A Fashionable Stitch » sartorial sewing

It’s time to Celebrate!

Approximately one year ago today (December 1 to be precise), I took ownership of a brick and mortar shop. Oh goodness, it’s been a roller coaster ride full of highs and lows. But for what it’s worth, we’ve made it! We’ve got a lot of ground to cover in the next few months (we’re changing a host of things around here) but for now, it’s definitely time to celebrate.

Cyber Monday Ad

So to celebrate, we’re having an online shop sale! Yay! For today, tomorrow and Monday, you can save 25% on all purchases from our store by using the code THANKS2014 in the discount code section at checkout. Additionally, if you spend over $100, you’ll receive free shipping (U.S. and Canada) or a flat $20 shipping charge for international folks. Please note this sale only applies online. Thanks so much everyone! The mister and I wish you a very merry as you go about your holiday bustlings.

  • Kate McIvor - One year! I’m proud of you, Sunni! I hope I can follow in your excellent footsteps!ReplyCancel

  • Julie - Just placed my first order with you, wahoo! I’ve been following your blog for almost 2 years….
    My in-laws are from Layton- would love to visit your store one day when I’m in UT!ReplyCancel

  • Kath Dee - Congratulations on your 1 year anniversary Sunni. I hope next year has more highs than lows.ReplyCancel

Missing the online store? Now back open! (with some awesome new things!)

shop-update

It’s been sometime since I renovated the online store and it was needing it. For the past several weeks I’ve been working on putting together a new site and hopefully enabling a better shopping experience for you. Today it’s time to unveil the updated online store front to you! Yay! Since we’ve now added a lot of fabric to the online store, it was time improve several things. First of all we have improved shipping rates. These still might need some fiddling, but they are better. This is a very good thing and hopefully you’ll notice that you aren’t paying out the yin-yang for shipping. Additionally, to be able to get fabric samples out to you more efficiently, we are charging a small fee (only 15 cents a sample – no shipping charge!) and now you can just go into each fabric you want samples for and add them to your cart. Didn’t know that we offer a sample service? We do! We’re working on more ways of improving the online shopping experience of buying fabric and this is just the beginning. Though its not a new idea, it’s one we plan to improve and get you excited about in the ensuing months. We’ve got lots and lots of ideas for our fabric coming up. Oh goodness! It’s very exciting!

Fabric-&-Notion-Guide

There was a surprising response to my wool crepe post and it got me thinking a lot about having a fabric and notion guide that is connected with the shop. So now, if you’re thinking, “I have no idea what this notion does or what that fabric is like” the fabric and notion guide can help you out. This is brand new, so bear with us as we keep working on that, but it should be awesome.

There were a lot of updates on the shop owner end here, so please bear with us as we work out any kinks and if you’re having any troubles, don’t hesitate to drop me a line (or leave a comment here). I hope you find the new online shop nice to navigate and easy to use.

We have several more exciting things coming to the online shop in the next while. I’ll definitely keep you posted. For now, enjoy the new site and know that we are back open for business! Hip Hip Hooray!

  • Nakisha - Hey, I made the Burda Style Illusion jacket from that same winter white/colorful plaid! It *IS* perfect for a coat!ReplyCancel

  • maddie - Sunni, the updates and site look great! Keep up the progress!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - Really happy to hear this!! I’ve always been impressed with the quality of both product and service from your online store, and will definitely continue to rely on it as a resource especially now with improved shipping :) Cheers, and will look forward to seeing what new things you have coming! :)ReplyCancel

  • Nilla - How exciting! I’ve never bought fabric online, but I’ll definitely check out the fabric guide at least :)ReplyCancel

dark horse

dark-horse-1

These are another pair of jeans I made for Mr. AFS. The funny thing was, I was thinking that I would skip doing a blog post about them. It’s just another pair of jeans. I mean, you saw the distressed ones I made for him and then I talked him into having a pair that was non-distressed. But then Mr. AFS kept asking me, “When are we going to do photos for my jeans?” I rather flippantly said something like “whenever” and then later on I thought, well I guess we’d better. The day of the photoshoot (a very high fa-lutin word for what we do around here…..) Mr. AFS was ready to break out his best shirt for the occasion. He even put some “stuff” in his hair and he left his beard on “for the girls” he said. Additionally, he said something to the effect of, he needed to look good for “his following.” Ahem.

dark-horse-3

This brings me to another point. I have been doing a fair amount of very non-selfish sewing around here. This is very unlike me. But I have to say that lately, it’s kind of nice to change it up. I find that it’s easier to fit others than it is to fit myself. Especially my mister. He just doesn’t have the same curves and such as I do and that’s nice. It also still keeps me fresh in the thick of sewing and keeping up with technique and such. I’m about to embark on making my mom a few pairs of pants. Crazy coincidence is that she fits into my perfected and beloved Burda pattern just like me. So I can just whip out two pairs for her in nothing flat.

dark-horse-4

Since I’m rambling a bit in this post, let me ramble some more. Mr. AFS wore his distressed jeans to a friend’s house awhile ago and they got to talking about how I make him his jeans. And then the wife of said friend said that she wanted me to make a pair for her man (Mr. AFS’ friend) and Mr. AFS was like, “well you’ll have to talk to Sunni.” He’s been schooled very well, because then he went into the discourse of how they are made and how they are made to fit him just they way he likes and how he wanted certain things like two different thread colors and he wanted a back pocket with a flap, but attached to the back pocket. All this to say that having the experience of someone custom make jeans for you – or any piece of clothing really – is something you’ll pay the big bucks for. Unless of course you’re married to the custom clothier or are related by blood!

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I think we could probably go on for a good jot about how sad the state of the United States clothing industry is (and I only say the U.S. because that’s what I know and that’s where I live). People have no clue as to how much a piece of clothing should really cost or to be more precise, how much it would really cost if they were paying the people who made it a living wage! To say nothing of what the clothes we purchase these days are made of. Now, this is not to say that I don’t wear my fair share of ready-to-wear fashion. I do, because quite frankly, I don’t have time to make all the things and I do subscribe to that saying of “moderation in all things.” I make a very good fair share of my own clothing and some for those I love.

dark-horse-2

So my big question is, how do we get more and more people interested in making their clothes? How to inspire the younger generation to make stuff with their own two hands? From scratch? What are your thoughts?

