Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sew What?

A crime-solving ghost and magical charms from the past make PLEATING FOR MERCY a sure winner! The Cassidy women are naturally drawn to mystery and mischief. You’ll love meeting them! —NYT Bestselling Author Maggie Sefton

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Remember the first time you ever sewed? I have such a clear memory of the first thing I ever made. It was back when Home Ec was called Home Ec--my sister told me it's now called Hum Ec, for Human Ecology, but I refuse to believe that.

Anyway, back in the day, girl took home ec and boys took shop. That's how it was. We learned to make baked bean burgers, and tuna pizza--I mean, can you imagine anything worse? THAT was supposed to inspire us to become good cooks and homemakers? But I, as usual, digress.

We also learned to SEW. With a pattern.

I must admit, I thought this was pretty cool. Being a kind of chubbette, at the time, for whom shopping was basically a hideous enterprise, the idea of making clothes that fit was genius.

Don't try anything too difficult, my mother warned. So did Mrs...oh, gee, I forget the teacher's name. Anyway, I decided on a pleated skirt.

I know, I know, dumb, but it was 1964 and I was enthusiastic.

So I got his fabric, and got a pattern, and cut it out and put in the zipper and did the pleats and it WORKED, by golly it did. EXCEPT, the pattern on the FRONT of the skirt went one way, and the pattern on the back of the skirt went the other way.


What I needed, I now know, was a little Harlow Cassidy magic. Via Melissa Bourbon's delightful new character!

(All the Cassidy women possess special gifts. Harlow Jane Cassidy’s is creating beautiful dresses. And in Melissa Bourbon's new book, she’s about to discover secrets in her own family, and another gift—one that can reach beyond the grave… When her great-grandmother passes away, Harlow Jane Cassidy leaves her job as a Manhattan fashion designer and moves back to Bliss, Texas.)

Shades of Tim and Heidi! This adorable mystery is Project Runway meets (a very hip and grown-up) Nancy Drew.

Melissa--how did this all begin?

MELISSA BOURBON: I was in elementary school when my mother taught me to sew. The first big project I made completely on my own, a dress, was hard, definitely, but I am nothing if not dogged and focused when I put my mind to something.

The pattern had the option of using two coordinating fabrics which I decided to attempt. I made the whole thing from scrap pieces from my mother’s ample collection. I worked for hours and hours on that dress, even adding buttons up the straight skirt. I was so proud of myself, but what I remember most is how proud my mom was. That was the beginning of a lifelong love of sewing.

Sewing is, in some ways, a lost art. I’m teaching my daughter. She went to a fashion camp this summer. She doesn’t love sewing (it’s hard work, after all), but thanks to Project Runway, there seems to be a renewed interest in fashion, in general, and she has an interest in it.

But attention spans are different now from when I was a kid, and it’s so easy to go into a store and buy something nice at a fairly reasonable price. So, why sew?

I asked myself this question as I came up with and wrote Pleating for Mercy, the first Magical Dressmaking mystery (which was released on August 2nd). What is it about sewing and fashion that inspires my character, Harlow Jane Cassidy (a descendent of Butch Cassidy)? What is it about sewing and fashion that inspires anyone who has a love for this craft?

For Harlow, it’s about the creativity, the art, and the heritage of hand sewing in her family. I have that in my family, as well. Generation upon generation of women have sewn, quilted, embroidered, and knitted. It’s a legacy, and that’s something infused in Harlow’s fictional DNA.

One of the best parts of writing this series is that I get to research fabrics, fashion, style, and accessories. I bought Nina Garcia’s (from Project Runway) The One Hundred (tips for every fashionable woman). I bought a book on vintage 1800s dress design (book 2, A Fitting End has Harlow creating a period gown for a town historical pageant). I get to buy dress forms and trims and myriad other goodies to inspire me.

I may not have much time to actually sew, but I get to write about sewing machines, technique, and notions. And I get to peruse bridal magazines, and anything else that strikes my sewing fancy. It may not be the same as sitting down at my Pfaff® and creating a color-blocked dress or a quilted tote, but it works. For now.

