A freshly rebuilt Cabin

Today, I'm happy to announce that the Cabin pattern is back! I would say that it is 'New and Improved' but that saying always seemed a little contradictory to me. I suppose in this case, it's somewhat accurate.

I released Cabin in 2014. It was my first pattern and, admittedly, I was still figuring this whole pattern thing out. Not only has my vision for the pattern company evolved, but so have my design, drafting, grading, and illustration skills! I've always loved Cabin and it remains one of my most popular patterns to this day. So when the time came to have Cabin reprinted, I decided it was time to give her a bit of a reno. I've included some photos of my lovely pattern testers so you can see the new Cabin pattern in action.

Accacia (owner of  Make It Sew  in Lexington, VA) in Cabin V2

Accacia (owner of Make It Sew in Lexington, VA) in Cabin V2

Here's what you'll find in the 'new and improved' Cabin

I'm going to be real here and say that the drafting on the original Cabin was far from perfect. At the time, I didn't have a very wide pool of testers and missed a few key fit issues that might have been resolved through testing. The good news is, with a very relaxed cut, the style proved totally wearable and many people loved it just as it was.

However, from pretty early on I definitely realized a few improvements I could make to the fit and decided that when I reprinted the patterns, I'd make these adjustments. Though I've trained myself to be more relaxed in other parts of my life (like implementing the 3 foot rule), when it comes to my products, I'm a textbook over-thinker and very detail obsessed. So, of course, a few updates turned into a complete overhaul.

I assume that many other pattern designers run into the same issues and problems with their patterns after release. I figure, for the sake of science, I will forgo my professional secrecy here and share the nitty gritty with you all, especially for those of you who might be budding pattern designers (or just like nerd out on pattern drafting and fit!)

Fit updates

Bérangère (  @louetlette  ) in V2

Bérangère ( @louetlette ) in V2

Bérangère (  @louetlette  ) in V1

Bérangère ( @louetlette ) in V1

When I originally created Cabin, I included instructions for an FBA. While this proved helpful for bigger busted sewists, the traditional FBA messed with the overall silhouette a bit. Following in suit with Moderne, I decided to include two bust size options in the new Cabin. The pattern piece for Bust Size 2 includes a slightly larger dart but keeps the overall proportions of the rest of the garment the same.

Tessa (  @the_fabricker )  made her Cabin V3 using bust size 2

Tessa ( @the_fabricker ) made her Cabin V3 using bust size 2

The original Cabin sleeves were quite snug. I've always had pretty shrimpy arms (and my dress form has none!) so this was an easy oversight with a limited tester pool. Cabin 2.0 has much roomier sleeves. The yoke is also wider so you see more of it, which is great when using a contrast print.

Daniela's (  @danicreates  ) Cabin V1

Daniela's ( @danicreates ) Cabin V1

The pattern was originally envisioned as a sort of shift or short dress, most likely to be worn over leggings. However, I found that for many people, the length was neither here nor there: a touch too long for a tunic and a bit too short for a dress. I added a dress length option, and shortened the original length slightly to create a tunic length.

Daniela's ( @danicreates )dress V3

Daniela's (@danicreates)dress V3

Chinelo (  @sewwow  ) in V3

Chinelo ( @sewwow ) in V3

While I love the swingyness of the boxy back pleat shift, I found that some folks were interested in the idea of a more fitted Cabin and it peaked my interest as well. So as an experiment, I played around with switching the back pleat to darts and loved the fit, so I thought I'd include it in the new Cabin for more versatility!

Anna (  @freshslicedpeaches  ) in Cabin V2 w/ back darts.

Anna ( @freshslicedpeaches ) in Cabin V2 w/ back darts.

Cabin Back Darts freshslicedpeaches - Anna Hannan.JPG

Extended sizing! Starting with Geodesic, I extended my size range to go up to a 50" bust. The new Cabin includes this extended sizing.

Other pattern updates

Product design is involved. There are all sorts of elements you can only prototype so far before you produce 1000+ copies. It took me a while to refine the envelope design for my patterns and I think I finally nailed it when Geodesic was printed. As each pattern gets reprinted, It uses this new cover design and includes large instruction sheets as well as patterns printed on tissue paper rather than copy paper.

With Geodesic, I also decided to retire the artist cover series. While I loved the concept in theory, the covers weren't always able to clearly convey the garment. I decided to switch over to illustrating the covers myself and trying to show the clear lines of the garment on a variety of body types while still retaining some fun, hand drawn character.


In case you're curious, my cover designs are based on vintage photographs. I love fashion history and find candid images of women in clothing through history to be absolutely wonderful. I keep an eye out for vintage photographs where the subjects look like somebody I'd want to be friends with (and their clothing, if you squint, perhaps looks like the garment in the pattern. I take some creative liberties 😉).

