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Storied Stitching Podcasts & Video

Diane Fine and Laura Sapelly
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#10 Cabbage patch kids & one patch blocks?

Hello there! Get cozy…

Stitchers – whether you’re sitting in your comfy chair with your coffee, in your car,

or looking for ENGAGING content teaching in your home or in a school—

We’ve got your stitched stories covered!

Get ready for an in-depth look at the infinite definitions of patch and the challenge of identifying patch quilt designs! 

Vintage Cabbage Patch Doll:

But before we dive deeper, let’s get inspired!

 

 

 

Ready for inspo?

This episode’s quote is from Oakland – based chef, Preeti Mistry.

 

In answer to the question,

Which of your traits are you most proud of?

Mistry answered 

“I am myself. I refuse to fit into what people want me to be or expect me to be. I stand up for what I believe in and will fight for it..”  

And I think a lot of us would agree that trying to be oneself is very difficult, especially when you’re a woman!

We are socialized by both family and mass media to be certain things and it doesn’t matter how many opportunities we may or may have professionally or personally!

We still seem stuck in the same playbook, unable to wrench our way out of stereotypes –  married/single; divorced/single mom; stay at home/working mom….

it goes on and on….and there’s a tinge of disrepute clouding all of these identities, no matter how much one strives to attain their version of success….

Let’s strive to be like Mistry, and embrace OUR authentic selves!

______________________
Quote from  In the company of women: inspiration and advice from over 100 makers, artists, and entrepreneurs, by Grace Bonney. >>Get it >>>here

 

Blue background with stars

What quotation or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love?

So,
which of your traits are you most proud of?

Share on Instagram, Facebook page, or in our private FB group, Storied Sewing Circle ( >>join here!)

 

 

 

Here’s my “patch” story—What’s yours?

I recall my eighth grade advanced math teacher, Mr. Michelevitch, strolling in with his various corduroy and plaid blazers – inevitably with the patched elbow!! 

We could always depend on some male character on a 70s television show wearing the same thing – 

a kind of goofy image of the intelligent older white man wearing a grimy corduroy blazer with contrasting patches on his elbows! But “patch” has SO many definitions and associations. 

It boggles the mind.

Quilt blocks and the idea of one, four, and nine patches remained a mystery for me for most of my life. I sewed clothes or dolls, not quilts.

Because I didn’t come from a tradition of quilting and barely heard of the practice while growing up, I had no story of the patched quilt block!

Vegetable patch, skin patch, cabbage patch kids, YES. Patch quilts? No.

Now, think about YOUR Patch memory! Does it have to do with quilting, mending, or some other experience?

What is YOUR “patch” story?

Share on Instagram, Facebook page or in our private FB group, Storied Sewing Circle ( >>join here!)

 

What’s this episode really about?

We’ll start with the complex definition of the word patch. 

It’s ancient history deriving from the French. 

And then it’s many iterations over the centuries. 

 

Naturally, I will insert some of my own stories into these varying definitions over time that I found deeply disturbing and humorous…paradox rules its lengthy meanings. 

Then, we will expand upon “patch” in relationship to quilting.  

Specifically, we will dive into Patchwork and the one patch block design. I will discuss Barbara Brackman’s latest encyclopedia of pieced quilt patterns —-  and the difficulty of attribution and pinpointing quilt block designs.

Why? Over the centuries, women improvised, creating their own variations and names of quilt blocks. 

 

Just to give you an idea of how massive this enterprise was for Brackman, her latest book is 500 pages and contains some 4,000 quilt blocks! 

That’s a lot of female design ingenuity for sure!

And likely many designs remain undocumented and lost to history…

Finally, we discuss the challenges I found in trying to decipher which quilt block I thought I adopted for a piece I made! 

Brackman is right,  when it comes to quilt blocks it’s better to be fluid than rigid!

So join us and get ready to be patched and blocked during this podcast episode!

 

 

 

 

Middle school student drawing

Hey hey! References for educators and….. nerds!

 

Want more juicy info? Check out the refs below! Indulge in your LOVE of all things “stitch!”

