Sewing Cirlces: Then and Now

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Researching the origins of sewing circles in the USA, I found the beginnings alongside the birth of our country.  Many started in churches, as those acted as the tight knit community centers of the day.  One sewing circle at  Ocean View Presbyterian Church in Delaware was formed in 1879 and served as a place of fellowship and education as well as a basis to fund mission work using handmade goods.  This particular sewing circle still stands as the oldest operating society in Delaware.

Many sewing circles served similar purposes and even branched into politics.  In an excerpt from Frederick Douglas and the Atlantic World, Douglas wrote a letter to the Lynn Anti-Slavery Sewing Circle in 1846 which shows an even greater social aspect a sewing circle can have.

During the 1950s and 1960s sewing circles took a turn toward the younger generation.  Girls would gather in each others homes to hand-sew doll clothing and discuss fund-raising projects for church or school.  Many served as a social club since completing projects took a back seat to gossip and eating snacks.

Today sewing circles are still found in churches branching now into community centers, home groups, and businesses that capitalize on sewing. I believe being part of a community is a beautiful thing and being able to share such a personal craft with one another in a group creates a place of endless possibilities. The sewing circle is not only a place to share useful information and inspiration about the craft but serves as a place to sharpen one's person and world views.

Why not start your own sewing circle.  Start with a pattern, a social project, or even a simple minding party. Ask friends over once of twice a month to share in the fun and let it naturally evolve from there. Beginning and ending one project after another will establish a beautiful tradition in no time.

Sew on people!

Textile Tuesdays Present: Batik

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This Indonesian dying technique has been found in several other cultures in India, the Middle-East, Africa, and parts of Asia. Known for its hand-worked prints, this fabric depicts stories and expresses cultural art unique to its individual creators.

The majority of Batiks start with a plain weave cotton fabric and are made unique by using resistant dye methods.  Silk and rayon fabrics are also a commonly printed on. This method alternates the use of waxes and natural dyes to create all over patterns, directional patterns, single scenes and motifs. Patterns are applied via stencils, carved stamps, and hand painting making it very personal and specific to the artist and region.

Use this fabric to create a bold statement in a dress or an eclectic addition to your home with a Batik wall hanging, a set of throw pillows, or if you're up to the challenge a quilt.


How do I decide on the right sewing machine?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Looking to invest in your first sewing machine? Or maybe you've been wanting to upgrade your old machine?

From personal experience and working with students of all skill levels, we have gathered quite a bit of information and recommendations concerning the purchase of a new machine and have prepared a checklist to guide you in your search.

Begin at the Beginning
Some personal questions to consider:
*What will you be using your new machine for? Home projects, garment construction, quilting, etc.?
*How often will you be using this machine? Occasionally for clothing repairs, every day to manufacture your ouwn clothing line
*Do you need to transport/move the machine often?
These questions will help you determine what machine functions you need to look for when reviewing the product details of the machines

Tried and True Brands
These names have been around for ages and still continue to produce quality products in varying price ranges.

Basic Machine Capabilities You Can't Live Without
Must have...
*Varying stitch functions including
   -Straight stitch with adjustable lengths
   -Zigzag stitch with adjustable widths and lengths
   -Blind Stitch for sewing trouser and skirt hems
*Free arm for sewing cuffs and sleeves
*Zipper foot for inserting zippers
*Buttonhole foot to guide you while sewing

Life is easier with...
*1-step buttonhole function (4-step buttonhole is okay, but a little more tricky to sew)
*Drop in bobbin
*Quick change presser feet or snap on presser feet
*Decorative or quilting stitches (fun, but not necessary)

Price is not always an indicator of the machine's quality. Purchasing a high priced machine does not always mean it's the best one for you and your end use.
My suggestion... start off with the basics. As your skills develop and grow, you will get a better grasp of what you need from your machine and can reinvest in the purchase of a higher-functioning machine.
Computerized machines are not always best. They are push button friendly, but are quite a pain to fix especially of the electronic board decides to burn out.
My suggestion... the simpler, the better. The dials and switches of a basic machine are much easier to adjust and fix than an electronic board or touch screen panel that may burn out.
Let us know if you need help! Good luck shopping.


Katie for SEW Moni


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