Posts tagged Sewing

Handmade Style: Sewing Simple Skinny Jeans

Sew-Liberated-Skinny-JeansI am one of the lucky few in my generation who had a grandmother and a mother who sewed and taught me to sew. In the 4th grade I chose sewing over other extra curricular activities and took a class where I sewed my entire wardrobe for that year! I did a little sewing in high school and then nothing until my early 20’s, when I picked it up again and sewed mostly aprons and bags (I love bags!). When we started this blog I knew I wanted to sew some more clothes for myself. I thought it would be a good way for me to connect with some of the ideas we are talking about, especially what “fair labor” would look like in the fashion industry.

How much should clothing really cost? What efforts really go into the items that I wear?

I decided to sew myself a pair of jeans. My favorite fabric store in Austin, The Cloth Pocket (seriously, you need to go there!), has Sew Liberated’s pattern for Simple Skinny Jeans so that’s where I started. I’m not a particularly fast seamstress and I tend to make mistakes. This leads to tearing out seams, which leads to tension headaches and a frustrated stream of profanity. But these jeans were sewing together so well! It was my first time to use a double needle and I was so pleased with how much more professional it made the pants look. Sadly, when I sewed up the side seams my first thought was, “my, those pants look small!” Turns out, they were. Although I took my measurements carefully before I began sewing, the pants would not fit me. And by “they would not fit me,” I mean I couldn’t even get them on. I finished them anyway, but adjusting them enough that I could actually wear them was a lost cause. So there it is, the ugly truth. I tried to sew my own jeans and ended up with a pair of really cute jeans I could not possibly wear.

Will I try again? Yes, I think I will!

Sew-Liberated-Skinny-Jeans-BackThe jeans were simple to sew together, the instructions were clearly written, and I found the video tutorial that you can access after purchasing very helpful. These jeans turned out to be super low rise, so even if they had fit I’m not sure I would have enjoyed wearing them. I don’t think I will be using this pattern again because of the fit issues.

In Beth’s post about her Aster shirt she talked about what it would have cost to make her shirt. So here’s the cost breakdown for my project:

  • 4 hours (roughly estimated time because #sewingwithkids, am I right?) at Texas minimum wage of $7.25/hour = $29
  • $60 in materials (needles, thread, fabric, elastic)

The total cost for these jeans would have been $89 without any mark-up for profit.

Have you ever purchased brand new jeans for $8? I have. How are they doing that? Likely, by not paying the seamstress a fair wage.

Sewing clothes is hard, but it was such a good reminder of what goes into making a quality garment.

Doll-JeansSide Note: I felt like I needed to redeem the situation a little and I had some extra fabric leftover so I sewed up these tiny doll jeans! I even used vintage hem tape. I may have also cut out a tiny doll jacket to go with them.

Have you ever had any disappointing sewing experiences? Do you have any patterns that were huge successes?

Let’s talk about this some more over on Instagram at @DressWellDoGood. We would love to hear what you think about this topic! And of course, don’t forget to sign up to receive our posts by e-mail (upper right side of blog).

Giveaway & Interview: Nicole LaBry – Owner of The Cloth Pocket

It’s no secret that Ellie and I enjoy sewing. For me, part of the enjoyment is knowing that I am taking the time and love to make something for myself or those close to me. The idea of slowing down to make your fashion – often called “slow fashion” – is very similar to the idea of the slow food movement.  In both, we relish each step on the way to the end product. The adorable Austin, TX fabric shop, The Cloth Pocket, is a great source of supplies and inspiration for making hand-sewn wares. We are so pleased to chat today with Nicole LaBry, the owner of The Cloth Pocket!


Hi Nicole! Thank you for joining us today!

What was the path that led you to the textile world?
My first job ever was cutting fabric in the back of Crafts, etc in the strip mall behind my house! I taught myself to sew by hand that year & received my first sewing machine from my grandmother for my next (16th!) birthday. I wanted clothes that were wildly inappropriate for a teenager, but I just could not help myself! Seriously, no child needs to go to school wearing royal blue tulle mini dresses, but how could I know this? I’ve really never stopped messing around in the sewing world.

