Archive for the 'Craft' Category

Macaron in Orange and Turquoise

macaron dress

I made a dress! I had been working on it in bits and pieces, but took New Years Day off of schoolwork to finish it up. It’s Macaron from Colette Patterns, and the main fabric is stuff I bought at the Workroom back when I still lived in Toronto. I bought both blue and orange fabric to use as the contrast, but ultimately decided that the orange was better and that I could certainly use the blue for other project.

I made a size 8, and the only thing I modified was the length of the pleat stitches–it was tight around my butt so I picked them out and re-sewed so that they stopped above my butt. The whole thing is only okay–I know that I’m not a very careful sewer, so things don’t line up quite right everywhere. I’m much better with quilts because they work great even if they’re not totally square. It’s good to do some clothes-sewing once in a while to remember that it’s hard and time consuming and not the thing I’m best at. It’s easy to lust after dresses and pledge to make them, so I’m happy to remind myself that it’s not as easy as that.

The other day I took two of my wintercoats to get fixed. There’s a guy on Washington that did a great job taking in a Lily Pulitzer dress I bought secondhand for $30 even though it was a size too large, and so when I decided that two vintage coats that were my mom’s were worth saving despite missing toggles and a destroyed lining, I brought them over. The coat that needed a new lining is actually too big, and because he was going to reline it we/I decided that it should get taken in as well. It’s so impressive to watch someone who _is_ careful pay pin up a coat so that it fits properly. I also got an excellent earful about the economics of New York’s garment district! I already knew a bit about it because of the Design Trust’s Made in Midtown project, and it was great to hear my Crown Heights tailor talk about engaging with the district as part of his work.

ozzy and the quilt

I’ve been working on this quilt slowly in fits and starts for quite some time, but in the waning days of summer I managed to power through and get it done. Here’s the whole quilt top being examined for defects by Ozzy.

It’s since been quilted and the binding is mostly done. It’s by far the largest quilt I’ve made–a perfect twin-bed sized monster. The size was unintentional, I kind of just kept cutting blocks and making little nine-patches, and when I bough the batting and then when I took the measurements to the Brooklyn General Store to buy batting, the lady told me it was exactly a twin-sized quilt!

This quilt incorporates some gocco-printed “awesome” fabric, some spoonflower printed milkbottle fabric, and some screen-printed mason jar fabric from the class I took with Kurt what seems like eons ago.

ozzy and the quilt

thrift and craft

worksite accients

I’m a few pages into a book I picked up at a used bookshop in Rockville, MD–the book is called “In Cheap We Trust” (by Lauren Weber), about the idea of thrift, frugality, and cheapness. Pop sociology and good summer reading (I hope). In this into, though, she writes that “thrift advocacy has always carried a whiff and often a stench of preachiness.”

Let me state: I don’t agree.

This statement came after a bit of discussion of the need to patch and mend and darn when good were scarce, and got me thinking about the world of craft and its connection to thrift. It’s true that the two are not synonymous: there are big-box-craft-stores on the side of the highway with aisles Martha Stewart branded official scrapbooking supplies; there are very shmancy brands of yarn that are just another thing to covet or splurge on; even knitting a sweater out of reasonably priced yarn isn’t going to be cheaper than buying something new. But craft is thrift not in the sense of paying as little as possible for anything, but in the sense of being careful and conscientious about things and objects and materials. Advocacy of this sort of thrift is not preaching, it’s exploration of how things are made and what things can be used for. It’s full of wonder.

charming darning (explorations in darning techniques from karen barbe)

I also think of my rad friend Becky Johnson, who I had the immense pleasure to see speak at Etsy when she came through Brooklyn in June. She officially spoke on the subject of “Crafting a Well-Rounded Business” but really she spoke about what she does (tour America in the summers, selling her wares at craft shows and visiting boutiques and other sites-of-handmade), and how she makes it work. One of the points she made to the room full of lovely Brooklyn Etsy ladies seeking success, is that her version of “success” is a wildly different recasting of the idea that you can craft your way into a profitable business. Becky’s success is that she makes her life work on not very much income, in part because the principles of craft and thrift encourage sharing, reciprocity (she talked about being able to travel widely and have somewhere to stay because of the art-and-craft community she has cultivated), and a very different sense of what’s important and worth spending money on. Her successful craft business is not about winning at capitalism, it’s about existing on sort of the outside edge of capitalism.

