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Sewing and Crochet Art Forms

Don’t Be Afraid to Sew

Mary Kilpatrick Schultheis
My Mom, Mary Kilpatrick right after graduation from high school in Kansas 1952

Sadly, sewing is a lost art in our society. Picture the pioneer that sat on a rocker in front of their fireplaces all winter hand sewing clothes and quilts in dim light. Honestly, we have it real easy with our sewing machines in comparison. People have a unfounded terror of attempting to do the “impossible” task of constructing a garment. Fears are easily proven wrong as a result of, discovering the steps to sew any item are very precisely laid-out in the patterns. If you can read and follow directions, you can sew anything. You will find that the process gets easier and faster due to repetition, and each additional item made from a pattern gets easier still.

Sewing is a cumulative skill worth pursuing. Learning to sew teaches you how to use your precise hand movement skills constructively, to mind to plan which step first, and your perseverance strengths to complete a project. Above all, making custom pieces that are not only unique, and well-fitted give a person a special sort of self-satisfaction when complete.

Passing Down the Sewing Skills

I like to sew, which I learned from my Mother. Her name was Mary Schultheis and she was so talented in many ways as a pianist, and a seamstress who spent many hours sewing our family clothes and everything else as I was growing up.

An amazing thing she sewed for me were all the fancy “holo ku’s” or costumes I used to dance hula solos in shows downtown Waikiki. These outfits were very complicated fitted patterns which were designed to imitate the 1800’s missionary dress styles. Probably a real nightmare for my Mom. Long dresses with many small buttons/clasps, lace and trains dragging on the floor. How difficult it must have been, to put 3-4 of those outfits together every year. It would be similar to making multiple prom dresses on a yearly basis. I really should of thanked her much, much, more for this! Hindsight. The items that I make now, will never even compare to her skill level on the sewing machine. My sewing projects are happily made and given away, sold, or donated to church fundraisers the majority of the time.

Learning

I record the, “Sewing With Nancy” programs on the Public Television Station to view when I have time. She lays out really neat ways to go about sewing a large variety of items.

Crochet too

Mary Schultheis 1970s

Mom, besides being a supreme seamstress, she did fine crochet crafts using thin cotton thread and her speedy little hooks. It was amazing to watch her hands click her needles together as she was knitting. It was just as amazing to see her going rapidly in and out of her next tablecloth, she had very fast hands with her hooks and needles. Her projects included things like doilies, tablecloths, Christmas tree skirts, blouses.

Embroidering was Family Learned

Three generations of women sat together visiting while they embroidering along with other crafts in my parents house. Our family sews, embroiders and crochets together passing down the skills we learned from our elders. We sat around the living room or on Grandma’s porch in the afternoons and evenings, joking and chatting while we stitched together (or we were snapping green beans from the garden). Our household produced beautiful pieces with Scottish tatting, eyelet, embroidery, and crochet pieces.

Great Grandma Tatting

Great Grandma Sedilla
Great-Grandmother Oxendine 1911

My Great-Grandmother did Scottish tatting and embroidery on elegant dish towels, quilts, doilies, pillowcases and dresses.

Grandma Embroidering

Sedilla with daughter Opal 1950
Opal Kilpatrick with her mother, Sedilla in 1950’s

Her daughter did  embroidery in colored flosses  making days-of-the-week dish towels, flowers, herbs, quilts, table cloths and napkins.

My Grandma, “Opal” taught me how to do embroidery stitches on small things like pillowcases and napkins. After I learned how to do all the basic embroidery stitches sufficiently, I graduated from her 101 course and slipped into the real world of embroidery from there.

First Real Project

When I was in high school, Grandma gave me my first real embroidery project as my Christmas present. It was a full tablecloth kit made by Bucilla who’s name has changed to plaid on now. This tablecloth kit had the thread, cloth, needles, and hoop in it with instructions similar to a paint-by-number set. Put this color floss here, using this stitch. This first tablecloth was a daisy and rose pattern with vines and leaves taking me an entire year to finish. Seems like maybe, there were a million times where I needed to change the thread colors. I threaded a different color into my needle so many times, that it truly became second nature. Many times I thought that maybe it would be impossible to finish. But each evening I stitched on it some more and finally, it was done. It would not surprise me, to find out that my family had placed bets on weather I would finish it or not. Probably the most significant result has been the creation of a lifelong habit that I dearly love.

