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Storied Stitching Podcasts & Video

Diane Fine and Laura Sapelly
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#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…

#13 Starting something sketchy, part 2

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 sketchy sampler stitching, part 2!

scribble quilt blues

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

 

Ready for inspo? Your motivation mantra?..

This is another quote from Los Angeles-based musician, Aimee Mann. When asked: 

How do you face the blank page (or screen)?

she answered 

“.. I compose songs for my cat…it makes the songwriting fun…”  

Now THAT is an amazing strategy. 

If I think about WHO will see and JUDGE my work, I freeze up. Block. 

But if I start with:

“Laura you have a plan for what you want to do, but it’s cool to experiment”

I’m ok. 

I begin with a sense of play rather than ‘ART.’ 

Like making a “sample” before diving into the final piece…Sample stitching…

So, start with “I am going to design and stitch something for my cat (or pet)….do it with devotion and love and see where it takes you…Sample stitch, let it go…

What is your sampler method? How do you overcome the “OMG people are gonna hate this” mentality?

Once I finally place my creative work at the TOP not the end of my long list of “other more important responsibilities…” 

I have a way to keep going if I stumble bumble….

So, this blog post is all about how to start and keep going.

______________________

Quote from  The Art of Process podcast, hosted by Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. >>Find it wherever you get your podcasts!

 

Blue background with starsWhat saying inspires and motivates you to start?

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

 

 

Here’s my “begin” story, part 2—What’s yours?

Last week, I told you about the amazing unblocking strategies found in Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. 

Lamott’s “short assignments” get the juices going. 

For part two, we discuss her “sh**ty first draft.”

Parents, we can rename it the sketchy first draft, ok?  

Lamott describes it:

“For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really sketchy first drafts. (my edit)

The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. 

You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page.”

 

Lamott continues:

“So I’d start writing without reining myself in. It was almost just typing, just making my fingers move. And the writing would be terrible. 

I’d write a lead paragraph that was a whole page, even though the entire review could only be three pages long, and then I’d start writing up descriptions of the food, one dish at a time, bird by bird, and the critics would be sitting on my shoulders, commenting like cartoon characters. 

They’d be pretending to snore, or rolling their eyes at my overwrought descriptions, no matter how hard I tried to tone those descriptions down, no matter how- conscious I was of what a friend said to me gently in my early days of restaurant reviewing. 

“Annie,” she said, “it is just a piece of chicken. It is just a bit of cake.”

But because by then I had been writing for so long, I would eventually let myself trust the process–sort of, more or less.…”

The next day, though, I’d sit down, go through it all with a colored pen, take out everything I possibly could…and then write a second draft. It always turned out fine, sometimes even funny and weird and helpful. I’d go over it one more time and mail it in.

Then, a month later, when it was time for another review, the whole process would start again, complete with the fears that people would find my first draft before I could rewrite it.

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything–down on paper…”

———————

I totally relate the sketchy first draft to Aimee Mann’s cat song compositions. 

The goal behind both of these methods is: start, get something down, edit or completely revise. 

Sampling your stitching or writing before the next step! 

Get it done quick schemes rarely work. 

Take Aimee’s or Anne’s advice: cats or sketchy drafts….

Now, think about YOUR sketchy first stitchings story…

What’s my sketchy cat composition process?

The free-form sampler above is an example of a purely experimental sketchy “cat song” of Aimee Mann’s! Unresolved. But I wanted to try out different colors on a small square, as is done in a traditional pieced quilt….

But here’s my process:

I’ll have an idea and make a small pencil sketch in my journal, graph paper sketchbook, or on a scrap of paper. Later, I’ll transfer any rogue drawings into my graph paper sketchbook as a way to organize them. 

Then, if I feel the need I’ll do a basic watercolor or pencil sketch to test colors and the composition. Of course, thread is a lot different than wet or dry media..

 but it still gives me a sense of what to expect color-wise.

Once this is done, I look at my thread supplies. 

Do I have the right colors? Do I need to order some? How about specialty threads?

I turn my sewing machine on!

