Upholstery 101: Ready, Set, Go!

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Hi, guys! I hope you’re all well! And I hope you’re ready to dig into some fun with furniture! Let’s dive right in!

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I found this chair on Craigslist recently, and while I bought it because I love the shape and style, this is also a great upholstery project because it’s something that is totally achievable for a newbie. Why? It’s nice and square, which makes it much, much easier to manipulate the fabric. Navigating curves is fiddly at best and downright frustrating on bad days. So, while you may love the Saarinen womb chair, I wouldn’t recommend something like that for your first project!

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Now, the odds of you finding the exact same chair as mine (or even wanting one just like it!) are slim to none, but my goal with this post is to help you think through the steps before you attack any piece of furniture. Although each piece is put together its own unique way, I want to help get you in the upholstery mindset. With that in mind, our goals for today are:

  • To understand the order of operations
  • To learn the tools and supplies that we’ll need
  • To write up a plan of attack!

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The first thing you should do when you’re starting an upholstery project is to photograph the chair in its original state. Make sure you focus on all the little details- how the corner comes together, where there’s welting, pleats, or buttons, how the fabric wraps around the legs. When you’re working with your new fabric, you’ll be glad you have photo reminders to refer to when you can’t remember what something looked like!

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Next up, take detailed measurements, and sketch the chair, labeling each part with its corresponding measurement. This might seem like a lot of work when you’d rather be attacking the chair, but again, it’s something you’ll almost certainly wish you’d done once you’re in the middle of the project.

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One last thing before you dig in… take a second and sit in the chair! Does it feel hard? Lumpy? Saggy? Loose? Can you feel springs poking through? Make a note of it!

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Here comes the fun part- time to destroy your old chair! Here’s where you get to start using fun tools! It’s good to have all three of these in your toolbox- I use them all for almost every project.

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The first tool is a tack lifter. If you’re working with older furniture, you’ll almost certainly need this. You slide the tool under the head of the tack, and use it like a lever to pry it loose. Here’s the one I have (affiliate link)- it’s under $6 on Amazon, and you may even be able to find one at a hardware store.

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In older furniture, especially if you’re removing decorative tacks, like the ones you see on fancy leather chairs like Ron Burgundy might have in his office, the tacks can be really brittle. The heads will sometimes pop right off, leaving sharp wires sticking out. A pair of needlenose pliers is perfect for pulling out broken-off tacks or bent staples. Dig around in your tool box- you probably have a pair of these already!

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This last tool is a staple lifter. It works just like a tack lifter, but the head is a bit sharper and more beveled so you can slide it under staples. Be careful with this guy- I stab myself at least once every single time I use this! But if you’re recovering newer furniture, or if you’re planning to use a staple gun yourself, you’re going to want one of these puppies! A certain well-known sewing blogger disclosed to me that she once removed the staples from a chair with a screw driver and was really, really sorry she did when her hands were totally torn up at the end of the day! The staple lifter I have and linked to is a bit more expensive, coming in at $23ish. There are cheaper ones available, but I haven’t used them so I can’t comment on them. Just make sure you buy one that’s intended for upholstery and not for office supply staplers.:)

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Alright, you’re ready to start taking apart your chair! Grab a notepad and, as you remove something, jot it down. You’ll need to come up with an order of operations that’s specific to your chair, and writing down every step as you undo it is a great way to make sure you don’t forget something. Also, working on sawhorses is a good idea so you’re not bending over, but if you don’t have those at home (I don’t), you can rest it on top of a card table like I do or another firm, stable surface.

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The bottom of the chair is almost always the first thing to remove- you’ll see visible staples or tacks. from there, it’s often the outside back, and after that, it just depends on how your chair was put together. Just keep removing tacks or staples as they appear, and remove the fabric as you can. After each piece comes off, jot it down on your notepad, and take photos, too. Do yourself a favor- if you remove screws, pins, pegs, tags, or anything else that needs to go back into the chair, gather them up and put them in a ziploc bag! It’s really easy to accidentally throw away something that you’ll wish you had later!

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If you’re just recovering your chair, just remove the fabric and call it a day. But, since you’ve already got the thing open, this is a good opportunity to replace the guts. If you’re doing that, photograph each layer as you take it off, and write it down.

