This past week I finished my final year of teaching. In two weeks we’ll move from the Bay Area to Portland. Having some good, big life changes over here.
After five months, she’s back. I wrote a decent amount about her and the mess that followed in another blog post, so this post is just about the pictures.
Back in September of 2018, I was asked to contribute to a Sew News article about Grainline Tamarack hacks that would be in the Fall 2019 issue. I agreed, signed a contract for a small payment, and started planning. Sew News wasn’t providing fabric, or compensation for material costs. The jacket and article were due January 10, 2019 and I had to pay for its shipping to Sew News for the photo shoot. Months passed and I didn’t receive my payment. I inquired multiple times, but it was chocked up to a slow system. Then I received a Chapter 11 Notice in the mail. I reached out to the point person again and learned that I would need to submit a claim to the courts in order to receive payment.
Needless to say, I’m miffed. However, I am pleased to report that after asking for my jacket to be returned and for my writing to be removed from the issue, it happened. It’s not a good feeling to leave the magazine in a lurch, but it’s also unfair for them to publish it when I haven’t received the agreed upon compensation. The whole thing makes me feel very weary of working with “larger” companies in the future. As far as I know, they’re still asking for contributors for future issues. I don’t know if the magazine has been bought/has a stable financial future, or if they’re able to pay for contract work moving forward.
Anyway, here’s my write up and some process pics. As I mentioned above, the purpose of the article was Tamarack Jacket hacks. My twist on the pattern was more about the surface design and quilting pattern than big changes to the sewing pattern. I did do some basic mods like lengthen the body, shorten the sleeves, and use patch pockets in lieu of the pattern’s welt pockets.
Block printing is one of the easiest ways to alter the surface of just about any textile. With a few simple supplies, you have endless opportunities to customize fabric right from your home. In my at-home block printing kit, I like to use Speedball Speedy Carve Blocks, a Speedball brand linoleum cutter, a Testrite Foam Brayer, a baren to help apply even pressure, and water-based silkscreen ink for fabric. I prefer to use a foam brayer when block printing on fabric as it applies more ink to the blocks and prints more evenly than a rubber brayer. I also like to use water-based ink because oil-based is a little smelly. Whatever base ink you choose to use, make sure it’s designed to be applied to fabric, or your ink won’t ever fully adhere! Most importantly, remember to wash and dry your fabric to remove any sizing that might affect the ink.
For the exterior fabric of my Tamarack, I chose Robert Kaufman’s Essex Yarn Dyed Homespun fabric in Pepper. This textile is a linen-cotton blend that I knew would quilt up beautifully. For the lining I used the same fabric in Charcoal. The bias binding is also Pepper to keep the emphasis on the block printed design. This was my first time block printing on a fabric with any visual texture (I usually keep to solid colors), and I just love the result. The weave shows through the print and also helps conceal the wonky, imperfect nature of block prints.
Block printing can be quite time consuming. I recommend cutting out your garment pieces before printing the fabric. There’s less waste, it requires less space, and you have more control over the print’s placement. With all of your pieces cut out, it’s easy to find a printing groove. I also recommend doing a few test prints on scrap fabric before committing to block printing your cut out pieces.
After your fabric is printed, it will need to dry for a minimum of 24 hours. It’s hard to wait, but I’ve found if I rush this step, the ink tends to smear. After it’s dried, be sure to heat set the ink with a hot iron too. While I was allowing my printed pieces to dry, I decided my quilting pattern would also emphasize the geometric shapes. I quilted around each shape instead of using a standard line quilting pattern. I used black thread in the bobbin and I love how the quilted shapes look on the inside.
Since I decided to use large scale geometric shapes to create a surface pattern, I lengthened the body by 10 inches. Although many Tamaracks look great with a rolled cuff, I wanted the surface pattern on mine to be the focal point. I shortened the sleeves by three inches and added about half an inch to the cuff opening. Additionally, I chose to round the bottom front opening to mimic the rounded corners of the patch pockets.
A lot of RTW quilted jackets feature patch pockets and I thought it would be an opportunity to puzzle out how to print an uninterrupted pattern. I cut the pocket pieces so that the top edge is on the fold, sandwiched batting in between, quilted around the shapes, and finished the sides and bottom with the same bias binding. It didn’t turn out perfect, but it’s pretty close! Instead of attempting to pin the pockets in place, I used Wash Away Wonder Tape to stitch in the ditch and edgestitch the pockets in place.
Initially I had planned to use Hong Kong seams to finish the inside of the jacket, but it ended up being too bulky. Instead the seams were serged and pressed open. The finishing touch was a block printed label. I like to add these to all my me-mades, or print directly onto the garment with my NOT A PRIMARY COLOR block.
