Monday, September 4, 2017

My Love of Aprons

I have been absent way too long from posting here.  We're in the process of building an apartment for my mother, who moved in with us last year, and getting her settled; so I haven't had much time to even think about writing anything here.  I hope you'll be back with me as I intend to get back to posting again as my time eases up.

My love of aprons has spilled over into giving presentations about my apron collection!  In 2006, I ran across Ellen Anne Geisel, an apron collector, who at that time had about 400 aprons in her collection.  She was travelling around the country giving presentations about her love of vintage aprons and the stories they evoked.  Her book, The Apron Book, Making, Wearing and Sharing a Bit of Cloth and Comfort became my birthday present in November of 2006 from my sweet husband.  He encouraged me to start my own apron collection.

I had already started a teapot collection for the new house we had just moved into of May 2006, so an apron collection seemed very fitting.  And, since I had a couple of my Dad's mother's aprons, which I fondly remembered seeing her wear daily, I just couldn't resist!  Upon announcing to my mother and some friends what I was embarking upon, aprons began to appear.  My Mom gave me the aprons she had saved from my Dad's mother, and my Dad's sister gave me three more, so I ended up with nine of my grandmother's aprons.

My Dad's parents lived in the house next door to us on our dairy farm, so I grew up knowing both my grandparents as my second set of parents, until I left home when I married.  When I saw the interview of Ellen Anne, I got excited about collecting vintage aprons for myself.  Since starting my own collection, I have given talks about the history of the apron to three different Cooperative Extension Services around my state and am scheduled to give a fourth talk next week at my church. 

It's a lot of fun to show my collection, and I always request that ladies in the audience bring or wear one of their own aprons, or one from a family member.  It's fun to hear the stories that are shared.

Ellen Anne has started an annual event called: "Tie One On Day - an apron, of course!"  I plan to mention this annual event in my talk next week, as a way for all of us to show the love of Jesus to our neighbor.  The group I'll be speaking to is the Women's Missionary Union, so the Tie One On Day will be a great way of being a missionary in our own communities. 

The premise of Tie One On Day is to simply wrap a loaf of bread or baked-good (home-made would be preferable, if possible) and wrap it in an apron, while wearing an apron as you make the delivery.  You are encouraged to tuck a note of encouragement or a prayer inside the apron pocket or the package.  You are asked to make your delivery on Thanksgiving eve to a neighbor, friend or someone in your community who is in need, putting the "give" back into Thanksgiving.

Go to and click on Tie One On Day to read all about this event, and to download and print a notecard to include with your package.  (Thanksgiving is on November 22nd this year, so you have plenty of time to prepare how you can be a blessing to someone.)

I have been saying for years how we tend to overlook Thanksgiving, with all of the hoopla surrounding Halloween and the commercialism of Christmas that starts way before Thanksgiving, so I see this as a way to celebrate Thanksgiving by giving back to our community, without spending a lot of money.  I hope you agree, and have fun surprising your neighbor(s)/friend(s) with this unusual new way to show how blessed we really are in this country!  After all, isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Red Barn School of Sewing

Announcing!  My new school of sewing is open and ready for students!  I haven't been posting for some time, due to a busy schedule of getting the school set up, as you can imagine.  There have been many, many hours of paperwork, thought, decisions and putting all of it into action - much more time-consuming than I ever thought!  I, and a very close sewing friend and my protege and co-teacher, discovered a few months ago that we have both had a long-time desire to have our own sewing school - so, we have made it a reality.  We have opened The Red Barn School of Sewing, LLP 

 Since my husband has said for a long time that he thinks Kentucky should be put on the map for sewing and Kentucky is known for its barns, we have chosen this barn drawing as our theme.  Since most barns are red, we decided to call it The Red Barn School of Sewing!  The bonus of this barn image is that it's almost identical to the barn that was on the farm where I grew up!  What memories it brings back every time I see it.