So tell me, are there any sewers out there? Any quilters, knitters, or crocheters? What is your take on sewing for today’s generation of girls (and boys) as compared to what it was in the past?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, I must say--most of the women who work with me could not--and I am not exaggerating--thread a needle. And, actually, might not even realize why they should! How about you?

And continuing our win-a-book-a-day at Jungle Red, a copy of PLEATING FOR MERCY will be sent to a lucky commenter!



Here’s what Hank Phillippi Ryan said about Pleating for Mercy. I have her quote hanging up to inspire me as I write book 3 in A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series. Love ya, Hank!

“Enchanting! Prepare to be spellbound from page one by this well-written and deftly-plotted cozy. It’s charming, clever and completely captivating! Fantasy, fashion and a foul play—all sewn together by a wise and witty heroine you’ll instantly want as a best friend. Loved it!”~ Hank Phillippi Ryan Agatha, Anthony and Macavity winning author

Visit Melissa at her website

Melissa on Twitter

Melissa on Facebook

And at Books on the House, a website bringing books and readers together!

About the Author:

Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, is the marketing director with Entangled Publishing. She is the founder of Books on the House, the co-founder of The Naked Hero and is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery Series and two upcoming romantic suspense novels (written as Misa Ramirez).


  1. Oh, this is bringing back memories. The sewing machine jamming. How complicated it was to thread the bobbin. Eighth grade home ec (we learned to make cream puffs... still useful).

    Shopping for fabric - so much fun! Every department store had a fabric department and I loved the one a Bloomingdales. They also had amazing ribbon. Yes, all kinds of embroidered, grosgrain, satin... ribbons sold by the yard on the first floor of Bloomies on 59th St. I sewed my own maternity clothes because what they carried in the maternity department in those days was horrifying, and because maternity patterns are exceptionally easy as they are so NOT fitted. I also made baby clothes--adorable little dresses for my daughters.

    Oh, is this bringing back memories! And of course I'm a big Project Runway fan. And I've still got my Singer in the closet...

    Congratulations on the book, Melissa! You have great timing!!

  2. Melissa, this sounds like such fun!

    I was a huge sewer. The most complicated project I ever made was a woolen winter coat. Matching plaids was always challenging too--Hank, I can't believe you STARTED with a pleated skirt! I also sewed my first wedding dress--it was a knee-length wrap dress in off-white. Still have it tucked away somewhere...

    My poor beleaguered mother used to sew tap and ballet costumes twice a year for all three daughters. She didn't love it, but the cost of hiring someone to sew the outfits was staggering! However they gave you barely enough fabric to complete the costumes so we were always worried they would split open while we were dancing.

    Really looking forward to PLEATING FOR MERCY!

  3. BIg hugs to Hank and the rest of the Reds for having me here today! Writing this book brought back lots of memories for me, too, and I pulled them out, along with long forgotten sewing tidbits. I'm now newly inspired to sew more often--if only I had the time!

    Hallie, I'm with you! Fabric? Who cares if I ever make anything with it, it's gorgeous! Or fun! And worthy of the stack I have. I made what my husband laughingly refers to as "clown clothes" for my babies. I think the outfits are adorable! They laugh when they see the pictures and are horrified I made them toddle around in such concoctions.

  4. Roberta, my mom spent hour upon hour sewing costumes and outfits for me, too! I hadn't thought about that in a while. Good memories!

    I was one of those people who took home ec in middle school. Learned a killer carmel corn recipe I still make to this day... and also made a skirt. Those are the only things I remember from that class. Oh yes, no boys!

    When I first started dating my husband, I was shocked to learn one of my brother in laws knew how to sew. And the one I would have never suspected--sort of a homeboy kind of guy!

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  7. Fabric! Ribbon! I have WAY too much ribbon--it's irresistible.

