Monday, June 25, 2018

Care of Laces

From my copy of the Women's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences book of 1922, here is the section on the Care of Laces.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Let's meet Susie Gay (Part 2)

 Today we conclude our interview with Susie Gay.

13. What other hobbies, interests, do you have?

I love making jams, preserves and relishes. I give most of it away to friends and family. (I have a standing request from our son’s best friend for shipments, especially the Brandied Peach Jam.) There’s something about seeing all of those gorgeous, colorful jars stacked up in my pantry just waiting to be enjoyed! I also do a lot of gardening because we have a very big yard with “old forest” trees, some well over 100 years old. I sing in our church choir and occasionally do solos, and have always participated in choirs wherever we were stationed. And I read: history, autobiographies, biographies, embroidery and sewing books and magazines…anything to keep my mind active and learning.

14. How often do you travel to teach?

I travel about 4-6 times a year to teach. I enjoy travel (after all that we did during my husband’s Army career, and after living overseas for nine years). But when I get home, I take a day to recuperate.

15. Have you a favourite location where you most enjoy teaching?

I very much enjoy wherever I teach. It’s always fascinating to meet new people and see their town (city, etc.) from their own perspective. I always learn so much. So many Guilds/Chapters have wonderful venues where they arrange the workshops. And of course, there is the food: interesting restaurants, great potlucks….you can’t stitch on an empty stomach! And I’ve always been hosted by kind, wonderful, talented and interesting ladies who don’t mind showing their sewing rooms. I’ve picked up quite a few ideas from their sewing spaces.

16. Where can we see your projects?

My classes are posted on my website, My blog showcases many other projects, techniques and ideas (along with a few recipes) at More of my ideas are posted on my Berryhill Heirlooms Pinterest board. I’ve been published in Creative Needle, Sew Beautiful, Classic Sewing and our own wonderful SAGANews.

Susie's Doll Opera Cape featured in SAGANews, Volume 36 Issue 2
17. What do you do with your completed projects?

Most of my completed projects I have to keep because they are samples for classes. My grandchildren are too old now for me to sew clothing for them, and they live in Dallas: too far for me to do regular fittings. I give some items away as hostess gifts, and others go to friends.

18. Do you have favourite colors that you tend to use more than others?

I tend to use more of the warmer colors for clothing that I make for myself. A favorite color is a warm red, which is the color of the Army Field Artillery, my husband’s initial Army Branch. When I’m designing I try to keep in mind what other people might prefer and will work with the cooler colors.

19. Have you had another type of career other than in the sewing area?
I have always worked (for pay) in some way or other. But it was difficult “having a career” with my husband’s military career. Someone had to be home to run the house and raise the children because he worked extremely long hours, and was often gone for long periods of time. From 1981 to 1985 I taught heirloom arts (smocking, shadow work, fine embroidery) and construction classes. When we shipped overseas the first time in ’85, spouses were not allowed to have a home business because the government paid for the living quarters one way or another. Spouses were also not allowed to use the Military Postal System to ship business items. And you definitely could not use the German Bundespost for business…that was verboten. So I signed up with Civil Service and worked at various jobs for several years. My most enjoyable CS job was as Food Service Manager of five Day Care Centers in Germany. I had to completely revamp the entire menu, kitchens, train the cooks and also work with the Family Day Care providers. Our Division won an award as the best in Europe, but I was not there to receive it because we had shipped back to the States…story of my life!

20. How do you see the future of your sewing career?

I plan to continue designing and teaching as long as possible. I love the challenge, which keeps me young. I would love to publish a book of some of my designs and projects, but I’m too busy to put it all down on paper right now. Submitting projects to magazines is always fun because I don’t necessarily have to design to be a teachable class. 

Susie's scissor case- a class at Winston-Salem 
21. What do you do to recharge your creative spark?

Teaching workshops will definitely recharge me because I see other sewing rooms, new ideas, different items people have made, and participate in sewing discussions when on the job. Browsing through my sewing and embroidery books will get my mind going, as does the internet. Sometimes the best way for me to recharge is to clean up my sewing room after finishing a big project or deadline, and just sit at the table with a cup of coffee or tea and dream about the next thing(s) I want to make.

