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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Black Wrap Cardigan - Appliqued, Embroidered, and Beaded

I'm back! For a limited time only! I'll be writing a couple of posts about what I made for Christmas presents, and then we will see again if I can keep posting regularly. 

For the first of the Christmas present posts, we'll start with the one I have teased on Instagram a few times: 

A photo posted by Taft Weber-Kilpack (@taftisseamstress) on

A photo posted by Taft Weber-Kilpack (@taftisseamstress) on

I wanted to make my mom a piece of clothing with lots of hand-sewn details (a la Alabama Chanin, forever my aspiration). After a thrift shopping excursion where she couldn't find a black sweater, I decided that's what I would make, focusing the detail on the back so she could dress the piece up for work or wear it more casually.

I debated using contrasting colors for the applique and beading, but decided that a monochrome scheme would work best. I like that there is incredible detail, but it remains subtle and is still a versatile piece.

I found the wrap cardigan pattern here, from the blog Nap Time Creations. It only comes in one size, but luckily that size was perfect!

The fabric is from Fabric Outlet, and the beads are from Fabric Outlet and Britex Fabrics.

My favorite part about the pattern is the interesting shoulder seaming. I think it's what makes the cardigan fit so well. It's like a raglan sleeve, but there is another seam across the arm just below the shoulder...is there a specific name for that?

The model here is my friend, Catherine.

I started by stitching down all the rolls of fabric, and then all the leaf shapes. Then I used bugle beads to create a border around all of the lines, and to highlight the whipstitching around the leaf shapes. Finally, I stitched smaller beads between each stitch holding the rolls down.

And that's it! I will see you in two weeks with more Christmas presents!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Just a quick update...

Hello again!

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has kept up with this blog for so long. Your comments, support and encouragement have meant a lot in the 3+ years Making Tembo has been running. 

But of course, things change. And since I've moved to college and become swamped by school work, I haven't been able to find the same time for sewing that I used to. I'm missing my craft like crazy, but I love my schoolwork too, and know it will serve me well in the long run.  

A photo posted by Taft Weber-Kilpack (@taftisseamstress) on

Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely disappearing from this site! I just won't be posting regularly anymore. I'll update periodically as I work on projects, but I don't believe it will be nearly as often as it has been for the last few years. 

Some people have asked what I'm up to at school now - and you can still stay in touch with what I'm working on. I'll keep posting photos on my Instagram, @taftisseamstress. I also think there is more to come with a website, portfolio, work-sharing site something something. I'm still trying to figure that out, but I will share here when I know more. 

Love to you all! I'll see you soon for another update.
-Taft WK

A photo posted by Taft Weber-Kilpack (@taftisseamstress) on

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Braided Rug for Little Artistas: Part 2

Two weeks ago, I posted the first half of this project. Where we left off, I had just moved my industrial sewing machine (her name is Belutha) next to our massive dining room table so that I could rotate the rug around and around and around and have enough room as it grew. 

Sorry for the low picture quality - I was staying up late to get this done before leaving for college, and most of the work took place after the lovely natural light was gone. 

The bigger the rug grew, the trickier it was to keep it flat as I sewed. This led to some bumps and waves, but they all flattened out after I ironed it and let it sit flat for a while. 

It was also very difficult to get final pictures of the rug - I couldn't find any space in our house to lay it flat where there would be only one background. And I'm not tall enough to get a proper birds eye view. But I think these do well enough, especially since there's a couple really good photos waiting at the end of this post...

In this photo, you can see from the center all the way out to the edge. So many good colors!

(That's the tag I put on the bottom.)

Here's another Instagram post from the making of the project: 

Bittersweet...but I'm so glad I got to work with Anna and Little Artistas for my last San Francisco sewing project! Speaking of which...

A photo posted by Culinary Artistas (@culinaryartistas) on

The rug now lives at the new Ghiradelli location, at the first ever Culinary Artistas! After so much success with art workshops for kids, Anna created a new space with art and cooking facilities, where classes are still taught in Spanish and English. Check out their Instagram - I love looking at what the artists and chefs have made recently. The space is beautiful as well, and the rug looks right at home with all the other colors. 

I'm so grateful to have worked with Anna and the Little Artistas team for the past few years. Can't wait to see what they do next! 

See you in two more weeks for another post, 
Taft WK

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Braided Rug for Little Artistas Ghiradelli Location: Part 1

Earlier this year, I got make a rug out of recycled materials for Little Artistas. (You can read about it here and here.) It now lives at the Noe Valley location in their little reading nook. 

Anna, the founder of Little Artistas, loved the rug so much that she asked for a second one for the new Ghiradelli location they opened this summer!
This new rug was especially fun for me because I got to be involved every step of the way. 

We started by going to SCRAP (Scrounger's Center for Reusable Art Parts), where we made a beeline for the fabric aisle and used the color scheme for the new studio to pick out coordinating colors. 

(Sorry for poor picture quality, SCRAP does not exactly have great lighting.)

The colors on the right would start at the center, and then move out to the colors on the left. We picked a mixture of solids and patterns partly to add visual interest, but also so there would be enough fabric. 

A note about the plan for this rug: we really didn't know how big it was going to be. I measured out my table and guessed I could make a rug about 6 feet in diameter, but we had no way of knowing how much fabric we would need to make this happen. We just kind of guessed, and we did a pretty good job! 