  • CM - once again, very nice jeans, nice hubby tooReplyCancel

  • Robyn - I am enjoying seeing a renewed interest in sewing across the generations. I teach children in a city enrichment program and I have begun teaching a couple of adults privately at my home. Children love it mainly, I think, due to the adventure of it. Adults I think are more interested in creating. I think that more people are trending toward sewing their own clothes again. It’s just moving slowly. I love your work on the jeans BTW. I have a pair or two on my to do list. I have everything ready to begin. Just. need. to. do. it.ReplyCancel

  • caro - i was trying to remember the other day WHY I started sewing – it was back in the pre-internet dark ages (early 90s) so there was no community and limited information resources. I think it was because I wanted a creative outlet that I could shine at – and it was the only thing I could teach myself and show some promise in. I guess my answer is that you have to tailor and target the message to individual people. My feeling is that the economics in the US are only going to get harder – if I didn’t sew I wouldn’t be able to wear quality, individualistic clothes. I could never afford to buy a really great coat–but I’ve MADE two of them. Without sewing I’d be head to toe HM, which would be very dispiriting given how poorly fast fashion treats the planet and their employees.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - Great jeans, Sunni! I think to get the younger generation back to sewing, we need to put Sewing/Home Ec back in the schools (at least as an optional class). When my son was married last year, I wore a me-made dress for the rehearsal, and their flower-girl was astounded that I could take a piece of material and “just make that”? I made her her own dress shortly after, and now I have a 7 year old who is fascinated by sewing and begging her Mom & Dad for her own machine. Hopefully, the love will last.ReplyCancel

  • Doris Steele - Sunni, you and Mr. AFS, are just cuter than a bee’s knees! Such a cute and very lucky couple. He looks like he sure is enjoying those cute jeans! As for young people wanting to learn to sew, I know of a few that are interested. I taught myself by watching all kinds of videos, books, you name it and I am fairly good at techniques but fitting my old out of shape self……….well, that’s another story. Hugs, DorisReplyCancel

  • Maggie - First off, you can tell Mr. AFS that he looks great in the beard and the jeans! And you did an another amazing job at creating them :) As for getting people excited about sewing, I wish I knew the answer. I think our society (at least maybe the younger generation?) is too used to getting things done fast and easy. Sewing *can* be like that, but if you really want something done well you need to take your time and build your skills. Hopefully, with more people getting interested in sewing (even though slowly) it will eventually come back. Maybe you and your husband should start a road-show with his jeans! ;) Or just keep inspiring people any way you can!ReplyCancel

  • Teri - Those jeans are amazing– I can’t believe you weren’t going to post about another masterpiece! I learned to love to see because my mom was always sewing when I was young. I only have sons but they are already intrigued by my sewing machines. They might not grow up to want to see their own clothes but at least they’ll know it’s possible. But I will definitely encourage them to try out sewing when they are a little older!ReplyCancel

  • Tina - Great pair of jeans! Oh, and they look good on your hubby, too. Since he wants a fan club LOL! I agree with you regarding the clothing industry needing help with realizing the true cost of making quality garments. I am happy to say I have been teaching sewing to the next generation of women as I have each year more little girls wanting to take sewing lessons than I have time to teach. Very encouraging for me!ReplyCancel

  • Karen - Those jeans are fabulous, that is a lot of time and work there, lady! I made a pair of tailored dress pants once for my ex and he never wore them, no he would buy ready to wear and have me “fix them”. So I am so happy to see that your man loves to wear the jeans you loving made for him. I am right up there with you regarding the “living wage” issue. We need to respect and value the work that everyone does and pay them for what they do. Do I need 10 ready to wear t-shirts? No I can get through my life with 5 that may cost a little more but the material and craftsmanship are better. I am of the age that girls were taught to sew, at first by their mothers, aunts, and grandmothers. Then we had sewing in Home-Ec. When my daughters were growing up came the glut of cheap ready to wear and it seemed just easier to buy clothes from the big box stores. And it was also the time that Home-Ec was removed from the classroom. So now that they are grown women with their own children, I am teaching them to sew. I am so happy to see the “sew slow” and “hand sewn, hand made” revival. Keep us honest and thinking with your posts!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Jen - I’m not “younger generation” but I am just starting … Funny thing, I think the industry is pushing people into garment construction by a) ridiculous sizing, b) some horrible labor practices, and c) cookie cutter designs. Throw Project Runway and the growing Homesteader movement into the mix …
    it will grow! Me … Well … I’m a not outrageously tall 5’11 and I can’t buy pants long enough unless I go for big money labels. Keep it up … you and your online colleagues are inspiration.ReplyCancel

    • Kate McIvor - I am also tall, and I love to make things that are long enough! When I was talking to my VERY tall banker about my plans to open a fabric shop and sewing school, he whispered, “Don’t tell anyone, but I have a Janome. I do a lot of my own mending.” He was so cute, and I think those of us who are not of average size are part of the hope for home sewing.ReplyCancel

  • Aunty Maimu - What patterndid you use? I am gearing up to make first pair of jeans for my other half and am wondering whether to buy a pattern or make one from scratch.

    Plus if I may be so bold and say what an handsom husband you have!

    Hiw to get younger people to sew…if I knew the answer to that I wouldn’t be sewing my cousin garduation and party dresses.
    but I have noticed more younger people at fabric shops, asking assistance on which fabric would be best for thus and that so there is hope!ReplyCancel

  • Debbie - Hi Sunni,

    You are such an inspiration to me. I totally agree with you on the state of clothing! It’s overpriced! Stripes and plaids don’t match, and everyone thinks that’s o.k. My 7th grade Home-Ec teacher would be appalled if she were still living!!!! I would love to be able to sew my own clothes. I used to do all my clothes, but with my life the way it is, I don’t have time. Someday… I agree with all the comments on Mr. AFS.

