Make your own clothing labels using stamps

One of my favorite finishing touches to a handmade garment is a personalized tag. I've seen all kinds of beautiful DIY versions, like overstitched fabric scraps, screenprinted bits, and even just special ribbon loops. I've also recently come across lots of label producers who are offering small minimum orders for professional looking woven labels.

Since I love a good DIY fix (and find most woven labels very itchy) I thought I would share my favorite tag making method, using ribbon or fabric and stamps!

The process is very straightforward. Get stamps, stamp on ribbon or fabric. Set with iron and sew in!

Here's what you'll need:

Something to stamp on

1. Use a flat, plain weave ribbon. The smoother, the better. This helps get a nice, clean stamp. Any ribbon that is tightly woven and made from natural fiber should work well.

My favorite ribbon for tags (pictured above) is a chambray ribbon made in France, which I buy locally. Your local fabric shop might carry something similar. I had a bit of a hard time tracking down an online source for it, but came across this Etsy seller that offers the same ribbon.

2. If you can't track down the right ribbon (or you just want to start your project right away) the selvedge from your favorite light hued fabric works well in a pinch! You can also use bias tape.

3. You can also use any plain woven fabric. Light colors and tight weaves (like poplin, voile, or shirting) work best. Trim the edges with pinking shears, cut on the grain and pull away some threads to create a fringe, or finish the edges with a serger. Press your fabric to get it nice and smooth before stamping.

2. Twill tape, which is a bit easier to find in shops, works okay but the texture prevents you from getting a really clean, clear line. Pressing it with a hot iron first will help smooth the texture a bit. This guy should be a last resort.

Stamps

Text

My favorite way to get clear, consistent text on tags is to use alphabet stamps or kits that include stamps and letters. Kits are great because they include multiples of each letter, upper and lower case, and symbols. You can arrange the type and stamp them over and over.

Each type has their pros and cons. I have a few vintage kits I've collected over the years and I love them. Kits make stamping easier, but leave you a bit limited in terms of font. Loose letter sets come in a wider variety of size and font, but you have to stamp each letter individually and line them up.

Your local craft store will have a variety of alphabet stamp sets and Etsy is a great place to track down old stamp kits. You can also find new stamp kits at office supply stores. Martha Stewart makes a kit that comes with round pieces to set letters in a circle. If you know of any other brands that make these stamp kits, please share!

Images & Decorative elements

Your local craft or stationary store will likely have a nice variety of fun stamps. Keep in mind the size if you want it to fit on ribbon of a certain width. Sets of small stamps are a great way to add decorative elements to your text.

You can also create your own stamps! I wrote a holiday tutorial a few years back that covers the basics. Remember, your image will stamp in reverse, so be sure to draw it backwards.

Ink

You can use any stamp pad that is formulated to work on fabric. Be sure to check, because many of them are not. My favorites are Yellow Owl Workshop's large stamp pads (note that their smaller ink pads are not formulated for fabric!). Tags I've made using this ink have withstood years of machine washing with little to no fading or bleeding. They'll also last at least a couple years without drying out (as long as you keep the lid shut). Mine are about 5 years old and still work brilliantly.

Remember, most fabric stamping inks must be heat set using your iron! Be sure to review the instructions for heat setting that come with your ink.

You may also want to run a stamped piece of fabric through the wash if testing out a new ink to make sure it doesn't run or fade.

Tips

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+ Test your design on paper first! I can't tell you how many times I've flipped something upside down printed the wrong thing. Do a test first.

+ Plan your spacing. To keep stamps in an even line, use masking tape to create a guideline on your fabric or ribbon.

+ Ink evenly and press firmly on your stamp!

+ Mind your P's and Q's! Remember, certain letters look the same backwards and forwards. Always do a test print to make sure you've got the right letters.

+ Heat set your tags! Iron on the cotton setting for 5-10 seconds and let cool.

+ If you want to print only part of a stamp, or break up lines of text, use a piece of scrap paper to catch the ink and only stamp the part of the text or image you want on your fabric.

Do you have a favorite technique for making your own tags? Please share!

Pattern Renovation: Saltbox Sundress

I've been thinking a lot about Saltbox this week, after receiving a beautiful book full of old New England houses from a friend. I love looking at photographs of old houses and seeing how much charm and character exists even in the most modest house.

It's hard to say the same about the majority of housing built today. Where I live, the new homes being built - often in big developments - are a hot topic. Last night I went to a workshop to help create an affordable housing plan for the town. Though they sometimes lack in amenities, small towns make for easier access to the decision making process that shapes the outcome of local projects. Whether town politics are your thing or not, the spirit of collaborating with your neighbors for the greater good is exciting!