For example, here’s what’s under the vinyl, a layer of cotton:

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On the seat, under the cotton, there’s burlap, with spring wire running through it:

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And, finally, the springs!

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Avert your eyes! It’s a naked chair!!

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Now, take a look at the notes you took. Read through them carefully, and now, create an order of operations for yourself. You’ll be working in the opposite direction from the way that you stripped the chair, so the last thing you removed will be the first thing you put on. Make sense? This is a really crucial step- you don’t want to spend an entire day hand sewing your chair closed only to realize that you should have put the legs on first!

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One last thing to do is to decide if you want to deviate from way the chair was originally put together. Let me give you some examples: I opened up an antique chair recently and found that it was stuffed with straw. That’s a situation where you’d want to deviate from the original. Or say it’s filled with horse hair- gross! You can think through substitutes for stuff like that. In my case, I’ll be changing up a few things. My chair was originally covered with vinyl, which was held in place in the back with decorative tacks. I’ll be using regular fabric, so I’ll change up the construction so that my back will be sewn on instead. These are the kinds of things that you might want to think about, particularly if you’re using a different material than what was originally on the piece.

Alright, I hope you guys are excited to tackle the guts! It’s gonna be fun! In the meantime, take a moment to clean up the frame. Carefully inspect it for any cracks or loose screws and take care of them now. Fill any holes (I use a mixture of wood glue and sawdust) and sand the interior frame so that your fabric won’t snag on any rough spots. If you plan on staining or varnishing, now’s the time! If not, clean the legs, arms, or other visible bits with a little Murphy’s Oil Soap and fill in scratches by rubbing a walnut (out of the shell) on them. You can finish up with orange oil or your preferred furniture polish. While you’re doing that, I’ll be working away at the next post in the series… stay tuned!

 

 

Book Report! Spruce: A Step-By-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design

Hello, friends! I hope that you’re all well! In the past I’ve mentioned that I’m now doing upholstery for a furniture designer in Brooklyn, and it seems like many of you makers have an interest in upholstery. So, I’ve decided to share more about that here on the blog, beginning with a review of a book I’ve recommended to everyone who’s told me they want to learn about upholstery!

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When I first started at the workshop, I felt like I was really in over my head. The techniques were all so new to me, and my boss was away quite a bit and often had me work independently. I took tons and tons of notes every time she demonstrated a technique, but I still felt a little panicked when I needed to work through a project on my own. So I looked around online and ordered Spruce: A Step-By-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design (Amazon affiliate link or Indiebound) after seeing it positively reviewed. Long story short, I love this book!

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The book is written by Amanda Brown, who runs Spruce Upholstery in Austin, TX (their Instagram account is a fun one: @spruceathome). Her style is so fresh and fun, and it makes the book really inspiring.

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I appreciate that she spends time talking about how she designs a space, starting with an empty room and adding furniture to it. We’re in the process of redoing and replacing some old hand-me-down furniture, so it’s helpful to get a professional’s opinion on how to balance statement pieces with quieter ones (this is a struggle for me!).

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The book walks you through five projects: a Louis chair, a slipper chair, a wingback chair, a three-seater sofa, and a cocktail ottoman. There are tons and tons and TONS of photos, so you can comfortably follow every step yourself. Plus, Amanda shares lots of inspiration images for each style to help get you thinking outside the box with your fabric choices… I loved these images!

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Another clever feature is the color-coded chart pictured below. This shows you where in the book to find instructions for different upholstery features, so you can mix and match them to suit your own needs. Super helpful! Before I had this book I frequently tried to google information when I was stuck, but I didn’t have the proper terminology to find what I needed to know and even when I did, the info didn’t seem to exist online. So this solved that problem most of the time.

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The book is really thorough– it covers everything from calculating how much fabric you’ll need to sewing matching throw pillows. Webbing, foam, tufting, welting… you name it, it’s in there! Many of these techniques I’ve never learned at the shop (since we specialize in midcentury modern furniture, there are some techniques that we just don’t use), so I was excited to see them demonstrated in the book.