    DebbieReplyCancel

  • Emilee - I make some of my clothes, but definitely not all. And friends know that I sew and some have asked me to make them things. When I feel up to it and that the request is a project I can tackle, I’ll go ahead and sew what they want sewn. However, I’ve made it clear from the beginning that I sew basics, nothing too complicated or fitted. And I never asked for a specific dollar amount. What you said about how people would pay big bucks for custom fit clothing resonated with me. Whenever I make something for a friend, I have to determine in my head and heart from the very beginning that it will be a gift and whatever they pay (as long as is covers fabric and notions) is fine. People aren’t good at understanding the time and energy put into custom made clothes, which is unfortunate. But, then again, I never did either, until I atarted sewing. But I don’t need to make people clothing for money. Fortunately, I have another very well paying part-time job that pays for my sewing habits :-)
    Some friends will complain about how expensive it is to alter a garment and dance around asking me to alter for them for free instead, but I try to explain to them that altering is that person’s job, their sole income, and you are not paying for thread, you and paying for their time and expertise, which as a fellow seamstress, is very valuable. But it can be hard to get other people to see the value in that.ReplyCancel

  • Angela - LOL, I could simply copy Doris’ letter word for word! Mr. AFS is quite handsome, please tell him that his “following” are very happy that he made such a dapper appearance. The jeans look great by themselves, but he certainly adds to them!

    I know some homeschool groups are teaching the kids sewing basics, but it is really sad that it isn’t offered in schools anymore.

    Mary, I WISH my daughter were begging to learn to sew! But sigh, not at the moment.ReplyCancel

  • Nakisha - NICE pants!!!!!

    My daughter has no interest in sewing but when she explained why -I got it. She paints, she draws, she plays instruments and writes music. Not that those things can’t overlap with sewing, but I get that THOSE are her preferred hobbies.

    When I was out of town her work pants ripped at the knee and she sewed them together by hand. That made me happy.

    She needs to know how to do those things – sew on a button, mend a small hole, I will teach her to hem her pants before she goes out on her own too!

    I have been inspired a couple of peers to learn to sew since I’ve started. It makes me happy!ReplyCancel

    • sj kurtz - My teen son had no interest in sewing until his tastes changed and he started pursuing labels. Thrift shopping always leads to alterations, which is the gateway drug to sewing. That’s how we hook the youngsters today…..

      I always charge for alterations. I probably underprice, but I always charge. I have yet to find someone who expected it for free (excepting those I gave birth to).ReplyCancel

  • Tia Dia - Great pair of jeans. The details are amazing. I totally get the wanting to sew for other people because it’s easier to fit others than myself, hence the sewing I’ve been doing for my 3 daughters lately. I think it’s good to educate anyone we can about how much time and work goes into the making of garments, so I often chat about what I’m working on with friends. I’m sure they’re sick of hearing about it!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy - Those are great jeans, and I can see why he appears to love them. Totally custom! I love that he knows the value of your time, too, and was explaining that to his friends. I know from personal experience that people seem to want to volunteer my time to make them things. Uh…no. I have a long list of things to sew, and since I have a full time job, kids and their activities, laundry, cooking, etc. I really don’t have TIME to sew for them for free. It was the same way when I started to get into photography, though. People are cheap! They wouldn’t work for what they want to pay you, but somehow it is just fine for them to expect you to basically give away your labor to them. It is frustrating.

    As for getting the younger generation to sew, I have and will again teach a class through my church to the high schooler on learning to sew. It is a faith connection class, so we will be sewing dresses for girls in Africa, Conkerr Cancer pillowcases, etc. It gives them a chance to at least see if they are interested enough to get a machine. My daughter will learn, too. She wants one of those cheap POS machines for Christmas, but I am trying to convince her to just sew on my machine instead of wasting my money on a $35 machine that can’t sew through a thick piece of paper.ReplyCancel

  • Roberta Fahrni - I love these jeans! You did a GREAT job! You may have said somewhere but I can’t find it, what pattern is it?ReplyCancel

  • Jenna - You did a great job on the jeans & the Mr. looks great, too. :) I think one of the first steps to inspiring another generation of sewers is to INSPIRE them. Stop having them make those pillowcases and tote bags. I think a good measure of inspiration is the key to seeing a project through to the end, even if it is a touch above the current skill set.ReplyCancel

  • Justine - I teach sewing at my kids school. I volunteer to do it because I think it’s a dying art. Why sew when jeans are forty bucks? People just don’t get it. Those jeans are impeccable.ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne - I learned about five years ago in my 20’s. This may seem naive but I didn’t even know people could sew their own clothes. I know costume designers did it, but I considered it something people did in the old days, like driving a buggy and laundering with a washboard. The idea that there were fabric shops and sewing blogs, and things for the non-professional didn’t even enter my mind. It wasn’t til one of my co-workers had a party and it came out that she made all her own suits. She always looked impeccably dressed at work, and I was just stunned that she made all those clothes. My reaction “but…they look like real clothes!”. And that’s when I had the idea of sewing. And after that I bought myself classes, made my first tote bag, and was off!ReplyCancel

    • Stephani - THIS! yes! So many people DON’T know that sewing clothes is something that any person can do, if they want to. But the whole world opens up when you realize it. It’s creative expression and vital life skill all rolled into one.ReplyCancel

  • Ani - Myself, I am teetering on the edge of being Gen Y, having graduated from high school in 2006. I was one of two or three people I knew in high school who could sew, knit, etc…

    What would’ve helped me actually sew my own clothes (I still can only make pj pants…and I literally could not have said that 8 months ago!), and *appreciate* sewing my own clothes would’ve been an understanding that everyone learns a different way.

    I’ve always had the impetus to make my own clothes, being rather punk/grunge minded fashionwise, and also environmentally aware of the impact of the fast fashion industry. What I’ve lacked are the understanding of how I personally learn things. From blogs, my mother, my one other sewing friend, I was taught that “you just sorta whip things up”. Since I could not reliably “just make something” I thought I couldn’t sew. I thought it was something you were either born with or not.

    Now I am learning that my learning process is ridiculously slow, but that once I learn something … it Done Be Learned and I cannot ever forget it. I decided to make this year the year I learned to make pajama pants that actually fit my pearlicious hips and slowly, excruciatingly, I have learned to do so. I have a few more months to make a few more pairs, and then I’ll move on to learning one other pattern. Think how much better I’d be if I had known this when I was 16! I’d be swimming in a fantastic wardrobe!

    I am chronically ill and don’t work — I don’t think it would be that much of a stretch for me to make all my own clothes, since the majority of them would be basically lounge wear. But at this rate it will take me years to learn how to do that.

