Friday, September 17, 2010

I Dabble in Heirloom Sewing

The new stitch plate for the 1130 came in time for my heirloom sewing class today. And as it turned out, I needed those inch markings for the class, so I was glad it arrived in such a timely manner. (I'll also try using the new stitch plate on the B&SS quilt tomorrow to see if I can get the same seam allowance as the 1530 was giving me.)

Although I prefer quilt making to garment sewing, I adore learning new sewing techniques. So I had a lot of fun today at the Heirloom Technique workshop held at The Fabric Patch today. It's a prerequisite for the Heirloom Blouse class which I also intend to take. Both classes are taught by Donna Lasky, a fantastic teacher who really knew her stuff. (She was trained my Martha Pullen.) She kept us hard at it, but I enjoyed myself so much that, when we were done, I was surprised to find that we'd run two hours over the allotted class time.

As we worked through the different techniques, we assembled our samples into a notebook, recording our own customized sewing machine settings for each one. (BTW, the samples pictured above are still unfinished. I need to take the basting stitches out of the blue one and I still need to do entredeux stitches around the shaped lace circle.)

Some of the women in the class were wishing they had granddaughters to sew for. I have four granddaughters, and I love to sew for them. But I don't think I'd make them heirloom dresses. For one thing, I can remember how boring it was to wear fancy clothes when I was young -- dresses that were "too good" (and often too uncomfortable) to play in. I'd rather make them things they can have fun wearing. But for another, I'd rather sew them dresses that will not engender regret on my part no matter what happens to them.

For my darling granddaughters (A.K.A. "The Wild Girls") are probably not as docile and inhibited as I was about taking care of a Special Occasion dress though they do love wearing pretty dresses in which one can dance and twirl. But sometimes princesses just gotta climb trees!

When I was at Upland Vac & Sew, where I bought some supplies for this class, one of the staff told me about a customer who had made her granddaughter a very fancy heirloom dress for Easter which represented 100 hours of painstaking work. The little girl wore it on Easter morning while riding the brand new Big Wheel which her father had just given her. The skirt of the dress got caught and ripped, wrapping itself around the axle as she merrily continued to pedal. The child was not fazed in the least. "Don't worry. Grandma can fix it!" I find her confidence heartwarming, though I can't help wondering if Grandma's heart didn't stop for a moment.

But wouldn't it be fun to make a christening gown? Or a bridal nightgown? Or an old fashioned, romantic blouse? And I look forward to occasionally using some of these techniques to embellish fun-to-wear but relatively sturdy dresses for my beloved Wild Girls.

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