Life is topsy turvy right now. Last month we celebrated the third anniversary of Stitchery, for which Traci and I are immensely proud. This month a pandemic hits, shutting our doors for an indefinite period of time.
After some moping, it's time to get back to work and do what we do best--think creatively. We are working on going digital, providing resources to our beloved students while they remain at home. Not being one who likes being in front of a camera, this is happening more slowly than you might like, but it's still happening. What are my plans??
Everyone here in Portsmouth started distance learning at home today, and I did as well. I'm learning how to use software to create quality PDF patterns. I'm learning to use You Tube. I dusted off the old Dancing Threads website, and even opened a Zoom account. We are trying very hard to use what we've got, not buy new technology.
I've made embroidery kits available to purchase on the KITS page of the Stitchery website. I'm offering curbside pickup or even mailbox delivery if you're local, but that will only last as long as there's no lockdown order in Rhode Island.
I'm slowly working to digitize my patterns so that you can keep sewing along with me at home.
Look for resources, patterns, tutorials and general sewing ideas here in this space soon. Thank you for sticking with us as we navigate this truly bizarre time!
I miss seeing all my lovely students!!!!
There's a gem of a fabric store in Lincoln, RI, called Ryco. It's a bit far from Aquidneck Island (45 minutes from my home in Portsmouth), but worth the trip for quilting supplies, longarm quilting classes and services, and also TRIM.
They specialize in selling trim of all descriptions in bulk or by the yard. Ribbon, fringe, pom pom, bias tape, lace, ric rac, cording, hook and loop tape, webbing...the list is seemingly endless.
They sell fabric as well, both in quilting precuts, by the yard, fat quarters, and remnants. They carry a beautiful selection of quilting fabric. You won't find much in the way of apparel fabric because their specialty truly is quilting. You also won't find fabric bargains, not even in their bargain bin (especially if you've already been to Lorraine's in Pawtucket (see my post on Lorraine's here). But you will find Cotton + Steele which is hard to come by in this region in a brick and mortar shop.
They offer classes in a variety of topics, mostly quilt-related. They also have several long-arm quilting machines. You can take a class in how to use the machine, then are certified to rent their machines by the hour (~$20/hour depending on the machine). This is a tremendous resource if you are interested in stepping up your machine quilting game without sending out your quilt to a professional.
The shop is located in an old mill, off the main road a bit. Look for a caricature of the owner's face to lead the way!
For those not in my area, they also ship just about everything they carry in the shop, but you'll have to call and speak to someone because their website doesn't really accommodate ecommerce well.
While a bit of a drive, once you get off the highway, it's a beautiful one. If you've visited the shop, let me know what you think in the comments!
This summer was filled with library sewing classes, camps, and enjoying time with my family. Somehow in between all of that, I managed to do some selfish sewing. Today I wanted to share some of what I made in the past few months, hoping it inspires you to spend some time with your machine.
A lightweight robe. When the morning is cool, even if it's going to be a hot day, it's nice to have a light extra layer that's not a heavy winter robe (remember I live in Rhode Island--winter can be fierce!). The pattern is from Purl Soho.
I enjoyed the Wonder Woman movie so much that I actually saw it twice in theaters! Couldn't resist this fabric when I saw it and made a few things for the shop, gifts, and a pencil case for my daughter for back to school.
We had a bathroom redone, which I adore. It needed a curtain and I wanted to have a little fun with the fabric. This octopus print is from Hawthorne Threads, one of their in-house designs that is digitally printed on demand. It's fabulous fabric for lightweight curtains!
This project is dual-duty: a garment for my handmade wardrobe, but also an example for teaching a class in how to make the shirt at Stitchery! I love it when that happens. This is the Cheyenne Tunic from Hey June Handmade. Lovely shirt that is a bit more involved to make, but very easy when we walk you through it in our Wardrobe Workshop (Sept. 24 and Oct 1).
There are two more projects I'd like to share that will have to wait for another day. One is my first attempt at the Marlborough Bra by Orange Lingerie. I'm very happy with how it turned out, but since I refuse to take a selfie in that project, I'm having a hard time photographing it. My dress form isn't my size (I know, I know), and it would look like I completely ruined it if I displayed it on the dress form at the shop!
The second is 95% finished, but I need some hardware and to finish a hem. I attempted a zip-fly pair of shorts that turned out rather well, if I do say so myself. These last two projects taught me that a little know how on the machine and a well-written pattern mean you can sew ANYTHING you want.
What have you made this summer?? I'd love to hear in the comments!
Creativity doesn't follow a schedule. You can't force an idea to present itself. Why is it that some of our best ideas come to us when we're in the shower? Driving a monotonous turnpike? Or even while relaxing with the family on vacation?
I think the mind needs space. Getting a new business off the ground, raising kids, keeping a house together, and trying to take care of your own health leaves not much time to even think. Ideas need room to evolve and mature. That happens when all the other things on our plates are put on pause.
What came to me during my recent lakeside stay with the family? Judging by the last blog post dated January, that would be this page right here. I have ideas for this space! It won't all be about Stitchery (though you should really check it out if you haven't already!), but it will be about resources I've discovered this past year that I want to share with you. Projects I've completed (I've tackled some seriously challenging sewing this year). Classes I'm teaching. Sewing fun. And of course, thoughts and photos of life here in Rhode Island.
Thank you to those who have followed along for years! Welcome to those just finding me here!
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!!
As co-owner of Stitchery in Portsmouth, RI, I teach sewing classes to children and adults. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.