Fabric Inspiration Autumn

Fabric Inspiration Autumn

September is almost over. I always say, “When the kids go back to school, it is almost Christmas!” Time just flies the last quarter of the year. Holiday planning starts now! It is time to design and find fabric for our holiday projects for our homes and thoughtful gifts for others during the last months of 2017.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. - Albert Camus

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
– Albert Camus

Personally, the earlier I order fabric for holiday projects, the more I enjoy doing them. Holiday sewing is a great way to show your creative side and the options are so many. Fond memories of handmade things are always fun. Someday all the decorations at my house will be hand made.

Fall brings cooler weather, sweaters, handmade comfy scarves and jackets and an occasional whiff of burning wood from neighboring houses (hopefully my own).

I love fall. I love warm, dark colors and a soft quilt or blanket to cuddle up in while watching those great football games. Especially if I can sit in the stadium! Cool weather and cinnamon colors beckons me to sew cozy things! How about you?

Today, I am offering inspiration for you to follow my passion for fabric. Its great news!! Trust me!

SewingMachinesPlus.com has begun providing fabric online and in their brick and mortar store in California. If you haven’t yet looked on their website, you need to!

Let’s get going!

First visit www.sewingmachinesplus.com & on the Search Bar at the top, enter “fabric”. You can also visit the fabric page here.

Since I enjoy shopping for sewing, my desire is to fly to California and visit this mega-store in person, to see their highly rated products and experience their friendly employees and customer service, but for now, I want to preview a few things with you that I really like! Hopefully, you will be inspired to place an order for sewing products for your stash or to get a head start on the season of giving!

The first fabric I saw, and promptly ordered was:

Stonehenge Gradations Chips – The color is Bright Iron Ore. A quality fabric made by Northcutt and has colorations like stone.

A beautiful package of (forty two) 10 x 10 inch precut squares in Browns, Golds, Cream and gradient neutral colors which look like different pieces of colored stone.

A beautiful package of (forty two) 10 x 10 inch precut squares in Browns, Golds, Cream and gradient neutral colors which look like different pieces of colored stone.

A beautiful package of (forty two) 10 x 10 inch precut squares in Browns, Golds, Cream and gradient neutral colors which look like different pieces of colored stone. This was a perfect choice for me as I have designed our new home in neutral browns, cream and beiges. This reminds of of swirling marble or granite and a harmonious accent to neutral décor.

I am thinking about a table runner or napkins for our dining room table right in time for autumn dinner guests or anytime of the year paired with the appropriate colors for that season.

Burgundy shades with the creams for late winter events.

Burgundy shades with the creams for late winter events.

Or pair with the same brand in Burgundy shades with the creams for late winter events. Drumroll! Picture please!

There are (forty two) five inch squares in this package. I suggest perhaps 2 or more packages depending on the size of the project. Look for the Brights- Amethyst and Lagoon Colors as well. Fabuloso!! Rich looking colors!

Precuts are done in different sizes by the manufacturer and sometimes the shop and work great in many applications. Since they are already cut, it helps considerably when putting together projects.

For a larger taste of these pre- cuts that can go together in perfect harmony, go ahead and visit the website. Take note of all the various cuts that are available in other fabric designs. Pick the ones you love! Ask the experts about yardage on the ones you really like (I have to ask that question myself). And then, comment on my blog and tell me what appeals to you. Make the project and send us a picture. We would love to see what you make!

I’m going full circle for a while. I have ordered the fabric, started designing and will hopefully share with you what turns out to be a great addition to my handmade collection! Dream, design, shop and create!

Having a creative life is: sew good!!

Speaking of tastes, I just received a call from my husband *who is upstairs organizing his man cave*. It’s the usual question at 5:00 p.m Friday night, i.e. what’s for dinner!

Take care dears. See you again soon!

It's National Sewing Month!

It’s National Sewing Month!

As a writer, I was well aware there’s a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) that happens in November. As a person who sews though, I had no idea there was a month dedicated to sewing, until this week. Imagine my surprise to find that not only does National Sewing Month exist, but it’s this month — September! Essentially, I found this detail out with less than a month left to officially celebrate, but I suppose learning late in the month is better than having to wait until next year to utilize the concept.

