Posted on August 31, 2017
For our children’s Junior Ranger backpacks, I worked hard to plan the design to enable the maximum number of patches to be added over the years. Every Junior Ranger receives a pin when they are sworn in, and I’ve seen some children at various national parks with dozens of these on vests and jackets.
Some of the parks, however, also award patches to their Junior Rangers. They do these in different ways: some parks give the patch as a matter of course. A few have levels of patch, based on the age level of the Junior Ranger in question, and kids can earn more than one patch at that particular park by completing more Junior Ranger activities on subsequent visits (this is usually only the very largest and most popular parks, like Yellowstone). Other parks have it in the gift shop where it can be purchased–but only after showing the pin badge as evidence of Junior Ranger-ness. Some, like Grand Canyon, also have them in the gift shop, but behind the counter where Junior Rangers must ask for them and then purchase. A few (like when we visited Mojave National Preserve this spring) award the patch only if the Junior Ranger activity booklet is completed on-site, versus being mailed in after the visit.* And others have no patches at all, or at least not any specific to the Junior Ranger program (although we have encountered a very, very small number that didn’t have SOME kind of embroidered patch available).
Posted on August 29, 2017
I make a lot of things for my children. I don’t often make things for them that I want to get out and play with when they’re not home. This time? Yes, I totally do.
These are one of my very favorite projects I have made for my children: their Junior Ranger backpacks.
Posted on August 24, 2017
Over the years as I have grown Whipstitch and altered focus or direction, I have developed an ad hoc system for keeping organized through both short-range and long-range projects. This isn’t a “system” so much as the means I use each day to keep myself on-task, to keep ideas in order so that they don’t get lost or misplaced, and to enable me to meet as many deadlines and goals as possible.
I have two big needs each day: I have to both keep track of HOW I spend my time, meaning the hourly obligations and expectations for each day as the clock ticks by; and I have to keep track of WHERE I spend my time, meaning which tasks I have prioritized above others and which ones I have gotten going but want to keep on track. I have learned over the years that no planner really has space for both of these goals–my daily planner, which I’ll share below, does a great job with day-to-day and hourly, but doesn’t give room for note taking or brainstorming or long-range detailed planning (which includes taking a sewing project from “idea” to “on the hanger”).
Posted on August 18, 2017
I taught tenth grade for a long time. Part of the curriculum for that level in the state of Georgia is to cover the Holocaust, a tough topic no matter where you live. Here in the South, discussion of any type of racial or cultural discrimination inevitably leads to discussion of the legacy human slavery has left in our backyards. As Oprah pointed out in an interview with Elie Wiesel, survivor of Auschwitz and author of Night, we don’t compare our pain, and the heartbreak of the concentration camps can’t be held against the heartbreak of African slavery in the 19th century, but they both beg the question, according to Wiesel, “What is there in evil that becomes so seductive to some people?”
Heavy stuff for a sewing blog, I know, but I promise that I’ll bring it all back around.
When I was teaching this topic, I used materials provided for free by the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose mission is to combat hate, intolerance and discrimination through education and litigation. They not only include primary documents related to the Holocaust and to the Civil Rights movement in the American South, but also the Japanese internment camps in the United States during the second World War.
Posted on August 16, 2017
When I started knitting, I realized I needed to think about storing my textiles differently. For one good reason: MOTHS.
Moths are the enemy of long-term textile storage, which we learned the hard way at our house from one vintage jacket purchased at a second-hand store that worked its way through three prized sweaters before we discovered what was going on. Textile moths LOVE wool, which is why closets have been made of cedar and old ladies have smelled of naphthalene for decades.
With my fabrics for sewing, I admit that I didn’t think too much about storage, certainly not specialty storage. I mean, cotton, right? Fold it up, stick it on the shelf, done! I have had a number of wools rolled up in a basket for years and never gave them a second thought, probably (and I’m ashamed to admit this, but it’s true) because I got them cheap at a closeout sale, so I didn’t ascribe any particular value to them. Insert conversation about cost vs value here. Sigh.
Posted on August 14, 2017
Hand-knitted? Hand knit? Whichever. I thought at one point I would never, ever, ever knit socks. The stitches are just soooooo tiny, you guys.
But my friend Alexia assured me that once I got going they were really fast, and the appeal of knitting something that was so eminently practical was pretty strong. Like when I started thinking about Sewing All The Things, the idea that another entire sector of my wardrobe had the potential to be Made By Me was hypnotic.
Posted on April 20, 2017
I first met Dana through a benefit auction online. I offered up one of the dresses I used to design, and she was the second bidder–outbid by a dollar. And we bonded over how, in a benefit/charity situation, maybe our goal shouldn’t be winning the auction by the least amount possible, because maybe the goal isn’t winning the auction, but rather making an impact and the “winning” is icing on top. We became fast friends.
Posted on January 30, 2017
TODAY is the final day to register for the 2017 Sewing Buddy Project! After nearly a decade and over 1000 sewing friends matched, the Project is here to find you your perfect sewing pen pal! A one-time fee gets you hand-matched to another sewing enthusiast for a year of sewing prompts, chances to connect, and the kind support of someone who really GETS you.
Already registered? Don’t forget to log on to your account and visit the main group page to complete the Google doc with your information in order to be matched! Matches will be emailed directly to your inbox by Feb 2, 2017. I can’t wait to introduce you to your new sewing best friend!
Posted on December 8, 2016
At the beginning of 2010, I sent out a quick survey to see what it is that most of us see as the reason we aren’t able to successfully get our sewing goals met each year. Is it time? Or how much space we have to work in? Is it lack of accountability? Or something else? The answers were varied and came from all over the globe, and I was fascinated to see what everyone had to say–and even more fascinated to know how many of us are having the same experience, despite very different backgrounds!
The results of the survey said that all of us had some goals to meet–goals we’d been sadly ignoring in years past. Some of them were expected, and others were a surprise–not all of us felt the same way about every aspect of our goals and obstacles, but there was a lot of overlap in the answers. Want to see my super-scientific-I-have-a-social-sciences-degree analysis of the answers that were submitted? Here ya go!
Posted on December 5, 2016
Years ago, before I started Whipstitch, I was a schoolteacher. Schoolteachers are not, as a cultural group, widely known for their fashion sense. For the most part, I suspect I dressed like a sad librarian. I know this because the most common days on which I received compliments from my students for looking “nice” were the days when I DIDN’T get dressed by choosing the top thing from the unfolded pile of clothing and instead ironed something that had been in the closet. Short version: I didn’t dress like I cared all that much about how I dressed.
But that wasn’t a wholly accurate reflection of how I felt on the inside. In point of fact, I cared a great deal about how my clothing fit and looked. I was (and remain) particularly focused on silhouette, and in how garments work together to create a pleasing whole when layered and combined. Most of my inspiration came from magazines and window shopping–this was before the internet, so I couldn’t Pin my ideas or create a virtual inspiration board. Instead, I tore sheets from fashion magazines and made literal, actual, old-school bulletin boards of looks and colors that I loved, that I felt reflected on the outside how I saw myself on the inside.
A teacher’s salary, though, wasn’t really up to the price tag of my taste level. Most of the clothes that I admired were far beyond my reach financially.