Make Your Own Cape

You need an item that isn’t commercially available. You want something unique. You want total control over the materials, color, style, and details. You want a custom fit. You’re on a budget. You enjoy that smug “I made this” feeling.

The reasons that Vogue Patterns editor-in-chief Gillian Conahan gives to cosplayers, performers, and even once-a-year Halloween costume shoppers for learning how to sew (even a little bit) are the kind that we always champion at ABRAMS Craft, but they’re all the more important for those creative souls whose dream projects aren’t just hard to find at the mall—but pure fantasy. Her book The Hero’s Closet: Sewing for Cosplay and Costuming is on sale as of last week!

The Hero’s Closet is a practical introduction for anyone who wants to forget about generic, store-bought costumes, including a complete primer on sewing technique, plus patterns for 11 basic pieces that can be combined, altered, and adapted into 9 full-blown costumes. Will James at GeekDad calls the “Getting Started” section “worth the price of admission alone,” but even an advanced sewist might be surprised by sensible advice like Conahan’s for dealing with fake fur: “it should be cut from the back side using a razor blade or craft knife so you don’t cut the pile, which will help to minimize the fluffsplosion.”

In this excerpt from The Hero’s Closet you’ll learn to create a “luxuriously swishy” cape with stacked box pleats at the shoulders. It connects to your outfit with snaps, so you can “swiftly detach in the event of an emergency.”

Cape

Cape

Excerpted from The Hero’s Closet

TOOLS AND MATERIALS

Sewing essentials
  • Sewing Essentials (see above)
  • Lightweight fabric with a soft drape, such as blouse-weight cotton, silk/cotton blends, silky polyester, charmeuse, crepe de chine, or even lining fabric—amount based on step 1 (I used 3½ yds/3.2 m of 54"/137 cm wide gray plain-woven cotton shirting.)
  • 10" (25.4 cm) of twill tape, ½" to 1" (1.3 to 2.5 cm) wide (Anything in this size range will work.)
  • 1 yd (.9 m) of bias tape, ½" (1.3 cm) single-fold (optional)
  • 6 large sew-on snaps
  • Large safety pins
  • All-purpose thread in a matching color
  • Trim or decorative medallions for the shoulders (optional)

NOTE: Choose stable fabrics that don’t stretch or fray much, and make sure that both the garment you’re attaching the cape to and your chosen fastening method can stand up to the weight of the cape. If you want to use a heavy, bulky fabric like velvet, you may need to reinforce the attachment point with interfacing or a piece of twill tape behind the snap area. If you’re attaching the cape to a stretch garment, stick with very lightweight fabrics for the cape to avoid straining the fabric.

PATTERN

Download the cape pattern at the link above. Fold the fabric widthwise and cut 1 on the fold; see steps 2 and 3 for details.

INSTRUCTIONS

⅜" (1 cm) seam allowances are used for this pattern.

1. Begin by determining how much yardage you need to buy for your cape. The amount of fabric required will be twice your finished length + your shoulder width (measured across your back) + 16" (40.6 cm) for shoulder extensions and hem allowance. Excess width will fall into draped folds down your back, so if you like that look, feel free to exaggerate it by adding even more width to your shoulder width measurement. (Because the pattern is cut on the fold, any adjustment in the measurement should be halved when placing the template.) The maximum cape length will be the width of the fabric minus 9" (22.9 cm) unless you want to add a seam; for a long cape, make sure you’re buying a sufficiently wide fabric. For this cape, 3½ yds (3.2 m) of 54"- (137 cm-) wide fabric was used, based on a finished length of 45" (114 cm) and a shoulder width of 16" (40.6 cm).

2. Fold the fabric along the cross grain, aligning the selvages. Place the cape template at the top of the folded edge, making sure to place the half-shoulder width mark at the appropriate distance from the fold. (Compare your shoulder width to the bar on the cape template to determine where to place the template on your fabric.) Use the pleat lines as a guide to extend the cape to the desired length, adding the same amount onto the end of each pleat line and at the center back (A).

A.jpg

 

3. Connect the marks into a smooth curve to create the hemline of your cape. Cut along the hem curve, around the top edge of the cape template, and parallel to the selvages for the straight front edge (it’s best to trim the selvages off as they’re more tightly woven than the rest of the cape and may pull or ripple). If there is a gap at the center back neckline, simply cut straight across to the fold. Mark the pleat positions with small snips in the seam allowance.