    Um. /rambleReplyCancel

  • Stephani - Awesome jeans! How wonderful that your Mr. understands the value of what you do and is talking about it. Really, that’s where it starts. Most people now have never had anything made specifically for them, even their wedding dress, so they have no clue what clothing actually costs–in materials and time. But many people are able to understand when it’s explained to them. And they’ll then be capable of passing along that information, and little by little that awareness will grow. So many people just don’t even think about what it costs to produce clothing, they only care about what it costs them to purchase it, and they want it for as low a price as possible.
    To some extent–and I may get some flak for this, but hear me out–I think the decline in sewing and the big generational gap between those who sewed and those who don’t has to do with women working out of the home. I’m not saying at all that that’s a bad thing; I sure as heck do it and I wouldn’t have it any other way for myself. But sewing as a skill set and pastime just took a big hit when a whole generation of women rejected the prevailing gender roles and everything that went with it. It makes sense. But NOW I think we have people–not just women–taking up sewing because they WANT to, and because they have the leisure time and the creative drive to do so; not because it’s “women’s work” and they’re expected to clothe their whole families. It’s not a task, it’s a luxury. Even if what’s being sewn isn’t particularly luxurious. Because it costs far more to sew your own clothes than it does to purchase them, unless you’re purchasing high-end designer togs. So to get new generations of people interested in sewing, we just have to talk it up, put it in front of them as an option for their creativity, because so many of them don’t even know HOW clothing is made. They think a machine in a factory does everything, not that a person is involved at all. They don’t think of making clothes as something that they can do–unless we tell them that it is and that it really isn’t hard to get started. I think everyone should know at least how to sew on a button or mend a fallen hem with a needle and thread.ReplyCancel

  • Alice - I’m 21, so definitely part of the younger generation. I know loads of people my age that sew, and lots more that want to sew. I think I’m the only one I know who wears what they sew, though. I weary handmade garments a lot and people always compliment me on them even though they’re far from perfect to a sewist’s eye. I’ve offered to teach a couple of people the basics and let them use my machines, because I believe so strongly in fashion as a creative outlet for anyone who wants it, and learning real practical skills in addition to the “critical thinking” we are taught in the academic world.ReplyCancel

  • Tasia - Those jeans are awesome! I especially like the back pocket with the flap. Lucky guy!
    I think people have this block that they can’t learn new things, because they’re busy, or older, or had a bad experience in high school home ec. It seems like a monumental task to learn, and so they don’t start! I always tell people if you start now, then in a year you’ll have a year’s worth of sewing experience. We all start somewhere. If you put it off, then in a year you’ll be exactly where you are now.
    (I also often tell people I just learned to knit a few years ago, and I was terrible and awkward when I first started, but with each project I got a little bit better and way more confident. It helps when I can talk about something I learned as an adult, rather than sewing since I’ve been sewing since I was little.)
    It’s a great question: how do we get more people to sew? I think by not making it seem incredibly scary and hard, and encouraging people to give it a try. By making fabric stores welcoming, with staff that are kind and encouraging. (We have some great stores here, and some where you could be turned off sewing before you even buy the materials!) I feel like sewing is making a comeback, but that could also be because I’m always thinking about sewing and the sewing industry.
    Another reason people might not sew – sewing in small spaces. We’re living in smaller spaces now, especially in Vancouver where the cost of living is high. People might want to sew, but not have the space for a machine, or have to set it up and take it down all the time. Places like sewing lounges, where you can rent machines by the hour, give people the opportunity to try it out without taking up space at home. (But first we need to get people interested in the first place!)
    I have a lot of feelings about this, obviously. I think people get into sewing for different reasons – fit, uniqueness, quality, creative outlet. I think I wanted all four of those things, but most of all fit, and second of all the creative outlet. Maybe the trick is to fit it in slowly – ‘oh you have trouble getting pants long enough? you could learn to sew your own!’ Or ‘your day job is at a computer all day and you’re itching to make something – try sewing!’ I don’t know, but I’m willing to help spread the love of sewing as much as I can!ReplyCancel

    • Ani - I really agree with making it accessible in stores! The people who worked at the fabric store near my house growing up were always so rude to me when I came in on my own. When I was 20, I made a full-size quilt for my bed, and I went into a fabric store for the first time without my mom. I ended up buying a good wad of white flannel to back it with because the woman COULD NOT believe that I was making a quilt, and wouldn’t sell me muslin (I’m meek too, so that didn’t help). She was positive I just meant that I was making a blanket, and I talked her out of fleece down to flannel. Of course, now I have an awesome flannelly quilt that rocks, but it did rather irk me that I couldn’t be believed as a quilter at 20. I never went back into that store, but I have also, technically never asked anyone for help in a fabric store since. I probably should, but the fear is in me now…ReplyCancel

      • Tasia - That’s exactly what I mean! Either they are rude and patronizing and think you can’t possibly know what you want.. or they don’t sew and don’t care about helping. Neither is encouraging! I’m glad you didn’t let that bad experience stop you from trying. But I could imagine a lot of people might get discouraged, thinking ‘oh wow, even the store staff thinks I won’t be any good at this!’ReplyCancel

  • Ramona - I love that your mister is so involved in what you do and proud of his jeans. I made the mistake of telling my mister I would make him a blazer a few months ago. Every time I sit to sew, he asks if I’m working on his jacket. (I need to get that done!)

    Watching online, it seems the younger generation may be picking up the habit more and more. I would love to see more excitement locally. It would be great to see fabric stores supported and able to carry good cloth. Even more, it would be exciting to have others to sew WITH. I have quilting friends, but haven’t been able to find a sewing buddy. I’ll just have to keep looking.ReplyCancel

  • Renae - Hey Sunni,
    I don’t comment much, but I felt I had to come out of hiding to tell you that this post gave me a good giggle today! Your Mister is hilarious and I’m glad to see him staying true to his “fans”, us girls:) Great job on the jeans!
    ~RenaeReplyCancel

  • dev - sunni, please tell your mr. that he has a new “follower” – he looks excellent in his wife-made jeans. lovely work, and glad you had fun making them!ReplyCancel

  • Becky - Since we live in a disposable society and rarely do a lot for ourselves, I have no idea how you get people interested in sewing! It’s a conundrum. These jeans are fabulous, and they fit just perfectly. Thank the Mr. for the photo shoot!ReplyCancel

  • Leigh - Oh honey – YOU are the ‘younger generation’ to me. I learned sewing in the 70’s as a pre-teen. However you are the better sewista. :)

    You did a lovely job on your Mr.’s jeans. They really look great. (And he’s a cutie!) And he loves your sewing!!