This is a strange lead-in to a post about pattern hacking, but I promise there's a bit of a connection! One parallel I see between these two issues is the idea of building new constructions with new materials vs. renovating old buildings. Now, don't get me wrong, I love a fresh bundle of fabric and a new project as much as the next sewist (I also see the benefits of buying a brand new house!) But there's also something that feels really good about reworking something you already have, that already exists.

So, to bring the conversation back to sewing: Today I was craving a quick, summery project. Instead of whipping up a new design, I came up with a simple renovation using things I already had: A Saltbox dress!

Update: This idea had been floating around in my head since I saw @weboughtamanor's super cute version on Instagram a few years ago. I couldn't find her original picture when this post was first published.

View through the pear tree.

View through the pear tree.

I'd been contemplating a Saltbox dress after seeing one somebody made up on Instagram. I decided to use some vintage Marimekko fabric (from 1979) in my stash, thrifted a few years ago and waiting for a project. When I couldn't decide on a contrast, I went with an old standby trick: use the wrong side of the fabric!

And of course, since I was using the wrong side, I thought, "why not make the whole thing reversible?" I love setting myself up with epic challenges when a simple trek will do. I stopped short of trying to devise a reversible pocket. At 87 degrees and 60% humidity, it's way too hot for that much thinking. So no pockets...already regretting it ;)

I made it reversible by finishing each seam with a flat felled seam. I pressed the seams up towards the shoulder pieces so that the stitching was on the white of the fabric, but you could also press them down as instructed by the pattern. I made bias binding from the same fabric and sewed it on so that it would match the inside shoulder pieces. I lost the point of the Saltbox, but I think the bias facing in reverse has a nice effect. You could also do bias binding instead and press the seams down, which would give you with nice points on both sides.

Altering the Pattern

To create the Saltbox dress, first go ahead and cut out your pattern in the size you want, completing any necessary alterations. Slide a sheet of paper underneath your pinned together pattern.

Overlap your pattern pieces and pin them together to form the bodice front. They should overlap by 1" total (1/2" per each seam allowance.)

Measure 1" out from each hip and mark with a short line. Measure from the bottom edge the amount you would like to lengthen the pattern. Check the measurement on the pattern envelope to see how much you want to add. I added 12".

L: For a straight shape like the one in my version, connect the underarm to the line you drew, then draw a light straight down and connect it to the hem line at the bottom. Use a hip curve to smooth out the point where the two lines meet.

R: For a more a-line shape, align a ruler with the underarm and the line at the hip, then draw a straight line down to the hem guideline.

Trace just the bodice front (lower section) onto the paper below. Then, lay some tracing paper over each shoulder piece and trace around them, using the new side line.

Repeat with the back pieces (you'll be able to omit the back right shoulder, since it doesn't touch the side seam). Unpin, cut out your pieces and lay out on your fabric.

I didn't keep the side vents because of the flat felled seams, but you could easily recreate the vents at the bottom of the hem and/or add in-seam or patch pockets. I did turn up the hem with a double fold and got a bit of contrast on the hem that I really love.

Have you ever made anything reversible? Do you wear one side more than the other?

Me Made May Recap 2017

I went into Me Made May with a goal: to take items from my wardrobe that didn't get a lot of wear and try to build outfits around them. How did it go? I'd say for the first week, I managed to put together some nice outfits using these neglected pieces, like the two looks below:

I love this tiny stripe linen maxi skirt, but I never know what to wear with with. I like it here with a button down and cropped Geodesic.

I love this tiny stripe linen maxi skirt, but I never know what to wear with with. I like it here with a button down and cropped Geodesic.

The floral Sutton Blouse here is one of my favorites in theory, but it always feels too girly and loud. I think it works well here paired with casual knits in similarly loud colors.

The floral Sutton Blouse here is one of my favorites in theory, but it always feels too girly and loud. I think it works well here paired with casual knits in similarly loud colors.

About two weeks in, I was having a lot of trouble choosing items and putting together outfits. I had tons of pieces I really liked but couldn't find them companions. I ended up reverting back to some of my tried and true outfits.

I'm at a point now where I have a wardrobe of primarily me mades, a few vintage pieces, and some thrifted RTW pieces that I love. I tend to repeat a lot of the same outfits. The basis for a great capsule wardrobe, right? So, why do I still have trouble picking out outfits some mornings, especially when trying to include some of the pieces I really love?

This was one of my favorite outfits from the month. I think it's because it pairs a couple of pop colors (green, orange) with more neutral hues (warm grey, tan, and black).

This was one of my favorite outfits from the month. I think it's because it pairs a couple of pop colors (green, orange) with more neutral hues (warm grey, tan, and black).

Midway through may, I decided to shift gears and focus on taking mental notes about why it felt weird to put outfits together. I've done a pretty good job of revamping my color palette and silhouettes to be more in line with what I actually want to wear. But when it comes down to it, I have a wardrobe full of great pieces but not necessarily tons of workable outfits. The verdict? My wardrobe is missing basics, both in terms of style and color. I'm somebody who gravitates towards color and print, but I'm realizing that I prefer to pair them with more simple, perhaps even 'neutral' pieces.