4. Sew a narrow or double-fold hem (see page 67) on the two straight front edges of the cape. Finish the curved neckline edge with a narrow bias facing, as shown on page 65 (B). The facing used here is a bias strip (see page 66) cut out of leftover cape fabric that is 1" (2.5 cm) wide and stitched on with a ⅜" (1 cm) seam allowance.

B.jpg

5. Use the snips you made in step 3 and the center notch as a general guide to form the pleats on each shoulder. Arrange the pleats to your liking and pin in place (C). For example, you may want to make the pleats shallower or deeper to adjust the amount of shoulder coverage. Make sure both sides match.

6. Place a 5" (12.7 cm) strip of twill tape on top of the end of the pleats on the right side of the fabric as shown in (D). Sew in place along the upper edge of the tape.

7. Wrap the ends of the twill tape around the edges and fold to the underside. Stitch around the edges of the tape through all layers. Attach the male side of the snaps to the twill tape (E) and the female side to the garment. Repeat steps 6 and 7 for the second shoulder.

8. Clip the shoulder pieces to a hanger and let the cape hang for a day or two so the fabric can relax. Pin the cape on a dress form or safety pin it to a helpful friend and check the length. Trim if necessary to make it nice and even and sew a narrow double-fold hem around the long curved edge (F). If you like, attach trim or decorative medallions to hide the shoulder ends.

To see the finished cape in action as part of Conahan’s “Superhero 2” costume, browse a sample of The Hero’s Closet below. Be sure to check back here at ABRAMS Craft for news on Gillian Conahan’s appearance at New York Comic Con this fall. 

Two Projects for Easy Spring Maintenance

Spring may be the "time of plans and projects" but these slightly milder days demand more time in the sun when we can find it! Today’s crop of craft titles yields a pair of easy ways to keep two things in good working order: your wooden spoons and your relationships. Who can do without those?

Max Bainbridge graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design before setting up Forest + Found with his partner, quilter Abigail Booth. Based out of a workshop in his East London garden, Max works with sustainably sourced and reclaimed wood to hand carve and turn bespoke kitchen and homeware.

Max’s book, Heirloom Wood, is a beautifully photographed and clearly written guide to sourcing your own wood, setting up a basic toolbox, and then creating your own hand-carved bowls, cutting boards, spoons, spatulas, and more. He uses his own recipe for beeswax salve on every piece, to bring out the “natural color and patina of the grain.”

We recommend it even if you haven’t carved a thing—woodenware treated this way is not only protected against moisture, it stays usable, washable, and completely food-safe.

Learn to carve this birch eating spoon in  Heirloom Wood .

Learn to carve this birch eating spoon in Heirloom Wood.

Beeswax Salve

Excerpted from Heirloom Wood

This recipe will give you a large mason jar of salve, which should last you a good amount of time.

Tools and materials:

1 quart (1 liter) pure mineral oil

18 ounces (500g) pure beeswax pellets

large saucepan

heat source

mason jar

kitchen towel

1. Sterilize the mason jar using boiling water, or put it through a dishwasher cycle. Start by measuring out 18 ounces (500g) of beeswax pellets and 1 quart (1 liter) of mineral oil. The basic ratio is two parts mineral oil to one part beeswax. 

2. Pour the oil into a large saucepan and set the heat to its lowest setting. Add the beeswax and heat gently until the pellets start to dissolve. Stir very gently to ensure the two ingredients have combined thoroughly. As soon as the mixture is clear, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

3. Let the beeswax and oil cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then pour the mixture into the mason jar. Be careful in case the liquid is still hot.

4. Set aside and leave the lid open. Place a kitchen towel over the jar to ensure nothing drops in. Allow the salve to cure overnight and, once it is completely cool, it will set and turn cloudy. It is then ready to use.

5. Use a lid with a rubber gasket to seal the jar, and store in a cool, dark place.

Salve from Heirloom Wood

A long way away across the equator, Australian-Lithuanian photographer and designer Ebony Bizys had worked at Vogue magazines for 11 years before realizing, in 2010, that she felt most alive on her vacations to Japan, and making the move permanent.