Susie teaching at a SAGA Convention

22. What technique still can’t you get the hang of….

Most of the techniques I learn I figure out pretty quickly. But the one that really stops me are those darned “twisted” bullions with umpteen wraps that Kari Mecca taught years ago…still can’t get that!

23. What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Well, where do I start? I guess #1 is surviving my husband’s 27-year Army career and we’re still married! We did 17 moves in 26 years...not easy. And today’s young military careerists have it even worse: my prayers go out to them and their families. #2 are our children. They learned so much from the different places we lived, became fluent in German, love to travel the world, have successful careers and both are married to wonderful spouses. #3 are the grand children who are precious and way too full of energy and enthusiasm! #4 is my sewing and designing career and business, something I wanted to do for a very long time and is now a reality.

24. What is the biggest enemy to your creativity?

Me, plain and simple. I can get distracted too easily so I set specific goals for each day. I even set timers on my phone to limit certain chores or projects so I don’t ‘go down the rabbit hole’ spending too much time on one thing. I’m much happier and creative if I know I’m getting everything done, or at least working a little on each sewing/stitching project, every day. And don’t even begin to mention the house chores….that shuts the creative juices down way too easily.

Thank you so much for this interview, Susie! See you in Winston-Salem!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Let's meet Susie Gay! (Part 1)

SAGA approved teacher Susie Gay is teaching at the SAGA National Convention in Winston-Salem and agreed to be interviewed for the SAGANews blog.  Susie answered all of the questions and so the interview will be in two blogs!

So let's learn a little about Susie!

1. Who taught you needlework skills and when did you first start learning?

My mother first taught me some basic embroidery stitches when I was in 1st grade.  In 4th or 5th grade I learned what I call “American cross stitch”, those printed kits. I still have those samplers. Then she started teaching me machine skills, cutting out patterns, etc., when I was in junior high. She also tried to teach me to knit, and I did some, but basically didn’t really enjoy it. Much of the early needlework I did I taught myself to do from those booklets  and pre-printed pillow cases and hand towels you could get at Five and Dime stores. In school we had to take Home Economics classes, which we should still teach to school children. I ended up majoring in Home Ec and received a B.S. in Home Economics from Marymount College.

2. Favorite Form of Embroidery?

 I really enjoy Silk Ribbon Embroidery because you get a lot of ‘bang for the buck’ with little effort. Watching that ribbon curl and loop into beautiful shapes mesmerizes me. But I also enjoy whitework: the preciseness of it, the different techniques and stitches, are a challenge, and I like challenges.

3. When do you find time to embroider or sew?

I work on something, whether a design, instructions, sewing or needlework, every day, usually in the afternoon. If I don’t get to it I get grumpy. ‘Nuff said!

4. What inspired your designs?

Many different things inspire my designs: a technique, unusual trim treatment or design element on a vintage or antique garment. An article in a magazine can send me off into a creative stream of ideas. A trip to an art museum, or looking through my collection of needlework books can be very stimulating. Sometimes I develop a design from something that I find useful. Then, of course, there’s Pinterest…..

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

Absolutely! I had the great fortune to attend two whitework classes offered by the Royal School of Needlework in Williamsburg, taught by Jenny Adin-Christie, the preeminent whitework teacher in the world. That was one item checked off my bucket list! I am a member of EGA and take classes when possible. And of course, I’ve taken several workshops offered at Chadwick Heirlooms in Richmond, VA, since the store is only 1½ hours away from my home. And through the years I’ve taken classes from many of our wonderful, talented SAGA teachers. I believe it’s very important to keep learning and refining my skills, and to learn new ones.
Susie at the Royal School of Needlework

6. On average, how long would you say it takes for you to complete a piece, from design concept to the end?

It can take months, or a year or more, from designing a project in my head to actually putting it into needle, thread and fabric. After I work it out in my head, I draw it in my current design notebook in pencil, with several different views. I make notes, consider the construction techniques and steps, fabrics, etc. If it’s a christening gown (like my Elegance Christening Ensemble), I have to draft the pattern pieces and test them out in a toile. After refining that, then I move to the actual fabric and trims, researching resources and availability. As I sew it up, I work out and possibly change the design, trims, whatever is needed to get the final design I know I want. I’m also thinking about (if it will be a class) the easiest way to teach the class and present it to students. And at the same time I’m typing it all down in the computer to start the instructions, taking photos of the construction process, and listing all the kit and student supplies. It’s an involved, detail-oriented process.