I have wanted to design fabric for a while now and knew one potential step in that direction would be to learn how to screen print fabric. I took a printmaking class during my undergraduate studies, but it was a long time ago and its focus was fine art prints. It did help me understand the basic concepts, but it didn’t include any practice with photo emulsion (we had to hand paint the screens), or using digital images.
I found a local space that regularly holds screen printing workshops and thought I would just figure out how to use it on fabric later. Thankfully, after all my fabric-based questions, the instructor told me to just go for it.
For my design, I went with something I’d drawn with ink in my sketchbook. I snapped a photo of the sketchbook page and imported the image into Photoshop. I cleaned up each element and arranged them until I was happy with the layout. This part was pretty fast paced, so I didn’t have enough time to figure out how to make a repeating pattern. My Illustrator and Photoshop skills are pretty basic. We then printed our designs on a transparent film.
The next step was to create our screens. The studio had a pretty neat vacuum set up – you can see my screen’s frame underneath the rubber membrane which firmly presses the mesh up against the light box. The screen was exposed for 4 minutes and 45 seconds. After that, the screen is power washed to reveal the design.
The whole process was fairly quick since the instructor had already prepared our screens with the photo emulsion fluid. Usually that step takes a day to dry/cure.
I didn’t take the time to register the fabric prior to printing so each print’s placement was just a guess. Again the class wasn’t set up to print on fabric, so I just had to wing it. I decided to print the solid shapes white and the brushstrokes in black. You can simply mask off the parts of the screen you don’t wish to print with painters tape.
Pulling prints is super physical and my lack of upper body strength became very apparent. I think that having a softer squeegee might help though – all of the tools were meant to print on paper and were quite firm. I had to pull each print a few times to get the desired coverage. We got to take home our screens!
I’m so impressed with the level of detail you can achieve with screen printing. I could have never created a lino block for that brushstroke arch!
After heat setting the prints with a hot iron, I decided to sew up some zippered pouches. I think they’re pretty darn cute (and functional!). I’m figuring out a web shop, so they’ll be up for grabs soon!
Back in December of 2018, Klum House reached out to ask if I’d be willing to make the relaunch of their Maywood Totepack once it was ready. I had already made their Dopp Kit and had recently purchased a Finishing Kit for the first Maywood pattern, so I was definitely on board!
The Maywood is not only a classic bag you’ll use for years, but its making process teaches you clever construction techniques and satisfying hardware setting skills. If you’re looking for a versatile bag with top notch finishes, look no further, the Klum House Maywood Totepack is for you!
PATTERN: Maywood Totepack by Klum House
FABRIC & MATERIALS: Maywood Maker Kit, comes with EVERYTHING you need AND the fabric is already cut out and marked! After much deliberation, I went with the Brush Brown canvas for the front pocket, Dark Brown canvas for the exterior (which reads as a warm black to my eyes), black leather, and brass hardware. There are so many colors to choose from – it took me a while to settle on a color combination!
Sewing and installing the hardware only took a couple of hours, thanks to the Maker Kit. Maker Kits include pre-cut and marked fabric, making the process super fast. Klum House also has Finishing Kits, which include the leather and hardware – you just supply the fabric, or for ultimate customization options, you can buy just the pattern.
I will say that Ellie’s video tutorial (access included with pattern purchase) make rivet setting look like it takes just a few light taps, but I found I really needed to put some weight into it and hammer on the concrete of my porch. The tubular rivets, which are new for the relaunch, are really, really durable. The Finishing and Maker Kits also come with all the tools you need!
The Maywood is a really good size for a day bag. I have been able to carry my 15″ laptop, a sketchbook, a small bag of art supplies, and my usual purse things (wallet, lotion, keys, etc.) comfortably and with some room to spare. The front pocket provides additional toting space even with the front strap tucked inside.
I’ve made many a boxed corner, but the construction technique used in this pattern is super smart. It pretty much guarantees your seams will match up!
Here’s the coolest part of this bag – its versatility. Prefer to carry the day’s load at your side, it does that. Want to carry your stuff on your back, no problem. With a simple tuck and pull, the Maywood converts from a tote into a backpack. So clever!
I’m very happy with this make and am contemplating making a matching Fremont Tote for a slick travel set.
Remember there’s a discount code that’s good until April 22, if you want to make the Maywood too! The discount code MAKEMAYWOOD will take 10% off the purchase of any Maywood products.