Brackman, B. (2020). Encyclopedia of pieced quilt patterns. Electric Quilt Company. Get it >>> here

“patch, n.1”. OED Online. December 2020. Oxford University Press. https://www-oed-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/view/Entry/138685?rskey=vEmPtF&result=1&isAdvanced=false (accessed February 08, 2021).

 

[This post may contain referral-affiliate links. If a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.]

#9 Part 2: Muslin: Its fractured history in the United States

Here’s my “muslin part 2” story–What’s yours?

Although I earned my MFA- Master of fine arts- within a traditional textile program- (particularly the undergrad program)— that focused on weaving and dyeing cloth, 

I’d never seen a loom until I entered the studios of Umass Dartmouth in August 2001. 

Machine-stitching was and IS my vibe. 

The raucous clackety-clack of the weaving room startled the heck out of me. 

If handlooms were this loud, I couldn’t IMAGINE how loud machine looms were-
especially when my maternal grandmother and her siblings worked as child laborers,
overseeing the looms in a Fall River textile mill. 

No wonder they all went deaf!

After graduation, I served as an assistant weaver to the talented, Concord, MA-based fiber artist, Barbara Willis.

Though I never set up the warp (the vertical yarns on the loom), I worked the weft. 

I learned about weave structure and the definition of plain cloth fabric: the warp and weft were equal parts up and down.

Barbara’s sublime scarves defied gravity: her “floating” warp/wefts freed the rich purple chenilles
mixed with sparkly golds to ultimate advantage. 

Her fibers emerged, popped out of the weave, not buried under a more democratic
yet less attractive plain weave for the fibers and aesthetic she was after.

Yet, so much cloth IS plain cloth – the simple over and under design. 

 

In this episode, we talk about muslin, and perhaps more accurately, plain cloth, and its dizzying, contradictory history in the N. American colonies—and in the post-Revolution United States.

What is YOUR muslin or plain cloth story?

Share on our Facebook page or in our private FB group, Storied Sewing Circle ( >>join here!)

 

What’s this episode really about?

We get into some serious stories concerning the paradox of plain cloth in the United States.

First, we’ll start with a review on the function of a colony-  and how it went down in  British North America 

Then, we will discuss family life in pre-industrial New England on the eve of the revolution –

And how ministers got in the mix and motivated women and girls to become a part of the colony’s boycott of British goods in the name of “Liberty.”

 We will explore the definition of Liberty held dear by certain people —and clothing made of plain cloth as a symbol of Independence –  depending on what body wore it.

Finally, we will examine a textile manufacturer in post-revolutionary Rhode Island – 

who embodied the unreal contradictions of freedom and enslavement and ultimately power, profit, and control that still motivates so many people and businesses in this country.

After listening to this episode, you’ll be more informed as to the connections between:

  • cloth and gender,
  • production and race that shaped
  • and continue to shape deep-seated values lurking in the United States. 

Join us for this podcast, and learn about muslin/plain cloth’s fractured history in the United States!!

 

 

 

 

Middle school student drawing

Hey hey! References for educators and….. nerds!

 

Want more juicy info? Check out the refs below! Indulge in your LOVE of all things “stitch!”

https://www.mesdajournal.org/2012/slave-cloth-clothing-slaves-craftsmanship-commerce-industry/

Mandell, H. (2019). Crafting dissent: Handicraft as protest from the american revolution to the pussyhats. Rowman & Littlefield. Get it >>> here

 

[This post may contain referral-affiliate links. If a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.]

#11 Loving Winter

Hello there! Get cozy…

Stitchers – whether you’re sitting in your comfy chair with your coffee, taking a break from your daily tasks, 

or looking for ENGAGING content teaching at a school or homeschooling—

We’ve got your stitched stories covered!

Get ready for an in-depth look at the role of winter in our daily lives!
Stitched approved!

But before we dive deeper, let’s get inspired!

 

Ready for inspo? Your motivation mantra?..

This is a quote from Brooklyn-based beauty entrepreneur, Jodie Patterson. When asked: 

What did you want to be when you were a child?

she answered 

“When I was in grade school, I wanted to be a teacher.
My mom founded and ran a private school in Harlem and I shadowed her all the time –
from my perspective, it was the most noble of professions.