What is your favorite thing to sew and why?
I love sewing apparel for myself & my children. I will always get a kick out of drafting a (very dirty) pattern & sewing up something I can feel proud of.

What does ethical fashion mean to you?
Oof. This is a lot. I can tell you that it is not the person wearing a diaper chained to his or her sewing machine making garments that cost more than he or she makes in a year.

For myself, limited budgets warrant occasional junk-food wardrobe purchases. By that I mean, I do have to buy my kids basic things that they will either tear up or lose or grow out of and I can’t be paying for custom clothing or finding the time to sew their entire closets myself. This sort of thing is a real sticking point for me. There’s really no good option when we’re basically talking about necessarily disposable activewear. So I buy the least amount possible. I even used cloth diapers on my babies!

I know the big box companies have no craps to give about who makes their merchandise or under what conditions they make it, and it shows in the quality of their goods. This knowledge really limits those purchases for me so I try to buy things second hand, making sure to rehome the items that make it out on the other end intact to smaller children in my friend group. I try to buy locally made or at least from locally owned mom & pop type stores. I look for Made in the USA labels because, let’s keep those dollars at home. The anarchist in me will always despise giving money to big-game takers that can’t be bothered to care about anything beyond lining their pockets. As well, the entire textile industry has some serious kinks in the system from the bottom up.

The fabrics I provide are carefully selected for style & quality. I combine that with American-made whenever I can. Keeping the dollars at home really is a crucial part of ethical fashion. As it is, the cottons are grown here, shipped to China for milling/weaving, then on to Korea or Japan for dying and finally redistributed from American companies around the world. There are some great Japanese mills, too, but by and large just from this very abbreviated synopsis one can easily tell that we’ve got a very inefficient system going on and I’m only talking about the industry that produces just the fabric!

Tell us about some of your favorite movements that have started up that are furthering the mission of Slow Fashion.
SO much good stuff! Right now there is a TON of local Austin initiative. Open Arms comes to mind as they are hugely inspirational. They’re a local manufacturing company who hire immigrants with incredible production-sewing skills to construct garments here in Austin.

Whitestar Manufacturing is also doing local garment production right outside of Austin.

Sewn on the Street, or SOS, is a really cool project headed up by some folks who wanted to make the public aware of what it really takes to create the garments we all wear. Sewing machines were taken to the steps of City Hall last year where members of the public were invited to sit down & sew a shirt. Participants received pay for their work equivalent to sweat shop workers’ wages in other countries. I think it really made a great point.

Additionally, a city initiative for Austin, TX was pushed through last summer to recognize the textile industry as a viable source of potentially larger-scale local revenue. Thoughts on that movement include creating a garment district, a fashion incubator, more local production, etc. but the traction has so far been fleeting & it needs a little more cohesion. That’s something I’d like to put more time & effort towards when the timing is better for me.

Lastly, I’m so excited to see more local production sprouting in and near Austin. Friends of mine that started the pre-production company Stitch Texas in Buda are now moving northwards into the city as they expand their enterprise. Their services include an on-site pattern-maker, a plotter for digitizing & grading said patterns, and a fit sample maker also on site. They have been helping designers bring collections to life and into the market. It’s super exciting to see.

How are you using your business to inspire those around you to engage in slow fashion, handmade, and the community that both those things can bring with them?
Certainly I encourage home sewists to continue their craft. It’s my business to sell them the raw goods! I try to provide excellent fabrics, trims & patterns to encourage their endeavors. I run contests to keep their motivation going and love to see what people are making. I also give discounts to anyone taking a class anywhere in town. New sewists are always good for me & it’s endlessly fantastic to watch their progressive gratification in learning a new skill. I don’t care if you’re taking a weekly lesson from your grandmother, I’ll extend that discount.

Additionally, I really enjoy sourcing fabric larger-scale for designer services & consulting. If I can help them get their line going, point them in the right direction- even when it cuts me out of the equation as the merchant/middleman- I’m in. I think it behooves the greater good of the domestic sewn-product industry at large. Outside of shop involvement, I also moderate a group of local, back-end textile professionals that meet loosely every quarter to talk shop. It’s been such a fun process watching the group start out at 20 members, now up to 250! I’ve seen multiple lines launched, businesses formed, friendships forged- really heartening. We also have a free directory now for local pros where people can access a database of folks in the field:

Who are your style inspirations?
Well, let’s just say that when I grow up I’d like to be the love child of Alexander McQueen & Daphne Guinness!