Disclosure: I received the Maywood Maker Kit for free but all thoughts and opinions are my own. If you use the above link to purchase a Maywood product, I will receive a small commission from the sale with no change in cost to you.
The revamped Maywood Totepack has arrived! The Maywood is basically two bags in one; it transforms from a tote to a backpack with a simple slide and tuck and I CANNOT WAIT TO MAKE IT.
Ellie over at Klum House is a gem and has asked me to test out the updated pattern / hardware and share the process with you all. Best part? She’s included a sweet discount code for you!
The discount code is MAKEMAYWOOD. It will take 10% off the purchase of any Maywood products between now and Monday, April 22 at midnight.
What? There’s more?
April 22 is the shipping deadline for anyone who wants to participate in Klum House’s Live Virtual Maywood Class on Sunday, April 28. Access to that live class is free for anyone who buys a full Maywood Maker Kit (and $10-30 sliding scale without the maker kit).
Klum House patterns are super approachable and result in really fabulous, high quality bags. Make the Maywood with me – I’ll be sharing my progress on Instagram and my finished bag on the blog April 17th!
The Tamarack Jacket has been on my ‘To Make’ list for forever. I first planned it in early 2017.
Originally I had planned to modify the sides, but then decided to make the pattern as is to prepare for another Tamarack I’d been asked to make for a magazine (won’t be able to share that one for a while).
My motivation kinda pooped out after I finished machine quilting all the pieces and it sat in my WIP pile for a couple months.
The welt pockets felt like a big hurdle to overcome, which might be why I set the whole thing aside once I got to that step. But Grainline’s Inserting the Welt Pockets post made it really easy to understand.
The lining was leftover from my Timber Quilt. Its former life was a Calvin Klein bed sheet and I think it’s the perfect greenish brown. The exterior fabric is also a thrifted sheet.
I was inspired by Bella Zilber to use buttons instead of snaps. Her monochrome version is perfection! I was nervous that my machine wouldn’t be able to make the buttonholes through so many layers, but I added them before the bias finish (so everything could evenly feed under the foot) and they turned out great! I also used a ton of Fray Check and didn’t cut the holes open for a few days. They’re really sturdy now!
I really wanted every seam to be encased in bias tape, but once the side seams were sewn up, I discovered the underarm seam was too bulky to comfortably wear. I took off the bias tape from the shoulder seams and serged the sleeve top and sleeve opening, which drastically reduced the bulk. I think the silhouette is just a little too fitted to have a complete bias finish on the inside.
I’m pretty pleased that even though each piece was quilted independently, it all sorta lined up in the end. I also can’t tell that I accidentally made one section on the sleeve a half inch longer than every other piece.
This project made me understand the pleasure that can be found in hand sewing. It also made me want to take off the binding on my Timber Quilt and redo it (we’ll see if that actually happens). When you hand sew you can get near perfect corners!
I need to reassess if hand sewing the welt pockets to the jacket is the best option because after a week of wear, both pockets have come undone. Otherwise, even with the weird Frankenstein finishes on the inside, I’m so proud of this make! I wore it every day this week and know even after its novelty wears off, it’ll get a lot of use.
I doubt I’ll get around to this anytime soon, but I’m envisioning making a slightly cropped denim version with straight side seams, a 1″ grid quilting pattern, a zipper, patch pockets, and a collar.
Yesterday morning, I was fondling fabric in my stash and inspiration hit. It hit so hard, I couldn’t do anything else until I worked through it.
The idea was pretty basic, but was engrossing enough that I forgot to eat or brush my teeth until 2pm. Gross, or awesome – I can’t decide.
It’s a pretty simple hack. I cropped and straightened the original curved hem, then just drew lines until I had a tie shape I liked. I made sure to square off from center front and the side seam for about a 1/4 inch before swooping down. I made the XS size and cropped it by about 3 inches. The tie length ended up being around 13-ish inches, I think.
I managed to cut the back piece so that the stripes don’t match up, but I’m going to blame that on the small amount of yardage I had… it totally wasn’t because of that. GAH!
Initially I wanted a snugger fit around the waist, but I actually like how it hangs away from my body.
I didn’t want to fuss with a tiny hem on the ties and decided to use a hem facing. To do that, I traced the bottom portion of the shirt front and back pattern pieces. The facing comes up about 3 inches from the bottom hem and ties (see last picture).
I assembled the shirt as instructed, but used faux-french seams for the sides. To finish the hem and ties, I sewed the front and back pieces of the hem facing together and pressed the seams open. I then pressed the top edge a 1/2 inch down toward the wrong side and pinned the facing to the shirt right sides together. I sewed around the bottom edge using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, clipped the corners of the ties, and turned everything right sides out.