Ebony Bizys

Since moving to Tokyo, Ebony has art directed books, hosted solo exhibitions, designed a Japanese fashion website, been commissioned by Vogue Japan to make artworks for their publication, collaborated with Japanese masking tape brand mt, and on a fashion line with Romance was Born, styled for various magazines, trend reported for various companies and written for magazines including Vogue, British Airways, Inside Out, Real Living and Frankie. She chronicles her daily life in Tokyo at her blog Hello Sandwich.

Ebony describes the book Hello Tokyo as “a hard copy of the blog, with stories about living in Tokyo, projects to create a cute Tokyo-inspired lifestyle, and pages on collaborations and past projects.” We love her tips on picnics and party decorations, but most importantly, the entire chapter on correspondence!

Ebony recommends making your own envelopes as “a fun and simple way to set the mood for when the recipient opens their mailbox to find this handmade surprise. Plus, you’ll never have to spend money on envelopes again!”

 

Envelopes from Hello Tokyo

 

7 Ideas for Handmade Envelopes

Excerpted from Hello Tokyo

Fabric-covered envelopes

Idea 1: Fabric-covered envelopes 

Cover paper with pretty fabric before folding to make an unexpected envelope. Use spray adhesive to stick fabric to the envelope base, then use craft bond glue to hold the flaps in place. Line the envelope with tracing paper or patterned waxed paper.

Mini envelopes

Idea 2: Mini envelopes 

These come in handy when you need to give someone something teeny, such as money or tickets. It’s also a great way to use up small pieces of cute paper. Adding a mock stamp is a fun way to play with scale, don’t you think?

Window envelopes

Idea 3: Window envelopes 

Here’s an envelope that lets you sneak a peek: Cut out a window shape with scissors or a craft knife. I also like to use a Martha Stewart Crafts All Over The Page Punch. Apply transparent paper to the back of the window using glue tape around the edges.

IMG_4746_RET.jpg

Idea 4: Envelope templates 

I like to keep a stash of envelope templates on hand; however, if you don’t have an envelope template, you can easily make one from an existing envelope. Gently open up the glued edges, being careful not to damage the paper. Et voilà, your very own envelope template! Trace this opened-out envelope onto card stock to create a template built to last the crafter’s mile!

Hand-painted envelopes

Idea 5: Hand-painted envelopes 

Have you ever finished painting and been left with excess paint on your palette? If I find myself in this situation I like to paint pieces of paper in simple patterns, such as stripes, dots, or freestyle designs, to create decorative paper that can be used later for various craft purposes, such as original handmade envelopes.

Eyelet circle-closure envelopes

Idea 6: Eyelet circle-closure envelopes 

Use an eyelet punch and a circle of cardboard to create a unique closure for your envelope.

Transparent envelopes

Idea 7: Transparent envelopes 

Experiment with various transparent papers such as kitchen waxed paper, tracing paper, tissue paper, and translucent contact paper (with the sticky sides sealed together). If the paper is slightly creased, I like to scrunch it and smooth it out two or three times to enhance the textured effect. Use POSCA pens or other markers to add color. Some waxed papers can be pesky with glue, so craft bond glue might be your best bet. Colorful washi tape along the joins can add security and a nice design effect.

Both Hello Tokyo and Heirloom Wood are on shelves today! Take a peek at the books below.

Celebrate Fiber Arts this Fall

With summer coming to a close, we’re ready to break out our favorite yarns with our newest fall titles:

You Can Knit That

Making your own sweaters doesn’t have to be intimidating. When knitting superstar Amy Herzog gets complimented on her hand-knit sweaters, the compliments are often followed by “but I could never knit that.” Now, you can!

Amy Herzog’s signature patterns are back in her newest book, You Can Knit That. Her newest book provides clear instructions for beginners and experts looking to expand their skills in sweater making. 

This essential guide starts with basic sweater know-how and moves into instructions for knitting six must-have sweater styles—vests, all-in-one construction, drop shoulders, raglans, yokes, and set-in sleeves.

You can catch more of Amy’s easy-to-follow instructions in her first two books, Knit to Flatter and Knit Wear Love or learn from her in person at her fall events: 

September 22-25: Fall Sweater Retreat in Mid-Coast Maine

November 11-14, 2016: November Strung Along Retreat in Port Ludlow, OR.

