Thread is thread, isn’t it?

How choosy are you when it comes to thread? Or does price drive your decisions? Here’s a fun .pdf graphic of the different types of threads from Nancy’s Notions and Madiera threads.

To download the .pdf to keep in your sewing room or to save to your smartphone or tablet for the next time you go shopping, click the graphic below.

Free PDF for Choosing Thread by Nancy's Notions

Lights! Camera! Conference! ASG visits L.A. for 2011

The American Sewing Guild (ASG) held its 2011 annual conference in Los Angeles, CA, from Aug. 18-22. Among the several hundred attendees were a group from the ASG Chicago Chapter. We send a big thanks to National and the L.A. chapter for making this a fantastic conference.

For anyone who has never attended conference, imagine a few hundred ASG members in one location with classrooms, an exhibit/vendor hall, and access to fabric shopping. It’s wonderful! Even if you attended alone, there are no strangers at conference because we all have a common interest: sewing. Mary Ann R., one of the Chicago members, explained, “The conference is a way of bonding with your peers and this happened to me the moment I entered the shuttle at the airport with other ASG members. Everywhere you went, there was another ASG member with a big smile and ‘Hi!'” This statement is so true. In fact, I had a mini-reunion with some of the ASG members I meet on the April 2010 Sew Many Options tour to New York with Marsha McClintock and Marla Kazell

Conference mostly focuses on workshops and classes and this year there was a wide variety from which to choose and those were primarily offered in two- to three-hour slots. “The classes brought out your creativity and made you think outside the box.¬† With each one, you walked away having learned something new,” said Mary Ann R.

Here are some highlights from some of the Chicago members who attended.

My Purses by Design handbag. Love it!

Purse Basics with Pamela L. Day and Roseanne Lauters of Purses by Design held a special half-day class on Aug. 18 that I attended and walked out with a fantastic handbag. Pamela and Roseanne prepped the class by having all the fabric pre-cut and interfaced. All we had to do was insert the magnetic snap and sew. It was a blast. They use a special interfacing for the lining that helps keep the bag stable but flexible. This was one of four classes the PbyD ladies offered.

Marie Yolande teaching "On the Edge." Wendy G. said Marie turned a hotel meeting room into a couture atelier.

On the Edge with Marie Yolande taught ASG members Wendy G. and Elizabeth H. the beauty of edge finishes and how they can “separate the amateurs from the professionals.” Marie, who has an extensive background in french needlework, showed the class how to use custom piping, shirred and ruched trims, and many other edge techniques. Wendy G. said it was just like being in an couture atelier.

Liz H. showing off her sample of fringed wool in the the "On the Edge" class

Sharleen from ASG Chicago attended Vest-S-Cape with Marsha McClintock of Saf-T-Pockets and walked out with a finished cape/wrap. [We’re waiting for a stunning photo of Sharleen in her cape; check back later to see it!]

It’s almost impossible to list all of the workshops we attended. If you’d like to see who taught, the 2011 conference brochure is still posted on the ASG national website.¬† Some of the others that quickly come to mind are: Christine Haynes‘ Creating Runway Looks at Home, Katrina Walker‘s Sensational Seams, Diane Ricks‘ Washaway Stabilizers, Anne St. Clair‘s Bra Fit. To read more about the workshops, visit Connie’s post As seen at the ASG National Conference or Celeste’s site “Sew Much Fun” for ASG Conference Reviewed.

Rami Kim's cathedral window coat.

One last class I’d like to mention is Hand Smocking with Rami Kim. She had the class work on two samples and something that seemed so difficult actually was incredibly easy. North American Hand Smocking is a lot of connecting the dots to create the design of your choice. These puckers and pulls of fabric create stunning designs for blouses, jackets, purses, or any item. Rami taught a few other classes on fabric folding, or Chopkey, as she refers to it in her native Korean language. She also displayed a beautiful gold coat done in Cathedral Window pattern.

For English Smocking, visit Vaune, one of the vendors at the conference. She had a beautiful selection of fabric and sold pleaters.

A conference wouldn’t be complete without shopping and tours.¬† The conference had a exhibit hall for shopping and we made that most of that! But the best is L.A.’s downtown fabric district. It’s maze that could take you weeks to go through. Thankfully a group of the ASG L.A. chapter members put together a handy guide to point out a few spots to visit if you were running short on time. It’s a crazy mix of elegant and inexpensive textiles and trims. From home dec to silk to basic cottons, there was no shortage. If you are visiting on your own, some places you might want to hit in that 8th and 9th street area are: L.A. Fred’s for home dec; Eco Fabric for home dec and Tex Carmel for silks and linens; Trim 2000 for (you guessed it) trims; Michael Levine and Michael Levine’s Annex from just about everything; and off the beaten path were B. Black and Sons for a “step back in time to what a fabric store would be like in the 1920s and 1930s.”