I was surprised as well that this status isn’t something that a random sewing fan made up. Rather, this is something that Ronald Reagan declared back in the 1980s. That’s right. This is a former president’s declaration, and it pretty much boggles my mind that something like a sewing month would be noted by a President of the United States. It seems solid evidence that the world of sewing is more far-reaching and popular than what I might have thought when I first dove into it.

Now that I’m aware — and maybe you are too because of this post — that this month is dedicated to sewing, the question arises about how to celebrate it. There are plenty of options to do so, but seeing as how over half of the month is already gone, whatever celebrating you do would have to be fairly quick-paced! Regardless, there are still ways to fit your celebration into your end-of-the-month schedule, like with these possibilities!

Make a quick project

While some sewing projects can take a long time to make, other projects can be done in a day or less — and these are great prospects at this point for celebrating National Sewing Month before it ends. This concept can vary depending on how fast you are with sewing. For instance, something like a quilt might be a project that one person can finish in a week while another person requires longer. A guiding factor for this possibility then is your own ability and time frame. If you can manage a bigger project, go for it! But if you feel more comfortable with something smaller, like a fabric coaster or throw pillow, choose one of those options. As long as you have enough time to wrap up the loose ends before October 1st, you’re in good shape!

A great idea for this project would be to work on a homemade gift that you can give someone later in the year for a Christmas present. This can give you space to craft that gift and an excuse to revel in a month dedicated to sewing. Win/win, right? If you’re looking for sewing projects, Sewing Machines Plus has free project ideas available here that you can browse through to find a National Sewing Month project.leaf-flower-petal-celebration-heart-food-1250761-pxhere.com

Take a sewing class

Sure, a number of programs that you can take have specific start and end times, and you can’t just decide for those options that you’re going to start a class right now. For other possibilities though, there’s room to maneuver, particularly if you take a class you can finish in a virtual setting with timed videos. Craftsy, for instance, has classes with videos of certain lengths, and if you schedule your time effectively, you can finish one of them by the end of the month.hand-needle-girl-woman-vintage-tool-706616-pxhere.com

One other option would be to start a program this month even though you know it’ll extend farther than the beginning of October. Penn Foster programs, as an example, can allow you that kind of freedom to simply decide to register for a class today and work your way through at a personal pace. It’ll extend beyond September, but September can still be the month that led to you making the choice to enroll.

Buy a new piece of equipment

If you want to treat this month as something worth celebrating, why not go all out and buy yourself a gift for the prospect? You could even extend the prospect outward by buying small sewing supplies for friends and family who enjoy sewing as much as you do, like new thread or fun pattern kits. This way, you can spread the enjoyment of National Sewing Month beyond your own personal collection.hand-sewing-sewing-machine-art-design-handicraft-759263-pxhere.com

That doesn’t mean you should feel bad about adding to your own sewing stash though, and there are plenty of ways to build your supplies in honor of the month. If you need a new sewing machine and can splurge just a bit, celebrate Sewing Month by bringing your dream sewing machine home. Check out Sewing Machine Plus’s site for possibilities on the matter!

Smaller details, like a new sewing kit or interesting fabric, can also be ways to celebrate the month if your budget won’t allow for a new sewing machine, and a few extra dollars can lead to a tiny contribution to your sewing supplies in honor of the month. If you can work even a new pack of straight pins into your budget, it’s a method of celebration!

In any event…

I feel a bit of camaraderie with my fellow sewing fans this month, given our shared interest that was valid enough for a president to declare a month for it.

So to these fellow craftsmen, happy National Sewing Month!

A Sewing Vacation

A Sewing Vacation

I need a vacation…

In the past week, I think I’ve said “I need a vacation” about a zillion times (yes, that’s a real number – not just a sewing measurement ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ). Ideally, I want the type of vacation where I’m not tied to technology. I want to check out from the world. Reading and sewing are high on the list of things I’d do during this much needed vacation. I’ve seen knitting cruises in the past and though I’m looking to get away from people right now, if a sewing cruise existed, I might be tempted.