Time to fill some holes in my wardrobe! I've broken down my wardrobe needs into a few basic pieces (just in time for the #summerofbasics, right?) and I've listed them below.

Wardrobe needs

Pants

I wear jeans a lot these days. I've never really been a jeans and t-shirt person, but I'm starting to see the appeal. This time of year there's a lot of garden planting, dog walking and errand running involved; I end up throwing on the same pair of jeans. My Levis are getting quite stretched out, there's paint on them, they're fraying at key seams. I'll keep them around for work at home days with some cute mending, but I think it's high time I made myself a new pair of everyday jeans/pants.

My inspiration for the Morgan Jeans: these Sweetwater Trousers from Gamine Workwear

My inspiration for the Morgan Jeans: these Sweetwater Trousers from Gamine Workwear

I've been thinking of trying out the Morgan Jeans pattern. I'm not sure if the style will work for my body, but I love the relaxed look on others. I need a good pair of black or brown pants, so perhaps a pair in twill is in order. I may also make another pair of Gingers, since I know I like the look and fit of high-waisted jeans. (I've made a pair before, but they aren't too wearable. They ended up needing some significant alterations and a denim with a higher stretch percentage to be comfortable.)

A 'Neutral' Skirt

For many years, this was a slightly flared navy linen skirt. I still have it and pull it out of the closet now and again, but the navy doesn't really suit my style these days. Plus, it has no pockets.

Also, there's the issue of 'neutral'. I've been trying to figure out what neutral means to me. The basic idea is that it should be a color that goes with my brighter, patterned pieces but blends nicely into the background. I'm not really a black or navy or white gal, which are most people's neutrals. I think my neutrals are grey and brown.

My future neutral skirt will likely be an A-frame straight skirt in either caramel brown or charcoal grey.

Brussels Washer in Khaki from Fancy Tiger Crafts

Brussels Washer in Khaki from Fancy Tiger Crafts

A Light Colored Cardigan

This one is pretty easy. I have no light colored cardigans. This will be a knit project. I've even chosen the yarn! The hardest part is deciding which pattern to use. Any suggestions?

More Simple Tops

I have a lot of really cool skirts in fun colors and prints and textures. I love to wear them, but skirts like these call for simple tops, of which I have approximately 2. I'm thinking a few Cabin tops and boxy t-shirts in colors like creme, warm grey, and maybe mustard are in order.

I wore this eggplant-y knit top quite a bit, since it goes with a lot of my skirts.

I wore this eggplant-y knit top quite a bit, since it goes with a lot of my skirts.

Bonus Items

Here's a few things I don't need but could definitely find a place for in my wardrobe.

A Grey Chambray Button down

I'm thinking of a Grainline Archer. No frills.

A Shirtdress

I've got some great vintage shirtdress patterns I'd like to try, though the Kalle Shirtdress and Named Helmi are calling to me.

A Fall/Spring Jacket for Weather

Perhaps a Kelly Anorak or a Lone Tree Jacket? The key will be tracking down waterproof fabric and deciding if I will add a lining or not. I also may be working on a new pattern that would fit the bill *wink wink, nudge nudge*.

I'm excited to get started making these wardrobe boosters, though I may take breaks occasionally for a few 'frosting' projects I have lined to go with my cake ;)

Are you participating in #Summerofbasics? Did you learn anything interesting by participating in Me Made May? What are you planning to make this summer?

Alternative Cutting Layouts for Geodesic

I wrote the first half of this post up in January, but I backdated it so that it would show up in the tutorials section, but not make its debut until I had enough alternative layouts added. Now I'm posting it to the blog for real!

Here are some alternative cutting layouts for Geodesic. This section will be updated periodically, so check back or leave a comment if you're looking for something specific!

54" wide fabric

V1: Sizes A-H

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V1: Sizes I-L

layout_12-13-16_v1-54-il.png

V2: Sizes A-H

V2: Sizes I-L

Using the Solid Back Piece

Version 1

44" Sizes A-F

44" Sizes G-L

60" Sizes A-D

layout_v1-60-back-ad.png

60" Sizes I-L

60" Sizes E-H

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Version 2

60" Sizes A-D

60" Sizes E-H

60" Sizes I-L

 

For a scrap-buster: Just the sleeves, hem band, neck band, and cuffs

Version 1 or Version 2

44" Sizes A-D

44" Sizes E-H

44" Sizes I-L

 

60" Sizes A-D

60" Sizes E-H

60" Sizes I-L

 

Geodesic Addition: Solid Back Piece & Cuffed Short Sleeves

One of the suggestions from my intrepid Geodesic pattern testers was the option for a solid back piece, as an alternative to having both a pieced back and front. So I decided to make one! To be honest, it's been drafted for quite a bit, but I've been reformatting Geodesic for print and decided to update the PDF version and tidy up the back piece pattern in the process.

