every day i see people posting things they claim are exciting. i’m sure i’m guilty as well. i do get excited about little things: first blooms in the Spring, classes i’m teaching, projects i’m making, learning to play ukulele. but today, i have something truly EXCITING to share, on a worthier level than usual. at least to me. and hopefully, to you too!
as you know, i make and sell small-batch clothes, mostly smock dresses and leggings, over in my Etsy shop. each piece has always been made by me in my home studio. in many ways i love this. but in many ways, this has always been a challenge and limitation on my business. i’m not going to dwell right now on the difficulties of one-person production, because i’m too eager to get to the GOOD stuff:
what you see in the pics above is Good Clothing Company. i have been looking for them for about 15 years. they didn’t exist though, until one year ago. i am so happy to have found them! the brains behind the operation is Kathryn Hilderbrand, a forward-thinking designer, master tailor, and entrepreneur. she is bringing back ethical, sustainable garment manufacturing to New England. she is — together with Tim Gunn — working to legalize hemp, both as a crop and a textile, in the state of Massachusetts (and beyond). i really don’t know how Kathryn does all that she does, but she’s my new hero!
i have been working with Kathryn and her wonderful staff for about 6 months now, to produce my long-standing staple, the smock dress. there is the short-sleeved smock with the lower, more open “summer yoke” neckline, and the long-sleeved smock with the slightly higher “winter yoke”. each style comes in two sizes: the classic one-size-fits-a-wide-range which until now has been the only size i make (unless custom made for someone), and a larger size (see details in the listings). currently i’m offering them in one of my all-time favorite fabrics, natural undyed linen.
this has been a long time coming, and it feels so good to finally be here! both short- and long-sleeved styles are now in stock and ready to ship!
Caitlin and Mariglynn are living proof! see how happy and proud they are to be wearing their own handmade clothes? you can have the same feeling after taking my 2-day Make Your Own Dress intensive next weekend (April 16 + 17) at Drop Forge & Tool in Hudson, NY.
this is my favorite type of workshop, in which we have ample time to work through the entire process: we’ll take measurements, draft the pattern, make a muslin, fit the muslin, correct the pattern, then cut and sew a “real” garment! so often i can only teach one part of it, either just the drafting or just the sewing, and i know many students find it hard to connect the dots on their own.
these photos are from last August, the first time i taught this exact workshop. we had a great group of 5 eager women, all looking to take the plunge into sewing their own handmade wardrobes. since then, i’ve seen many garments that they’ve shared online, and when three of us reunited at a darning workshop in January (top photo), i was tickled to see Mariglynn and Caitlin in head-to-toe handmade!
Drop Forge & Tool is such a wonderful space, and Hudson is a lovely town to spend a weekend in (and an easy trip from NYC). you can see really lovely photos from our August weekend in this post. we’ve got a couple of spots left, and we’d hate for you to miss out…
every year i look forward to the quiet months of January-March as a time to recover from the busy season, regroup and catch up on projects that got pushed aside over the previous year. and every year it goes by too quickly, and not enough gets done, before things start to pick up again… but that’s how it goes, yes?
as April is quickly approaching, i just want to remind you that i have 3 fun events coming up! first is the Black Sheep Needle Arts Retreat in Lakeville, CT. this is a new one for me, but it’s the 3rd (or 4th?) annual retreat, and it seems to be growing each year. i’m looking forward to hanging with some of my favorite teacher pals like Mary Jane Mucklestone, Kirsten Kapur and Jackie Ottino-Graf. i’ll be teaching 4 workshops: Pattern Drafting for Knitters, Color Play Crochet, Gaga for Granny Squares, and Crochet for Knitters. this is the kind of retreat where you have the option to come for just a day, or a class, or the whole weekend’s events. hope to see you there!
in the middle of April i’ll be teaching another Make Your Own Dress weekend intensive at Drop Forge & Tool in Hudson, NY. we did one of these last August and had a fantastic time! you’ll learn to draft your own pattern, sew up a muslin and fit it, and then stitch a real dress, all in two days. this is the ideal way to learn pattern drafting because we’ll work through the steps that come after the drafting, and you’ll get a real sense of how to use and adjust your patterns. join us if you can!
