Our first sewingjourney is finished!!! Whooooo hoooo, whoooo hoooo. Remember when I said this trip could either be a disaster or the best thing ever? I think it was a little of both. Just at different times. I journeyed; I sewed; I survived. I also learned a lot. And, met a ton of amazing people who encouraged and inspired me. I can’t wait to go on another one! As we bring the first sewingjourney to its close, why don’t I tell you about the stitching (since I know you are dying to find out about the hand sewing) and do a quick review of the highs and lows.
As you remember, I forgot the cords to my sewing machine and had to hand sew. (either that or go home and there was no going home!) At first this was a struggle because I haven’t hand sewn in AGES and it bothered me that my stitches were big and clunky looking. But instead of fighting the reality of my sewing, I decided to embrace the clunkiness….exaggerate it even. Then the stitches started coming back like childhood friends at a high school reunion. They were stitches I learned to earn Bluebird Beads and pass the “Hand Sewing Test” in 4H. They brought with them sweet memories.
After experimenting around I landed on 4 basic stitches for this project. The first stitch I used was the first stitch I can remember learning, the back stitch. I used it to sew (seam) pieces of the scarf together for the bottom trim. Weirdly, this stitch is so ingrained in my mind and hands that I didn’t know the name for it. I have always said, “Forward, halfway back–Forward, halfway back.” But Google helped me out and told me it was the back stitch. Good to know.
To attach the trim to the dress I used a hand zigzag. This was like a straight stitch that fails a sobriety test. It goes a little to the right/ then you stitch; a little to the left/then you stitch. I used this so the trim would have some give along the bottom and have extra hold in case the trim frayed. This stage was slow going and I had to live with imperfections. It is where I decided to embraced clunkiness.
For the appliques I used 2 stitches. First I sewed a running stitch to attach the applique to the dress. A running stitch is like a fish swimming though water. You go in-out/in-out. It’s fast and fluid and a nice break after the zigzag. I also used an overcast stitch around each edge of the appliques to keep the mohair from unraveling. I used the stuck with the overcast stitch to apply the “Cancer cannot…….” pieces.
You know, it was nice to go back into my stores of sewing knowledge. It sure broke me out of my rut! In a way, I am lucky I forgot those cords.
Oh! I should tell you what materials I used in this project. To put this piece together, I used a blue Ellen Fisher jumper made of cotton and cashmere and a pink mohair scarf I purchased at Bree’s Upscale Resale. (the jumper was $7.00, the scarf $8.00) The wording came from a panel entitled “What Cancer Cannot Do” from Forget-Me-Knots Quilt store. I also bought pink thread and hand needles at Forget-Me-Knots.
The Highs and Lows
First I’ll cover the lows, and how I handled them……
- No Sewing Machine. You guys walked through this with me when it happened.
- What I did was first decide whether I was going to quit of not. Once that decision was made it was just a matter of casting around for a viable “plan B”. Also, by the time this happened I already knew what I wanted to make. I kept the image of the project in front of me rather than the problem.
- The 3:42 melt-down. At 3:42 pm on Friday I was ready to pull my hair out and set it on fire. I had just torn out my second set of hand stitches (is there anything more disheartening then ripping out something that took you 40 mins to put in?). Every time I threaded the needle it felt like trying to performing micro-surgery AND I was about 4 1/2 hours behind schedule. I hated sewing! I thought blogging was stupid!! AND I was absolutely SICK of eating caramel corn!!!
- The Blog Dogs are credited with the save on this one. They looked at me and said, “Time for a walk.” They were right. The great thing about walking along the ocean is it reminds me that God is big and I am little. If my blogger-girl plans don’t work out the earth will still spin on its axis and we will still celebrate Christmas (that might be one of my mom’s sayings……) Whew. I hunted for agates, watched Mocha try to make friends with every dog on the beach, saw God’s beauty, and came back a normal person.
- I didn’t finish. Wh-a-a-a-t????? Yes, I didn’t finish. I’m finished now, but I wasn’t finished before I came home. Here’s what happened. I stitched all night, I stitched in the morning and when they kicked me out of the hotel, I went to the Forget-Me Knots quilt shop and stitched some more. (I also drank coffee and ate cookies. That place is awesome!!) I had a tiny more overcasting to do on the very last phrase when I realized that I had bunched up my bottom fabric and needed to rip out some stitches and resew. At this point, the dogs were waiting in the car; the day was moving past; and I needed to get home.
- I decided it wasn’t a crisis. One of my favorite sayings as a high school principal was “This might be a bump in the road but it”s not the end of the road.” (High school kids need to hear that a lot—so do their parents). I decided that when I made a point system for the sewingjourney I would have a category for “Completed”. I’d take a hit on points but not have to call the entire endeavor a failure. That worked for me. I went home. I ripped and resewed. I’m finished.
Now it is time for the highs……..
- I met amazing people. Everywhere I went people were sweet, friendly and encouraging. I received so much support for writing Sewingjourney that it blew me away. For example, when I ran to Forget-Me-Knots to buy a hand needle the owner offered me use of her shop and a machine she had sitting in the back. At times I wished I had taken her up on the use of the machine, but I still think I had a great experience re-connecting with hand sewing.
- I got to be creative, resilient, and resourceful. If I hadn’t taken this trip I would never have stretched myself. I learned so much about sewing AND myself on the journey. I hope reading about it was a positive experience for you because it was incredible for me.
- Being surrounded by nature and beauty. If you have never been to the Oregon Coast it is breathtaking. Every day I got to see how beautiful the world is. And that helped me remember how good God is.
- I got to reflect on and adjust my attitude towards cancer. Like lots of us, I have lost people I loved due to the effects of cancer. I have hated cancer, been afraid of cancer and grieved because of cancer. So, to be more comfortable, I have taken all those feelings and stuffed them away. But this weekend, something changed in me. I saw people making a stand against the disease(es) and making a difference. The thing that was meant to harm us is being transformed by them into something good…and that gives me courage and hope. I couldn’t have paid a million dollars to create this change on my own. But on the journey it just happened.
From the Quilt Panel:
“Cancer Cannot Conquer the Spirit. Cancer Cannot Shatter Hope. Cancer Cannot Cripple Love. Cancer Cannot Corrode Faith. Cancer Cannot Destroy Peace. Cancer Cannot Silence Courage. Cancer Cannot Kill Friendship. Cancer Cannot Steal Humor. Cancer Cannot Stifle Laughter. Cancer Cannot Erase Memories. Cancer Cannot Erode Confidence. Cancer Cannot Invade the Soul”Block Party Studios
My dear friends, it is time to say goodnight. I have loved spending this time with you. We will talk again in a few days.