 

Try your hand at one of the projects from the book! Get a free pattern for the Easygoing Sweatshirt Mini (above) here

Crochet Therapy

Betsan Corkhill is a pioneer in therapeutic knitting and crochet. Her new book, Crochet Therapy will inspire you to unwind with over 20 simple and soothing patterns. Mindfulness exercises accompany the patterns and complement the therapeutic effect of crocheting for achieving calm, stress relief, and becoming “effortlessly present” in your craft.

Crochet is a perfect portable means of stress management, easy to do on your commute or lunch break. Clinically trained in physiotherapy, Corkhill’s book is the perfect guide to relaxation with fiber arts.

We've included a fun (and free!) pattern from the book on the ABRAMS Books blog. Even better, you can team up with your crochet friends to create it. Get together to make the individual flowers then knot them together as a symbol of your friendship. It would make a unique gift from all of you to someone special. Get the pattern here

You can learn more about more information about crocheting for health and wellness, at her nonprofit support-network, Stitchlinks.

 

Enjoy!

-Abrams Craft Team

Wendy Bernard is Back with The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary

Expert fiber artist Wendy Bernard (Knit & Tonic) has been hard at work refining patterns since the release of her groundbreaking reference title Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary in 2014. Available this week, The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary presents 150 new patterns for knitting top down, bottom up, back and forth, and in the round.

Picking up where the first volume left off, Bernard adds hundreds of new stitch patterns organized similarly by type—knit and purl, textured stitches, ribs, lace, and cables—plus a chapter on mosaic knitting. Each chapter of The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary includes a customizable pattern so that knitters can easily swap out stitch patterns to make their own unique knitted items.

When I get a chance to talk to people about writing these books, they almost always mention how tough it must be to “crack” each of the stitch patterns. Yup. It is hard. The thing is, I do like knitting in the round and top-down, so while designing new knitting patterns it occurred to me that books like these would be helpful to other knitters who, even though many have the skills to convert them on their own, would like a handy reference at their fingertips that does all the work for them.
— Wendy Bernard, from www.knitandtonic.com

Kicking off tomorrow, please join us and our fabulous collaborators for a blog tour, complete with a chance to win a copy of the book, plus hanks from our friends over at Blue Sky Alpacas:

Can't wait to get started? Get a bonus sneak peek project from the book (the Top-Down Double Triangle Shawl) on the Abrams blog here.

We're Celebrating National Puppy Day with Our Newest Release, DIY For Your Dog

Today is National Puppy Day!

While your dog may technically not be a puppy anymore, as all dog lovers know, our furry friends will always be puppies to us. To help us celebrate this special day, we are turning to the pages of our latest book, DIY for Your Dog, which features 30 lovingly handcrafted projects that will show you how to make, bake, and sew delightful treats for your dog.  

Suitable for all breeds, from Chihuahuas to Great Danes, these sweet and easy projects are presented in four sections—“Eat,” “Nest,” “Play,” and “Wear”—and include everything from a cozy traveling dog bed, a knitted blanket, and a throw-and-catch bone to an adorable neckerchief, a colorful crocheted leash cover, and a made-to-measure coat for gray days. There are even recipes for wholesome and easy-to-make treats like Doggie Pops, Bite-Size Biscuits, and the ultimate Doggie Birthday Cake. Fun, practical, and irresistibly cute, DIY for Your Dog will inspire you to channel your love for your puppy into a handmade gift from the heart.

For a peek at the projects in the book click through the images below or check out the book on our site.

Whether you’re hand-making a gift, purchasing a treat, or giving your dog a warm hug, make sure your puppies know that today is their day.

Gretchen Hirsch dazzles us again with Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book

Lately, we've been dreaming of shedding our winter coats in favor of breezy spring dresses and flowy cottons. While we wait for March's lamb-like side to show up, we're eyeing the stunning dress patterns featured in Gretchen "Gertie" Hirsch's latest book. Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book: A Modern Guide to Sewing Fabulous Vintage Styles is officially on sale today, featuring essential techniques for dressmaking, plus instructions and patterns for 23 dresses for a variety of occasions.

Elements from each pattern can be mixed and matched, allowing readers to customize the bodice, skirt, sleeves, pockets, and details of each dress for a truly unique, flattering, vintage-inspired creation.

The follow-up to the popular Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing and Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, the latest from Gretchen Hirsch's collection is packed with all the information and patterns you could ever need to create a wardrobe filled with stunning vintage frocks.

