Great Women in Sewing: A List of Incredible Seamstresses

When you think of the word “seamstress,” what image springs to mind?

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When you think of the phrase “famous seamstress,” whose image pops into your head?

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Would you be surprised to learn that there are far more famous seamstresses than you may realize?  And that a lot of them are not only household names, but have changed the world for the better throughout history?

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About a year ago, just for kicks, I did a search to see how many famous seamstresses I could discover, and it was delightfully productive.  I love the word seamstress, and I love the legacy that these women have left behind with their needles.  They’ve influenced civil rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights.  They’ve impacted religious freedoms, fashion trends and workplace laws.  They’ve labored for soldiers overseas, for students in classrooms around the world, and as artists making statements about their time.

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I want to share these women with you.  I want to research and treasure their stories, and be inspired by their vision, their influence, their achievements and their passion.  Starting tomorrow, semi-weekly posts here on the blog will point you toward women who have made a difference with their needle.  I hope you’ll follow along–and share in the comments names you’d like to see featured so I’m sure not to miss anyone!

The Murder Mystery Quilt and The League of Adventurous Dressmakers: Last Day to Join!

The League of Adventurous Dressmakers

It’s only February, and I’m deeply immersed in the League of Adventurous Dressmakers.  I feel so inspired and motivated and excited about the garments I have in my queue.  Part of what slows me down, looking back on past years and the to-sew lists that never get completed, is that I love the planning stages of a sewing project, but don’t always feel accountable–everyone who reads and comments on my blog is super encouraging (loving you guys!), but you’re so supportive and understanding that when a project stalls, there’s no real pressure to pick it back up.  With the League, knowing that there are folks who are excited and asking questions and posting photos and watching to see what comes next really gets me sitting down at my needle.

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Knitting for Humility

On the first night of Intro to Sewing class, a young woman walked in with a brand-new sewing machine still in the original box and set it on the classroom table.  This was certainly not the first time that a student had arrived with their first sewing machine to their first sewing class, by any stretch–on a regular basis, someone would come to class direct from the checkout line at the big box store and set their shiny purchase in front of their chair.  Invariably, their faces wore a look of embarrassment, as if they should have had more experience sewing before coming to class.

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Giveaway on Sew, Mama, Sew for the League of Adventurous Dressmakers!

 

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Were you hoping to join the League of Adventurous Dressmakers this year? Today could be your lucky day! Over on Sew, Mama, Sew you can enter to win THE ENTIRE YEAR of League membership for free! There are very few entries at the moment, and your odds are so, so good. Hop on over and add yourself to the list of hopefuls!

For everyone who doesn’t win, you’ll also find a discount code to get one month FREE when you join the League.

Can’t wait to see what you’ll make this year!

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LAST CALL for a 2016 Sewing Buddy!

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I am deep in the trenches of hand-matching our Sewing Buddies for 2016!!  If you haven’t signed up yet but would like to join us, TODAY is the very last day to do so–get in under the wire and find yourself a sewing pen pal for the year!

If you ARE registered, please be certain to complete the survey, which you can find on the main Buddy page.  The survey results are what I use to match you with your Buddy, so if you don’t complete it, you won’t get a Buddy!

I am beyond excited to see so many familiar faces back this year, and just as many brand-new folks looking to make a sewing friend.  I have some really fun monthly posts ready to go for you all, and can hardly wait to see what all of you will accomplish this year!

The Only Reason The Internet Works

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I was watching an old Hepburn & Tracy movie over the holidays, Desk Set, all about replacing a crack reference librarian with a computer, back in the 50s.  And it occurred to me: she was right to worry for her job.  Because the computer couldn’t do her job, but the internet certainly does.  Need to know all Santa’s reindeer?  Google!  Need to learn the tune to a song?  YouTube!  Need to reserve a book at the library?  There’s an app for that!

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The Rope Basket Craze

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So, not too long ago, I made my very first rope bowl.  One minute, the words “rope bowl” were some vague 70s-era shady memory and POOF! the next minute, it seemed like all the cool kids were making them.

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Button Sorting

button sorting to build brain skills

The other day I walked into our kitchen and found this on the counter.  The children had taken the giant trifle bowl filled with random buttons that I keep in my sewing room, and were sorting them by type.

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It’s like when you give your kids a gift and they want to play with the box: sometimes I wonder why we strive so much to provide “valuable” activities for our children when they are clearly so capable of engaging in work that feeds their brains with minimal guidance from us.  I didn’t suggest that they sort buttons.  I didn’t even set these out for them to discover–they saw the bowl on the counter, and organizing the buttons was their natural inclination.

