Sunday, March 29, 2015

Meet Jeannie Baumeister!

Today we learn a little about teacher Jeannie Baumeister. Jeannie will be one of the teachers at the SAGA Chicago Retreat in July.

Susie Gay with Jeannie at a SAGA Convention Banquet.
Who taught you needlework skills and when did you first start learning?

 My Mother taught me to sew using her Featherweight Sewing Machine (it is now my Featherweight Sewing Machine) and my favorite color is always Blue!

What is your favourite form of embroidery?

Featherstitching is my very, very favorite embroidery stitch but I love them all.

When do you find time to embroider/sew?

I stitch almost every day. As far as finding time to do it?  I think we can always find time to do things that are important to us. 

 What inspires your designs?

My designs are mainly inspired by old things.  I love old baby clothes.  I examine old baby garments for inspiration and am lucky that many people share their treasured baby clothes with me. Many of my designs/patterns and classes came from garments shared with me.   I am especially drawn to the styles from 1900 through 1940's.

Do you attend classes and workshops as well as teach at them?

I am really interested in developing my needles skills further so I do take classes when possible. My favorite classes have been ones I have taken in England and France. I am excited to be teaching embroidery at the Chicago Retreat where I will sharing some of these Whitework stitches. 

Do you belong to a sewing guild of any kind?

 I love to smock and I do belong to a local chapter of SAGA, The French Handsewers.  I believe it is essential for us to support local and national guilds to keep the stitching I love so much alive.  Remember:  Ask not what Saga can do for me, but rather ask yourself "What can I do for SAGA?"

Where is your favourite place to stitch?

I have two favorite places to stitch.  In the warm weather it is my garden.  Natural light is so wonderful for stitching and the flowers and birds make me happy!  In the winter, I love to stitch by the fire.*

 What is your most favourite sewing tool?

My most favorite stitching tool (besides scissors and needle of course) is the Thimble. I carry it with me for any type of sewing.  I don't know how anyone stitches without one.  It makes your stitching so much faster.  I think everyone should use one.  If you learned to use a fork….you can learn to use a thimble!


Of what accomplishment are you most proud?

Of which I am most proud?  And had the most fun of all doing it?  I did some research at the Louisiana State Human Ecology Textile department years ago when I was allowed to go through their clothing collection of Infants and Toddler clothing.  I was overwhelmed with ideas as I looked at the baby clothes and helped them catalog several of their garments.  When they ask me to be guest curator for their museum exhibit, I was thrilled.  The LSU textile exhibit ran for a year and is the thing in my career that I am most proud of and enjoyed enormously. I masterminded the entire display and the textile department did all the museum work, creating a professional exhibit.   I chose the garments, wrote the information, decided on every part of the theme and arranged the order of the display.  I titled it "Dream Stitches: Baby's Layette". The exhibit focused on the stitching and planning of a Baby's Layette, displayed appropriate items, information and garments dating from 1854 through the 1930's.  It was fabulous!

* As to a favorite location for teaching.  The location is always a classroom regardless of what is outside the door.  My favorite is always the classroom full of excited women who want to learn new stitches and improve the ones they know as they enjoy doing it.  Not cooking dinner is a plus!

I don't think a person should be too serious about sewing.  Do your best and enjoy every stitch!

Thank you, Jeannie and you can visit Jeannie's website :

 The Old Fashioned Baby

 and her blog:

OFB Sewing Room Blog!

For more information on the SAGA Chicago Retreat visit


Friday, March 27, 2015

An Update

For those of you who saw me in Las Vegas and at Woodlawn (see photo in previous post), I have an update-the red cast on my right wrist came off today! I now have to do some exercises to get it to work properly-the painful part of the recovery!

Sewing will be my gentle therapy. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

SAGA Meet Up at Woodlawn

So who knew that snow would be in the forecast for Alexandria, Virginia in late March? It was a close call that the planned SAGA Meet Up at the Woodlawn Needlework exhibit on Friday would actually be canceled due to bad weather, but luckily the local schools remained open and so did Woodlawn.

A good thing as SAGA President Lisa Hawkes and I (with Wes the bear) had driven down from Connecticut the day before in bright sunshine to meet up with Region II Representative Lindsay Carroll and other SAGA members at Woodlawn on Friday for lunch.

It was lovely to meet up with everyone over the luncheon and to chat with them as we walked around the displays of the entries. Even more fun to see ribbons awarded to SAGA members for their entries. Well done to those ladies and to all SAGA members who entered pieces!

You can see a list of ribbon winners by visiting:

Look for news of more SAGA  Meet Ups happening soon by visiting the SAGA website,

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Travelling Wes

Wes had a great time at the end of February in Las Vegas at the first Smock Across America retreat and was happy he made lots of new friends. He also got to see a few of the sights around Vegas, but no gambling for him!

Wes and a few SAGA ladies at the Bellagio Hotel
Today Wes has his overnight bag packed as he is leaving for Alexandria, Virginia and a visit to the Woodlawn Needlework Exhibition for the SAGA Meet Up tomorrow!
Hope we see you there!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Safe Needle Disposal

Needles- hand sewing or machine- an important tool in the sewing world, but one that can be hazardous also. What do you do with your broken, damaged or bent needles and pins? I know for many years mine just went into the waste basket and from there into the garbage bin. Sometimes I would put the damaged item into a piece of fabric, but that was about it.