If you could encourage folks to make one change or do one thing differently, what would it be?
If you’re able to afford it, consider where your consumables come from. I realize this is coming from a place of affluence, because only those of us fortunate enough to not live in poverty are considering luxuries like this. I think it’s equally important to recognize that privilege. If you get to choose where your garments come from, you can examine this in more depth. You vote with your dollars, and if those dollars are shouting, “More American goods, please!!!”, then guess what? That’s where the trends will turn.


We are excited to do a giveaway from The Cloth Pocket! If you have been interested in learning how to sew, or just need a little push to get back in front of your sewing machine, we have a $30 gift card to Nicole’s shop, The Cloth Pocket! She has an online storefront, so no worries if you don’t live in Austin – you can still purchase her luscious fabrics from the comfort of your computer. This is enough to buy fabric for a simple sewing project, like a basic skirt. May I suggest this beginner level appropriate Zinnia skirt in a lovely bright red Chambray? Or check out my free sewing patterns page for some free pattern ideas.

Please enter to win the $30 gift card by using the giveaway interface below. You can enter once a day with the Facebook and Twitter entry options, so come back and enter again to raise your chances of winning! Contest ends at Midnight CST on Sunday, July 12. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends July 12th at 11:59 PM CST. Open to Residents of the US only. Winner will be selected by and be notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. Our opinions are our own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to and alone. We do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.


Follow The Cloth Pocket on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!

knitting update: kage, cowl, hat, beanie, and dress

I’m almost done knitting my kage sweater! Well, I’m done knitting, but working on weaving in ends, seaming the pieces together and finishing edges. The linen is so soft and lovely, I can’t wait to wear this sweater once it’s complete. And you want to know what’s exciting about this knit piece? It can go in the washer and dryer … AND it comes out softer each time! Yay linen yarn! You may be unforgiving but you do have your huge merits.

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And isn’t this the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? A box full of beautiful colors of yarn. Just wait and see what I’m going to do with it all.


Here’s a little hint – I may be opening up my shop again for a good cause. More to come on that later (and these photos make me giggle because I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to take off the whitening strip on my teeth)…


My friends are still having babies! And a good friend is having a little girl, so I crocheted up a familiar little hat and the sweetest dress.

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It may be one of my favorite things I have crocheted. I took some queues from this granny square crochet/fabric dress pattern but sized it down, added a shell stitch edge and changed the straps.

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Pretty excited to wrap this one up and see the mama-to-be open it up! 🙂


Crafters Retreat 2013

Have I mentioned that I have some awesome friends? Friends that plan crafting/sewing retreats? Yeah, I do. And I got to go on a retreat this past weekend and it was GOOD. (Read about past retreats hereherehere and here)

And as always, on these retreats, I take a bit of time to complete the yearly felt ornament that I started when Jude was born. This year, sensing a growing theme, I choose Felt Hot Cocoa. Don’t judge my iffy stitching. He looks handmade and that’s part of the panache. Ornaments of years past? Pickle (2012), bacon (2011), owl (2010) ((he’s the only non-food item… I mean, can you eat an owl?)), gingerbread man (2009).

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The porch in this house is one of my favorites and I spent some time there listening to an audiobook, drinking coffee and knitting. With a fall candle. And my awesome socks.

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I whipped up two super simple quilts for two sweet little boys.

photo 2

Got to finish a skirt that I’ve had planned for two years… It’s a lined, gathered skirt, with pockets and exposed back zipper (free tute here). I took time to enjoy the process – hand finishing seams, taking things slow. And I love how it turned out. I’ll model it for y’all soon.

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And and FINALLY made some progress on the Macaron Dress that I have had planned for two years!

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Overall, a thrilling weekend of eating good food and getting some stuff done that I can’t seem to find time for at this current stage of life!


