When Betty Oppenheimer was in sixth grade, her mother bought her her very own sewing machine. Oppenheimer picked up the skill right away and said she fell in love with it.
My mom was totally excited, recalled Oppenheimer, who now works as a publication specialist for the Jamestown SKlallam Tribal Center.
As she improved, Oppenheimer realized it wasnt clothing she enjoyed creating, it was accessories such as bags, upholstery and stuffed animals. In junior high, she created a custom-made purse that fit her petite frame and said she used it for years.
I would get compliments on that purse all the time, she said. I had it forever.
As Oppenheimer designed and created her items, she also fell in love with writing. Her first book, The Candlemakers Companion was published in 1997 and was a huge success: The book has sold more than 60,000 copies and been translated into Spanish, Estonian and even Braille.
It wasnt intentional, but it was released around the time that people were concerned about Y2K, she said. People thought theyd have to make their own candles.
On the heels of Candlemakers success, Oppenheimer released Gifts for Herb Lovers, also in 1997 and Sewing Packs, Pouches, Seats and Sacks in 1998. A self-published book on the Sequim-area lavender business followed.
With the renewed interest in sewing, Oppenheimers publishing company, Massachusetts-based Storey Publishing, decided to re-release the sewing book under the name Sew & Stow.
The book, which Oppenheimer illustrated as well, has 31 sewing projects from the trademark cloth grocery totes to aprons, fabric file boxes and beach wraps.
I dont understand why, but Ive always enjoyed making things that hold things, Oppenheimer said.
To fit the new millennium, Oppenheimer and her partners at Storey Publishing revamped the book to make it more green, promoting the reusable grocery bags and other earth-friendly projects.
While it is updated, Oppenheimer made it clear that it is not very different from the version that came out a decade ago.
If you bought the book 10 years ago, theres no need to buy it again, she said. Its basically the same book.
When first creating the book, Oppenheimer said she made sure the book was easy-to-understand and included detailed explanations and how-tos.
Its not rocket science, but if youve never done it before it can be difficult, she said. My feeling now is that sewing is having a resurgence. People are realizing that it can be fun.
Sew & Stow is available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Storey.com and can be ordered at local bookshops.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
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