That's not all: we're kicking off a blog tour today, and each stop will feature a chance to win a copy of the book and a bundle of Gertie-designed fabric from her exclusive line for JoAnn from Fabric Traditions.

Follow along, comment, and show us your own Gertie-inspired creations!

March 8 Brewer Sewing
March 9 Madalynne.com
March 14 By Gum By Golly
March 16 A Dress A Day
March 18 Lish Dorset

You can also head over to Gretchen's blog, Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing, for a special publication day post and chance to win.

In case you missed it: we are also excited about this amazing Pinterest contest going on right now. The grand prize winner will receive $586 worth of patterns, fabric, a Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores gift card, and a signed book! Click the image below for more information.

 

Happy Sewing!

Knitlandia is here! Read a sample chapter today.

Today's the day! We're excited to present the latest memoir from the esteemed Clara ParkesKnitlandia: A Knitter Sees the World, available now! For a sneak peek from the book, read sample chapter "From Baseball to Broadway: Swatching in the Big Apple" here

In addition to her physical book tour that we posted about last week (first stop: launch party in Somerville, Mass tonight, next stop-- NYC tomorrow!), Clara also has a blog tour lined up later this month. Hope you will join us on our blog tour, below: 

Feb 22           Knit and Tonic 

Feb 24           My Sister’s Knitter 

Feb 26           Mary Jane Muckelstone 

Feb 29           Knit Circus

March 2          Yarniacs 

March 4          Leethal 

March 7          Tin Can Knits

March 17         Marly Bird

Clara Parkes is knitting her way to a city near you on the Knitlandia tour!

Beloved knitter and author Clara Parkes has been charming readers across the globe with her heartwarming, hilarious, and humble tales of a life in knitting. In her latest memoir, Knitlandia: A Knitter Sees the World, Parkes weaves her personal blend of wisdom and humor into this eloquently down-to-earth guide that is part personal travel narrative and part cultural history, touching the heart of what it means to live creatively.

Building on the success of The Yarn Whisperer, Parkes’s rich personal essays invite readers and devoted crafters on excursions to be savored, from a guide who quickly comes to feel like a trusted confidante. Join Clara as she takes you along on 17 of her most memorable journeys across the globe over the last 15 years, with stories spanning from the fjords of Iceland to a cozy yarn shop in Paris’s 13th arrondissement.

...And now you can join her in real time as she celebrates the release of Knitlandia on 2/16—coming to a city near you starting next week!

As an added bonus, if you purchase a book at any of the tour stops, you'll get a free (and very cute, in our humble opinion) gift with purchase! Plus, you'll be supporting local indie booksellers—a win for everyone!

Can't make it to the tour? You can still follow along online with Clara's blog tour! We'll post an updated tour schedule later this month, with "tour stops" beginning 2/22. Check back for more info!

 

Spring is Here Over at Abrams!

Well... not quite, but even with some snow in the forecast, we're looking forward to sharing our exciting list of spring books with you!

We've been working hard to bring you a fresh crop of the beautiful and inspiring books that have long been a part of our fiber as an imprint of Abrams.

Below is a sneak peak of the books debuting in the coming season. Click through each cover to read more on our website, and stay tuned for exciting updates here— catch our authors as they visit a city near you, follow along on blog tours, and stay tuned for sneak peeks, contests, giveaways, guest posts, and more!

Wishing you a happy and productive season.

—your friends at STC Craft / Abrams

Stuck on your holiday list? Give the gift of craft!

With time running down, there's still a chance to get some of our faves from this year for the folks on your list (or maybe just to treat yourself—who's looking!?) Check our list below for a little something for every kind of maker.

For the One Always Looking to Try Something New

For the One Who Needs to Relax (and Doodle)

For the Fabric Store Junkie

For The One Who Always Seems to Set Her Own Trends (and looks fabulous doing it!)

For the Novice Crafter, Nester, or General DIY Enthusiast

We hope some of these lovely books find their way to your bookshelf, or to a craft table of someone you love, sometime soon! You can find more of our books online here.

