Month: January 2019

STITCHING WITH FRIENDS – IT’S THERAPEUTIC

Stitching With Friends – It’s Therapeutic!

By Judy Moore Pullen

What a joy to host a group of friends for an afternoon of hand sewing. We named our stitch group JABS, which stands for Just Ask Berta Society, and there is a back story about why. Naturally, we are the JABBERS, and you can look at that in more than one way. We belong to the Highland Lakes Quilt Guild in Marble Falls, Texas, and meet once a month at a JABS members’ house. We have very few rules, and the laughter that occurs seems to be good medicine.

During one of our meetings a couple years ago, the idea came up to give our group a name. Names were tossed around. Whenever we had a question about something, we deferred to Berta, one of our members, to make the decision for us. Hence, the name, Just Ask Berta Society, JABS for short. Our dear friend Berta has since moved away but we keep the name in honor of her.

The name JABS could also be perceived as what we do – jab with needles, sittin’ and stitchin’ away while talking and laughing, trying not to create any world issues or problems. The group was begun as a hand applique group, and sometimes we veer from that focus to hand stitching bindings, hand quilting, or just peruse quilting magazines, books, and patterns within easy reach at our hostess’s home. We share ideas, do informal show and tell, and often peruse the internet via iPhone, searching for the next project, address of a quilt shop, or date and place of a quilt show. We are focused!

Sittin’ Stitchin’

As stitching friends arrived to my home this week, my one new rule was: stop in the dining room first and find two puzzle pieces that fit before you sit down to stitch. What an easy crowd! No need to insist, as all were eager to join in at the puzzle of 1,000 pieces on the dining room table. And what fun to listen to the various ways to work a puzzle: find all the straight edges first; work a small, specific section then place it inside the border; when finished, turn the pieces over, mix them up, and work from the back. Needless to say, our stitching was somewhat delayed, but we had fun and lots of pieces on the puzzle were put together.

Enforcing the Puzzle Rule!

One of our very few JABS rules is no cooking when you are hostess. When I was hostess for my first time a couple years ago, I was gently reprimanded for baking brownies. I have since learned to just shop, place snacks on serving dishes, and provide plates and napkins. This not only eliminates competition for coming up with an over-the-top dessert, it allows more time to stitch – makes good sense to me. I did have so much fun pulling containers out of my eclectic collection of odds and ends. I scattered old handmade crocheted potholders on my 1940-something enamel breakfast table instead of a tablecloth, omitting the need to iron. I also added a “Tip” jar, aka Mason jar with sticky note, but there were no donations. Why tip someone if you serve yourself?

Snacks and the empty Tip jar

I have read research that indicates that sewing and laughter are therapeutic, help reduce blood pressure, and provide a sense of calm. I can attest to both. Yes, sewing can sometimes be frustrating, but the rewards of working with one’s hands and creating something can be most fulfilling. The process is worth more than the product to my way of thinking. I can derive hours, days, weeks, even months of pleasure just pulling needle and thread through fabric. Of course, there was also the pleasure of shopping for the fabric, pattern, and notions prior to beginning. And then what joy to say, “All done. What’s next?” And that is just what we do at JABS. We hand stitch, relax, laugh, snack, share, learn, teach, build relationships. All are healthy and good for us.

I heartily recommend joining or starting a stitch group with friends. What a great way it has been for me to make new friends, since I was the old new kid in the neighborhood, and to spend time just flat out having fun!

Sew…What’s New?

Sew…What’s New?

By Judy Moore Pullen

The beginning of a new year reminds me of a brand new Big Chief writing tablet when I was in elementary school, oh soooo many years ago. Sometimes it seems as if it was shortly after the wheel was invented. A new writing tablet offered the opportunity to do more and better, whether it was improving my handwriting or the content of what I was writing. A brand-new year now inspires me to complete projects, and also nudges me to begin new ones. I get so excited about a new sewing project – and, at ¾ of a century old, I can if I want to.

When stitching with friends in our monthly hand applique group, I saw just the thing that I want to begin. My friend Sammye had a wonderful, scrappy, work-in-progress quilt hanging on her design wall. It is a Kim Diehl design from one of her books. The patchwork is completed and Sammye was working on the hand appliqued border at our stitching group, otherwise known as JABS, Just Ask Berta Society. The name of our group is another story. I have convinced myself that making this wonderful scrap quilt will help reduce my collection of scraps and stash.

Sammye’s work in progress made totally from scraps!

A little back story: I was blessed with a wonderful Home Ec. teacher in high school, Mrs. Crawford. She took many young girls under her wings. I learned to make garments to near perfection under Mrs. Crawford’s eagle eye, lining wool dresses and suits for which I won a Make It With Wool Award. Years later, when I decided to make a baby quilt for a friend, I gave no thought to the fact that quilt making is somewhat different than garment making. That first machine pieced log cabin baby quilt I made had ruffles, which were not part of the pattern. The borders did not fit. It was a mess and I was both bewildered and embarrassed. What did I do wrong? I used garment sewing techniques, easing and stretching and Brand X thread.

I decided to either quit making quilts or figure out how to make pieces fit flat. I worked on more accurate cutting and stitching, and I discovered Presencia Thread on my first visit to Houston Quilt Market. Previously, I thought thread was thread. However, Presencia begins with the very best 100% long staple Egyptian cotton. Their 40, 50, and 60 weight threads are all 3-ply, which means that the finest of the three, the 60 weight, is both very strong and helps promote accuracy by not taking up an extra thread when machine stitching. I love using ecru or medium gray for machine piecing. Presencia is also virtually lint-free, which both my machines and I like. The 60 weight is both so fine and strong, and comes in so many colors, that my hand applique stitches are invisible.

The Presencia 60 weight is so fine it makes hand stitches virtually invisible!

I am so looking forward to beginning my new scrap-and-stash quilt. Sammye said that she did not have to purchase any fabrics for her quilt by using her scraps. We’ll see how that works for me. It will be a win/win situation regardless. If I use up all of my scraps, whether or not I dig into my stash, I still may need some quilt shop shopping therapy and a new Big Chief Tablet.

Happy stitching,

Judy Moore Pullen