For me, sewing and quilting is and has been for most of my life far more than a hobby.
My earliest memories of sewing are from when my family lived in Paducah, Kentucky (interesting considering Paducah’s position in the quilt world today!). My Dad was working with Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on their power plant there. I clearly remember sitting beside my mother at her pretty black Singer sewing machine when I was very young. She was telling me how important it was to clean and oil your machine and keep a good fresh needle in it. That was my first lesson that I never forgot. She was a true expert “seamstress” and we shared the love of sewing throughout her life.
We made most of our own clothes together for as long as I lived at home. With her guidance, I made some of my more complex clothing like tailored wool suits, overcoats, and stylish clothing of all types. She made my prom dresses and accompanying gorgeous wraps and I made the bags.
We never did quilt together. I don’t know if she ever quilted. She made some lovely stuffed dolls and stuffed toys..not just rag dolls, sails for the sailboat, tents, in addition to the gorgeous clothes at couture level. I still have the Victorian doll that she made and I dressed so long ago. The jacket and skirt satin fabric is sun faded, but I love it. I miss her.
Throughout my life, it has been a key skill for me to be able to sew. It enabled me to make not only my own work clothes when I went out to work, but my husband’s too. I made Marvin suits and a gorgeous Harris Tweed jacket he loved. I even made him a tuxedo from tropical wool with silk satin lapels using a stylish Bill Blass pattern from Vogue that required substantial resizing (he was a big tall guy). It turned out well and he wore that for years especially when he sang. He got many compliments on it. I, of course, made things for my boys too…clothes, overcoats, backpacks, pup tents, bedroom curtains, and so forth.
Until I went out to work and got so busy I had little time to sew, I never had to wear anything that wasn’t stylish and well fitted when I went out because I could make what I wanted and alter what I bought to fit right. Even then, I was able to make things fit better. It is my hope to keep on sewing to the end of my life, Mostly, however, that will probably be making quilted fabric art with the occasional clothing item.
I still do a small amount of clothes sewing, but I work from home now as a fabric artist, and don’t sing with semi-professional choral groups anymore or even often go to concerts. So my work uniform is jeans and a simple shirt or sweater. I have a closet full of nice clothes that are timeless in style and I mostly manage to keep well maintained so they fit me. I have been slowly loosing weight so I do need to do some altering now. I made myself a new overcoat from my stash last year with a faux fur collar. It’s wonderful. I also made my youngest son a rather nice faux leather jacket.
Making quilted art seemed a natural progression for me towards the end of my government career and I decided to retire a little earlier than I might have otherwise to be a full time fabric artist. I started quilting about a year after Marvin died at my sweet daughter-in-law’s suggestion. It helped me cope a lot and still does.
I have occasionally made a cuddle quilt, but creating quilted art for the wall or the occasional piece of wearable art, is really exciting for me. I took multiple art classes in both high school and college, and have taken private art lessons in addition, practiced on my own, and have my fourth year certificate in Japanese Ikebana I obtained in Japan. Ikebana is also an art form that inspires some of my wall quilts.
I particularly love to see how far I can push the sewing boundaries working with the power of my machines, the great advances in threads, notions, and fabrics, and even working with leather or fur (mostly faux unless it is recycled), cork, fibers, trims, and beads.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I have launched my YouTube video channel and am also writing workbooks and patterns to go along with them. I want you to know that what I am teaching is based on a solid background of study and experience and hope you will join me in many of the projects I will be presenting.
Fabric art is a great way to decorate your home or cheer up your office–wherever it is–celebrate the seasons or family landmark events, help you deal with the more difficult times of life, and fill you with joy and peace. You can express things through fabric art…praise, thanksgiving, love…This is true even if you get a little frustrated over problems you will encounter and sometimes have to walk away, or throw the project in the back of your storage area for a “time out.”
The fact is, though, that figuring out how to overcome problems you encounter in your projects can help you keep a sharp mind and give you a real satisfaction when done. Experimenting with new techniques, materials, and designs adds to the whole enjoyment.
Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studios. Subscribe to my YouTube channel so you will know when a new video arrives.