I’m loving the use of prints this month. And all the red and gold tones, too!
I think I’m a better gift giver than gift receiver.
I love shopping for or making holiday gifts for friends and family. It feels so good to hunt or design that perfect little gift.
But when people start asking me what I want, I freeze. In some ways, I think it’s just part of being an adult. If I want something, I’m usually fine with buying it for myself.
But the exception to this is craft supplies. They are just so full of possibilities, so much fun to receive and to use.
Combine this with the fact that there are so many little tools and doodads I’ve mentioned here on the blog that you guys have asked where to get, and we thought… why not open a little holiday shop?
Starting November 12 (the same day we’ll launch our newest products), we’ll also be launching Gifts for Crafters, our online holiday pop-up! There, you’ll find some of our favorite sewing tools, beautiful trims, kits and embroidery patterns from beloved small designers, and gorgeous knitting, sewing, and stitching books.
Seriously, everyone in the office has been drooling over this stuff.
We’re even putting together a few very special limited edition kits! We think you guys will love it.
I’m betting we’re going to sell out of many things quickly (though we plan to restock when we do). So if you want to be among the first to know, enter your email below to sign up for our launch announcement!
(If you can’t see the form above in your RSS or email, just click through to Gifts For Crafters to sign up.)
Are you guilty of neglecting your sewing machine maintenance duties?
I know I am. So I did some research on how to properly care for my machine. Some things should be done everyday, some on a per-project basis, and some annually. Each one is important to keep in mind, because good habits make for happy sewing results!
Prevent dust, lint, dirt and your pet’s fur from infiltrating your machine by covering it when not in use. Most machines come with a cover. If you don’t have one, you can make a pretty one out of fabric or use a pillow case.
Here are some tips on what to do if you’re tension is off or your stitches are skipping.
It’s important to remember how much work your needle does.
A bent or dull needle can result in skipped stitches, broken or looped threads, runs or pulls in your fabric or worst of all, damage to your machine.
Suggestions on when to swap needles ranges from every 8 hours to whenever you complete a project. You will also want to change your needle to match the weave and weight of your fabric.
[Image Source: La Vie En Orange]
You should consistently clean your machine yourself after every extensive sewing project, when bits of thread and lint build up around the throat plate and feed dog.
Step 1: Raise the presser foot to loosen tension springs, then run folded piece of muslin between tension discs to dislodge lint and loose threads.
Step 2: Remove throat place, bobbin and bobbin case.
Step 3: Use small lint brush to dust under the feed dogs, around the bobbin area.
Step 4: Spray tension discs, under feed dogs, and around bobbin areas with compressed air to remove any excess lint and thread. To avoid introducing any moisture into your machine, hold the can of compressed air so the nozzle is at least 4 inches away.
You will also want to spray with the nozzle angled away from the parts you are cleaning, so as to blow lint out rather than further into the machine.
Why not just blow with your own breath? Your breath contains moisture and will eventually cause erosion damage to your machine.
A Note On Canned Air: “Compressed” or “canned” air is actually fluorocarbon gases that are compressed into liquids. These gases are ozone safe but are potential greenhouse gases.
When using these products, you may notice the can become quite cold if used for an extensive cleaning. At this point, less gas is produced. Set the can aside and wait for it to return to room temperature.
Step 5: Follow your sewing machine’s guide to oiling your machine.
A good service person adjusts tension and timing during regular service, as well as cleaning areas of the machine that you cannot reach without taking the machine completely apart.
Do you have any other tips regarding good machine cleaning habits?
Above: Dress patterns hanging next to vintage deadstock fabric @ MagBig Boutique in Portland, OR
Have you heard of the Slow Food Movement? It encourages us to learn the connection between the food we eat and the farms where it is grown.
Slow Fashion is the same concept, but for clothes and the factories they are made in.
What is the main idea? Before you support the garment industry, think about what portion of the industry your money will be supporting.
For example: If you know a big-box-store’s garments came from a factory in Bangladesh, were people endanger their lives working in atrocious conditions to make almost no money, you probably won’t buy that item of clothing.
How do you know what clothes to buy? The easiest way I’ve found to avoid giving money to the wrong clothing company is to buy local or handmade. (If you have other tips, please share!)
I learned about Slow Fashion while working at a Portland retail shop called MagBig. They named themselves “A Makers Department Store,” exclusively selling local artists and designers. Their goal is to foster small, sustainable local clothing production.
They’ve branched out to include some other locally made products, too. I love their vintage oven display!
Their list of contributing designers is quite lengthy. It reminds me that no one needs to go far to find great fashion.
One of my favorites is Sweet Cycle Apparel: a sustainable, small batch label that is handmade in Oregon. Check out their Company Values page for a more in-depth definition of Slow Fashion, and links to other resources.
I was actually repping a Sweet Cycle Slow Your Fashion tee in our company field trip photos! I have had some fantastic conversations with people while wearing this shirt. I don’t mind encouraging anyone to buy one if they’re interested in advocating for Slow Fashion.
Another great local line is Make It Good. A small team of 7, they are dedicated to remaining a Portland company. They purchase organic cotton directly from their fabric miller, Ira, who lives in southern California. The team cuts that fabric, prints their own designs on every cut piece, then sews the garments by hand. Wow!
And of course, MagBig has their own houseline. Their Heirloom Collection is made from vintage deadstock fabric. Their new line is made from larger bolts of salvaged fabric, including the black and white “pizza print” shown above.
Here is shop owner, Cassie Ridgeway, laying out four layers of vintage rayon fabric.
They just acquired this electric rotary cutter, which is pretty fancy.
I hope that showing you these photos of small scale production inspires you to support local designers. I always feel a special connection to Portland when I wear clothes that were produced in the small attics and studio spaces around town.
This is part 2 of a 3 part series about the craft and fashion activist movements I’ve discovered. Read part 1: Craftivism.
We have been cooking up a storm of new stuff for you all, which has taken us to some exciting places. Can anyone guess what might have led us to hike through the woods?