Practical Pins & Uncolorful Choices

My grandmother, Odessa, was an excellent seamstress. She could sew clothing “from scratch.” She could alter clothing to fit any body. She could identify fabric by touch. And she knew her sewing machine and notions like many people know their kitchen tools … because she used them so often.

I have been sewing forever and ever. I still remember a halter top that I made for myself when I was in 5th or 6th grade. It was made from white material. I embroidered a perfect yarn red heart right in the middle with a simple straight stitch. And I ran a metal choker necklace through the casing at the neck and a ribbon through the casing around my ribcage. I still remember how proud I was that I had created a piece of clothing … by myself! Thinking back, my grandmother lived in another city and we visited every few months … but I don’t know that I ever showed her my halter top. If anyone would have encouraged me in my new sewing adventure, it would have been her.

Though my Mama was a seamstress and I began sewing early, I am not well-trained. What I know about sewing, I have learned by accident or through books or youtube videos. You won’t find me creating clothing with a pattern, notions and fabric. I more enjoy altering and embellishing existing garments or creating things for the home like pillows or curtains.  I am all about zigzag and straight stitching.

About a year ago, I realized that I needed more straight pins. I choose the type that have the brightly colored-plastic balls on the end.  I like to join my work together with pins and pull out the pins shortly before the fabric guides under the sewing needle. I find the round ball heads easier to grasp and remove as I am sewing.Magnetic Pin Cushion Tutorial #DIY #Vintage #Repurposed

But, when pressing my fabric before sewing, those pretty little round balls melt under the heat and pressure of my hot iron. I end up with flattened balls … that sometimes have a rough edge that will catch on certain fabrics. And … sometimes, the plastic heads actually embed themselves into the weave of the fabric.

So, I recently decided to buy a small pack of straight pins that have no ball on the head. They just have a tiny little metal head.   What a difference!! I chose the thinner, longer dressmaker pins. They have a great thin shaft and a super nice point that moves through fabric so smoothly.

But … ya know what?  They don’t look like much sitting there cold and shiny on my magnetic plate pin cushion.

Straight pins

As I was sewing the other day, I thought about how similar this is to life.

Like Jesus spoke in parables, paralleling the spiritual and physical worlds, God convicts and teaches me through similar daily events.

Sometimes, what looks cold and boring,
is actually very practical and helpful.
And sometimes, what looks colorful and fun …
does a very poor job of handling heat and pressure.
This is true in the physical, emotional and spiritual worlds.

As that fabric slowly moved between the pressure foot and feed dog,
I began to think about how we will often choose what looks better
over choosing what IS better.

For example, I have a beautiful friend who is dating a man who has skin that does not match hers. In today’s world, biracial dating isn’t shocking …. to many. But, to some people, it is still taboo. It’s true; mixing cultures can be tricky. But, so can mixing families, languages, lifestyles, attitudes or even college loyalties. It depends on the couple as to how tricky the melding may be. They may l.o.o.k  like they don’t fit to some people, but they may actually be an excellent team when paired together. 

Sometimes we choose to live in a house or drive car that represents a monetary worth … that we can’t back. Living that life, brings a financial burden and an emotional struggle that will eventually implode upon itself. So, maintaining the l.o.o.k that the car or home offer may actually cause so much damage to us emotionally or financially that we find yourselves exhausted and drained.

Life is full of messy and change.
Every day brings new decisions about how we will live our life.
The question is: will we live according to our own values and desires …..
or will we let others’ likes and dislikes direct our decisions.
Will we choose what looks better … or what IS better
for ourselves and those in our lives? 

Like Danielle LaPorte’s Truthbomb #623 states….

It helps to be clear on exactly what you’re leaving behind.

If you need, ditch those colorful, bright shiny stick pins
and go with some plain, metal straight pins.
Push aside what looks better to others  … for what truly IS better … for you. 


Something about a selvedge edge

I adore selvedge edges. Wiki says that the term selvedge comes from the phrase “self edge.”  When material is woven, there is a natural edge where the thread ends on one row and then turns to create a new row.  If the fabric has a printed/stamped design rather than one that is created by the actual thread, there is often an edge about a half-inch wide running down the length of the fabric.   Sometimes, the name of the creator of the fabric is printed on that edge and sometimes the colors used in the fabric are also sampled there.

