Jenny’s sewing history

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Here is a history lesson about Jenny and sewing! I thought it would be fun to look back.

I received my first sewing machine at age 7.  See my picture below with no front teeth. I remember I did not like the toy machine as it did not work well. I graduated to my mom’s featherweight pretty quickly.  Most of my sewing was doll clothing.  Sewing and embroidery were usually done by hand. I can still remember my uncle showing me how to design cross stitch on graph paper and I was making samplers with my own designs for a year or 2. It is a wonder I continued to sew. My mom  “made me” hem a gathered shirt by hand. I hated it. I guess I got over the trauma.

In Home economics class my first project was an apron. After that it was a jacket dress and a shirtwaist dress with pin tucks.  By the time I reached the 8th grade I was sewing with wool and made pleated shirts and jackets.  I took home economics all 4 years I was in high school. I made costumes for school musicals and even a bicentennial dress. I am a prolific sewer but most of my garment sewing was done when I learned to sew in junior high and senior high school and the first few years I worked for Singer. I bought most of my fabric from Dannemann’s, Butler’s sewing Center and Woolworth’s. I sewed everything I wore. I even sewed bathing suits because I needed a few. We lived on the water and believe it or not I water skied every day. Those were the days. I could not afford a wardrobe so I made it.

When I reached college my mother gave me her Singer featherweight to bring to school.  I was popular because I had one of the few sewing machines in the dorm.  I sewed for class or special occasions because the budget was small.  I made a Vogue designer tailored suit. The ensemble included a wide high waist lined slack with cuffs and a ¾ length tailored jacket with belt by Yves Saint Laurent.  If only I could wear that fashion statement now.  In one class we designed our own fabric.  I created a pair of bell bottoms with hand stamped butterflies. I wish I had a picture.  I also made a long peasant dress that was tie dyed and wore it for years.  Again you have to picture the fashion statement as cell phones were not around yet.  I guess I should be grateful.

Once I started to work for Singer I sewed complete wardrobes.  We had so many choices as sewers back then. When I moved to Atlanta, Ga I found the greatest place to buy fabric. It was called Cloth World. I loved that place. They had endless round tables displaying fashion fabric stories of colors and coordinating fabrics.  Singer was a close second in fabric display.  Now days you do not see that many fashion fabrics and a lot of times it is displayed like at Mood from Project Runway, in tubes that are stacked on top of each other and impossible to view. G Street had some great fabrics but again I was not thrilled with the display. I always had to fight the fabric to find something.  I was and am a bit spoiled.  I guess we should be grateful for the few stores that are left to service the sewing public. It is funny when you think about it. Retail is struggling today just to remain open, yet they still have such possibilities. Recently I went to Hobby Lobby to touch and feel the fabric there. They had a few nice pieces and the display was well maintained. I saw a lot of old friends in that fabric department. Thing is, it is a city block and ½ from the store entrance. I do not like to hike that far for interfacing. I will buy it on Amazon. See, I told you I am spoiled.

I remember driving to Clear brook, West Virginia to buy the wool to make a winter dress chesterfield coat and a double breasted pinstripe suit in wool and the black suit you see the pattern of.  I looked up the woolen mill and it is now a Grille. Times have changed a lot of things.

When I first went to work with Singer I traded in my featherweight complete with table and all accessories for the new Singer Futura II and then the Athena. I had one of the first electronic sewing machines. I also bought one for my mom. We had a lot of fun on that Singer machine model 2000.

The age of double knits appeared and I was in love with the techniques and the fashion.  I even free motion embroidered complete floral vine patterns on several suit jackets.  See the picture of the blue pantsuit I am wearing.  I made my own sweaters and had a coordinating jacket and pants for every look.  It is hard to explain how inspiring the fabrics were back then.

I was sorry to see our local Kmart close here in Salisbury, MD.  If I remember back to the 70’s and 80’s it was Kmart and Sears that introduced cheap clothing to the public. That started the end of fabric retail because it was now economically as cheap to buy your own clothing, rather than make them.  Now Kmart will soon be gone. Walmart hit us in the 90’s did a number on retail too. Walmart has tried to own and sell everything. Walmart started with fabric, then they took it out, now fabric is back in the store again. It goes against my small business sense to shop at Walmart although I know a few people that do.

When I opened Jenny’s Sewing Studio in 1982 we were on the start of the quilting and sewing craft craze. I offered about 2,000 bolts of colorful cottons. When we opened the cotton was 2.99 to 3.99 a yard. When we closed our quilt shop in 2008 the cotton was selling for 7.99 to over 10.00 a yard.  I have probably made over 100 quilts and wall hangings.  I also enjoyed making lots of quilted clothing, dolls and crafts.  I still have a few quilts I saved and display  for the different seasons.  Quilting really revived sewing for many years. Machine embroidery and quilting helped sell a lot of sewing machines .

