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Monday, August 26, 2013

Internship: Week 5: Cohesion

This was less of a technical week and more of looking at the design of my dress aesthetically.

The two side (front and back) of my dress weren't really cohesive, and so this week's lesson is:

You want to look like the same person from the front and the back. Seriously. Get with it.

Meaning, the front and back of your dress should be cohesive. They should look like they belong together.

I was having problems with pulling my dress together into one cohesive look. I'm chalking it up to being really stubborn about the first ideas that jump into my head, but I had to learn to let go and rethink what I was doing.

It doesn't mean my first ideas were bad (I actually saved all the patterns and will definitely use them later), it just means I needed to sit down and look at what I was designing, instead of jumping right up and doing whatever I thought of first. Sitting down with a cup of tea and a sketchbook led to better ideas than hastily pinning a mock-up ever could. I was able to focus on the whole garment and look a bit more closely at the lines/styling I had used earlier and how I could incorporate it more.

So, Patience Grasshopper. Just drink some tea and think it over.
-Taft WK

Internship: Week 3: Facing (The Noun, Not The Verb, Silly)

I learned another important sewing/designer lesson this week: That thing called facing.

It's what you put around collars and use to double-layer areas where there will be buttons. Pretty nifty, right?

Well, it took me a couple tries to figure out what exactly this whole "facing" deal was, but when I did, Hallelujah! This one is coming in handy in the future.

Here's a couple pictures of the facing on the inside of my dress:

And the pattern I used:

I was so happy with the end product! My dress is starting to feel more and more like something sold in a store!

Keep checking the blog! More from the Seamstress Chronicles will be up soon.
-Taft WK

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Altered T-Shirts: San Francisco Is For Lovers

This is an oldie, but I finally tracked down all the pictures, so here we go...

I found this shirt at Thrift Town in the Misson District on an outing with my friends and LOOOOVE the design.

The thing is, it didn't fit very well and it smelled like an old cat lady's house. I know, bleh.

I found this t-shirt alteration project in one of my favorite crafting books and decided to use it for this amaze-balls shirt!

The buttons I picked out for this project (the flower one is actually two pieces, a small yellow button and this flower thing that I found a bunch of at Scrap)

I started by cutting it into a one shoulder top and taking in the side a bit.

I cut off the remaining sleeve and called upon old summer-camp-lanyard skills to braid 4 pieces of ribbon into a strap.

And there it is! Perfect for when SF has hot days (but who are we kidding? That only happens maybe 4 times a year.)

-Taft WK

Locker Shelves

At my school (this one here) you get a full sized locker when you become a sophomore. Serious luxury over here.

To help you maximize your locker space, the wood shop at my school makes wooden locker shelves for students so that we can store all our books. At the end of the year, when the seniors clean out their lockers, they'll give their shelves to a freshman to use next year. A member of my lacrosse team gave me hers and I stored them in my basement all summer, waiting for a idea to come to decorate them.

Cause plain wood is just not going to cut it, am I right?

Anywho, I don't have a before picture (I need to get better at that), but just trust me when I say it was plain boring wood.

I wrapped ribbon scraps around the sides and weaved scraps of fabric across the shelves using my new favorite tool, the staple gun!

3 hours and half a package of staples later...

Here it is in my locker with my new textbooks at the bottom (ugh...textbooks...). My brother thinks I should put a disco ball in there too...what do you all say?

-Taft WK

Altered T-Shirts: Mr Sunday Skirt

I spent nine days in NYC earlier this summer and went to this AWESOME little concert in Brooklyn. The DJ was Mr Sunday and had the coolest t-shirts ever...

 Totally in love with that graphic

I got this alteration design from one of my favorite books and couldn't wait to try it out! I used the Mr Sunday shirt for the first layer and this Pizza My Heart t-shirt for the second.

I then cut the moon out of the shirt and appliqued it onto the side. I also cut "Sunday" onto the bottom of the top layer in little slits.

I added a white band (left over from the Pizza My Heart shirt) to the top and used a strip from the Mr Sunday shirt to tie the top.

And there's my dress form friend again! Still looking for a name, suggestions anyone?

-Taft WK


So, I don't normally fangirl, buuuut.....OH MY GOODNESS I GOT TO MEET NATALIE CHANIN! BEST. DAY. EVER.

Natalie Chanin is the founder of the company Alabama Chanin (check them out here) and is a very inspiring idol to me. I received one of her books for graduation last year, and this fantabulous piece of literature immediately became my sewing bible. Alabama Studio Sewing + Design has instructions, patterns, stencils, stories, and pictures worth way more than its price. I read it cover to cover within a week of getting it and refer back to it constantly. It's become a source of inspiration when I'm in a creative slump; just looking at the pictures makes me want to jump up and make something!

Natalie is so inspiring to me because she turned her passions into a profitable business and yet still shares her wisdom through books and workshops. My dream one day is to be able to do what I love all the time, just like her!

I've made a few of her patterns, but the one I am most proud of is this yellow/gray striped maxi skirt. (Everyone say hi to my dress form friend!)

I found the fabric in the remnants section of Britex Fabrics and immediately fell in love!

It's one of my new favorite pieces to wear and definitely the one I'm most proud of from this summer.

(And yes! That's Natalie Chanin! Check out those boots. She's awesome.)

Here's to dreams coming true, readers!
-Taft WK

Internship: Week 4: Tricks of The Trade

Tricks of the trade, yo. They're important.

Take pattern tricks for example: they'll save you time, paper, materials, and (most importantly) stress.