    In Boston there's a store called The Windsor Button Shop, and it has miles of buttons and trim and grosgrain and rickrack and all kinds of wonderful stuff--
    As the genius-aunt of several little nieces, I once bought them each a treasure bag of dress-up stuff filled with those items--glittery and tulle-y and amazing.

    So much for "genius." They were baffled.

  8. My mother sewed, and still does, beautifully. She sewed all of my important dance dresses and my bridesmaids' dresses. Did I fully appreciate that when I was a teenager? Of course not. I wanted off-the-rack dresses. I shake my head at myself.

    I can't read a pattern to save my life, so I can only sew in straight lines--but that's good enough that I sewed all of the curtains in my house.

    I'm looking forward to reading PLEATING FOR MERCY, and I guess I should buy a copy for my mom!

  9. If my mother had EVER taken out a sewing machine we'd all have passed out in disbelief and called in a shrink. Were there shrinks in those days? What I'd have give for a tutu.

  10. Welcome Melissa! Such a fun title. Hank - a pleated skirt? You didn't want to start with something simpler, like - a wedding dress? Mine was an A-line skirt. Real simple, didn't even have a waistband, just a few darts.

    I have a mint-green Singer portable I bought at a tag sale for 10 bucks. I had it serviced at what may be the last Singer Store in my area just before they went out of business. Don't ask me why...all I've ever made on it have been pillow covers - no one seems to make them anymore, it's cheaper just to buy a new pillow, I guess.
    My mother was a seamstress and used to make a lot of my clothing when I was a kid. I hated it of course.

    She made my sweet sixteen dress the night before the party because princess here decided she didn't like the one she bought.
    Still love fabric stores and the walls of thread that you see at the tailors.
    I bet lots of closet seamstresses like me will think your new series is - a stitch. (Couldn't help myself...)

  11. I too took Home Ec. while the guys took shop - then for a few weeks we swapped...that was fun. I wonder what happened to the bookends I made. This book is already on my t-b-r list. I'd love to win a copy. Dee

  12. Please don't get me started on buttons and trimming - I love the Trimming District in NYC!

  13. I grew up sewing. My mother not only made multiple costumes for my sisters and I every spring for our ballet recitals, she worked with the teacher to design the costumes and create the patterns, then taught all the other mothers. She turned to quilting in her later years, so we all now have beautiful quilts on our beds.

    I loved sitting and leafing through the pattern books in the fabric stores. And I also have stacks of fabric still on my shelves, mostly gorgeous batiques and prints from West Africa. It's kind of a security thing, my cloth bank. Just in case.

    I taught my sons to sew and sent each of them off to college with a sewing kit. They've proudly shown me elaborate patches they created on a favorite but worn pair of pants.

    Can't wait to read your book!


  14. My mother didn't teach me to sew. I wasn't interested in learning until I was pregnant for the first time and realized (like Hallie)the only maternity clothes I could afford were cheap-o polyester dresses and large t-shirts. So I took an adult extension class and made my own wardrobe. My first project was a lined velvet dress for my husband's law firm's Christmas party!

    I still think that's the real reason to sew - to get what you want, in the fabric you want, with the fit you want. I haven't sewn in years - I put my Brother machine up in the attic when I had baby no. 2, but I've been thinking about getting it out again. My youngest is crafty - she loves embroidery and crochet - and I think we'd enjoy sewing together. I still tub after plastic tub filled with fabric up in that attic.... mmm, fabric...

  15. Welcome Melissa,
    Oh these tales of fabulous inspiring sewing projects made me feel terribly inadequate. Unlike your mother, my mother freaked out every time I got near the sewing machine, which I always injured in some way -- the bobbin still elues me.

    In Home Ec, I came up with her perfect solution. I did my best friends algebra and she did my sewing. But now I have a secret desire to quilt - which requires a machine - and I'm screwed.

  16. Good to see you here, Melissa!

    I own four sewing machines, including an early Singer with a foot treadle, up through a double needle one that I'm afraid to use. My first sewing project was a Cleopatra costume for Halloween (1962?), which involved satin and gold lame (I was very ambitious). In college I made all the bridesmaids dresses for one of my roommates.