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Fellow sewers and crafty people tend to be more fun and easier to get along with than the people I interact with regularly as a freelancer. Don’t get me wrong, I love my clients, I just need a break. As an introvert, extensive downtime is key to my survival.

Sewing is one of many ways I escape the stress and daily pressures of life, so you can understand why I’d be tempted with a sewing cruise. If any travel planners are among my faithful readers, here’s what I think it would look like. If you set one up through your travel agency, please reach out!

My ideal sewing vacation

My old singer is heavy, so if machines were provided, I’d be happy to use another machine for the duration of my trip. Also, I do like the cruise concept, even if it’s just around the coast line for a long weekend. In New England, Maine and Massachusetts both have boats that offer these type of trips. On the cruise ship, there’d be an area set up with sewing machines and the option to either choose a project offered by the trip organizers or bring one of our own.

As with any vacation, fabulous food to meet everyone’s dietary requirements and plenty of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are necessary. For living arrangements, standard rates for double rooms, of course, but I’d be willing to lay out some extra cash to have a single room and the break from people I’m looking for.

While it’s not necessarily something I’d be interested in, to keep the cruise exciting and fun for everyone, activities like speakers and classes would be excellent. By the time the ship arrivals back to port, we’d all have finished a fun project, enjoyed some serious relaxation, and maybe learned a little something and made some new friends.

What do you think? Would you go on a sewing vacation cruise?

French Alterations and a Wee Rant

French Alterations and a Wee Rant

French Alteration: Pinning a garment with a note about something you never intend to actually do – and no one ever knows or realizes!

At this point in my tailoring and patternmaking career, I tend to work with the same five or six designers. Mainly, because I enjoy working with them and our fitting styles and fitting room etiquette mesh.

“Fitting styles and fitting room etiquette?” you might ask, “I didn’t know that was a thing.”

Well, when it comes to TV and film fitting rooms, it is definitely a thing. I prefer to work with designers I know and respect because they, in turn, know and respect me. And, most importantly, they let me do my job. Which is to fit a garment on a specific person’s body.

Take it in

My fitting style is to survey the situation for a few minutes, to let the clothing settle on a person so I can see what it’s doing or what it wants to do. Then I go in and start pinning if I need to. Sometimes, I don’t need to, sometimes I can tell what needs to happen just by looking at it.

On the rare occasions these days when I work with someone who doesn’t know me very well, they often want me to rush right in and start pinning away before I’ve had a chance to actually look at things. Or, one of my big annoyances, they yank in the center back waist of a thing so the side seams are pulled all wonky and tell me I need to “take it in”.

Well, yes, it does need to be taken in, but not like that.

Fit preference

Sometimes they’ll even do this to a jacket without buttoning the front buttons, which means if I did take it in the amount they’ve grabbed, the jacket would never, ever, in a million years, be able to close.

I try to be as nice as possible and say, yes, I see that. Now, can you please let go so I can see what’s going on?

Costume Designers definitely have their own preferences when it comes to fit and hem lengths and stuff. I’m completely ok with that and will fit things how they like them fit but I’m not going to do something that will end up looking bad in the end (and for which, I’ll be the one who is blamed because, as in most things, people tend to blame the last person who touched a thing if something is wrong with said thing).

We tailors have this little term we use called a French Alteration. It’s when you pin something or write a note about something as if you’re going to do it but never actually do and no one ever knows or realizes.

Anyway, so back to fitting room etiquette. If there’s a designer in the room, I let them do all the talking and or schmoozing about how good something looks on someone. I just like to concentrate and do my job. Some tailors like to chat (which is perfectly cool if that’s your thing) but I like to listen to what the clothes are trying to tell me.

Brand fitting

One thing I’ve noticed about some designers is that they don’t always seem to understand that brands are cut differently and certain labels look better on certain people. Sometimes, you need to go through a whole slew of suit jackets to find the one that fits a specific body type the best. I can do pretty much any alteration but after a point its sort of foolish to spend a crazy amount of time altering a thing when you could possibly find a cut of jacket that works with minimal alterations. Like, if you need to shorten the body of a suit jacket, maybe you should buy a short (as in a 40short or something). Men’s suit jackets come in longs, regulars, and shorts for a reason. Use them.

