Monday, April 25, 2011

"Get to Know the Teachers" at Austin's Sewing Center

Wow!  What a great time we had on Saturday at Austin's for the last of a three day grand opening at their new store location!  The store was hopping with lots of visitors coming in to see the new location and to participate in several "Make-it, Take-it" projects where some of the teachers helped customers make a quick project to take home with them. 

I was one of two teachers who had a display set up of projects that we teach at the store.  There were lots of questions about my items on display, as well as plenty of interest.  I wish all of you could have come by to see my items in person!

This side of my display had heirloom projects: baby bonnets and booties, a pillowcase, a camisole, and my shadow work cover stitch pillow.  I also had one of my thread painted brooches and my ribbon flower on display on this side.  The jacket I'm wearing is the "Stash Jacket" pattern.  It's made of all cotton fabrics, with some gold metallic rick-rack trim on the sleeves.  I used purples and royal blues, along with the ivory so I could wear it with several things.

The quilt underneath the display board is a 6-hour quilt (stitch & flip method) made on the serger.  It's a very easy quilt to put together.  It has to be if I made it, since I'm NOT a quilter - yet!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Get to Know the Teachers

Join me at Austin's Sewing Center on Saturday morning, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. during Austin's grand opening celebration at their new location on Bardstown Road in Fern Creek, behind McDonald's.  I'll be showing some of my projects; ones I've shown here on my blog.  See them up close and personal!  You can examine the techniques I've used and see how I've put projects together.  Check out Austin's web site at for more information on the grand opening.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Teaching at "It's Sew Fine Sewing Expo" - Decorative Stitch Thread Painting

On Wednesday, I taught a Decorative Stitch Thread Painting class at "It's Sew Fine Sewing Expo" at the General Butler State Resort Park in Carrollton, KY.  It was an all-day class.  I used a book by the same name published by Nancy Zieman.  The technique was developed by Karen Linduska.

I saw Karen on Nancy's PBS television show in January 2010 and fell in love with her technique of distorting  built-in decorative stitches on the sewing machine to interpret flowers, flower stems, flower leaves, grass, ferns, tree bark and leaves and ground cover.

After practicing Karen's techniques, I decided to schedule a class to teach them at Austin's Sewing Center in Louisville KY last summer.  When the opportunity to teach at the 2011 Sewing Expo became available, I jumped at the chance to teach the class there.  Ten students signed up for my class and we had a ball!  Each student learned to let go of the usual sewing "rules" and allow their creativity to flow.  (We actually opened the door to the classroom and threw the "rules" out!)   I think most of the students didn't even know how creative they actually could be as they learned about distorted and elongated stitch patterns!

Click on any of the photos to get a detailed look at the stitching.

 The students are starting on the first step of their wall art quilt, stitching the background of their piece.

Here is what the stitching looks like as the altered and distorted version of a built-in cross stitch.  It's been pushed through the sewing machine so it is elongated.  The stitching is started at one corner and is stitched across the background to the opposite corner.

 Altered stitching was completed on the background piece.  This student used three colors to add even more texture to her background piece.  Pretty, isn't it?

After the background stitching was finished on the insert piece, the ground cover section is added.  Decorative stitches that look like little flowers are added in a zig-zag pattern, from their default setting. 

Next, students completed stitching flower stems for the spike flowers, using an altered stem stitch.

This student didn't have some of the built-in decorative stitches on her sewing machine, so she put in her flowers with a free-form thread painting technique.  It was difficult to tell that the flowers were done free-form, they looked so good!

Students used a built-in petal stitch to stitch the spike flowers.  This stitch gets altered and elongated by pushing the fabric through the machine.  A quilting foot is used to accommodate the build-up of threads that occurs by stitching across petals more than once.

Spike flowers and scallop flowers have been stitched, centers have been stitched, and the stems and leaves have been stitched.  The last step on the insert piece is to add three different types of yarns to separate the flowers from the ground cover.  I call that the bushes section.

 The insert piece will now get trimmed down to get rid of the stabilizer on the edges, and will then be stitched to the larger background piece with a grass stitch.

 A grass stitch is also added to the outside edge with a space left between it and the quilt's binding.  A backing fabric is also added before placing the binding on the wall quilt.

This is the first of two projects given in the book.  Some of the students asked if we could have another class on the second project next year.  Yeah!  Let's do it again next year!  This is a wonderfully fun project to make!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's Sew Fine Sewing Expo

I'm getting ready to teach at the It's Sew Fine Sewing Expo at General Butler State Resort Park in Carrollton, KY tomorrow.  I'll be teaching a decorative stitch thread painting class, using the built-in decorative and utility stitches on the sewing machine.  What a fun technique this is!  I have ten students signed up for the class.  I've been so busy cutting fabric, batting and stabilizer for the kits I'm providing each student.  Plus I've been making additional samples of the stitches as they look in the default setting, then as they look when altered and distorted (which is part of the technique).

The students will be instructed on how to make an abstract, realistic piece of wall art from two layers of fabric and one layer of quilt batting in between, with two kinds of flowers, complete with stems and leaves, along with a fabric that simulates the ground that has some decorative stitches sewn onto it.  The piece will be completed with three different kinds of yarn that will simulate grass and weeds for a realistic look.

After the class, I'll post some photos of my students' art work, so be watching for them!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Community Service Sewing

Wow!  I've just finished over a month of volunteering for our church's Easter Pageant, which ran for 13 nights!  I was part of the most wonderful team of costumers who had already made all of the costumes for the 300-person cast of this fabulous production!  All that was left to do was to sew the remaining 60 garment bags for costumes that didn't have bags, yet.  I lost count of how many I made and helped make.

I came in during the first week of March and helped get the last minute sewing caught up before the first dress rehearsal that took place on March 14.  There were three nights of dress rehearsals and on the night before opening, we had a "Community" performance where bus-loads from homeless shelters, orphanges, families of cast members, production team, costumers, etc. - the sanctuary was full!  The crowd loved the production - they cheered and yelled in excitement when Jesus ascended above their heads up into the third balcony and into a fog-filled opening with a bright light emanating from it to depict heaven.  It was quite exciting for everyone to see it with their very own eyes!

During the production run, we costumers were always back stage ready and able to sew up any rips, re-sew loose velcro, come up with additional head wraps, etc.  It was amazing to learn about some of the back stage activities and needs that would arise.  On Friday nights, we would each take home a group of costumes to our own laundry rooms for washing (Is that with an "r"?  That was the joke going around the costume room many nights!).  On Sunday, we had to return the costumes by 3:00 p.m. so they could be placed on their proper rack for the actors to retrieve by 4:00 p.m., when they would arrive to have their makeup applied.  The play didn't start until 7:30, but everyone had to be in their places at least an hour ahead of start time.

The production ended last Friday night, April 1, with the usual closing night sadness.  To make it worse, there was a torrential downpour going on outside as the play ended.  There was even some real thunder and lightning which added to the simulated thunder and lightning at the very moment of Jesus' death on the cross.  It really intensified the realism of the message of the Cross.

Yesterday, my husband, Lee, and I went back to church to help clean up the four costume rooms, including the sewing room, and to bring home 32 Roman soldier tunics for the laundry!  They have all been washed, as of this afternoon, and are hanging to dry in our basement.  We'll return them, folded, and ready for the next prodution.

What an experience this has been, what a blessed experience it was!  To be a part of such a professionally, well-done production that's put on by a cast of 400 actors and over 1,000 others who are all volunteers! A truly God-blessed event that has touched so many lives with His gospel!  All glory and praise be to God!