    I want the title of that book on vintage dress design!

  17. I can so (or is that sew?) relate. Only when i first started, I went to a Catholic school in Europe and we had to sew everything by hand until you got into the upper grades. Our first project was to make long flannel nighties. Those seams were never ending!

  18. When I was about 12 my mother asked about school clothes. I came home with a copy of Vogue and Harpers Bazaar. She taught me to sew. It didn't help my popularity rating. While the other girls were showing up in Bobbi Brooks, Gant & Weejuns, my idea for first day of school was a pink Nina Ricci suit.

  19. Jan, the newer machines (the ones bought at a dealership, not the el cheapo ones on shelves at Target and Walmart) are much easier to work with. Ask to see a machine in the $800 range, and don't fall for the idea of spending thousands just to quilt straight lines.

    I spent my childhood impatiently waiting to be a sophomore in high school, because then I could take Home Ec. My mother did not, and does not, sew, but I seemed to be born to do it. Two friends paid me to finish their UFO high school projects. I made my first wedding gown and my bridesmaids' gowns, a suit for my first husband, and just about everything else you could name, except maybe a girdle. :-)

    In 1990 I started teaching sewing, first at a fabric store, and then here at my home in our remodeled basement. Then I wrote a book, a series of 100 case histories of people with sewing businesses. That tail wagged the dog; since I ended up self-publishing it, I also ended up traveling around the country and hand selling the darn thing. That was the end of teaching here.

    When my oldest daughter told us she was getting married she broached the subject by asking if I could make her dress. It turned out lovely, but I told the other two, don't ask. Thank you very much.

    We don't get cable, so I've never watched more than a few minutes of Project Runway. However, I've followed all but the first season via Project RunGAY, the Tom & Lorenzo blog about it. Way fun.

    Looking forward to this book, Melissa. Best of luck with it!

  20. Wow, everybody has sewing stories . . . including me, but mine is very short. I never took home ec. My grandmother sewed, and knitted, and my mother darned. Or perhaps I should say mended. My grandmother, who was the most patient woman on earth, tried to teach me to sew on our old Singer and finally gave up in frustration. Knitting, ditto. I did learn to sew on buttons and mend tears in things, but I hate putting in hems.

    I've since outdone myself by raising a daughter who can't sew on a button.

    But, as I've said here before, I want to make a quilt. We'll see.

  21. I used to make The Only's Halloween costumes, often without patterns, and she won the Best Dressed Cowgirl contest at the National Cowboy Museum of Western History every year she went. I actually flunked Home Ec in high school. LOL My grandmother was a seamstress and she taught me. She also quilted and I still have the quilt she made with scrap material from the dresses she made for me. I drag out the sewing machine occasionally to make stuff for The Only, curtains, or slip covers and I'm sure it'll get used a lot more once I become a grandmother. Gee, a whole new generation of costumes! (But I'm not in ANY hurry!)

    Melissa, this book sounds like a lot of fun! I've added it to my wish list. :-)

  22. I'm not great at sewing and tend to swear a lot when sewing. Pleating for Mercy sounds like fun! I just bought it for my Kindle and am looking forward to meeting the characters.

    Cathy Akers-Jordan

  23. Ah, Melissa, your subject is so dear to my heart. My mother, a seamstress extraordinaire, never used a pattern! And, until I was in high school, worked at her mother's black Singer -- barely electric, with a knee control. At 5 or 6, I started with hand embroidery. But after a special visit to Chicago's famed (but now sadly gone) Koengsholm Restaurant and Puppet Theater, I longed to make a marionette. She hangs in our living room still. All cloth, stuffed and jointed, with an embroidered face and a long heavy sea-foam satin gown. She is Anna from "The King and I." In honor or another theater trip to New York to see Alfred Drake and Gertrude Lawrence in the principal roles. (That will reveal my age, certainly.) Can't wait to read about Harlow Cassidy's adventures!

