September – National Sewing Month

If you have been into a store that sells fabric in the last few days, then I’m sure you already know that September is National Sewing Month. National Sewing Month

What does National Sewing Month mean?  Well, the official site will tell you that it’s “a great time to indulge your passion for sewing and a great opportunity to introduce yourself to the craft if you’ve never tried it before.”  That’s not a bad message at all, but I think there’s something more to it.  National Sewing Month should be a time to celebrate that you are a sewer!  Indulge yourself by getting a new fabric you’ve been wanting, but just couldn’t quite justify.  Or try a new technique or pattern that you’ve been worried about getting started on.

Celebrate that you are a sewer – you can take two pieces of fabric, cut them up in various unusual shapes and sew them back together in a fashion that is not only coherent, but is pleasing to the eye!

Okay, now that the pep talk is out of the way, more about the holiday.  It’s nice to know where events like this come from, so I decided to look into the history of the event.  I was pleased to find that National Sewing Month actually has it’s own website, so the information below is primarily from that site.

Many people believe that National Sewing Month is only a few years old because of the intense marketing campaigns in the last few years. But it actually was declared by President Ronald Reagan on September 21st, 1982 that September would be recognized as National Sewing Month. This was done at the request of the American Home Sewing & Craft Association.

The American Home Sewing & Craft Association later became the Home Sewing Association (HSA) and in 2004 they renewed their dedication to National Sewing Month. In 2005, a full advertising campaign was launched to make the public more aware of this holiday, and for the first time a theme was associated with the holiday for the year: “Sewing… the alternative yoga.”  From that point, themes have been continued for the holiday each year:

    2005Sewing… the Alternative Yoga
    2006Sewing… Express Your Creative Spirit
    2007Sewing… it’s What You Make of It
    2008Go Green! Sew Green!
    2009Reuse, Remake, Restyle

In 2008 the American Sewing Guild (ASG) took over the promotion of National Sewing Month along with the Sewing & Craft Alliance. You can find out more about this history, and links to this year’s contest at the official website.

2009 NSM Logo

Yes, you read that correctly – there is a contest associated with National Sewing Month, and I encourage everyone who can to join in.  Even if you don’t feel that you can submit your final project for entry, I’d like to hear from those of you that do try to make something in the spirit of the month.   Details on the official rules can be found here: 2009 contest rules, but here is the challenge:

Reuse, Remake, Restyle Challenge
We want to see your most creative ideas for how you implement environmentally-sound sewing into your life.

Have you designed a clever method to reuse a garment that you made and no longer wear? Do you shop thrift stores and garage sales for designer garments that you restyle into bags, totes or ‘vintage’ style garments for yourself? Have you found a way to remake an everyday product into something unique and eco-thrifty? Sew up your best ideas for National Sewing Month and you could be a lucky winner!

My challenge to you – get out there and sew! Sew whatever you like, even if it doesn’t meet the qualifications for the official contest, you will have celebrated that you are a sewer! And I’ll be happy to post pictures of projects that are made this month – just email them to sewingheart @ (sorry, but to prevent a bunch of spam, I can’t give you a link to the email, just take out the spaces around the @ sign and use that as the email address).  By the end of the month, I hope to have so many pictures from you that we’ll have to make a series of posts about them!

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

FREE Pattern – Hidden Pocket Pillow

Dorm Pillow Originally this project was titled “Dorm Pillow” – and I think you know why when you look at the picture.  A pillow large enough to lounge against while reading, or throw on the floor for watching TV and made with collge prints?  It must be for a college student – right?

But, it gets even better.  This pillow has two ‘hidden’ pockets that blend right into the design – just the right size for an MP3 player, a cell phone, a few pens or the chocolate bar you’re hiding from your roommate.  (However, I do suggest that you not forget the chocolate bar – it would be messy to clean up if it melted.)  They may be difficult to see in the picture on the right – so check out the closeup pictures below.   If you are planning on making this pillow, I suggest downloading the pattern and having it printed out for notes while you read the rest of the blog – go ahead, I’ll wait while you print it.  Hidden Pocket Dorm Pillow

As you can see, the pockets are discrete when you view the 30″ pillow – but large enough to be functional up close.  Once I finished this, I could easily see how other people might enjoy this pillow.   A small toy could be tucked inside for someone taking care of a new baby, and grads aren’t the only ones who sometimes need to lounge against a pillow but still have a pen or pencil close at hand – what about your favorite crossword enthusiast?  I thought about using the pockets for sewing tools as well – for someone who likes to do needlework, but I’m afraid that most of the tools would get lost in the pocket and just cause frustration (no one really wants to have to hunt for a missing needle).  If you put your mind to it – I’m sure that there are lots of other people who could use a pillow like this, and the pattern is easily adaptable to a variety of fabrics and prints.

Making the pillow is pretty straight-forward, so I’m not going to repeat all the steps in from the pattern here – just download the pattern from the link at the top of the blog.  The only unusual part of the pattern is the pocket, so I’ve provided a closeup picture of how the pocket is formed.  As you can see from the picture above, the pocket is formed by folding the fabric used for the side borders.  This means you don’t have a seam creating the bottom of the pocket (more strength), and you have two layers of fabric forming the front of the pocket (again, for strength).  This is just so that normal use – taking things in and out of the pocket – won’t tear it.

Once you’ve created the folds just sew the border fabric in place as you normally would, and voila! – you have a hidden pocket.   One caution, be careful in folding the fabric of your borders, you want both pockets to be on the same side of the pillow so you can use them both when the pillow is sitting up on that side.
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

Maternity Pants

We just got some great news in my family – my daughter is expecting a new baby in January!  Now, while this means many great and wonderful things – it also means thinking about the clothing she will be wearing for the next several months.   She has a career job that requires her to wear suits to work each day – and she would rather not go out and buy new slacks for all her suit jackets.  She is a very tall woman who has difficulty finding slacks that fit correctly off the rack.

So, we decided to alter her existing pants instead of buying (or making) new ones.  And the pants can be altered right back to their original size later on.

I started with a pair of her existing slacks.  Sorry, I didn’t get a picture before we cut the pants up – but they were originally purchased at The Limited, so you have an idea of what they looked like.   The pants had a low-cut waist line, so I removed the waistband and the zipper (which was only 4″ long), then I sewed a maternity band into her pants where the waistband had been.  Here is a picture of the pieces I removed, and with the maternity band added.

When she is ready, I will just reverse these steps and add the waistband and zipper back into the pants.  If the pants had a higher waist line originally, then I would have measured up from the crotch 8″ and cut the rest of the pants off.  Use a 1/2″ seam so the maternity band will start about 7 1/2″ above the crotch.

I’ll be doing this with all of her pants, it’s very easy to do, saves some money (and shopping time) and she loves the results!

One important thing to note, this method uses a maternity band (sometimes called a belly band), and NOT a maternity panel.  Maternity panels require you to cut up your pants much more than using the band does, and while it is possible for a skilled seamstress to restore the pants after the alteration is done using panels, they would never look quite the same.

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing