Post #3102: Sharpening our tools

I was reminded last night of the need to replace the blade in my exacto knife, just as I was reminded by snarled threads earlier this week that the sewing machine needle must be replaced with every project. It’s got me to thinking that my fabric scissors probably need a professional sharpening right about now (or two years ago) – and that paying attention to our tools is primary to our efforts in making anything.

Somehow, I always forget – about the advice I have learned over the years, and I have a mind to print out a cue card to keep in my sewing basket – a mindful sewing checklist that looks something like this:

  • get comfortable
  • make sure workspace has enough light
  • set out dish of glass headed pins, seam ripper, thread snips
  • choose a new needle for every project
  • love your thread (hand sewing technique)
  • tidy/trim as you go
  • sew in stages, without completion goals
  • make samples

Each of these things I have found to have a measurable impact on my finished items, and yet so many times I forget to love my thread, or (out of thriftiness) push the sewing needle beyond its limit. And don’t get me started on how dull a sewing pin can get before I’ll retire it to the trash.

I’m working right now on setting up some hand-sewing templates to practice my stitching – a la The Geometry of Hand-Sewing: A Romance in Stitches and Embroidery  by Alabama Chanin and plan to work my way through some stitching samplers over the next little while. While I love the idea of quiet, mindful hand finishing and embellishment on garments – I am a long way off from those particular skills.


One Comment on “Post #3102: Sharpening our tools

  1. We invented a holiday called The Sabbath of the Knives—which we have only celebrated once.

    On the Sabbath, you cannot use a blade. All of your meals must be made of foods that were not cut, cooked without knives, and eaten without knives—think torn baguette and soup.

    And we made an altar, and laid every blade in the house out on it; it was a table really. Then, every blade was cleaned and sharpened with care.

    Suggested feast day is St. Bartholemew, the patron saint of cutlers, who was skinned alive. August 25, I think.

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