Also included in Cabin 2.0 are updated instructions with clearer illustrations and descriptions of tricky techniques. I also decided to free up some real estate in the instructions for a section about making your own bias tape by removing the seam finish instructions. Instead, I'll be creating a thorough seam finish resource on my website in the upcoming weeks.

The original Cabin instructions were hand-drawn on paper, scanned, cleaned up, etc.

The original Cabin instructions were hand-drawn on paper, scanned, cleaned up, etc.

Starting with A-frame, I switched to creating much clearer and more consistent illustration digitally.

Starting with A-frame, I switched to creating much clearer and more consistent illustration digitally.

While I think I might have gone a bit overboard on a pattern that many of you already loved, I feel like the changes are the kind you don't always see but appreciate (like those structural repairs and little functional updates you make on a house that nobody will likely ever notice. Can't skip a house metaphor!)

Most importantly...

If you've already bought Cabin (especially the paper version) I want to share the bounty of her updated-ness with you for a little while without you having the buy the pattern again. For the first week (7/19/- 7/26) I'll be offering a free PDF update to anybody who has purchased a PDF or paper copy of Cabin. To get your update, visit this page and follow the instructions!


Cabin Renovation: Henley Placket

One of my favorite things about designing patterns is the dialogue it creates between myself and sewists all over the world. I love hearing from you all!

One of my friends and former students got in touch recently about an idea she had for a pattern hack. She's made a few Cabins and loves them, but foresees some problems with functionality in her post pregnancy wardrobe: AKA needing better access for breastfeeding.

I'm a big fan of a henley shirt placket. I have quite a few in my wardrobe and while I don't need them for the aforementioned reason, I fully appreciate their functionality. So this pattern renovation is for everyone, but hopefully will be extra useful for new mamas.

I've created instructions and an extra pattern piece for this purpose!

Download the pattern hack instructions and pieces here!

First, a bit about my henley placket Cabin. I used a lovely silk I picked up at a discount fabric store I visited in Western Mass. You know, the kind with the bolts of fabric stacked to the ceiling on wooden shelves in a large industrial building, full of buried treasure to be discovered.

It was labeled as denim, but I suspected by the look and texture (and later confirmed with a burn test) that it was actually raw silk. The fabric itself has a wonderful drape but is quite dense. My seams proved extra bulky, so while I used the reverse of the fabric for a contrast placket and pockets, I opted for some quilting cotton to use for the neck and sleeve binding. I also finished the pockets with a serger, rather than creating the french seams that the pocket calls for.

I decided to use the selvedge of this fabric as a design detail, both on the placket and the hem of the dress.

Sometimes I like to wear a belt with Cabins for a more cinched waist, but a belt would get in the way with the placket alteration. I decided to add ribbon ties at the back waist. I had originally planned to make the ties from the silk fabric, but the bias tubes I made turned out too thick and stiff to use. Instead, I used 1/2" natural twill tape.  I still feel like a matching tie would look a bit better, but I'll sit on this one for a while before swapping it out. From the back, it kind of looks like I'm wearing a kitchen apron (not necessarily a bad thing). If you'd like to add ribbon or self fabric ties to your Cabin: Cut 2 ribbons/ties equal to your waist measurement (this is an estimation...you might want shorter ties and can adjust as necessary). When sewing your side seams, sandwich the end of each ribbon between your front and back pieces at the waistline notches.

For the placket itself, I went back and forth between what kind of closure I would use. Buttons seemed too busy, so I decided to keep it low profile and sew on some large snaps. I love snaps and feel like they never get to shine. In this case, I used bright red thread so they would pop when visible. I also considered adding the kind of snaps that you hammer in. I love those and have quite a few in my stash. I'll be thinking about them for future projects.

I also decided to use the selvedge as a detail. The hack instructions don't describe how to do this, but all you have to do is skip folding under the long edge of the left side of the placket piece while sewing.

You can add buttons to the placket instead of snaps and I've given a template for each in the pattern. For buttons, it shows the placement of three and for snaps, it shows the placement for two. You can add more snaps as desired, but two seemed to do it for me.


As evidenced by the leaves, fall is most definitely in full swing. While I was able to take these pictures sweater-less in relatively minor discomfort (it was nice and sunny!) I definitely threw on a cardigan after pictures were done.

I hope you all enjoy this Cabin renovation and that it gives your pattern a little more mileage. If you ever have suggestions for pattern renovations, send them my way!

The great #hashtagathon: Help me get organized and win a fabulous prize

I'm not exactly what you'd call a 'neat' person. Until I met my current partner (who is a total minimalist) I was what one might describe as a 'clutterer', amassing art/craft supplies and kitschy antiques.

These days, I'm definitely more discriminating in my collecting tendencies and I've also developed quite a healthy habit of getting rid of unnecessary stuff. However, I tend to always have a bit of clutter in my life, which makes it important to periodically tidy and organize.