A Diana Hobo Diaper Bag

I haven’t had much time to sit down in front of my sewing machine lately. At least, not as much as I would like. I have one project I would like to finish and two I would like to start. Sadly, I think they may have to wait until the next sewing retreat. Sewing machines just don’t transport to the playground the way a sock and knitting needles do.

But I did grab a moment to sew up one of my Diana Hobo bags as a diaper bag for a good friend expecting her first little one. The fabric is Amy Butler’s Nigella, Starflower Tiles in Spinach here. I hope she enjoys it!

Diana Hobo Diaper Bag

WIP Wednesday: scallop quilt, done!

Finally finished the scallop quilt! Hooray! I’m pretty happy with the results. I had fun continuing the scallop motif across the rest of the quilt with the quilting. I think it turned out pretty good.


I used a solid purple flannel for the back and it is so cozy and soft!


Here you can see the quilting a little better – it’s not perfect, but I’m ok with that. The thread I used varied with the color on the front, so if you look very closely to the back, you can see what color is happening on the front.


Not super obvious, but fun nonetheless.


I hand sewed the binding on because I didn’t want a zigzag stitch showing and taking away from how graphic the design of this quilt turned out. I used Rendezvous by Khristian A. Howell for Anthology Fabrics for the binding. Love it.

This week’s stats:
Completed projects – 1
New projects – 0
Currently in progress – 0 (4 waiting on the sidelines – Macaron dress, purple dress, swimsuit, stripped bag), now I have to decide what to do next!

What’s on your WIP list this week? Head over to Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday to link up and see what everyone else is working on!

WIP Wednesday: Bibs, Burps and a Quick Blankie

A mom’s group that I’m a part of is providing some items for Project Care Case – which gives foster children items to call their own. I decided to sign up for blanket since I already had some cute little boy fabric on hand. I whipped this up in the course of one nap time – that’s a huge success for me! The fabric is Shade Garden by Henry Glass and I just love it – it’s so sweet! I used my walking foot to quilt diagonal lines across the fabric.

Quick Little Boy Blanket

I backed it with some cream colored fleece that I already had to make it nice and soft. That is probably the last time I do that – stretchy fleece + quilting cotton = not so much. I’ll stick to flannel the next time I want a soft backing! The binding is safari tots random dots in brown.

Quick Little Boy Blanket

I also finished up the bibs and burp rags in monaco by monaluna line. Love these fabrics. They are backed with terry cloth.


I made some oversized burp rags to go with the bibs. Simple but so necessary.

Burp Rags

This week’s stats:
Completed projects – 2
New projects – 0
Currently in progress – 1 waiting to be quilted (4 waiting on the sidelines – Macaron dress, purple dress, swimsuit, stripped bag)

What’s on your WIP list this week? Head over to Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday to link up and see what everyone else is working on!

WIP Wednesday: scallops, shorts and babies

Finished up the quilt top for the scallop quilt! I love it so very much. And I especially love how easy it would be to decrease or increase the size of this quilt. Turns out I didn’t need to pin to get precise curves. Very proud of myself!

Scallop Quilt Top

Now I’m contemplating what the back of the quilt will be. It’s for a baby so I might just get some soft flannel. . . Hoping to find some polka dots that are complementary to my color scheme. We will see. And then I will have to make a decision on how to quilt! Any suggestions? My current leaning is to quilt the scallop pattern across the whole quilt.

Scallop Quilt

Points, again, aren’t perfect, but they still make me quite happy. Progress, folks, this is big progress for me.

Scallop Quilt

And remember how I was telling you about the shorts I bought to shorten a bit? Well, they were a quick fix! Here are the before and after shots:

These shorts still had their original tags on them. And they may be my favorites (I am wearing them as I type right now)!


And I couldn’t resist snatching up a pair of shorts in my favorite color! Ohh look at those sad, pale legs – the summer will be brutal to you!


They look black but they are actually navy. . . So much less ‘mommy’ once they are a little shorter.


And finally, some khaki shorts. I can’t remember the last time I’ve owned a pair of khaki shorts. . . but I do now!


Whew. I have certainly made my peace with the necessity of shorts while staying home with a kiddo! Previous to this, I didn’t really own any shorts. And really, I have nothing against a good capri or bermuda short (I have 3 bermuda from my thrifting haul and several other pairs from last summer), but with the heat that is sure to come this year, fingertip length shorts will likely be what I’m reaching for during the day to day.

