Making Backpack Update

Sometimes you make a thing and although you love it, there’s just something not quite right about it. While making the Making Backpack, I KNEW it needed an additional pattern piece for the straps, but my desire to finish it quickly got the best of me.

So about two weeks ago I decided to fix it. I used the pattern pieces from the Noodlehead Range Backpack and followed the steps to sew. The construction was different than what I thought it would be, and was much easier to sew! I’m glad I referenced this pattern instead of making it up.

I thought I would need to seam rip both the sides and the top to make the straps work, but I ended up only needing to take apart the sides.

It ended up being a really easy fix. I’m glad I pushed through the fear of taking the finished backpack apart. I was really nervous!

The Making Backpack pattern was originally available in Making Magazine, but Anna has updated her pattern to include these triangle connectors. You can find the updated pattern in her shop!

Did Y’all See

The sewing community on Instagram is just the best. I’ve found so much inspiration, motivation, advice, and all the things on this platform. I’m in total shock that 10.6K have decided to follow me and my sporadic makes. This support has made me feel like there truly is space for everyone in the creative world. Additionally, it’s given me the push to pursue some new avenues…

Through stories, I’ve been sharing cool makes and people, but thought I’d also share them here on the blog. Here’s what inspiring makes I’ve seen this past week:

  1. Natalie Ebaugh | @natalie_ebaugh | amazing quilted coats, currently collaborating with Ace & Jig.
  2. Amy Sacksteder | @amysacksteder_studio | Detroit area artist
  3. Hannah Miley | @paddleboatstudio | designer + maker
  4. Caro Bello | @porcarobello | punch needle goods
  5. Jennifer N Neil | @ersa_fibers | textile artist
  6. Katie McDonough Kutil | @petal_and_print

 

Slow Fashion October | Week 1 | What’s your look?

Fashion and style have only recently become an interesting subject to me. My first glimpse into the world of style was back in 2007 (or maybe 2008) when I began measuring vintage clothing for Lauren of Dear Golden. Every week I would sort through giant bins full of the most well made clothing with timeless silhouettes made out of interesting fabrics. Up until that point, I shopped like most girls/women – unaware of how and where clothing was made, operating under the idea that more was better, and mostly adopting others looks. Dear Golden was my gateway into thrifting and buying used clothing. And that habit began to reshape my relationship with style.  Four years of sewing, and now patternmaking have turned getting dressed into a form of self expression paired with more thoughtful consumption.

Although I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of my style, I occasional thrift some things and make some thing that aren’t worn often, or just aren’t as loved as other garments. I also want to be as thoughtful as  possible when I do need to buy items. So, I’m going to try to participate in Slow Fashion October this year, but seeing as this first prompt took me hours to answer, it might not all happen within the month of October (and I guess it’s not supposed to either!).

Do you have a color palette? I sure do and I’m lumping in textures with this too. Give me natural fibers, woven textures, and block printed shapes in neutrals, grays, blacks and whites. If it isn’t a neutral, it needs to be muted and the weirder the brown, the better.

Whose style inspires you; do you have a muse or icon? The most influential folks for me have been other makers (like the women featured below).

Top left: @bayronhandmade | Top right: @threadsnips

Bottom left: @ebonyh | Bottom right: @threadfox

What showed up in your mood board that surprised you? Skirts and dresses are garments I just don’t wear that often. I feel uncomfortable wearing them at my job and when I’m not there, I’m usually doing something that requires a full-range of movement and clothes that don’t get in the way.

As much as I hate to admit, it’s clear living in California is influencing my taste. Warmer weather and constant sunshine are making things cropped, lighter in hue, and the substrates drapey and unstructured.

Accessories Mood Board

Is there a brand you’re always drawn to, for their clothes and/or how they put them together? Why? The ladies of Bock Shop Textiles are masters of bold, graphic prints and yummy colors. I love how Lily and Hopie play with color combinations, layers, and statement jewelry.