Kick off NaNoJouMo with Dawn Sokol's Year of the Doodle

The fall is a time for reflection for many as we start to feel the effects of the changing seasons—moving clocks back, taking sweaters out of storage—and we begin to look forward to the holiday season and a new year. This November, we're giving ourselves a chance to sit back and take the time to explore those changes more mindfully through the process of art journaling. Available this week, Dawn "Doodle Queen" Sokol's latest book, The Year of the Doodle: 365 Drawing, Collaging, and Mark-Making Adventures, is the perfect way to get started.  

 

On the first of the month, Dawn kicked off her annual National November Journaling Month (or "NaNoJouMo") with daily prompts on her blog. We wanted to try our hand at art journaling as well, so we spent this past week trying out a few prompts from the book. Check out the results of our early November doodles from inside the Abrams office below. 

Feeling inspired? Head over to Dawn's blog where she's giving away a few copies of her book. Join us and start a daily journal challenge of your own!

The Modern Natural Dyer hits stores this week, plus a blog tour and chance to win!

When we look through the pages of Kristine Vejar's debut book, The Modern Natural Dyer, we're met with a sense of wonder about the origins of the natural hues that color our world. Officially on sale this week, Vejar demystifies that process, sharing user-friendly techniques for dyeing yarn, fabric, and finished goods at home with foraged and garden-raised dyestuffs and natural dye extracts.

In explicit, easy-to-follow detail, Vejar explains how to produce consistent, long-lasting color. With stunning photography of the dyes themselves, the dyeing process, and 20 projects for home and wardrobe (some to knit, some to sew, and some just a matter of submerging a finished piece in a prepared bath), The Modern Natural Dyer is a complete resource for aspiring and experienced dye artisans.

We were lucky enough to have the chance to learn about natural dyes and processes straight from Kristine as she kicked off her book release tour on the east coast this past week.

Kristine Vejar signing copies of her book,  The Modern Natural Dyer , for fans at The NYS Sheep & Wool Festival on 10/17/15. Photo credit: Mamie VanLangen

Kristine Vejar signing copies of her book, The Modern Natural Dyer, for fans at The NYS Sheep & Wool Festival on 10/17/15. Photo credit: Mamie VanLangen

Kristine Vejar speaking about natural dyeing techniques in her new book,  The Modern Natural Dyer , at the Tales of Yarn demo area at the NYS Sheep & Wool Festival on 10/18/15. Photo credit: Melissa Esner

Kristine Vejar speaking about natural dyeing techniques in her new book, The Modern Natural Dyer, at the Tales of Yarn demo area at the NYS Sheep & Wool Festival on 10/18/15. Photo credit: Melissa Esner

We were also thrilled to welcome Kristine into our office to show us a thing or two about natural dyeing techniques this week!  Click through the gallery below to see images from our demo session.

If you're looking to learn some techniques of your own, you can follow along on Kristine's upcoming blog tour, with each stop offering a chance to win a copy of the book and one of the 4 dye kits pictured below!

Oct 23 DIY Network
Oct 26 Mason Dixon Knitting
Oct 28 Leethal
Oct 30 Mary Jane Mucklestone
Nov 2 Very Shannon
Nov 4 Make Something Blog
Nov 6 Our Daily Craft/Sarah White
Nov 9 Heather Ross
Nov 11 Tolt Yarn and Wool
Nov 16 Made by Katrina
Nov 18 Ysolda Teague
Nov 20 Jen Hewitt



We're Headed to the NY State Sheep & Wool Fest This Weekend!

If there's one thing that says "fall" around here, it's packing our books and heading up to Rhinebeck for the annual New York State Sheep & Wool Festival!

http://sheepandwool.com/

Please join us this weekend as we showcase some of our brand new needlearts books for the fall, bring back some STC Craft classics, and throw in a few goodies and giveaways. Stop by and meet celebrated knitting guru Clara Parkes on Saturday, 10/17, as she signs advance galleys of her newest travel memoir, Knitlandia, in advance of its spring 2016 publication. And stop by Saturday or Sunday (or both!) to meet and chat with dyeing expert and owner of STC Craft favorite A Verb for Keeping Warm Kristine Vejar, as she sells and signs copies of her first book, The Modern Natural Dyer, before it goes on sale next week!