Connie (L) and Wendy (R) with Judy Fitzgerald of Sawyer Brook Fabrics at breakfast. Wendy was thrilled she meet the lady who cuts her fabric and processes her internet orders.

A few of us stayed through Monday to take advantage of some of the fabric shopping tours to Santa Barbara Lace and Textile and another to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and more fabric shopping. The FIDM group was definitely the most packed with three busloads of ASG members. Sharleen and I made it to the bus that started the tour at Mood in L.A. And even thought I don’t have a photo of this to prove it, I do have witness . . . we meet Burt from Project Runway at Mood! He was so nice and posed for pictures with anyone who asked. You guessed it, I didn’t ask to have my photo taken, but I did wish him luck.

I could go on and on about the L.A. trip. It was a blast. The 2012 annual conference will be in Houston, TX from Aug. 16-20 and 2013 will be in Arlington, VA. Hope we see you at both!

As Seen At The American Sewing Guild National Conference

Photos contributed by President Connie G.

American Sewing Guild National Conference logoThe American Sewing Guild National Conference was held in Los Angeles this year. Eleven of our Chicago chapter members attended and filled their days with learning new techniques and meeting old and new friends. Below are some pictures and tidbits that our President, Connie G. sent back.

Running In Stitches Neighborhood Group leader Celeste wrote about her ASG Conference experience on her blog. Be sure to take a peek at her jeans-to-skirt reconstruction with the pretty machine embroidery.

Sights and Thoughts From Connie

Gel-bleached jacket

Gel-bleached jacket

Linda MacPhee Transforms Fabrics
In Linda MacPhee‘s class, a denim jacket was transformed with dishwasher gel bleach. Use a squeeze bottle to control your lines. Save your squeeze ketchup bottles and use that or buy the squeeze bottles at your local craft store.

Linda is also know for her “beggar fabric.” But, beggar fabric is not easy to find. So, Linda made her own by cutting holes ¬†in a top fabric and laundering. Then the fabric is backed with a dotted sheer fabric. Beggar fabric doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it’s a great way to use up scraps and remnants.

Embellishments
Think that twin-needle is just for heirloom sewing? Try this: thread up some colorful thread in that twin-needle and wander your fabric. You’ll create a fun stipple that is perfect for quilting or embellishing a plain fabric.

Double-needle stipple Denim jacket

Use fleece as inserts to mimic bias to add texture to your piece. Since fleece doesn’t fray, you don’t need to worry about turning under tiny edges…just cut and sew. With fleece, you can also bend it any which way you desire without worrying too much about grains. Although, keep in mind that some fleece have a nap.

Fleece inserts

Fleece inserts

Button embellishments

Button embellishments

Add dimension to your machine embroidery with buttons! Don’t have an embroidery machine? Use your decorative stitches in rows with¬†variegated¬†thread. Or maybe even try hand embroidery.

Upcycle

Upcycled sweaterDo you have a bunch of sweaters that need a new life? You’re either tired of them or they might not fit as well as they used to? Gather them all up and upcycle them into a new sweater. Don’t worry about matching; the idea is to create a patchwork. Use your serger for quick construction…and leave the serged edges to the outside of the garment for additional texture and interest. Go ahead and raid your husband’s and children’s closets…because you’re fabric shopping!

Tip: Try to use similar fiber content within one garment. If you mix an all-wool piece with swatches from a cotton/acrylic sweater, you may end up with a shrunken, felted panel at the next wash.

Learn From the Experts

Sandra Betzina

Sandra Betzina

One of the many advantages of the American Sewing Guild National Conference is having access to many wonderful teachers who are known thoughout the sewing industry. Some classes are hands-on, while others are lecture. Sandra Betzina and Linda MacPhee were just a two of the instructors that were at this year’s ASG National Conference.

Did you go to the ASG National Conference this year in Los Angeles? Tell us your experience, we’d love to hear from you!