Elizabeth Suzann not only makes the silhouettes I’m most comfortable in, it’s also just a bad-ass company doing right by its employees, its customers, the industry, and the earth.

What shapes and styles of garments work best for you, your life and your body? Pants must be high waisted! I suffered through enough plumber’s crack during my teens and 20’s for a lifetime. Never again! My three go-to pant silhouettes are wide leg (both fitted and elastic waist), skinny jeans, and slightly fitted / tapered ankle length pants. I do love a paper bag waist too.

Tops must be boxy. Sleeveless, cap to above elbow length, and 3/4 length sleeves. I don’t like a long sleeve – they get in the way. If wearing wide leg pants, I like to balance the volume out with a more fitted, and sometimes cropped shirt.

What are your clothing pet peeves? (lengths, necklines, sleeve types …) Low rise pants. Ruffles. Synthetic fibers. Really bright colors. Fast Fashion brands – they fill thrift stores in CA. Anything that makes me feel uncomfortable (itchy, not full-coverage).

What is your favorite garment or outfit (right now or always) and why? I’ve got mad love for a jumpsuit. Jumpsuits are effortless full outfits, almost like a dress, but with more, uh, coverage. They do make going to the restroom interesting, but are totally worth it in my opinion.

What is the image you would like to project with your clothing? I enjoy that a decent number of people I interact with routinely ask “what are you wearing that you made?” Since learning to sew, I’ve identified more and more as an artist and I like that my style has started to project that image.

Can you describe your style in five adjectives? Comfortable. Handmade. Neutral. Functional. This question is hard.

What’s an example of something you own and love (had to have!) but never wear, and why not? I want to be a clog person. I’ve owned a lot of clogs over the years, but really only one pair has every been worn with some regularity. All others have been awful and Swedish Hasbeens are THE WORST. I purchased a pair of Bryr clogs for my wedding with the intention of them fitting into my regular closet – and they are actually comfortable –  but I just don’t want to wear high heels as a teacher.

I’m capturing more mood boards and inspiration on Pinterest. Are you participating in Slow Fashion October?

Art Stuff

A few folks have asked which sketchbooks, pens, and general art media I prefer. Here’s a partial dive into what I use:

Sketchbooks – I regularly use several different sketchbooks depending on what I’m doing. For sewing plans, media experimentation, and more in-depth drawings/paintings, I LOVE the Shinola sketchbook. It has the exterior beauty of a Moleskine, but with higher quality paper. The paper is a crisp white with a bit of tooth and can actually hold wet media unlike Moleskines.

For my Logbook, I use a cheap notebook from Muji. This isn’t the exact one but it’s very similar. I love it because it’s cheap and kinda crappy, which almost eliminates the fear of the blank page.

To capture my patternmaking class notes and ideas, I use a Canson XL Mixed Media sketchbook. I always affix some fancy paper to the cover, like this Elizabeth Suzann packaging.

Ink Brushes – I use gray and black ink brushes for both shading and covering larger areas (and mistakes!).

Pencils – I haven’t been doing much with graphite lately. I made the conscious decision to draw mostly with ink because it forces me to slow down and commit to the mark. When I do use pencils, Blackwings live up to the hype.

Pens – I use a lot of pens but these Pentel Arts Tradio Stylo pens are super messy and fun to use in my logbook. For a while, I didn’t realize I was using just the refills, which were a pain to hold. Then when we were in Paris I found the case that they fit in.

Sharpies – For my logbook I use a variety pack of Sharpies. I like how they bleed through the cheap Muji pages of my logbook.

Watercolors – I use Case For Making watercolors which are handmade in San Francisco. I took two workshops with Alexis (owner) and most of my pans are from those workshops!

They really are the best watercolors. So much pigment!

I also do love a good Micron Pen. I use a combination of handmade bags and tins to carry these supplies with me.

