Today, I wanted to take a few minutes to introduce you to our primary teacher for the Fix It, Copy It, Love It: Stitch to Get the Most Out of Your Closet event on November 3. Registrations are still available at $150 until October 18, 2019.
I thought I’d share her background in her own words:
“My life with needle and thread started at age 4, when my Mom refused to buy commercially made (and to her, ridiculously pricey,) diapers for my favorite baby doll. She purchased a yard of diaper fabric for 10 cents at the local five-and-dime, cut out the doll-sized diapers for me, and proceeded to teach me how to sew and embroider by hand. Once the fabric was hemmed to her satisfaction, I picked out blue six-strand embroidery floss, and quickly learned stem and blanket stitch, and a simple French knot. My dolly had the fanciest diapers in the neighborhood, edged with blanket stitch and monogrammed!
Mom was a seamstress, specializing in fine hand finishing, and an accomplished needlewoman. Watching her ply a needle always fascinated me, so a year later, for Christmas, I received my first beginner’s embroidery kit, one made especially to teach children, made up of punched stiff paper with the designs painted on, and floss to match the paint colors. I was overjoyed! Mom showed me how to do the crossstitch and backstitch to work the designs, carefully checking the back of my work to make sure that it was as neat as the front. I was enthralled by the rhythm of the work, and watching the designs evolve!
Years later, when I wanted to learn to use her sewing machine, Mom was too terrified that I would either break the machine, or sew up my fingers, to let me get my hands on the machine! So, the next summer I took a basic sewing class. Loved it! During the six weeks of the class I made two sheath-style dresses, and my first square dance dress. By Halloween I was making a Civil war gown for my costume. Mom, when I showed her the pattern and asked for help, had told me that I couldn’t do it! Really? That was all the challenge I needed. So, I took part of my allowance, bought 10 yards of unbleached muslin for $1.00, swore my Dad to secrecy, and got to work. When the dress was complete except for the zipper and hem, I needed Mom’s help to fit do the final fit. She was so surprised, and impressed with what I had done, that she went out and bought grosgrain and velvet ribbon to trim the gown, spending far more per yard than what I had paid for the entire 10 yards of fabric, zippers, pattern and thread! From then, I never looked back
After some more advanced sewing courses I began to make most of my own clothes, including pleated plaid skirts, coats, jackets, and even trimming matching hats. And started teaching others to sew, one-on-one. A few years later I went to work at a local Singer Sewing Machine Store. In addition to teaching new machine classes, and doing some minor repairs, I ended up teaching all of that store’s summer teen sewing classes, and organizing the end-of-summer fashion show for my students. One of them made it to the State level competition.
Over a few decades, in addition to making my own clothes, including everything from bathing suits to evening gowns, doing some sewing for, and teaching, friends, I didn’t get back into the sewing business until teaching at G Street Fabrics about 15 years ago. Best, and most fun job I ever had, and I reveled in it. I most enjoyed teaching beginning sewing and patternless garments.
Although I have done period garb from different eras, my specially is Regency/War of 1812 era. I have made one of my Regency dresses entirely by hand, and made a Civil War junior officer’s coat entirely by hand. I made my Norwegian West Telemark bunad, several Finnish Feresi costumes, and most of my German dance dirndls, including a Miesbacher festtracht. Currently I am working on another Feresi, and doing restoration, repairs, and alterations on another Norwegian bunad.
In addition to counted crossstitch embroidery I do and teach Hardanger embroidery, various types of needlepoint, knit, crochet and quilting. My Hardanger work has taken awards at a number of juried shows, including Sons of Norway International, Woodlawn Plantation, Montpelier NeedleArts, and Sotterly Plantation. Not satisfied with simply making my own dirndls, I have also learned to make the basic seven trims, and taught them.
Currently, in addition to the Scandinavian costumes, and two dirndls of my own, I am making a little dress for a 1-year-old, finishing up some crossstitch heart jewelry, and finishing up two red, white and blue quilts for presentation to Veterans next month. Sometimes I actually take time out to breathe!”