When I was in high school, I imagined myself being a businesswoman working in a skyscraper in a corner office,
wearing a chic Donna Karan suit in high heels.
I had this idea I’d have a powerful job.

Then after college, all I wanted to do was be submerged in literature…
I thought I’d be a writer.“

——————————————————————-

Patterson went on to work for the likes of Zac Posen,
but eventually opened up her own series of successful beauty businesses.

All of those passions fuelled Patterson. We all have them!

Like Patterson, I envisioned myself in chic suits and high heels, working as a fashion designer!
I loved to sew, loved clothes, and felt that apparel would be my go-to profession.

But after earning my degree in Fashion,
I had no taste for it…nor did I want to move to NYC.

Nah, I loved sewing my clothes. Not designing them.

I enjoyed putting together a look – a stylist-
but didn’t know I could pursue that as a career.

So began my more academic pursuits.
Still, I obviously LOVE sewing and needlework.

It’s simply taken a different form in my life!

And any form of stitching is THE activity during the cold months of winter…

So, this podcast-blog post is all about how to embrace the winter season,
and those challenging times in our lives that may be
called “winter.”

______________________

This quote from this really cool book – 

In the company of women: inspiration and advice from over 100 makers, artists, and entrepreneurs, by Grace Bonney. Get it >>>here

 

Blue background with starsWhat did you want to be when you were a child?

Share on Instagram, Facebook page, or in our private FB group, Storied Sewing Circle ( >>join here!)

 

 

Here’s my Loving Winter story, — What’s yours?

I listened to an interview conducted by Krista Tippit on her podcast On Being. She spoke with British writer Katherine May. 

May, author of Wintering: The power of rest and retreat in difficult times, spoke of her many “winter” experiences. 

 

Using wintering as a metaphor for the challenges and periodic depressions we all confront throughout life,
May dives into the meanings of winter as a season but goes far beyond the literal.

May takes us on a journey of near-fatal illnesses, homeschooling, the 24/7 life of a university lecturer –
and her own debilitating depressions. She also finds humor and power in the Arctic in polar swims.

In winter, May argues that we naturally slow down, reach for books, blankets, and hot chocolate.

In the 21st-century, many of us feel pressured to sustain our summer pace,
pretending that our long sunny days are filled with “busy.”

I related so much to her stories and perspective – down to earth, salty, real.

May describes the shame she feels upon taking leave from her full-time university job after suffering from a mysterious stomach illness.
Afraid of being “discovered” by colleagues (and accusations that she is faking her condition),
she takes a painful walk along the beach near her home in Whitstable, South England. 

May’s paranoia mirrors US culture:

it’s a disgrace to be sick, but even more shameful to be enjoying oneself.

 

I recognized the feeling of always being “on-call” as a customer service representative
  • holding to part-time teaching jobs.
  • I feel the constant need to check email and return voicemails,
  • like living with a permanent nervous tick. 
Work never seems finished.

But during her sick leave, May discovers a love of wintering: rising at 5 AM to read and write.
Later in the day, burrowing in a favorite comfy chair, reading for pleasure. 

Despite giving up her rented writing studio due to her healthy but cash-strapped status,
May appreciates the beehives nearby, her beach walks, time with her son. 

Obsessive cooking, baking, and grocery shopping replace the moldy prepackaged meals, sleepless nights, and short temper,
all precursors of exhaustion. 

May researched how people lived before electricity,
how lack of light forced people to plan then adapt to winter – just as animals do.

Slowing down, intimacy, hibernation, May argues, are essential to a healthy life.
Hunkering down is part of our life cycle.

Chilling out is not a luxury. It’s a life-saving, life-enriching action activity. 

 

Wintering as a requirement – not elective. 

———————

During the pandemic, I’ve observed how my behavior has evolved from its inception:
Manic activity to paralyzing depression to sadness to anger – a fight or flight battle to the death. 

I felt like a caged animal with the lakefront beaches closed during summer.
I wanted to hop on a flight to Boston, join my sister and bake on Horseneck Beach in Westport, Massachusetts.

I wanted to fly to Provincetown and swim in the chilly waters of Race Point.

