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?!
The Weight of Love design caught my eye right away. What’s not to love about hexagons?! I figured it would be some seriously complex piecing but it’s really just a matter of being organized and sewing a heck of a lot of partial seams.
Libs Elliott is a local quilter, who I’m delighted to say took her first quilting classes at the workroom. Libs has really created an incredible style of quilt design that uses computer generated design. I can’t properly explain it, but it’s inspiring and you should check it out!
Once I had finished my Quilt As You Go Carryall, I knew I needed to keep going with that colour selection and use it in a quilt. This one seemed like the perfect place to show off these fabrics. I just realized that scraps from my latest Camber Tee & Everyday Skirt also make an appearance in this quilt. Talk about being matchy-matchy!
I have to admit that I’m a sucker for a clever ruler since I discovered the Triangle Squared Ruler and the Pathways Ruler. This quilt puts the Hex N More ruler to work and you can easily cut hexagons, half hexagons, jewels and 60 Degree triangles from strips of fabric with it.
I pieced most of this quilt on my new vintage Singer Celery Featherweight machine. It was really fun to sit at this little machine and piece together this quilt top with its’ perfect straight stitches. I’ve had my eye out for a Celery Featherweight for a few years now, so I was over the moon to find this one is such great condition.
For once, I finished up the quilt top pretty quickly after the class was done. It’s in the quilting queue for the Bernina Q24 longarm. I’ve got plans to quilt it and bind it just the way it is, rather than add a background. I can’t wait to tackle the odd shape.
A photo posted by Karyn Valino (@make_something) on
A few months ago Andrew & I were interviewed by Sarah (@permanentlyplural) for an episode of her podcast, Pet Sounds Radio. We spoke by Skype to tell her our story of taking Maisy to Madison, Wisconsin for cancer treatment back in 2012. It was an incredibly difficult yet beautiful journey. You can listen to Maisy’s story here. You can see photos from our trip here.
Sarah was in town this weekend for a wedding and dropped by to finally meet Maisy in person. What a sweet moment!
This bag evolved from Johanna’s very first class at the workroom, the Quilt as you go Tote which first appeared on our calendar almost eight years ago! The tote was adorable and the technique was really useful but Johanna wanted to update the class to make a much larger bag that would be extra useful. The kind of carryall you would love for everyday use.
I was excited to use this colour palette. It had been on my mind for a while. Although I use blue a lot, with the addition of the black, it made this a much bolder selection than I usually put together. I initially used these fabrics for the Herringbone Patchwork class and when this class launched soon after, it made it sense to me to just grab the same stack of fabrics to create the front panel and then use my Herringbone block for the back. I love being able to combine work from one class into another.
The Quilt As You Go technique is super fun. It’s perfect for making smaller bags and accessories to give them extra body. Plus, a patchwork bag means that you can cram in lots of fun fabrics rather just one or two. I kept the quilting simple but fairly dense. I really love how my Patchwork iPad Case turned out, so I followed a similar style.
Johanna nailed it with this pattern update. This bag is a great size and fits all the random things I might bring along with me to work each day, including Maisy’s dinner container, my Nikon D90 camera, wallet, multiple notebooks and a bottle of PastTense.
I couldn’t shake this colour palette so I used it for my Weight of Love Quilt too!
A photo posted by Karyn Valino (@make_something) on
Kris has been working so hard on this beautiful book for over a year. Wait until you see how detailed it is! the workroom will be hosting her Toronto book launch part on Tuesday November 10, 6-8pm. Save the date!