And finally, some new fabrics for my next project! These are some organics from the monaco by monaluna line – they will end up as some bibs and burp rags for a friend’s sis-in-law. I love getting to work with such pretty fabrics!

New fabrics

This week’s stats:
Completed projects – 4
New projects – 1
Currently in progress – 2 (1 waiting to be quilted with 4 waiting on the sidelines – bibs/burps, Macaron dress, purple dress, swimsuit)

What’s on your WIP list this week? Head over to Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday to link up and see what everyone else is working on!

WIP Wednesday: orange peel and scallops

Sounds like a fancy dish! Orange peels and scallops, mmmm.

I had a helper while I was sewing all the curves this time. My kitty, Malachi, decided he liked the ironing board as his perch. So cute.

My sewing buddy

My orange peel block. Points aren’t perfect and I’m not totally in love with the colors, but overall I’m fairly proud of myself. I feel like this is one of the most precise things I’ve sewn and I am not a precision seamstress by any stretch of the imagination, so growth has happened! The purple fabric is Art Gallery Fabric – Maroon Teriyaki Medallions and the rest are a hodge podge from my scraps. I didn’t feel like taking this block all the way to a pillow as shown in the class, but someday it may end up as a pillow. . . or a tote bag, or something.

Orange Peel Block

I thought I would show you some of the projects that I won’t be starting on soon but I have planned to start sometime this year. This fabric below is for a swimsuit. Scary but I’m going to give it a go.

Swimsuit Fabrics

I couldn’t resist after seeing this photo of a playsuit. I thought it would be an adorable swimsuit! I found a free burda one piece swim suit pattern that I will modify to try and achieve my swimsuit silhouette.


And then I finally picked out some fabric to make Colette Pattern’s macaron dress (pockets!!). I’ve had my eye on that dress for quite some time and feel like it is a good first clothing pattern to try out. And now I have all this experience sewing curves. . . I’m going pretty bold with the colors but I love teal and tangerine together, so hopefully the results will be good! I might chicken out and swap the tangerine for a tan, but we will just have to wait and see.

Macaron Dress Fabric

I also picked up this beautiful dusty purple jersey. I haven’t decided what it’s going to be yet, maybe a maxi skirt, maxi dress or just a regular dress. These free patterns have me pretty inspired. Anyone have a favorites?

Maxi Dress or shirt fabric

And on to the project for my curves class I have been so excited about this whole time. I will be cutting into these today! The scallop quilt! You guys are going to love this one.

Scallop Quilt Fabric

This week’s stats:
Completed projects – 1
New projects – 1
Currently in progress – 1 (with 3 waiting on the sidelines)

What’s on your WIP list this week? Head over to Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday to link up and see what everyone else is working on!

WIP Wednesday

Finished my drunkard path blocks. Not too bad for my first ever precise curves. It ended up being a mug rug instead of a pot holder because I didn’t feel like going and buying the fabric to make it heat resistant.

Drunkard Path Mug Rug

The curves class taught me a great method for trimming up the blocks – I kinda love it. It make my no so precise curves look much sharper. I love polka dots, can you tell? And grey and yellow. It’s getting a bit repetitive, isn’t it? The zigzag binding method worked much better this time. Still have some learning to do, but progress is good!

Drunkard Path Mug Rug

I’m working on selecting some fabrics for a more difficult precise curves project – the orange peel block. I’m a little nervous, but I’m just going to jump in! The background will be the purple fabric, and each segment will have a grey slice and a colored slice. The border will be white. I need to pick up some fuchsia to finish off my color selections. Wish me luck!

Orange Peel Pillow Fabrics?

I am also buying some solids for a precise curves scallop baby quilt that I am so ridiculously excited about! I think seeing photos of that quilt is what put me over the edge to take the curves class.

My stats are totally boring because I can’t handle having multiple projects going at the same time.

This week’s stats:
Completed projects – 1
New projects – 2
Currently in progress – 1

What’s on your WIP list this week? Head over to Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday to link up and see what everyone else is working on!