I just love this project so much! Making your own garment bags is such a great way to show off beautiful fabric and travel handmade at the same time. Also, it’s the kind of gift that everyone can use.
This is my second garment bag. I gave the first one to Andrew. I made this one to travel to a special family wedding this summer. I adjusted the pattern to make it a little bit longer than the original to fit the length of my party dress. I really love getting to see so much nani IRO at once. I’m definitely going to make a second one. It’s got me thinking that i need a complete set of nani IRO travel bags.
When I heard months ago that Kristine Vejar from A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland,California was working on a book about natural dyeing, I got really excited. Started in 2007 by Kristine, A Verb for Keeping Warm has been home base for Kristine’s explorations into natural dyeing and is located in Oakland, California. It is the home of The Modern Natural Dyer – as this is where Kristine has conducted all of her research for this book. A Verb for Keeping Warm is a brick & mortar shop, natural dye studio and classroom teaching knitting, dyeing, sewing and weaving. I hope to visit this dream space in the near future, but in the meantime I follow Kristine’s inspiring work very closely online.
I was over the moon to receive an advanced copy of The Modern Natural Dyer to review. Firstly, it is absolutely stunning. The photography by Sara Remington captures the beauty of the dye colours and projects perfectly. I have been endlessly examining every detail of the book and rich photographs since it arrived. If you’re brand new to the world of dyeing, this would be an incredible introduction. If you’re experienced with natural dyeing already you’ll be reinvigorated to delve deeper with all the great resources provided. Kristine covers all the basics in the first half of the book and then shares twenty different projects divided by – dyeing with whole dyestuffs, dyeing with extracts, dyeing with indigo and then surface design techniques. The projects range from dyeing pre-made items like a slip, silk scarf or tote bag to dyeing yarn to knit a hat, shawl or cardigan.
Brilliantly, Kristine has also launched a series of kits to go with four of the book’s projects. I chose the ‘Flowers at my fingertips’ kit to make a sweet sewing kit. Everything you need is included in the kit – the fabric, a packet of seeds to grow the flowers, thread, gloves, mordant and scour. What a special gift idea these would kits would make. I don’t think I can wait until next year to plant those seeds to grow the flowers for this project. I’ll gather some fresh flowers together to eco print this over the fall to make the sewing kit. I’m excited to have the seeds to plant next year to start a little dye garden. It’s something I’ve thought about for a while.
The Modern Natural Dyer exceeded all my high expectations. I’m so inspired by everything that Kristine has created with her studio/shop/enterprise and this book is a real treasure that I’ll keep referring to over and over. Congratulations, Kristine! Thank you so much for including me in your book tour.
We’ll have copies of The Modern Natural Dyer soon at the workroom. In the meantime, one lucky winner will receive a copy of book AND a kit of their choice. Please leave a comment below and let me know if you’ve tried natural dyeing before and which of the four kits you would choose to try. Contest closes November 16th midnight EST. I’ll choose a lucky winner randomly.
Slow Fashion October has just wrapped up and I wanted to share another older project (from about nine years ago) that I still wear with love.
I’m not sure how I came up with the idea for this sweater refashion, but it was one of those magical inspirations. It started with a oversized men’s wool Hugo Boss sweater from Value Village. At the time, I was cutting up old t-shirts and dress shirts to reconfigure them into new garments. I was curious about felting a sweater especially since I always feel like my sweater wardrobe is rather slim pickings since I’m not really a knitter.
I decided to slice the sweater up the front and then felt it in the washer and dryer to create a cardigan, but it just looked like an oversized men’s sweater when I put it on. Boring! I decided to try it on upside down and suddenly it turned into a fun shawl collar. I usually wear it with a cute pin or brooch to hold it closed at the front.
I love how just changing the orientation made me fall in love with this piece.
Slow Fashion October has gotten me thinking about my sewing history and planning a more thoughtful sewing future. While I’ve worked very hard over a long period of time to make the majority of my wardrobe, there is always more that can be done. I’m so thankful to Karen Templer for starting this important discussion. It’s a theme that I’ll be keeping close at hand going forward.
Vogue 7003 Coat
Pink wool coat with Liberty of London Tana Lawn Lining
made 2000/1 – 2002
When Karen Templer laid out the prompts for this month’s Slow Fashion October event, I knew that I would need to share this project. If I look back on all the clothing I’ve made over the years, this coat is one of my most loved, oldest and definitely most difficult projects.
Sewing clothing has always been a very personal and empowering act for me. From the very first skirt that I ever made, I felt like a whole world had opened up to me. For once, I was making the decisions, every step of the way for my clothing. Not only could I control the fit, but each detail from fabric to thread colour was now in my hands.
I got it into my head that I was going to make my dream winter coat. I didn’t know how to, but I was going to figure it out. It was going to be everything I could ever imagine the perfect winter coat to be. I started to look for a pattern. I only shopped vintage patterns from eBay (back in 2000, there weren’t a lot of options), so I started scouring for something I liked, that was also my size. It took a while, but Vogue 7003 seemed like a great classic design that I would want to wear for years to come.
