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I love all things sewing!  It's all about the creative journey.  All my blog posts are letters to my sewing alter-ego - Lola!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Adventures in Tuffeteering

 Dear Lola,

Sewing continues to take me places I never imagined.  Today’s sewing adventure landed me squarely in the world of Tuffeteering.  Haven’t you ever heard of the magical world of Tuffeteering?  It’s a pleasant place and you can find yourself transported there by Sharyn Cole, a fabulous educator at ThimblePleasures who teaches a class in tuffet making.   Sharyn’s positive, upbeat attitude makes learning fun!  She loves what she does and it totally shows - as you can see from her photo below!  I just adore her!

Don’t you know what a tuffet is?  It’s a mushroom shaped seat made famous by none other than Little Miss Muffet of nursery rhyme fame.  After my experience today, I believe that no home should be without at least one!

Two weeks ago during session one of the Tuffet Making Class, we learned how to sew strips of fabric on to muslin backed wedge-shaped strips.  After completing one wedge using this easy flip and sew technique, we were sent home to return today with our completed tuffet covers.  Each student had both unique fabrics and plans for their finished tuffets – we couldn’t wait to reconvene to see each other’s results.

After only a few missteps on my own, I finished my cover with happy results (see the photo below).  I actually enjoyed the process much more than I ever imagined.  Just knowing that I would have a pretty swanky piece of furniture to show at the end of the project was enough to keep my eyes on the finish line.  Sewing the strips together was kind of therapeutic and once I got a little rhythm going, it really didn’t take too long.  The flip and sew procedure was new to me and took some concentration to master, but in the final analysis isn’t too complicated.

After the wedges are sewn together, a small drawstring is attached to the bottom of the fabric circle to pull the fullness around the tuffet.  We were instructed to come to the class today with our finished cover, a 6-inch square of fabric for the covered button center and an 18-inch square of fabric for the underneath of the tuffet.  I had previously purchased the class kit, which included my batting, foam and plywood.  Sharyn graciously allows the class to use her power tools and let me tell you – they are serious power tools that involve an air generator and safety goggles! 

It was so exciting to arrive and see everyone’s finished covers.  Each one was a shining example of creativity and hard work.  The fabric strips had been transformed!  There were examples of whimsical, elegant and sublime!  The atmosphere inside the classroom was a little like Santa’s workshop.  All the little elves were more than enthusiastic to get started!

We hit the ground running, with only 3 hours of class time and 6 tuffets to finish, we had to be serious about getting it all done.  We did things today I never imagined I would experience.  We cut our foam using electric kitchen knives – yep, you know the Hamilton Beach type that Dad used back in the day to carve the Thanksgiving Turkey!  We used a spray adhesive to affix the foam to the plywood, mastered a high-powered staple gun to adhere our upholstery batting and we hammered bolt holders into the plywood.  We covered buttons, stretched fabric, poked holes and affixed wooden feet. 

The energy in the room was giddy with possibilities.  Some of us (mostly me) were nervous around the power tools while others were brave and dove right in with gusto!  We worked in teams, stayed focused and kept our rhythm.  I would have never guessed it possible – but we did it!  By our 5:00 deadline, the world was a much more tuffety place and no one was injured!

To my complete and utter joy - I have actually created and completed my very first piece of furniture!  I am still in shock over the fact that I created this very tangible proof of my ability to follow directions, do my best and finish the job!  I am now the proud owner of a tuffet.  I can sit on it, stand on it, or better yet  - share it with someone who looks simply adorable sitting on it!

Hugs and stitches,
Sew Sleepless

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Craftsy – An Online Craft Learning Utopia

Dear Lola,

As you know, I have done my fair share of exploiting the Internet to advance my sewing skills.  I visit countless blogs; watch hundreds of You Tube sewing videos; interact on “sewcial” media; spend an inordinate amount of time on Pinterest; and visit online shops that share tutorials and tips.  It’s a wonder that I ever finish any housework, feed my family and find any time to do any real sewing!

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better out there in the virtual sewing playground – I found Craftsy.  I am officially in love.  This amazing platform allows you to pay for a class and have access to that class forever and whenever!  That’s right – I can attend a sewing or quilting class in my home, in my pajamas on my schedule even when I am Sew Sleepless!  This is genius!

What is Craftsy?  According to them:  “We are a community of people who love to make things.  We’re learning from, inspiring and helping each other.  We are dedicated to providing the best education and resources for crafters.” 

All I know is that they have nailed it.  It’s like the perfect marriage of traditional learning and technology all wrapped up into the perfect gift you can give yourself!  I know I will always continue to attend in person classes and workshops, but this is an awesome way to compliment my learning of all things sewing!

The beautiful design and functionality of the Craftsy platform enables you to preview classes you might be interested in taking.  They have been adding more and more classes at a break-neck pace.  They have sewing, quilting, knitting, baking, and clay to name a few.  There are a few free classes you can try to see what it’s all about.  I tried the Block of the Month Club first before I jumped in and made an actual purchase.

My first real effort is StupendousStitching taught by Carol Ann Waugh.  The class is made up of 11 sessions and offers downloadable documentation including supply lists and resources. Like all the Craftsy classes, it even has a built-in feature for taking notes.  Carol Ann is an enthusiastic teacher who clearly loves what she does! 

Here are a few photos of my first efforts.  I haven’t tried the hand stitching yet - but I know I will since I have been able to watch Carol Ann do it about a 100 times!  Can’t believe it but I truly believe I will be able to do a French knot in the very near future!  Craftsy is giving me confidence to try new things!

I love that I can ask the teacher questions and she will respond within a very short period of time!  You can also read what other students are asking and perhaps the absolute best part – lots of students share photos of their work!  It’s all so collaborative.

There is no overestimating the great power of being able to rewind and review the techniques again and again.  It’s great to be able to jump ahead when I want as well.  Let’s face in the traditional classroom setting – jumping ahead is just plain rude!  So whatever mood I’m in – slow like a turtle or fast like a bunny – with Craftsy – I decide! 

Craftsy is a learning dream-come true!  How many times have I attended a class; gotten home to try the technique and said to myself, “I wish I had been videotaping what I saw”? There are at least 10 more classes I want to buy.  Since I signed up, the website just keeps getting better and better.  They have been offering special prices that make the classes really affordable.  

They have been adding patterns, workshops and supplies regularly to the site as well.  I can totally see Craftsy is already the premiere virtual spot for craft enthusiasts.  So if you haven’t stopped by to check out Craftsy – all I can say is, what are you waiting for? 

Hugs and stitches,