September is National Sewing Month, and to celebrate, the American Sewing Guild of Fort Wayne is bringing in a celebrity in the sewing community for a daylong seminar covering a variety of topics.
Mary Mulari, best known for how she transforms sweatshirts (at least, that’s how she’s best known to me) and a regular on the PBS series Sewing with Nancy, will be here Sept. 17.
Mulari was kind enough to give me some time this week and I took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about her, her craft and her love of sharing it with others.
Mulari went to college to be an English teacher and was teaching junior high school when her position was cut. Having seen embellished sweatshirts at craft fairs, she decided to work on some. Next thing she knew, she was teaching about it and then writing about it. Now, she travels all over teaching about the variety of simple, yet aesthetically pleasing projects she creates. The day of our interview, she’d just finished teaching a class at a sewing machine dealer convention in St. Louis.
One of Mulari’s newest patterns is a 90-minute poncho for kids (which follows a poncho for adults pattern). For fall, Mulari has decided her new topic in sewing is aprons.
These are aprons for adults and children. They make a wonderful bridal shower gift, she said, adding that love of aprons seems to have skipped a couple of generations, but she’s seeing a surge in interest among the college set.
She has taped a couple of apron episodes of Sewing with Nancy, which will air in October. The show can be seen on the PBS Create network.
Mulari will cover a variety of topics during her seminar in Fort Wayne later this month.
I like to think I’ve got, almost, something for everyone, she said. It’s not just about sweatshirts for Mulari.
Here’s what Sewing Guild president Georgi Schneider said about the seminar in an email: She will share ideas for sweatshirts, appliqué, accessories, embroidery, machine appliqué, her pattern collection and samples from her frequent guest appearances on PBS television’s Sewing with Nancy.’ She specializes in easy-to-sew, yet classy totes, garment embellishments, and projects ranging from A (aprons) to Z (zippers – not their conventional use). A special addition to her seminars is Sew-Green Makeovers, new projects made from old sweaters, shirts, curtains, and tablecloths. Mary will inspire and entertain you with her latest sewing inspirations and send you home eager to start sewing and gift making. For a great time and lots of new ways to use your sewing machine, don’t miss this.
Judging by Mulari’s enthusiasm, that isn’t just hype.
These days, sewing isn’t something done out of necessity, it’s a creative outlet, she said.
Mulari believes everyone should know how to sew a little, mainly because it can be an essential life skill, but also because of the potential as a creative outlet. (I can attest, it sure is a good feeling when you can turn a pile of yarn or stack of fabric into a useful and beautiful object.)
Mulari loves her audiences but says she wishes there was an obvious interest in sewing by a broader demographic. She realizes many people (myself included) are probably turning to Internet videos for tutorials and information.
So, what inspires Mulari’s designs? Catalog and magazine photos, floor tile patterns, home furnishings, books – she can find inspiration just about anywhere, she said.
And through her fun, quick and simple projects, she hopes she makes sewing less about the traditional home economics class, in which those of us who took it felt pressure to be perfect, and more about the act of creating.
I really do believe in passing on sewing skills as much as possible. Whether it’s to a young relative, friend or neighbor, that’s a really good goal, she said.
Mulari’s books and patterns will be available for sale at the Sewing Guild event, and if there is interest, she will autograph them for attendees.
Registration forms are available online at www.asgfortwayne.org and at Edward’s Sewing Center. The deadline to register is Sept. 13. The cost, $35 for guild members, $39 for all others, includes a boxed lunch.