Stop by and say hello in Building B, check out our books and sample projects, and sign up for the STC Craft newsletter for a chance to win a prize pack!

image credit www.omgheart.com


GUEST POST: Gretchen Hirsch on her inspiration for 'Gertie's New Fashion Sketchbook'

I’m so excited about the release of my new book, Gertie’s New Fashion Sketchbook! Over the past several years, I’ve been busy writing sewing technique books with an emphasis on retro design (see Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing and Gertie Sews Vintage Casual), so this is a bit of a departure for me. Today I’m going to share the inspiration for the sketchbook and why it was such an important project for me. 

Sewists often think of sketching as something that “real” designers do. But everyone who sews is a designer! The simple act of matching a fabric to a pattern is designing. Even picking out a zipper is a design choice. Every choice you make on a project is part of its design. With so many little decisions to make, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. That’s why sketching is such a helpful tool: you can map out your ideas visually, easily changing them if necessary. 

A wonderful tool for sketching fashion ideas is the croquis, a body figure template. That way you don’t have to be able to sketch a realistic figure from scratch! And nowadays it’s easy to go to a bookstore and buy a fashion sketchbook filled with croquis, ready to go. However, the problem with the available fashion sketchbooks is that the figures can look a little bizarre: they’re strangely elongated and spindly, and twisted into strange poses that I like to call the "broken doll" or the "sad alien." That's because fashion people work with a concept called "nine heads," where the figure is nine head-lengths tall. To put this in perspective, actual people are only seven to eight heads tall. Here's an interesting image that breaks it down:

One of my missions over the years has been to write about sewing and fashion in a body-positive, feminist way. So these nine-head ladies were bringing me down. And so the idea for this sketchbook was born and brilliant illustrator Sun Young Park brought it to life. Here's how it works:

The figures are presented in a "nested" configuration (almost like a sewing pattern!), so that you can follow the lines (bigger or smaller) to represent different figures. You can make the figures smaller on top or bottom to replicate a woman's actual curves and proportions. I tested the whole thing out with some wonderful sewing friends, and it really works! But my favorite thing about it is that the height of the figures is actually realistic. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Do you enjoy sketching ideas for your sewing projects? If so, I hope you love this new sketchbook! 


Stamp, Stencil, Paint Your Way to a Colorful Life!

Textile artist Anna Joyce believes that we should all live with color and pattern every day. Now, with the release of Stamp, Stencil, Paint, so can you!

In this beautiful and approachable new book, Anna Joyce shares her signature hand-printing techniques for adding color and pattern to ready-made surfaces like fabric, ceramics, paper, leather, furniture, walls, and more. Inspired by vintage fabric, folk art, shapes in nature, and exciting new color combinations, Anna’s distinctive projects showcase the beauty of the unexpected and the mark of the artist’s hand. Following beautiful step-by-step photography, you'll learn new, easy skills to stamp, stencil, and hand-paint wonderful projects for your homes, wardrobes, families, and friends.

Anna's joy for making things by hand is truly infectious, and if you're in Portland this weekend or New York the week after, you can see for yourself at one of her exciting tour stops:

Portland, Oregon Events


New York City Book Tour

Can't make it to one of the events above (or can't get enough of Anna)? You can still get involved and learn from her with this fabulous giveaway from our friends over at Creativebug, going on now! .

The perfect book to get you in the Mood for sewing

“Designers, we’re going to Mood!”

Chances are, if you've heard of Mood Fabrics you fall into one of two categories: you are either a huge Project Runway fan OR you are an avid home-sewer, a fashion student, or an aspiring designer. Regardless, you know it's New York's go-to spot for anything and everything fabric. 

It was more than 10 years ago that Tim Gunn walked the first batch of Project Runway contestants into Mood Fabrics. This week, the experts behind this fabric power- house bring their fabric and fashion know-how—plus their behind-the-scenes stories—to the sewing public. The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion is the ultimate guide for the home-sewers, fashion students, aspiring designers, and Project Runway fans who want to learn everything they need to know to choose and use quality fabric. Drawing upon the expertise of the Mood staff, the book teaches readers the fundamentals—from where fabric is produced to the ins and outs of its construction—and features a fabric-by-fabric guide to cottons and other plant fibers, wools, silks, knits, and other specialty fabrics.

Intrigued? Hear what Tim Gunn has to say about it

And if you're a frequent shopper at Mood (or would like to be!), take advantage of the promotion that is going on on their site right now! Buy a copy of the book from their site and you'll be automatically entered to win a $250 gift card to the store.