and at the end of the month, i’ll be back at the Yarn Cupboard’s Fiber Retreat and Market in Syracuse, NY. i believe this will be my 4th time teaching at this one, and it’s always a good time! other teachers include the awesome Kate + Courtney of Kelbourne Woolens, the innovative Olga Buraya-Kefelian of OLGAJAZZY, the hilarious and super prolific Lori Versaci of VERSACIKNITS, Virginia Tullock of Fat Cat Knits, and more knitting, spinning and dying classes. this year i’m teaching Crochet Rag Rugs, Embroidery for Knit + Crochet, and Gaga for Grannies. there’s also a vendor’s market which is open to the public, should you need to re-stock your stash after your Winter’s hibernation. this is another retreat where you can choose your own adventure: you’re welcome to come for all, or just part of the weekend.
photo by Emily Cassel for Scout Somerville
hello March! signs of Spring are abounding in the Hudson Valley, even though technically we’ve got a way to go, and my teaching schedule is waking up accordingly! this month i have a few local classes, and i’m off to the Boston area for two days at my pal AmyLou’s beautiful new workshop space Craftwork Somerville. i’ve only visited this hot new venue when it was still a bright and lovely work-in-progress, back in September when we were en route to Fiber College in Maine. shortly after that, classes began, and it’s been a hub of craft activity ever since! i love the range of makery on offer, everything from the quintessential knitting, crochet, sewing, weaving, and dyeing, to herbal tonics, bra construction and tarot card reading. i highly suggest you subscribe to her newsletter so you don’t miss anything!
Photo by Emily Cassel for Scout Somerville
Amy felt the need in her neighborhood for a creative community space for adults and kids, and to share her love of fiber — and other — arts. you can read a sweet article about Amy and her shop over at Scout Somerville and get a better sense of the dynamo she is.
if you’ve ever met AmyLou, you know her boundless energy and generous spirit. if you haven’t, within 30 seconds she’ll feel like your new best friend. i can’t wait to spend the weekend at Craftwork and experience the creative community she’s building!
i’m teaching two classes that weekend, and both are perfect if you’re itching to get started on your handmade wardrobe for Spring! on Saturday March 12 we’ll be making one of my favorite projects, the Folk Dress. it’s based on the classic Mexican wedding dress, and it’s a super customizable, loose-fitting blouse, tunic or dress you can really make your own. if you’re comfortable using a sewing machine (even if you’ve never sewn clothes), you’ve got the skills to make this.
and on Sunday the 13th, we’ll be Making Our Own Leggings! first i’ll teach you to draft your own pattern, using your body’s unique measurements. then we’ll stitch up a fit sample, correct your pattern if needed, and sew a REAL pair of custom leggings! this is a perfect introduction to sewing with knits, if that’s a bridge you haven’t yet crossed.
both classes still have a few spots open, so i hope you’ll consider joining us. if you can’t, please tell a friend!
(all photos in this post by Studio Scrivo)
i’ve updated my teaching page to reflect everything i’ve got scheduled (thus far) for 2016. there will likely be additions, especially on the local front, but for now that’s what i’ve got. hopefully i’m coming to a theatre near you!
this very weekend (sunday 2/14) is the first of 3 weekly sessions of Crochet 101 at my darling LYS and sheep farm White Barn Farm in Gardiner, NY.
the lovely photos above were taken during last summer’s Make Your Own Dress Immersion Weekend at Drop Forge & Tool in Hudson, NY. we’ll be doing it again in April!
and this coming tuesday (2/16) we’re running the ever-popular Befriend Your Sewing Machine up there.
see you in class!
a few weeks ago, i had a really fun chat with the lovely sandi hazlewood for her podcast crafty planner. i’ve been listening to sandi’s voice — via her podcast — for a few months, so when we finally met (over Skype), she already felt like a friend. my favorite type of podcasts are the ones in which makers tell their stories and talk about their work, and sandi’s is one of my more recent infatuations. she’s interviewed so many people i admire, like anna maria horner, sarai mitnick, denyse schmidt, lisa solomon, christine haynes, and jaime jennings. podcasts keep me company while i work in my studio, so it’s always fun to be in front of the microphone!
sandi asked some great questions and got me rambling about the origins of my handmade wardrobe, my quirky shop in NYC, moving to the country, learning to play ukulele, and how teaching online compares to teaching live classes. plus a whole lot more! i giggle a lot and i think you might enjoy our conversation.