I took all the fabric home, washed, sorted, and cut it into strips. 

Here's some (not all) of the fabric lined up. I added in some fabrics from my own collection so I could start cleaning out before moving away (still very sad about losing my fabric collection). 

Same as with the last rug, I braided and braided and braided, sewing strips together as I went. I also sewed up part of the rug, but stopped when it grew too big for where my machine lived at the time (in a corner in my room). 

Because of the variety of fabric Anna and I found for the rug, the size of the braid was not consistent all the way through. This was a little tricky to sew later, but I actually think the inconsistent strips look really nice when the rug came together. 

Eventually, the wicker basket you see above was filled with braided fabric. And then a section of the floor of my room was also covered. And then I started nearing the last few bundles of fabric and so...

I moved Belutha (that's the name of my sewing machine) out into the dining room and put her next to the table so I could use the whole table for rotating the rug. 

Let me tell you, this was one heck of a workout. 

I had waited until the very end to move to this set up so the crowded dining room would only be an issue for as short a time as possible. I then spent a couple straight days sewing around and around and around...

I used up so much thread on this too. But I love all the different color threads that are in the rug! It adds to the busy-ness and gives the rug another dimension. 

In two weeks, there will be another post with final images!
See you then, 
Taft WK 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Metal Chair: Part 3

Alrighty, this is the final post about this chair! You can catch up here and here if you missed the last two. We last left off with the base completed and some of the structure for the back and seat cut out. 

As per my teacher's instructions, I made a cross out of very dense metal, with a circle in the center to put bolts through. This got welded into the base, and a piece of flat metal went on the bottom to cover it up.  

Then I did the upholstery! I got foam and pleather at Fabric Outlet (obvs). The foam was glued to the wood (see the last post), and the pleather was wrapped around that and stapled to the back. Staple gun for the win, that was probably the funnest part of this project! 

Here's what the seat looked like with the cushion, before I glued the cushion in: 

Then I welded the back and seat to each other. I cut half-circles into the bottom of the bar, so it could wrap around the back bar of the seat. This is similar to how the top of the base is constructed. 

The adjustable height hardware was bolted to the bottom of the seat. 

And I cut out a circle, welded it to the top of the base, and bolted the other half of the hardware in. 

And then I spray-painted! Primer, then a paint called "Oil-Brushed Bronze" and then a matte finisher. We were going for an old, cast-iron look, and the imperfections in the metal helped with this.  

I covered up the inside with paper, so as not to get paint where I would be gluing the cushions. 

Here's what the chair looked like post-paint. It's not twisted down all the way, which is why it looks a little awkward. 

At this point, the school year was over and my project wasn't exactly done. So I took all the pieces home and glued it there! Here's a whole bunch of photos of the final product: 

I hope there weren't too many photos for these last few posts, but I really liked getting in the practice of taking process photos for this project. It has served me well, especially for new design projects at college. (Unfortunately, this chair couldn't come live with me in my dorm :/)
See you in two weeks!
Taft WK

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Metal Chair: Part 2

Alright, I gotta be honest. It's been a while since this project, and I'm not sure I can describe it as well as I did for the first post. But I'm going to try my best! 

Where I left off on the last post, I had just finished bending the metal for the back and seat.

I bent the tops of the sides to make the corners and welded them together at the center. 

And then I cut and mitered a piece for the back of the seat. 

That got welded together too, but I don't think I have a photo. 

These half-circles are cut into the ends of the bars for the back of the chair. They fit around the back of the base of the chair, like so: 

That welding is a little janky, probably should have spent a little more time on it. 

A chair with a completely open back doesn't make a whole lot of sense, so next up was cutting and molding wood. 

So we got this weird foam thing. Can't remember what it's called, but here's what we did: 
1. Glue it all together to make one big block
2. Trace the outline of the back of the chair onto the block
3. Cut the block along that line using the bandsaw

And then we put several sheets of this bendy wood in between the two pieces of foam and clamped it. This sat overnight, and when the clamps came off, the wood was the exact contour as the metal for the back of the chair. 

Like that! 

Then I used some scrap plywood to cut out the shape for the bottom.

I didn't want the wood to be visible in the final chair, so I bent sheet metal to cover the back: 

And cut out sheet metal and welded it onto the bottom of the base. 

And remember the last picture in the last post? Here's what it turned into: 

Probably the best finished piece out of the whole project. Too bad it's one of the least visible pieces. Oh well!

That circle is for the top of the new base design. Unfortunately, I can't find a picture of the sketch I made, so I'm gonna tell you about it with real pictures: 

I started out by laser cutting a pattern, using the same curves as the back of the chair. 

And then I bent four pieces of metal to be the legs. 

I used the same curves as the back of the chair. 

Not all the legs were completely straight, so I cut, rotated and welded back together a few of them. This ended up working in my favor - it gave the metal a nice texture when I painted it. 

I cut them all down to the same length and cut half-circles into the top. These half-circles fit around the circle I made for the top of the base. 

Like this: 

You can see how the base was attached to an adjustable-height thingy (I think it's called piano bench hardware?)...but that's a story for the next post! We're also gonna talk about the upholstering and more structural stuff I put into the base. 

See you in two weeks! 
-Taft WK