(my friend becky)

I just read a book called “The Chairs are Where the People Go” by Misha Glouberman, and in a short section titled “Social Capital” he points out that artists and other creative folks may not have a lot of money, but they are certainly not “poor.”

I think this might be related the point that Weber is beginning to make. Thrift out of necessity is what it is, not particularly virtuous, just a way to live within your means. Weber’s feeling of “preachiness” is a similar sense of discomfort to Glouberman’s disapproval of artists considering themselves poor. In this understanding those claiming thrift or poverty are trying to set themselves off as different from what is expected of folks in their socioeconomic position, and receive some sort of credit for it.

Its true that the poverty of artists and musicians is different than the systemic poverty that really exists in our world. But the idea (and this is not the point that Glouberman makes, but is the point implied by Weber’s statement) that anyone who lives outside of the capitalist matrix is inherently smug about it feels really defeatist. Being able to take on a different mode of life is really valuable. Being able to make that work–through thrift, barter, art, travel, and careful darning of one’s handknit socks–is what is really exciting and inspiring about all of my friends amazing diverse lives and professions.


The image up at the top of this post is of the “Worksite Accidents” Gocco prints I received from Becky for pledging her Kickstarter campaign that she used to fund this summer’s craft tour. Here it is in its milieu on my kitchen wall: most of these things are thrifted.

worksite accident print

Sorbetto accomplished!

Rather than waiting until August, I made the Sorbetto top the other day. It was easy and pretty fast–the bias tape part was definitely the most time-consuming part.

sorbetto top

A bit of confusion about seam allowances: the pattern says they’re 5/8″ except around the neckline and armholes where they’re a 1/4″ — because attaching the bias tape had its own instructions, I figured something else had to have a 1/4″ seam allowance, so I sewed the shoulder seams at that. I don’t think it made that much difference and I’m happy with how it fits. On a pattern with such few steps, I think it would have been nice if it said “sew shoulder seams at 5/8″ specifically.

Here’s another picture that’s not that different. I hadn’t finished putting bias tape around the armholes in either of these shots. And now comparing them to the pictures on the pattern website, mine seems less scoop-necked. I can fix that when I make another, which I will.

sorbetto top

Fabric is from the Knittin Kitten in Portland, I think.

I think that I don’t want to call it a “top” though–it’s a shirt. What’s the deal with the word “top” anyway?

Hexagons for Karen and Sammy

I have awesome friends, Karen and Sam, who got married this past September, at a Bowling Alley in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Karen and Sam!

Hexagon Piecing Tattoo!At the wedding, I met a friend of theirs who had this rad hexagon paper piecing tattoo. (Please excuse the terrible picture). We got to chatting about hexagons; at that point I had never attempted making them because the whole things seemed so finicky and daunting and I was convinced that I needed to take a class to learn how to do them. But oh how I love the way they look! A few weeks later I sat down with the internet and a hand sewing needle and my bag of scrap fabric and figured it out. Of course, it was kind of finicky and tedious and the prospect of doing a whole quilt like this continued to seem daunting. I made a few random blob shapes and declared myself done.


Of course, at this point I still hadn’t gotten anything for Sam and Karen, and remembering the pillowcases I’d made for Jamie and Rufus, I decided that I’d do that again. Pillowcases are a great gift idea–hand made and lovely but not months and months of work. So I appliqued the hexagon blobs (well, one blob and two hexagon flowers) onto grey fabric, and sewed them up into pillowcases. I used some bird fabric and a chopped up old pillowcase (that had an interim life as a pillowcase skirt, that ingenious new-sewist project that is actually unwearable because people and pillows are very different shapes, as it turns out) for the edging, and voila! Pillowcases!

Pillow Cases
Pillow Case Edges

Whale Hero

David has these great paintings by Johanna Wright. They’re both of the Whale Hero (though only one of the paintings has that title)–a scrappy-looking big blue/grey whale, smiling a nervous kind of grin, saving folks (Whale Hero) or being celebrated (Whale Parade).

