Things have been quiet here on the blog, but I've been working hard behind the scenes to open a brand new studio! Stitchery is a classroom and studio space offering sewing and knitting classes. My partner Traci Vaspol will be teaching all the knitting classes, I'll teach sewing. Both of us are joining forces to bring you a series of monthly wardrobe workshops.
But that's not all--we will be hosting knitting groups, carrying independent pattern designs for sale, hosting open studio time, bringing in guest artisans for workshops, and providing children and adults a creative space to learn sewing, embroidery and knitting.
Registration is LIVE for March classes. You can meet up with us in the studio to register in person or, you can register by credit card directly on the website. We have introductory classes for knitting and sewing, both for kids and adults.
Interested in a birthday party? Want to not have to clean your house and host your knitting group in our newly-renovated space? Looking for Summer Camps for the kiddos? Just send us an email or fill out the contact form. Camps are on our schedule, but we are still working out the details before posting to the website. Check back soon!
We hope to see you at our Grand Opening party on February 25!! Come see the studio, enjoy some refreshments, try out some of the equipment, sign up for classes, learn more about all the ideas we have planned for the next few months, and we will even have crafts for the kids.
We would love to show you around!
I'm asked this question a LOT. Why bother sewing garments for yourself when ready-to-wear is so inexpensive? I'm glad you asked!
I hope this list has given you something to think about. I'm going to keep sewing my own clothes, and maybe my wardrobe will be closer to 60-75% handmade a year from now!
Why do you sew clothing? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
We had a special request for a sports-themed birthday party. Usually I'm not a procrastinator, but this party was an exception. Two days beforehand, I had NOTHING planned. In fact, I thought we could send everyone into the backyard with all the sports equipment in our garage and say, "Have fun!" Then I saw the forecast for rain. Flooding rain. And I decided there was no way I wanted a gaggle of 8 year old boys tracking that much mud into the house.
So, two days beforehand, I scoured my studio to see what I could come up with since I'm not one to hand out plastic goodie bags of candy. All of my childrens' friends are probably tired of getting fabric bags of one kind or another as party favors, so I had an idea. Yards of white felt left over from a holiday angel wing-making marathon would make the perfect baseball pillows. I found the giant ric rac at Michael's, and thought I would take some pictures in case you'd like to make some last minute pillows too.
Trace and cut two circles of white felt however large you want your finished pillow to be. I used a pizza tray.
Cut two lengths of extra wide red ric rac and pin them to one circle of felt in a curved shape. I held up a baseball and approximated where the ric rac should be placed. Stitch the ric rac to the felt. Either use a wide zig zag stitch to make it quick (helpful when you are making 8 pillows), or carefully follow both outer edges of each piece of ric rac with a straight stitch. Use red thread and no one will notice either way!
Sew around the perimeter of the circle, attaching pillow front to back, leaving a 3" opening for stuffing. (The back of these pillows is plain white felt.)
Trim the edges to even everything up, including the ends of the ric rac.
Use fray check on the ends of the ric rac because it WILL fray. This is a handy fabric glue that dries clear and quickly.
Stuff the pillow with polyfill. Don't overstuff! The more you stuff, the more puckered the outer edges will look. The intent is to make a decorative 2-D pillow, not a firmly stuffed 3-D pillow.
Close the open seam.
Make a bunch! When it rains on the day of the party, these at least aren't as likely to break a window when the kids play with them!
Sewing this top made me realize there are so many garments I've made this past year that I've never talked about here, so I think you can expect to see some Selfish Sewing catch-up posts.
This is a brand new make, just finished this week. It's been in my to-make queue for a long time, and I shoved it into the "wait till next summer" pile just last month when the fall weather rolled in. This week we have unseasonably warm weather (75 degrees in mid-October in Rhode Island--crazytown), so I pulled it back out.
I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with Cotton and Steel fabric. Also, I have been itching to try a sewing pattern from Fancy Tiger Crafts. Both live up to the hype!
The Sailor Top is not for a beginner, but the instructions are very easy to follow if you've sewn a few garments. This version works, but I should have gone up a size. I was in between the medium and large, based on my measurements, and should have opted for the large (the shoulders are a bit tight). That just means I need to make another! It also won't stop me from wearing this to teach a sewing class this afternoon.
What have you been sewing lately?
The beginning of a new school year marks time more significantly to me than New Year's Eve or a birthday. I've always been a sucker for new school supplies and swoon in a good stationary store.
September is the perfect time to create a new set of goals for me, both personal and business-related. Goals should be revisited throughout the year, not made once and then forgotten. That means a few changes to this space!
New this year, I am offering after-school sewing classes for grades K-8. If you are interested, email me. Hand sewing or machine sewing--I bring all the materials to you.
This summer, along with my new business partner Emma Griffen of Mugwumpee, we started teaching workshops through the Rhode Island libraries. We co-taught a Seaside Sewing Camp in Newport in August and it was so much fun! This week I am teaching a teen embroidery workshop in Newport (Wednesday September 28, 4-6pm--call the library directly to sign up!), and we have several other programs coming up in the next few weeks through Portsmouth, Newport and Cumberland. If you would like to see (free) sewing workshops at your local RI library, ask your librarian to get in touch.
After nearly a year-long hiatus, I am getting back in the groove of artisan fairs. With the re-branding of my product line earlier this year, I am now focusing solely on vending at wool and fiber festivals. Look for an updated schedule on my About Page as dates are confirmed.
Embroidered State Bags!!