I know I’ve mentioned this before but, one of my favorite designers to work for is Frank Fleming who, among all sorts of other things, is the Costume Designer for the show Power. Frank is the master at finding which suit brand and cut fits best on which actor. He can even usually tell which one is going to be best by just looking at an actor. I love that, ‘cause as much as I enjoy taking a suit jacket sleeve out, re-cutting the back and or shoulders and resetting the sleeve (not really), why not just start with a suit jacket that works on a specific body type and not do that?

I never went to school for costume design so I don’t know if they teach this little idea but, they should. It’s a huge time saver. And it really just makes sense.

Hero Sea To Summit Pillowcase

DIY pillowcase for Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow

Hero Sea To Summit Pillowcase

This past weekend my family went on an overnight backpacking trip near our home in the Eastern Sierra. When you are carrying all of your gear on your back you want your items to be as light as possible so I picked up this inflatable Sea To Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow.

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Of course I’ve never met a pillow that didn’t deserve a handmade pillowcase, so I set to work making one for this uniquely shaped fellow.

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Fully inflated the pillow is approximately 16″ x 12″ x 4″ with an interior curve on the neck side and an exterior curve on the opposite side. The top and bottom edges are all rounded as well. I used matching fabric from the DIY bandana I sewed in this post and draped it over the pillow to see if it would fit.

Once I knew the fabric would fit, I turned the fabric wrong sides up and used pins to mark the four curved corners. Be careful, you don’t want to puncture your brand new backpacking pillow!

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On the interior curve, I found the approximate center and cut the fabric up a ways.

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Then I used pins to tighten up the fabric around the top of the curve.

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Once everything looked right, I used a marker (but you could use a pencil if a marker would show through your fabric choice) and marked the corner seams and the portion of the interior curve I had pinned.

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Then I used a sturdy ruler and placed it against the sides of the pillow, marking the approximate edge all the way around.

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Carefully, I slipped the case off of the pillow, making sure not to disturb any of my pins. I only removed the pins corner by corner as I sewed following my marks.

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For the interior curve, I sewed the small section I had pinned to cinch the fabric around the corner, then finger pressed the raw edges of both sides of cut fabric over twice and sewed a hem.

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Here I took a moment to turn the pillowcase right side out and placed it over the pillow, just to double check my sizing. I would be adding elastic to bring the loose fabric under the case, but this was good to see before cutting the excess fabric off of the corners.

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Once I knew it was correctly sized, I turned the pillow case wrong side out and trimmed off the excess fabric on the sewn corners.

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Then I marked a 1″ hem all around the case using the line I’d created earlier as a guide.

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At this moment I realized I didn’t have enough fabric on the side opposite where the neck would lie. I took a spare piece and sewed it onto that side, pressed the seam down, and then continued drawing my 1″ hem.

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Once the 1″ hem was drawn I cut out the fabric. Now you could really see the shape of the case coming together.

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I finger pressed the hem over ½” and then another ½” and sewed my hem as I folded and pressed.

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Then it was time to finish the interior curve. I fit the pillow case on right side out and pinned each flap from the center so the fabric hugged each curve. I sewed the flaps.

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Now it was time to add elastic. I used ¼” elastic.

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When I had fully sewn around the hem, I drew the elastic across to a point on the opposite side of the pillow and sewed the elastic in place.

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I then repeated on the opposite side with a separate piece of elastic, creating a crisscross pattern on the bottom of the pillow.

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As long as you don’t sew the elastic too taught, you can absolutely slip the inflated pillow into the case. Take a few moments to work the case into the shape you’ve sewn and then flip it over to enjoy your handiwork.

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For backpackers who weigh everything that goes in their pack, this pillowcase weighs 1.4 oz. Happy backpacking!

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
Sewing for Harvey and Irma

Sewing for Harvey and Irma

September has REALLY been a month for Texas and Florida so far! Mother Nature has once again chosen to fill the lakes and streams, and even the streets and houses with her life sustaining water, wind and rain. Unfortunately, it has left many, many thousands of people stranded without power, water, food and many families with lost animals and family and worse than that, the roof over their heads is gone.