Here’s Whale Hero:
Johanna Wright's 'Whale Hero'

And Whale Parade:
whale parade

It was the little patches on the Whale that did me in. I loved them, and wanted to recreate them, so I made David his own whale.

The Whale

I haven’t made a lot of softies, it’s never really been appealing to me as a thing to make, but boy oh boy did I want to make a whale! I just drew a simplified version onto newspaper, cut it out and traced it with seam allowance onto fabric to make 2 pieces. I embroidered a mouth and an eye on each piece, and sewed on some patches–I used white glue to stick them, and then zig-zag stitched around them, they were too tiny for pins. I got a bit stuck on the stuffing part, I left the open bit (to flip it right side out and stuff) by the base of the tail, so that turning it right side out would be easier, but it made it really hard to hand sew it shut. I did an imperfect job, but that’s alright because The Whale is a scrappy guy.

Ozzy likes it:
Ozzy and the Whale

and David too:
David and his Whale

A works-in-progress roundup

Okay, this is just a crafty works-in-progress list. There are other things going on.

1. Quilt for me. 6-inch squares all cut, laid out, two rows sewn together. Old photograph:
fabric squares

2. Crocheted granny-square blanket, in browns and orange and teal and white. All squares done, time to begin joining them

3. A Girasole! Just begun. Here is linds winding up my yarn cones:

4. Pair of lace knit socks (can’t remember the pattern at the moment). I knit one fully, then decided that I need to go down a needle size or two. So I will frog the whole thing. I’ve never done that before.

5. An Entomology shawl. Nearing completion! You might recall it from that bike and gardens and coffee day in Red Hook a while ago:
good day, good knitting

6. The thing with the hexagons. This is a secret.

7. Kindle case/cozy for my mom. In nascent stages of existence.

Knitting, East and West

my bicycles at valentino pier

This is a photo of my bike at Valentino Pier, in Red Hook, from a few weeks ago. When I parked to go to Baked to get brownies and coffee before sitting down to read on the pier, I got to park up against a yarn-bombed bike rack!

The rack next to that one was also yarn-wrapped, in a different pattern:


Red Hook is full of surprising and lovely things. Especially gardens.

As well as reading on the pier, I got in a bit of work on my Entomology shawl

which I put on hold for a while to knit some fingerless mitts as a sample-knit for Yarnia, my dear friend Lindsey’s yarn store in Portland Oregon. You can read my guest blog post about the mitten-knitting over the Yarnia blog, but here are a few photos:


2 years in America, my phone contract is up for renewal, and I am coming to realize that I just don’t want an iPhone, or any other “cool” phone. Maybe I want a Razr, they were cool phones once. It’s nice to know that my friend Kenan doesn’t really want one either.

Instead of playing word jumble or brick breaking games on the subway, I’ll read John Steinbeck (the other day a woman tapped me as I was reading East of Eden and asked if I was reading that for school or for fun. When I said for fun she was impressed; I wonder would she would have thought if I had been reading The Production of Space?)

Not that I am anti-technology, mind you. I very much appreciate my sewing machine, which I used to make a banner for the Crow Hill Community Garden, and am using to piece together some blocks for a quilt (one for myself and my home, this time).

garden banner
9-patch blocks

Also, I like my new dehydrator, gifted by Emily in her going-away-paring down. Sara, my awesome new roommate, and I made kale chips, with kale she grew in her friend Stefan’s garden.

triangles for Rachel and David

I want to show off a few photos of the quilt I made for Rachel and David’s wedding gift.

Tree Cases

Last week, my dear friend Jamie and Rufus got married! They had their friends decorate squares of fabric that were then pieced together into a chuppa quilt by some family friends.

Here’s what it looked like hanging up at the party:
wedding chupa quilt

Mine is the square with the little triangle trees, far right of the second row from the top.