I gave it a good press, then edgestitched the hem and the top of the facing to the shirt.
I had to use another fabric for the hem facing and bias neckline finish, but I kind of love the contrast. It’s leftover fabric from this Maya Top, which is a little heftier than the main fabric. It adds some structure to this squishy cotton-linen blend from Stonemountain. I think it also helps the ties not stretch out of shape. And it’s a thrifted tablecloth!
I have a feeling this will get a lot of wear this summer, but let’s be honest – I’m going to wear it under sweaters until it warms up.
Have you made a Shirt No. 1 yet?
As I’ve mentioned before, I freaking love sewing bags. They are super satisfying to make and when I tell folks I’ve made the bag they’re admiring it feels SO GOOD. Really though, if you haven’t tried making a bag yet, you should!
In late January when Sarah Kirsten put out a call for testers for her new pattern, the Raspberry Rucksack, I filled out the survey as fast as humanly possible. The pictures she posted looked similar to the iconic 1970’s Fjällräven Kånken that I’ve secretly lusted after for years and was super excited to find a sewing pattern to meet that want. The Raspberry Rucksack is fully lined (unlike the Kånken), comes in two sizes, is completely customizable, and best of all – is sewn by you (or a really dedicated loved one)!
I think one of the best things about sewing is that you can take RTW things that might otherwise not fit your body or fully suit your aesthetic and customize them to your liking. For me, it’s far more appealing to make the things I wear and use rather than buying them.
I was so delighted to be chosen to test the pattern and immediately started planning. I chose the Little Mini size since I have enough big backpacks and I thought the Little would be perfect for toting around my logbook and art supplies, or as a purse.
The pattern calls for heavyweight canvas for the exterior and quilting cotton for the lining. I’m really having a moment with rusty reds and oranges and quickly settled on this Big Sur Canvas from Stonemountain. I wanted the zippers to match the exterior fabric and after a little internet searching, bought one 30″ double-slide zipper (color Redwood) and one individual zipper pull from Zippers By Annie. They offer a wide variety of colors and stated the zippers could easily be cut and another pull installed on the remaining length. I really like when the hardware on a project matches!
I was planning to use leftover fabric from my Making Backpack for the lining, but then found a plaid tablecloth at a thrift store – it was a perfect color match!
I also bought webbing, rectangle rings, and slide adjusters from Stonemountain. I was ready to start sewing, but after placing the golden yellow webbing on the Canyon Brown canvas it was clear I needed to adjust my plans. I did not like the contrast and decided to dye the webbing since a match couldn’t be found in stores (I searched EVERYWHERE). Dying proved to be a little challenging, but after de-tangling the webbing from the washing machine agitator (don’t dye webbing in the washing machine!), washing off some grease spots (seriously don’t do it!), and a second round of dye, I achieved the desired color. Totally worth it!
After sewing on the popup pocket and front handle, I thought I’d further mimic the Kånken by adding a circular patch. I dug into my scrap leather pile and found a really lovely piece, but because it was super thick, my cutting was a little too sloppy and I questioned whether my machine could handle it. I bought a thinner leather piece and set out to attach it. After doing a pretty terrible job of sewing the leather patch onto my Making Backpack, I decided this time to use topstitching thread, my Bernina #10 edgestitch foot, and a stitch length of 4.2. It turned out pretty perfect, but I wasn’t using a leather needle and my machine couldn’t handle backstitching, so I had to figure out a way to secure the stitches. I cut the threads long, and with a hand sewing needle brought the threads to the backside and tied them off there. I kind of wish I had used topstitching thread for the webbing too!
Attaching the popup pocket was definitely challenging. I found it next to impossible to pin it to the front piece and opted to hand baste it in place. For the webbing I used Wash Away Wonder Tape to stick everything in place, which I highly recommend! I hand basted the main compartment’s zipper in place too. If I made this again, I would definitely be more aggressive with rounding the top corners – mine are a little too subtle, which causes the zipper pulls to occasionally get stuck. It also meant I had to add folds in the zipper tape to make it go around the tiny curves.
I tend to fuse all of my interfacing before getting started and because the thrifted table cloth was a little wiggly, I opted to fuse all of the interfacing to the lining pieces. BUT because all of the handles and straps are sewn to the exterior, the interfacing is needed there! DUH! I ended up having double the interfacing the pattern called for (except for the center panel), but I do like the added structure. If I make this again, I will most likely double up the interfacing on all of the pieces, maybe even including the center panel.