I sold Singer, Janome, Bernina, Pfaff, BabyLock, Brother, Juki, and Simplicity sewing machines. I owned one of each top end model and used the machines to learn the features and create samples for my store.

Hancock Fabric came into Salisbury for a few years. Jo Ann fabrics and Mays fabrics also had fabric in Salisbury. I saw them come and then go. None of these fabric chains lasted over 10 to 15 years here. 

We had some really great customers and held some great classes and seminars on sewing, embroidery and quilting. I knew most of my regular customers by name and enjoyed their visits to the store. Life is about sharing and I think that is the number 1 thing I like about sewers, they share. I offered in store clubs for the sewing machine brands and software classes on machine embroidery. I still offer hands on classes on a “one on one” basis.  Hours I spend with these sewers is priceless to me. I try to capture the customer and project unless I get so busy time gets away from me.

Lately I have offered some custom sewing for customers. I am picky as to what I will sew but enjoy being creative.

We will see what the future of sewing brings.  I hope a new generation of sewing enthusiasts opens new markets for the creating fashion. Of all the sewing I have done,  I still liked sewing my own fashions the best.  I loved to make something out of a mistake or pull all my scraps together and create from them. It was the heart of my sewing. Today I enjoy teaching students how to sew and hope they will continue for years to come.

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Happy Spring Sewing from Jenny’s Sewing Studio

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Welcome Spring!  My mom keeps counting the days till spring. I try to tell her the weather might not improve on the 20th of March.  I think we are in for another Nor’easter.  I think that is 4 big storms in less than a month. Other than preparing for the storms I have been sewing to past the time inside.

I recently lost 62 pounds this year and am trying to take in all my spring clothing to fit. It is a huge task. I refuse to buy new clothing right now so I am trying to be creative. I have cut off at least 8 inches on the sides and tucked the necklines so they are no so large. The next step is to shorten sleeves and lengths.  I like my clothes and it would cost a fortune to replace all these clothes.  My goal is to lose 60 more pounds in the next year. I will be happy with working on a pound a week.  At some point I am sure I will need a new wardrobe, not now.  One thing I have to say is thanks for knits!

I started a Pinterest page on Creative Clothing and Vintage Clothing and I look at the ideas every so often to get inspired. The pictures remind me of what I would like my clothing to look like. The sewing market has changed so much in recent years.  The picture of the shirt waist dress will give you an idea of what I was sewing in junior high school. I made a dress identical to the blue dress and wore it a lot. Full shirted shirt waist dresses were also very comfortable. Today you might not find the Peter Pan collar but I think I could find a shirtwaist dress in a pattern book.

 In the early 1970’s I started sewing pantsuits with double knits. They were main stay in my wardrobe.  I fell in love with knits.  

There was nothing like going into a fashion fabric store and seeing the drape and feeling the fabrics. Locally all we have is Hobby Lobby and Walmart.   I miss the fashion fabrics that were coordinated to tell a fashion story and the fabrics would be mixed and matched to make pants, jackets, dresses and shirts.  I can remember spending hours buying fabrics to make entire fall or spring wardrobes with. I do not have the need for such wardrobes of clothing now but I still desire style and comfort.  I will probably never wear another dress, but you never know.  I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s when I think clothing nice fit and style. 

I look forward to sewing clothing again.  I have tried the shopping on-line approach but it takes much longer to research and find that special fabric. I do have a few fabrics in my stash and I think I will be able to embellish the fabric to make a special look for myself. One of my favorite embellishments is piping. The bag picture shows you some self-made piping. I think I can place the piping in the seams and on the edges and always used the piping foot to make it an easy insertion.  

Another embellishment is topstitching. The walking foot really helps keep the stitches even and straight. I have used 2 top threads placed through the same needle eye to get a defined stitching look. To help you get the best look on your topstitching I have a kit that is on clearance. Get the walking foot, guide ruler, a 1/4″ foot and a free motion foot all for the price of a walking foot. Kit fits all low shank sewing machines.

I have a student using this kimono pattern in a “Continue Sewing” class.  I like the garment, it is a great jacket and really dresses up the plain top and pants I already have. This garment gives the sewer plenty of challenge with facing, interfacing, border prints, and learning to under stitch.  The fabric for this kimono is also a challenge. If you are looking to advance your basic skills I suggest you plan 2 or 3 lessons on the jacket.

I hope you are planning your Spring sewing to include a new wardrobe garment. Have fun and enjoy the sewing till the warm weather comes!

