"For most of us, thread is something we think about only when it breaks — a lost shirt button, a ripped hem, a dangling end waiting to be trimmed. But for Natalie Chanin, thread is the tie that binds her to Southern textiles and to the relatives who worked at Florence’s Sweetwater Mill during the industry’s heyday." Kristi York Wooten writes about the history and resonances of Alabama Chanin, a "homegrown fashion line," for The Bitter Southerner.
18-year-old self-taught costume designer Angela Clayton makes incredible, highly detailed outfits based on history, fantasy, and (formerly) cosplay. Some standouts include a medieval gown with accompanying escoffin, an Elsa costume with over 100,000 hand-applied rhinestones, and a Christmas costume with LED lights. She documents her progress regularly and provides sewing tutorials for her work.
ReFashionista: Jillian Owens takes out-dated, oversized or was-this-ever-fashionable? thrift store clothing and turns it into wearable clothing. She's been blogging since 2010 so her archives are lengthy, but she's also just started an update-a-day challenge for 2016. Want to skip the lengthy explanations and just see some before-and-after photos? Try this slideshow of her work on the Grist.
During the Depression, the Works Project Administration put American men to work on large-scale, highly-visible undertakings, like dam building and highway construction. Women, too, needed work, and some of them found it through WPA Sewing Rooms, where they earned wages for making clothing for low-income Americans. [more inside]
The Avery Needle Case Resource Center is your comprehensive source for information about brass needle cases created by the W. Avery & Son company between 1868 and 1890. [more inside]
"In the tomb of Princess Isinkheb was found an entire tent – its inside lined with animals and flowers, the blue ceiling studded with appliqued stars..." and the ancient Egyptian craft of tent making is still alive today. Australian filmmaker Kim Beamish spent three years immersed in the lives of craftsmen, filming his documentary The Tentmakers of Cairo, which premieres this April. It also tells the story of Egypt's struggle with democracy through the lives of a community of artisans whose craft has remained largely unchanged since Pharaonic times. [more inside]
Do you know how to sew or would you like to learn? Have you ever fantasized about dressing like a sans-culotte or a dowager countess? Do you enjoy historical research and like hunting for or improvising archaic materials and accessories? Are you entranced by the costumes on Outlander or, alternatively, are you horrified by the anachronistic use of chunky yarn and clan tartans? If so, historical costuming may be the hobby for you! Historical costumers amuse themselves by creating authentic (to varying degrees) outfits from a variety of historical periods. Bloggers share pictures of their creations, as well as information and ideas about patterns, techniques, and materials. Here are ten historical and costume sewing blogs to follow for inspiration! [more inside]
"I somehow or somewhere got the idea," wrote Lucy Larcom in the 18th century, "when I was a small child, that the chief end of woman was to make clothing for mankind."
For your viewing pleasure: one music video made with sewing and embroidery tools, one music video made of sewing and embroidery tools.
Cousu Main (which starts here) is an adaptation of The Great British Sewing Bee, and the blog of one of the participants features significant spoilers for this season. Although it's in French, the show is not hard for an English speaker to follow, just as Project Runway Vietnam (2013: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8), Project Runway Korea (2009: 1 2 3 4 5 6 ...), and Projeto Fashion from Brazil--among others--make some sense to those familiar with the English-language series Project Runway Australia, Project Runway Canada, Project Runway Malaysia (2007 finale: 1-5 and 6), Project Runway Philippines (2008: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15), and Mission Catwalk from Jamaica.
Yarn Bombs: In the '70s, Knitting Was Totally Far Out is a fun and frightening collection of knitting patterns from the 70s.
Many types of quilt blocks can be built by stitching together simple geometric shapes. Then there’s paper (sometimes called foundation) piecing. [more inside]
There are many reasons people start sewing their own clothes: to break out of some of the cycle of fast fashion’s humanitarian and ecological issues (MF link), to be creative, to make quality clothes, to support local fabric shops and independent pattern designers, and to express their own style. A sometimes-overlooked benefit, though, is that of examining body acceptance. [more inside]
Cotton + Steel is five Southern women - fabric design artists - who convinced "an industry giant to let them build an entire new division of the company according to their own particular vision." Tough, creative women making beautiful fabric in a time of renewed interest in sewing and quilting, and succeeding in business. interview with company founder Melody Miller here.
Drag queen and insult comic Bianca del Rio (a hopeful on this season of RuPaul's Drag Race) makes herself a dress in less than 5 minutes live on stage.