I assemble the supplies that I need: thread colors, muslin, batting… 

And I sample. Sample. 

Some of these samples actually turn out to be finished work, but I try not to think about that.

Why the longish sketchy process?

Because I can! 

Because I’m not in a degree-granting art program anymore –  nor am I selling my artwork to keep food on the table!

My stitching/samplers inform my teaching and curricula designs. If I exhibit and sell the work— that’s just an added bonus!

Try to get your mind out of the Perfect Stitch and into the Sampler Stitch! Really let it rip!

And see what happens!

What is YOUR method(s) of sketchy stitching sampling?

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

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. New York: Anchor Books, 1994. >>Find it here.

The Art of Process podcast, hosted by Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. >>Find it wherever you get your podcasts!

 

[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…

#7 Cool World of Specialty Threads

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 another overlooked but super important concept for both thread: ply

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

 

 

 

Ready for inspo? Your best habits?..

This episode’s quote is from New york-based fashion designer Maya Gorgoni. When asked: 

Which of your traits are you most proud of?

she answered 

“My determination and that I seldom take no for an answer.”  

Excellent advice and a wonderful introduction to this episode where I discuss this amazing colorful world of unique threads! I encourage you all to experiment! 

So don’t say no to say working with metallic thread or even a monofilament! 

Be open-minded.

Give them a try and you’ll be happily surprised at the discoveries that you’ll find and how you can incorporate them into your stitch practice!

I like to embellish a boring solid color tank top or t-shirt. They’re pretty cheap so I feel free to take artsy risks on them.

Nine times out of ten, I’m psyched with the result! (that’s a Massachusetts term meaning excited)

______________________
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

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 “specialty thread” story–What’s yours?

I learned about specialty threads through the amazing Maurine Noble who is no longer with us. Maurine is very well known in the traditional quilting world and she’s written many books on the subject. 

One that I studied was Machine Quilting with Decorative Threads, co-authored with Elizabeth Hendricks.

I had the privilege of taking a class with Maurine in a Bernina dealership near my hometown in 1999 or 2000. Maurine taught us all about the different threads you could use and the types of needles used.

My head was bursting with all the new threads I bought that day, I couldn’t’ wait to get home and try them out!

Go ahead and find out all you can about these threads and experiment!

Go forth and conquer the world of wild threads! 

After listening to this episode, please, go have yourself a thread party! YAY!

 

Link to Maurine’s book

 

Now, think about YOUR first specialty spool of thread!

What is YOUR cool thread 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 be diving into the types of specialty threads out there! The main categories, their materials and when to use them….and how to experiment with them!

We’ll end by detailing thread finishes, which naturally affect how the thread acts and looks on your stitched project!

After listening to this episode, you’ll feel WAY more confident to experiment with various weights of threads! YES!

Join us for this podcast, and get the scoop metallic, jean, variegated, and a zillion other cool threads?!!

 

 

Episode  #7 Cool World of Specialty Threads

So much thread, so little time! Here are some definitions to get you started!

Clear Thread: Also called Monofilament and Continuous filament thread, this type of thread resembles a very fine fishing line and is useful when you want your stitches to be invisible.

Embroidery Thread includes machine embroidery and hand embroidery thread/floss. Embroidery thread is made from a variety of fibers, rayon being the most popular due to its high sheen and good price.

Embroidery Floss is Popular for hand embroidery and needlepoint, it is either spun by hand or by machine into 6 strands. Then, it’s divided to achieve the desired thickness. Colors, numbering, and weights vary depending on the manufacturer. 

Metallic Thread (my FAVE) is used to embroider and to sew decorative topstitching. It’s weak and breaks easily, so handle with care! It’s usually made with a polyester core and wrapped with slivers of metal foil/tinsel. No high heat or steam, please–it weakens and destroys the stitches. When used properly, metallic thread is beautiful and is always worth the extra effort.

Quilting Thread Is either cotton, polyester, or a blend of both. It’s mercerized to increase it’s strength and color longevity. VERY important for quilters, as they don’t want their thread to fade after all that work!!

