Thursday, October 23, 2014

I'm teaching at The Sewing Party!


By now you've probably heard at least a little bit about The Sewing Party. [Well, whether you have or not, get ready because I'm gonna tell you about it.]

The Sewing Party is the first ever online DIY conference. What does that mean exactly? It means that 'attendees' get access to 30+ educational videos that cover everything from garment construction to bra making to cosplay costumes to buying a sewing machine. The main event will be Saturday, November 8th. On that day, all the videos will go live on The Sewing Party's website. Teachers will be on hand throughout the day for live chatting to answer questions, and you can also shop in virtual vendor booths and interact with other sewists.

Attendees will then have access to all the content for 90 days, since obviously it would be hard to watch 30 different classes in one day [and actually impossible unless you have to power to stop time].  Tickets are $40.

I will be teaching two of the classes. The first one is called Knits 101, and it's all about how to sew knits with your regular machine. All attendees will get a free PDF pattern along with the class called the Morgan Tee, which is a fun and easy slouchy t-shirt that will help reinforce the material we learn.


[I've been wearing Morgan Tees in a few of my posts recently if you want to check them out! The horse tee and the buffalo plaid tee are both Morgans.]

The second class I'm teaching is called 6 Essential Sewing skills, and it covers some basic stuff that is useful for lots and lots of different projects. If you're reading my blog because you already sew then you probably know most of the things in there, but it still could be useful for brushing up or if the material is new to you!

6 essential skillstitle-01

Like I said, there are many other video classes you can watch, so be sure to check out the classes page if you're interested. And if you want a little preview, they're going to start releasing trailers of some of the classes soon on The Sewing Party Facebook and Instagram pages.

Lauren of Lladybird and Nancy who owns The Fabric Studio are also both Sewing Party teachers, and since we're all here in Nashville we shot our videos on the same day in Nancy's space. Here are some behind the scenes photos!


I also had another shoot day in a different place, a set at the Singer/Viking/Pfaff offices outside Nashville.


You can sign up for The Sewing Party all the way up until the day before. I can't wait to see everyone else's videos, and to listen to myself talk on camera NOTTTTTT!!!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Travel Sewing Progress - Cooper Bag (and a Mabel Skirt)

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

I've been working like a maniac to get ready for my trip. Most of it has been legitimate things like the finishing of work assignments and the arrangement of flora/fauna care. But also some of it has been deliciously stressful self-imposed project deadlines. One of those things was the Colette [Walden] Cooper Bag.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

I know the Cooper was mentioned as almost an afterthought on my travel sewing plans post, but it got bumped up on the list for a few reasons. First, I definitely need a day bag when I'm there that's big enough for things like my camera. The only bags I have like that right now are regular backpacks and big open tote bags, neither of which are the most secure things to carry around in crowded touristy places. Second, the wonderful and local The Fabric Studio has hard copies of the pattern, so I didn't have to print and tape together the PDF. [This one probably wouldn't have been that bad to tape together, but I just didn't feel like I had the time.]

The final thing that convinced me to pull the trigger was that there was both a messenger bag and a backpack view. I wanted messenger bag capabilities for those crowded places so my stuff was in front of me. But I also didn't want to commit to just messenger bag, because my shoulder gets tired and achy wearing one all day, and I think backpacks are way more comfortable. So even though they were separate views, I thought...maybe I could combine them?

So I combined them!

I can wear it as a messenger bag when I feel like I need to.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

But for when I get sick of messenger and want backpack, I made the shoulder strap removable with swivel snaps, so I can take it off. It can also be tucked down under the top flap. Either way, it then becomes - backpack!

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

I wish I could go so far as to say it was convertible, but I can't really. When it's a messenger bag the backpack straps are still there, just kinda dangling. They don't really get in the way, but I'd love to make another one and figure out how to make it truly convertible. Like maybe they could unsnap and be snapped on somewhere else to go from backpack straps to shoulder straps.

But this was not the time for major experimentation.