At this time, our school is offering what we're calling our "Signature Class," Sewing Machine Fundamentals.  In this group class, lasting three hours, students will learn the basic operation of their sewing machine and will learn how to stitch out many, if not all, of the built-in stitches that are available on their machine - even if it's a very basic level sewing machine.  When starting to develop this class, we learned so much about what our sewing machines could do.  It was just amazing!  I've had my machine for over 23 years and didn't know some of what it could do before working on this class.

In the class, the students will make a Stitch Encyclopedia, where they will stitch out the built-in stitches on a fabric sheet of muslin.  Students may choose to use the same color of thread for every stitch pattern, or may use a different color for each one.  Students will make one, two or more "pages" of stitches that they may turn into a book (encyclopedia) of stitches, so they may actually see what the stitches look like on fabric.  It's really hard to know what the stitches will look like just by the chart printed in the machine's instruction manual or on the front of their sewing machine. We've had students who have already taken this class say, "I really learned so much about my machine - it was amazing!"

We are also offering customized, private lessons that will be a one-on-one, two-hour class.  The private sewing lesson will be customized (tailored) to meet the needs of the student, from taking the sewing machine out of its box, to learning about a specific technique.  Our private sewing teacher will interview the student prior to their lesson in order to learn how the student's needs can be met.

We are holding in-store promotions on the first three Saturdays in April, 1:00-3:00 p.m. at the Hobby Lobby store, 968 Breckenridge Lane, Louisville, KY 40207 so come on over to greet and meet us!  Check out our website at to see more of what our school offers, to see our teachers' biographies, our class policies, a photo gallery and testimonials of previous students.  We will be happy to teach you, if you live in the Louisville KY area, so sign up for one of our classes!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Flyer for Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing Series

This flyer shows details of the Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing series that I teach at Austin's Sewing Center in Fern Creek KY.  The Level 2 is starting October 3 for four sessions, so sign up by this Saturday, September 26th to reserve your spot!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Palmer/Pletsch Level 1 Beginning Series Completed!

 The Palmer/Pletsch Level 1 Beginning Class Series came to a close June 27, 2015.  My students were so happy with their apron project.  They were excellent students and all felt they learned so much.

One student had been a private sewing student of mine earlier in the year, so she knew the basics of using her sewing machine and how to complete some basic sewing techniques.  She had received her sewing machine only a few months prior to her private lesson with me and had no experience using it.  In her lesson, we went over machine basics and she made some technique samples, so she was fairly familiar with her machine.

Another one of the students had never sewn anything before and didn't even have a sewing machine until the third week!  She did an amazing job with her apron project!

Still another student had to miss the fourth week, due to a family situation.  She was a more experienced sewist, so she was able to finish her apron project on her own.

 I'm really looking forward to these Level 1 students returning for the Level 2 class series.  In Level 2, we'll be making a kimono-type wrap robe that has patch pockets and a contrasting band  This robe can be made in any length and out of most fabrics.  The class sample, at left, is made from quilting cotton and can be a transitional garment going into the cooler temperatures of fall or coming out of the colder temperatures of winter, going into spring.

Lighter weight fabrics for summer in a light-weight cotton such as broadcloth, silk, a cotton/polyester blend (a silky), even a light-weight knit would work well, I think.  Of course, a warmer fabrics for winter would be appropriate, such as flannel, velour or corduroy.

If you live near the Louisville, Kentucky area and have beyond basic beginner sewing machine skills and knowledge, please consider signing up for this Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Level 2 class series. (Pattern and fabrics are not included in the class fee.)  It starts on October 3 and runs for four weeks at Austin's Sewing Center in Fern Creek (Call 502-239-2222 for details).  I'd love to have you in my class and to see how creative you can be with your fabric combinations.

"Be creative and learn to sew!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Week 1 of Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing Complete!

We've finished week 1!  The first of 4 weeks in the series I'm teaching of Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing classes at our local Babylock dealer is now complete.  I have 3 students who want to learn basic sewing techniques so they may sew & repair garments and shorten hems.  Oh, there's so much to learn in a beginning class and the students are hanging in there with me. 