Opal Kilpatrick
My Grandma, Opal Kilpatrick at the Lihui, Kauai HI airport parking lot in 1988.

Grandma was also responsible for many of my best recipes. Her name was Opal (Canniff) Kilpatrick. Being half Scottish and half Indian she had beautiful white hair just like her Mom. Here is a picture of her pausing for a photo for me in the Lihue, Kauai HI airport before we walked over to the gate for her to climb up the stairs to catch her flight.

She had come to visit me and my kids before moving away to the mainland to live with her sister in Oklahoma. I snapped this photograph with one of those old Kodak 110 film cameras, little did I know, this would be the last time I’d see her in-person before she passed away. This picture is kept in my wallet and I still miss her. Grandma’s voice is heard whenever I spread my daisy tablecloth on the dining room table on a special occasion.

Stitch, Needle Art

Hummingbird embroidery stitch in hoop
A hummingbird being embroidered on a diningroom tablecloth.

In my spare time I stitch in-time.

  • Embroidery
  • Sewing

Since early childhood, I have been stitching on heirloom tablecloths, blankets and pillowcases. Embroidery feels like coloring with a thread in rhythm on cloth, in an otherwise mundane surrounding.

Winding-down we watch TV and I do embroidery, as a welcome distraction. When I hold something in my hands and stitch, I don’t have to watch commercials or be bored. I’d probably go crazy if I had to watch every minute of TV, but I am thankful that this rhythm in and out, stitching bright colors onto cloth, is probably responsible for maintaining my sanity.

If you are interested in learning about how I was taught to embroider check out this page for that story.

If you are interested in learning this embroidery hobby I found a good example of instructions to learn the basic stitches here by Mollie Johansen;

Molly Makes, Stitch Library Guide to Embroidery Stitches

Your best way to learn is to jump on in,

Here are some embroidery basics;

  • embroidery needles
  • pin cushion or (bar of soap)
  • small scissors
  • hoop
  • embroidery floss
  • iron-on stamp pattern
Pinching Pennies as You Stitch

Keep a sharp eye out

Many times it is quite economical to buy needlework or sewing supplies in a large quantities at thrift stores, and estate or garage sales. An easy first project is a couple pillowcases, that you apply an iron-on stamp pattern for traditional embroidery. Most sewing outlets, hobby outlets, and Walmart carry them. You can locate learning or first kits that include everything you need in them too. The website of the firm based in Georgia that took over the Bucilla brand is here;

http://www.plaidonline.com

Mentioned earlier, I continue to do anywhere from 3-6 pillowcases and 1-3 table cloths each year depending on difficulty of my designs. Each is a one-of-a-kind design utilizing a hand made or drawn theme. It is not necessary for me to purchase a stamp pattern to work from anymore since I am able to draw what I want myself. I have quite a stock of every color of floss in my sewing kit sitting by the recliner, that I restock as needed.  Typical themes of my work include birds and bees, butterflies, flowers, leaves, vines and animals, hummingbirds or cherry vines with baskets, or daisies. The list goes on and on.

Let me know if you’d like to purchase any of the work I share here, or if you’d like a special order made, as I probably could be persuaded to part with heirlooms if the price is right.

Contact:

Embroidered Cherry Tablecloth Sold

Complete

Dorothy M Lowe (Woelk)
My mother-in-Law Dorothy Woelk

I took my embroidered cherry basket tablecloth to the Mennonite Country Auction & Relief Sale/Auction, where it sold for a surprising amount, even though it was the only embroidery piece entered in the sale displays that year. My tablecloth did ultimately succeed in attracting attention and sell for a good price and I would assume that more embroidery items are now available there. I wanted to contribute a meaningful amount to the church with my project. It selling as it did, gave me a real boost as an embroidery artist.

Cherry tablecloth corner
donated to charity embroidered tablecloth

I chose this charity in honor of my Mother-In-Law who used to make fabulous quilts for them every year. She and her family graciously welcomed me into the Spring Valley Mennonite Church in Spring Valley WA. I am forever grateful. When Peter and I got married fortunately, Mom bought me a Mennonite Cook Book from this auction event. Yummy!

Dorothy and I felt comfortable sitting close and visiting, while we worked on our hand-made projects. I doing my embroidery and Dorothy her great baby quilts along with all the school bags and everything else as she sewed through her life.

