A photo posted by Karyn Valino (@make_something) on
Been on a bit of a zippered pouch kick recently and still have a few more on my list I want to make! It’s been fun drafting new shapes and sizes. I don’t think I’ll ever have enough pouches in my life. Also added leather pulls and piping for the first time. Love those little details.
I always assumed that I would just buy jeans for the rest of my life. That and sweaters. I was okay with it. Jeans seemed too mysterious and complicated to tackle.
When Heather Lou emailed me to ask about doing a Ginger Jeans class at the workroom, suddenly making jeans seemed totally possible. When you have the Jean Queen at your side, nothing can stop you.
Jeans are no joke. The class was over a weekend, two 8-hour days. (Apparently in a factory it takes 15 minutes!) We came to class with our denim already cut out. This way we could focus our time on fitting and construction.
The key to great jeans is the fit, of course. The first thing we did was baste our jeans together for a fitting with Heather. This step is so valuable and made such a huge difference to everyone’s final pair. Most importantly, Heather is a expert at fitting. That alone was worth the price of admission for me.
After that we all wanted to cry as we ripped our jeans apart to make changes and start again from the beginning. Here’s a revelation – it’s actually not that hard to sew jeans. There’s just a lot of steps and if you take each step one at a time, you’ll get there. (This advice really applies to everything in life) Even the dreaded fly front came together without batting an eye. Heather’s guidance kept us laughing and motivated through the whole process.
There are two views for this pattern, a low rise with stovepipe legs or a high waisted version with skinny legs. I opted for the low rise since that’s what I’m used to wearing. Quite a few ladies in the class made the high waisted style and now I’m tempted to try it.
What I especially love is that every detail of this pattern is professional quality. Our jeans have top stitching, rivets, jean buttons, a coin pocket, bar tacks and strategically placed back pockets. Back pocket placement is the secret to jeans that look extra awesome.
It was really great to see how 12 different pairs of jeans for 12 different ladies came together in class. Even Heather whipped up some Louis Vuitton inspired denim flares. What a perfect way to spend the weekend learning something so epic.
I’ve started doing ‘research’ for my next pairs. I can’t wait to play around with all the details and fit, now that I know what I’m doing. If my first pair is this good, I can’t wait for my second pair. This is just the beginning of a new love affair with denim.
A photo posted by Karyn Valino (@make_something) on
I’ve got a couple long term knitting projects that could do with a proper project bag, especially in this brilliant nani IRO canvas. I have a feeling this Stowe Bag pattern is going to become a staple.
A little bit more quilt catch-up. My Swoon quilt lives on my bed and I love so many things about it. The pink and grey colour palette is one of my favourites. I selected so many special fabrics for this quilt and tried to use as many as possible. There is a floral print from the one of the first deliveries ever at the workroom, some prints from my trip to Salt Lake City, hand printed fabric from my first ever class with Lizzy House, Liberty of London, For each of the stars, I also added in one rogue piece of another fabric, just to make it more difficult/fun.
I made the quilt ages ago in Johanna’s Swoon Quilt class, where we learned different ways to make these large blocks more efficiently and with less fabric required by the pattern.
The quilt top was done for a while and as usual it just sat for a long time not being quilted. I finally sent it out to a longarmer at the beginning of the year to be completed. I chose a pattern called ‘Crab Apple Flower’. I used wool batting on this quilt and you can really see how the loft shows off the quilting design quite prominently.
The end of the year is approaching much faster than I’d like it to. I’ve got a bit of a line up for the Bernina Q24 longarm – my Meadow Quilt, The Weight of Love Quilt, Brickworks and also my Mod Blocks are ready to go. Thinking I’m going to need a quilting marathon after the holidays.
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.