My best advice for starting a drawing practice is to just start. Be fine with it not looking how you want immediately. It took me about three weeks of daily logs to find my style and I’m sure it will change. Draw your making plans! Drawing became more of daily thing for me when I started documenting all of my sewing plans in a sketchbook. There’s so much inspiration out there, it’s really helpful to capture it on paper. Also carry your sketchbook with you everywhere. I used to feel really self conscious about drawing out in public, but the truth is, no one is looking at you. And if they are, they’re probably interested in drawing too!

And read this article to re-frame your drawing mindset.

SHOOOZ

I bought this sandal making kit shortly after discovering Rachel Sees Snail Shoes on Instagram. At the moment of purchase, I felt entirely up for the challenge, but once it arrived, it stayed boxed up in a closet for probably two years.

I’m unsure of where that ‘can do’ attitude disappeared to, but the longer I waited, the more intimidating the project started to feel.

Then, Summer of Basics 2018 rolled around and I thought “just fricking do it, Sienna.” I then declared to the world of Instagram that handmade leather sandals would be my 4th make for the challenge. These were added as a fourth project because technically it’s a sewing and knitting/crochet challenge.

I blew through my three other planned makes and was feeling pretty good about tackling these shoes I’d put off for years. I cut everything out, did the fitting, marked everything, and felt great. The kit comes with pretty much everything you need including pattern pieces and thorough instructions. If you’ve ever made anything, I’m pretty sure you too could make these sandals.

Then we went on a week long trip abroad and immediately after I started the 2018-19 school year. So productivity plummeted and they sat partially assembled for weeks.

Finally, last week I plowed through the last few steps of gluing, skiving, attaching the foam soles, trimming, and adding laces. I don’t have the ability to sand down the edges (elbow grease just doesn’t cut it) so the foam bases are a little choppy, but whatever.

Each step is truly doable, it just takes a little slowing down and some foresight. The kit comes with contact glue, so it differs from sewing in that once the glue-y parts connect, it can’t be ripped off (easily anyway). And there are no do overs with leather.

Next time, I will size down. I compared a pair of sandals I wear often and the pattern pieces seemed like a match, however, these are definitely too large.

Have you ever wanted to make your own shoes?

Summer of Basics 2018

I attempted the Summer of Basics challenge last year and it was a total flop. I was in a bad place professionally and summer break ended up being all about recovering. After a much better school year, I was feeling super productive and up for a challenge.

Summer of Basics is hosted by Fringe Association and its only parameters are that you create 3 workhorse garments between June 1 and August 31. I chose 4 projects because as a teacher I have time off and can handle it.

1. Willow Hack – My first make was a Willow Tank / gathered skirt mash up. I’m super pleased with this make and think it’ll be one of the few dresses I wear often. You can read more about it on its original post here. Finished: June 29th.

2. Little Wiggles Sun Hat – My second make was the ‘Little Wiggles’ Sun Hat. Sun hats are just a silly, albeit sometimes necessary accessory so I thought I’d lean in and make it a little extra with a fun block print. I added two grommets and a leather strap for even more utility. You can read more about it here. Finished: July 2nd.

3. Making Backpack – Bag making is so satisfying and Noodlehead is a pattern genius. The Making Backpack is Anna’s contribution to the Making Magazine No. 5 / Color issue. You can read more about it here. Finished: July 8th.

4. Sandals – I made sandals using this kit from Rachel Sees Snail Shoes. This was an intimidating project I had put off for years, but after each step I thought “Oh. That wasn’t that bad.” The kit comes with everything you need except for a belt sander, so my edges are a little rough and the size is a wee bit too big but I MADE SHOES. Finished: August 26th.

Logbook Abroad

My main goal for 2018 was to Draw More. It wasn’t until mid-May and after re-reading Austin Kleon‘s book, Steal Like An Artist, that I was able to figure out how to make it an almost daily thing. I’m so glad I started this practice. I’m so humbled by the challenge of keeping it up, especially when traveling.