This event is worth going to!

If you have not been to the Mennonite Country Auction & Relief Sale/Auction, this is something that you will want to do. Put it on your list of must-do’s to see

absolute quilting excellence.

This sale is setup to raise money for missions of the church and is held in the Fall in Ritzville (between Spokane and Seattle). The Mennonite Country Auction & Relief Sale/Auction is an all day gathering for the whole family with breakfast, tents filled with exquisite quilts, comforters, afghans, and handmade crafts and furniture to walk through and admire. Apple cider, apple butter, along with ice cream and some of the best cheeses (that sell out fast). The auction of the beautiful hand work is in the afternoon and is a lot of fun. Check out their website, The next auction is October 6th, 2018.

Mennonite Country Auction.

or their Facebook page here. Other needlework project blog posts.

Cherry Embroidery Tablecloth

cherry tablecloth angleBeginning

It is with a special anticipation that you begin this kind of needlework journey. Calmly embroidering,  with great colors and a wide variety of possible stitches as a beautiful design becomes even more classic with each strand of floss, until an heirloom keepsake is made.

At this point, I am happily working on my cherry embroidery every night.  The average time it takes me to embroider a new tablecloth project is between 3-9 months, depending on the level of difficulty in the design.

cherry tablecloth side
Side Tablecloth View

It also seems to take a lot longer when there are a large volume of colors in the design. You know, completing all of one color for a reasonable space, then securing the knots, snip and threading needles with the new colors every few minutes. More colors are more time consuming.

When Finished

cherry tablecloth angle
Entire tablecloth view showing cherry basket.

Before you know it, here is a beautiful tablecloth complete. I do a little Irish jig dance celebrating! Standing up and dancing around the living room singing, “It is done, yeah, it is done!”, after the last stitch is tied-off.

cherry tablecloth angle close
Full view, embroidery cherry tablecloth.

Then the new tablecloth is carefully washed, ironed (every single inch) and carefully photographed on the dining room table. I apologize that I did not think anyone was interested in the unfinished stages of embroidery during this project time period. Nowadays, I make it a point to photograph the stages of completion so others can see how it looks as you go along.

I hope that you are able to find forgotten treasures at your next garage sale expedition too. This was actually someone else’s dream tablecloth that I was able to complete. When she got this fine tablecloth stamped in this great cherry basket and cherry vine pattern I am sure that she had all kinds of ideas about how beautiful it would turn out. She probably had a great fondness for fresh cherries, herself. I hope that my embroidery has honored her wishes for this heirloom tablecloth.

Cherry Tablecloth

Next in this needlework adventure, it was the colors. I decided to make the cherries a mixture of rainier pinks and bings in dark maroon and deep reds. The twisting vines and stems would be with a dark stem and lighter leaves around the border and in the interior vine design. There were four baskets, one on each corner, that I thought would look good in brown earth tones.

Cherries pink and red
Middle of the table, cherries and vine pattern

Getting out my box of embroidery floss I began choosing the pinks and cherry reds color along with foliage greens. For the baskets I chose browns, but after finishing the first one I chose to change the color of the baskets for each corner just for some variety in the piece.

brown cherry basket tablecloth
This basket of charries has the darker brown color stitched in.
brown cherry basket close
The corner baskets give a good weight to the corners when the tablecloth is placed.
yellow cherry basket
A corner basket of cherries with yellow highlights.
tan cherry basket corner
Cherry basket at the corner of the tablecloth highlighted with a light brown.

Treasure Hunt for Embroidery Supplies

One of the things I am always on the look-out for are embroidery or sewing supplies. This project is the result of one of those garage sale and estate sale expedition days.

I love to shop at garage sales and thrift stores.

It keeps me from getting in trouble with out budget, while pursuing my love of stitching.

I found this tablecloth in a stack of miscellaneous sewing materials outside of a rural home. It had some dirt on it but I saw the cherry basket printed on the corner so I opened it up to see what kind of shape it was in. It looked quite yellowed with dust stains on the folds, as if it had sat for quite a while.

When I asked about it, the lady said it was from her Grandmother’s sewing room that they were cleaning out. I paid $5 for it and walked to my car with high hopes that it would wash out clean.