I think artists inherantly collect and clutter (but also organize!) This photograph of the studio of Ray Eames is a great example.

I think artists inherantly collect and clutter (but also organize!) This photograph of the studio of Ray Eames is a great example.

Strangely enough, I'm also a lover of organization systems and efficiency. I make endless lists and categorize things. I love sorting and titling all of my computer folders. I organize my vintage buttons by colors, size, and material. Is this a particular personality type? Is this contradictory behavior typical of creatives? I'm always thinking of ways to organize, plan, and sort and when I follow through with said ways I am often a happy camper.

This is the long way of telling you that I've come up with a better plan for, you guessed it, hashtags.

I love that people can share their me-made brilliance over platforms like Instagram. The hashtag has given us a brand new way to organize content.

However, I'll be real and say that lack of organization in the Blueprints hashtag department is making me crazy. Now, I surely (unconsciously) set myself up for this. One can't simply tag their Cabin dress #Cabin and be cataloged amongst an array of shift dresses. There will be log cabins, airplane cabins, and other cabiny things.

Originally, I suggested the #blueprintsmakes hashtag. While it contains a great spread of beautiful makes, it doesn't specify which pattern the project is made from, so people had to come up with their own project-specific tags. I've seen #cabinshift #cabindress #cabintop, all of which make perfect sense and include some lovely projects, but also lots of unrelated content. And it made compiling all these projects a bit complicated on my end. I take full blame for this tagging confusion and today I intend to make things right.

The trick with hashtags is to assign a unique identifier that will categorize only what you want and not what you don't.

Two rows of the tag #Cabintop on Instagram   1st row: Grace of  Beyond Measure 's lovely Cabin and a few in-process shots of Cabin projects.  2nd row: A boat, a flight attendant, and a lady doing yoga?

Two rows of the tag #Cabintop on Instagram

1st row: Grace of Beyond Measure's lovely Cabin and a few in-process shots of Cabin projects.

2nd row: A boat, a flight attendant, and a lady doing yoga?

I needed to come up with some unique hashtags and make it easier for y'all to share your projects.

So, behold, the new hashtags!




Re-tagging Blueprints projects with these hashtags will make sharing and searching for Blueprints garments easy and streamlined. Eventually, I'll re-vamp the project gallery concept to be part of each pattern's description page.

So I'm asking you, amazing sewists, a huge favor. Would you consider going back to your instagram posts and popping the corresponding hashtag into the comments? You can tag all past, current, and future Blueprints projects with #BlueprintsCabin, #BlueprintsAframe, and #BlueprintsSaltbox.

I know it's a lot to ask, so to sweeten the deal and encourage y'all to tag your makes, I'm throwing a little incentive into the mix.

If you tag all of your past (or current) Blueprints projects during the month of September, you'll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate to one of my favorite fabric stores:

On October 5th, I'll draw a winner at random from all the folks who've tagged their Blueprints projects.

This giveaway contest is open to all past, current, and even future Blueprints projects, as long as they're tagged before the 5th. Just hashtag your projects with #BlueprintsCabin, #BlueprintsAframe, and #BlueprintsSaltbox and you'll be entered to win!

And don't forget...

There's only a few more days left of the 2nd Sewing Indie Month Bundle Sale!

Pick up all these fantastic patterns for a song and support Women For Women. The sale ends Thursday, Sept 10th!

Indiesew Fall Collection

Lately I've been trying to create more outfit friendly garments. I've been having a bit of a waxing/waning wardrobe identity crisis lately (don't we all every few years?) which feels funny since 80% of my wardrobe is me made. Where did I go awry? I'm definitely guilty of making pretty things that I like in theory, but don't go with any of my other clothing. There are many reasons for this...style changes,  color palette realizations, and more. I've been working towards a more thoughtful sewing list (as I have seen many others do as of late!)

When I received the email that Cabin would be part of this year's Indiesew Fall Collection I was beyond psyched. The collection includes 2-4 other awesome patterns that pair perfectly with Cabin.

The mini collection features Cabin, the Laurelhurst Cardigan by Straight Stitch Designs, and the Sloan Leggings by Hey June.

The full collection includes those three patterns, plus the Beatrix Blouse by Made by Rae and the London Backpack by LBG Studio.

When I saw the collection I felt compelled to hop on the blog tour (bus? van? train?) and create an entire outfit from the mini collection! If I had time, I'd have gone for the other two patterns as well. In the future perhaps!

For my Cabin, I decided to use a Nani Iro print from last year that I'm pretty sure I bought with the intention of making a Cabin, but before I had my color palette realization. I don't think neon yellow and pink qualify as earth tones...though I suppose a pop of neon here and there is alright. But I'd bought the fabric and it had to be made. While it may not go into weekly rotation, I think it turned out quite well! And it goes nicely with earthier colors.