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Personally, I think that upholstery is a craft that’s helpful to learn in person, but if you can’t take a class, this book is a great resource for you. It’s also just a nice book to help you think about your furniture in new ways. January always gives me a big ol’ dose of cabin fever, so every year around this time I start looking for ways to jazz up my apartment. If you have to be stuck inside, your home should be as, well, homey as possible!

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If you’re interested in more upholstery-related posts, then I have good news! I picked up a chair on Craigslist last week, and I’ll be documenting my makeover on the blog. If you aren’t interested in upholstery, I’m really sorry, and I may actually have some sewing content soon! I’ve felt so scattered lately that it’s been hard to focus on sewing, but just yesterday I started cutting out a coat, so maybe I’ll have a garment to show you someday soon!:)

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Make 9 in 2016!

Hi, guys! Hope you’re having a great day! I’ve been sick all week and haven’t left the house for any significant amount of time in four days, but the upshot is that I’ve had plenty of time to catch up on my blogroll and think through sewing plans for 2016! I saw Rochelle’s plan to make nine garments from new-to-her patterns, and thought it would be fun to play along! I already posted this photo to Instagram, but I totally failed to tag the pattern designers (bad at internetz), so I thought I’d do a link roundup here on the blog!

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OK, from left to right, starting with the top row, here are the patterns I’m hoping to make in 2016:

1.) Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat

2.) République du Chiffon Veste Françoise (only available in French at this time, but there’s a step-by-step photo tutorial here)

3.) République du Chiffon Dominique Jumpsuit (English pattern available!)

4.) Named Clothing Wenona Shirt Dress

5.) Papercut Patterns Clover Dress

6.) True Bias Sutton Blouse

7.) République du Chiffon Robe Madeleine (only available in French at this time)

8.) Named Clothing Kielo Wrap Dress

9.) Cloth Habit Watson Bra

Now, because I am a terrible spendthrift and a hoarder, I already have all of these patterns with the exception of the Watson bra. I am going to try VERY HARD not to buy new patterns in 2016… I don’t have any room for them and I have so many already that I’d love to sew! But, I often get distracted by impulse projects and end up with no time to sew things that I really want to wear! So I’m making this list as a way to prioritize these patterns.

Also, it’s a big goal this year to sew with stash fabric. I’ve struggled since I began sewing with over-purchasing fabric– I just love fabric so much, and I love to meet people in the Garment District! But 2 yards here and 2 yards there adds up, so I need to focus on sewing, not buying! So, my goal is to sew 7 out of the 9 patterns with fabric from my stash (I’ll have to purchase stuff to make the Watson bra, and I’ll give myself a pass on one other project).

How about you guys? Have you made any 2016 sewing plans? Check out the hashtag #2016MakeNine to spy on other folks’ plans and get some inspiration! Also, anyone else have a pattern hoarding problem? Am I the only one that somehow manages to not make the garments they most need or want in their wardrobe?

Top 5 of 2015!

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Hi, everyone, and happy 2016! Do you guys like doing end-of-year roundups? Because I tend to be pretty active, I’m not the most introspective person, but it’s nice to force myself to stop for a minute and think a bit about the year that’s closing. So I’m pausing a moment to think through my year in crafting!

Hits:

5.) Ondawa sweater

I’ve knitted for a while now, but this year was one in which I really saw a lot of growth in both my interest and skills. I really enjoyed knitting this sweater and love the final product.

Michele Wang Ondawa | Ginger Makes

4.) Wonky Log Cabin Quilt

I never thought I would enjoy quilting, but I loved making this! It was for one of my oldest friends in New York, so I got a huge kick out of picking out sweet prints for it. Seeing a photo of the baby smiling on his quilt seriously pumped me up!

wonky log cabin quilt | Ginger Makes

3.) Southport Dress

I didn’t think it was possible to feel pretty when you’re sweating until I made this dress. It’s magical- a swishy maxi dress that just makes you feel put-together, even on the stickiest of days.

True Bias Southport Dress | Ginger Makes

2.) Marimekko x Xerea Dress

When I wasn’t wearing this, I wished that I was! It’s so bright and cheerful, and it just makes me smile! I love this dress so much it should be illegal!

