Sunday, October 11, 2015

5 Ways to Celebrate and Impact Girls in Your Own Home

(Image: Muhammad Javaid/Express)

International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated on October 11 to bring attention to issues of gender inequality young girls face worldwide. This year's theme is The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030 which focuses on sustainable development of health, education, and career options for girls in the long run where their options and civil rights have been limited by culture, tradition, or law.

I have nothing against men. But honestly, women have never needed men's permission to live, to breathe, to give birth, to feed their babies, to dress, to be however they choose. I have never understood the movement to legislate more rights for women. If they are rights, legislation is not necessary. What if we simply exercised our birthrights and let the men get over it?

 (Image: Boston Globe 1975)

How can we help? Fundraisers? Campaigns? Bumper stickers? We can do a lot more and make a bigger dent in the problem by acting like the women we want these girls to become. Here are 5 ways that pave the way for all girls - and you can do these in your own home.

Use reusable menstrual products. Girls worldwide are losing out on an education because they cannot afford or have no access to disposable menstrual products. Disposable products are made with cancer-causing bleaches and gels, use tons and tons of water to produce, and leave landfills stinking of dead tissue. Cloth pads and menstrual cups are reusable and affordable. Pave the way for reusable as the norm and stop making corporations rich for making toxic products the norm.

Learn to bake. Ever make paste as a child with water and flour? Need I say more? Wheat grain is a husk, bran, kernel, and germ. Take a way the mainly inedible husk and you have wheat berry. Take away the germ and bran and you have the stuff of white flour. This kernel has no appreciable fiber and no appreciable nutrients. It is a simple sugar. Girls and women in all countries rely on imports of white flour to make the most basic of staples to stave off hunger. But these breads have zero nutritional value. Improve the nutrition of the world by creating less of a market for white flour. Learn to bake a good loaf of whole grain bread that actually feeds the body as well as the soul. 

Read good books. We take our reading skills for granted SO much in developed nations that we use it almost exclusively for Facebook and texts. Libraries are jam-packed with the knowledge and wisdom and dreams of humanity. Take advantage of your freedom and read some classics. At the onset of the whole Mr. Darcy craze, I finally read Jane Austen. OMGosh! Her style of writing made me want to overdose on white flour and end it all. But don't let it be said, I didn't have the opportunity and freedom to read her books and hundreds of others I loved and that have added to my daydreams and inspired me to love research and knowledge.

Dry your laundry on a clothesline. Not only will your clothes smell delightful from drying in sun and breeze, you will meet your neighbors. Women used to take some time to get to know each other and share their dreams and fears and successes over the white picket fences that separated their suburban backyards. These women created the neighborhood. Women knew something of each others' lives so they could help each other in times of need. These connections spawned sewing circles, garden parties, backyard barbecues, and even philanthropic fundraisers and organizations. Many of the organizations created through neighborly connections help girls all over the world today by raising awareness, sending teachers, and sending cloth menstrual products where they are needed. 

Call up a girl you know and talk. If you have a niece, goddaughter, or babysitter, call her. Ask her what she dreams of for her life. Talk to her about the dreams you had at her age. Marvel at what you achieved and let her know she can reach her aspirations, too. And mourn what you did not, things you still may want, and let her know she won't have to mourn the loss of a future if she doesn't let anything get in her way of creating it. Then ask her to promise to talk to a girl when she's in her 30s or 40s or 50s, to encourage her, to remind her that she doesn't need permission to live how she wants to live.


Happy Day of Girls! May the day be long and joyous today. And may every day be a day of girls.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Darned Embroidery

I was stoked to have a pattern darning sampler embroidery tutorial published on the Sew Mama Sew blog a couple of weeks ago. Pattern darning is a simple running stitch that creates a design over counted threads.

Since the post came out, people have been asking me for easy to read patterns. No problem, I'll just google pattern darning and refer stitchers to the many designs online. Unfortunately I found the patterns a bit hard to read.

Online pattern darning patterns are usually on a graph or grid. But when the patterns are presented in the same way as cross-stitch patterns, with blocks filled in, I find that the maker sometimes means take my running stitch over one thread (represented by the block) or over two threads (represented by the lines of the grid on each side of the block). It's not consistent and the cross-stitch pattern illustration method does not fit pattern darning designs.

The best ones I've found show stitching between threads and over and under threads, where it actually occurs.

Since these are far and few between, I decided to start drawing up these designs on graph paper in the same style as this image which is from the American Needlepoint Guild.