There is a ton of research to support sorting activities as brain-builders for kids.  So while I do find myself wondering why I kill myself and tie my brain into knots thinking I’m not doing ENOUGH to make sure my children are exposed to chances to work their little grey cells, I think there’s a huge value to creating opportunities for them to stumble upon an activity that will enlarge their abilities.  Our children (all but the youngest, poor thing) have all gone to Montessori school for their primary (preschool) years, and that’s a core part of the Montessori philosophy: children have total freedom of choice WITHIN A STRUCTURE of very carefully curated selections.  This allows two things: the kids get to feel the freedom of choosing, but their trajectory is guided by an adult who coaches primarily from the side.  Structure is in place to move children past easy tasks and on to more challenging activities, but it is still the child who is make each selection and moving into new territory willingly.  Open-handed control from the adults to the children, allowing them to follow their natural curiosity while still monitoring the basic human tendency to hunker down with the tasks we know we can easily complete.

button sorting for children

That’s what this felt like.  If I HAD orchestrated the whole button-sorting scenario, I would fully be patting myself on the back right now.  I didn’t, but it’s a good reminder that children love to organize, categorize and assess.  My two youngest–five and seven–were HYPNOTIZED by these buttons.  BUTTONS!!  And what individual who sews doesn’t have a zillion buttons that don’t match, just lying around, that we don’t particularly feel attached to?  I was NOT concerned if one or more of these were misplaced (although I adore those orange flower ones), and when I discovered the kids playing with them, it was easy to let it roll.  Sorting activities have been proven to increase children’s concentration and focus.  They’re also great for small-motor control and can serve to sooth children with sensory-motor issues through the simple repetition and chaos-reduction that’s inherent in the activity.  Many Montessori supply stores carry special sorting products, and button sorting is a long-standing primary-level activity in Montessori classrooms, but you can clearly stumble upon the same activity by happy accident.

 

When was the last time you sat down and sorted some buttons?  I’m thinking, as we recover from the chaos of the holiday season, that some of us could benefit from the soothing focus that sorting buttons brings.  Good way to get going in the New Year, yes?

Now OPEN for Registration: The Murder Mystery Quilt & the League of Adventurous Dressmakers!

Now open for registration!  Both the Murder Mystery Quilt AND the League of Adventurous Dressmakers are now ready for you to join!

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The League of Adventurous Dressmakers is a monthly subscription club that focuses on in-depth technique lessons for better garment sewing.  As more and more of us seek to sew our own clothes, we want to be sure that we make clothes that are beautiful and well-constructed.  With the League of Adventurous Dressmakers by your side, you’ll do it in superhero style!  In this warm, communal environment, explore key garment-making techniques to making your hand-sewn clothing the best it can be, and get inspired by other dressmakers while you do!  Learn more about the League here!

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The Murder Mystery Quilt is a monthly subscription club that reads along together and stitches up a quilt to find clues and solve the murder mystery contained in the story.   This is a mystery quilt in the traditional sense–you sew a block each month and the overall design of the quilt isn’t revealed until all the blocks are sewn–but it’s also a MYSTERY quilt: each month, along with the block pattern and design, you receive a chapter of a mystery story.  Each chapter reveals clues as the plot unfolds, and it’s your job to seek out whodunit!  Read background on this project here.

I can’t wait to share this year with all of you, and be part of two big projects I’ve been dreaming up for a very long time.  Use the links above to register, or visit my shop.  You’ll receive a welcome letter automatically when registration is complete, and your first month’s pattern within a week!

Let’s Get Sewing, everyone!!

The Murder Mystery Quilt: Sew It to Solve It

In the first grade, when I was six years old, my class did a unit on Ancient Egypt.  I was, as most children are, completely mesmerized.  The story of Howard Carter and his tenacious pursuit of discovery was–and remains, nearly 100 years later–absolutely captivating.  I adored hearing my teacher read, quietly and with appropriate pauses, of those moments when Carter at last, decades after beginning his search, approached the entrance to what he believed to be the greatest tomb in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings.  I held my breath as Carter and his workmen punched a small hole in the plaster to open up a tomb that had been sealed for millennia.  And I gasped when Carter’s financial sponsor for his quest asked if he could see anything by the light of the candle he thrust through that opening, and Carter replied, “Yes, wonderful things!”

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