Pauline Alice Xerea Dress + Marimekko | Ginger Makes

1.) The “I Always Wanted to be a Tenenbaum, You Know?” Gerard Coat

I’d wished for a coat like this for YEARS before I finally made one. It’s silly and over-the-top and romantic and warm and really, really fun to wear. Plus, this was a really happy sewing experience– I got to use new skills from my day job to make this, so it was a really satisfying project.

RDC Gerard coat | Ginger Makes

Misses:

4.) Neoprene Morris Blazer

Ughhhh… I love the color and style of this, but the fabric is just too disgusting to wear. Neoprene is just too clammy and gross for me… or maybe I’m too clammy and gross for it?😮

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer | Ginger Makes

2&3.) Steeplechase Leggings

These look baggy and frumpy, so I never wear them. Unfortunately, I made two pairs at once, so both pairs fit poorly! D’oh!

Fehr Trade Steeplechase Leggings | Ginger Makes

1.) Françoise Dress

Let’s not talk about this. JUST AVERT YOUR EYES AND SCROLL DOWN!


Highlights:

1.) Change:

After years of feeling panicked and paralyzed every time I thought about a career change, I’m really grateful to have a new goal to move towards!

2.) Challenges

It’s been strange and scary and weird, but having to stretch myself this year has been really good for me. Going to class and having to re-learn how to write papers and take tests, forcing myself to pull the trigger on my online shop, starting a new job where I really didn’t know how to do anything… it’s been tough, but in the way where you can feel yourself growing, if you know what I mean.

3.) Time in the Great Outdoors!

This city kid doesn’t get much time in nature, but I treasure every opportunity I get to play outside. I’m also a huge nerd about the National Parks system, so our trip to Acadia National Park this summer was a huge highlight of the year. We hiked and kayaked and even saw dozens of seals snoozing on rocks! Amazing!

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4.) Friends

This was a fun year walking alongside friends through different life events. A massive highlight was planning a fun girls’ weekend in upstate New York to celebrate a dear friend’s upcoming marriage. Autumn in New York + dear friends = a time you’ll remember always.:)

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5.) Family

Love these dudes so much! Here are my three amigos in Quebec City this summer.:)

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Reflections:

I didn’t do as much garment sewing this year as I wanted to, but I don’t think it was just because I was busy. I am in a bit of a strange lifestyle now, working in a dusty workshop or at home, and going to fashion school in the evening. It’s sort of hard to know how to dress for that! So I think I was unsure what to sew after I started my upholstery job in May!

Sock knitting is super fun! But collecting sock yarn is even more fun. Don’t believe me? Check out Spun Right Round! I *dare* you not to buy anything!:)

I never thought I’d get any joy from quilting, but it’s oddly soothing. Take big pieces of fabric, cut them into small pieces, sew small pieces into increasingly-larger pieces… it shouldn’t be fun, but it is!

I didn’t have as much time to sew this year, so one strategy that worked was to sew patterns multiple times, or even multiple garments at the same time. I was able to make more homemade gifts this Christmas than I ever have using this strategy, which was nice.

You may have already noticed, but I found a lot of joy this year doing things that I never thought I’d do, or had even said I’d never do- quilting, knitting socks, even starting a business! So, friends, never say never! You might be surprised by what you enjoy!

Goals:

I don’t want to make things too structured in 2016, but one thing that I would like to do is revamp my bedroom a bit. Towards that purpose, I’d like to make some curtains and a new quilt. I also think it would be fun to put my new upholstery skills to use in my apartment. I’d love to jazz up a piece for my home. But that’s about it!

Well, friends, I’m wishing you all a happy and healthy 2016! Thanks for reading and for always inspiring me! Can’t wait to hear about your adventures in the new year!

M6886: The “FINALLY!” Dress

Hi there, friends! Hope that you are all well and that you had wonderful Hanukkah and/or Christmas celebrations, if you celebrate!

OK, so it’s been something like 10 weeks since I’ve last posted… oops! I barely even remember how to blog anymore! But it kind of goes with the theme of this dress, which I’ve planned to sew for ages but only just got around to actually making!

M6886| Ginger Makes

Do you like my grandma shoes? I seriously need to up my shoe game!

