Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Small Stitches

I started sewing when I was about six or seven years old, my mom used to give me the left over scraps from her dressmaking and I would wrap them tightly around my dolls' unrealistic torsos and stitch them horrendously at the back to make tops and skirts.  My mum noticed my interest and taught me embroidery and how to use the sewing machine and I did a bit of dressmaking at school (badly!) but I never really lost the urge to use up all these little bits of fabric that got left over.  I began doing English Paper Pieced Patchwork in about 1992 and I honestly can't remember why, something to do one Winter when the telly was on the blink or something I guess! 

Patchwork and hand-embroidery aren't techniques I ever really considered using in handmade items for sale as they are such a time consuming practices so it's always been something I've picked up and put down at intervals and done simply for pleasure.  Early in my business, a sewing machine meant I could work faster, produce more work and make more money - or so I thought.  My kids were young, everything was rushed and I grabbed chunks of work time whenever I could and looking at my old product photographs with my current eyes, I can see actually SEE the stress in some of my earlier work!  I found the noise of the machine, the breakdowns, the wonky tension, the lack of complete control and the urgent pace of the work really rather stressful and It's all right there in the stitching! 

I obsessed that I NEEDED to produce quantity to make money - pretty much in the same way that  I NEEDED  a microwave -except I I didn't at all did I?! I realised eventually that my actual oven or a pan of hot water are way more efficient that the box that goes 'ping' and felt rather silly for not getting rid of the infernal thing earlier.   I hand stitch the lace to my pincushions with gold thread instead of using glue it because it feels right to do it that way.  Glue would make me feel rubbish and charge less for my pieces, in fact I wouldn't even feel that they were handmade at if I hadn't stitched them so what would be the point?

I know that I sound like I just had an epiphany about all this hand-stitching business but I haven't really, I've always known that slow is the way to go and have been TRYING to say so with my work but I really think I need to speak up a bit!  What I really want to say is, I love sewing, I love the feel of it, the slow pace and the attention to detail and I want you to love it too!  If I print the words 'Sewing Mends the Soul' on a pincushion then I really really mean it and it is printed on a pincushion that I carefully made by hand. But I have made a hundred of them and may well have forgotten to mend my own soul while I was doing it!  By embroidering the words - on just a few, by stitching some teeny tiny patchwork then I can do just that.

So I now have some teeny, tiny patchwork and embroidered wearable pincushions emerging from my sewing
box for sale but all the images in this blog are of two commission pieces that I have made for the lovely Kate Bowles.  Kate is an valuable mentor and her phrase 'I think you need to go smaller' will now stick with me forever!!  Kate really liked the 'Antique Quilt' pincushion that I made in the embroidery hoop and wanted me to make a miniature version on a ring for her.  She also wanted to replace the pincushion on her vintage spool holder with one made of hexagon patchwork from her own fabrics, all of which were special to her in some way.  It's Kate's birthday today too - Happy Birthday Kate!!  Paula xxxxx

No comments:

Post a Comment