So, as a gift for Jamie and Rufus, I wanted to make something that complemented this quilt I knew they were going to have after the wedding, so I made some pillowcases that matched (well, close to matched) the patchwork pattern of my square. Inspired by the Little Forest Quilt I made these pillowcases for J + R:


I had never made patchwork pillowcases before, and freaked out a bit when I realized that I wasn’t quilting the work and that there were all these raw edges on the back of the tree panel. Inside the pillowcase, yes, but still problematic. Their exposure would mean that they were going to fray and come apart after some number of washings. For a small while I thought I was going to have to line the pillowcases, which would require more cream-coloured fabric and not making my June 6 deadline. But then I dug through the box of craft ephemera in my closet and found some super lightweight fusible interfacing, which I ironed onto the back of the patchwork panels, sealing the whole thing up without making the pillowcases stiff. Amazing!


A lot of the things I look at regularly on the internet are about dresses. Some of it is about making dresses and some is unabashedly fashion. Yeah. I read fashion blogs!

Mostly it’s that journal articles are in black and white and badly photocopied and I need to look at pretty things every now and then, or I’ll wilt. It’s like the poster or print up on the wall at Kat’s house, “girls need cute things or they’ll DIE.”

mociun tie-frontDresess like this one! (which is from mociun) And Built By Wendy stuff. And all the vintage patterns over at A Dress A Day. I have a few patterns and some washed and pressed fabric that’s meant to be magically transformed into dresses, but I’m not actually working on that at the moment.

I will say, though, that I am bored bored bored of all the Japanese dress books and the adoration of them on many of the dress and craft blogs. The dresses are all so shapeless and boring (and no doubt would look terrible on anyone with boobs), and the books all seem so samey-same, with models standing in front of white or grey-ish walls, holding on to some inane object. It’s better than the overcutseyness of the amigurumi japanese craft stuff that I’ve never been a fan of, but I have no desire to look at any more shifts or tunics. Urgh.

For those of you that love the japanese dresses (or just don’t know what I’m talking about), Karyn has a quite a collection of them that you can see here.


Oh wow, this dress is amazing!
3d glasses dress
From etsy, of course.

structural mittens

Dear Kat,

I remember that frustration indeed, but looking at those photos (plus the fact that my sewing skills have developed over time) makes me think that I could make some structural mittens now, without even reading the pattern/recipe.




Brooklyn this week

Billboard update:

252 streetview

Google streetview updated some parts of Brooklyn, and captured the hemorrhoids billboard!

Etsy Update:

defend disserations!

I think that this shirt is awesome.

Actually, I think that’s it.

Unless you haven’t yet been acquainted with Regretsy, the making-fun-of-bad-crafts-for-sale blog that has captured the hearts and minds of the world. This sweater is a recent favourite.

more friends, more quilts

So the most recent life-changing-event-secret-quilt-project has been quilted and bound and photographed and folded and handed off–this is the log-cabin quilt that I made for Anna and Naf’s wedding (coming up this weekend, in Rochester!)

anna and her quilt
back of the quilt

anna/naf crestOrange centre squares, other fabrics include some orange flowers, some John-Dere kitch, some city-print stuff, a thrifted pillowcase, an old skirt of Sarah Zarrow’s, some yellow katie jump rope flowers, some yellow stuff from Anna’s mom’s stash (which made it into a quilt she made me years ago!) and some grey and pale turquoise stuff I bought in Berlin.

I’m still working on some wedding stuff for A+N: handwriting the escort cards (that are not as awesome as these ones), and planning for the Brooklyn Sheva Brachot early next week, which includes drawing the little Anna+Naf crest you can see on your right there.

tuesday night notes

1. That thing that I was working on, with the blue and white triangles is done:
back of awesomequilt
In the photos it’s not bound or quilted, but those things happened, and it got shipped off to its rightful owner. It makes me so so so happy to have it out in the world. I’m kind of amazed that I only really knit for myself, but the quilts I make are meant for others. I have a new project in the works, but it’s still at the stage where I stare at strangers on the subway, looking at the colours of their shoes and totebags and wonder what they would look like as log cabins or flying geese.

2. I also made a new dress, for the studio presentation I have to give on Friday. It’s another Amy Butler Lotus Dress, in blue corduroy. Pictures eventually, maybe

hanging vines3. I’m knitting these socks, Hanging Vines out of dark grey yarn from Yarnia. They’re going quickly and are really fun, unlike the German Stockings that I bought the yarn for, and have started and ripped back twice. I love the way the German Stockings look, but they were so many stitches that I needed my super-long dps, and then I couldn’t knit on the subway because I kept poking people, so I gave up! Cookie A, I’ve made your Monkeys and your Pomotomous socks twice each, I’ve loved them lots, but the German Stocks are amazingly un-fun.