The pattern is McCall’s M6886, a pull-on knit dress. I first spotted this pattern when Carolyn made a few versions for her daughter. It looked like such a nice, basic shape that I filed away the pattern in my mind and waited for a chance to pick it up when I was near a Jo-Ann’s. I got my hands on a copy nearly a year ago, and I remember at one point suggesting it to Kelli, but then I just couldn’t seem to make the time for one! Then, a few weeks ago, Kelli posted her smokin’ hot version, so when I got invited to Man Friend’s work party, I knew just what to make!

M6886 | Ginger Makes

This pattern is great when you’re pinched for time- shoulder seams, turn and stitch neckline, sleeves, side seams, hem, BOOM! And it’s equally easy to wear. This is the only dress is my closet with long sleeves, so I’ll be adding a few more of these, I think.

M6886 | Ginger Makes

I used a glazed ponte from Mood that I bought a long time ago with the intention of making some sort of cardigan or blazer type thingy. But it works really well for a dress. I was really disappointed with the finished dress at first- the bronze glitter looks so pretty over the black close up, but far away, it just looked gross and shiny, like a garbage bag! I really, really hated the dress and nearly threw it in the trash. After a moment’s contemplation, I decided that the fit was off, so I worked on that a bit and then I was happier with the dress. I’d cut out the size that my measurements fit into, then I took in the sleeves by about an inch, and I took a bit off the side seams. I’m still a little bummed by the weird shine of the dress, but live and learn, right? I should check to see how things look from farther away when I’m still at the fabric store!

M6886 | Ginger Makes

Alright, how about you guys? What have you been working on? Anything exciting? Any fun plans for sewing in the new year? Do tell!

 

New Adventures!

Hi, guys! I hope you’re all doing well! Today I’m both excited and terrified to tell you about my new adventure! But first, a little background.

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Some of you may know that I quit working in film and television about a year ago. I loved the business, but after nearly a decade of working nights, weekends, and everything in between, I was burnt out and looking for a 9-5 instead of the 80+hour weeks that are standard in the movie business. I started taking any non-production gigs that I could find and thinking long and hard about what my next step would be. I’d been taking evening classes at FIT here and there for a few years to learn new skills and industry techniques, but a program caught my eye several months ago and I started to take classes exclusively in the textile development & marketing program.

I think it’s logical for someone interested in the handmade movement to eventually start wondering where their materials come from, and that was something that had started to nag at the back of my mind. But I dismissed these thoughts for a while, thinking that most of the fabrics I bought in the Garment District were mill overruns or cast-offs from the fashion industry, so they can’t be too bad, right? However, as I started to take textile science classes and learn more about the processes and conditions in which textiles are made, wow, it really made me think about what I was consuming. There’s no way around it: the textile industry is a dirty, dirty business. Most of us are already aware that textiles are often manufactured in countries with lax labor laws and safety regulations, so many workers put their lives on the line to make our textiles. But did you further know that textile production was already moving overseas before many other industries since many of the common chemicals used are banned by OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal regulatory system for workplaces) in the United States? Or that cotton uses 3-5x the amount of pesticide that corn does– more than any other crop, actually? I learned that formaldehyde, the stuff you remember if you ever took a high school biology class, and a known carcinogen, is commonly used in textiles made in many parts of the world. It’s often used for wrinkle-resistant finishes, and in commercial leather production. Yuck!

This is certainly depressing, but the good news is that there are changes in the air when it comes to textile and clothing manufacturing. Incidents like the tragedy at Rana Plaza are drawing attention to the plight of garment workers, and growing consumer movements like Fashion Revolution are demanding accountability from brands. E-commerce sites like Zady and Helpsy offer ethically-made fashion to stylish consumers, and traditional brands are responding to environmental concerns by developing new, cleaner processes, like Levi’s Water, which reduce the amount of water used to manufacture a pair of jeans by as much as 96%. Incubators like Manufacture NY and the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator are bring clothing production back to the U.S. and making it easier for designers to create more sustainable fashion. On a personal level, I’m witnessing a huge amount of interest in healthier fashion from my classmates at FIT. It’s really inspiring to see that the next generation of the fashion industry is concerned with the health of workers and the environment! Plus, there are more and more ethical options for knitters concerned about the origins of their yarn– companies like O-Wool and Brooklyn Tweed produce beautiful wools spun in the U.S., and there are countless companies doing this in the U.K. and Europe.