I wanted to be with my mom, my younger brother. 

 

I wanted to get the hell out of Chicago.

Now, think about YOUR version of “wintering” story
(even if you live in Southern California)…

What’s my wintering discovery?

Slowly I surrendered. 

 

My frenetic pace continued through January.
In addition to facing students’ challenges and used to learning and teaching online,

I began a podcast. I also started sketching the outlines of an online school. 

Feeling anxious, primarily upon waking,
I tried unsuccessfully to ignore my sadness of being “home alone” over the holidays.

Binge-watching The Office got old fast. I couldn’t escape those debilitating feelings.

Then in late January, Tippett’s podcast episode email arrived, featuring May. 

 

I felt deeply connected to her ideas, her voice.

I took a long walk to Unabridged Bookstore in Lakeview and bought Wintering –
along with a few other books that I had since lost in my moves.

Once I finished Wintering, May gave me the courage to stop…
To stop questioning:

  • why I preferred walking to running during the winter, 
  • why I wanted to sleep in without the guilty panic of “I’m not gonna get enough work done” today pounding through my body.
  • retire early with a book under my arm or spend a couple of hours in meditation…
Suddenly, it was OK!

I’d given up knitting shortly after moving to Chicago, to situate myself in my new city, my new life, and my new skin.

After finishing my Ph.D., I felt uncertain as to what I would become in Chicago.

I stepped on my own insecure treadmill until I had landed consistent part-time work that I enjoyed.
Shortly after that, I began clearing my path in my art, teaching and being.

May reminded me of the pleasures of snow:
  • the blizzard of 78 in New England,
  • walks in a foot of snow under blue enamel skies,
  • coziness induced by overcast clouds.

I loved winter. Born in January, a nearly lifelong New Englander, I used to enjoy the silence and solitude.

I lost those passions along my bumpy road of life, but May restored them. I am forever thankful.

And in honor of hibernating, instead of merely doing a simple knit stitch scarf,
I began a scarf with a rib-knit pattern.

Advanced knitters will laugh, but the knit 2 to purl 2 pattern represents a partial reclaiming of wintering. 

Of happily paying attention to the stitch pattern.

And adding a different pattern to my already extensive collection of hand-knit scarves featured in this post.

So readers, stitchers:
  • Embrace winter,
  • slow down,
  • hibernate,
  • breathe, walk or
  • watch the birds, the sky, the snow,
  • knit, sew, needlepoint, weave…sleep in!
Guilt-free!
What is YOUR method(s) of wintering?

Share on Instagram, Facebook page or in our private FB group, Storied Sewing Circle ( >>join here!)

 

Middle school student drawing

Hey hey! References for educators and….. nerds!

 

Want more wintering info? Check out the refs below! Indulge in your LOVE of all things “winter!”

 

[This post may contain referral-affiliate links. If a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.]

 

___________________________________

Why the Storied Stitching Experience?

For me, needlework is a deeply meaningful form of personal expression that I want to share.

The sewing circle is a way to connect with fellow stitchers – and to remember those who are gone…

#8 Muslin: Part 1: Its fractured history in India

Hello there! Get cozy…

Stitchers – whether you’re sitting in your comfy chair with your coffee, in your car,

or looking for ENGAGING content teaching in your home or in a school—

We’ve got your stitched stories covered!

Get ready for an in-depth look at Muslin: Part 1: Its fractured history in India.

But before we dive deeper, let’s get inspired!

 

 

 

Ready for inspo? Your motivation mantra?..

This episode’s quote is from New york-based writer Tavi Gevinson. When asked: 

What quotation or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love?

she answered 

“Quoting writer Vivian Gornick: I had always known that life was not appetite and acquisition. In my earnest, angry, good girl way, I pursued meaning..”  

And isn’t that what we all want as makers? 

Not just in our studios but woven throughout our lives? 

What is the meaning of my life? Why am I here?

For me, it’s sharing the underreported stories of textiles– the social, economic, and political implications of cloth and stitch. It’s integrating this content into k-12 art and history curricula– and to share it with those who CARE.

This is what gets me out of bed in the morning.