So, at long last, here it is! **Updated 1/6 to fix error**

Geodesic Back Piece
 

Today, in honor of this pattern addition, I thought it would be fun to make another Geodesic using the solid back piece and a bunch of knit scraps that were taking up real estate in my stash. Geodesic is an awesome scrap buster and gives you an opportunity to get a little wild and wacky with color & fabric combos. I've seen some amazing scrappy Geodesics popping up on the #blueprintsgeodesic hashtag on Instagram. Be sure to check them out if you need some inspiration!

When I finished it, snow was falling. So I ventured outside in the flurry to get a few pictures for y'all. Hopefully the charm of these snowy pics will make up for the fact that they're a little slapdash and underexposed.

Here's the solid back piece in action!

After taking these shots, I promptly ran back upstairs to sit in front of the fire. Though being out in the snow in short sleeves was a bit refreshing, my hands were freezing! Any other sewists have constantly cold hands? My hands are icy even when it's mild out.

This is the 3rd Geodesic top I've made with short, cuffed sleeves, a look I really dig. Each time, I've experimented with a different method of cuffing the sleeves. While I'm not sure this one is my favorite, I think it does the job well and is a bit fancier than simply turning up the hem. This method also allows you to do a contrast cuff. For this version, I thought I'd include some pictures of what I did in case you'd like the do the same!

First, shorten your sleeve to however short you want the final sleeve to be. Cut a piece of contrasting fabric that is as wide as the hem pattern piece and as long as your armhole opening. Sew one side closed.

Fold the cuff over along the edge so the raw edges meet. Press lightly, but avoid creating a major crease.

Put the cuff inside the sleeve, raw edges together. We're going to attach it in the opposite way of the pattern instructions, so that the serged seam is on the outside. Sew and press the seam up towards the sleeve.

Fold the cuff up along the seam line.

Here's the tricky part: roll down the cuff slightly, so that the seam attaching the cuff to the sleeve is about 1/2" from the bottom edge of the cuff. Then, from the inside where seam is, pull out the excess fabric, creating a new fold for the top of the cuff.

In the picture below, you can see how the cuff has been shifted up by looking for the shadow of the original seam. This is right after pressing...when worn, the shadow/outline is not very visible. Part of the lumpiness of the seam is from the serger. If working with a thick knit, you could probably avoid this by straight stitching and trimming down to 1/8" or pressing the seam open.

I decided to do a small tack at the top of the sleeve as well, to keep it from unrolling. You could also do a second tack at the underarm.

I'm pretty excited about how this guy turned out! Looking forward to wearing it this week.

I hope you enjoy these additional options for Geodesic. If you ever have an idea for a pattern renovation or addition, please feel free to share!

How to host a clothing swap

I love the spirit of Slow Fashion October. The social media slow sewing month is only in its second year and I feel like its already gained a huge following in the sewing (and hopefully fashion) world. If you'd like to learn more about the goals and origins, check out the official info on the Fringe Association blog or read my posts from last year (one, two, three).

I'm making progress on my weaving project, but work and cold weather have me lagging a bit behind.

Each week has a theme and this weeks theme is Long Worn.

It's no secret. I love old clothes. Old stuff, really. I love things with a history. (Not a big surprise coming from a fledgling history professor).

I've been discussing the origins of our desires as fashion consumers with my students this week. Clearly, at some point in history, fashion quickly became a bit of a game, a pursuit, a pastime. Desires were forged through class aspirations and struggles for power as well as encouraged and even manufactured by a growing industry built to cater to these desires. This eventually grew into the fast fashion industry we see today: buy cheap and buy often, discarding what no longer suits our tastes.

But what about those of us who don't get up at 4am for Black Friday sales, shop the latest fashions, bulk buy at H&M, or participate in retail therapy. Sometimes you and your clothing have to part ways, for better or worse, and many of us love it enough to care about where it's going: a landfill or an ambiguous 'charitable' organization (often via large metal dumpster-esque receptacles) simply won't cut it. So what do the slow fashion minded do when they want to part with their clothing?

One of my favorite tools for giving old clothes new life is to have a clothing swap! A clothing swap is a great way to give loved clothes (that you no longer wish to own) a new lease on life. Plus, it makes for opportunities to get new, exciting clothes without shopping. Or exchanging money whatsoever. It's a form of clothing exchange outside of Capitalism. I love it.

How to Host a Clothing Swap

1. Set the date and decide on the details

Choose your date and time. A great time for a clothing swap is at the change of the seasons (if you live somewhere where they change) since it's the time of year most people sort through their clothes.