Such devastation is certainly overwhelming even to those with a strong purpose to ride out the storm. My prayers go out to all affected.

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Andrew

I was living in Florida through Hurricane Andrew, and it had to be was one of the most stressful events in my life. I was about 90 miles from Homestead, but the weather forecaster reports were very certain it would make landfall on my community. It did not, however, but the fear was still strong.

Also, in many areas of California, from time to time, dry land and fires ravish the wonderful trees and expensive homes. It simply occurs out of our control. We have to survive and rebuild.

As the reality of these catastrophes hit our homes, and friends and families, my heart hurts to see people’s possessions on the curbs of streets, ruined and wet and unsalvageable. But, there has been an awesome power of giving and helping and a true blessing to my fellow Texans and those in Florida.

How to help

So, to make this article a positive one, rather than a stark reality check, I have been brainstorming ways that one can make a difference to help these people in distress.

Of course, there are agencies that help people with the general necessities, such as water, and food, and shelter in these areas.

But.. most want donors to send cash. But with short notice to evacuate, many people with small children have little chance to gather baby things and comfort items for themselves and even their pets. They won’t have transportation to go shopping either in many cases until the water lowers enough to leave shelters.

I was happy to hear that pets were included in the evacuations; however, some were transported to separate shelters with other displaced pets. I hope their families will be able to retrieve them once they are able to return home or find a new home. But they need comfort too! After all, they are our families.

Anyway, I am researching companies that will take handmade clothes, blankets, hats, burp cloths and other things that I have made for my online shop. I have discovered several charitable agencies and particularly church groups, classes at schools, some women’s shelters, hospitals, even families of our neighbors who may be located in the Houston or Florida area. Check online for these groups. If there is not one, form one from your sewing circles and sewing class students!  Form a group and make small packages together. Include paper diapers, and other essentials, and a handmade toy perhaps.  Sew small things, make sweet surprises and you will make a huge difference for a family and their children.

“It takes a whole village to raise a child” – H.R. Clinton

Here are some suggestions that came to mind:

  • Small blankets
  • Bib cloths
  • Bibs
  • Snuggle blankets (small blankets with satin edging) or Minky fabric
  • Swaddles
  • Diapers
  • Dog mats and blankets – don’t leave them out! (Dallas Animal Shelter is temporarily boarding Houston animals)
  • Soft towels, perhaps small ones, sewn together
  • Soft flannel sheets for the crib
  • Sewn hats or capes
  • Small toys for babies (or dogs) made of soft, safe materials

Use fabric you find on sale, and then you can use other leftover scraps from previous projects (SewingMachinePlus.com now sells fabric in their brick and mortar store. One day, I hope to shop there).

Confetti Quilt-Art for Your Walls

Confetti Quilt-Art for Your Walls

Speaking of fall projects, I’ve recently come across a quilting technique that would be fantastic for creating a beautiful piece of autumn to use for wall décor. The problem, though, is that the technique used to build this work is a bit advanced, so it’s something I’m going to have to put on the back-burner for a bit until I potentially get the hang of more intricate workings of specific sewing processes.

The overall idea is out of my comfort zone right now, but it’s still something that seems like a great enough idea to share with those reading this blog post. Maybe you’re more advanced than I am in the sewing world, and this would be a simple project to you to bring fall coloring to your home’s interior. If so, gather your fabric and tulle, and get to working!


Project: Confetti-Quilted Wall Hanging


Tools and Supplies:

Sewing machine, scissors or rotary cutter, fabric (some for shredding purposes), tulle, and straight pins

The Idea:

Creating a work of art from bits of fabric
Mulberry Patch Quilts

See all of these leaves? Those are tiny bits of fabric placed on the piece, or confetti fabric!

It would be easy to label this a mosaic-type project, and in a way it is because it’s a bigger picture that’s being constructed by smaller pieces. But the incredibly small sizes of these pieces are tiny enough to compare to confetti being tossed in the air, so the confetti name is actually more fitting than the mosaic title—especially since the confetti can bunch up and overlap on your design in contrast to the side-by-side nature of a mosaic piece.

