If you’re Rhinebeck bound, we would love to see youΒ at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night. Details here.

Sewing Lessons

Dear Ann,
As you know, I hold a grudge against German appliances. I know it’s not fair to hate the entire industrial output of a country because of one INCREDIBLY STUPID WASHING MACHINE, but that’s me: narrow-minded. Let that be a lesson to you: if you dye my kitchen floor blue, I shall be extremely wary, not only of you, but of everything that comes from where you come from.
But that’s all over now. Yesterday, I met a charming German appliance. A purring, rational, user-friendly little guy: Cristina’s sewing machine, Herr Pfaff. Cristina made a Coolpix movie of me and Herr Pfaff getting to know one another in a special way, but the file was too big to upload. You will just have to trust me on this: the Pfaff is a sweetheart.
Why did I drive all the way to Philly to use a sewing machine? First of all, it’s always a pleasure to see see Cristina and eat what she’s cooking and hang out in CristinaLand. But I also needed her help. A few weeks ago, in a moment of Angela-induced insanity, I signed up for Back-Tack. Back-Tack is one of those bloggy secret-pal thingies, but it’s for people who–unlike me–know how to sew. The idea is, you send a package of fun fabric to one person, and you get one from another person. Using these goodies (or not), you make a clever notions pouch, stuff it with sewing-geek treats, and send it to someone else. Everybody gets cool surprises, and the Post Office makes out like a bandit.
Here’s the part that got me: if the recipient is a knitter, you can make them a needle case instead of a notions pouch. I have always wanted to make one of these. I have been stashing fat quarters of Kaffe Fassett fabric for years, in the hopes of someday acquiring Miraculous Sewing Knowledge and being able to use it for something. I signed up, requesting a knitter to sew for.
Mind you, I haven’t had my foot on the pedal of a sewing machine since 7th Grade Home Economics Class. (Just for fun, here is a picture of me in the skirt I made, with Mom’s help, for Maxi Day when I was in 6th Grade. Scary, yes? I think the belt is macrame!)
Seeing that I was in desperate straits, Cristina volunteered her Pfaff and a clipping of a Martha Stewart Living article on how to make a tool roll out of a placemat. Hey, it’s a Good Thing: how hard could it be?
Not hard at all, and REALLY FUN. Get this: Sewing is faster than knitting. A lot faster.
When sewing, you get to do one of my most favorite things in the world:
Handle a massive and powerful steam iron. (Also German, as it happens.) (Since I know you’ll be impressed, I’ll also share that Cristina has one of those double-wide ironing boards; more of an ironing table, really. You could do surgery on that thing. Strictly for the Seriously Crafty.)
After an afternoon of lunching and sewing and admiring baby Elio and brother Bruno with Cristina and another Philly pal, Cheryl, here is what we had to show.
Mach 1: Cristina’s Trial-Run Needle Roll.
Small (Cristina favors circs so only has a few straight needles to corral), flap-less, green. If it were a car, it would be a VW Beetle: easy to park, but still stylin’.
Mach 2: The Dee-luxe Back-Tack Stretch Limo of Needle Rolls.
(The perfect knitterly touch–Cristina’s idea– i-cord ties!)
An inside flap adds extra cushion, but in truth it’s just a vehicle for More Fabby Kaffe Fabric.
The Needle Roll, loaded. (The pocket is suave wool felt from Cristina’s stash.)
I had a real swell time, and yes, I’m in the market for a Pfaff of my own. Wait’ll Hubby sees THAT on the dining room table.
Love, Kay




  1. Whoa, whoa, whoa – what wonderful tool rolls! Don’t I have some tools around here that need a roll? What wonderful fabrics too – I am so jealous of the ironing board. Annhb

  2. Wow, those are great! I’m finishing my dissertation right now and one of the rewards I’ve promised myself for next week is a little quality time with the sewing machine. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Those are really fab !

  4. Nice stuff!
    And as a newbie sewing machine owner myself, yes this is at least as addictive as knitting. And at least twice as stash-inducing.

  5. Why, pfaff is the sound that just came out of me as I exclaimed in excitement over all the stitchery! Pfaff!
    Those of us inhabiting a circular universe would welcome a roll up of gigantic proportions with little pockets for our circulars.
    Oh, and the MAXI skirt. It’s the max! You look like a Groovy Girl!

  6. Awwwww. My little girl is growing up! Wait until I get you going to Goodwill for supplies. I think the combo of a Pfaff sewing thrift sheets and pillowcases would put a hole in the space/time continuum.

  7. SEW neat….those little needle burritos….i foresee a major quilt-a-thon in your future,….just another healthy, non-fattening addiction…

  8. Ekk- you’re shaming me into getting a wriggle on- I haven’t sent my first package yet!! Looks fabulous- cool colours. And congratulations on extending yourself and mastering Mr Pfaff.

  9. So glad you broke the ice on the question of macrame, Kay. That’s what’s next on the activities schedule at Krafty Kamp or Kampy Krafts, whatever. Bring your hemp–and, I promise you, all we’ll do is BRAID it.

  10. How crafty! What a great exchange.

  11. WoW, very impressive. I love your skirt, if you kept it it would be very vogue now.
    My Mum is a seamstress and always says: Ironing is half the sewing done!
    How about a Swiss Miss Bernina sewing machine. My Mums is nearly 40 years old and works like a dream.
    Kay you are really ventouring out, sewing, embroidery what is next?

  12. See, I knew you could do it! Sure wish I’d gotten in on this action ~ tip me off next time, OK?

  13. Oooh! More about the back-tack project. I just read about this on another blog. It looks darn cool. Also makes me wish I could sew, darnit.

  14. Love the needle rolls. I have a shaming collection of fat quarters, too.

  15. Those cases came out DIVINE. Great job. Your secret back tack pal is super lucky.

  16. I just found the Kafee Fassett fabrics when shopping for my back tack partner, CUTE! I can’t wait to try and make the one for my pal. Yours look great πŸ™‚

  17. You need a Pfaff. Everone does! That was the first large purchase when I got married, and I was stunned to find out just how much better it handled *every single thing* I worked on. I still say “I love this machine!” each time I use it. Lovely, lovely sewing machines πŸ™‚

  18. Kay, you didn’t get my email, did you?

  19. Nice needle roll, I love those colorful fabrics. The drunken German post was quite funny; I took inventory and didn’t realize how many German appliances we had also. And then, the boyfriend is German and we’re heading to Germany in a few weeks… I must’ve been a German in a past life.

  20. Lovely needle rolls! Yes, you need a Pfaff–this is all so weird, I was just on the phone earlier today trying to talk another friend into buying a sewing machine of her own! It’s in the air… When Hubby sees that on the dining room table–send him over to my little apt to check out the TWO machines sitting on mine!

  21. Woww! I just made my own knitting needle roll a few days ago… I’d been planning it for some time and even made one for someone for Christmas. I found a great pattern for it – this one has a guard flap at the top to keep the needles from falling out the open end of the roll. I just love it. And it was a quick project too – easily finished in one night. I’ll be posting pictures on my blog in a few minutes. In the meantime here’s the pattern link, from Barb at Tostetoes:
    It makes a very sturdy roll with a nice finished edge. I loved your rolls as well by the way… the fabric is great and I liked the I-cord ties. πŸ˜€


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