Make an invitation that sets out the specifics. I like to set a limit on how many bags of clothing people can bring and what types (I discourage people bringing things like underwear, socks and t-shirts, but that's because my swaps are often public and there's the 'hygiene' question.) If you're having a swap with your besties and these types of garments are ok by you, go for it! Decide whether or not people should bring shoes and accessories.

Invite people! The more people, the more clothes to choose from. I like to try to invite people of all genders and body types. Once clothing is free from it's associations on a body, 'gendered' clothing becomes a bit more ambiguous and I love when this happens.

Make it a party! Plan it around a fun event (like a birthday) or even just hold it on a weekend afternoon or Friday afternoon.

2. Decide how it all goes down.

Most of the time, the best way to 'organize' clothing is to not. I like to lay out sheets and blankets and encourage people to dump out their clothes on the floor. Things like shoes and accessories. If the 'clothes pool' involves a lot of walking through in order to browse, ask people to take off their shoes.

Have snacks and music. I like to have a potluck and keep the tunes going.

Find a way to help folks keep their 'picks' organized. Save some paper grocery bags (or even the ones your invitees brought with them) for people to put their picks in to keep them separate from the pile. It's easy for individual piles/collections to get lost or picked through in the mix. You could even label them with each person's name.

If you have a full length mirror, bring it into the swap room. Or have invitees try clothes on and get votes from the group and get yes/no votes.

Set up a sewing machine (or two) and some supplies for on-the-spot alterations. Invite a few friends who sew and see if their willing to help others alter after the swap commences. Encourage people to be experimental and think about different ways to wear things.

3. Decide what to do with the leftovers.

Inevitably, you will have clothing leftover from your swap. Here's a few things you can do with the leftovers:

  • Look for a local organization that provides clothing to people in need free of charge. Often, this is a much more impactful way to donate your clothing than the random thrift store. Shelters, outreach ministries, school coat drives, and disaster relief organizations are great places to start.
  • Host a re-fashion party or have a project runway style sewing competition. Have friends bring over sewing machines and upcycle the swap leftovers.
  • Make a patchwork quilt for somebody who needs it. A lot of times swap leftovers are things that are past their prime or need crazy repairs. If the fabric is still good, cut these up to make blankets. There are many organizations that distribute charity quilts.
  • Make a woven or braided rag rug!
  • Repurpose clothes into other useful goods like grocery bags, stuffing for pillows, cleaning rags, etc.

Most of all, have fun! You'll be giving old clothes a new lease on life.

Have you ever hosted a clothing swap? What was your experience?

PS. I talk a bit about why I love clothing swaps in the Have Company podcast I recorded back in May.

 

 

 

 

Hello October!

Has it really been over a month since I last posted on this blog? I've admitted before that I'm not a very dedicated blogger, but I do feel as though I've neglected y'all a bit.

Part of the reason I haven't written is because I've been incredibly busy with a new venture. 

This fall, I started teaching History of Fashion at a local college! Some of you readers may remember that this has been a goal of mine for quite some time! I'm incredibly excited to be doing this and it's been a blast so far - though not without plenty of challenges.

 

A selection of the reading I've been doing to prep

A selection of the reading I've been doing to prep

Don't worry, Blueprints won't be going anywhere, but the pattern biz has been in a holding pattern while I've been getting my bearings in this new realm. I'm just now starting to get a nice rhythm going with class prep and other teaching and having time for everything, including pattern development.

I'm in the process of creating a few new patterns, but I've also decided to work on a special project for myself as part of Slow Fashion October. 

 

Top: a few yarns from my stash Bottom: some goldenrod & other flowers peeking out of the pavement.

Top: a few yarns from my stash Bottom: some goldenrod & other flowers peeking out of the pavement.

This project will involve weaving my own fabric for a top. In the future, I'd like to make a garment all the way from sheep/plant to finished item, but this felt like a totally doable first step.

I want to create a textile inspired by the nature around me. The photo above is from an overgrown old former airport that is covered in wild flowers during the summer.

In the spirit of slowness, I have a loose plan/timeline for completing this project but will be working on it when I can and not feeling pressured to rush through it. I've broken it down into steps to accomplish:

Design

Gather supplies

Warp

Weave

Sew

1. Design

Ill be using my airport flower images as inspiration to make a simple top, sewn using panels woven on the loom. I did some sketching, some math, and looked through weaving drafts. I came up with a bit of a plan for design and construction, though I'm sure I'll make changes along the way.

Looking through an old weaving book for pattern/threading ideas. 

Looking through an old weaving book for pattern/threading ideas. 

2. Gather Supplies

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I've had my loom for a while now and the thing keeping me from just getting started weaving had been my lack of a warping board (used to measure out the warp threads that go on the loom). So I decided to make one! I used some basic plans I found online and it worked out great! 

