Craft for all. PBS's "Sew It All" aims to show it's a hobby anybody can take up. And with more than 30 million Americans sewing, it seems like everybody has.
By Elana Ashanti Jefferson
The Denver Post
Posted: 10/23/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT
Updated: 10/23/2010 09:01:56 PM MDT
Host Ellen March, right, and guest EllynAnne Geisel talk on set. Geisel will lead the segment "Awesome Aprons (." Photos: Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post )
GOLDEN — Sewing is not rocket science.
You can teach yourself, use hand-me-town tools and stitch as crooked as Mr. Magoo drives. The result will still be more interesting than most anything you can buy.
That's the message behind Sew News and Sew It All magazines, published by Colorado's Creative Crafts Group.
Now, the recent recession and concurrent "green revolution" have kickstarted sewers — roughly 31 million, or 27 percent of, American households included a sewer in 2009, according to the Craft & Hobby Association. Meanwhile, television glamorizes the skill, a la "Project Runway," and yesteryear's styles continue to rule in fashion and home design.
The result is that Sew It All is taking
Show host Ellen March demonstrates a ruffle stitching they will work on in the TV show.
its message to television, too, via a new PBS show set to air in spring 2011.
The market: today's hip, scissor-cutting-edge creatives. And that includes guys.
"The reason we came up with this was to take the fear out of sewing," said Ellen March, the editor of Sew News and Sew It All, who also hosts the forthcoming "Sew It All" TV show.
Seated earlier this week on her show's brand-new set, which was adorned with orange walls, mod red chairs and a pistachio-colored sewing table with vintage-looking scalloped woodwork details, March talked about what she's seen as a recent uptick in sewing.
"Sewing is hot right now," said March, whose mother is a seamstress and whose father is a journalist. "I hear from a lot of people who say 'I haven't sewn in years and want to start up again,' or 'I want to sew!' "
Each episode of "Sew It All" on TV spotlights "a fun technique," a project in which that technique is applied, and a special guest to serve as creative inspiration. First-season guests include fashion designers and former "Project Runway" contestants Stephen "Suede" Baum and Carmen Webber; crafts author, novelist and columnist Kathy Cano-Murillo, also known as the "Crafty Chica"; and author and "apron lover" EllynAnne Geisel.
"I really want it to feel like we're hanging out and it's low- stress," March said.
Geisel was briefly anxious about appearing on the show, as her own sewing skills are far from perfect. But the author of "The Apron Book: Making, Wearing and Sharing a Bit of Cloth and Comfort" and other tomes on the subject said March's laid-back approach to sewing put her at ease.
"What I love about this new sewing focus is, it encourages you to be good enough," Geisel said. "It's simply the joy of saying, 'Look, I did this myself.' "
The sewer's satisfaction is compounded by the fact that something handmade is that much more endearing because of the occasional flaw.
Sorta like people.
"The hip sewer, that doesn't necessarily (correspond) to an age," Geisel added. "It's just someone who says, 'I want something that is uniquely me.' "
Phoenix-based Cano-Murillo has spent two decades building her business as a craft-trepreneur, first through her syndicated newspaper column, then through her books, blog and "Crafty Chica" brand crafting supplies. In that time, she said, there have rarely been fresh television shows geared to the country's significant crafting community.
American consumers spent $27.4 million on crafting in 2009, according to the Craft & Hobby Association. That was a 5 percent increase over the previous year.
"It's very hip, very fresh, very now," Murillo said of the "Sew It All" TV show concept. She added that dropping into the Denver area recently for a one-day taping was "a breath of fresh, and a lot of fun."
Contact your local PBS affiliate if you'd like to see "Sew It All," or visit sewnews.com.
Cutting out the space
No need for a devoted sewing room to begin threading together fashion and home-decorating looks. These tips for getting organized from Sew It All magazine will help sewers keep it all together.
A sewing cabinet provides a place to keep your sewing machine and notions. They can be small or large, typically include drawers for supplies, and have ample work space.
A large sewing kit is ideal for novice sewers as it comes with basic supplies — including multiple colors of thread — and is self-contained in a tidy box.
Thread racks, which come in multiple sizes and can typically hold as many as 120 spools, enable sewers to see what might otherwise get lost in a drawer.
Storage containers for safety pins, needles, ribbon and the like make these things easier to find and use, and can create their own colorful display.
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