Postage-Stamp Quilting

SoundStitches blog
Heart Mountain, Wyoming

You’ve probably noticed a very low percentage of quilting-related posts on my blog. I’m a much more productive and effective garment sewer. But here’s a nice quilting tidbit from a book of letters from a homesteading woman in Wyoming that I read a while back:

I went to a quilting party yesterday… at Mrs. Werts’. She had two quilts she wanted quilted, so she furnished the dinner… and the ladies did the quilting. Both quilts were what is called postage stamp quilts, in which the blocks of cloth used are the size of an ordinary postage stamp. Fancy cutting that many pieces and then sewing them all together again!

Letters from Honeyhill: A Woman’s View of Homesteading 1914-1931

Fancy that! Well I wouldn’t fancy that, and I would call it a crazy quilt! (Another kind of scrap quilting.) But back then, people might have had a wide variety of postage-stamp sized scraps, all of which came in the form of expensive ready-made clothing, so what to do with all of it? This postage-stamp scrap quilt is all these things and more: it’s creative, it’s thrifty, it’s recycle/reuse/remake, and it’s green. It’s not Handmade Revolution but Handmade Survival. What would you call it? And do you think us modern types have lost that kind of creativity, or necessity?


See What 75 Cents Buys in 1915

I’m reading a book of letters written by a Wyoming homesteader. The Ladies Aid societies in England would condescend to visit their poorer neighbors and perhaps do something for them. But in the American West, the Ladies Aid clubs helped each other because they were perpetually stuck in hard times. In this excerpt, Mrs. Hendricks writes her mother in Indiana. You can see that she goes from skeptical to desiring this service for herself!

Yes, in 1915 for 75 cents you could get all this:

We had a right good Aid meeting at Adkins. Meeting after next we are to have an all-day meeting and sew for Mrs. Brown. I was surprised and shocked when I heard what the charge was… the Aid charges seventy-five cents for an all-day’s work… at least six women must come to sew for the seventy-five cents… Fancy getting the work of six and maybe ten or twelve women all day for seventy-five cents. For instance, Mrs. Buch had the Powell Aid work for her. Her house is large so there was room to have a large cutting table all the time. Well, they made nightgowns for the whole family of five, did a lot of mending, and lengthened the hems in half a dozen or more of the girl’s dresses — all for 75 cents! If I had a lot of simple sewing to do, I’d have the Aid do it…. plain sewing, such as most underwear, or hemming towels, or mending socks and such, they could do all right. Making aprons would be all right too.

Cecilia Hennel Hendricks wrote over 1,000 letters during her homesteading years, and the book (title and link below) was compiled by her daughter. The letters keep you entertained, and it’s a great winter read to make us grateful for modern conveniences, not the least of which is the sewing machine.

– Letters from Honeyhill: A Woman’s View of Homesteading 1914-1931

SoundStitches blog
Heart Mountain, Wyoming

Sewing Fuels Creativity

Sometimes I wonder why I sew. There’s the fabric, of course, which I’ve loved since I was a kid. Then there’s the creative release, and challenge of finishing a project, the delight in giving or wearing it. But it turns out there’s more — sewing brings value to our daily lives. Just as you know it, I know it too. Here’s someone who can articulate it.

Karen Burns, author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl said:

For many of us, our careers are not our life’s passions. So it’s essential to pursue outside interests — both for our happiness and to facilitate our creativity at work. Amazing discoveries and insights are often made when people are tinkering in the garage, gardening, or riding a bike. Plus, hobbies give us a sense of peace. And once we relax for a moment, the answer to a work problem will often reveal itself.

Well said! I hope you will share with another sewer, or gardener, or woodworker, or knitter…

Seattle Sewing Event:

SewUp Seattle’s October 29 Session is “Leg Warmers, Slippers and Santa Stockings.” Sew Up Seattle is a non-profit organization that promotes the use of recycled materials. Location: Goods for the Planet, 525 Dexter Avenue North, Seattle, WA. (My tip: Goods for the Planet also has a great selection of green gifts and housewares, so take a little time to browse for holiday gifts.)
Register by emailing In your e-mail, indicate whether you will attend the 11:oo-1:00 or 1:00-3:00 session. SewUp Seattle says: “Bring your own machine and materials or use our donated machines, fabrics and notions.” Learn more about SewUp Seattle.

SoundStitches GoodsForthePlanet


Making What You Need

I thought you might all enjoy reading this New York Times article about a woman who is committed to making most of what she needs.

*** What do you think of online sewing classes? Take the poll! ***

Work Wear to Sew

SoundStitches blog Threads magazine
Threads Magazine #155

Two recent articles address the perennial questions, “What should I wear to work?” and by extension for sewers, “What could I sew and wear to work?”

Threads magazine’s recent article by Christine Jonson features this pattern maker’s lovely knit fabrics. In pictures, she presents many combinations that are both modest and chic. (And I highly recommend ordering knit fabrics from Christine Jonson if you have few local knit options.)

Work It,” an article written by themisslinds on Burda Style online magazine, sets out Corporate Power Player, Artsy/Creative, and Freelance/Work From Home combinations complete with shoes and bag ideas. For the last several months, I’ve been somewhere in between Artsy/Creative and Freelance/Work From Home and hoping to return to Work From Home real soon! Which work personality are you?

Cool Girls Pants

My sewing student Lisa and I just completed two pairs of pants for her daughters. The picture shows just one of them. We used two sizes of Simplicity 9854 in two great prints from local store Fabric Crush. This Simplicity pattern gives you an introduction to using standard patterns (reading the symbols, laying out the tissue, deciphering strange-to-you instructions). It’s a great pattern for a beginner who wants to make kids clothing. Great job, Lisa!
I’m also impressed that in between sessions, Lisa completed another project — the Julia skirt by Modkid. See pic below. Lisa says she’s currently “a little obsessed” with sewing, and I  say: “How can this possible be a problem?!” Go Lisa.

The Julia Skirt by Modkid
The Julia Skirt by Modkid