After reading a few horror stories involving needles and various body parts I decided a safer method of disposal was needed! I now have an empty flip lid pill bottle in the draw next to my sewing machine into which go the used/damaged/broken machine needles; bent pins and hand sewing needles that are well used, bent or otherwise damaged. The bottle can then be taped shut and thrown out, or taken to a local doctors office and disposed of into their sharps disposal box.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a flip lid bottle, but that flip lid is handy. A sturdy plastic bottle with a screw lid works too. It is just the fact that the sharps are being disposed of safely and no one can get hurt.

So next time you finish a bottle of vitamins and are about to recycle the bottle, think about keeping it next to your sewing machine for safe needle disposal.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thinking outside the box

I recently read an interesting article on how printing on silk helped save lives during World War II.  The story is one of inventive thinking- certainly thinking outside the box and in this case outside the Monopoly box!

During WWII many servicemen were captured and detained by the enemy. It is well known that they made it their duty to try and escape and stories of their escapes have kept the film industry busy for many years. Some of these stories are beyond belief but most films are based on facts however fanciful they may seem. The story of how printing on silk helped in these escape efforts is itself a fanciful one.

What is one of the most useful items that you might need if you manage to escape? A map! How could you get hold of a map if you are imprisoned? Well, someone came up with a way. That way was to include maps in a game of Monopoly. Games were allowed to be included in the care packages that the International Red Cross distributed to prisoners as they helped them pass their time while detained and stop them thinking of how they might escape!

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The British intelligence service, MI-5 (yes, the one that James Bond works for!) came up with the idea of printing maps on silk. Why silk? Well it could be folded up into a tiny package; it could be scrunched up and most importantly it was lightweight, very durable and silent! But then there was the problem of how to get the maps to the intended recipients. This is where the Monopoly game played its part.

By happy coincidence, the only company with the technology, at that time, to print on silk in the UK was Waddington who were, by another coincidence, the only agent in the UK for the American game of Monopoly! So a secret team of employees were selected and they worked on printing the maps and putting them into specially marked boxes of Monopoly. These maps were folded so tiny to fit inside a game piece. From this idea others immerged- a game piece that was actually a compass; a metal file (in two pieces) which could be useful for all sorts of things. One of the other really helpful items was the Monopoly money as hidden in the stacks of play dollars was Italian, German and French currency. How clever was that?

                                                The secret map printers at Waddington

It is estimated that a third of the Allied escapees from POW camps used a silk map to help them reach freedom. The story remained a secret for over 75 years because it was felt it might be used again, but in 2007 it was declassified and the surviving craftsmen who had worked at Waddington and the company itself were honoured.

So you never know what might come of thinking outside of the box or playing games!

More information about escape maps can be found at:

Monday, March 9, 2015


Ely Cathedral, set in an area of England known as The Fens, recently held an ecclesiastical embroidery exhibition run in conjunction with the Royal School of Needlework.

Over 60 displays included significant pieces of needlework which have been worked on by the Royal School and which form part of their collection housed at Hampton Court Palace.

One of the highlights of the exhibition was six of the twelve Litany of Loreto panels. They were bequeathed to the School by a convent in Sussex and are rarely on display to the public. Other pieces included depictions of theological figures and symbols using a wide range of threads and techniques, plus some rare examples of white work altar cloths, burses, stoles and chalice veils.

The unique exhibition also included artefacts from Ely Cathedral's own collection including a Mediaeval Cope, an 18th century gold vestment set and the recently restored white altar frontal.

As part of the event the cathedral were delighted to have on display the 11th century gilded bronze chasuble pin, originally from the tomb of Archbishop Wulfstan at Ely, and gifted to the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1771.

During the exhibition the Royal School of Needlework ran a series of embroidery workshops led by their own experts. Each workshop focused on a different technique such as ecclesiastical white work, gold and silk work.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Wes Wins!

Wes won one of the raffle baskets at the Las Vegas Retreat banquet Saturday night!

Spring fabrics!
He was  so happy to hear his name called and look what a lovely stash of fabric he won. Of course, being a nice bear, he will share it with me! I am already planning what to make (once I can start sewing again).

Thank you to all those who donated baskets. They were all lovely and Wes had a hard time picking which ones to put his tickets into, although those baskets containing chocolate were especially tempting!

I hope everyone enjoyed the Las Vegas Retreat as much as Wes and me. He made lots of new friends and had fun in class. Now is the time to think about the Chicago Retreat in July. The full brochure will be on the SAGA website very soon and registration opens April 1-no joke!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Correction to Green Bishop Directions

Jan Reeg contacted me with a correction to the written directions of her Green Bishop design featured in the latest issue of SAGANews, Volume 36 Issue 1.

Jan says that she left out traveling back down to row 4 after stitching on row 3 1/2 then back up to 3 1/2.  It throws off the pleat numbers that you stitch through.
The smocking graph is correct.

Thanks for letting us know, Jan.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Smock Bombing?

I am sure most of you have seen or read something about the latest world-wide knitting/crochet craze of yarn bombing?

Quick catch up for those who haven't. Knitted or crocheted pieces are wrapped around an object that is on public display, such as a statue; tree; fence. The pieces are like a patchwork covering the object, but still allowing the shape to be seen. It is a form of graffiti, but it unlike the paint usually used, the yarn pieces can easily be removed.

This piece of yarn bombing is on a tree outside the library where my chapter had a smocking display in Febraury for National Smocking Month.

I was just wondering-should smockers start smock bombing?

Note: As mentioned, this is a form of graffiti and could be subject to prosecution as such, so SAGANews and SAGA do not advise smock bombing something unless you have written permission to do so!