This week I learned (and we're just doing bullet points to keep this joint organized):
-Using an awl
-The importance of a large cutting mat
-Sharpies, guys! Nothing is more useful than a Sharpie.
-Labeling (not people, your patterns)
-Walking through your pattern

And so, in order of appearance:

Using an awl! An awl is a sharp, pointy tool (cue my friends going, "isn't that what ALL your sewing tools are?") Well, yes. But this one is especially sharp and pointy. You can use it to poke holes in your pattern so that when you cut it out of fabric, there's a little hole where you can put a marker dot on the fabric to mark a pleat, dart, whatever you're in the mood for.

And that thing. That large cutting mat thing. That thing that will protect your dining room table, effectively protecting you from the wrath of your mother. Lay one down wherever you're working and Ta-Da! You can now cut whatever you want, poke whatever you want, and paint whatever you want (just to name a few) right on the mat without damaging the table. Pretty nifty, huh?

Sharpies. I feel like they're so important they can be their own sentence. My family buys black Sharpies in 24 packs at Costco fairly regularly. It's what happens when you have one seamstress, one person who likes to graffiti on their binders, and another who makes her own signs (like the sound of that? Check her out here). Sharpies have come in useful like crazy this summer. I've used them to mark changes on mock-ups and circle important parts on patterns. Having a couple different colors on hand is good too.

Which leads me to my next bullet point, labeling patterns! Put those Sharpies to good use and mark up your patterns! Always write which number in the series it is so you don't get your patterns mixed up later.

And finally, walking through your pattern. This will save you immeasurable time and material. Right before starting a mock-up, just do a quick walk through of your pattern. Make sure your side seams and shoulder seams match up. Double check that the front and back are the same length. See if you've properly labeled and marked everything with that handy Sharpie of yours.

Whew. That was a lot of typing. Time to go get some sewing done. Stay crafty, everyone!
-Taft WK

Signs From the Universe: My Journal

I've had this journal for nearly three years now, dubbed my "Doodle Journal" at the beginning of seventh grade and slowly becoming my Everything Journal.

Looking through it, it's got inspiring quotes, books to read, and why today was a good day. It has Christmas present ideas, followed immediately by notes for my seventh grade Student Council campaign. There's the revised lyrics to "Small Town" by John Cougar Mellancamp that I sang for my dad for his birthday one year (I was born in a big town, then I moved to another big town...). There's spoken word from the many workshops at Summerbridge and my school. Puzzles, trip itineraries, notes from applying to high school, this notebook has everything.

I didn't use it very much at first, and so the first two years only take up half the pages, this last year taking up the final half of the infamous journal. You can see how much I've changed just by looking at it; the pages from the past year are full of shopping lists for the fabric store, sketches for pattern alterations, notes from a textile class I took, and "Plan of Attack!"s for each day of the summer. There's lists of blog posts to put up and pictures that I need, bullet-pointed plans for the summer that evolved as it went on, and you can even see how my handwriting has changed as the years progressed.

And today, in my final week of summer, I have reached the last page of my journal.

It feels a little bit sad, and yet, also freeing.

I get to start a new book! I can make a new me in that book, without being bogged down by old "why today was good"s from seventh grade and painstaking notes from applying to high schools in eighth grade.

I can have new ideas.

I can have new Plans of Attack!

This feels like a Sign From The Universe, I guess, 'cause I'm about to start in on a new adventure. Sophomore year is less than a week away, bringing with it a bigger locker, Honors PreCalc, and all the shop classes I'm psyched for.

And so, I get to start a new year with a new journal.

Thanks, Universe. Keep up the good work.
-Taft WK

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Internship: Week 2: Hey Girl. Keep Track of Your Work.

Hey Girl. You need to be keeping track of your work.

And that means making a new copy of your pattern every time you make a change.

Yep, you read that right. Every time.

That's a lot of paper, huh? (Which is why I'm writing this before going to the store to purchase more...)

This week I learned the importance of keeping track of your work, and that means keeping track of your changes. When you move a line, change the length, anything, you need to make a new copy of the pattern so you can trace your steps.

Trace your steps! I've had to do it so many times! And I've only now learned how to make it easy for myself! (By making new copies of my patterns, if you haven't already caught that.)

I've also started writing down in my notebook the changes that I make in the order that I make them, so I'm sure I'll be able to trace my steps in the future.

Seems like a foolproof plan, right?

Let's hope. Here's to an organized future. Cheers, y'alls.

-Taft WK

Internship: Week 1: The Dress Form

Sooooo.....I finally got a dress form! Getting it in the mail was definitely the best part of the whole week.

I purchased a red, adjustable dress form on Amazon for about $100 (this beautiful thing right here), and am loving it! I've never worked with a dress form before and its one of those things where you're not sure how you survived before getting it (you know those things...Spotify, a clear gridded ruler, heavy duty staple gun...).

Anyways, the dress form (I think I should give it a name. Any suggestions?) has been super helpful with all my alteration projects. I used to have to try a garment on every time I made a change to see if it still worked, but now I can just pop it on the dress form! I can pin garments on the dress form! I can adjust hems on the dress form! It has totally taking my crafting to a whole new level.

I love how it's adjustable too. My mom can adjust it to her measurements when she is crafting and I can change it if I ever want to make something for my friends. One downside: it doesn't stay at the set height and will often slip and become shorter overnight. I know :/. At first, I thought I had grown, but then I realized it was probably really unlikely that I had grown three inches overnight. Someone in my house would have said something if I did.

And here we are! [Insert future name] and I, just chillin'.

(Check out that vintage beauty on my yet-to-be-named new bestie! 5th grade Halloween costume turned 7th grade favorite outfit. Just gotta let the hem out every few years.)

-Taft WK