wow! that was super fun! from January 1-31 i (along with thousands of others) participated in the Daily Drawing Challenge of Lisa Congdon’s 31 Things to Draw workshop, which was a fantastic way to start off a New Year! each day a new segment was released, in which Lisa showed us several ways to draw a thing, like teacups, or root vegetables, or spice jars, or cacti, or bikinis. every day was a surprise to me, because i didn’t peek ahead at all the drawings to see what was coming. i’ve been wanting to get back into the habit of drawing in my sketchbook, so this daily practice was an excellent motivator. Lisa is so good at simplifying objects and making them really approachable, and it really brought me back to all the drawing and sketching i used to do in school. these days, i may sketch out an idea for a dress or a crochet design, but i rarely draw for the sake of drawing…
i think my favorite thing to draw was the root vegetables (find them below), but my fave overall doodle was the “bees” one you see above. it got me thinking about Spring and getting the garden going, and reminded me that it’s time to order seeds, especially sunflowers!
i did these right before bedtime every night (hence the poorly-lit photos) and only spent about 5-10 minutes working on them (the video tutorials are about 3-5 minutes long). i didn’t branch out too much from Lisa’s examples, but if you check out the #CBDrawaday or #31thingstodraw hashtags on Instagram, you’ll be AMAZED at some of the interpretations by very talented illustrators! i loved seeing the wide range of skills each day.
usually i fall off the boat pretty quick when i try to take part in these challenges, so it feels really great that i stuck with it. and even though this workshop debuted last month, all of the segments are up now for good, so YOU can take part whenever you like, and add your drawings to the galleries. i promise, even if you think you can’t draw at all, you’ll have fun and see that you actually CAN!
and — breaking news! — i just found out that there’s a NEW Daily Drawing Challenge workshop for February, with Heather Ross and Molly Hatch! plus there are a bunch of other illustration and sketchbook workshops on Creativebug too. my sketchbook will never feel neglected again.
hello! welcome to those of you who are following along on the Good Hair Day blog hop! Good Hair Day, for those who don’t yet know, is the latest fabric collection from my textile designer friend Kim Andersson. i’m happy to be a co-host of the Hop today, and show you the dress i made for it. plus i’ll tell you how you can make one yourself!
as soon as i saw this Bobby Pins print, i knew it was the one for me (though i’m also enamored with the Braids…), since bobby pins are key components to my own good hair days, and i pictured it in a sweet summery sleeveless number. the fact that i was shoveling snow and breaking up ice in the chickens’ water dish at 8am this morning only make this jaunty warm-weather frock look even more appealing!
this dress is made using the essential shift dress pattern from my Master Pattern Drafting workshop*. once you have the basic pattern, three easy modifications are all you need to whip up your own version and start daydreaming of Spring…
the first modification is to add flare to the pattern, which i thoroughly explain in Part 3, Chapter 8, the one titled “Flared dress modification with elastic waist” (only you won’t be adding the elastic waist, although you could, and that’d be cute too!).
next you’ll be creating a contrasting-fabric contoured yoke pattern piece. i used the same seam line front + back, but you could make them different, or only add the yoke in front. details on this simple drafting are found in Part 3 Chapter 9, titled “Gathered Yoke Modification” (and again, more design options! i didn’t gather the body into the yoke here, but that’s another way you could go…). the only slight change is that you’ll make a gently curved line instead of straight. easy peasy!
and the final mod is to add cutaway pockets (aka the Cal Patch signature pockets) to your side seams, with a contrast facing peeking through. i show you how to make these pockets on a skirt in Part 3 Chapter 3, “Modifying the Skirt Pattern”, and the process is the same for a dress. you’ll just be drawing the pocket opening and pocket bag so that top and bottom connect with the side seam, rather than the waist line. i also do a version of this pocket style in my book, on the Kathy Dress.
oh, and before i forget: leave a comment below to be entered to win a Charm Pack of all the Good Hair Day prints! and hop around all the other stops on the tour for more chances to win, plus two chances to win Fat Quarter bundles on Kim’s and Windham’s blogs (links to both + the whole Hop schedule at the start of this post). i’ll randomly choose a winner on January 20th.
hope YOU’RE having a good hair day!