All that said, I still struggled to see how a home sewer like myself or a beginning designer could access healthier textiles. I’ve dug up a handful of American mills, but working with mills usually requires purchasing gigantic quantities of fabric– 5000 yards of a single type in a single color is the norm! So when a classmate told me he could sell me smaller quantities of fabric from the Japanese mill he worked for, I was intrigued. When he told me they are focused on natural fibers and are expanding their line of organic cotton, I was hooked! I did some research into Japanese labor practices and found that factories in Japan are monitored much more carefully than competitors like China, Bangladesh, or Vietnam. And they regulate the use of chemicals like formaldehyde (which, by the way, is not regulated in the U.S.).

Even though I really loved the idea of being able to offer special fabrics to other sewers, I really resisted the idea of starting a sewing business. I haaaaaaaate selling stuff (like, I was the kid that blanched whenever a fundraiser was announced for little league or band or whatever) and I really didn’t want to have to self-promote! Ick!  I love interacting with my blog readers and really consider them friends, so I was super uncomfortable with the thought of turning my site into a used car lot where I’m constantly pitching products to an increasingly-exasperated audience! And I have never wanted to turn sewing into my career– I love that it’s such an inspirational hobby and don’t want it to become a chore. I really gave this serious thought (for months!) before deciding to launch a small online store. At the end of the day, I came to believe that I’m not the only one out there who’s interested in finding textiles that aren’t made in a sweatshop, and that maybe this will be helpful to those of you who want more responsible fabrics, but don’t have good access to secondhand shops.

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I’m keeping my inspirational and fun day job, where I give old furniture new life and get to meet incredible designers and weavers (you guys, now I want to learn how to use a floor loom SO BADLY!!!), so I’m offering a small and manageable collection of special fabrics over at my new shop, Hell Gate Fabrics. I’ve worked directly with the Japanese mill to bring you fabrics that are manufactured responsibly, and I’m hoping to expand my offerings of organic  products as the mill expands theirs. I’ve also worked with a local fabric importer to purchase a limited quantity of overstock wax prints that he was selling to clear out room in his warehouse. These 100% cotton prints are made in his home village in Mali, where he sold them before moving to New York. I’m also having exciting conversations with some folks at the forefront of the ethical textile movement, so hopefully there will be some cool developments in the near future! I’m also hoping to grow and adapt the shop as I continue in my textile studies… I’m sure as I learn more, my vision for the shop will change a bit.

Finally, in case you’re worried, my blog isn’t going to become a place to hock my products. I’m just not interested in that, even if it makes more business sense to do so. I don’t want to lose the community and friendships I’ve made through sewing just to make a few bucks! So all business doings and new product announcements will happen on my new Instagram feed, @hellgatefabrics, and I won’t be at all offended if you don’t follow that account. Also, the cost of buying small quantities of fabric is quite high, and that’s multiplied by the fact that it’s just more expensive when it’s made in a place like Japan instead of China or Bangladesh. So, I won’t be doing blog tours or fabric giveaways because I don’t want to pass along that cost to customers. I’m keeping the margins as low as I can to keep fabric accessible to as many people as possible, and that’s just one of the ways that I’m doing that.

If you’re still reading at the end of this post, thank you for reading! I’m so proud to be part of a group of people that care so deeply about where things come from and the world that we’re leaving for the next generation. It’s so easy to become cynical about these issues or to feel like the baby steps that we’re taking just aren’t good enough, but your optimism and dedication to making the world a better place are a constant source of inspiration to me and are the reason I finally decided to take this plunge!

Named Tala Vest!

Hi, guys! Hope you’re all well! OK, I have a thesis for you: a fuzzy wool vest is the perfect transitional garment. Now, wait, don’t run away! Hear me out! They keep you warm in cool weather without limiting your mobility or leaving you with bulky sleeves that you need to roll up. They’re easy to toss on, over a tee, a sweater, or a jacket. You can wear them under a rain jacket or a windproof shell for an extra layer of warmth. And they give you an extra set of pockets to shove stuff into when you’re out walking the dogs or running errands. And how much nicer is soft, squishy wool than a static-y nylon vest? SO much nicer, dudes. Are you convinced?