The project is a chef's/artist's apron in which they will learn about reading a pattern, preparing the pattern tissue, cutting out fabric, marking, stay-stitching curves, sewing on facings, clean finishing edges, sewing machine stitched hems, top-stitching, sewing on patch pockets and many sewing tips that I've learned over the years. 

The curriculum includes Level 2 and Level 3, both of which the students may take later.  They'll make a wrap robe in Level 2 and a 2-pc PJ project in Level 3.  By the time they finish the 3-level series, they'll be very well-equipped to sew just about anything they want.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how far the students will go with their new sewing skills!  The photo shows one of the aprons that I'm using as my class sample.  I love the teapot fabric, since I am a teapot collector!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing Series, Level 1

The long-awaited Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing Series, Level 1 is starting tomorrow, June 6, at Austin's Sewing Center in Fern Creek.  This series has been planned for months, but with bad weather, health situations and other things, we finally have a "go" for the classes!  I am so excited about teaching this series!  In it, students will learn basics about their sewing machine, as well as basic sewing skills that they can use over and over throughout their sewing adventures.

As we get into the series, I will share with you here some tips and suggestions I also share with my students.  This will not be as valuable as actually being in the classroom with us, but it can be helpful to anyone who is thinking about learning to sew, or who wants to return to sewing after a long absence.  So many things have been improved over the years, and techniques have been made easier with new tools that are on the market today.  So, stay tuned for an exciting 4 weeks of basic sewing adventures with me!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sandy's Sanity-Saving Sewing Snippets: #3 Creating an Efficient Sewing Work Space

Well, I apologize for the long absence.  I have been somewhat "off the grid" since my husband had three surgeries in January.  Two were done on the 16th and two weeks later, he had a third one!  He's doing much better, now, and is back to most normal activities, which is a wonderful praise to God!  From all the prayer by our praying friends/partners and great doctor/nursing care, he's on the mend.

Today, I worked with a private beginning student and we got into a discussion about being organized and efficient in our sewing space.  One of the things I suggested to my student is to make sure her work table is at the proper height so she isn't bending over to lay out her fabric and pattern pieces.  A comfortable table height is one that should be at about the upper hip level when standing next to it.  I suggested she get some bed risers to place under the table legs to raise it up to a higher level, if necessary.  The higher table height will cut down on back strain from bending over, as well as fatigue that can occur from bending and reaching so much.

As you can see in the photo below of my studio, I have two chest of drawers of equal size and height backed up to each other.  They are sitting on bricks, which make them the perfect work height for me.  Sometimes we can make "do" with what we have available at the time, and since the bricks have worked so well, I just left them there!  They're sitting on felt mats that I cut from some leftover scrap felt so as not to scratch the floor.

The organizer hanging on the end is something I made from a length of denim fabric.  I sewed pockets from old jeans to hold scissors, rulers, and various other items, and the straps that are holding my rotary rulers and cutters are made from belt loops and strips of denim sewn into lengths that fit the size needed.  The length of fabric was long enough to place one end underneath my cutting mat and pressing board, which is covered in canvas cloth.  I had intended to paint the chests white when I acquired them from my Mother, but still haven't gotten that done.  I'm too busy with other things to take time for painting furniture!

Another thing I suggested to my student is to make her sewing work space in a "L" work space configuration.  By using a rolling office chair, she'll be able to roll in a smaller area to reach her machine and table surface easier.  I have found this to be a very workable solution to an efficient workspace.  I used this set-up when I was a high school principal's secretary in my school system career of 23 years.

I like to use what I call "arm's-reach space" where most of what I need is within arm's reach.  The less wasted movement I have to make, the more efficient I can be.

Please share your ideas on efficient sewing work space in the comment section, below.  I'd love to hear and/or see how yours is set up!  Thank you in advance.

"Be creative and learn to sew!"