I had a heck of a time finding fabric to coordinate for the bias binding and pockets. I didn't want it to compete with the print and I couldn't find a solid that felt quite right. You know what I ended up using? Muslin! Scraps and cut up samples from my stash, no less! With some neon pink top stitching, it looks quite lovely. Here's to recycling!

   Who knew I had neon pink thread in my stash and that I'd ever use it!


Who knew I had neon pink thread in my stash and that I'd ever use it!

I also decided to use one of my little cabins (free embroidery pattern here) to embellish the back.

The Laurelhurst cardigan is a breeze to make! I think I cut and sewed the whole thing in an hour or so. I made it in a fairly stable knit - limited stretch -  so I added a 1/4" width to the sleeves to make sure they weren't too snug. Otherwise, I sewed up the pattern as is all on my serger.  This cardigan is super earthy and it makes a great counterpoint for the neon Cabin shift. At first I wasn't sure about all the front drape volume but once it was sewn up, I loved it. I can see this getting a lot of use in the fall! 

The fabric came from one of those discount fabric online retailers (specifically Fashionfabricsclub.com). I almost never order fabric online unless I know very specifically what it is, especially from these kind of sites. I bought this jersey on a whim because the color looked quite nice and seemed to have a texture. I have to say, I was really pleasantly suprised! I had bought it originally for the Sloan leggings, but it didn't have enough stretch. Luckily, it turned out to be the perfect fabric for the Laurelhurst. I think the fabric is still available here! The color could best be described as Texas Dirt, rusty colored with flecks of black and orange. The interior of the fabric feels slightly brushed...like a very light sweatshirt fabric. 

The Sloan leggings almost didn't happen, but I really wanted to make them! I've needed a good leggings pattern for running and wearing under shifts and this fit the bill. I made the capri version, the perfect length for having a little something under a short skirt on a hot day. And no, they're not hemmed yet. I couldn't make up my mind about adding a cuff this morning so I folded the excess under and they stayed. So it works for now.

 I really wanted to find an unusual fabric for these that would look neat without competing with the nani iro print. I searched high and low for the just the right fabric but couldn't find exactly what I wanted. Anybody know a good source for an indigo hue medium weight organic cotton spandex jersey with a slight slub? Didn't think so. I think I definitely struggle with the never quenchable desire for "the perfect fabric". I think for my next pair, I'll pick up some undyed heavyweight jersey and try my hand at Indigo (Indiesew has a fun tutorial on indigo dying, btw.)

Since the rust colored fabric didn't work for the leggings, I used a lightweight 4 way stretch jersey in my stash, in a nice cool grey that complemented my statement print. I wanted to utilize the contrast design, but without the right fabric to pair I couldn't see it happening. Since I'd already printed out that version of the pattern, I decided to use the seams as a design detail, figuring they would really show on the light colored knit. I think it worked out.

A friend helped me take these 'gritty back alley' shots (the alley behind JP K&S of course!) She always makes me laugh and catches it on camera!

A friend helped me take these 'gritty back alley' shots (the alley behind JP K&S of course!) She always makes me laugh and catches it on camera!

I'm looking forward to making this pattern again (with a few alterations, it will d be my go-to leggings pattern) in a tech fabric for running and - hopefully - in a midweight indigo dyed jersey...perhaps even thick enough to venture into leggings-as-pants territory! We'll see.

Allie, as usual, has put together such a great collection: all the patterns work beautifully together! I'm looking forward to making up Beatrix, perhaps in the long sleeve layered over a Cabin, and the London backpack as well.

Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour!

Monday, August 24th: Lauren |  Right Sides Together

Tuesday, August 25th: Lori | Girls in the Garden

Wednesday, August 26th: Kimberly | Straight Stitch Designs

Thursday, August 27th: Trine | Groovy Baby and Mama

Friday, August 28th: Taylor | Blueprints for Sewing

Monday, August 31st: Erin | Sewbon

Tuesday, September 1st: Elena | Randomly Happy

Wednesday, September 2nd: Tara | Girl Like the Sea

Thursday, September 3rd: Lola | Love Lola

Cabin Renovation: Long Sleeve Cabin

It's time for another Cabin Renovation!

Click here to download the renovation plans!

You know something turned out well when you haven't stopped wearing it since it came off the ironing board. This dress has proven itself as that kind of make. I'd been sitting on the idea of a long sleeve, longer cabin for a while. I thought it would be a nice way to play with contrasting fabrics. I used a Robert Kaufman double cloth (I think they no longer make this, but it's very similar to a double gauze in feel and drape.) The coolest part is that I used the same fabric for the whole thing...the solid chambray is simply the back of the check. This allowed for a lot of fun mix and match, but the idea would also work great with two coordinating fabrics.