Named Clothing Tala Faux Fur Vest | Ginger Makes

So, for my latest Mood Sewing Network project*, I reached for this springy, fluffy wool knit. It was labeled as Rag & Bone, and it has plain knit stitches on the wrong side and a really woolly, brushed face on the other. My original plan was a moto jacket– wouldn’t that have looked cool?? But after some thought, I couldn’t justify another jacket- I have too many! And I have a sad, worn-out, cheap down vest that really needed replacing. So there it was! Now that I have a vest, I’m glad I do… I know I’ll be able to wear it more than yet ANOTHER jacket. :)

Named Clothing Tala Faux Fur Vest | Ginger Makes

I decided to try out the Named Clothing Tala Faux Fur Vest. While this isn’t exactly faux fur, it’s spongy and really thick, so I knew that this would work well with a pattern intended for faux fur. It doesn’t have a lot of seam lines or a notched collar, which is great for a fabric that gets bulky fast. The pattern comes together really quickly, like a jacket lite. It’s amazing how much faster it is to sew something that doesn’t have sleeves to set in and hem! Oh, and if you want to see what this pattern actually looks like in faux fur, check out Rachel’s cute version! (And if you’re scared to try faux fur, don’t be! Here are my tips for handling it). This was my first Named pattern, and it was a good experience. Well… let’s not count the Jamie Jeans pattern that I traced, but ran out of confidence before getting to the cutting part. Or the Vanamo dress, that I muslined at the very last minute before an event when there was absolutely zero chance of actually completely a garment in time, but I tried it anyway… OK, OK, obviously I need to visit my UFO bag! But it’s scary!!

Named Clothing Tala Faux Fur Vest | Ginger Makes

Now, because this is a knit and the pattern is drafted for a woven, I was careful when handling and stitching. The pattern already called for the armholes, neckline, shoulder seams, and hem to be interfaced, but I would have done that anyway. The interfacing kept things from stretching out and really gave a nice substantial feel to the seamlines. Also, I was between sizes, and I decided to size down, which worked well.

I used a universal needle and a longer stitch length (since the fabric is quite thick, a longer stitch length gets you to a normal-looking stitch) and just sewed it with a regular straight stitch. This worked really well. Since this is a wool knit, it pressed beautifully and the seams stayed nice and flat, even though they were fairly bulky. I was quite aggressive with clipping and notching to make sure that the curved seams in the shawl collar were nice and smooth.

Named Clothing Tala Faux Fur Vest | Ginger Makes

I lined the vest with a definitely-giraffe-print silk leftover from the plaid Coco jacket I made earlier this yea. It’s so nice using up odd bits from the stash, isn’t it? I also used a small piece of a different silk print, this one leftover from one of my final tailoring projects in the spring, to add pockets, which, in my opinion, are essential for a vest. I put them in 5″ below the armhole, which seemed like OK placement. I never know exactly where to put them when I add them myself! I do a lot of pinning and trying things on, but I still don’t feel confident when I stitch them in!

I’m so excited about this vest and I know I will wear it all the time (even though Man Friend opined that I look pregnant in this… OK, he may have a point there; the side view in particular is pretty unflattering, oops!)! I have this weird winter wardrobe that’s black, white, and grey (don’t ask me why, but I’m not excited to wear colors in the cold weather), so this will mix and match with nearly everything in my closet! Hooray! What do you guys think? Would you sew or wear a vest?

Named Clothing Tala Faux Fur Vest | Ginger Makes

One last item of business: this is my last post for the Mood Sewing Network. I’ve absolutely loved being a part of the network and trying out so many fun and special fabrics! I have too many irons in the fire right now, and I had to let a few things go, which is sad, but I’m so grateful to Mood for giving me this opportunity. I know that I wouldn’t be half the seamstress that I am today if it wasn’t for joining the blogging network- I really had to push myself to keep up with the other amazing bloggers!

Named Clothing Tala Faux Fur Vest | Ginger Makes

*Once a month I receive a fabric allowance from Mood to make something fun! I blog it first on the MSN blog, then over here. If I use stash materials or things purchased from another source, I’ll let you know in my post. :)

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