 

I got my tablecloth home and put it in the washing machine with a scoop of Oxi-Clean and let it sit overnight. The next morning I ran a load of clothes with the table cloth, just adding some regular laundry detergent. Surprisingly, all of the yellow and stains washed-out beautifully, leaving me with a perfectly good stamped pattern to work on.

Cherry Baskets Tablecloth project begins.

 

What do artists do?

Artists tend to pursue more than one creative venue.

Outside: I do a lot of outside things including walking, hiking and dog walking. Gardening because we grow the majority of our own food. Fishing, bike riding, swimming and skiing. We love the outdoors in the Inland Northwest.

Inside: I do needlework and have been since I was quite young, mostly Embroidery and Sewing. In the evening, I wind-down while watching TV with family by embroidering. There is an ulterior motive for this, I don’t have to watch commercials when I hold something in my hands to stitch.  I sew many other things in my sewing room – like blankets, aprons, bags, quilts and clothes, seat covers or anything else we may need as a family. Sometimes I give away my work, donate to church fundraisers for my tithe, or charities, sell them or just keep for myself.

My Grandma taught me how to do all the embroidery stitches on small things and then gave me a Bucilla printed tablecloth kit for Christmas when I was in high school. It took me a whole year to finish, and a lifelong hobby was born. As an artist I draw my own patterns on the material to stitch now.

Grandma is responsible for many of the best recipes in my kitchen and craft skills in my household and studio. Her name was Opal Evelyn Kilpatrick. She was half Scottish and half Indian and she had that beautiful white hair just like her Mother did. As I snapped this photograph with one of those old Kodak camera, little did I know this would be the last time I would see her in-person before she passed away. She paused for a photo for me at the Lihue, Kauai airport parking lot before we walked over to the gate for her to catch her flight. She had come to visit me and my kids before moving away to the mainland to live with her sister in Oklahoma. I carry this picture in my wallet still.

Here are some pictures of that first tablecloth project. I still remember Grandma’s voice, whenever I spread it on the table to use on a special occasion.

 

Quilting…carseat

Now I am thinking it will go a lot easier and faster when I start to sew it on the machine.

Right?

The first seam goes off without a hitch. Easy & fast! I mistakenly comment to myself that this isn’t going to be that bad after all. Ummmmm.

BUT as I work my way to the interior, it becomes apparent that that is not going to be the case for all of it! Take a quick look at this normal sewing machine space allowance. It looks quite adequate, doesn’t it?

However, getting the material to the right place in the center and then navigating it to sew a straight seam becomes an impossible challenge right away. It is a real test of logistics and physics when trying to fit all the outer edges under that little space to the right of the needle. It is crazy! Involving rolling the sides up tightly then using both hands, in multiple positions, as I sew. I am now a professional contortionist who can pull, tug, center and line-up all at once.

I get it! I understand now, why the price for “long arm” sewing machines is so high. I used to wonder why anyone would pay such a ridiculous price (thousands of dollars) just for a sewing machine. How silly. Now I see why, cause they CAN with any people who end up sewing upholstery. It is so tempting to just say screw it, and buy a machine that will make it easier. Imagine quilting without the hassle of Climbing Mount Everest.

Oh, don’t forget the necessity to own stock in needle manufacturing and Bandaids. The number of EXTRA NEEDLES required as I break them on multiple inconvenient occasions is amazing. I have become a professional needle changer on my machine, thanks to this car seat project. Maybe I should time myself to impress you.

I don’t plan to give up, as my middle name is stubborn. I manage to actually succeed in getting the pad connected to the sitting surfaces of the upholstery.

Ever seen, “The Croods”?… Da, Da, Da!!!

Basting… carseat

The plan is to attach this pad to the upholstery with quilting seams. I get to work, cutting the pad into the basic shapes in my sewing room.

By the way, cutting a furniture pad with scissors makes a guaranteed blister on you hand, thereby increasing the joy with which you approach the rest of the project. NOT!

I cut the pad to fit the surface that you sit on going to the edge of the seat on the bottom. Then as it goes up the back of the seat, I follow the surfaces going up and over (under the head rests) carefully marking where the knobby things are and the corners.

Next, I get to work hand basting the upholstery on top of the padding so I can later roll it to allow sewing the quilt lines on the sewing machine. This is where I discover that needles do not like to penetrate a thick pad and upholstery material. I even have to grab one of my Grandma’s thimbles to save my fingertips after a while.

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