Thursday, May 11, 2017

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button

Does anyone recognize that phrase?  I vaguely recall it as a childhood game but I don't remember actually playing it.  It came to mind as I began to write this since our topic at last Wednesday's Sewphisticuts meeting was "Making a Dorset Button".  According to Wikipedia, a Dorset button "is a style of craft-made button originating in the English county of Dorset. Their manufacture was at a peak between 1622 and 1850, after which they were overtaken by machine-made buttons from factories in the developing industries of Birmingham and other growing cities."  There are many variations of the style, which are described here:

The basic button is formed by wrapping a ring with fiber, creating spokes by running the fiber across the center, then weaving around these spokes.  We used plastic curtain rings with a one-inch diameter.  Some of us chose a white crochet cotton thread, while others used sock-weight or light sport weight yarn.  The most difficult part of the process was creating the spokes;  most of us had to try the wrapping several times before getting the yarn as evenly distributed as we liked.  But then the weaving went quickly and everyone created a button within an hour.  Typically these would be appropriate on a hand-knit item since the buttons would made using the same yarn as the item, allowing the buttons to match the garment.  But another use we thought of was embellishment on quilts or craft items, where a custom-made button could lend a unique look.

Directions for making these buttons can be found on-line at various blogs and in many Youtube videos.

We also had some show-and-tell.

Sue's quilt top

Another quilt by Sue

Judy's one-seam pants from Louise Cutting pattern

Judy's velour robe

Embroidery on Judy's robe
Cyndy's jacket from scuba fabric

Connie's tool caddy from serger workshop

Maura's denim bag

Friday, April 14, 2017

Musings on Space and Time

The topic was organization; specifically, how do you keep track of your sewing stuff (assuming you do) and how do you maximize your sewing time and output?  A lively discussion ensued among the group about sewing space and time.

Most of us have sewing rooms that were carved from an extra bedroom or basement room in our homes, so our spaces were not designed to be sewing studios.  As a result we've had to make-do with imperfect lighting or less-than-ideal configurations.  Many of us have hit upon similar solutions to the problem of storing supplies and organizing projects.

Variety of clear storage boxes and drawers
Two favorite things cropped up in our talk:  clear plastic, whether as bins, bags or envelopes; and office supplies repurposed for sewing use.  Peggy uses a desk carousel for a sewing tool caddy.  Maura likes the Really Useful Boxes brand storage containers that come in various sizes from tiny to large to organize drawer contents and shelves.  Quite a few of us use the rolling carts with clear drawers to give us extra storage near our sewing area - they are a good size to hold sewing and ironing supplies and often fit under a table.  Clear storage bins were popular for storing fabric (because then you can see what's in them) and clear plastic sheet protectors (sleeves) for patterns.  Clear plastic bags are great for packaging all the elements of a project:  pattern, cut-out pieces of fabric, and notions. 

Beyond these items, Mary Ann uses a flannel back tablecloth for a quilt design board.  It can be hung on the wall or laid flat on a bed or table.  She lays out her design on the flannel side.  If she needs to move it before it's done, she just rolls it up and the plastic side protects the whole thing.  She also finds that a pegboard on the wall is a great way to keep a lot of sewing tools handy. 
Labelled fabric swatches

Judy deals with the seasonal aspect of sewing garments by sorting her fabrics according to season, so spring and summer fabrics are stored separately from fall and winter fabric.  Then she can rotate them in and out of her sewing room as needed.  She also keeps binders of swatches labelled with fabric content and yardage to stay aware of her stash.

Kathia found that having a sunny room was important - dark rooms require extra lighting which can heat up a room uncomfortably and take up valuable space.  And natural light is important for quilters to be able to see the true colors of fabric.

Another part of the discussion was about making time to sew.  Some of us have scheduled times (often early morning) to sew; others fit it in whenever they have a few moments.  Some set goals, which can be as varied as sewing an item a week to sewing one seam before dinner.  Some of us make lists of projects we want to make;  these might be prioritized by season or need.

At the end of the meeting we had discovered that although we all have adapted similar ideas to aid our sewing, there were enough differences to give us all some new ideas about maximizing our sewing time and space.

There were a few Show-and-Tell items.  Next month Peggy will be presenting a program on making Dorset buttons.

Peggy's fabric box, opened flat

The fabric box assembled 

Maura's Map quilt