This is an idea that can be put in practice to make a full quilt, but the number of times you’d have to go through the process to create enough blocks for a quilt sincerely escalates the amount of time you spend on a project. Considering fall is so close, using the one-block notion for a wall hanging is more reasonable—and it’ll create a one-of-a kind piece to show off to your home’s guests.

The advantage of confetti

The beauties here are that you can pick the size of the confetti art work, you can choose the image you want to depict, and you can even use scrap material from other projects that have little to no value for other concepts. These confetti dots are tiny, so it doesn’t take extended amounts of fabric to create them. You might want to keep that in mind as you trim up your fabric for other projects and stash away the scraps and remainders in some kind of a confetti-quilt container. That way, you can build your supply for a confetti project that pops in your head, giving you the ability to start constructing immediately rather than having to search for fabric bits.

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For a fall project, this is a good option because autumn comes with a great deal of outdoor imagery, like trees filled with colorful leaves or pumpkins placed in front of haystacks. Through the outdoor elements comes the prospect of movement and wind, so having the confetti scraps present to drizzle across your project can give the viewer that sense of movement in a display that’s random enough to highlight the notion.

Working with layers

You can layer the colors and fabrics to boost that realism until you have a strong tree covered in a series of leaves that are dropping to the ground and flying away, a pumpkin patch with dust and leaves blowing past it, a scarecrow that’s caught up in seeds that are breaking away from crops and sailing by… Lots of ways exist to put this idea into practice, and each has a look of intricate realism that’s sparked from the confetti approach.

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The process to perform this task seems basic, if intricate, and so long as you keep the confetti pieces in their places with straight pins, tulle, and early sewing, you can make sure everything stays close enough to the arranged order to highlight the scene as you intended it above your mantle or over your couch—or wherever you choose to place the finished work!

Inspiration is key

If you want to find inspiration for what to depict in your confetti project, try going for a nature walk to look for signs of autumn’s approach, and when something particularly seasonal catches your eye, freeze that memory in your mind (or snap a photo) to remember it. As the month rolls on, nature itself can give you plenty of sights to choose from to be the main scene of your confetti project!

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So, if your skills allow you to handle this intricate of a project, start looking for that autumn image to commit to a wall hanging!

Price of Fashion

The Price of Fashion

As a tailor for film and television, I often work with a lot of really high-end designer clothing. Sometimes I look at a price tag on something I’m in the process of taking apart and think, “That’s an awful lot of money for an article of clothing.” As a person who spends a lot of time taking things apart and putting them back together, I’ve got a pretty good idea of long it takes to make things. I wholeheartedly believe in paying tailors, pattern makers, and the like a respectable wage (as I’ve said before it is very skilled labor and deserves to be paid just as much as you would pay a plumber or someone to fix your car).

However, we all know that most mass produced clothing is made in factories where the workers aren’t getting much more than minimum wage (if they’re lucky). But what about the really expensive, designer stuff? Is it worth the extra money? Is it justified?

To a certain point, I think it is. If a brand uses high quality fabrics and notions, some of the extra cost makes sense. I try and think about how long it would take me to make a certain thing like, for example, a pair of pants. Not including patterning or cutting and if I were sewing at a pretty brisk pace and had made a bunch more of the exact same pants before, I’d say it’d take me anywhere from two to four hours (depending on how many pockets, if there’s top stitching anywhere, if they have a lining, and so on.) If a person working in a factory actually made a reasonable wage, that would certainly put the price point of those pants at somewhere between $80.00 and $200.00. You’d also need to factor in the time needed to cut out the pants, and pattern them, as well as the design process. So maybe then, you’d end up with a $150.00 to $400.00 pair of pants. Fairly reasonable, I’d say. It’s when you get up into the $1,000.00 range for a single pair of pants that I start to wonder.

I get that, when it comes to designer clothing, much of what you’re paying for is the name, or the design. And I’m ok with that but, is that label really worth $600.00 or more?

Again, I think it depends.