    Getting new people interested – it is an ongoing challenge. I am president of an American Sewing Guild chapter, and would love to get you and your sewing compatriots to join our group, but have trouble reaching you all to get you interested (“you” in the global age group sense). Our group has many ladies that are new to sewing as well as those that have been sewing for 50 years. Any suggestions welcome. We have great programs and our meetings are always fun.

    I love being with a whole group that wants to talk fabric and doesn’t look at me like I have three heads for sewing because I ‘could just buy it at the mall’.ReplyCancel

  • Kate McIvor - This is the 30-million-dollar question, Sunni! It is a hard question for me to answer because sewing ones own clothes is so obviously better than buying (to me). Proving that is like proving 1 + 1 = 2. It just does! It’s a fact. How do you prove a fact?

    I hope that if we create space and community around making our own clothes, women and men of all ages will participate. PS I love the jeans!ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa - Hi Sunni,
    Great jeans and great model :)
    I’m glad Mr AFS understands the value of a bespoke garment. I have friends who ask me to ‘whip’ a garment up for them and I decline.
    In my blog posts I’ve been including my time when I cost a garment. Yes, I’m not a professional dressmaker and yes I am a dawdler when making a garment, but I think it’s important for people who don’t sew to understand that making something does take time and if you want someone to make something for you that time costs money. Especially if you’re someone like me who would start resenting sewing for others and not being properly compensated for my sewing time when I could be sewing for myself :)
    Great post Sunni.ReplyCancel

  • Judi Short - There is life after quilting! I’ve been sewing for over a lot of years, and can make just about anything, having the time is my problem. But I’ve a new interest in sewing clothing for myself, and just happen to have a pair of pants “just” cut out of black denim several hours ago (more like slacks than jeans) and I think I have to add a pocket on the back. And play a bit with the top stitching. What kind of thread did you use for the top-stitching, Sunni? And the Mr, he sure is cute! So glad he likes the means, they look fabulous, and I love the idea of flaps on the pockets but stitched down so they won’t curl! Nice job!ReplyCancel

  • Judi Short - I forgot to mention I bought my 11 year old granddaughter a basic machine about a month ago, and she is sewing up a storm, making doll clothes like mad with her cousins. Little does she now that she will soon graduate to clothng, once they finally schedule a beginning sewing class and I sign her up!!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Wood - Hi Sunni – tell Mr AFS that his fan club are very satisfied with his autumnal appearance…and the jeans are fantastic too!
    I started making my own clothes about 4 years ago and haven’t looked back – I love the challenge, the creativity and and ownership. I can no longer shop in those shops who ethical work policies leave a lot to be desired and I’m trying really hard to make my teenage daughter think about this aspect of her shopping too. The day she asks me to make her something will be a champagne opening event…ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Althaus - Sunni, you and Mr. AFS are an adorable couple. He is so lucky you sew for him and you are so lucky he is so proud of you and your work. Yes, you both have a fan club! As far as getting young people interested in sewing, I found that the best way is to show them that they can have exactly the clothes they want and they will fit well. Both my granddaughters have fit issues and were so thrilled that we could work together to make dresses that fit and matched the pictures they drew of what they wanted. Have a teen or young adult draw a picture of what they want, or cut out pics from magazines, and then help them make those outfits. You’ll get them hooked.ReplyCancel

  • Birgit - I think it’s funny how enthusiastic the mister was to get these photo’s taken! That being said, he was totally right, those jeans are awesome and needed to be shared with the world! I especially love the stitching on the back pockets!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa G - So glad you shared these jeans! They look fantastic! Love that your mister was so intent on the photoshoot. :) I think the current culture of being more socially aware will trend more young people to sewing. Actually, having moms and/or dads around that sew can go a long ways to inspire their kids. My mom sewed and, even though I didn’t sew all that much as a kid, and she didn’t really teach me all that much directly, sewing was just a fact of life. I came around to sewing once I had my own kids and wanted to make things like special dresses and Halloween costumes, so it was only natural to get a sewing machine. Of course, the rest is history and nowadays I’ll sew everything I can!ReplyCancel

  • Juju Gago - there are already so many thoughts here I believe I couldn’t add much, but after reading this I read this:
    http://crabandbee.com/2014/11/07/dressing-like-a-feminist/
    which I believe is near to my point of view of what moves me into sewing and the reasons people could be attracted to it:
    they can last more, they can be much more comfortable, they can reflect better who I am, they can become a statement.
    trying to say it in a few words.

    great jeans, your man is awesome. :)ReplyCancel

  • Ginger - Awww, Mr. AFS looks so happy in his jeans! It makes me smile that he’s so into modeling! That’s the best thing about sewing for loved ones- when they really like what you make!

    Honestly, I think that the handmade clothing movement will continue to grow organically. It makes sense- as people got sick of eating factory farmed food with tons of additives and processing, they began to garden, can, and eat locally in increasing numbers. I think it will be the same thing with clothing. The RTW clothing industry has a horrible track record and people are looking for alternatives, and I think that sewing seems like a really viable alternative to many people.ReplyCancel

  • Sara A. - I find that my friends and family are always asking me what I’m working on and admiring my finished work. My friends seem envious of the time I devote to my projects and want similar things for themselves asking “How do you learn to do this?” The best way to make people interested in sewing clothes for themselves and their family is to keep making awesome things and not being shy about it. Hopefully someone will decide that they want to make awesome things too.ReplyCancel

  • Charlene - Oh my goodness. You did such a great job on these. I hope to one day be able to make something like this for my man. Right now I am mastering skirts with zippers. The fact that he did his hair for the shoot is adorable. You two seem like you have a lot of fun together. So nice to see love and support in action. I am happy for you.ReplyCancel

