I got back from Sewing Summit on Sunday and my head is still swimming. This post is just a brief update, I haven’t posted in a while and worry that this here little blog is starting to feel all lonely and abandoned. I’m working on a bunch of things – tutorials, patterns, and a couple of surprises I hope you’ll like, which doesn’t leave much space in my head for posting on the blog.
But back to the Summit – I met so many creative, talented, thoughtful women there – friends I didn’t know I needed to meet! And there was so much making-creating. Like this blue-dye cloth clutch:
Isn’t this a great use of blue-dye fabric? And the clutch only uses about a fat quarter. I keep my most current embroidery project in it:
I’ve never really made bags before, not sure why but I was always afraid of anything that needed to be glued or interfaced with specialty interfacing. I suppose I’m no longer afraid – thanks to Elena of Hot Pink Stitches’ class. If you want to make your own, you can get the frame and pattern on Etsy, from Upstyle. Elena used Gütermann craft glue HT2 to glue the fabric to the frame, and two kinds of interfacing/interlining for the internals of the clutch. I still have to research these.
I also learned a bit about English smocking, sewed a pair of leggings, made some stamps, and learned lots about book and magazine publishing. Hey, a girl can have ambitions!
It was so great to be in a place where, when I take out my latest hand-embroidery project, no one thinks I’m kinda weird. Instead they come up to touch it and chat about the details. So, so great. Now I’m trying to decide how to go on with this design:
Hmm. Not sure yet… (Maybe I should just go make another clutch, right?)
In the meantime, let me tell you a little bit about what I put in the clutch along with my embroidery. Now, everyone has a really personal take on what tools they use for their stitching so I don’t mean to imply that mine are the Absolute Best Things Possible that you must run out and buy RIGHT NOW and from here until forever use exclusively. They’re just what I like now, and this is of course always subject to change. So here’s what I use every time I stitch:
There’s my beloved Clover Thread Cutter Pendant, usually on a leather chord around my neck, very handy for quickly cutting a new length of thread. I also have a pair of 3 1/2″ Bohin embroidery scissors, which somehow feel nicer in my hand than any other ones I’ve tried. Also, they’re super sharp. I use chenille needles because I like the big eye (it’s easy to thread), and I find that this shorter and skinnier kind of needle makes for very nimble stitching. I usually have sizes 20, 22, and 24 on hand. For a thimble, I have a leather one by Considine Creations – so comfy! Until I tried it I’d never have believed that a thimble can be outright comfortable. And finally, the little snappy purse (made following this tutorial) that usually has all of the above jumbled inside:
You can kind of see I also have other needles, wooden toothpicks (useful for needleturn applique, which I haven’t done in, oh, a year but for some reason I can’t seem to part with the toothpicks), dress pins and some safety pins. These are things I definitely don’t use every time I stitch. Nor do I use hoops every single time. When I do, these are my faves:
My favorite hoops are a 12 cm (4.75″) hoop by a Turkish company called Nurge which is 8 mm or 5/16″ thick, and two 15 cm (6″) ones by Hardwicke Manor, one of which is 8 mm (5/16″) thick while the other is 16 mm (5/8″). The thicker one is bound, as per these directions by the lovely Mary Corbet (though I did it rather more quickly and only used one clothespin…). It really does make a difference, by the way, and is not-at-all hard to do! And binding your hoop makes you look like You Know What You Are Doing. (To which I say: hah! Interpret that as you will. Personally I think I definitely DO NOT know what I’m doing much of the time.) The Nurge hoop I got in a small shop in Hungary, the Harwicke Manor ones from Hedgehog Handworks.
Look at how solid the hardware is on the Nurge one:
The Hardwicke Manor ones are just as stable, though I find the Nurge stands up better to bizarre weather conditions…. the wood of some of my Hardwicke Manor hoops split from the humidity while we were at the Jersey shore this summer.
So there you have it – my traveling toolkit. How about you? What are the things you can’t live without for your handwork?