Boris Bidjan Saberi

I’ve done quite a few alterations lately on Boris Bidjan Saberi men’s clothing. I just shortened the sleeves on one of his suit jackets. The jacket is very well made and the fabrics of a really high quality. The ‘buttons’ are cool metal cufflinks – real metal, not plastic. The label says the jacket was handcrafted in Spain. A big part of Boris apparel is that each piece is supposedly a ‘one-off’, which means it’s unique and no one will have exactly the same one as you. That’s pretty cool, I think. The suit jackets are priced starting at around $1,100.00. This price seems quite reasonable to me if it really is a handcrafted garment (which it certainly seems to be).

 

'hand crafted in spain'

‘Hand crafted in spain’.

metal cuff link style buttons

Metal cuff link style buttons.

What would you pay?

I guess my point in all of this is that there are some clothing brands and designers that may very well be ‘worth’ the high price, especially if their manufacturing processes align with your own ideas of ethics and sustainable businesses. If you care about these kinds of things, it is important to do your own research and make your own decisions (as it is with most things in life, I suppose).

There’s an interesting fashion show event happening this week called Wear Your Values. The event, on September 14th, will showcase 15 ethical fashion clothing brands and portray the life cycle of a garment to show how, when, and where human rights abuses take place in apparel manufacturing. There will also be a film on a day in the life of a garment worker. The show is presented by the Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual conference hosted by the Human Rights Foundation and Remake, a group of fashion enthusiasts that strive to inspire consumers to research the brands they buy (something I think is really important).

If you happen to be in New York City, try and go check out this event yourself.

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Sew your own Bandana

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This weekend my family is going backpacking. It’s the first time all four of us, my husband, myself, and our two daughters, ages 7 and 4, will go on an overnight backpacking trip together. My husband, Eric, compiled a detailed list of the things I’d need to bring (he is taking care of the girls’ packs. Rad guy, right?).

On that list was a bandana. It’s been awhile since I had a bandana but I remember how useful they were when I used to go backpacking. They can be used as sweat catchers, scarves, headbands, face masks, pot holders, to keep the sun off your face or neck, and even to tie a tourniquet. Honestly, their uses are endless. I just didn’t have one and darned if I was going to buy a bandana off of Amazon when I have a wall full of fabric bins and a sewing machine.

Getting started…

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I grabbed a ½ yard of fabric which was a little over 18″ tall. If you have a bigger neck than me (that’s me in the photos) or want a larger bandana, grab 3/4 of a yard of fabric.

I cut out an 18″ x 18″ square. Again, size up if you want a larger finished piece. Once you’ve cut the square, roll it up and test it out unhemmed. Does it fit around your neck? Around your head? If you want it big enough to create a possible tourniquet, around your thigh?

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Key step

Now is the most important part. Press and starch that sucker, especially around the unfinished edges.

3

You can make your hems as large or as small as you like. I like bandanas with TINY hems, so I rolled mine over even smaller than ¼”, pressing and starching all the way around. Then I doubled that over again, pressing and starching.

4

Start pinning

Done! At this point, you could pin the pressed and started hems but I have a feeling that if you used enough starch they are going to stay put while you sew.

5

Pick your thread. For this project I went with a purple that matched but once it was finished I wished I had gone with the lighter purple just for a fun contrast. You live and you learn.

6

If you are going to use a decorative stitch, make sure you have enough thread in your bobbin.

7

I tested out this decorative stitch on a separate piece of fabric first. I wanted a stitch that would look good and keep my hem nice and flat.

8

Easy-peasy

Start sewing a square. This is the easiest part after your prep work to get there.

9

If you have a shallow hem, use a seam ripper to hold down the corners as you go.

10

Admire your creation

Look that beauty! And you didn’t spend $12 on Amazon for it.

11

Try it on and enjoy. Happy camping!

12

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
The Problem with Over Fitting

The Problem with Over Fitting

In my almost 30 years in the film and television business, I’ve worked with a lot of different designers. Every designer has a specific way they like things to fit, at least in the film and television world. Tailors at men’s suit stores like Brooks Brothers, or department stores like Nordstroms, have standard fit and length parameters they follow.