______________________
Quote from  In the company of women: inspiration and advice from over 100 makers, artists, and entrepreneurs, by Grace Bonney. >>Get it >>>here

 

Blue background with stars

What quotation or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love?

Share on Instagram, Facebook page, or in our private FB group, Storied Sewing Circle ( >>join here!)

 

 

 

Here’s my “muslin” story–What’s yours?

I used muslin for sample or sloper patterns as a fashion design student at Mass College of Art back in the eighties. You sew your initial flat pattern in this cheap muslin and you adjust it on some form of a model—human or dress form. 

Or you can use the muslin to create a flat pattern by draping it on a dress form and adjust it as necessary. It’s cool because you work in three dimensions as opposed to two. 

You can use both methods— perhaps create a garment on the dress form then create a flat pattern for production. Or you can create a flat pattern first and then Stitch the muslin and adjusted on a dress form 

You want to buy the correct thickness of muslin and you want to get the cheapest you can because you’re going to be ripping it up and marking and making adjustments.

I remember the muslin I bought.

I think it was a dollar a yard in Boston’s Chinatown—which had like five or six really good fabric stores. Big box fabric stores weren’t mainstream then!

Muslin is central to my free form stitching practice where I create small to medium-sized quilt blocks of images layered with thread 

I love this cloth because I feel I can make as many samples and experiments as I want because I use medium grade— I don’t buy a super expensive or cheap muslin. 

In doing so, I can be as wild and creative as I want without thinking about much money I am spending!  You’ll agree, right, that it’s very freeing as an artist! 

 

Now, think about YOUR first yard of muslin!

What is YOUR thread or yarn “muslin” story?

Share on Instagram, Facebook page or in our private FB group, Storied Sewing Circle ( >>join here!)

 

What’s this episode really about?

In our introduction to muslin, we’ll discuss muslin’s storied history in Iraq, India- its popularity, its role in politics/economics and revolution—and its role in the independence of India- Bangladesh-Pakistan from Great Britain.

You’ll see how a fabric holds so many stories- my personal experience with a particular grade of muslin- and then it’s massive world-shattering history!

We’ll detail its role in colonial and independent India– and its continued legacy in India.

Join us for this podcast, and get the answers to the loaded history of muslin in India!!

 

 

#8 Muslin: Part 1: Its fractured history in India

Just in case you want a bit more detail about Indian muslin, here you go!

Early muslin was handwoven of delicate handspun yarn, especially in the region of what today is Bangladesh. 

Marco Polo described the cloth in his book The Travels. He said it was made in Mosul, Iraq.

Romans LOVED Bengal khadi Muslin and imported vast amounts of it. 

Muslin was imported into Europe for much of the 17th and early 18th-centuries.

But the fortunes of India’s muslin trade changed under British rule.

The British East India company could not compete with local Indian muslin with their own export of cloth to the Indian subcontinent. 

Naturally, the colonial government favored imports of British textiles, so they could make fortunes. That’s what colonies are for…

Hence, Britain instituted a new trade deal: India’s cheap raw cotton materials were shipped to Britain, manufactured into finished goods in British mills- clothing/home goods- And shipped back to colonial India to be sold for high prices….yes, that’s how colonies work, they lose and the colonizer wins…

Unsurprisingly, the Bengali muslin industry was suppressed by various colonial policies….the quality of Bengali muslin suffered and the finesse of the cloth was lost.

What was muslin’s Role in Indian Independence?

Ready for more? Listen to episode 8! Thanks and see you soon!!!!!

 

Middle school student drawing

Hey hey! References for educators and….. nerds!

Want more juicy info? Check out the refs below! Indulge in your LOVE of all things “stitch!”

Clothing Gandhi’s Nation: Homespun and Modern India. By Lisa N. Trivedi. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2007. Brings together social history and the study of visual culture to account for khadi as both symbol and commodity. ISBN 978-0253348821

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khadi

Image and other content sources here

 

[This post may contain referral-affiliate links. If a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.]

 

___________________________________

Why the School of Storied Stitching?

For me, needlework is a deeply meaningful form of personal expression that I want to share.

The sewing circle is a way to connect with fellow stitchers – and to remember those who are gone…

Join our Storied Stitching Community!

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