I'm so excited by my fresh new pad of graph paper, I can hardly contain myself. I have managed to list one pattern of eight designs in my Etsy shop and have another traditional set coming soon plus a really easy set even a child can stitch.

You don't need much to create beautiful stitching: fabric, embroidery floss or darning wool, blunt darning needle, scissors, and a pattern.

Imagine your clothes magically transformed by small borders of pattern darning. Turn linens into vintage era keepsakes with simple running stitches. Pattern darning has a long and rich history of transforming ordinary textiles into works of art and imagination.  

Visit the Sew Mama Sew sewing blog for tons of sewing and stitching tutorials, challenges, and to meet fascinating fiber artists and designers from all over the world. There's a project for every type of sewing, from clothing to softies to quilts to mobiles. And try out a bit of pattern darning while you're there. It's a bit addictive!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Back with a Sewing Bee in My Bonnet

In the coming days, I will be bringing back the blog. It has had several incarnations over time. Upcycling and reuse of textiles was a main focus and you've seen tons of links, articles, and tutorials pass through this hallowed internet ground. But there is so much more to sewing and stitching and I'd like to bring it together with old and new techniques, new fabrics and remade textiles.

I will keep designing sewing patterns, mostly fun stuff for kids and kids-at-heart. But I will also be adding stitchery and embroidery patterns, teaching hand sewing, and writing about some of my favorite sewing superstars online, offline, in print.

In the meantime, relax. I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places. And some marvelously new ones, too.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

THRIFTY THURSDAY - Memory Clothes Projects

After my first baby had outgrown his clothing, I boxed it all up by size and stashed it away in readiness for the next kid. Babies generally don't wear their clothing out so it was in good repair and, well, heck, 95% of it had already been worn by either my two younger brothers or my niece and nephew. So by the time it all got to my daughter, it had all been worn by at least three other people. And still it looked great.

Even so, there were always those really special pieces that became favorites. Maybe it was that bunny print onesie, or that NY Mets baby baseball cap, or those teeny tiny glow-in-the-dark leopard print Converse high tops.

Eventually, the kids stop coming and the clothing boxes get passed along or donated, and the very special clothing is relegated to a baby time capsule which also gets stored away.

I often wonder, what lasting memory or gift can be created from those pieces? What about the older child who doesn't want to give up that beloved pair of jammies that are now three sizes too small?

Make a Memory Clothing project! Using clothing that holds special memories, you can make a keepsake gift for your family or someone else you know. here are some projects to whet your appetite.

Baby clothes sun prints tutorial

Plush baby block tutorial

Make your child's name bunting tutorial

Make a memory bear

Make a tie quilt for Dad

Cloth button keepsake

Maternity shirt to child's apron/frock tutorial

Quilts made for two little girls from their clothing

Mooshy bunny tutorial

T-shirt pillow tutorial

Gorgeous aprons made from favorite shirts

T-shirt to baby romper tutorial

Make a bear from a shirt

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

fREEMADE FRIDAY - Yarn Bomb Turns Knitting Bag

Have some already crocheted pieces? Yarn bomb your own useful knitting bag.

For this bag, I started with a crocheted cap and a panel of 4 leftover granny squares.

I joined the cap to the granny squares using an alternating connection of double crochet shells. It's not hard. Here's how to join them.

Place the squares inside and around the bowl of the cap wrong sides together. Attach your yarn to the cap and chain 3. Then make 3 double crochet (US) in the granny squares a bit to the left of your original join. Next make 3 dc in the cap a bit to the left again.

Simply travel this way alternating from cap to squares and moving to the left. This creates a granny-look join between the pieces.

For a much better description of this process, check out this awesome tutorial.

Once the pieces are joined, you can also crochet an edging at the top of the bag.

To make it stand up, I placed a circle of cardboard at the bottom and started stowing your balls of wool and needles inside.

Easy peasy Mr. McGreasy! Now I have a knitting bag from some leftover crocheted items kicking around the closet.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


In thrifting heaven (or Grandma's top drawer) is that amazing souvenir scarf of some obscure vacation spot I'll probably never see, but, oh, doesn't it evoke a dream of post-WWII possibility and prosperity.

Scarves of all types can be made into lovely new gifts and household decor. Patterns and fabrics, sizes and shapes abound. The scarves are calling you.

I love the framed scarf art. And what about that scarf "tent". Can't you just see that as your indoor craft market booth?

Summer drink napkin tutorial

No-sew cafe apron tutorial

How to tie a scarf bow

Scarf to skirt tutorial

Scarf to kimono wrap tutorial

19 ways to repurpose scarves

17 ways to reuse a scarf

More ways to reuse scarves