Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lost and Found

As usually happens with me, my new camera came in UPS last week, and yes, my old camera showed up on the kitchen table last night!  So where was the little devil??  My daughter had it.  I thought I put it somewhere safe, like the linen closet (because everyone stores important stuff there, right??)  But she must have borrowed it and told her dad, but since he didn't know I was frantically looking for it, he didn't mention it.  Oh well, now I have two.

The new one is smaller, and it's red.  So I shouldn't have any trouble locating it from now on, right??

Anyway, now I can start posting my own pictures instead of using clip art!

Speaking of posting, I've been asked to be a guest blogger on the ASG web site.  That's American Sewing Guild for the uninitiated. is the web site and the blog can be read by clicking on the BLOG button in the upper left corner.  I haven't decided what I'm writing about yet, but my oldest grand and I discussed it last night and we may post some stuff on teaching your kids to sew.  She has already passed the first hurdle which is being afraid to get your hands near the presser foot, so she's ready.  And she's excited about possibly being a 'blog model'.  Hollywood, here we come!!  LOL!

Keep on sewing...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Teaching -- Sewing, or Anything Else For That Matter

There are many people who purport to be sewing experts.  There are many people who are teachers or who try to be teachers.  Like anything else, some are better at it than others. 

I know lots of people who do beautiful work.  They can sew or craft or embroider or whatever it is.  Some have won prizes for their creations.  Some of these folks are great teachers, and I've learned a lot from them.  Actually, I've learned a lot even from the not so good teachers! 

Some people who can do a thing are just not good at explaining to someone else how to do it.  So I was thinking about what it takes to be a good teacher.  My friend John's wife Nan is a good teacher.  What makes her and other good teachers I know into good teachers?

Patience has to be the first thing, and a sense of humor is a must.  And a big dose of self-control -- because I'm CERTAIN that anyone who sees someone else struggle with something MUST want to just grab it and do it!  But what I think is the most important trait a good teacher has is that they never make you feel bad or stupid for doing something wrong, and they know that there are certain things that can be done in more than one way.  I've never been fond of the "my way or the highway" school of anything.

As part of our church's Board of Education, every week I help guide small children through the learning process on many topics.  I've learned that you have to repeat things and watch for the glimmer of understanding to light their faces.  I love that moment!  And when there are frowns I often ask if there are questions, because I know something's cooking in their little heads! 

With adults, whether it's been teaching someone to use a machine, or follow a pattern or choose appropriate tools or materials, I've tried to be careful to make clear distinctions between what must be done only one way, and where you can make multiple choices.  If you know the differences you can go a long way.

You can do anything in this world if you are prepared to take the consequences.
 W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) British novelist and playwright.

So for example, if you're sewing a tee shirt and you sew the sleeves in before you sew up the side seams, that works fine.  In fact, sewing the sleeve in flat is easier and doesn't make a difference in most casual garments.  But if you want to sew the sleeves in without sewing the shoulder seams together, that might not work. 

During the past three years I helped ASG get a mentoring program started.  One of the leading principles of mentoring is to allow the protege to DO the task.  Mentors offer suggestions, give guidance, help the protege think things through and make good decisions.  They say "try this" or "did you ever think about that" and only correct when things are going the wrong way.

If you understand the goal, and you understand the options, then you should have the freedom to go the way it's most comfortable for you.  That's what's so great about new sewists, they don't know they're not supposed to leave garments unhemmed or use denim for a swimsuit.

I don't believe in the Sewing Police.  I don't believe in the School of One Way Only.  I did not drink that Kool Aide.  So if something is working for you, and you're getting the desired results, keep doing it that way.  Be open to other suggestions, and if what you're doing doesn't work, try something else.  But beware the "My Way or the Highway" group.  And try not to be their leader!  Everyone will thank you.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sewing in the Basement

What have I been doing lately? I tried to figure that out on the drive to work the other day. OK so this month I assisted my oldest granddaughter in the design and construction of a Barbie's cheerleader outfit. I cleaned and organized my magazine collection, tossing a lot of stuff I didn't need.

And I actually did some sewing for myself.  I made a really cute top using the Linda Lee/Louise Cutting pattern Nine Lives. I just have to find some buttons to match. The cool thing is that the fabric came from the fabric resale room at the sewing expo in Platteville, WI, a couple of summers ago. Cost of fabric -- $2.00! Cost of pattern -- more than $2.00! I also finished a red twin set with a McCalls pattern by Nancy Zieman, and a vest from a McCalls Palmer/Pletsch pattern.

Sewing is an activity I have enjoyed for many years. I'm not telling HOW many, but let me say I started sewing about 5 or 6 years before I could legally obtain a driver's permit. My 'stash' or as I prefer to call it, resource center, rivals the best of them. But it's so satisfying when the granddaughters ask to help with or do a project and we can just open a bin and viola! the makings are ALL available without any aggravating trips to the store. When we feel creative, we just create!

The only slightly negative thing about sewing for me at present is where I sew. I'm in a finished room in the basement, which is nice, and it was my choice. But some days I go down to my studio at 11 a.m. and don't see another person until I come up for dinner! I miss seeing what the kids next door were doing, whether there were any birds feeding in my garden, and what the sunshine looked like through the trees.
I do catch up on the episodes of Jeopardy I recorded ... lol!

I dug in the resource center bins and came up with a green wool blend for an unlined, single layer jacket from another Nancy Zieman McCalls pattern. Got that cut out, hopefully I'll have time for another basement session next weekend!

Happy Sewing, or whatever else you plan to do with your day.