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Stuck at home with nothing to do? Time to work on a new hobby, and we’re here to help.

Posted about 2 months ago by Natalie Draper
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So, all of those things you wish you had the time to learn how to do? Knitting, crocheting, felting, quilting, mending, screen printing, weaving, rug hooking, painting, drawing, embroidery, pottery, sculpture (I can keep going)…?  Many of you now have found yourselves with some enforced home-time on your hands. How better to spend it than by learning a new skill? It can be daunting to start, especially by yourself, but thankfully we live in an age when video tutorials (and video conferencing as we’re all discovering) abound. Therein lies another problem: they ABOUND. There are probably billions of videos to start you knitting or get you block printing, so how do you know which to try or where to start? Many of the fun little 5 minute craft videos out there make something look super easy but they tend to gloss over a lot of the hard stuff because then it wouldn’t take 5 minutes. It can be frustrating as a beginner to try to work with these.

Enter Creativebug.

Many of you already know that we’ve been teaching sewing classes at the library for a short time. I don’t know why it is, especially since I sew a lot and have done so since I was a small child, but I still find it incredible that so many other people want to learn how to sew now. I suppose I’ve taken it for granted and I promise to stop doing that. Well, we hadn’t been teaching sewing classes at the library for very long when we had to cancel a lot of them and then close the library entirely to promote social distancing.  It’s only been a week but I’ve really missed the connections I’ve made with so many people in the classes we’ve been teaching and I look forward to a time when we can sew together again. I’m hoping you’ll be inspired to keep making projects during this difficult time. If you do, please share them with us on social media! I would love to see what you’re working on. Tag the library’s Instagram account @rvalibrary in your project photos.

The beautiful results of a recent sewing class: zippered pouches!

To help fill the void and to give you something to do at home, the library has just added Creativebug, by Joann Fabrics, to our ever-expanding online library. I must admit, I’m personally VERY stoked to have this access for free with my library card. The list of classes is impressive! There’s something for everyone, and every skill level, and since they are very high quality courses led by prominent experts, artists, and professionals, they are geared toward honing your skills and taking beginners to proficiency. I just checked out the new book “The Modern Embroidery Studio” by Lauren Holton, and now I can take her 49 minute video class on marbled embroidery at my own pace!

Quilters: take a class by textile legend, Kaffe Fassett!

Want to sew clothing? Learn really interesting techniques for sewing with knits from Natalie Chanin (Of Alabama Chanin)!

Go green and learn creative mending from Cal Patch!

Learn fashion illustration and draping from Project Runway alum Benjamin Mach! His classes have been my favorite so far. This is a technique I have never mastered but now I think I just might. The quality and clarity of instruction is pretty amazing.

The classes on Creativebug also come with downloadable pdf patterns and detailed supply lists. They even provide the opportunity for students to ask questions, leave comments, and interact with each other.

A note on conferencing–use the awesome power of social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Meetup and find your people! Find a like-minded group of creative folks to work on projects together via video chat. I’m planning to work on a “One Block Wonder” quilt over Facetime with my mom who lives in Nashville. I saw hers on a recent visit and it’s gorgeous. I haven’t quilted in a while, and I haven’t quilted with my mom in a very long time. Who thought social distancing would bring us closer together when we’re so far apart?

Maybe this crisis is also an opportunity. At least that’s what I’m trying to tell myself…

Need more visual inspiration? Here’s a list of some ebooks on Hoopla to get your creative juices flowing:

Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh

Mending Matters explores sewing on two levels: First, it includes more than 20 hands-on projects that showcase current trends in visible mending that are edgy, modern, and bold-but draw on traditional stitching. It does all this through just four very simple mending techniques: exterior patches, interior patches, slow stitches, darning, and weaving. In addition, the book addresses the way mending leads to a more mindful relationship to fashion and to overall well-being. In essays that accompany each how-to chapter, Katrina Rodabaugh explores mending as a metaphor for appreciating our own naturally flawed selves, and she examines the ways in which mending teaches us new skills, self-reliance, and confidence, all gained from making things with our own hands.

