Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sewing Goals for 2016

Looking ahead to a New Year, I've been thinking about what I want to get out of my sewing in 2016. There are a few things, and I'm going to note them down here so I can keep reminding myself!

photo from Boston Public Library's Print Dept., via Flickr

Sewing Goals

1. Make the items that I've already thought about, and have already matched fabric and pattern so that they are ready to go! (maybe make a sewing project timeline? does this work for anyone?)

2. Try things that will teach me new skills. New "stretch" projects.

3. Apropos of the last point: watch more of my multiple Craftsy classes!

4. Get a better camera & learn more about photography

5. Keep on with embroidery projects to keep learning and improving

6. Something I need to get better at but don't feel the love for: Do My Mending. I have plenty of wearable items that just need a hem or a seam restitched or a quick fix. Just do it. 

7. Remember to enjoy it all.

Since I was super lucky when it came to sewing supply gifts at Christmas, I have lots to inspire me & keep new projects flowing. Sometimes I am just inspired by looking at what I have, which is why I am aiming to keep those supplies in an orderly and accessible manner this year, as well.

How about you? Any big goals this year?

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015: A Stitcher's Roundup

This year I sewed fairly steadily, with some slight sewing slumps along the way -- most notably for the past few weeks! But I made some interesting things, tried some new techniques, and ended up buying WAY too much fabric even though I was trying to use up what I already have. Now my chore is to tidy and organize it all into usable stacks.

Looking back over my makes this year, I do have some favourites. And there are a few things I just haven't worn.

Part of the reasons behind most of the unworn items is that I have to go back and fix something, usually something pretty minor -- but I find it so hard to "mend" something once I'm done. Sigh. There are a couple of items that I don't wear, though, because they did not turn out well -- the fit is off or I just don't like them. I've passed a couple of them on, but I still have hopes I can fix a couple of them and start wearing them.

 Here is my yearly roundup --

My Floral dresses

 The Rest of the Dresses

Various Tops

The odd ones out!

Once again, I've mainly sewn dresses. And they make up most of my favourites too. This year found me sewing a lot of florals, with a few other patterns making an appearance -- not too many solids in my wardrobe! I really like most of my makes this year.

I find that making dresses is still my favourite thing to do, and when I tell myself that I should make something else for a while, I stall out on sewing altogether. So I need to let myself do what I love :)

Here's to another year of wonderful sewing!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pre-Christmas "Selfish" sewing

Lucky me -- I've finished all my Christmas prep and can get to some of my own projects again! Well, really I snuck this first one in while I was making gifts, but since it only took 15 minutes to make I didn't feel too guilty.

I found such a fun knit fabric on the remnant table at my local fabric store. But it was just a little too loud, a little too child-friendly, to make a dress from. So I decided to make a quick infinity scarf. I sewed it together, put it on, then realized that it looked very festive from a distance!

I've already worn it at least 3 times to work, and had comments on it each time. Some were about its festive colours, and then after a closer look, some of the comments came in the form of song. Thanks, coworkers, for the earworm...

Check out the irresistible detail in this fabric. You will see why I had to buy some.

At the ladybug's picnic!
The other thing I've been doing with my time -- that isn't sewing -- is cleaning up, or trying to clean up, my sewing area. That's my goal for the end of the year. You know you're an adult when you realize you are happy for upcoming holidays so that you'll have time to clean your basement...

But in more entertaining things, I've also picked up an embroidery project that I prepped in the summer. I've started on the flower garden and plan to make each kind of flower in a different kind of stitch. Most of the greenery will probably be in stem stitch with a bit of leaf stitch and/or satin stitch for accent. I couched the green thread for the words, although on second thought I should probably have left that for last. Oh well! This is a pattern that I both sketched and cobbled together using a couple of images from google and a nice font - since it's just for my own stitch practice I figured it would be okay to do so this time. This should take me a long way into the New Year!