They’ll tell you that a suit jacket hem must end at a certain point on the wrist and the proper length of the jacket is determined by whether or not you can curl your hand around the hem in a certain way. They’ll also tell you that a pant hem needs to have a specific amount of break over the front of the shoe (the amount the hem buckles in when you’re standing straight up).

In television and film, these things can vary depending on what designer you’re working with. I have five or six different designers I work with fairly regularly and they all have specific ways they want things to fit. I’ve worked with them enough to know what each of them like. One of them likes suit pant hems on the short side but lots and lots of ‘stack’ when it comes to jean hems. Another always wants a rake in the hem because they hate to see an actor’s socks showing in the back when he walks. One likes the shirt sleeves to show a ¼” below the suit jacket. Another tends to want things very slim fitted.

One size fits all

As a tailor, one of the most annoying fit attributes is when a designer wants you to, essentially, over fit something (none of the designers I work with regularly do this). By over fitting I mean, they want me to fit something so tightly that there are absolutely no wrinkles present anywhere at anytime. The main problem with this is that it’s only achievable if the actor or actress happens to be a non-moving, stationary dress form or mannequin. And, as I’m sure you know, most are not.

Actors move, clothing wrinkles. If you fit a dress too tightly, it’s going to ride up at the slightest provocation. If you fit a man’s suit jacket within an inch of its life, the actor won’t be able to lift his arms.

There are a lot of wrinkles I can fix, but I can’t get rid of them all. An over fitted garment looks just as bad on camera as one that isn’t fitted enough. Unless you start putting all kinds of extra seams into a thing, you’ll never be able to get something that isn’t spandex, completely wrinkle free all the time. Wrinkle free-ness is only completely achievable when the actor stands in one specific way and doesn’t move at all, ever.

Oxygen is overrated

I can’t tell you how many times a designer has insisted I take something in so tightly that after it’s done, the actor complains about not being able to breathe. I usually don’t take anything in as much as I pinned in a fitting if I’m working with a designer like this. I honestly find it ridiculous that there are costume designers who don’t understand that when humans move, the clothes they are wearing also move. Sometimes there are wrinkles, and this does not mean that the garment is not fitted correctly.

Stylists who dress people for print or short shoots like commercials tend to fit things more tightly because they’re not used to dressing people for realistic scenarios and situations that involve actual movement.

Stylists who dress people for print or short shoots like commercials tend to fit things more tightly because they’re not used to dressing people for realistic scenarios and situations that involve actual movement.

Stylists who dress people for print or short shoots like commercials tend to fit things more tightly because they’re not used to dressing people for realistic scenarios and situations that involve actual movement. In a photo shoot for print, there is no movement so you can over fit to your heart’s content. That’s why clothing never fits you like it does the model in the catalogue or on the website. And this is not a bad thing.

I’ve also worked with designers who do this thing where they grab a whole wad of fabric center back to demonstrate how something should be taken in. Well, first, when you do that, you’re pulling the side seams into a weird place that they shouldn’t be. Unless its men’s pants, I rarely take something in just from the center back, especially if it’s a wad-full of fabric. One reason is that I like to avoid having to reset the zipper if possible and secondly, it probably needs to come in from the side seams and the side back seams anyway. Or, if it’s four to six inches, it might make sense to purchase the garment in a smaller size. If I were building the garment from scratch, I’d want to recut it if possible.

Stress fractures & signs you are doing it wrong

I don’t know if other people notice this but when I see a dress with side seams that swing backward instead of hanging straight, I think that someone who didn’t really know what they were doing did that alteration. Costume Designers don’t necessarily need to know all the nuances of fit and balance but they should know enough to trust a good tailor when they have one.

Sadly, it normally doesn’t do any good to try and explain yourself to a designer who tends toward over fitting. They’ll just assume you don’t know what you’re talking about.

When I find myself in a situation with a center-back-wad-pulling designer, I just nod and pin it, then alter it in the way I think is best.

Because, as any tailor who’s been in the television and film business for awhile knows, “alter as pinned” is simply a suggestion (and a way to appease an over zealous fitting designer).