*note: if you’ve just blog-hopped over here for the first time, i teach pattern drafting, sewing and crochet online workshops via Creativebug. it’s very inexpensive to subscribe, which gains you access to ALL the amazing classes, with expert teachers you’re probably already a fan of! you can get a free 2-week trial to check it out, and just so you know, all Creativebug links on my site are affiliate links. thanks!
you guys! it’s the last day of the year! and the beginning of a whole new one! for me this is always a very inspiring and motivated time because it’s the end of my busiest season and the start of my slowest one, which is something i embrace wholeheartedly. time to take stock (i’ve always wanted to do this), finish some languishing WIPs (#Eveof2016FinishingParty anyone?) and organize plans for the coming year.
one of the ways i’m so thrilled to f-i-n-a-l-l-y be able to get organized is via Textillia. have you jumped on the wagon yet? as they like to say, “Sewists, it’s OUR turn!” and indeed it is. we who crochet and knit can’t even conceive of life without Ravelry these days, but until now there’s been no place for we who SEW to document, research, share, learn and hang out amongst our peeps. i plan to, one by one, go through the garments i’ve made and document my sewing history over in *my studio*. if you’re setting up your own profile, please add me as a friend and i’ll add you back!
the lovely Ariane, who created Textillia with her partner Bruno, is hosting their first official Sew-Along for the month of January, and the project is the knit dress from my Pattern Drafting with Knits class. it’s a pretty casual sew-along, but you can read all about it over on the Textillia blog. most of the action will take place in the Cal Patch Fan Club forum* over there, and i’ll be chiming in, offering advice and moral support, and even making a new dress of my own. i’ll admit though that what i love most about this whole scheme is that i’m not in charge of it!
so, i hope some of you will consider joining in, especially if you’ve been wanting to try sewing with knits but haven’t had the courage on your own. i’ll be writing some posts about types of knit, some of my favorite resources, and the mysterious wonders of Ease. oh, and if you haven’t yet subscribed to Creativebug, today (December 31st) is the last day of the two-for-one promotion offer, so get to it! one for you, one for a friend!
*i have a fan club!!! i wanted to point out that i did not start it, and really it’s just a forum, but if that’s what Ariane wants to call it, who am i to complain?
every year i have big plans to send out holiday cards, bake lots of cookies, and make all of my holiday gifts. i have amnesia about the fact that november and december are the busiest months for my work, what with craft fairs and filling orders that check off other people’s lists. so typically, most of my handmade holiday fantasies fall apart.
but as soon as i saw my pal Courtney’s class on painting your own watercolor holiday cards** on Creativebug, i knew i had to try it. i happened to have a new set of watercolors (more on those in a second) i’ve been dying to dip into, and oh yeah i probably haven’t painted with watercolors since i was in high school. as i suspected, Courtney makes it look very approachable and i whipped out 12 cards in about an hour and a half of Sunday evening fun.
i was partial to the wreaths because i liked the organic simplicity of painting the leaf shapes with the brush, and i added a single snowflake to each envelope.* they are certainly not masterpieces, but they did get me out of my comfort zone in a really fun way. mostly i’m just super happy that i actually made these, and will send them out as Happy New Year cards.
SO! it’s worth noting that if you are anywhere near as last-minute as me, or just find that additional gift or project needs still pop up before the end of the year, Creativebug can be a great solution. their biggest sale of the year is going on through the 31st of December: Give a Gift, Get a Gift subscription in 3, 6 or 12 month increments. the 12-month plan for only $50 is a 58% savings off the regular price!
there are lots of cool last-minute gift projects (like this Fringed Scarf workshop with Anna Maria Horner, and i’m sure we all have something in our fabric stash we could turn into a scarf!) and also baking lessons with the Wilton crew (i still plan on baking some cookies this week…).
oh yeah, about those watercolors! my darling friend Beverly gifted me this sweet set of the most awesome handmade watercolors in a tiny Altoids tin from Greenleaf & Blueberry and i think it’s the best thing ever. Bev is a fan and i admired her set when we were in Maine, and now i’m totally crushing out on them too. they make their paints with natural geological pigments, gum arabic, and honey!
*forgive the 11pm poorly-lit kitchen photos; i planned to re-take them this morning but it’s currently raining and even darker.
**all the Creativebug links here and throughout my site are indeed affiliate links, so i get a few bucks if you sign up after clinking over. thanks!