After finishing the straps I had a couple lengths of extra webbing and decided to make this snappy-do to hold the handles together. It feels a little out of proportion to the rest of the bag, but I like how it keeps the front strap up when I’m wearing the backpack.
I went a little off script with the pattern and added the triangular side connectors using Noodlehead’s Range Backpack pattern pieces. The Rucksack pattern has the D rings attached at the bottom of the bag with a loop of webbing, which would probably work just fine, but I didn’t want to risk having to rip it all out like I did with my Making Backpack.
The construction of this bag is really incredible. Almost all of the seams are completely concealed! Total magic! This front flap would have been a nice place to add a patch pocket / phone sleeve to the lining.
The tester version of the pattern didn’t have a step to finish the ends of the main compartment’s zipper, but because mine had 7″ lobbed of its end, it was fraying like mad. I finished both ends using extra lining fabric, but found I had to pull them out of the way of the seam when sewing the front to the center panel. They’re a little wonky, but I’m confident the zipper won’t fall apart now. Perhaps if you choose to cut your zipper down to size, you might want to consider using a different finishing method.
The only seams you need to finish are at the back of the pack. This pocket isn’t part of the pattern. Since I just guessed the measurements, it’s a little too tall to easily access way in the back of the pack, but since I’m using this as a purse, it’s nice to have a dedicated space for my wallet. I didn’t realize how overzealous I was with pounding in the snap until everything was already put together. The part of the snap that is connected to the main back panel is rounded and might eventually rub a hole through the exterior fabric (really hoping that doesn’t happen)… it’s also frustratingly hard to unsnap. Oh well!
I chose to blindstitch the bias tape to the bag. Even though you can’t really see it when the bag is right sides out, I think it looks really sharp.
For the Little size there was one step I had to leave out because I couldn’t fit the bag neatly under my machine – the corners are just too tiny to get the clean edgestitching on the bottom that I’d be happy with.
I hesitate to call this a good pattern for brand new sewists because it’s definitely a complex sew. However, I do think with some very small tszujes to the pattern’s instructions and a little determination from the maker, it’s totally doable. The sewing community and independent pattern designers are usually super helpful when folks ask questions, so don’t be shy if you run into a step that confuses you on any project – odds are someone has figured it out and they’d be happy to help!
I’m really, really pleased with this make and know I’ll use it for a long time. I’m not sure when Sarah plans to release this pattern, but will definitely keep folks updated on Instagram. You should also follow Sarah Kirsten for the most up-to-date info on this pattern (and because her grid is lovely)!
I love overalls, so when Janet from Decades of Style asked if I’d be willing test an overall pattern, I jumped at the chance. Plus, pattern testing for independent designers is such an enjoyable process!
Decades of Style is a Bay Area pattern company specializing in bringing home sewists styles from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. The Ophelia Overalls are part of their microline: Decades Everyday. The line’s focus is high quality patterns, but with zippier sewing. And these did sew up pretty fast!
I’ve been wanting to make a striped pant/overall/jumpsuit for a while and thought this pattern would be perfect. Initially I had wanted to use a lighter weight striped denim, but couldn’t find exactly what I wanted… and the timing just didn’t work for a trip up to Stonemountain.
So I went to Joann Fabrics hoping to find a deal. I had to venture in to its Utility Fabrics section to find the stripe I’d envisioned, and ended up buying this pillow ticking! Before washing, it was really stiff but now it’s like walking around in a soft and drapey pillow case.
Word to the wise though, if you plan on making a garment with pillow ticking it SHRINKS SO MUCH. The yardage I bought shrunk about 30%. It was insane and necessitated another trip to Joann’s.
Well, after shortening the pant pieces by 4 inches, I was going to make it work on the shrunken yardage, but then I somehow managed to cut out one pocket the wrong direction. Gah!
I made a straight size 8 (View A). View B has a “cleaner” finish and feels a little dressy. The only modification I made was to shorten the pant legs by 4 inches because I’m 5’2″. If I were to make these again I would also shorten the straps a few inches because there’s a lot of extra strap dangling behind the bib.
The pant legs are divided into four pieces so the pocket edges fit neatly into the seams. Each side has a button and snap closure, but I’ve found that at least on me, I never have to undo the snaps or bettons to get in and out. I just have to loosen the side belts and wiggle!
Both views feature side belts that allow you to cinch the waist. I’m toying with the idea of making a version without the belts for a super relaxed fit.
I’ve been wearing these at least once a week since finishing them. If you’re looking for an overall pattern that has 1940’s Land Girls vibes, these are for you!
Decades of Style is offering 20% off your entire purchase with the coupon code: OVER20 for the next two weeks!