 

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My next step is to create the warp and get it on the loom. Wish me luck! 

Are any of you working on a special project for Slow Fashion October?

Doings, Makings, and Findings

I'm finding myself again in the in-between time of the pattern making life.

Too busy to work on personal projects.

Too in-the-middle to share progress (or at least much progress)

And about 50% of my time has just been administrative work and updates.

Add to the mix visiting friends and family and trying to soak in the remainder of the fleeting summer, and you have a whole lot of nothing blog post wise. Summer is busy! Except, I guess I have a lot to blog about, it just doesn't fit into a pretty, neat singular post package. Have you had that feeling before, bloggers out there?

So this post is a combo of one of my 'Findings' link roundups as well as a little update on shop happenings.

Here's the Blueprints update:

The last few months I have been working on paper versions of Saltbox & Geodesic. This process has had a lot of stops and starts (Saltbox was supposed to be released in July :x ) While paper versions are super exciting, they don't make for an exciting story pre-release. It's just editing and proofing and editing.

I am also working on a new pattern! This one is in the very early stages, so that's all I'm going to say. Ok, fine, here's a hint: it has pockets and it's warm.

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I also have a few more tricks up my sleeve that I have to wait to share. So exciting right?

Here's the personal update:

I try my hardest to still do fun, creative stuff for myself outside of Blueprints work and class prep. It's hard to have your hobby also be your job. It's easy to get burnt out. I've been teaching a lot lately, especially some new classes I haven't taught before, and a lot of my time has gone into preparing for these awesome classes.

I have a queue of personal sewing things in progress, one of which is my very first full bed quilt.  Lately, quilting has been my way to indulge in sewing outside the garment world and it's been working. I feel recharged sewing-wise when I get to work on these projects. I only have two more 12" blocks to go before I can put the whole thing together.

Recently, I also helped piece together a quilt with my guild to send to Orlando for #quiltsforpulse. These types of projects, a part of the craftivism spectrum, are very grounding. I also learned a lot piecing a large groups' ever so slightly different sized blocks together.

And finally,

Findings

This is an open source computerized jacquard loom. Though just a simple prototype (the loom is still partially manual) the concept is very cool. Jacquard looms are not new, but are typically inaccessible to the home sewer or crafter. I look forward to seeing how this project evolves!

Photo via thecreatorsproject.vice.com

Photo via thecreatorsproject.vice.com

This Berlin based art collective Raubdruckerin uses architectural infrastructure in cities to print garments and accessories. Not just as inspiration...they litterally ink up manhole covers and use them to print tshirts. Like the opposite of graffiti.

photo via Ecouterre.com

photo via Ecouterre.com

Create your own 3D printed dress design using Nervous Systems Kinematics Clothing App

I learned about this group after seeing the #Techstyle exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts. Threadcult, one of my favorite podcasts, just did an episode with these guys that is super interesting. Also, they're local (based out of Somerville, MA). Their designs, while still a bit expensive to produce and maybe not super comfy are incredibly cool to look at and have fantastic drape. While a tiny part of me cringes at the idea of 3d printing making sewing obsolete, its potential and possibilities are also very exciting!

That's all for today! Have you come across any exciting developments in craft, art, technology or the intersections between?

Geodesic Renovation: Woven Geodesic Top

Though the seam lines look quite nice on a solid fabric or with one or two pops of contrast thrown in, I also envisioned Geodesic as a great pattern for using up scraps. I'm glad to say I finally made just that! I also used wovens, a super easy substitution with Geodesic (and paired it with a really wrinkly skirt... forgive me, it's nearly 100 degrees and humid today!)

 

While I don't have tons of large, coordinating jersey scraps, I do have lots of woven scraps just sitting in boxes languishing and waiting for their day to shine. As I've become more and more interested in quilting, these scraps which had previously been out of sight and out of mind have come to the forefront of my consciousness.

What can I use the scraps from this project for? Do these scraps work together? I've even started bundling like scraps together for future projects, quilting or otherwise. I may have a quilt all in earthone linen scraps next up in the queue.

I have a box labeled 'Large Special Scraps' on my shelf, which includes mostly the substantial side part of many cut-on-the-fold sewing projects. Cutting pattern pieces out on the grain is important, but certainly not the most economical in terms of cutting. With the goal of making a woven geodesic from scraps only, I dug into this box of goodies and pulled together a palette of lovely scraps.

I chose 4 fabrics that went together: An old nani iro print, a stripe/solid double cloth, some essex linen, and some vintage mauve percale. I cut a few triangles of each and started playing around with them on my 'design wall' (which is a felt back vinyl table cloth clamped onto a folded up ping pong table) I did this for the front and back, playing around with color and pattern placement.

While this isn't in my usual color palette (quite the opposite) I LOVE it. I also feel like it goes with things that are 'my colors' quite well! It has a bit of a Miami beach 1991 vibe.