  24. I clearly remember the first thing I sewed--home ec and it was a blouse, so ugly. And the home ec teacher used to hit our fingers with a ruler if we got them too near the needle. Put me off sewing for years. But when I was in college we used to make our ball gowns--literally sewed on onto me once!
    Good luck with the series, Melissa. It sounds fabulous.

  25. The book sounds grest, Melissa. Hank, you started with a pleated skirt?! My grandmother was a fabulous seamstress. She taught me to sew and quilt by hand. I made doll clothes from her scraps, all sewn by hand--summer clothes for myself, too. I'd made two quilts before I learned to use the sewing machine. Then I really took off. When I was in high school & the others were making A-line skirts, I made a lined Chanel suit of raw silk with matching purse. (But I'd been sewing for years by then.) Made all my clothes and my kids in the early, very poor years of my first marriage. When we bought our house, I made all the curtains, some rugs, and the living room furniture myself. (I know. I was an insane masochist!)

    Now, I have bins full of fabric for the art quilts I like to make but I'm too busy and don't get to them. I still have a quilt basted for my youngest. Better get it quilted before he graduates w/ his Ph.D.!

    This brought back such lovely memories. Thanks!

    And my captcha is slyth, as in "she was full of slyth and cunning"?

  26. Slyth..such a cool word.

    Rosemary, I love that Bosoton has a store--and NEw YOrk has an entire DISTRICT. And so it goes.

    Pj in your Nina Ricci--that is the FUNNIEST image, becasue you were so far ahead of your time..and Linda in your Chanel-how wonderful! And the Anna puppet and the cowgirl outfit and all are amazing!

  27. Karen in Ohio--you're an entire blog. Just saying..xoo

  28. I have sewn. Note the past tense. :) My mother is wonderful with a sewing machine & made lots of clothes for us in the seventies (remember Stretch & Sew?) and one particularly beautiful bridesmaid dress (remember Gunny Sax?). And I learned how, and I made myself some cheap, simple clothes, but...I just don't like it. I have no 3-D visualization, so if the pattern doesn't fit PERFECTLY, I can't fix it AND I constantly sewed things together backward and inside out. The seam ripper is my friend. I am a HAPPY person that clothes have come down in price so much that I don't have to sew. I don't even hem my son's pants--if it's necessary, that's Dad's job.

    All that said, the book sounds wonderful, and I would LOVE to win a copy!

  29. Becky, I love that you said the seam ripper is your friend. It's going to be Harlow's friend in book 3. In fact, we've been stumped on a title for this book, but your comment just made me think of one! I just emailed to my editor, so we shall see :)

  30. I'm so jealous of the ribbon and fabric and trim stores and districts in Boston and NY! I live outside of Dallas--quite a ways outside--and while there probably is something like that there, I haven't found it. I have fabric envy!

  31. Edith, I love that you sent your boys off with sewing kits. What a great idea. And a cloth bank. Nice :D

    My mom has a fabric closet. I have a bin (or two...or three).

  32. Oh, Melissa, that would be fun! Fingers crossed.

  33. Four sewing machines, Sheila! Wow. I thought 2 for Harlow, plus a serger, might be too much. The old machines are so interesting. We had my grandmother's old Singer for a long time. Not sure what ever happened to it, actually.

  34. If you're any size but average (I'm petite) and have any income but exceptional (not going there), sooner or later you end up sewing, at least hems and darts and buttons, or you walk around looking like you're wearing someone else's clothes. (Come to think of it, that explains a lot of current "styles.")

    I'm originally from rural Kansas, land of quilters and all kinds of 'fancy work.' I feel a bit guilty that I rarely commune with my sewing machine any more. I named it Mahatma Ghandi because it often practices nonviolent noncooperation.

    Can't wait to read Pleating for Mercy!

  35. Melissa, I have seven machines. Two of them are sergers, one is a coverstitch machine, and three are antiques, including the machine that was my grandmother's, and that I used to make my first prom dress. At one point there were 16 machines here, but I've slowly given them all away.

