Monday, June 13, 2011

And I stitch...

So, despite the fact that I do have 2 sewing machines (3 if you count an old White "Jeans Machine" that lives in the bowels of the basement with the other relics of ventures past) I have been drawn to the pursuit of mastering some form of "elegant accomplishment" (which after a brief googling of the term I have discerned to mean dancing, needlework, drawing and music).

 And so I am hand sewing my pieces together.  I am using Jinny Beyer's book Quiltmaking By Hand. It's a terrific book that helps the complete needle newbie get started. Everything from thimbles, thread weight, needle types and sizes, to cutting techniques, templates, and of course the "simple running stitch" is reviewed. I always enjoy reading books that include a bit of history or trivia about a technique or practice of the time. It amazes me that there can be such strongly held views about the proper way to hold a needle, or mark a seam. Having said that I do understand having preferences. And I'm probably developing all sorts of suboptimal habits already - but the practice of elegant accomplishment usually began when girls were 4 and 5 years old. Having said that I am an ancient knitter and only recently switched to "continental style" technique because it made more sense to me. So what does all this blathering mean? Only that it is never to late to teach an old broad a new trick...

I had read somewhere that using painter's tape (which is sticky but peels off easily, is a good alternative to marking 1/4 inch seam lines.  I also read online another person who suggested placing the tape on your thumbnail instead of the fabric and using this as your marking tool.

I'm working diligently to make my stitches small and uniform. The book says to always do a backstitch every 4 - 5 stitches to anchor the row.The blue painter's tape is working out very well - it sticks when I need it to and peels off easily without leaving a residue. It's not fraying the fabric edges.

I can readily see a number of benefits with stitching by hand. For starters, I have much more control over my joins where several seams are butting up against each other. I am also able to store my block in progress, needles, thread and scissors in a little box and keep it handy - I've been sewing in the evening while I watch drivel on TV (I am addicted to competitive Reality TV shows such as Chopped, Top Chef, Project Runway, Amazing Race and yes I still watch Survivor!)
Me: So ... what did you do last night?
Colleague: Oh I flopped out on the couch. How about you?
Me: Oh Me? (smugly) I worked on my elegant accomplishments.
Happy quilting!

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