Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Mystic Retreat: The Third Post

I am not one of those persons who has a camera hanging around her neck whenever she leaves home, recording every new sight and person and object, while on a trip. I did bring my digital camera, normally used solely for photographing my stitching for this blog, to the retreat. I even put it into the stitching bag that I carried to the classroom. But did I remember to take the damn thing out and actually use it to photograph all the neat stitching accessories to be found around the room or the wonderful pieces displayed at Show and Tell? No, idiot that I am, I did not! Mine is a verbal rather than a visual intelligence and I guess there is just no conquering nature. Some people automatically reach for a camera when they want to make a record; I reach for a pen or a keyboard. So anyone who actually wants to see photos will have to wait for Sue's Fun Report ... which will, no doubt, be posted relatively soon on .
But there are a few things I'd like to mention.
Three of the ladies made stitching totes just for use at the Spooky Retreat. As an avid seamstress myself, I mentally reconstructed or de-constructed the manufacturing process so that I can use the idea someday myself. Maybe for next year's Halloween Trick or Treat bags for my grandchildren. Here's what I think happened: They started by cutting material for a basic tote but before assembling the pieces, they did some very creative embellishing. They cut out haunted houses, trick-or-treaters, witches, gravestones, etc from some cool Halloween novelty fabrics. I am guessing they used fusing fabrics available at quilt stores to convert these cut outs into appliques. The cut outs were placed on the front and back pieces of the tote to create a spooky scene. Additional door cut-outs were made so the houses would have working doors that opened and closed. Sound cards with Halloween music or spooky sounds were concealed and secured between the layers so that when anyone opened the door, the strains of the theme from the Addams family or creaks and groans would fill the air. Truly grotesque bare trees were made by twisting and couching some very interesting textured ribbons into tree trunks and branches. Other ribbons, braided trims, and even bands of sequins were used to make the ground or spooky skies. Some buttons of bats, moons, owls, black cats, pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns were also added to the scene before the tote was stitched together and lined. At least, I assume the lining was sewn at this point, leaving a small buttonhole type opening at one of the upper side edges ... I'll explain this later. Then the fun began: the ladies must have had a ball in the novelty or scrapbooking section of their local hobby or craft shop buying all sorts of appropriately scaled goodies: plastic skeletons, witches, brooms, cemetery gates and fences, strands of tiny colored flashing lights shaped like skulls or pumpkins or bats. The plastic figures were added to the tote scenes, stitched into place. And a strand of lights were blind stitched to the top of each tote ... and again I am assuming this was how it was done: the ends of the strands [with on/off switch] were slipped between lining and tote front/back using the buttonhole opening which was then whip-stitched closed. The totes were passed all around the room for us all to admire ... each tote was similar in execution but different in the details. I am definitely going to have to try my hand at this next year.
Then, there were the Jersey Girls, who arranged their own Spooky exchange with each participant making a different sewing accessory for the group: a needlebook, a biscornu, a scissor fob, an ort bag, etc. But the stand-out was the item made by one of the Jersey Girls: the basket that held all the items. She had gotten an elegantly simple woven bark basket for which she made a lining with pockets using a Halloween print calico.
And then there was the young 20-something stitcher who adapted an idea from Blue Ribbon Designs Coffin Etui and made gravestone needlebooks for her friends.
I promise, next time, I will remember to take pictures.


Rachel S said...

Those totes sound really neat!

Carol said...

Even without pictures, your descriptions are vivid enough to give me a good mental picture, Riona...Sounds like a fun and relaxing retreat :)

Angela said...

Well, Mom, you know I love you...BURT I'm also familiar with your photography skills. If you had taken photos, you probably would've chopped off the heads of all the stitching accessories. know what I mean.

Angela said...

hehehehe...I called you BURT! My typing skills need work.