Eve Kovacs Wins ASG Creativity Contest Honorable Mention

Eve KovacsThis month, our Sew-lebrity Spotlight shines on Eve Kovacs. Eve Kovacs is not only the group leader for the Wearable Art special interest group of our chapter, but she is a recognized and award-winning wearable arts sewist. There is probably even a secret fan club judging by this person’s blog post declaring Eve as her hero after seeing Eve on Sewing with Nancy.

We’re celebrating Eve today because she has won the Honorable Mention in this year’s American Sewing Guild Creativity Contest. Congratulations, Eve! We’re very proud that our Chicago chapter was so well-represented with Eve’s beautiful jacket and pants.

Eve’s ensemble was made from Simplicity 2288, and uses a¬†combination of several different fabrics: a handwoven silk ikat from Thailand, three colors of silk¬†dupioni, and a cotton sateen.

Eve Kovacs 2011 American Sewing Guild Creativity Contest Jacket Front“The jacket design incorporates a number of panels that provide¬†opportunities for combining fabrics in innovative ways. My goal, with this ensemble, was to use¬†the silk ikat as an inspiration for the color, the surface design and the styling of the pieces. Since¬†I had only a single panel of about one yard of the ikat, a good solution was to use it for the¬†center front and back panels of the jacket. With careful cutting, I had enough left to make cuffs¬†to accent the sleeves,” explains Eve in her contest description.

“The colors in the ikat inspired the selection of the purple sateen and the¬†magenta, olive and light lavender silks. The geometric pattern in the ikat inspired the design of¬†the patchwork on the middle-front panels of the jacket. I paid careful attention to the proportion¬†and position of the colors so that the patchwork complements the style of the ikat by mimicking¬†the pattern in the weave.”

Eve Kovacs American Sewing Guild 2011 Creative Contest Jacket BackEve machine quilted all the jacket panels to give a subtle texture and to unify the design. She used diamond shapes on the ikat and zig-zag shapes on the patchwork panels. The side panels and sleeves are quilted with diagonal lines of double-needle stitching. (Love how many techniques Eve Kovacs was able to incorporate!)

“The jacket panels are accented with piping to give the ensemble an¬†oriental look. This necessitated changing the collar to a cut-on shawl collar to ensure that the¬†piping flowed smoothly around the edges of the jacket. To complete the Asian styling of the¬†ensemble, I cropped the pants and added a piping embellishment at the hems.”

One thing that you appreciate about Eve Kovacs’ wearable art is that it truly is wearable. It may take a bolder personality to wear the garment, but it’s definitely wearable in everyday life.

All the winners and honorable mentions can be viewed on the national American Sewing Guild contest page.

[edited] You can find more of Eve Kovacs’ beautiful creations on her webpage.

Congratulations on your beautiful outfit, Eve!

No-Fear Lace Bowls

I love to make what I call “no-fear” projects. Basically, they are projects that you really can’t go wrong, but if you do make a little boo-boo, no one will notice. Have no fear to try this project.

British textile artist, Jan Tillett, for Colouricious¬†demonstrates how to make pretty lacy bowls from thread scraps, candy wrappers and water-soluble¬†facing in this lovely video. This is one of the few videos I’ve seen that is not only clear, but shows a beautiful end-result. It must be very easy to make, too, because if you listen to the background, Jan Tillett must be at a tradeshow booth to demonstrate this project.

I like her tip of cutting the excess facing so the water doesn’t become too “gloopy.” Enjoy! Let me know if you try this with your bits and bobs.

Wouldn’t it be pretty as a pocket overlay? Or embellished with beading? How about a long piece for a pretty scarf or wrap? Maybe this is an excuse for me to eat more candy so I can save sweets wrappers? ūüėČ

Twitter bird logoYou can follow Coloricious on Twitter at: @Colouricious. Are you following us on Twitter, @sewchicago?

Add Dimension With Corded Pintucks

Twin Needles

(Photo source: Craftstylish)

Last year, some of the Sew Chicago NG members took a class about¬†heirloom sewing Eveyln Cummings, co-leader for the Joliet Desperate Stitchers NG. That’s where many, including me, discovered the wonders of the twin needle. How lovely are ¬†the rows of bumpy rows.

Where do you go from there? And are pintucks only for heirloom sewing. Colette Patterns shows how to add cording to the pintucking to create some added dimension. Sewn in a zig zag or lazy curves and it has a completely different feeling than heirloom sewing.

Corded pintucks

(Photo source: Colette Patterns)

Colette Patterns has a tute¬†(tutorial) that is so much better to read for yourself than I can reduce here. She uses thick embroidery thread wound on the bobbin to give the pintuck an extra dimension and applies it to a pretty tap pant. It’s a nice extra embellishment.