I did do a lot of smaller experimentation though, which I am about to bore you to tears with! First, the fabric details:

Outer: gray canvas duck from JoAnn
Flap: Robert Kaufman Chamonix moleskin [scraps from my bomber jacket]
Webbing: 1.5" cotton webbing from JoAnn
Hardware: The Buckle Guy [really good for hardware, has tons of swivel snaps and rings and slides, check them out!] and JoAnn [last minute D-ring crisis, and rivets which are in the leather aisle BTW]
Lining: cat corduroy, gifted from a friend!
Other: cotton batting for padding, Pellon 809 in flap

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

So most obviously, to do the messenger/backpack duo I just added the messenger bag strap to the backpack view. The bag parts for both are nearly identical, they just have different straps.

The bottom panel that you see on the front is supposed to be an open exterior pocket, but I knew I wasn't going to put anything in there because it would fall out/get stolen, so I skipped the pocket. But I still added the panel because I thought maybe it added strength. Or something. I just stitched it down along the top.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

I did include the top exterior pocket, which is only visible when the flap is up. Again I probably won't use it, maybe for chapstick or something, but I like how it looked. But then, as I was turning the whole thing right side out, I was yanking on the pocket, quite stupidly, and I actually half pulled it out on one side. It's held down by topstitching, so the only thing to do was rip out a little bit of the topstitching and redo it, which was really hard once the bag was all together and impossible to do without it being noticeable. So yeah, don't pull on the pocket when you're turning it!

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

I also added a zipper to the inside. Although the flap is pretty big and secured with magnetic snaps, I still wanted to make sure my stuff was safe. I used a 14" separating sport zipper and sewed each side in the middle of two 1.5" wide strips of lining fabric. Then I sewed some little tubes and folded/stitched them around each end of the zipper. I serged the raw edges and them stitched them to each side of the lining 2"-ish down from the top edge.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

It worked pretty well, except that I should have used a 12" zipper. It's too long for the space. It was fine when the lining was flat but I didn't account for the way the webbing tabs make the lining form a square shape at each end. It only affects functionality a little bit, it's mostly just mildly irritating. You know, one of those things. There's probably a tutorial somewhere that would have told me this, but NO TIME FOR THAT!

Yup, too long:

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

Here's the inside - LOOK AT THE LINING! This is an amazing corduroy cat print fabric that my friend and past co-worker Rebecca gave to me. Isn't it so cute?? I only had a yard, otherwise it would have already been pants or something. [I actually did consider shorts, but I think this is a better application.] It's so soft and snuggly!

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

Inside I made one of the pockets a zipper pocket so that I have a place for the important stuff.

I was also excited to use the cat fabric because of Erin's Cat Lady Sewing Challenge on Miss Crayola Creepy! Basically it involves sewing something with cats on it during the month of October. I think it was supposed to be a garment, but I say these cats meet at least half the challenge!

Now let's talk about the back. I added some padding to the back panel, because I was looking at a backpack I had and realized, oh yes, all backpacks are padded there.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

After the straps were attached to the back piece, I put two layers of batting behind it and did a little quilting to attach it. It would probably be even better to use a really thin piece of foam, but I didn't have a really thin piece of foam. I did, however, have copious amounts of batting scraps. Years of them. I always get really excited when I can use them.

And now on to the straps. The pattern just has you use webbing, but I really wanted legit backpack straps. I basically copied the straps from my handy dandy Target backpack.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

There are two layers of batting sandwiched in between two layers of the outer fabric [again, foam would probably be better]. I cut the fabric on the bias because I did one first on grain and it was kinking up in a MOST unattractive way when worn. I sewed two lines down the middle and trimmed the straps down to 2.5" x 13.5", then rounded one end. Then I put bias tape around the edges and topstitched it down. I attached a webbing tab with a metal slide, then to that attached a piece of webbing with an adjustable D-ring situation. Then I followed the instructions to attach each end.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

Last thing to talk about is the flap. I interfaced the outer flap with Pellon 809, which is super stiff. The moleskin was pre washed and soft and I didn't want it to be too floppy. For the topstitching, first I tried to sew two separate lines but it looked godawful so I ripped it out. Then I used a twin needle, which was great for being even except that I didn't think about how it would look from the other side, which is not the greatest. I also didn't think about how when I punched the hole for the rivets, it would cut the bobbin thread of the twin needle, and unravel it. So I had to repair more topstitching. Not too noticeable to a random person, but still makes me grrrr.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