Selvedge edge of fabric

Some people  hoard  save these edges … thinking they might use them in future projects. Below are a few links to a few gorgeous projects from industrious, creative souls who did more than save … they created!

Here is a precious selvedge edge pin cushion!!  

Look at this beautiful purse created from selvedge edges.

And this oh-so-gorgeous skirt! 

I am one to “take things apart.” I like to figure out the hows, whys and whats of a situation, a conversation or a motivation. I like to know what’s behind, underneath or inside a machine, person or book. I want to understand what things do and how they do it.

Selvedge edge of fabric

For as long as I remember, I’ve been drawn to the selvedge edge of fabric.

A paisley selvedge edge - gorgeous.

It is there that, at a glance, you can learn the who, what and why of the fabric. The artist is often named there. How to care for the fabric may be printed. And a swatch of every color used in printing can be seen there … as well as the raw color of the fabric that the design is printed upon. So, that edge is a little index or glossary … succinct, easily accessible and bold.

Selvedge edge of fabric

Even some scrapbook paper has similar edging.

The "selvedge edge" of paper

This particular paper shows a snapshot of the design on the paper and the colors used in the image. Rather than having to pull the entire piece of paper off the rack, you can simply look at the edge to know if that sheet will work for your project.

Not all, but some papers offer color swatches there on the edge. So helpful!

Selvedge edge of fabric

I have not been one to save selvedge edges in the past, but plan to begin to do this in the future. Many of my fabric pieces go together well. I find myself preferring earth tones of burgundy, rust, and olive. I love any shade of brown  … from the faintest off-white ecru to the deepest forest umber.  So the fabrics that I have on hand will mix well together. I think I’ll save and see what I might be able to create in the future.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if people were more easy to read … if at a glance, we could see their colors … laid out from dark to light in a nice tidy row …. easy to find there on the edge of their bolt? It sometimes feels as though some people hide their raw edges … even cut them off and hide them away or toss them … that no one might know the true colors stamped on the fabric of their being.

Selvedge edge

You know, we have the power to make something beautiful from the fabric of our lives. We cannot change the images that have been stamped upon us, but we can certainly take that fabric and create something beautiful. We have the ability. But, this job takes creativity. It takes a willingness to look at the design and consider which parts we want to keep. It takes energy. And surely …  the job will at times …. be painful.

What images are stamped upon your life?
Were you sexually abused in the past?
Were you spoken to in a way that made you feel less than?
Were you the child in the family that had to behave as an adult because no one else would or could?
Were you made to feel that the bad thing that happened … was your fault?
Were you the one ostracized because you shared the tough stuff when everyone else hid it?

The pains can be used for good! They were hard. They left you wounded. But, if you can carefully look at them, you can see good that came. You became stronger. You learned who to trust. You learned how and when to set boundaries to protect yourself and those you love. You became wise. And because you walked through those valleys, you can offer others direction on how to manage similar difficulties.

Maybe you’re still in that tough space. Maybe you’re still learning what to do with the messes and how to work your way through it. It’s hard … but it can be done.

God can heal those wounds. He can help you through that tough stuff. He can take the fabric with its picks and flaws and messy images and help you to use the fabric to create a beautiful garment that you can be proud to wear.

And maybe you don’t believe that. Maybe you don’t have the energy to trust again.
Maybe you don’t know how … or you don’t really want to know.

Maybe then … you could just start with the prayer,
“Lord, would you please give me the d.e.s.i.r.e to move from the hurt
and on to healing … because from right here … right now ….
I don’t have the energy to care. Would you please help me to care again?”

It’s a start.

It is tough work, but it can be done.

I’m working through these things. I’m looking at my raw edges. I’m looking at the printed pattern. I’m using my sharp sewing scissors and my lovely pinking shears to cut away patterns that I no longer want. I’m zig-zagging, straight stitching and embellishing my way into a new beautiful garment. And in all this omitting and re-arranging, there will still remain a beautiful selvedge edge somewhere to keep me grounded in the Creator of my fabric and the glorious colors used to decorate my being.

Selvedge edge