4. I made some maps of Saginaw:
saginaw housing

Get ‘er done, part 2.

dory cutting
This is me on the floor of Emily’s apartment, cutting out squares of fabric. In December.

I’ve posted about this before, also in December, this secret project that will be sure to amaze and delight its intended recipient. I was going to have it done before the new year!

Clearly, that didn’t happen.

I mean, there’s this
one more square
but that’s hardly a whole quilt. And most of it is still in squares on the sewing table.

I’m using the Crafty Slacker challenge as motivation to get it done before the deadline of March 16. Possibly irrational, but I organized the piles of tiny squares and pinned some of them together and now I want to see them sewn together so badly that I think it’s truly possible.

Projects! I want more of them! And I want to Get Them Done! Yes!

Get ‘er Done!

I think I can I think I can

I finished this crocheted afgahn in November of 2005. I’ve been usinging to sleep under and rad on the couch with and give to guests when they crash. I’ve taken it on trips and am even using a photo of it as the header of my blog here!

Thing is, it’s not really done yet. There are about 8 million yarn ends to weave in, and I know that it will be a much more glorious project if I get it done. I worked on it during last year’s Oscars, and hauled it to Quilt Sunday at the workroom at least once. But mostly, I’m making no progress.

But thanks to the Crafty Slackers Get ‘er Done giveaway at the Toronto Craft Alert, I’m thinking about working on it again. I can’t really take this mammoth thing on the subway or work on it in class, so it probably wont’ happen before the March 16th project deadline, but I’m on it! Going to happen!


I went (with my friend Katie and roommate Kurt) to the BUST Holiday Craftacular craft fair a few weeks ago, and came away really disappointed. Lots of vendors doesn’t actually mean betters stuff, and the cool things seem to blend into this overarching sea of same-ness. Knit things, charm bracelets, silkscreened t-shirts, peacock feather headbands, more knit things, more charm bracelets, some silkscreened hoodies, and MORE PEACOCK FEATHER HEADBANDS. I bought one letterpress postcard and then left.

I think that my real disinterest is because all of it seems to be about adorning objects with the images that are currently in the zeitgeist. Birds, vegetables, pirates, ninjas, raccoons, whatever. The tacky crafts are the ones that say “hey, I’ve got some things cut out of a magazine and some bottlecaps, what can I glue them to? How about this picture frame! How about this notebook?” The stuff at the craftacular was much much nicer that that schlock, certainly, but it’s the same kind of idea, even if it’s putting a beautiful drawing of an octopus and printing it on an American Apparel t-shirt. Or putting birds onto charm bracelets.

Say you have a sister, and she’s really into mermaids. You’ll buy her pretty much anything that has a mermaid on it because you know that she’ll like it…but why are you buying that particular thing? The best craft stuff are things that are made because their object-ness is important. Like handmade furniture. This is what I think of when I think of craft–useful objects made in the most beautiful of ways. And so I like the things that are made because the maker is skilled at making such a thing–I find myself buying prints or postcards or flat things, because if I love the image, I don’t necessarily want it on my chest.

The booth of the kids who had made their own t-shirts in great colours and shapes–they totally prove the rule!

I like pottery. I respect soap. I bought beautiful hand-printed fabric at Brooklyn Flea many weeks ago that is now being incorporated into the secret quilt project.

I like objects (they become part of collections, which is something I’ve been thinking lots about and will write about later). I think that you should love the object you have because they either work well (you should have seem Emily’s face when she was explaining how great her square measuring spoons were) or because they are beautiful (I have some tea towels that I’m very very fond of, and not because they dry dishes better than others). I think people should make beautiful things, and make things beautiful. But so much craft feels like it was done because it could be, and lots of it starts to feel very cafe-press-like, with your design on a t-shirt! a tote bag! a mousepad! a thong! and not about lovely things at all.

Regarding collections, here is the assemblage of things on my living room wall. Since this was taken the colony of objects has grown a fair bit…

And regarding craft: Look! The yellow octopus apron came true:
yellow apron