Overall I'm SO happy with this bag! I can't want to use it. The process wasn't difficult as far as knowing what the steps were, but there were a few times when my machine just couldn't sew through something. I was realllly wishing I had some kind of mega industrial machine when I was sewing the lining and exterior around the top. And to make matters worse, my Pfaff is having issues [I think I messed up the bobbin tension because I was fiddling with it, whoops] so I had to use my Singer, which is just so weak when it comes to heavy duty fabrics.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

And oh, by the way, what skirt is that I'm wearing? It's an previously unblogged Mabel skirt that I'm still not sure about. I never know what to wear it with. I tried tucking tshirts in but they showed through all lumpy and bumpy. It's also kind of outside my normal style comfort zone.

Then today it was cold and I put on tights and suddenly realized - CONTROL TOP SOLVES EVERYTHING. If you tuck the t-shirt inside the control top, the lumps and bumps get smooshed away.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

I wasn't going to take any skirts on my trip but maybe now I will? As long as I remember the control top tights too...

Monday, October 13, 2014

How do you feel about affiliate links?

affliate links

No finished make today, sorry! I don't do this very often, but I wanted to have a discussion post about a steadily growing phenomenon - affiliate links.

In case you don't know, an affiliate link is a special link that keeps track of how many people buy something after clicking on it. The person who posts the link gets a small commission if someone buys the product after getting to the page from the affiliate link. Affiliate links usually have certain language/words in the URL [like the word 'affiliate']. Otherwise, they just look like a regular link. [Some people do use TinyURL or a similar service to get rid of that language in the link so that the affiliate part is less obvious.]

I've recently gotten a few offers from very small companies that have their own affiliate programs. One of them is for a sewing pattern, so it's something I post about all the time anyway. But people seem to have a lot of negative opinions about affiliate links, so I wanted to do a sort of informal poll about them.

Here's my opinion: As long as the link is something related to what the blogger usually posts about, and as long as it is something they are genuinely recommending [at least as far as I can tell], I don't have a problem with it. To me, it doesn't change the interaction. If someone provides a link to something, I will click on it if I am interested. It is then my choice to buy or not to buy. Whether or not someone is getting compensated for my my click doesn't bother me, because affiliate or non-affiliate, the conditions, actions and choices on my end are the exactly the same.

I also understand that there are a lot of factors that go into the way an affiliate link feels to a reader - level of disclosure, perceived deception, how off-topic it is. Again, I know the opinions are varied, and I'd love to hear what your thoughts are, whatever they are! Why do you hate them? Why do you love them? Why do you not care at all? Comment away!

ETA: Thank you everyone so much for commenting! I'm always interested to hear people's thoughts on things like this and I'm glad so many of you chimed in.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ikat Emery Dress and the Tale of the Missing Bodice


Here, against the picturesque backdrop of my neighbor's collection of broken lawnmowers, is a navy ikat Emery Dress.

My first Emery was a cute stripey one I made about a year ago when Christine first released the pattern. I really love it, but sadly the fabric is a huge pain to iron, so it doesn't get worn very often. This, I assure you, is a tragedy, because it really is very cute. I think that this one will be a little more lazy-launderess friendly. It's made out of a light but sturdy navy ikat from The Fabric Studio.


I thought that I had a bodice piece with my changes on it from the first time around. I really thought I did. But when I opened my Emery ziploc bag, there was none to be found. The only one in there was one without any alterations. So maybe I was mistaken?

Or...maybe I'll just pretend to forget I had done any alterations and forge ahead like nothing's wrong? Yes, yes, let's go with that.


I was pretty sure that I had lowered the bust darts originally, and a simple fit with the pattern tissue confirmed this. I measured how far down I wanted to move the dart, then just literally hacked it out of the paper and retaped it lower. Not a pretty sight, but it worked.

So after that I got to it, and as I was plugging along everything was going smoothly, except...the bodice was looking kinda short. Hm. Oh no, this is really short. I don't remember the last one being so short.


Oh wait, it's all coming back to me now. Yes. I had originally lengthened the bodice by 1.5" or so.

Well then, I guess...WAISTBAND!