  • Monica - It would be really awesome if more younger people started making some of their own clothes. I’m on the younger side (19) and have been sewing for several years now, and whenever I say that I made what I’m wearing to my friends, they’re always dumbstruck, and say that would be way too hard for them to do. I think one thing that would help encourage them to make stuff themselves would be to show how some of the things you can make are actually really simple! If they start with the idea of making jeans or a coat, they’re going to feel like it’s way too much for them, but starting out with a basic top or skirt is surprisingly easy! I think that it’s all about starting small :)ReplyCancel

  • Molly - Those jeans look great! I’m psyching myself up to make pants for my Mr for the first time. I do think, like you said, that the lack of curves will be a welcome change!
    Sewing for people who aren’t your nearest and dearest is so tricky! I copied a pair of shorts for a co-worker a few months ago and didn’t charge enough and then this morning he asked me to copy a western shirt that he loves. I quoted him what I think is a fair price given the amount of work I’d have to do and he tried to convince me to do it for less!! He tends to be stingy so I wasn’t surprised when he decided it was too much but it was empowering to ask for what I know my skills are worth! Rant over.ReplyCancel

  • LinB - It certainly helps that your generation is so well-versed in writing and photographing about sewing — and so passionate in your embrace of the fiber arts. My own dear daughter could scarcely have cared less about sewing for the first 23 years of her life. After all, her mother would make anything she wanted … then she asked for a sewing machine, patterns, notions, and some instruction for Christmas last year. I included a list of my own favorite sewing blogs, yours among them.ReplyCancel

  • jen - Sunni – the jeans really are lovely. I consider myself fairly well versed in making my own clothing, simple patterns, and recently copied a bias cut jersey RTW dress with great success, but I haven’t been brave enough to tailor my own jeans. Do you make jeans for yourself, too? Is it much harder to tailor your own pants?

    On your question on getting kids excited about sewing their own clothes, having an opportunity to show off their creations definitely helps – plan a fashion show and design and learn to sew your own clothes! Bad Dog Arts has been working with a community learning center that has a half dozen sewing machines and I would love to create a sewing class+fashion show for the 5-8 grade students. Would you be interested in working with us? (I think you can see my email address attached to this post?)ReplyCancel

Working With Wool: Grading & Trimming

grading-&-trimming-5

There was such a great response to my wool crepe plug, that I thought I wouldn’t leave you hanging without some tips and tricks for using high end, high quality fabrics. Expect more about fabric/fiber types and also instructions for how to use them and what to watch out for in future posts! Today, I thought I would share my current sewing project with you and also a tip. I’m working on the Hollyburn skirt here (which I’ve made several times before and boy, do I love this pattern!) and I’m making it out of this saturated dark mustard wool crepe from my shop. By the way, this fabric in particular is one I hand selected, not because I thought everyone else would like it so much, but because I do! There’s a lot that goes into the way I think when it comes to purchasing fabric for the shop, but this one, wow, it’s one of my very favorite colors and I simply could. not. live. without. it! I’m so excited to show off my finished Hollyburn! Yay!

OK, anyway, let’s talk for a second about a technique that you’ll probably want to use when you’re working with woolens (isn’t woolens the best word ever?). I talked some about wool crepe as a textile and cloth in my last post. It’s usually a medium weight fabric and it has fantastic drape and it loves being steamed and pressed (it’s kind of magical actually the way it loves this – and yes, I’m certifiably crazy). It’s a very forgiving cloth and its very easy to use in a myriad of projects. One thing with wools though is that they are most definitely thicker and beefier than say, your average cotton. Since I do jackets and coats quite a bit, I’ve learned the value of trimming and grading seam allowances and that’s what I’m going to go over today.

The idea of trimming and/or grading is simple. The entire concept is to cut down on bulk and woolens are/can be bulky fabrics. So, in my Hollyburn skirt, where would this concept be most beneficial? Where would it be needed? Intersecting seams are a good place to start. Also, seams that are going to be encased within themselves – like in the case of a facing or waistband – is another. On Hollyburn, I would be concerned about bulk in the waistband. Note that this is where seams intersect and where they are encased within each other.

grading-&-trimming-4

Trimming and grading is easy really. Once you’ve figured out the place where it needs to happen, the idea is to make the seams varying lengths (grading) and clip the corners off of the intersecting seams (I call this trimming). I do the trimming first. Intersecting seam? Just clip down to the intersection at a diagonal. You’ll be clipping off a triangular piece.

grading-&-trimming-3

grading-&-clipping-1

Grading comes next for me – though don’t feel you have to do this in this order, you can switch it up. Grading is simply making one seam allowance shorter than another. Which seam allowance should get graded down? This is actually the trickiest part. Think about the way the seam allowance will lay when pressed and put into place permanently. The seam allowance you’re going to trim is going to be the one that is furthest away from the right side of the garment. In the photo above, the waistband is interfaced and both the seam allowances are pressed toward the waistband so the seam allowance that is furthest away from the waistband is graded down. Sometimes you have more than two seam allowances in one area – like in the area where a jacket collar connects to the back bodice. There’s lots of seam allowance sandwiched in there and so you would cut down these seam allowances each to different widths. Here on my Hollyburn skirt I’ve just trimmed down one seam allowance to be about half as wide as the other. If I had more seam allowances, I would grade them down to varying widths. Make sense?

grading-&-trimming-2

Since I work a fair amount with woolens, I’ve also invested in two very awesome scissors to help with this singular process of trimming and grading. Both are Ginghers. One is the 5″ tailor points (my personal favorite) and the other is the duckbill applique scissors. I use the tailor points the most. For some crazy reason they really do make the process of grading a lot easier. And the cold compress moment of cutting a big hole into your project a lot less likely – in fact I daresay I’ve never had it happen to me when I’ve used these. The duckbill applique scissors I use on squirly fabrics – like silk charmeuse – especially when I’m doing a baby hem. I’ll show that to you one of these days. Both are an investment, but both make the job of grading and trimming wools much easier.

Well, sewing friends, I hope this helps you out! Enjoy!

xx, Sunni

For more about Wools, visit the Working with Wool Section!