Bras in Space: The Incredible True Story Behind Upcoming Film "Spacesuit"
When we think of the Apollo 11 moon landing, what do we think of? President Kennedy’s bold vision. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s heroism (unfortunately we rarely think about Command Module Pilot Michael Collins). Perhaps we even think of the incredible engineers, rocket scientists, astrophysicists and all the other geniuses at NASA who made it possible. Now we want you to think about your grandma’s bra.[more inside]
Sewn Found Photos "Sometimes there are inscriptions on the back (“Susie, 7 years old”) but more often they come to me stripped of all identity. I sit in my studio and speculate about the nature of the photographed people’s lives. I will, of course, never know the truth, so I feel it is my job to give them new lives and rescue them from the obscurity they would be headed for were it not for me, humble servant of the arts. I try to invent an altogether different identity for them but of course, in the final analysis these works are more about me than any of the hundreds of anonymous individuals who appear in my work." More from Lisa Kokin.
"It does not give you conspicuous, ephemeral extremes [..] You can absolutely rely on the styles given you in Butterick Patterns"
The New Dressmaker; With complete and fully illustrated instructions on every point connected with sewing, dressmaking and tailoring, from the actual stitches to the cutting, making, altering, mending, and cleaning of clothes for ladies, misses, girls, children, infants, men and boys; The Butterick Publishing Co., 1921; 168 p. illus. [more inside]
If you’re looking for a way to carry your laptop about, want to protect it from scratches, or just hope to make the fact that you’re carrying a brand-new laptop slightly less obvious to shifty-eyed individuals who seem to be overtaking you on a deserted, dark street, and you have been disheartened by the cost and ugliness of the laptop cases and sleeves on the market, take heart. You can make a laptop case or sleeve that will not only protect your computer but will proclaim your individuality and style. Like yoga? Make a case out of your yoga mat. Love to travel? Use a vintage suitcase. If you’re a Jim Henson fan, make a Furry Monster case (but just don’t keep your computer under your bed at night because your aging parents are already terribly tired of running down to your basement lair every time you have a nightmare). [more inside]
"This blog is a look at the social movement I call ‘New Domesticity’ – the fascination with reviving “lost” domestic arts like canning, bread-baking, knitting, chicken-raising, etc. Why are women of my generation, the daughters of post-Betty Friedan feminists, embracing the domestic tasks that our mothers and grandmothers so eagerly shrugged off? Why has the image of the blissfully domestic supermom overtaken the Sex and the City-style single urban careerist as the media’s feminine ideal? Where does this movement come from? What does it mean for women? For families? For society?"
What kind of uniform did prisoners transported to Australia in the 19th century wear? How did you keep yourself in underwear despite WWII rationing? Check out the Australian Dress Register--it's more than just dresses!
Tony Casdagli took on a passion for needlework from his father - a POW who learnt to sew as a means of smuggling out messages past German censors.
Stitches From the Soul: Elizabeth Parker's Confession. Elizabeth Parker's cross-stitch sampler reveals the story of a young woman, who when employed as a housemaid for a cruel employer, was thrown down the stairs when she spurned his sexual advances. She later attempted suicide: "I acknowledge being guilty of that great sin of self-destruction." Her story is meticulously recorded in the circa 1830 sampler, part of the sampler collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Need to fine-tune your bike riding warmth? Here are three great patterns (last link opens as PDF) for making your own cycling cap, plus one very good video tutorial.
On the 15th of every month, from noon to 6pm, ceramics artist Michael Swaine sets up a sewing machine in San Francisco's Tenderloin and repairs clothing for strangers. No charge. He's also been known to darn other peoples' socks in London. He has much of interest to say. [more inside]
Crafting can be great. But beware: crafting can also go spectacularly wrong. Fortunately for the benefit of those of us who might become so proud of having made something, anything, all by ourselves, that we are oblivious that the result is an aesthetic travesty, there are websites making a valiant attempt to document the legion of ways in which crafting can get totally out of hand. Before you pick up those needles or scissors or fire up the kiln or soldering iron, check out: Glitter Gone Bad; Handmade Gone Wrong; What Not To Craft, Homemade Hilarity; and Kraftomatic. The sturdy souls at CraftFail (previously) deserve special credit for documenting their own crafting mishaps, and Regretsy (also previously) and Etsy WTF will help you choose wisely from among Etsy’s hand-crafted wares. [more inside]
Does your linen closet runneth over? Yes, you say, you have a stack of towels you regularly use in the bathroom and for swan origami, but you have others that are getting worn. You have tablecloths and aprons you never use, your dish towels seem to breed in their drawer, and you have pillowcases which have outlasted their matching sheets, king-sized bed sheets for the bed your ex took when you split, and your linen closet contains a selection of linens that are faded or torn or leftover from former decorating colour schemes. What are you to do with them? [more inside]
You forgot all about Valentine’s Day and now must come up with an extra special momento to pacify your beloved. Or you are sitting home alone with no way to celebrate V-day. In either case, it’s crafting time! You can recycle things you probably already have to make Valentine’s Day trinkets. You can start by making a card with scrap yarn, or from wrapping paper. You can make gift bows or a heart-shaped candy basket from recycled magazines, and a gift bag from a newspaper. You can make a love letter box from an old box. The kids or the artist in your life might like to get heart-shaped crayons, made from stubby old crayons. [more inside]
What can be done with worn, outgrown or single socks? Well, if you want to wear those favourite socks awhile longer, you can darn them. If your baby’s feet are no longer so tiny, make a baby sock purse or sachet, baby sock reindeer, or baby sock corsage or bouquet decorations for a friend’s baby shower. You can make a hat out of your child’s outgrown socks, or your kids can make Barbie clothes. You can use single socks to make a foot massager, potholders, slippers, a dog rug, a snowman, sock puppets or cute critters. Or sock art installations. See these articles for more pedestrian ways to use socks.