In the original pattern, I wanted to include instructions for using wovens, but I decided to nix them to keep things nice and concise and consistent. The good news is that the process is actually quite simple and straightforward! Here is what you need to know when making Geodesic from wovens:

  • Size: Geodesic is pretty roomy, but if your jersey version is snug in the chest, you might want to go up a size or do an FBA (instructions for this are provided in the pattern!)
  • Cutting: While it can be tempting to cut triangles willy nilly out of scrap fabric, trying to cut them on grain is fairly important. You can cheat a bit if you're using stable fabrics, as I did for one of the stripes. Just something to be aware of, but not a 100% must if you're feeling experimental and extra recycle-y :)
  • Fabric: If you're using multiple fabrics, try to keep them in the same family in terms of weight and drape. I cheated a little as the nani iro and essex are on the stiffer side and the double gauze is a little drapier. For the most part, it's okay, but I can also see it starting to sag a bit as the day goes by.
  • Construction: Geodesic uses 1/4" seams and you can keep this for the woven version. I assembled my top entirely on my serger, but you can also finish your edges with a zigzag or over edge stitch. Since there's so many seams, I wouldn't leave them raw or you'll have a tangly mess inside your top in no time.
  • Neckline: I cut the neck band using the same pattern piece, but cut on the bias. I made this neckband slightly narrower than the original. My fabric was a very loosely woven chambray and stretched well on the bias. I folded the strip in half and attached just like the knit band is attached in the pattern.
  • Hem: You can do the hem in the same way as in the pattern, though you may want to add a bit of extra fabric since the knit hem band is slightly smaller than the shirt hem. I decided to serge and turn under 3/8" and do a blind hem, but I may go back and add a band of the essex. I like the look, but it's definitely very cropped.
  • Pressing & point matching: So much easier than with knits! Hurrah!

I also changed the sleeve length to short sleeves (easy, just crop the sleeve pattern piece wherever you desire and cuff, or not.) which has been one of my favorite Geodesic mods to date! Plus, it's been a million degrees lately.

While this may not be an everyday piece, I do really love it! It makes me happy. I hope if you try it, that it will make you happy too :)

I love it when my shirt matches my beverage! We just started getting this La Croix things here in MA and I <3 them.

Do you like sewing with scraps? Are you always searching for the perfect way to use them up? Any favorite patterns that are scrap busters?

Travel Journal: Greece

It's been rather quiet around these parts for two reasons. Reason number one is that I was traveling! My partner is working in Greece for the summer on an archeological dig and I had the opportunity to go visit him in the middle of his stay. (Reason number two is that since I've been home from this trip, I've been hard at work prepping Saltbox for its paper pattern release later this summer).

I had never been to Greece before. In fact, I'd never been anywhere in the Mediterranean (though I have done a bit of the pre-college backpacking in Europe thing). This was such an amazing opportunity to explore and I thought I would share some of my findings and reflections with you all!

I traveled with my dad and mother in law which made for lovely company. We were there for 11 days, joining up with J for 6 of them. We arrived in Athens after a red-eye to London, followed by a shorter morning plane ride. The travel was exhausting and I tried my darnedest to stay awake the rest of the afternoon to avoid jetlag. I managed to stay up until 7pm and slept straight through til 7 the next day. Success!

We stayed in a fantastic AirBNB in a very cool neighborhood called Psyrri which is adjacent to the Acropolis: a big hill upon which sits the Parthenon, among other amazing and super old things. Athens is in many ways a very metropolitan city. It reminds me of Manhattan set in the hills of deserty Southern California. Parts of it are very gritty, but aside from petty theft there isn't too much crime. There's graffiti everywhere. People are generally very warm and love to chat. There are stray cats all over the place.

I've been keeping up with the news about Greece and its economy, especially since J has been working there the last couple of years, not to mention its central role in the refugee crisis. Most folks I spoke to said that the economy was improving. I imagine that the economic state is more apparent when you get outside the city, even perhaps when you get outside the hustle and bustle of central Athens. Many of the areas we spent time in were full of tourists from all over and many of them from the US. I hope that, to some extent, this tourism is helping the economy.

Despite the economic climate, the shopping scene was quite fascinating. I can't help but be interested in commerce and manufacturing and how each country or area has its own culture surrounding it. One thing I noticed in particular about Athens, or at least the neighborhood we were staying in, was that aside from restaurants I saw very few chain stores. On each block, you'd find a collection of small shops, often open different hours. Some sold antiques (in fact, I believe we were in a sort of 'antique district' since there were many of these shops clustered around), others sold door & drawer hardware, metal items, cafe chairs, doormats, leather hides, sandals. There was even a sort of fabric district, which I was more that happy to peruse. While I wasn't able to find any fabric specifically made in Greece, I did come home with some lovely gems from some small, family run shops. Many of them were very busy, hopefully because folks in town were there to shop for their sewing projects!