My compensation waistband fixed the problem pretty well, although I may have made it just a touch too wide because now there's a bit of extra fabric right above the waist. But if I have really good posture it's hard to tell.


I've talked before of my love for crazy linings. For this one I used an Anna Maria Horner voile that I had in my stash. Boom! Pow!


I do love the skirt on the Emery, I know it's a good ol' basic gathered skirt but it's the perfectly right proportion or something because I always like how it turns out. You can also slap it on just about any bodice, something I'll be showing you for my next finished garment post once I get around to taking some pictures.


So despite the missing bodice and my terrible sewing memory, this ended up okay. Woohoo! And at least now it's been recorded on the interwebs in case I forget again.

Have a lovely week, and I hope you're enjoying the change of seasons wherever you are!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Travel Sewing Plans!

One of the best parts about an upcoming vacation is that you have an excuse to MAKE NEW THINGS! Do I already have clothes that would be sufficient? Of course! Would I rather give myself a barrage of self-imposed sewing deadlines that are unrealistic but thrilling to imagine? YES!

For my whole trip to Berlin, my wardrobe theme [because all vacation wardrobes should have themes] is utilitarian. I want to pack light and streamline everything and feel very mobile. I'm going to be doing a lot by myself during the day while my brother is at work and I will just want easy clothes.

The first and largest project I'm hoping to accomplish is a coat. I have never made a real coat, with interlining and actual warmth-preserving properties, and I've actually not even bought one in the last five or six years. But now I live in a place with an almost-actual winter, and will be traveling to a place that has a real winter. So I need a coat.

I'm pretty sure I've chosen the Colette [Walden] Albion jacket. It's partially because I already own that pattern, and that would be responsible of me. AND I have [I think] enough leftover navy moleskin from the KwikSew bomber jacket to make it, which would be even more responsible. IT'S LIKE AN almost FREE COAT.

Travel Sewing

I wasn't sure if it was exactly the pattern I was looking for until I saw this version on Evolution of a Sewing Goddess. She did a lot of shaping and added seams and made it more feminine. I really love it. I don't know if I'll have time to do all the work she did, but if I even go a little in that direction I'll be happy.

I'm planning on interlining with Thinsulate, as I don't expect the cotton moleskin to be very warm or wind-stopping. Does anyone have any experience with using thinsulate? I'm trying to decide if I should use it in the arms or not.

Next, I have this acid wash knit that's burning a hole in my stash so I really want to make some jeggings, but I'm scared. What pattern should I use? Will the Berliners make fun of me? I feel like if I do them right they will just look like pants, not leggings-as-pants. The fabric is pretty thick and stable so it could work. I was thinking of using just a basic leggings pattern and adding some double topstitching along the side seam / inseam. I also have the Papercut Ooh La Leggings pattern, which might be better. But I don't know, WILL I LOOK RIDICULOUS?


Also in the pants department, I'd really like to make a part of cigarette pants. I have already made a muslin of the Colette Clover pants, but sadly it's been lost to time and space, and I can't find it anywhere. I'm hoping that I accidentally left it in my old house in LA, and someday someone will find these weird see-through pants with sharpie marks all over them. I have some grey stretch twill that would be really cute, as long as I can get the fit right.


And speaking of, well, Clovers, I'd like to make another Papercut Clover shirt out of this navy polka dot sheer business.


I'd like to make up a Plantain or two as good staples, maybe long sleeved. I have some black jersey and the Arizona Tomahawk jersey for those.


I also think that I need a daytime bag. I'm eyeing the Cooper bag because it can be a backpack and a messenger bag, which fits with my theme of utilitarian, a very important criterion. The only thing is that I don't have the pattern OR fabric for this one yet, so I'd have to buy them. We shall see.

And lastly, I want to use this motorcycle jersey to make a Thread Theory Strathcona henley for my brother as a thank you for putting me up. He has a motorcycle, and half of his instagram pictures are of motorcycles, so it seems only fitting. And I'm not ruining the surprise because I don't think he reads my you, Ian? Do you? This is a test.


So there are my six[ish] sewing goals. As of today I have three weeks. Will I accomplish all? some? any? Who knows! But I'm gonna try!


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