Hoop Dreams by Cristin Morgan

Vibrant color and rich textures abound in Hoop Dreams, a stylish embroidery guide for the modern maker. Author Cristin Morgan of Marigold + Mars outlines the basics of 10 classic embroidery stitches and then teaches you how to use them to create 20 beautiful and practical projects for hoops, for the home, and to wear. New and experienced embroiderers alike will be delighted by the fresh motifs and bold color palettes and empowered by the easy step-by-step instructions and templates, which show that with just a few simple stitches, some basic materials, and an idea or two, you can stitch just about anything. A glossary of more than 50 additional patterns and motifs will inspire you to personalize your projects and use your newfound embroidery skills in fresh and imaginative ways.

The Geometry Of Hand-Sewing by Natalie Chanin

As makers, we tend to learn different stitches over time without thinking much about how they relate to one another. But when Natalie Chanin and her Alabama Chanin and The School of Making teams began to look at needlework closely, they realized all stitches are based on geometric grid systems-and by using grids as guides, they could make learning stitches, even seemingly elaborate ones, as easy as child’s play.

In The Geometry of Hand-Sewing Chanin presents their breakthrough method, featuring illustrated instructions (for both right- and left-handed stitchers) for more than 100 stitches-from the most basic straight and chain to the more fanciful feather and herringbone; photos of both right and wrong sides; and guidelines for modifying stitches to increase one’s repertoire further. To simplify learning, the book also offers downloads for two stitching cards with the grids on which every stitch in the book is based. These printable cards can be used as stencils for transferring grids to fabric.

Kawaii Crochet by Melissa Bradley

*Those who took our Sew Kawaii class will remember the importance of “Maximum cuteness”.* Hook up a rainbow kawaii goodness with this super-cute collection of 40 amigurumi patterns from modern crochet designer Yarn Blossom Boutique. From three adorable peas in a pod, to a winking fortune cookie, these 40 fun and easy amigurumi makes will bring the Japanese culture of cuteness into your hands and your heart.

Drawing And Painting Imaginary Animals by Carla Sonheim

*Any one of these would make a great embroidery design!*  Rediscover a more child-like approach to creating with Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals! Through fun and creative exercises, Carla Sonheim teaches you to draw a variety of fun animals and creatures, including:

Dogs – Birds – Elephants – Fish – Cats – Rabbits – Fluffalumps – and many others!

You’ll also find a variety of unique mixed-media techniques to help you bring your creatures to life, resulting in a unique finished art piece. Improve your drawing skills, expand your creativity, and learn new art techniques–and have loads of fun doing it!–with Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals.

Browse Hoopla under “crafts and hobbies” for hundreds more.

For those of you wondering how you can craft for the greater good, I read in a few places that hospitals are looking to the sewing community to help with a looming mask shortage. Apparently, in desperate times such as these, home sewn masks will do. Before you go and sew up hundreds of masks for you local hospital, check first to see if they have a need. If you just want to sew up a few to have on hand at home (they’re great for those of us who can’t stop touching our faces…), here’s the instructional: https://freesewing.org/blog/facemask-frenzy/

Here’s a great beginner project that’s super adorable: Drawstring Bunny Bag (via Spoonflower)

Are you on the ‘gram? Follow @Rethinktailoring for some great inspiration on reworking items you have in your wardrobe already. https://www.instagram.com/rethinktailoring/

And finally check out these fabulous librarians from Pickens County Library System in South Carolina and their “quarantine crafts” posts on Facebook! There’s a lot you can do with all those toilet paper tubes…

About the Author

Natalie is the Main Library manager, blog editor, and a compulsive reader of all genres, except romance. She has a particular fondness for the strange and unusual, and for small indie presses, so look to her reviews if you're in the mood for something a little different.

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