If you're at all a shoe person - though I like shoes, I don't qualify as one since I tend to stick to one or two pair at a time - you'll loose it in Greece. There are shops everywhere selling a huge variety of gorgeous, handmade leather sandals. Though I can't be sure they're all produced ethically, it's very clear that many shops are concerned with the quality and how/where they are made. Often times, one family is at the helm. You'll find little shoe, belt, and bag shops all over Athens.

In fact, I encountered all sorts of craftspeople or purveyors of goods who cared about what they were making and were proud to make it in Greece. I found that both small boutiques and touristy shops alike had an emphasis on Greek made products and when speaking to folks in these shops, quality and craftsmanship was very important. Such a contrast to many other places I've traveled, where the 'tourist' areas are largely filled with items made elsewhere but emblazoned with the name of a country. I'm not much of a shopper, but I relished in the opportunity to support the local economy by picking up a few beautiful, well made pieces.

One of my favorite shops I visited was called Forget Me Not, which included a lovely selection of independent Greek design: clothes, books, housewares, and more. I also discovered a lot of awesome Greek indie fashion labels. One of my favorites was Heel.

Athens is a modern city that is absolutely packed with some of the most ancient man made stuff you can find. It's not surprising that their crafts are still appreciated...these are folks who know how to make things last. We of course ventured up to the Acropolis and I was most struck by how in-progress everything was. There were many people and machines actively restoring these ancient buildings. Throughout Athens, the juxtaposition between the ancient and the undeniably modern was astounding. There was even a tourism campaign touting this concept - A bearded hipster's profile artfully photoshopped over a picture of the Parthenon, subtitled with the word "Hipstorical" and its definition.

In the rather touristy Plaka neighborhood, one of the older neighborhoods adjacent to the acropolis, I discovered a narrow shop where a lady was selling woven tapestries. She had been weaving them for 35 years and they ranged in size and content, but mostly showed graphic scenes of Greece and the islands. She had yellowed newspaper clippings of her trips to Paris, Taiwan, and other places where she'd presented her craft. I purchased this lovely weaving of Santorini from Rita. I asked her, had she ever thought of teaching? Tapestry weaving is making such a comeback. She smirked and said she didn't like people very much.

Mid way through the trip, we traveled to Chania, a large city on the island of Crete (the largest of Greece's many islands) with a beautiful old Venetian harbor. Similar to Athens with its blend of modern amenities and 500 BC charm. It had many old, winding allies and small tavernas. We ate at an outdoor restaurant built into the ruins of an old building and watched couples browse the wares of a boutique across the street. And more stray cats, of course. You can even buy souvenir calendars featuring 'The Street Cats of Crete'.

One night, I stumbled into a shop because I saw what looked like cross stitch through the open doorway. The shop was packed with stacks of handwork: crochet, weavings, embroideries and more, lovingly organized into wooden shelves and cubbies or hanging from the walls and ceilings on department store pants hangers. Galatea, who ran the shop, specialized in traditional textiles made by craftspeople from around the island. I ended up purchasing a souvenir here too (can you blame me?) and settled on an embroidered piece created in a village called Meskla, near the island's famous gorge. Apparently, it was one of the few pieces left in this style and perhaps there might never be more. She seemed happy when I explained my keen interest in embroidery - continuing on handcrafts of past generations.

After Chania, we returned to Athens for a few more days amidst a rather intense heatwave, with temps nearing 105. We opted to spend the day in the archeological museum, which was air conditioned. The amount of objects collected and their age is unimaginable. (This is the case all over Greece. We even found washed up sherds of ancient pottery on the beach.)

One thing that was curiously absent on this trip was wool! I even asked around at local yarn shops and nearly everyone seemed surprised I would even be looking for wool from Greece. Though I know there are plenty of sheep, having eating quite a bit of their delicious cheese and yogurt. The shepherds mostly shear the sheep and dispose of the yarn, which I know is not unusual for sheep raised for dairy and meat. Perhaps the growing trend of 'multi use' sheep will spread to this part of Europe :) I wonder if the wool is being used for other things like insulation, felt, or rugs...

Here we are at a restaurant with a rooftop view of the Acropolis!

Here we are at a restaurant with a rooftop view of the Acropolis!

And since this is not a food blog, I will simply make one statement in regards to cuisine: The food in Greece is awesome. At one restaurant, the owner even showed us pictures of his farm in a nearby village on his cell phone, including the lamb we had the option of choosing from the menu.

And then, before I knew it, we were heading home. I'd love to have the chance to go back some day and explore further.

Have you ever been or wanted to go to Greece? What places are on your travel wishlist? Do you like to seek out local crafts when you travel?