Definitely something to try for a next garment, quilt or even a handbag. Wouldn’t this be just delish on a yummy soft leather? Or fun in rows on a grey flannel pillow? Maybe follow a couple rows of pinstripes on a wool suiting for a bit of nubby texture.

Corded pintucking on a curve

(Photo source: Craftstylish)

Nancy S. from Sew Chicago and I also played with a wide twin needle on fleece at this year’s Original Sewing & Quilt. The effect had almost a tarpunto feeling.

Here’s a cute idea: use a thick corded pintuck and make a corrugated cup holder. Keeps the hot coffee at bay while giving your fingers something to grip onto.

Reusable coffee sleeve with pintucking

(Photo source: Craftstylish)

This would probably be good for little people’s fingers to learn texture or to hold onto. Does your cat like texture? Maybe sew up a bunch of cat toys with this texture to distract kitty from scratching up your favorite chair. Here’s a link to the tuteon Craftstylish.

Get out and play with your (twin needle) feet! As always, please send us pictures or post to the¬†ASG Chicago chapter Flickr album¬†to share with everyone. We love to see what you’re making!

What is Carrickmacross Lace?

Irish Carrickmacross Lace

Irish Carrickmacross Lace (Photo:irishcarrickmacrosslace.com)

I’ll admit that before the press release from the Royal School of Needlework’s about the lace on Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, I’d never heard of “Carrickmacross lace.” So, kudos¬†to Kate Middleton’s wedding dress; the¬†resurgent interest in sewing and the needlearts; and the public’s interest to know details about every minutia, that schools such as the Royal School of Needlework and the type of embroidery and lace detail was mentioned right alongside with wedding dress designer Sarah Burton’s name.

Map of Carrickmacross, Ireland

(Image source: Wikipedia)

Carrickmacross lace¬†is a type of¬†needle lace. Originating in the 1820’s in Carrickmacross of the¬†County Monaghan in Ireland. It evolved from some of the appliqu√© lace acquired by a Mrs. Grey Porter, the rector’s wife, on her honeymoon to Italy in 1816.

“Mrs Grey Porter, like other ladies of her class, saw in the craft a way to provide much needed employment for young women in rural Ireland. She and her maid Ann Steadman, learned the appliqu√© technique by copying the Italian work and in about 1820, they established an appliqu√© lace-making class which soon attracted a number of young women to apply this potentially remunerative craft.” ‚ÄĒ irishcarrickmacrosslace.com

Carrickmacross lace sample

(Photo: lace.lacefairy.com)

During the famine it became an important source of rural family income ‚ÄĒ¬†which was common with lace production everywhere. It was ‚Äúmade by the poor for the rich and famous.‚ÄĚ

Fortunately, this technique did not die out as other art forms did, due in part to the local St. Louis Convent. The nuns still teach this needleart today.

The lace is worked by tacking fine¬†muslin¬†onto machine¬†netting. The design is outlined, the unwanted muslin is then cut away and the open areas are filled in with needle lace.¬†When this process is complete the excess organdy is cut away revealing the design. A further effect, called “guipure,” also a feature of this lace, is achieved by linking areas of the pattern, creating a very intricate design of open work. Colorful terms are used to identify the extensive range of stitches which enrich and embellish the pattern ‚ÄĒ¬†bars, pops, cobweb, etc. Carrickmacross lace is sometimes confused with Limerick lace, which does not use the cutwork.

Princess Diana wedding dress sleeve detailWhat we weren’t able to see in the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding ensemble was her three petticoats of hand-embroidered lace and embroidered shoes, also embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework craftsmen and craftwomen.

Princess Diana’s wedding dress sleeves also featured Carrickmacross lace, which was handworked by the Royal School of Needlework.

Carrickmacross Lace Demonstration

Here are a couple of videos demonstrating this intensive handwork. I love the woman on the right in the second video when she shakes her head at the camera in disbelief. I have a feeling she’s going to have a UFO. ūüėČ

This next link is a wonderful video with close-ups of Carrickmacross lace samples from The Virtual Textile Museum. The narration is in Italian, but pictures speak a thousand words.

Lace Gallery Interior

(Photo: Carrickmacross Lace Gallery)

If you’re in County Monaghan and interested in seeing more Carrickmacross lace, then a visit to the Carrickmacross Lace Gallery will surely be on your must-see list. Send us a postcard if you do visit the Carrickmacross Lace Gallery!

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