 

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Blizzard January 3, 4th and 5th of 2018 in Salisbury, MD

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If you do not live on Delmarva or along the east coast of the mid Atlantic and New England you may not have heard about our blizzard. The last blizzard I remember here on Delmarva was when I was in high school in the 1960’s. It is a rare event. My mom and I are snowed in until Monday when the temperature come out of the single digits and into the 40’s. It snowed 15″ in my backyard. We have had big snow before but I never remember it being so cold and so difficult to dig out. It took 3 men and a plow to open up my driveway and walks today. All I did was go to the mailbox. I know people are driving but I use a minivan and it is not equipped for this kind of snow. I think I will play it safe and wait for some melting to happen. I thought I would show you some pictures taken by the local news using their helicopter. I love the shots of cars that are stuck in the snow, one is of the pile of cars waiting to dig the stuck car out. I have been in that situation where you slide uncontrolled into a snow bank. I think the news was trying to send a message.

As far as I am concerned, we have had plenty of snow this winter.  Jenny

 

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Thanksgiving for 2017

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What am I thankful for? My health, my family, my mom, my sewing skills, and my special friends make me thankful. This year I joined Weight Watchers and I am also thankful to all my new friends there and the special support they have given me.  On my birthday I celebrated a loss of 50 pounds. I am grateful for the chance to improve my health and am looking forward to the continuing weight loss to go in 2018. It is a new life style and a new path for me to stay focused on.

Here is a family picture of our family at my sister-in-laws home in Easton, MD. The day was beautiful and a little cold in the 30’s and 40’s. Picture includes from left to right my nephew Andrew, his son Joshua and wife Valerie, Me, my Mom, my nephew Michael and his wife Shalini, My sister in law Sue, Grand nephew Nolan, my niece Laura and her by friend GM, GM’s mom Barbara, Sue’s mom Janet, Sue’s brother Mark and his father Roy. The second row is my brother Jim and his girl friend Carol.  Missing is my nephew Jason and his girl friend Penny. Missing in our hearts is my Dad Gray and my brother Gerald.

To stay on my smart points I prepared some Thanksgiving treats to take with me. I made the Fruit Turkey, a special crustless pumpkin pie and I took steamed carrots. I had to show you the turkey. Hope you had a wonderful day and enjoyed friends and family.

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Crepe Myrtle Paradise in Salisbury, MD

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Come to Salisbury, MD right now and you will see beautiful Crepe myrtles blossoms everywhere. These flowering trees are found in Red, Pink, Lavender, Purple and Rose, are chiefly known for their colorful and long-lasting flowers which occur in summer. I want to share pictures of these lovely trees that make a hot, hot summer bearable. 

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Spring Day in Salisbury, MD

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My mom is modeling the beautiful Spring day and the lovely flowers. This picture was taken May 2nd and the roses are lovely. The hydrangea are budding and the rhododendron are blooming. The weather has been lovely this week except for the wind. We are in for a big storm this weekend so I wanted to share the lovely flowers before they were tormented by the storm. If only Spring could last!

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Mom’s 95th birthday tea party

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Today, February 24th 2017 was a perfect 74 degree day for mom’s birthday party. I had a tea party for her.  We started with champagne. Chamber music was provided by Jim Ressegger.

We had cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches,  chicken salad , deviled eggs, scones, clotted creme, lemon curd, strawberry jam, cherry cheese cakes, Amaretto Cake, pickles and olives and hot tea. It was a feast and there were no diets today. After a chocolate birthday cake, Mom got a year’s worth of Chick filet gift cards and could not be happier. Here are the pictures for you to enjoy.

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Year of the Rooster

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It is the year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. One of my vendors sent me a lovely Chinese calendar which I have displayed proudly and of course my new Mahjong card is also marked with the year of the Rooster. I am looking forward to all good things this year. I copied the following internet explaination about the year of the Rooster. Enjoy!

“According to the Chinese calendar, we are entering the Year of the Rooster in 2017. Here are five things to know about the zodiac sign:

Each year, the Chinese calendar assigns an animal from a rotating zodiac of 12 animals. The 12 animals cycle through rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. 2016 was the Year of the Monkey. Apart from 2017, the Year of the Rooster includes the years 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 and 2029.

2017 is a Fire Rooster Year. According to Chinese astrology, each year is associated with one of five elements as well as an animal, including gold (metal), wood, water, fire or Earth. The element, combined with the zodiac animal, set the astrology for the year. This year is a fire year, and so those born in 2017 are Fire Roosters. The last Fire Rooster Year was 1957.

Famous Roosters include Beyoncé, Bob Marley, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Jennifer Aniston. Famous Fire Roosters include Stephen Fry, Steve Buscemi and Hans Zimmer.

Roosters are characterized as observant and hardworking. Active and talkative, Roosters tend to enjoy social events and being in the center of attention, according to Chinese astrology. They also typically enjoy sports, according to traits set by the astrology.

2017 is set to be unlucky for Roosters, according to Chinese astrology, because being in the year of one’s birth sign does not bode well. Chinese astrology dictates that Roosters will have to monitor their money and health extra carefully. However, when it comes to love, Roosters truly in love are advised to get married. Those in dead-end relationships should consider breaking up, according to the astrology.”

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