Welcome to the very first installment in what I hope will be a lovely relationship through thoughts, words, images and projects for us. You know, LIFE. Not just life, but Life Through the Prism of Sewing. Funny prism.
Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm Julie Heckert and I have always loved to sew. Chances are that's how you've found me, because you love to sew too, maybe.
I remember as a Girl Scout, my mother lead the 'workshop' (I forget what we called them back then) for earning the "Sewing Badge." We made little wrap around skirts, with rick rack around the bottom. I still have it in a box in the attic I think... That was my introduction to hands-on sewing with Mom's black Singer (Spartan) sewing machine. The skill was born, and has been developing ever since. I think I liked sewing back then, and have grown into the love of it until I can now say, definitively, that this is my happy place. It is said, "Do what you love." I lose myself in sewing. Time is irrelevant. I don't feel tired or hungry. Intermittently thirsty, but that is all. I am engrossed in discovering which piece of fabric will be sewn next, in what shape, texture and design. I even like ironing, making my seams nice and crisp.
Counting Girl Scouts as the beginning, I've been sewing for almost 50 years, but most deliciously and intensely for the past 3 years. I went to my first quilt show in a town near where I live, and just inside the front door was a Gammill long arm quilting machine with the nicest Gammill dealer there to make my acquaintance with it. The die was cast with no looking back (only in curly cues...)
In my time as a 'regular' sewer, I've made costumes for theatrical productions and opera workshops, as well as, most recently, two coats entered into the wearable art competitions of the Pacific International Quilt Festival of 2015 and the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival of 2016 - at which each one won the Honorable Mention ribbon, respectively. Very satisfying. Costumes perhaps because my approach to sewing is like sculpting. I know the shape and mass something needs to be to communicate its intended message, which cannot always be found on the rack. I enjoy building it. I enjoy the engineering that goes into what part must be sewn before which part.
A few years ago there was an exhibition of Alexander McQueen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. The designs were, of course, FABUlous, but I remember more than any specific piece, a placard that read, "I had to first learn how to DE-construct the coat, before I could begin to construct it." I've paraphrased, but that was the gist. That made a big impression on me, even if I didn't understand what it meant at the time. I knew it would make sense to me one day.
Fast forward to yesterday. I discovered a whole new rhythm of sewing for myself. Instead of the median, ploddy tempo of the needle on my domestic machine, I cranked it up and went for it! I was sewing a lot of straight lines which I suppose made it easy. In effect, I turned the corner of my experience and caught up with myself. I'd put in the practice time with the careful, what I called 'ploddy' tempo, and now I found out exactly how much communicating I was actually able to do with my Baby Lock Melody. I was listening to her hum. My hands were guiding the pieces, coming close to the needle, but keeping confidently out of harms way, and my seams were a consistent 1/4 inch! What a great feeling. To have practiced and practiced - for the joy of it - and live into the achievement of a whole new level of proficiency. Pure delight. AND I accomplished a good deal too. Many UFO's taken off the half done shelf and readied for the next phase of their existence.
I mentioned my Baby Lock Melody. She's a sweet machine. I also have a Husquvarna Viking Sapphire 835, a tremendous workhorse. But yesterday's tasks felt good on the Melody which seemed to enjoy our pace as well. I love the needle threading feature. However, I find if I'm using a finer needle, I still need eyes (with glasses) to thread the needle by hand. I love the cutting feature. Snipping the threads neatly at the end of my run, that's a nifty thing. There are so many fancy stitches that hardly ever get used, but I'm glad to have. In fact, I sometimes create projects to find out what she can do. I'm happy with my outfit of machines. This is the sewer I am right now.
In closing out this first blog post (funny to suddenly be a published blogger!), I'd like to reveal to you, dear reader, my reason for embarking on this blogging adventure.
I've already typed you a lot of words, which I hope you'll find some value in. This next paragraph might have been, and still might be, a whole blog unto itself. My reason for endeavoring to connect with you, to add value in some way, to enhance or accompany your own journey, has to do with another corner I've turned. Sewing for me, for so long, had used to be a solitary enjoyment. I love to quilt. My great grandmother was a quilter and I believe she quilts along with me. But back in her day, and even to-day, there are marvelous things known as sewing bees, or sewing circles, or quilting bees, cooperatives, festivals, shows, competitions! In my beginning, I couldn't understand the desire to sew in a group. After all, one needle, one hand. But now that I've matured, caught up with who I am as a beginning sewer, I do understand the desire for and truly embrace connection with other sewers. I'm mature enough to ask for advice, to want to talk with others about their techniques for various things, to learn.
As I began to connect to the world of quilting, just scratching the surface, and with the heritage I came to it with, I knew there was a vast world of remarkable sewers and stories out there. I want to meet you all and hear all that you will so kindly share with me.
Thank you for reading. I intend to come to you weekly with something or other. Might be a project I'm working on. Might be a video interview I hope to do. Might be a thought, a find, a resource. Here I am, and so pleased to be at the party with you. I'd love to hear back from you, so leave a comment!