  • Tina - Great post Sunni. I love any information about sewing with woolens. I also enjoy learning about different textiles as that is an area where I am weak. Bring on the informational posts about different techniques too! Can’t wait to see what else you will be teaching us.ReplyCancel

  • Cassandra - You are seriously one of the few people who can write things about sewing in a way that makes sense to me. Your invisible zipper post is the reason I came to this site and you keep posting excellent work! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Mainelydad - Thanks for clarifying which seam gets graded. I’m usually scratching my head about it. Here’s a little tip for you and your readers… Another excellent tool for trimming seam allowances is a pair of nurses’ bandage scissors. They’re designed not to cut a patient, so they won’t accidentally cut through your garment either. They’re easily found at most uniform shops.ReplyCancel

  • The Nerdy Seamstress - Thank you for this! Keep then coming because I’m making a wool coat and need all the info I can get!ReplyCancel

  • LinB - Easiest way to grade seams is to hold your shears at an angle and cut both sides of the seam allowance at the same time. The bevel on the shears’ blades automatically cuts one seam allowance a wee bit more than the other.ReplyCancel

  • maddie - I use those duck billed applique scissors all the time for bra making. A dream tool!ReplyCancel

  • lisa g - i’ve been wanting to get some of those duck bill scissors! it’s amazing how much of a difference graded SA’s make, though i always forget which one to cut shorter. can’t wait to see the finished skirt!ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa - Great tips Sunni. You’ve got me hooked on the idea of buying some wool crepe. Damn you! :)ReplyCancel

  • Basya - Thank you for this post. I’m working on my first coat, in wool. The information will be quite handy:)ReplyCancel

  • Anne - Thanks for sharing these tips! I’ve got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for later this morning that links to your tutorial:
    http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-grade-and-trim-seam-allowances-on-bulky-fabrics/2014/11/05/
    –AnneReplyCancel

  • Tutorial: Grade and trim seam allowances on bulky fabrics – Sewing - […] Working With Wool: Grading & Trimming, by A Fashionable Stitch […]ReplyCancel

  • Reana Louise - This is great! And I’m really excited by the prospect of more posts like this!ReplyCancel

  • Juju Gago - your tutorials are so clear and direct! I love them.
    Thank you :)ReplyCancel

  • French Toast Tasha - I just had to chime to say, you aren’t crazy, it IS magic the way wool loves steam. It’s like sculpture + delicious fabric! That definitely = magic.ReplyCancel

a Plug for Wool Crepe

Since I’m surrounded by fabric all the day long and since I truly do love fine textiles with a passion, I thought it might be good if I dropped in every now and then with a fabric in focus. A lot of times when customers come into the shop, I find that they don’t really know what some of the fabrics mean, in that they don’t know a weave from a fiber type. And that’s OK, but sometimes its kind of interesting to know stuff. ha ha! We just received several wool crepes and I thought I should stop down and talk about wool crepe because it is a rather lovely fabric. It’s actually one of my favorites.

wool-creps-1

Let’s begin with the wool part and then we’ll move along to the crepe part. Wool is technically the hair of any animal that has been spun into a fiber/yarn and then woven (or knitted!) into a cloth. Wool is usually, incredibly versatile and very easy to sew with and press. Getting along with wool is not hard, which is why to me its kind of like the cold weather version of cotton. Cottons are usually pretty easy to sew with and so are wools. Definitely not a stretch to add wools into your sewing arsenal. I’d say that the only thing with wool is that it usually needs to be lined, but don’t be afraid to leave something unlined and just wear it with a slip too. Additionally, since wools are a protein fiber, they are prone to moths. While there is quite a bit of debate on how to keep your wool, I’ll say that I keep mine in plastic tubs with cedar balls. The washing of wools is usually not recommended (though I’ll admit, that doesn’t stop me!) because they can shrink or felt if agitated in hot water. I usually pre-wash a wool in cold water, on a gentle cycle and then hang to dry. It’s rare that I wash a finished garment out of wool – and that includes dry cleaning – but if I need to, I’ll usually wash on gentle, in cold and hang to dry or hand wash and hang to dry. If the garment has a lot of internal structure as in the case of a coat or jacket, I dry clean and only if it needs it. Before any debate begins, I’ll also say that if you’re not into washing wools, that is of course fine too! Whatever blows your hair back!

Wool-Crepe-text

Crepe is a not specific to wool. You can have silk crepe (crepe de chine & 4 ply silk are both crepes) or polyester crepe. I’ve even seen crepe like knits too. Crepes happen when the fiber/yarn is twisted before its woven or knitted into cloth. It creates this bumpy like texture and is a little spongey. Wool crepe in particular has fantastic drape, but it’s also structured enough to create a fabulous jacket that would last a long time.

woolens-sale

So there today is a little wool crepe lesson for you! Additionally, it’s time to usher in some cooler weather with a shop sale! Woolens are on sale today through October 31. Take 15% off any wool fabric in the online shop when you enter the code WOOLS15 in the discount code section at checkout. Enjoy friends!

xx, Sunni

For more about Wools, visit the Working with Wool Section!

  • Jenna - Sunni! Just what I was looking for (I think)!! I’m trying to find fabric to sew the new Simplicity 1254 coat. Would you recommend one of your wool crepes for that? The pattern suggests a mid-weight fabric.
    Here’s the pattern :)
    http://sewing.patternreview.com/Patterns/68758ReplyCancel

    • maddie - I’d love to see you make that coat out of a wool crepe! That hood!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - I think it would work if you added an interlining. Wool crepes are generally on the drapier midweight end, but I can definitely see a lightweight coat being made out of one. Or even just a coat that you wear to keep warm indoors. Heaven knows I’m always cold in the winter!ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn - I LOVE wool crepe it’s one of my all time favorite fabrics! I have quite a bit of it in my fabric collection and am always looking for interesting pieces to add. Thanks for highlighting this fabric!ReplyCancel

    • Cynthia - I was about to say the same thing…I am such a fan of wool crepe. I’m always looking for great colors.ReplyCancel

      • Sunni - I’m right there with both of you! One of my all time favorite fabrics. Such great texture and it loves to be made into just about anything, I have to say. Yum!ReplyCancel

  • Evie - I love knowing learning technical little tidbits like that. Thanks for sharing! I’ve actually been yearning to add some wool crepe garments to my wardrobe, and the colors you’ve got are certainly tempting….ReplyCancel

  • Miss J - Thanks for this post Sunni!
    so helpful to learn from someone who actually sews and knows!
    Often I go into fabric shops here and and the people working there don’t actually sew so have no proper hints and tips to give.

