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!
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!!
Have you heard about the handmade blogger challenge to wear something you made each day during the month of May? It's a challenge started by Zoe at So Zo...What Do You Know? blog. Knitting, crochet, sewing--it all counts. Some people have made very strict rules for themselves like no repeats, the entire outfit must be handmade, etc. The goal is to get those lovingly made wardrobe items out and proudly into the world.
This is my first year participating, so I've kept the rules simple. One item per day, repeats allowed, handbags, scarves and other accessories count. Since this is an Instagram challenge, my pics are all taken with my phone. Here are some outfits from the first week of the challenge. Details about the patterns can be found on the Instagram descriptions (I can recap if anyone is interested later here on the blog).
I'm @dancingthreadsri on Instagram if you'd like to follow along!
Are you participating? I'd love to hear about it! It's not too late to start. Tag your photos with #memademay, #mmm16, and #mmmay16 (I've also been using #selfishsewing and #handmadewardrobe). The interaction has been so much fun!
This is the first in a series I'm writing as a resource to my fellow creatives in Rhode Island and the surrounding region. When I teach sewing lessons, most people think the only resource for fabric is the national chain store Joann Fabrics. NOT TRUE!! While there are many places offering expensive fabric*, especially some fabulous online boutiques, there are also many local resources that are wallet-friendly. I'll share each of my favorite fabric sources in a separate post, compiling everything as a permanent resource here on my website when finished.
Let's talk about Lorraine Fabrics. The link goes to the Facebook page--they do not have a website.
Located in an old mill in Pawtucket, RI, since 1991, they carry discontinued fabric. Bolts that simply haven't sold in quilt shops, etc., and they offer it all at a huge discount. There are two floors, and you'll notice quickly--hand written signs everywhere. Word of advice: obey the signage. I find that following the rules and being extremely nice to staff who can be a bit cranky is well worth getting fabric for almost nothing.
*I'll share the online resources in an upcoming post.
If you see something you like, buy it now. Because everything has been discontinued, it may not be there the next time you go.
The first floor has trims, notions, specialty fabrics like satin and sequins, fleece, wool, linen, quilting cotton...the list goes on and on. About half of the floor is filled with upholstery and home décor fabric. They even carry some Sunbrella, but it might be a print from a year or two ago, not something in the current Sunbrella catalog.
Please excuse the slightly blurry camera photos. While there is no posted sign saying "no pictures," I wanted to be on the down-low with my reporting. I never want to be the excuse for a newly-posted sign.
Don't quote me on this because I did not look at every roll and bolt, but I didn't see anything more than $17/yard. That's pretty amazing for outdoor and upholstery fabric!
Venture to the second floor (skipping the first entirely like I do most trips) and see where sewing becomes magical and affordable again. You know how sewing your own clothes is supposed to save you so much money? And then you buy fabric, even with a coupon, and end up spending $40 on a dress for your 10 year old (not including the pattern, notions, your time, etc.?) Well, the second floor of Lorraine's is where you can really save money by sewing your own clothes.
How is this possible???
EVERYTHING is $2.99/yard. I'll give you a minute to stop jumping up and down from delight...
I'm not going to lie...sometimes what you'll find is a complete crap shoot. I've found Cloud 9 organics for $1.99/yard (before the price increase this past year). Today there was Lotta Jansdotter, Windham, and Michael Miller fabric for $2.99/yard. There is also the largest collection of ugly polyester you will ever find under one roof. There is organization by fiber type, but after that you're on your own. There are racks of pre-cuts, which are usually 1-3 yard cuts and they're rainbowtized. Word of caution: the precuts do not specify fiber type. You're on your own to figure out if it's cotton, poly, wool, etc. The more time I spend in the bargain loft, the more projects I think up.
So where is this fabric gem?
593 Mineral Spring Ave
For me, it's about a 45 minute drive. Well worth it, but also not a store I can pop over to without planning. If you go, let me know what you think!! Even better, send me a picture of something you've made with fabric you purchased there!