These pages include our trip to Belgium and France:

I didn’t bust out my Shinola Sketchbook as much as I thought I would. BUT I did draw a few things and that’s a win.

Honeymooning in Handmade

I had a huge boost in sewing productivity this summer break. Once I’d cranked out a few pieces, the idea to create an entire summer travel capsule for our honeymoon overwhelmed my time off.

Day 1 | Thursday/Friday | SFO to Paris to Brussels

Modified Shirt No. 1 with sash and Making Backpack.

Day 2 | Saturday | Brussels

Maya Top with cuffs, self-drafted linen culottes, and Making Backpack.

Day 3 | Sunday | Brussels

Peppermint Magazine Drawstring Shorts and Set Sail Hat.

Day 4 | Monday | Bruges

Modified Shirt No. 1 dress and Making Backpack.

Day 5 | Tuesday | Brussels to Paris

Shirt No. 1, self-drafted linen culottes, and Making Backpack.

Day 6 | Wednesday | Paris

Maya Top with cuffs over Willow Tank hack dress.

Day 7 | Thursday | Paris

Morning: Cropped Willow Tank, Peppermint Magazine Drawstring Shorts, and Making Backpack.

Day 7 | Thursday | Paris

Evening: Willow Hack Dress.

Day 8 | Friday | Paris to SFO

Modified Shirt No. 1 dress and Making Backpack.

The neutral color palette allowed for a decent amount of mixing and matching. Four tops, two dresses, culottes, shorts, two scarves, one sun hat, and three pairs of footwear worked out perfectly for eight days. I also brought a RTW jean jacket for cool mornings and evenings.

I even made my husband a Fairfield Button-up for the trip! We had two fancier events (dinner on the Seine and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at Sainte Chapelle) which required more put-together looks. Otherwise I wouldn’t have needed the third pair of shoes. His shirt still needs buttonholes/buttons on the cuffs, but he wears the sleeves rolled up most of the time so it wasn’t a huge deal I couldn’t get them in before the trip.

Brussels + Bruges + Paris

Spent a lovely week in three cities.  So much art. So many pan au chocolat.

There will be another post about my logbook and another about my handmade travel capsule soon!

 

Making Backpack

The minute I laid eyes on the Making Backpack way back in March, I was sold. I promptly ordered a subscription to Making and started sketching plans.

I went through a lot of different plans before choosing an overall neutral look of waxed canvas, natural cotton, leather, and brass (sources linked below).

Anna’s excellent instructions and clear illustrations make you feel like a seasoned bag maker. If I didn’t need to wait for brass rivets (a totally optional feature), this could have easily come together in a day.

Although it’s a small backpack, it can hold my 13″ laptop in its Quilted Computer Sleeve. I just love how waxed canvas wrinkles.

The front pocket is perfect for a paperback book, or small sketchbook.

I’m excited about the double handles because museums always pitch a fit about my tiny backpacks. Now I’ll have another carrying option besides wearing it in the front like a nerd.

I attempted to come up with a leather/snap feature that would hold the front handle and back hang loop together. I couldn’t figure out anything that was slim enough and would slide out of the way, so I gave up. I wanted to to finish it!

This ended up being 3/8″ slimmer than the pattern. Either my sewing was off, or the zipper tape was a little narrow. I do like how closely it hugs my back. The only thing I’d change is adding a triangle to the bottom part of the straps so that the webbing doesn’t bunch up on the rectangle rings.

I’m oddly proud of that little leather zipper loop I added. My Bernina 530 handled the project like a champ and I’m trying not to think about all that wax residue…

Sources:

Olive Waxed Cotton Canvas: Stonemountain & Daughter

Speckled Linen Lining Fabric: purchased from Fancy Tiger Crafts in early 2017, can’t find on website.

Hardware & Webbing Kit: Noodlehead Shop, rivets and zipper leather loop not included.