What about you? Are you finished with your seasonal sewing for others and ready to get back to your own projects?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Text Talk Two

I've been quite busily working on some Christmas projects (and slipping one little one in for me) over the last while, besides coming down with a nasty cold that has made me a little too tired to take on any big projects in the evenings. So no new sewing projects to share at the moment, though I'll be sharing a couple of little things later this week.

But what I have been doing is reading: that is pretty much a standard for me, and in recent evenings when I've felt it necessary to get into bed early on, some fascinating books have kept me company. I'm very intrigued by the intersection of textile craft (particularly embroidery) and activism, and have been reading through two collections on the topic.


The first, Craftivism: the art of craft and activism, by Betsy Greer, is kind of the start of this genre. Greer apparently is the source of the term, and in this book she highlights many different groups of crafty people who use their craft to social ends. Some are knitters, crocheters, embroiderers, even quilters or mosaic artists. Each has a small essay and some photos of their work, as well as links as to where to find out more. I did find though, that many of the contributors are ephemeral, in the sense that their websites are out of date already, and no longer available. The book is still inspiring, though, and it is lots of fun to ponder other people's clever ideas.

The book also highlights another organization with a wonderful and active website, the Craftivist Collective out of the UK, which has ongoing projects that anyone worldwide can join in on. It's worth a look. The founder, Sarah Corbett, has written a small guide to craftivism, but unfortunately I can not seem to find an available copy here in Canada. Perhaps I'll eventually resort to the Book Depository, once the Canadian dollar isn't at such an abysmal exchange rate ;)


The second read is focused more closely on embroidery. It's called Hoopla: the art of unexpected embroidery, by Leanne Prain, a Canadian writer who has also written books on yarn bombing and storytelling via textiles.  It's a huge, heavy book full of photos and essays - much the same format as Greer's book, but longer. It has a variety of craftivists, some which appealed to my aesthetic and some which really didn't.  But again, it is interesting to see the variety of craft enthusiasts who are using their chosen method to create something unique. This book is not entirely focused on craftivism, rather, it opens up into crafters who are just choosing to pursue their craft as a kind of lifestyle statement as well. Plus a few textile artists who exhibit professionally. It's an intriguing blend, and made me think about what I want to get out of my own sewing and embroidery practice.

I ordered both of these books through my library system to check them out. I usually do this with craft books, in order to see what I need to own for myself. I don't think I'd need either of these in my permanent collection, but they were both very worth reading, and I'm very thankful for my library system's robust interlibrary loan abilities.

And now to the one book that started me off on this craft reading jaunt -- a classic book in this field, which I've owned for years and years -- though I ended up reading the newest edition from 2010. It's Rozsika Parker's The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery & the making of the feminine. It was a great read.

The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine

Parker is extremely knowledgeable and a very good writer; the history she shares is very readable, not dully academic. This is a chronological approach, dealing with embroidery from the time of the Bayeux Tapestry up until the 70s (when it was first published). The new edition also has some mention of more current embroidery artists, but just a mention. It's also primarily looking at English history.

Things I found most interesting were the way that embroidery came to be both tied to the feminine in an oppressive manner, while also allowing a space for the subversion of the title. Originally embroidery was not differentiated from the fine arts; it was only in the Renaissance when art and craft began to split that embroidery turned into a feminine, amateur craft. Parker draws the connections between the ways that patriarchal society used embroidery as a way to  define "the feminine", in many different eras.

I was particularly taken with the war of words in the 1600's between men who thought that needlework was beneficial because it kept women silent and still, and the women who replied to them by writing their own public tracts in response, mocking the author. Throughout the book, Parker shares both how women were oppressed by needlecraft, and how they spoke up using the same metier. I was really inspired by this one to follow up with our current resurgence of handicraft and activism. Parker's book is a fascinating, feminist history of this art form, and is a must read in this area.

After I'd read it, I also discovered this amazing podcast series from a conference at Goldsmith University in the UK: The Subversive Stitch Revisited: The Politics of Cloth.  I've been listening to many of these lectures while sewing and embroidering, and enjoying them in their varied subject areas.

Lots of learning going on around here lately. Do you have any must-reads to recommend?