt, wall hanging, tea towels, whatever and associating that feeling with YOU; the creator. Memories made..,by you! How awesome is that? Perhaps they will fight over it when you die. (Ok, that might be stretching it, but one can dream can’t they?)
Regardless, said homemade creation is now being enjoyed by future generations. That $2 doily has long been trashed and decomposed…. or not. If it wasn’t made with 100% natural fibers it’s sitting in a landfill; who wants that guilt?
Eventually one of yours or your friend’s great great great…..great grandchildren will make a snap decision to part with above mentioned memory. All they know is that some person, generations ago made it, rendering putting it in the trash unthinkable. So after many many years of being loved by countless people, it will be donated to a charity. This act will provide job security to some, much-needed support to others and create countless volunteer hours to a few thankless individuals.
Still need a reason?
I made all my daughter’s Halloween costumes from the time she was 1 until 18. Many years, she helped. While she was in elementary school, Hippy costumes were all the rage amongst her friends. On the day of the school party, she had the most fabulous flower power print outfit, along with a headband, wire rim glasses, and crimped hair. Walking out the door, my eyes got teary eyed when she exclaimed, “Mom, I’m gonna have the best hippy costume, cause you made it.” Honestly, I’ve never looked back and will continue to make things that my family loves and cherishes.
You can’t really put a price tag on that now can you?
I am so excited to be able to share this. The goal was to print applique shapes from EQ7 without the letters and text so that I could publish my pattern. This led me on a internet search and then a twitter post introduced me to Al Navas. I’ll let him explain what we did, but if you use EQ7, this is brilliant. If you don’t, there’s a great section on Inkscape which is a nifty free program that I can now use for more than patterns and other fun stuff. Please hop on over to his site, EQ7 Training, to download the lesson AND the pattern. For Free! How awesome is that?
Working on a project with someone who has same passion for bringing quality instruction to the web is now one of the highlights of my summer. I am hopeful that this will not be our last collaboration.
What are your EQ Challenges?
Well, I’m getting closer to publishing my first pattern. I teach an applique class and was getting really frustrated with the patterns that are readily available, so I made my own. EQ7 made designing a snap. I taught a class and the students were really great about testing this pattern and yes, found a few mistakes. I ran into issues when printing the templates; I won’t get into the details now, let’s just say I wasn’t happy with the process I was using.
Then Twitter jumped in. I’d been lax in using my Twitter account, but finally decided to jump in. Within hours, I got a tweet from an EQ instructor of all people. This eventually led to us working on a great (and super efficient) way to do what I wanted. Ok, he did most of the work, I just added comments here and there. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but.,,,,,there will be a lesson posted to his website…..soon. When it is, I’ll post a link.
Living in the desert southwest, we get our share of glorious thunderstorms, aka monsoons, in the summer. They are one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular shows and I cherish the evenings I can sit on my covered patio and watch the lightning fill the sky with color and listen while the thunder echoes off the mountains.
These storms can also raise havoc with our electronics. So…unplug your sewing machines, sergers, irons, etc when you’re not using them in the summer. These
toys tools of ours are expensive to replace. I, for one, would not want to do so.
Yes, there’s another one coming and I have double checked that all my tools are no longer tethered to the wall. Perhaps an afternoon on the couch with one of my favorite quilting books is in order.