    I have a wool mix dress that I lined with a poly cotton, ( well it was a mystery purchase as It wasn’t labelled in the shop and the owner gave me a bargain).
    I wash it all the time on cold- naughty I know-but it seems to come out OK! Wouldn’t risk it on anything else though!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - This is good to hear! I know I’m always one for going into a shop where I can converse with the employees about a project and I LOVE it when they give me more ideas that I wasn’t even thinking about! It’s the best thing ever!

      Washing wools is a fairly personal thing. I’ve rarely had problems with it. That said, I don’t wash them that often, if ever, but I am kind of a crazy about doing my own laundering at home. I say do what you feel comfortable with!ReplyCancel

  • BeckyLeeSews - What a great post! I love learning about textiles and being armed with knowledge when I shop. I think you should do a post like this at least once a week/month. An informed customer is a good customer!

    And not a knock on you because I know there is little to no profit in fabric, but wow. The cost. I’d love some wool crepe for a new dress, but I need 3 yards. Now we’re talking a Ben Franklin on something I might mess up. That’s SO intimidating.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Oh this is good! I’m so glad that this helps. I was wondering if it would be of interest to anyone. Sometimes I just assume that everyone knows everything and I definitely shouldn’t. I don’t, that’s for sure!

      I definitely understand about these fabrics being expensive! They are. I do try to competitively price and I’ll be doing more online sales in the future too! Woolens and silks end up being the most expensive, but when summer rolls around, linens and cottons are definitely not as pricey.ReplyCancel

  • Joen - Thanks so much for this post! This is great to keep as a reference and I look forward to more fabric posts!ReplyCancel

  • Maggie - Does the sale also apply to your brick and mortar shop?ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Sorry for jumping on here a bit late, but no, this sale doesn’t apply in the store. Unfortunately its very very difficult for me to keep track of inventory when its being sold in store and online so my quick fix for the moment is to have a sale in one or the other, but not both. Thanks so much for asking though! I’ll definitely remember to make that better understood in future sales.ReplyCancel

  • erinalter(ed) - aiyaiyai! that cobalt wool! i was all set for some yummy crepe, but that COBALT! done. i shall make a jacket. i am thinking either this one: http://www.burdastyle.com/pattern_store/patterns/112011-cropped-jacket

    or this one:
    http://www.burdastyle.com/pattern_store/patterns/cropped-jacket-022011

    any professional thoughts as to whether one might suit the fabric a tad better than the other???ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Oh goodness! These are both darling and I can totally see that cobalt blue being great in either. I know, the color is to die for. I’m pretty sure you’ll faint when you see it in person! Ha ha! As far as the patterns go, I think either would do just fine. So cute! I’m loving both neckline treatments on both patterns. Great picks!ReplyCancel

      • erinalter(ed) - holy fast turnaround batman! my cobalt wool arrived this morning and it is indeed GLORIOUS! holy cow that color is so intense!!! this project had been slated a ways down in my queue, but it is so tempting to bump it up :) still, i think i will leave it further down, since i haven’t made jackets before, and the two jackets ahead of it will give me good practice so that the cobalt jacket will really shine.

        thanks for sending this so quickly, and thanks for having such an amazing product! i know that some people are dismayed by the initial cost. but you get what you pay for, and in this case, i got quality (which means it should last for years), warmth, and drape, all in such an intense color i could squeal (except i am at work, but believe me, my internal monologue is full on, high pitched, glee right now).ReplyCancel

  • Chris - Thanks so much for this post Sunni. It is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I order most of my fabric online and often have no real idea what I’m getting.ReplyCancel

  • French Toast Tasha - Just my two cents, but please wash wools by hand, and dry flat or hang to dry. I always think about how many thousands of years people worked with wool before dry cleaning was even invented! But, it does felt, and I know from personal experience that a wool garment which seems to come out of the washing machine just fine, even for years, is in fact slowly starting to felt, and one day you’ll probably have to re-fashion it. (This happened to me: http://tashamillergriffith.com/2013/03/12/alls-well-that-ends-well-but-please-dont-put-your-wool-in-the-washine-machine/)
    I love wool, and part of what I love about it is its feltable nature, but for wool I DON’T want to felt, I definitely recommend hand-washing. I have a pair of soft wool crepe trousers that have held up well under hand-washing for years now. :)ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Thanks Tasha! Yes, I think that washing wools is a very personal thing. I’ve done it for many years as well and haven’t had enough mishaps to stop. But I will say that I don’t wash my woolens very often and yes, if in doubt, I definitely hand wash instead. Thanks for your input!ReplyCancel

  • Gail - I love the structure of a wool crepe dress or jacket, especially when underlined with silk organza.ReplyCancel

  • Cassandra - Oh please do more posts like this! Fabric cam be so confusing and like the above person said, there’s rarely someone in store who can talk about it like this. I wish I lived in Utah!ReplyCancel

  • Working With Wool: Grading & Trimming » A Fashionable Stitch - […] was such a great response to my wool crepe plug, that I thought I wouldn’t leave you hanging without some tips and tricks for using high end, […]ReplyCancel

  • Meagan - This is fantastic! I really have been wanting to get into sewing stuff, but I just get overwhelmed with the different types of fabric and what might go with what pattern. I found this really helpful, and I hope you’ll highlight some more fabrics.ReplyCancel

  • Juju Gago - a nice brief informative, how nice.
    Was wondering just a couple of days ago I know about some fabrics, but I had no idea about how crepe was made. Never seen a wool crepe, though. (if i wasn’t so far I would definitely purchase some from you!)ReplyCancel

  • Missing the online store? Now back open! (with some awesome new things!) » A Fashionable Stitch - […] was a surprising response to my wool crepe post and it got me thinking a lot about having a fabric and notion guide that is connected with the […]ReplyCancel

  • Trish - Sunni,

    This post came at the perfect time because I’m about to sew a dress with a wool crepe blend! It’s a wool/nylon/lycra stretch crepe in a gorgeous red color.

    I’m new to crepe and also new to linings. Is there a particular fabric choice for lining you might recommend?

    Thanks for the wonderful post!

    -TrishReplyCancel