Variegated Thread fibers are dyed in intervals of alternating shades and colors along the entire length of the thread. It can look super ugly on the spool but trust me– when layered– variegated thread can offer sublime color depth to one’s work!

Finally, I’ll also talk thread finishes – from waxed to mercerized – and you’ll be dancing your way to your local fabric store – or trolling online thread sellers- to start your wild thready experiments

Ready for more? YAY! Listen to episode 7! 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 thinks “stitch!”

 

[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…

#12 Starting something, part 1

 

 

 

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 in your home or in a school—

We’ve got your stitched stories covered!

Get ready for an in-depth look at the role of breaking blocks to BEGIN your stitching!

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

 

Ready for inspo? Your motivation mantra?..

This quote is from Los Angeles-based musician, Aimee Mann. When asked: 

How do you face the blank page (or screen)?

she answered 

“.. I set a timer for 15 minutes, and when the timer ends, that’s my work for the day. That way I pass the “what if this song is terrible” thinking…”  

I love this simple approach to starting anything. 

My sister loves to clean house, and I dislike it intensely. But I’ve started a related “15 minutes” strategy by listening to cool podcasts* as I swiff, scrub, dust.

And, if I say, oh, I’ll just clean for 15 minutes….I end up cleaning far longer…I’ll finish!

(*While cleaning this weekend, listening to Mann and collaborator Ted Leo’s The Art of Process podcast inspired me to write this blogpost!)

What is your blank page? How do you overcome fear or resistance to it?

For me, it’s also starting to stitch. Either starting anew or returning to a UFO.

(Un-Finished Object, in the stitching world terms!)

I tend to place my creative work at the end of my long list of “other more important responsibilities” 

(READ: jobs, email, running…even cleaning!)

So, this blog post is all about how to start the stitch.

______________________

Quote from  The Art of Process podcast, hosted by Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. >>Find it wherever you get your podcasts!

 

Blue background with starsWhat saying inspires and motivates you to start?

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

 

 

Here’s my “begin” story–What’s yours?

Billions of books have been written on how to overcome creative blocks. One of my favorites is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. 

Lamott’s “short assignments” get the juices going. 

For part one, we’ll feature the one-inch picture frame. 

Lamott describes it:

“The first useful concept is the idea of short assignments. Often when you sit down to write, what you have in mind is an autobiographical novel about your childhood, or a play about the immigrant experience, or a history of–oh, say–say women. 

But this is like trying to scale a glacier. It’s hard to get your footing, and your fingertips get all red and frozen and torn up. Then your mental illnesses arrive at the desk like your sickest, most secretive relatives….”

All of your mega-insecurities about making arrive faster than the speed of light!

Lamott continues:

“I go back to trying to breathe, slowly and calmly, and I finally notice the one-inch picture frame that I put on my desk to remind me of short assignments.

It reminds me that all I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame. This is all I have to bite off for the time being. All I am going to do right now, for example, is write that one paragraph that sets the story in my hometown, in the late fifties, when the trains were still running.

E.L. Doctorow once said that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard…”

———————

I totally relate the one-inch picture frame to Aimee Mann’s 15-minute timer. 

The goal behind both of these methods is: start. 

If we begin, we often have a much more difficult time stopping! 

We get our head into the game and flow with our ideas.

Now, think about YOUR getting started story…

 

Other methods to start?

I turn my sewing machine on!

I remove it’s cover, “let it warm up” as I complete other tasks.

It’s on, it’s ready. 

Since I’ve organized my one-bedroom apartment into an organized live/workspace, I know where everything is (most of the time). 

I get the piece that I’m working on, or have prepared, and GO.

Next thing I know, an hour has passed – and I’ve NO idea what time it is!

Try it. 

If you’re a hand stitcher, your version of “turning on” your materials may be getting them OUT of hiding and INTO a place where you’ll want to start!

What is YOUR method(s) of getting started?

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

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. New York: Anchor Books, 1994. >>Find it here.

The Art of Process podcast, hosted by Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. >>Find it wherever you get your podcasts!

 

[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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