So you've spent the holidays playing games, but now you have to be back at work. How to get your gaming fix during commutes and lunch-hours, whilst keeping up with that resolution to Learn Something New this year? Well, you could make a Sack-Boy. You can keep your portable games device warm with a Zelda cosy. You can knit up a Pacman scarf or a Space Invaders bag or socks if you're feeling retro. Or you can make a pocket ninja, an invincibility star to get you through the afternoon, a maqgnetic Katamari ball to spring-clean that desk, or a friendly companion cube. (and if you're too cack-handed to knit, you can sew a friendly cube with the pattern here and tutorial here!)
Got some old leather articles lying around that have become dated, worn, or too small? Well, happy days are here again for your old leather goods, because here are some ideas on how to make old leather items into new items you can use. [more inside]
Got a stack of bras you don't know what to do with? Charities will accept secondhand bras in good condition, but if you're in the mood to be creative there are bra crafting ideas on the net. You could make a bra wristlet, and then make a sleep mask out of the rest of the bra fabric, earrings out of the hardware, and a toy out of inserts. You could make a lavender sachet out of a bra and use it to perfume your lingerie drawer. One seemingly popular idea is to make a cute and feminine evening bag or, as one woman who wears a 36F quipped in a comment, luggage. If you're an especially sassy member of the Red Hat Society, you could make a purse that matches your hat. Some people even make hats out of the bras, though perhaps not every woman would care to so obviously wear a bra on her head. If you're a breast cancer survivor and want to avoid buying expensive and uncomfortably heavy prosthetics, you could knit yourself a pair of tits and go right on wearing your favourite bras. You could also make an art installation: a 5' bra ball. Here's a list of 28 things to do with old bras. And yes, I realize this post will make many of the men of MeFi want to get a lot of puns/juvenile comments off their chests, but titter away. You're probably just jealous you can't make such cool crafts out of your jock straps.
You've been getting your sweaters out for the cold season, and finding that moths have been picknicking on them all summer. Or your significant other did the laundry and threw your favourite handwash-only sweaters into a hot water wash and/or the dryer. Or your children have outgrown the sweaters Grandma made them. However your sweaters became unwearable, it's time to make like a surgeon and do some cosmetic reconstruction. (If the old sweaters are at least 50% wool, you may be able to felt the material first.) You can make extra long gloves from sweater sleeves, mittens, a scarf, or slippers, legwarmers, a tote bag, a few handbags, or a coin purse. If the kids don't want to let go of their favourite sweaters, they can be pacified with building blocks, a bunny, snail, or seahorse, or diaper-coverup pants. If the cat feels left out, make it a pet bed. Or you can make things the whole family can enjoy: throw pillows, a quilt, or felted bowls. Since Christmas is approaching, Christmas stockings or a wreath might come in handy. If you want to get into needle felting and start sculpting with the felted fabric, you could make virtually anything, including, oh, say, a robin in a nest, Anne of Green Gables, a zebra, or art for the wall. And best of all, by the time you're done you no longer want to throttle your laundry-challenged significant other! As much.
