Sew… Let’s Talk!

A brief recap of my interview with Joanne Banko

On Monday, June 28, 2021 I was invited to guest-Zoom with Joanne Banko on her new channel, Sew… Let’s Talk! We had a wonderful conversation about sewing, my favorite sewing machine feet, a quick tour of some my sewing space storage and some of the samples I made for The Book (Creating Couture Embellishment). I could talk to Joanne for hours. She’s engaging, curious, well informed about sewing and sewing related topics and just plain Nice! You can find the recorded/YouTube version of our conversation here.

Joanne and I met in Cleveland OH during a taping of It’s Sew Easy, series 1500. Joanne was filmed after me, but was there for my filming to help set up the Brother sewing machine for the Sashiko technique. (You can see my post about that experience here.) Joanne and I both belong to Craft Industry Alliance, which you can find here, so we get to wave and briefly chat at the monthly Roundtable Zoom meetings.

 

So… the samples I showed to Joanne and her subscribers started with a simple sleeve with gathered ribbons adorning the hem and then black velvet sleeve with pink-gold trim couched down the length. (I’m not adding photos of the sleeves to this post as I hope you will watch the YouTube interview. The sleeves start at 26:44.) Next we talked about changing the hemline of a sleeve and adding trims to accent that change: the silver sleeve with dark green trim and the grey short sleeve with sequin trim. From there we looked at using both sides of a fabric: shiny & matte finishes on a piped sleeve and a jacquard weave with an added single feather. We also looked at using both sides of a trim. Using both sides of a fabric or a trim is easy because the colors always match. We always have long discussions about which colors “work together” in our house as we each see colors very differently.

From the website of Optical Masters of Denver CO comes this scientific description:

The vision process is the same for every person. However, color perception is different in some people. Color perception (or the colors you see) depends on if parts of your eyes are working correctly. We mentioned the retina of the eye and how it is a light-sensitive tissue that communicates with the brain. This thin layer of tissue houses millions of microscopic light-sensing nerve cells that we call rods and cones. These are the cells that send impulses to your brain, interpreting colors from light waves.

Rods and cones don’t work the same in every person. They may malfunction slightly, meaning your color perception is only a little off. However, severe forms of abnormal color perception are referred to as “color blindness”. This means that people with color blindness aren’t aware of specific color differences like the rest of the population is. You may see a stop sign as being bright red, while someone with red-green color blindness sees that stop sign as a hue of green. 8% of men and 0.5% of women have color blindness. In many cases, this trait is inherited by males from a mother who had genes for abnormal photo pigments. This will make the cone cells work differently in the eye than they should.

But I digress…then I showed two sleeves with beads: picot trim and beaded net fringe.

Next we talked about adding lace or trim to a garment and then cutting away the under or base fabric. -The add and subtract method is similar to Applique but with two more steps; after the lace or trim is appliqued,

  1. Cut away most of the base fabric.
  2. Sew down the raw edges of the base fabric so you have a peek-a-boo effect through the lace or trim.

Both of these samples were Bodices: the Lace Trim chapter opener and Crochet chapter opener (the Crochet chapter was cut when we ran out of space!)

Finally, I showed Something Seriously Elegant: the Hollyhock sleeve sewn in an ornate silk jacquard and organza and Something Seriously Fun: the Loose/Single Sequin sleeve sewn in cotton chicken fabric with “wings.”

I answered some of questions from the Chat and our hour was up. I think the final sleeves summed up our talk: serious, elegant and fun! Thank you so much Joanne!

My work room

My work room is in my home. We have recently moved into this house (10 months ago!)  so my work room is still a work in progress. I have to think: where did I put those duck billed scissors? Or the fabric markers? Still it is lovely space: filled with light and beautiful fabrics.

At the top of the stairs from the front hall is large loft-like space; this is my workroom. Along the far wall of my room are west-facing windows that look out over the river near us.