7003 Coat : Straight coat with bias shaped collar has full-length sleeves, flap trim and pockets in side front seams
I knew first off that it would be pink wool and that I wanted to line it in Liberty of London. I had never bought any Liberty before, but I this seemed like a good time to start. I don’t exactly remember where I bought that pink wool, but my best guess is either New York Elegant Fabrics or B&J Fabrics. The Liberty definitely came from B&J Fabrics, which is one of my top favourite fabric shops in the NYC Garment District. I remember finding the pink engraved buttons at M&J Trimming. I bought a few different variations, but the oval shape of these ones felt so nice in my fingers.
Besides being pretty, this dream coat needed to be warm. So I bought some Thinsulate as an interlining. Once I had all my supplies, I started to sew. In the beginning, everything came together easily, but it started to get increasingly difficult as the layers piled up to the point that my starter sewing machine just couldn’t handle it. I took this as a sign that it was time to upgrade to a better machine and I bought my second sewing machine. For the first time, I experienced the difference that a better machine could make. (I had yet to try a Bernina which would blow all my past experiences out of the water!)
I was determined to have bound buttonholes, which I had never done before and that were not called for in the pattern. I remember consulting my vintage copy of Vogue Sewing for the instructions and practicing on scrap fabric. It was tricky on the wool and there were many samples made before I attempted it on my coat.
I worked on the coat over at least a period of a year. If I got stuck on something, I would put it down for a bit and come back to it. I didn’t give up even though I remember feeling overwhelmed at the time.
When I finished, I was amazed. I had dreamt up the hardest thing I could imagine and I ended up with a pink winter coat. I always think about this pink coat if I think I can’t do something and then I dive in.
Super Star Quilt Started April 2013 Finished April 2015 Quilting pattern : Not a Square
This quilt has been happily finished for months now. It seems that my ratio of finished quilts to unfinished quilts is very unbalanced, but I do seem to have a few finished quilts I need to show you. Here’s the first one. I’m hoping that our new Bernina Q24 longarm at the workroom studio is going to help swing that towards having even more finished quilts to show for.
Johanna’s Super Star is inspired by the traditional Lone Star pattern. It’s a quilt that I had on my wishlist from an early time in my quilting career. Though, truth be told, I am up for any quilt that features stars. As usual, Johanna came through with a much more efficient and simple way to make this lovely star quilt.
One of my favourite details of the quilt is the tiny border that I fussy cut a row of tickets for. I had the quilting done by a longarmer and chose the ‘Not a Square’ pattern. I wanted something more angular to go with the angles of the star and I think this does the trick. I still find it a real challenge to figure out what quilting design to use.
This quilt is now in rotation on my bed. I’m so happy to say that I finally have two queen-sized quilts to choose from at home. My Swoon quilt is my second one, which needs a post of its’ own.
A photo posted by Karyn Valino (@make_something) on
I rarely used commercial patterns when I first learned to sew. I spent a lot of time drafting out my own ideas, often based on things I saw in magazines or in shops. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I loved experimenting.
First. Do you have a copy of this book? You need it. Anna has compiled a collection of projects that are all really exciting and I want to make practically everything in this book. For real!
I’ve admired Anna for such a long time. She is well known for her beautifully designed bag patterns like the 241 Tote, the Trail Tote, Cargo Duffle and Super Tote. Even though we haven’t met in person (yet!) I also know that she is just the sweetest lady.
I knew right away which project I wanted to make first. I just loved the look of the tunic. We had just received the newest Cotton + Steel rayons which I think have the perfect drape for this top. The Honeymoon collection Ziplines print is a favourite of mine and I’m tempted to get all the colours in this print. I also want to use this swirly design idea on the workroom’s longarm, I think it would look cute on a quilt.
I had fun sewing this tunic. I wasn’t too sure what to expect from the rayon and while it’s slippery to cut, it didn’t give me any trouble with the sewing. I used a rotary cutter and ruler for the rectangular pieces and that definitely helped. I matched the zipline pattern from the front piece to the back piece which was pretty simple to do since the repeat is pretty clear.
My buttonholes are a bit wobbly. Next time I need to do buttonholes on rayon, I’ll use a better interfacing or stabilizer so that they hold their shape better. Other than that, everything came together very smoothly. I especially love how the bias finished hem looks. It was really easy to sew and looks super professional. I’ll definitely use that technique for future curved hems.
My next project to tackle from Handmade Style will be the wallet. I desperately need a new one and this one looks perfect.
I’ve had lots of great natural dyeing experience and I love the process and the colours. I was curious about other types of dyes and the different colours that can be achieved. I was excited when Julie suggested a fibre reactive dye class so that we could explore some new techniques together.
The process is much different from natural dyeing where usually you are submerging your fibres in a pot and cooking them for a period of time. With fibre reactive dyes there is no cooking. You get to paint, squirt, dip and mix your dyes directly onto your fabrics. What’s even more fun is that you can pre-mix different colours to achieve a huge range of colour possibilities.
Natural dyeing will always hold a special place in my heart, but I love that this type of dyeing requires very little space and equipment and you can do a range of colours very easily. It’s the kind of project I would be happy to take on at home or in my backyard. The one tricky part is that the dye needs to ‘cure’ for about 24 hours, so you don’t get to admire your work right away. The dyed fabric gets put in a plastic baggie to stay wet while the cureing takes place.
I’m so happy with my little stack of fat quarters. I’m holding on to them for just the right quilting project. I’ve got a few ideas, perhaps an improv project inspired by the Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters?!