Lets face it. 2020 has been tough. Like really really tough!
My thoughts have been with all of my friends and customers in Victoria (and all over the world really), as they batten down the hatches under another stay at home order due to a resurgence of COVID19. The physical impact of this damn virus is scary enough, yet everything that comes with a stay at home (financial pressures and unemployment, social isolation and separation, juggling working from home and homeschooling to name just a few) is enormously stressful.
If you are reading this you probably already get how sewing is an important and satisfying expression of our creative selves. In particular though, hand-sewing is becoming recognised as a way to combat anxiety and depression. You can read more about the mental health benefits of making with your hands here
Hand sewing in the evening has become part of my daily ritual and it has gotten me through some of the most stressful times. It turns off the busy, list making, multi-tasking side of my brain and helps me unwind from the pressures of the day. There is also the enormous satisfaction that comes with making daily headway in a project large or small.
During the initial phase of the pandemic here in Australia back in March, I found the weekly rhythm of The Proverbial Quilt-along that I co-hosted with Denyse Schmidt and the team from Sewtopia to be a wonderful way to mark the passing of each week, which otherwise would have just felt like one long blur. It was also an opportunity to pour my heart and soul into a project.
Here's my Proverbial quilt which I called COVID Days. You can read more about it over on my Instagram post here.
Join me for the #shutdownstitchalong
The time feels right for another sew-along, but this time I thought I'd just frame it around a technique rather than a particular pattern. Also about the simple joy of the glide of the needle, rather than actually saying something. For the #shutdownsewalong we will be focusing on needle turn applique projects. I will be sharing weekly tutorials on my preferred back-basting method and walking you through lots of tips and techniques as well as some of my favourite tools.
The #shutdownstitchalong is purely and simply about sharing my love for hand stitching; in particular hand applique and wrapping people sheltering at home in a slow stitching community.
How can you get involved?
This time there is no need to register, though I will be including some tips in my regular weekly email. If you'd like to sign up for that (yay!). You can find the link at the bottom of my home page.
To join in all you need to do is just grab a needle, thread and some of your favourite fabrics and start stitching. Post your progress using #shutdownstitchalong to be part of our hand stitching community. Make sure that you follow the sew-along hashtag. That way you wont miss any of the tutorials AND you will see everyone's projects.
The only commitment you need to make is to yourself. Just find at least 15 minutes each day and get some stitching in! I will be here ready to cheer you on.
How much does it cost?
Nothing! It is completely free. Money is tight for so many folk at the moment so there's no need to even purchase a particular pattern. This is my way of giving back to this marvelous community.
What's the project?
You can make anything you like! That's right - anything. If you have a WIP languishing in a bag somewhere, now is the time to pull it out and get it moving again. I will be working on a block design that I have been playing around with for a few years called Nuts and Bolts. You can totally join me and make some of these blocks and you can pick up a template set for just $11 here, but the choice is entirely yours.
Do I need to be an experienced hand-stitcher?
Not at all. The Shut Down Stitch-along is suitable for all levels of experience:
- total needle turn newby
- folk with some experience but looking to hone their skills,
- or applique wizards who are keen to be part of the community
Everyone is welcome to sew along with us.
I do need your help to spread the word though so I would love you to share this image
Say hello, tell me what project you intend to work on and remember to use the official sew-along hashtag.
I have gathered up a little prize pack with these handy bits and bobs and will announce a winner on Instagram on July 18.
There's a sand paper boards that grips the fabric while tracing around pattern pieces, one of my Handy Little Rulers, Thread Balm in Australian Wattle and a two-piece Nuts and Bolts template set.
The #shutdownstitchalong schedule
Week 1 Getting started
Saturday 11 July
The first thing to do is gather your materials. I will be posting an IGTV chat to discuss some project ideas, but like I said before, if you have a project underway you can totally work on it for this sew-along.
We have a substantial array of applique patterns to choose from my favorite contemporary designers such as Hills 'n Hollers by Denyse Schmidt and oodles of projects from Carolyn Friedlander like Caternary, Hesperides, Wildabon, and Wainwright .
There's so many others and you can find them all here
Here's a few of my Nuts and Bolts blocks and as you can see I have decided to dip into my Liberty of London stash. It seemed like the way to go because it is a completely waste-free block. Also because I want this project to be purely about the stitching and exploring some of the block variations, not about a particular fabric collection that has just landed in the shop. (Though there's plenty of new stuff that I'm keen to stitch with too!)
In week 1 we will also be prepping and basting some blocks, so you can start your hand-sewing practice straight away.
Saturday 18 July
This week is needle-turn applique 101. I will step you through the basic stitch and we will begin stitching some straight lines and gentle curves.
Saturday 25 July
This is the pointy week. Literally! Our Victorian friends will be half way through their shut down (we hope!) and we will stitch some points like the tips of leaves, and inverted points.
Saturday 1 August
By now you should have well and truly gotten into the rhythm of your project, but I thought it would be worthwhile to explore some of my favourite tools and notions , both my applique essentials and the 'nice to haves'.
Saturday 8 August
Those points can be tricky. So this week will I thought we would revisit them and do some trouble shooting there.
Saturday 15 August
We haven't talked about layering yet. That's where applique pieces over-lap each other, or even are stitched completely on top of one another. With Carolyn Friedlander's new Clay Quilt patterns on the way it seemed like I should definitely cover that off.
Every Saturday, starting today I will share needle turn applique tips via a live story on Instagram and then saved on my IGTV channel. So make sure that you follow #shutdownstitchalong and you wont miss a beat.