7. Do you belong to a sewing guild of any kind?

I’m a past president of my local SAGA Chapter, the Colonial Cablers, and go to the meetings when I’m home. I am a member-at-large of the Embroiderer’s Guild of America (EGA).

8. Do you smock?

I love to smock. Currently I’m working on Wee-Care gowns and bonnets using a new thread I found: Valdani variegated #12 pearl cotton in lovely pastel shades (#M20). The pearl cotton works up quickly and easily.

9. Where is my favourite place to stitch?

My sewing room is perfect for me: small, organized and good lighting. But in the winter I love to drag my floor OttLite down to the living room and stitch in front of the blazing fireplace with a cup of tea, or a glass of wine next to me, especially if it’s snowing outside. I find that very relaxing, soothing and delightful.

10. Are you married? Children? Pets?

I’ve been married for 46 years (in Jun ’18) to my wonderful husband, Mark, whom I met when I was a senior in high school and he was a Plebe (freshman) at USMA (West Point). Our two children, Chris and Gretchyn, are both married to great spouses. We have three wonderful grandchildren; Jillian (11), and Vivian, (9), and Zachary, (5). Mark and I enjoy our 100lb Golden Retriever, Barley (he keeps us on the go) and our tuxedo cat, Bojangles, who wakes us up every night begging for treats (which I call Kitty Crack).

11. What is your most favorite sewing tool?

Of course, my sewing machines (three Pfaffs) are at the top of the list, including my Featherweight and my Singer 99K (that I found at a thrift store and made in 1951, the year I was born). Next to those are my embroidery floor stand and sit-upon, both Elbesee ones, that I was introduced to at the RSN classes and now sell online.


12. What sewing tool do you carry everywhere and why?

My scissors….got to have scissors! I have several pair (and who doesn’t?) from my favorite Dovos to Ginghers. I keep them in black velvet lined jewelry trays so they stay safe, neat and organized. And they do look like jewelry against the velvet. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Another SAGA Stitch Tutorial

The next SAGA Stitch Tutorial has been released on YouTube.

Jane Briscoe demonstrates Satin Stitch.

Follow the link to visit:  Satin Stitch

Thursday, June 7, 2018

New SAGA Smock Along

A new SAGA Smock Along will begin on June 15, 2018.

This Smock Along will be open to SAGA Members Only and if completed qualifies for 2 Artisan Points.

The project is designed and lead by Artisan Chair Carol Kick, also a Master in Smocking.

For a list of supplies, visit the SAGA Smock-Along Facebook page:

or the SAGA website

Sunday, June 3, 2018

A little more about that veil...

The veil was 5 metres long (16.5 feet) made of silk tulle embroidered with flora and fauna from all 53 countries of the Commonwealth. The embroidery also included a California Poppy for Meghan’s home state and Wintersweet which grows on the gardens of Kensington Palace. Symmetrically placed at the very front of the veil, crops of wheat are delicately embroidered and blend into the flora, to symbolize love and charity.
The Commonwealth was a term coined by the British politician Lord Rosebery in 1884. It was a means for the Britain to gradually release its hold over former colonies but still retain a connection to them as allies. And today, the newly married Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been given the role of youth ambassadors to the Commonwealth
The veil was held in place with Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara lent by Queen Elizabeth II

Friday, June 1, 2018

SAGA Convention 2019 Announced!

We will celebrate the SAGA's 40th Anniversary at the 2019 Convention which will be held at the Crowne Plaza Dallas Near Galleria in Addison, TX, September 17-22.  

Mark your calendar!