This was above all an experiment and a sort of wearable muslin. It definitely has its share of issues, most unnoticeable from afar (see the Three Foot Rule here). I was excited about this project and rushed a bit in the cutting stage, so while the face up check was aligned, the grain was just so slightly askew on the half of the piece that was face down. Not a huge deal, but the check is a little slanted where the hem band is attached.


But I love the way it turned out! I like the look of it belted as well as loose. The double cloth is very soft and incredible comfortable. I can already think of a few more of these I'd like to make in some Nani Iro double gauze I've been hoarding. I may omit the back pleat for the next one to get a more fitted silhouette.


I used the opposite side of the fabric for the neckline bias binding. To achieve this affect, I sewed binding onto the front and back separately, then sewed both shoulder seams as shown in the instructions. The binding was then folded inward. I opted for a hong-kong finish - where the non-showing bias is left flat instead of folded under - to reduce bulk and avoid battling against the super ravely double cloth.

This dress has such a 1920's feel to it, with a hint of Scandinavian milkmaid. The renovation itself was fairly simple.

  1. Cut all Cabin pieces for shift length. The yoke piece was lengthened by 1/2", both to add more room in the shoulders (an alteration I often need) and to allow for a wider sleeve. Cut the hems on both front and back pieces straight across, rather than along the original curve of the hem.
  2. Once you've sewn as far as the step where you attach binding to the sleeves, trim 1/2" off the sleeve to get a little more room at the bicep. Measure the sleeve hem and cut two sleeves equal to that measurement x 14". Attach these sleeves to the original sleeve hem.
  3. Cut two hem bands that are 10.5" by the measurement of your pattern piece hems. Attach these two bands at the hem of front and back.
  4. Check to see that the hem bands align when the side seams are pinned or basted together and adjust if necessary.
  5. To finish, hem sleeves with a 1/2" double fold. Hem dress with a 1" double fold.

Interested in a more in depth/photo tutorial on this Cabin Renovation? Ask and you shall receive! If you've done your own renovation, tag it and share! #blueprintsmakes **UPDATE: Working on a little tutorial as we speak**



Thoreau's Cabin

Though sewing has always been a part of my life, it's undeniable that I've spent a considerable amount of my time engaged in the art world, in professional and academic contexts. While this blog is mostly for sewing and fiber, I'm excited to also use this blog as a platform to discuss other fine and applied arts and delve a little deeper into the world of craftsmanship, aesthetics, and ideas.

Yesterday I was finally able to make to over it to the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA. If you've never been, the DeCordova is an excellent contemporary art museum outside Boston, famous for its expansive sculpture garden.

Currently, they have an exhibition on view called Walden, Revisited. The Walden referenced here is both the well known book by Henry David Thoreau and Walden Pond, located in nearby Concord, from which it takes its name. I thought it would be fitting to discuss this show, as Walden's story prominently features a cabin!

The show is divided into two discernible sections, two different 'Re's, that each break down into their own series of connections to the author and his canonical book: re-interpreting and re-evaluating. While some of the work in this show seeks to re-evaluate the mythical solitarian, the majority of the work re-interprets Walden through the aesthetic, ideological, or intellectual qualities of Thoreau's original project.

Most of the work on display seemed to be inspired by Thoreau's core project at Walden Pond: observing his natural landscape and documenting its many facets in a variety of ways. What for Thoreau came to be as journals and logbooks has been translated into imagery and objects by many of the artists. In the photo at the opening of this post, artists compare colors observed at the pond to Monet paintings and take aestheticized measurements of the ponds depth.

As I thought about the show later on, an unexpected theme emerged: A great deal of the works included achieve this re-interpretation through collaboration. One of the big themes in Walden is of course solitude, which seems to contrast the idea of collaboration. Though as I worked through these connections in my mind, the strict definition of collaboration started to unravel.

Jane D. Marsching with Matthew Shanley,  Ice Out at Walden , 2010

Jane D. Marsching with Matthew Shanley, Ice Out at Walden, 2010

For example, Marsching's work above, a print made using both digital and traditional printing techniques to create a visual representation of wind patterns at Walden. Marsching also collaborated with a dancer to create choreography inspired by these wind patterns.

Gina Siepel,  Re-Surveying Walden , 2014

Gina Siepel, Re-Surveying Walden, 2014

Gina Siepel chose to re-survey Walden Pond in collaboration with a few others in the spirit of Thoreau in a self-built boat. Her museum-within-a-museum included discussions of flora and fauna, colors, gestures, and a cross examination of a lake in Germany with a transatlantic collaborator.

Another collaboration, one of my favorites in the show, was a sound piece developed by Ana María Gómez López and Pamela Jordan. You stand on a circle of carpet under a directional speaker, listening to a composition of ambient nature and city sounds while looking at a small a snapshot of Thoreau's cabin pasted on the far wall of the gallery. Something about the sonic experience paired with the distance of the cabin as a snapshot on a wall seemed very intentional and effective. Additionally, what I thought was field recordings of telegraph wires turned out to be the rattling of a vent in the room. Unintentional, but just as effective.