Maybe you've left the corporate world and its dress code behind, you've decided you're not the Avril Lavigne type after all, or you're soon to be unemployed. Whatever the reason, you've got a lot of neckties you no longer wear. What can you do with them? Well, if you still want to wear them in some form, you can make daisy pins, a wrist cuff, a belt or two, a shoulder bag, a wallet or cellphone pouch, a skirt (long or short), a dress, or thong underwear. If you want to have the best dressed dog in your suburb, you can make a dog collar or leash. If you have kids, you can make a snake or cravat cats for them, or teach them how to use old silk ties to dye eggs. If you'd rather decorate the house, you can make baskets, a photo frame, a lampshade, a new chair seat, a floor mat, some throw pillows or some cool quilts. If you want to start getting ready for Christmas, you could make a Christmas stocking, a tree skirt, or an angel. In fact, there are so many ways to make things out of old neckties there's a blog devoted to the topic. Whatever your choice, your days as a corporate peon will be memorialized. As will the peanut butter and jam sandwiches you used to have for lunch.
Your favourite jeans are giving out on you, but you don't want to let them go. These are the jeans you were wearing when you met your partner/got your all-time best score on Frogger/performed at your garage band's only ever paying gig/whenever you move out of, then back into, your mother's basement. They're not just jeans — they're your history. But since you can't wear them anymore, you think you could reincarnate them. You have many options, especially if you've got more than one pair due for retirement. You could make journal or photo album covers so your jeans can truly be part of your historical record. You could make a quilt or two or three, or a wall hanging, or some woven rugs. Or a Christmas tree. You could make a slipcover for a chair, pillows or placemats, or an apron or two. [more inside]
As most women know, nylon stockings don't last. They run, they snag, they rip, and they can't be mended. And they take 40 to 50 years to decompose in a landfill. I was sure as I began researching this post that there must be some great pantyhose crafting and art ideas out there. But the results were, um, mixed. If you are into weaving, you can make some wall hangings or rugs from nylons. If you're a Klondike Kate type who sews, you can make a skirt. If you work in a corporate environment but want to keep your edge, you can abide by your company's dress code AND sport temporary tattoos. If you're a crafty bride-to-be, you can make flowers or dragonflies for wedding decorations. If you're into the less practical kind of art, you can create semi-wearable pantyhose art, or construct pantyhose art installations like artist Mary Nicollet. You can even make pantyhose dolls, and stick them in a jar if you want to. Just be prepared for the fact that most people will never understand why you'd want to. But beware, because pantyhose arts and crafts are either underexplored or instrinsically strange, and can go from “interesting” or “kind of cute” to “bizarre” and “kind of disturbing” faster than a run can make its way from your thigh to your toes. [more inside]
Like so many other people, you have a stack of old t-shirts you never wear. Perhaps you've gotten beyond wearing obscene slogans or Strawberry Shortcake logos. Or you feel it's time to retire that “Team Hillary” shirt. Or your favourite old shirt no longer fits over the impressive pecs/food hump you've acquired since high school. Or you've had it with MeFi and you want a way to repurpose/savage your MeFi blue t-shirt. No need to be at a loss! You might just settle for making a different style of t-shirt, but you can also use those t-shirts to make diapers for your baby, clothes for your toddler, or adult-sized undies, skirts or dresses. Or a bikini. Just beware of saggage. I mean, of the bikini, after it gets water-logged. You also might make tote bags or pillows, car seat covers, baby wipes, or dusters. If you get really ambitious, you can make a t-shirt quilt, taking inspiration from the many examples on the net. If I haven't given you enough ideas, you can turn to the ever authoritative and exhaustive AskMe, or you can do some further reading on the topic. Just don't get so carried away that you wind up having to go to work topless tomorrow. Unless, of course, your career path requires that anyway.
Framce Trombly creates household goods such as garden hoses, extension cords, and receipts out of cloth and thread.
"We create sewn art and artifacts based on the drawings of our two children using only thrifted and recycled materials. We also make custom pieces with a child's drawing provided or requested by you." Via plsj tumblelog.
TOKYO International Great Quilt Festival 2008, a photo collection of beautiful Japanese art quilts. From Moonstitches via CRAFT.
With winter's cold touch around the corner, some of us may need a little something to keep us busy by the fireside on those chill winter evenings. With the abundance and variety of craft blogs to be found, everyone from the novice to the expert should be able to find inspiration (and even great tutorials!) for a fun and cute project. Enjoy!
Pop into the Buttonarium. You may find it fasten-ating.
Here's a cute dress that doesn't need a pattern, has only one seam, can be worn in about a bzillion different ways, looks great on various body types, and takes only an hour to make.
"This item has become very popular following the ban on use of scissors on aeroplanes." Relax, Officer, it's just a thread-cutter.
ThreadBared.com is the Go Fug Yourself of vintage sewing, knitting, crocheting, and crafting patterns. Some highlights: Lord of the Bellbottoms; behold the Golliwog; That Linebacker Look; Return to Traditional Values; You Should See His Ball Peen Hammer; Never EVER make fun of a man who is both wearing cableknit mittens and holding a shotgun.
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