    I gave my Singer 20U, an honest-to-God commercial machine that sewed five times faster than a home machine, to the local Shakespeare theater group.

    No self-respecting professional, unless she works out of a one-room efficiency in NYC, would be able to do without a commercial machine, a serger, and a blindhemmer.

  36. I'm glad to hear I wasn't the only nutcase sewing couture pattern outfits in high school!! Up until I got too busy writing, I would still do the fashion-tourist routine in the designer stores in the spring and fall and knock off the outrageously expensive pieces I liked at home from memory. We have some fabulous high-end fabric stores so some of my clothes were actually nicer than the ones I copied.

  37. Anyone here catching the connection between the creativity of writing and the creativity of sewing? My Home Ec sewing project was a gathered skirt. I still can picture mine, sky blue, with a white zipper because back then colored zippers weren't available. Or maybe not available in late 50s Milwaukee. I taught myself how to knit a sweater for my high school boyfriend (before I knew about matching the yarn lots.) Hey, I was earnest.

    And I still have my old machine and sewing box. I'll attack a loose button or a small tear, but I leave fashion construction to the experts.

    Isn't Tim Gunn the greatest? "Make it work!" Need him standing above me when I'm writing :)

  38. What fun stories you're all telling! "Fabric envy" -- indeed. Love to look at the stuff and pet it -- quilt stores are addictive, and the linen shops in Provence -- heaven! But although I learned to sew and embroider growing up, it fell by the wayside. Ya can't do everything. But I sure do like hearing what rest of you are up to!

  39. Hank, a serger is one of the greatest inventions ever!

    Remember how you had to pink the seam allowances of your seams? Sergers, or overlockers, use three to five threads, and they trim the edge of the fabric, so they can be used either to sew the seam, or to trim it, and without any raveling of the fabric. They are especially good to construct knit garments, since most overlock stitches have built-in stretch.

    And they're way faster than a domestic sewing machine, too!

  40. Melissa, your book sounds wonderful and as a former sewer, I know I'll enjoy it.

    I started sewing with Girl Scouts and continued through high school and after. Mom complained she couldn't keep me in fabric. I won the 7th grade sewing contest and the Senior sewing award. I've made everything from a laundry bag to my prom gown to my sister's bridesmaid dresses. Dresses and coats for two neiece one Easter. Made Hubby a sport coat before we were married.

    Had to give up sewing when arthritis hit the hands and the eyes started to go but now that I've had cataract surgery, it will be interesting to see if I can sew on the machine again. just bought some fabric yesterday.

  41. I posted before I read all the comments.

    I've never used the pattern instructions. Being dyslexic, they are a waste of time to me. God bless my sewing teacher, Mrs. Zak. She'd just tell me, now you do this, and I'd do it. I memorized everything and never forgot it.

    My prom dress was scorched when I sent it to be pressed and I spent the whole day before the prom putting on a new top by hand. Whjy? Anyone remember bomb scares in high school. We had to sit on the lawn while the school was check and we had three that day.

    You guys are bringing back some fun memories.

  42. I, too, have four sewing machines. A friend gave me one of hers so that I can keep it at my place at the beach so I don't have to carry one down there all the time.

    I have two working antique Singer sewing machines- the little black ones. One was my mother's; the other belonged to the mother of a guy I was dating. He gave it to me to keep safe when his mother died. I still have it, but not him. I think I got the better end of the deal! The machine has caused me less trouble.

    In my quilting group we call our seam ripper Jack, as in Jack the Ripper. I think a lot of people call it Jack.

    Have been sewing some 40+ years - clothes, home decor, quilts, etc. So many quilts that I don't own a store-bought blanket. I donated those and kept some quilts instead of giving all of them as gifts to family and close friends only.

  43. Oh, I wondered how seams got to look that way! Thanks Karen...

    And, I know from experience, I'm the ONLY person in my Channel 7 office with a sewing kit. Who could have an away-from-home office without as ewing kit? One producer I had, otherwise brilliant, had NO idea what the needle-threader was.