David Brooks,  Myopic Wall Composition (w/ chainsaw- cut wood found in historic Walden Woods) , 2014

David Brooks, Myopic Wall Composition (w/ chainsaw- cut wood found in historic Walden Woods), 2014

David Brooks,  Myopic Wall Composition (w/ chainsaw- cut wood found in historic Walden Woods) , 2014

David Brooks, Myopic Wall Composition (w/ chainsaw- cut wood found in historic Walden Woods), 2014

I suppose however, that one could also view many of these works as being collaborative with Thoreau, in an indirect way. Perhaps, thematically, this (and Walden) mirror the success or failure of collaboration with nature as a society and as an individual. Brook's work - he creates a lot of installations that cross examine nature and the built world - seems to dig into that space between failure and collaboration with nature. His Myopic Wall Composition infuses the iconic gallery wall with chunks of wood salvaged at Walden, but also chooses to reveal 'behind the scenes' of this construction.

Deb Todd Wheeler,  Searching for Imposters , 2014

Deb Todd Wheeler, Searching for Imposters, 2014

Deb Todd Wheeler's video installation takes a keen look at a failure of that collaboration. Her porthole videos show what appear to be jellyfish - apparently one spring brought mysterious freshwater jellyfish to Walden Pond - but are in reality, plastic bags. This is perhaps where we transition into where this collaboration with nature falls apart. This disharmony between man and nature is what inspired Thoreau's Walden project and arguably, the reason for its partial undoing.

Oscar Palacio, photograph from  Walden ─ then and now , 2013-14

Oscar Palacio, photograph from Walden ─ then and now, 2013-14

Corralled in a separate section of the museum are more directly critical works, like Palacio's photographs above, showing a different kind of human 'collaboration' with nature.

Still from Jennifer Sullivan's  One-Week Walden , 2006

Still from Jennifer Sullivan's One-Week Walden, 2006

Still from Jennifer Sullivan's  One-Week Walden , 2006

Still from Jennifer Sullivan's One-Week Walden, 2006

Also included in this grouping is Jennifer Sullivan's video One-Week Walden, in which her character, inspired by reading Walden, ventures into the 'woods' of suburban upstate New York and attempts to commune with nature while living in her dad's pop up camper. The result is a lot of funny introspective monologues and dance sequences, wigs, and images of garbage.

Hilary Wilder,  Greatest American Hero (Thoreau’s Desk Eight Times) , 2011-2014

Hilary Wilder, Greatest American Hero (Thoreau’s Desk Eight Times), 2011-2014

Hilary Wilder,  Greatest American Hero (Thoreau’s Desk Eight Times) , 2011-2014

Hilary Wilder, Greatest American Hero (Thoreau’s Desk Eight Times), 2011-2014

Hillary Wilder dismantled - literally - the iconic notion of Thoreau by reconstructing the famous desk upon which Walden was written in painted paper.

Corner of James Benning's  Two Cabins . The two channel video is just a part of a larger project by filmmaker Benning. In the only shot I took of this installation, I chose to be snarky and capture a misplaced mouse pointer in the projector view.

Corner of James Benning's Two Cabins. The two channel video is just a part of a larger project by filmmaker Benning. In the only shot I took of this installation, I chose to be snarky and capture a misplaced mouse pointer in the projector view.

One of the few works that actively engaged the cabin itself could be construed as most critical and perhaps the creepiest. The two channel video by James Benning featured the window view from replicas of the cabins of Henry David Thoreau and Ted Kaczynski. Bennings study of the two cabin dwellers is loose and investigational, not a direct comparison. After having built a replica of Thoreau's cabin on his property, he created Kaczynski's as a counterpoint. However, it begs a reconsideration of the recluse when a known antagonist's ideology can find ties - if only a minute few - with one of America's sweetheart literary naturalists.

Gina Siepel   After Winslow Homer: Untitled Study ,   2010

Gina Siepel After Winslow Homer: Untitled Study, 2010

Another work by Gina Siepel shows a more humorous critique of the 'solitary man in nature' trope. (FYI - The backdrop of this shot is a cluster of decorative fake birch trees in a high-end suburban mall outside Boston)

In this show, the connections are many to the world of craft and society, beyond the 'naturalist' perspective. Thoreau's cabin is the original 'Tiny House' (we missed the lecture on Tiny Houses, unfortunately) or summer artists residency. Many other works took opportunities to work with nature positively as inspired by Thoreau. But I'll save that for your visit to the museum, or at least the website.

In a sense, Thoreau's work in that cabin - writing, surveying, his very form of living - would, taken out of its obvious influential context, be right at home in this show.  As I think about it, the dialogue between the artists exhibited in the show and Thoreau himself becomes more and more interesting.