The state zippered pouch line continues to expand, with four currently for sale in my Etsy shop. If you would like to see your state, just ask! If you want a certain color, I'm happy to work with those requests as well.
After a summer off, it's time to write again. My new goal is to post once a week, and also get back to my monthly email newsletter. Are you following me on Instagram?? @dancingthreadsri That continues to be a very fun space, and I post once or twice a day pictures of what I'm currently sewing, planning for lessons, or beautiful scenes from around Rhode Island.
I hope that you are also getting a fresh start this time of year, and I are looking forward to all the possibility promised in a crisp blank notebook and freshly sharpened pencil! What new goals have you set this fall??
The pull to be outside is so strong right now, I find myself ignoring the computer most days. You should be ignoring screens too!
The photos above are a small taste of what's getting my attention these days, and I'm not sorry one little bit.
I'll be in and out of this space the next two or three months, but still working diligently behind the scenes. My online shop will stay open and stocked, I am prepping for a return to shows during the holiday season, I'm teaching a sewing camp for the first time, and I will be writing tutorials and posts, just not as frequently, as you can tell by the past 2 weeks. As much of that work as possible will be completed in the Adirondack chair in the picture above, writing in good old paper notebooks.
Summer in Rhode Island is short, my children are growing up fast, and I have a zillion ideas of things to sew. Especially summer clothes--how do I only have one pair of shorts? Computers are getting elbowed out of the way for the time being.
I hope that you too will be away from your computer more this season. If you want to see what I'm up to this summer, follow on Instagram (@dancingthreadsri). Or not. I don't mind if you don't read my posts--we can always catch up again over a cup of coffee in September. Go out and enjoy your summer!!
Whatever your plans, have a wonderful weekend!
You can now sew your own reusable produce bags using my free tutorial! With my recent change in direction with the business, focusing now on knitting and crochet accessories, I decided to pull my sewing patterns that I had listed for sale in my Etsy and Craftsy shops and turn them into free tutorials here on the blog. Here's a better explanation.
Ready to make your own reusable bags? These are great for the grocery store, farmer's market, or even for collecting shells at the beach. Let's get started!
Cutting Out the Pieces
Cut two—6” x 26” rectangles of quilting cotton (cut 13” on the fold, paying close attention to layout if using directional prints)
Cut one—6” x 26” of the mesh (cut 13” on the fold)
Cut 1 yard of the drawstring cording
Fill your bag with produce and enjoy!
Have you ever bought fabric from IKEA? Did you know they sell fabric by the yard? Did you also realize that there are many usable beautiful textiles IKEA sells in other departments that are perfect to cut up for sewing?
45-60 minutes North from Aquidneck Island, IKEA in Stoughton, MA, is well worth the drive. I took a trip last week and came home with pictures to share with you, showing you how many options you have in fabric. Most especially, inexpensive fabric.
There is a self-serve fabric cutting area. No fabric costs more than $8.99/yard. Since this is a home décor store, their fabrics are geared towards pillows and curtains. Some prints are quite large, intended to be used as a wall hanging or other statement piece. While not always suitable for clothing, I have used many of these heavier weight fabrics for bags. They also are a great weight for a spring jacket, and of course pillows and curtains.
Choose your fabric, unroll, measure and cut, then apply a sticker with the barcode number, yardage and price. The cashier will take care of it when you check out.
Note: the scissors usually are really dull from however many customers roll through this place. You're on the honor system--please don't ruin it for the rest of us by cutting more than you claim on your checkout sticker!
They have recently started carrying pre-cut lengths of fabric.
They also carry their own sewing machine and a handful of notions. I'm not sure this is any better than the toy machines you can buy for kids. I have no experience with this and do not recommend it. I still very heartily recommend buying a good used machine, or something like the Brother CS6000i or the Janome Magnolia. $64.99 seems tempting, but playing with the reverse button and dial, makes me think it's not even worth that low price tag.
The same applies for their thread and scissor quality. Use a coupon or wait for a sale to get quality thread and a workhorse like fabric shears at a craft or fabric store.
Still, this shows me that a big corporation believes sewing is a growing hobby, not something dying out. That is very encouraging!
Besides the obvious fabric available in the cutting department, this store is filled with fabric options if you change the way you think a bit.
Look at the cool graphics in a table runner, napkins and tea towels. You can use these for so many things! I've made kids art aprons from IKEA tea towels for birthday party favors. You can make a variety of zip pouches from the napkins. Use the existing hems to your advantage. Cut up with abandon for patchwork. Once you look beyond the label, and think of these as smaller cuts of fabric rather than yards on a bolt, the possibilities are endless.
What if you need a larger piece of fabric and a napkin isn't enough?
Bedspreads! Can you imagine finding fabric yardage in a twin bed size for $12.99??
Shower curtains! $4.99 for a huge panel of fabric--you really can't find that anywhere else (though I hope you'll start seeing things like the clearance rack at Marshall's as sources of inexpensive fabric too!). Keep in mind the fiber content and what project you have in mind. Personally, I wouldn't want to make a skirt out of a nylon water-resistant shower curtain, but it might be perfect for a picnic blanket. Or rough and tumble beach bag.
Last but not least, curtain panels. You can find linen curtains for far less than you would buy yardage at the fabric store, even after sales and coupons. A 2-pack of curtain panels is a huge amount of fabric.
The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Have you ever sewn with textiles from IKEA? I would love to hear about it, and see photos of what you've made!
Knitters are the best! I knit badly, but I love to sew lovely bags to keep their projects, needles and hooks in order. I also teach sewing, and you can find many sewing resources here. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.