    I used to sneer at those, by the way. Now I'm grateful.

  44. Okay...sorry to rain on this parade, but I HATE sewing. I took Home Ec - the cooking part was easy (knew how to do that); sewing was awful. I don't even want to think about what I made. Don't like to knit, crochet, needlepoint, nada. I can sew on buttons if I have to. And right now, I could really use the knowledge that the boys learned in their shop classes!

  45. I'm a quilter and I love my stash of fabric. Next to a book store, the fabric store is heaven with all sorts of colors to choose from.

  46. A closer look at the top illustration revealed it's instructions for making a doll's skirt and tank top from a sock. Fun.
    My mother made all my clothes, including wedding dress, and taught me to sew. Guess who made my daughter's wedding dress. My mother; I hang my head in shame.
    All my friends in high school knew how to sew better than the poor home ec teacher. We gave her such grief.

  47. Nancy, you can thread a needle..that's good enough! (And the skirt was the end of sewing for me--other than a series of sheets made into curtains!)

    And Dru, yes, it's all the possibilities!

  48. Skipper--I bet your mother was very proud!

  49. Great funny title. Best of luck with it. I am not very good at any sort of sewing but somehow I once (a long long time ago) made a dress that everybody thought was fabulous. I believe it cost something like $!.37 for material. Wow, I'm proud thinking back on it. I work with theatre costumers and admire them greatly.

  50. Great point, Pamela! It's a craft of necessity, but one that gives such pleasure and is a great reward.

  51. Karen, I guess Harlow needs to save her pennies to buy a commercial machine then! I'm taking that under advisement. Thanks!

  52. I just love hearing all these stories about sewing, fabric, and love of the craft! Now I need some advice.

    I have an 11 year old daughter. She loves project runway, did a fashion camp this summer, has taken a few classes, and is really good at sewing for her age. But it's hard and she doesn't want to push through to learn more! Any thoughts on how to keep her going with it? I want her to love fabric and sewing like I do!!!

  53. Your stories about home ec class brought back memories for me, too. In 8th grade, I made a full-length halter dress in home ec (and at home), and wore it to the 8th grade dance at the end of the year. In the late 1990s, I made and sold tea cozies. Unfortunately, I haven't done much sewing in recent years. Instead, I've rediscovered knitting, which I learned in college. Like sewing, it's creative and you get to make lovely things, but the best part is that it's PORTABLE!

  54. Melissa, I used to teach a class on how to teach sewing. One of the biggest problems with teaching, especially your own child, is expecting her to have your skill level. Instead, let HER choose whether or not a garment or other project lives up to HER standards. If she is happy with it, she'll be more likely to choose a more challenging project, and will be happier with the craft.

    Also, remember that machine sewing is easier than hand sewing, or even ripping. Those things are more difficult for kids, who may not have developed the fine motor capabilities necessary for the tasks. I always asked my kids if they were okay with how things turned out, and if there were sewing boo-boos, I'd offer to do the seam ripping for them. Anything to reduce frustration levels!

    And take heart. She may stop today, but there will be a day in the future she might end up starting it up again. All three of my daughters have.

  55. And the randomly chosen winner is: DEE! (Gram) Dee, email me your address through my website--and we will get you the book!

    Hurray! ANd thanks, dear Melissa/Misa!

  56. Great advice, Karen. She's the one who thinks her skill level should be much better than it is, and because it's not, she gets frustrated and wants to stop. She's a perfectionist! ARGHHHHH!!!!

  57. Dee, congratulations! Hope you love the book, and definitely hope the rest of you will rush right out, like, right now!, and buy your own copy!!!

    Thanks again to Hank and the Red Ladies for having me here!!

  58. LOL, Hank. I once made a corduroy dress with the wale going one way in the front and another in the back. I wouldn't have known if a friend--a man--hadn't pointed it out to me.