One quote from Thoreau that I felt best exemplified my experience of this show (and it was included in several places) is the following:

I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.

One chair: Thoreau, Two chairs: Thoreau and the artists in dialogue, and Three chairs: trans-generational conversation between the three - our role as artists in society.

The theme of the show appears to me more dynamic than that of pure inspiration. After shedding all aesthetic and critical framing, we find another contrarian 'artist,' observing the world around him and responding in a variety of media. And, like many of his young artist/writer non-contemporaries, he often did laundry at his mother's house and had dinner with his mentors.

Cabin Renovation: The Coat Dress

Introducing: Blueprints Renovations!

If you take a look around your neighborhood, you'll see all sorts of interesting renovations: additions, improvements, facades, details, and more. Customizing our houses is one of the ways we present our identity, from the most conspicuous Tuscan styled McMansions, to ultra-efficient and adorably decked out tiny houses on trailers. As an inherently creative species with a predominantly non-nomadic culture, cultivating living spaces (like adorning our bodies) comes naturally.

It is in this spirit that I'd like to introduce you all to a new feature on the website I like to call Renovations. Renovations are pattern alteration tutorials, designed to stretch each Blueprints pattern and inspire your own DIY spirit! I've re-imagined and altered clothing as long as I've been sewing and BOY is it fun! I hope these renovations with inspire you and encourage you to create and share your own renovations as well! The DIY spirit is contagious!

Cabin Renovation #1: The Cabin Coat Dress

This 'renovation' is inspired by one of the owners of JP Knit & Stitch in Boston, the always stylish Genevieve Day. She came to an event one night in an adorable vintage coat dress: simple blue corduroy with big, round brass buttons.

I love pieces that walk the fine line between garment types and this way a prime example. Quirky and sweet...just fitted enough to be flattering but trapeze-y enough to be comfortable and effortless.

I especially love corduroy. Often banished to the realm of musty college professors, hacky-sacking stoners, and elastic waist toddler pants, corduroy is a fabric with great warmth and lots of character! I decided to create a Cabin coat dress based loosely on Genevieve's vintage find, using Robert Kaufman's awesome 14 Wale Corduroy. (A wale, by the way, is the unit of measurement for corduroy's stripes). I figured I'd stick with the vintage vibe and use a 60's looking cotton print for the pockets and binding

I took these photos as the sun was setting and upping the exposure made the photos looks grainy and more vintage. This is what we call a "Happy Accident" and they're my favorite kind.

In keeping with the original inspiration, I decided to use big vintage brass buttons. It has a decidedly 'pretty smock' look because of the body of the corduroy, and I like it.

To make your very own Cabin Coat Dress, follow these instructions:

Decide whether you would like to finish your Coat Dress with bias facing or bias binding. You'll want to align your top button with this in mind. I did mine with bias binding, and decided to use 1/2" double fold binding, instead of the 1/2" single fold that the pattern calls for.

1. Trace a copy of the cabin front bodice. Mark the fold line as the center front(CF).

Here I used alphanumeric pattern paper to trace my pattern. This paper is slightly transparent, a bit heavier than tracing paper, and has letters, numbers, and crosses at 1" intervals. Here I've lined my fold line (now CF) with these markings.

Here I used alphanumeric pattern paper to trace my pattern. This paper is slightly transparent, a bit heavier than tracing paper, and has letters, numbers, and crosses at 1" intervals. Here I've lined my fold line (now CF) with these markings.

2. Choose your buttons. Go with 5 - 7 large statement buttons for maximum impact. Those among you with masochistic tendencies may want to choose 30 tiny shell buttons ;)

3. Lay out your buttons along the center front line of your pattern, spacing them evenly. Usually, one goes slightly below the neckline, then they are placed an even distance apart, with the final button having one last equal 'space' after it.

I opted to go with the original inspiration and use vintage brass buttons!

I opted to go with the original inspiration and use vintage brass buttons!

A note on top button placement: If you plan on finishing your coat dress with bias binding, you'll want to place your button further from the neckline, to give some 'breathing room' between the top button and the binding.

4. Once you are satisfied, trace around your buttons on the pattern then remove the buttons. Now you are left with button markings.

If you're using shank buttons like these, flip them over so they are easier to trace. Trace your buttons in pencil first, then go over with pen so you don't get pen marks on your buttons.

If you're using shank buttons like these, flip them over so they are easier to trace. Trace your buttons in pencil first, then go over with pen so you don't get pen marks on your buttons.

5. Next, extend out from the CF to create the button placket. A good rule of thumb for larger buttons is to make the extension width equal to 1/2" the width of the button. First, square out this distance from the CF, then use a clear ruler to draw a new edge parallel to the CF.