The view from my work room at high tide

I have 2 industrial sewing machines positioned along the north wall: a straight stitch and a zizgzag machine. On the south wall I have a bamboo counter that holds a small ironing board and my industrial iron. The north and south walls also have shelves starting at 5’ off the floor and continuing up to 10’. On one set of shelves are my books of Fashion History and inspiration. On the other set of shelves are boxes of fabric that I hope to use soon.

Ellen, wearing a pin-tucked, green, corduroy shirt showing some ribbon flowers

 At my work table with some ribbon flowers

In the center of the room I have a custom made table that is 38” high and is 47.5” wide by 66” long with a dropped leaf to extend the table to 92” long. The table is topped by a large cutting mat as I prefer cutting fabric with a rotary cutter. As I work on a project I’m very good at covering every flat surface in my workroom with bits and bobs, so I try to start with all the flat surfaces cleaned off.

All of my tools and supplies have a home in a drawer or a labeled box. It makes me crazy to not be able to find something, so everything has a place to live—in theory. Of course there are a couple of boxes that have all the odd things thrown together: rhinestone setter, grommet setter, electric knife for cutting foam and a bead spinner are in one box.

I made the switch to an industrial iron and sewing machine many years ago. I was exasperated by my home sewing machine needing to be repaired all the time; I needed something sturdier. With the industrial straight stitch machine I can sew fine chiffons or thick wools with just a few adjustments of the tension discs and the stitch length. The zigzag machine is a little more complicated than the straight stich machine so I need to spend more getting the stitches just right. I also have a 3-4 thread serger. I dream of owning a cover stitch machine.

Last but not least I have a stereo in my workroom. I listen to the music, the news, audio books while working. I find the tempo of the music keeps me moving forward: Loreena McKinnett or Jesse Cook are good when working on complicated pattern changes, while Bruno Mars, Beyonce or Adele are good when working on more straight forward things.

The view from my work room at low tide

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If I am a sewing machine…

If I’m a sewing machine, what are you?

While floating in the swimming pool with Alice (of the re-fashioned Kimono) and my cousin Abby (donor of the Kimono) we were talking about our extended family. Abby was describing people for Alice in Abby’s unique way.

Juki sewing machine

 

One of Alice’s 2nd cousins was described as, “ felted wool sweater and hard cover book.”

2 hard cover books on a table

 

A distant cousin was described as “organic herbs and felted wool hat.”

Sage with some bug eaten holes.

Alice and I thought this method of describing people was very funny, accurate and hard to do. We tried to describe other members of our large extended family using Abby’s object driven descriptions and ran into problems. How many adjectives can be used to describe the object? Does the order of objects matter?

As we floated in the pool, I decided I was sewing machine: lots of potential for doing all kinds of stitches, but I need to be plugged in and turned On. To translate that: I can sew, I can write, I can organize, etc. but I have trouble getting started. Most of the time the jolt of energy from my morning coffee gets me going, but sometimes even the coffee doesn’t work; I get plugged in but the switch isn’t turned On. I’ll find myself reading all three newspapers on the breakfast table and think longingly about the novel I’m reading, instead of the challenging sewing on my worktable. I know that if I can get to my workroom and get started on the current project I will become totally absorbed in the work.

Once I get turned On I have trouble stopping- the Off switch is elusive. I will be totally and happily absorbed in my work and the hours will fly by – until my husband (or my grumbling stomach) reminds me it’s time to eat. My reply, “Yes, thanks for the reminder, I’ll be there in 5 minutes” and mean that. Somehow the 5 minutes turns into 30 minutes and by then I’m totally out of energy. Luckily, my husband knows this about me and compensates for my totally absorbed state/tardiness. So hitting the Off switch is as hard as hitting the On switch for me.

What about you? Are you an elevator? Moving from one floor/task to another as the people around you demand your attention? A tractor plowing through your tasks? Or maybe a weed whacker: capable of cutting through the weeds to expose the hidden flowers?

 

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