Running with Stitches

Posted by Donna on 5:30 PM with No comments
I've been sewing since the tender age of seven, when my Irish grandmother Mary Margaret, also known as Mamie, handed me a threaded needle, a scrap of material and taught me how to make a simple running stitch.
I bought my first sewing machine when I was 15. Over the years, I made some of my own clothes, clothes for my kids, curtains, Christmas gifts, carry-all bags, dolls, and more. If it had a pattern - even if it didn't - I'd make it. I forayed to other types of needlework too - knitting, crocheting, counted cross stitch, but I never looked back after I started using that Singer... until now.

As the kids got older and my paychecks got bigger, sewing became more of a hobby than a necessity. I'd pull out "the machine" (I'm on my 4th now) from time to time to fix a seam, make a Halloween costume or whip up a set of curtains, but by and large, the whir of the Singer was silenced. Since I've broadened my interest in history and genealogy to include costumed interpretation, I pulled out the old girl (Okay, she's not really old. I bought my most recent model in 2009.) and dusted her off in preparation for my 1770's stays class.

Silly me.

In the stays workshop, Hallie said if I really, really, REALLY wanted to, I was given a hall pass to machine stich the channels, but her drumbeat about historical accuracy made me think better about it. "It will be cathartic," said one of the other women in the class, a stitching veteran trying to sway the rest of us from the error of the sewing machine ways when fashioning historical outfits. I didn't actually believe her, until I started stitching. I stitched channels at night while sitting on the couch. I stitched channels in the car on the 10 hour ride to Virginia. I stitched on the back deck looking at the golf course, on the way to West Virginia, and on the ride back home to Massachusetts. Over 10 days, I completed the stays - well, the channels, the eyelets and the assembly, and I've finally started the binding. Truth be told, it really was cathartic.

When the edict that the English Gown would be hand stitched only was issued, I didn't bat an eyelet. The stitching is still cathartic and along the way, I've added a few stitches and stitching techniques to my reporitoire, including the whip gather, the stroke gather, the combination stitch, and the lapped seam. I've prick stitched, tailor tacked and learned to use a thimble, well, a leather coin thimble.

When I decide to do something, I make sure it's researched and done correctly. My hubby says I'm a little fanatical like that, to which I reply, give me an inch, and I'll give you 8-10 stitches.