Like many mothers of active children, I spend a fair amount of time shuttling people to activities and then waiting. Reading at these activities doesn't work right now because I miss out on watching all the fun. Hand sewing is the perfect way to keep my hands busy, stay out of trouble, not stare at a screen, and still be able to watch the latest flying front kick or back stroke.
Until recently, I've brought my sewing to events in a drawstring project bag, which works quite well. The biggest pet peeve of mine has been thread snips. What to do with them? They either end up all over my lap or tangled at the bottom of the bag. An exterior pocket was in order. While I was at it, I prefer zip top bags, and I had been saving some selvedges that had especially interesting graphics, or meant something to me like the sheep and crabs.
The portable sewing kit was the end result.
The thread snip pocket. No more lap full of threads making me look like the crazy sewing lady! I still look crazy embroidering everywhere I go around Aquidneck Island, but the people who know me understand it's for fun and work. Those who don't? If they ask I'll gladly tell them. If they don't, well then have fun with your Candy Crush.
Some of my favorite selvedges. It's such a shame that people usually just throw these away!
Inside pockets to corral various thread skeins, marking pens, scissors, lip balm, and even my phone and keys if I'm keeping things simple.
You can see by the current contents that it holds quite a lot. This is intentional, as I am usually either stitching multiples of something and like to churn through as many as I can in one waiting period, or I have a few different projects so I don't get bored.
Portable sewing means more than just sewing while my children are doing their thing. I can take the kit almost anywhere including outside in beautiful weather, a friend's house, to the park, on vacation...you name it. TSA may not like all the sharp pointy things, so I haven't tried flying with it yet, but it goes most everywhere with me lately. How else am I going to make sure everyone has the chance to buy their own Lil Rhody bag?? See the crab mug above? I'm working on a Maryland version of the bag too!
How do you sew, knit, crochet, etc. on the go??
Honestly, I'm not sewing all that much this week. I've been in planning mode most of the week, having a "show hangover" for most of Monday after a terrific Yarn Crawl event. Ask other artisans--"show hangover" is a thing. I lost track of how much coffee I've consumed the past few days.
What have I been working on? Some side projects, plus a lot of sewing in the planning stages. Here's a peek.
The photo above is a close-up of the embroidery for my new Lil Rhody bags. I would show you a finished bag, but they are all sold out at the moment! I plan to spend part of break next week sewing more, not to worry.
Samples for a Seaside Sewing Summer Camp at the Newport Library. I'm really looking forward to teaching this camp with my pal Emma the first week in August.
Fabric shopping for Selfish Sewing happened this week. I'm planning a whole blog post about Lorraine Fabrics in Pawtucket--it's a local gem not to be missed. Lotta Jansdotter fabric for $2.99/yard? Yes please! The fabric above will become an Esme top from her book Everyday Style.
More Selfish Sewing fabric for another Washi Dress. See my last post about how terrific sewing with this pattern is.
A gift for a certain Maryland family member. I haven't completely decided what the final product will be yet, but I'm thoroughly pleased with the embroidery kit from I Heart Stitch Art.
Pillowcase kits. These are for a big donation the Sew Easy to Care Youth sewing group will make in a few weeks. All hands on deck to bust out as many finished pillowcases as possible, so I took a few home to sew up. It's hard not to smile while sewing for a charity.
Navy blue linen blend, my last piece of fabric from this week's Selfish Sewing shopping trip. These will become Owyn pants, also a pattern from the Everyday Style book. The patterns are so easy to follow, and so far the two garments I've made are quite flattering. I'm looking forward to making lightweight cropped pants for summer. We had snow last week, but I *know* summer will be here soon. Right??
This fabric is destined for a set of reusable book bags for my son's classroom. I'm very excited about this project, and will be sure to share more as I get to work.
What are you sewing and planning to sew these days?
As co-owner of Stitchery in Portsmouth, RI, I teach sewing classes to children and adults. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.