6. Add to this edge extension 1/4" seam allowance for bias facing or 1/4"-1/2" for bias binding. In this version, I'm using a wider 1/2" double fold bias binding (to make your own, press a 1" wide strip of bias, then fold in half) so I'm adding 1/2" seam allowance on the edge.

7. Mark your buttonholes.

If you want vertical buttonholes, use these marks as a guide, drawing a buttonhole along the CF that extends just beyond the button marking.

For horizontal buttonholes, make a point at the center of each button, then draw a horizontal line, perpendicular to the CF equal to the width of the button + the height of the button.

Sewing Steps

This new pattern piece will serve as both the right and left side of your dress front. On one piece, mark the buttons and on the other, mark buttonholes. Cut your pieces as instructed. You can still place the front near the fold, but cut all the way around it.

Sew as instructed until you reach the step when neckline binding is sewn on. Do not sew the neckline binding. Instead, proceed to the 2nd shoulder. Continue following the instructions until you reach the step where the hem bias tape is applied.

Shoulder seams and one side seam sewn and bias tape is attached to the sleeves.

Shoulder seams and one side seam sewn and bias tape is attached to the sleeves.

Staring from one side seam, apply bias tape as instructed around the hem, up the coat front, around the neckline, down the opposite side, then back around to the side seam opening.

When you approach the corner, stop with the needle in the fabric a seam allowance's distance from the fabric's edge.

With the needle still sunk in the fabric, pivot around the corner. Fold the bias tape at a 90 degree angle as pictured.

Continue sewing along the edge. Repeat this process for the other 3 corners.

After attaching binding around the neckline, fronts, and hem, sew up your second side seam as instructed and finish the seam allowance.

Finally, finish your bias facing or binding as instructed. At the corners, fold in the bias as pictured to curve it around the corner. I wanted a rounder looking corner, but you can also create a very crisp mitered corner (perhaps a tutorial for another time!).

If you have a great idea for a Cabin renovation, please share it! Tag us on instagram or email links to your personal blog!


Introducing: Cabin!

I'm so excited to introduce you to the first Blueprints For Sewing pattern: Cabin.


Cabin is a kimono sleeve top or shift dress that can be finished with bias binding or facing. It features a back yoke with a large box pleat. The shirt hits just above the hip and the shift - perfect for pairing with tights, leggings, or even jeans - hits just below the knee. Did I mention that the shift dress has really cool pockets? And the pocket pattern can be used with other patterns if you so desire!

When I started dreaming up designs for Blueprints, I made a big list of architectural styles that inspired me. I also though about shapes that I have loved wearing over the years and began to make connections. Once I started to pair up ideas, they evolved simultaneously. Cabin was the first to move into full scale development.

Early sketches of the Cabin shirt.

Early sketches of the Cabin shirt.

A drawing I made (on an old library catalog card-my favorite note taking supply) of a cabin when conceptualizing this pattern.

A drawing I made (on an old library catalog card-my favorite note taking supply) of a cabin when conceptualizing this pattern.

For my first pattern, I wanted to create something that offered up a little bit of everything I hope makes Blueprints patterns special.

The Fit

Cabin is intended to be basic. That way, it can allow for the unique point of view of the sewist to shine, through fabric choice, embellishments, or even alterations and pattern hacks! There's many ways to make this pattern yours and I hope its versatility helps it become a staple in your wardrobe. It sure has in mine!


The cut is a variation on a shape I have been making for myself for years. I've always loved swingy tops and dresses, specifically those with a bit of dart shaping and a lot of flattering fullness that can be worn loose and easy, something a Danish art gallery director or Japanese boutique owner might wear. It can also be belted and cardigan'd for a more uptown look...the shape is timeless and comfortable.

The Pattern

I spent a great deal of time not only on the pattern itself, but also the instructions and packaging. I wanted to create a pattern 'folder', rather than an envelope, that made packing up and storing your pattern a bit easier. I've always disliked cramming pattern tissue back into an envelope.

A pattern folder prototype. The real thing will be pretty close, but have a few changes!

A pattern folder prototype. The real thing will be pretty close, but have a few changes!

I believe in investing in good things and hanging onto them. I've designed this pattern to be an item you use frequently and holds up over time.

Since the pattern cover is a folder, rather than an envelope, there's room inside for more fun information. I've included a short piece of writing about cabins in history, as well as a space to think about design and make notes about fabric and pattern changes.

I'm very excited about the cover, illustrated by Rebecca Wallach. As an artist myself, I'm looking forward to featuring the work of other artists on all future Blueprints covers (and other material as well, possibly).

Keep an eye out for a forthcoming interview with Rebecca during the week! I also plan to feature some of the fine folks who tested the pattern's lovely makes. You can see them on the blog or follow us on instagram and pinterest!

Our printers have been given the go ahead and patterns will be ready by the end of the month. You can pre-order your pattern here or keep a look out at your local sewing shop! See our list of stockists to see who carries this pattern.