Archive for Cloth

Fugly Pants and Circus Pants: A Cautionary Tale of Online Fabric Shopping
May 5th, 2010 | Link

White linen pants

Once upon a time I found some white handkerchief linen at Discount Fabrics, and I thought it would be perfect for a pair of drawstring pants I wanted to make from one of my Japanese sewing books (One Day Winter Sewing, 2008). So I bought it, and I made them, and they turned out pretty well and they’re super comfortable, but of course white handkerchief linen is kind of sheer, and the resulting pants can’t really be worn outside the house in sunlight without violating decency laws (even in San Francisco). So the white pants became pajama pants, and I went looking for some different fabric to remake them from. was having a flannel sale and a seersucker sale, so I thought I would pick up some flannel and make a pair of cool weather pajama pants, and some seersucker for summer. And herein lies my cautionary tale. I saw a cheerful and cute flannel that looked like little chrysanthemums on an aqua background, so I bought it–neglecting to first check the scale of the photograph and the actual size of the flower motifs. So when I received the fabric, I discovered that those cute quarter-sized-looking flowers were actually huge:

Flannel pants with huge floral pattern

I like to call these “fugly pants” because they in no way match my style, and between the size of the flowers and the rigidity of the flannel they look huge. Ugh. But they are comfortable, and even though E. winces every time I put them on I have been wearing them to sleep in.

The seersucker was another story. The scale is what I expected from the photo, but the colors are brighter, and with the striped pattern… well, I call these “circus pants”:

Brightly striped seersucker pants

The seersucker is cool but not quite as comfortable as I would have thought – the puckers are kind of stiff and scratchy. I’m hopeful that a few washes will take care of that, and take some of the stiffness out of the flannel.

So I now have several pairs of pajama pants, but still nothing I’d want to wear outside the house. But I have some black linen/rayon blend fabric with some textural interest that has lovely drape, doesn’t wrinkle as badly as the pure handkerchief linen, is cool and light, and is neither sheer nor fugly. So I might be revisiting this pattern one more time. On the bright side it takes very little time to put these together–there are just two front pieces and two back pieces; the waistband is folded over and has buttonholes for the drawstring. On the other hand, maybe I should use the linen/rayon blend for a pattern with a bit more shaping…

What Could Shannon Be Thinking About Making Now?
March 30th, 2010 | Link

More than a dozen sample cards from Seattle Fabrics showing various colors and weights of nylon, cordura, netting, and foam

Seattle Fabrics, for all your all-weather fabric needs. Not to mention webbing, buckles, cord, toggles, you name it. (It’s where I bought the seat belt webbing and slide hardware for the Bonsai and Replacement messenger bags.) Check out the annotated version of the photo on Flickr for more details.

I’ll give you a hint: these ones aren’t for me. Well, their intended project is not for me. The giant pile o’ samples is giving me ideas though.

Japanese Sewing: Happy Homemade 1-J
March 16th, 2010 | Link

Jacket - front view

I’ve been sewing a bit lately and having some good successes and less frequent failures. The bottleneck in blogging is (apparently) getting photographs of the completed items. But here’s this weekend’s success, the popular jacket model J from Happy Homemade Vol. 1 in blue linen.

Jacket - back view

This turned out remarkably well, aside from not having quite the same crinkly drape that the pictures in the pattern book had (you can see them in the fourth image on the book link above)–I think they used a linen blend with silk or rayon. I also think mine will drape a bit more when I wash it again (I washed the fabric cold and dried it hot once to shrink it before cutting, but I can tell there’s still quite a bit of sizing in it).

I like it now though. It’s getting a lot of love from my coworkers today too.

PS: the T-shirt is the basic crew-neck from Jalie 2805. I folded it over at the neck and stitched with a twin needle, rather than a sewing on a separate neckband, so it’s not as high as the version on the pattern envelope.

Fun with Japanese Sewing Patterns
February 7th, 2010 | Link

If I can just have a goshdarnit-that-was-smart moment here:

Through Yoshimi the Flying Squirrel, I found the Japanese pattern company anneedeux, which has some nice top patterns and sells them (and other patterns) as downloadable PDF files. With a little help from a Japanese-speaking coworker, I was able to download two of them last week (payment is through PayPal, and everything went quite smoothly once I got through the cart checkout). I was super-excited until I went to print off the PDF files, and realized that (1) Mac Preview software doesn’t read the PDFs properly, they require Adobe Acrobat (it took me two days to figure that out); (2) the pages scaled down slightly, so I had to change the printer settings to not do that; (3) the reason why the pages had scaled down slightly was because–of course–the PDF was A4 size, not US letter size.

So I shrugged and figured I could take the files to a print shop and print them on legal size or something. Slight delay, no big deal. But today E. and I were taking advantage of Superbowl Sunday to go shopping downtown and as we made the rounds of our usual haunts, we stopped at Maido, a Japanese stationery store in the Westfield shopping center, to stock up on Pilot HI-TEC-C 0.4mm blue-black rollerball pens. And it was there that I found the answer to my problem: A4 Kraft paper!

(I had already reached a similar solution this morning in the ‘tub: I could cut some large sheets of card stock down to A4-size sheets on the Kutrimmer and manually feed them through the printer. Except my Kutrimmer is buried under a pile o’ stuff right now, so I left the idea percolating.)

On the way home, I reasoned it was unlikely that electronics companies would make different printers for the US and Canada than they would for the rest of the world, and I was right: the paper tray adjusts to take A4 paper. And the lightweight Kraft paper went through the printer without difficulty. So I was able to print off the pattern sheets and now I’m going to tape them together so I an cut out my patterns. w00t!

How ADD am I Right Now?
February 6th, 2010 | Link

The skirt I mentioned in my last post that I thought my attention span was too short to work on? Done. It’s the Tulip Skirt by Jenny Gordy of Wiksten-Made, which appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Stitch Magazine. I made it in (surprise) black linen and used the Japanese vintage buttons I bought from Kirsten some time back.

Considering it’s the first time I’ve done anything with buttonholes, and a waistband, and more than four pieces, and–well, not the first time I’ve done a pleat, but more pleats than I’ve ever done–I’m shocked at how well it turned out. It was considerably easier than I expected. Maybe I’m getting better at this sewing thing after all. (Picture coming soon. Or soonish.)

I am emboldened. What else can I sew this weekend?

Zipper Pouches
February 5th, 2010 | Link

Small zippered pouch in denim with a patch of linen robot print fabric, lined with lime-green and white polkadot fabric

Geek Brain and Creative Brain have been fighting each other pretty hard lately for control of my free time. Sometimes when this happens I find it difficult to start a large project. Although I have plans to start a new skirt (with a lot more pieces than my usual basic A-line patterns), I don’t have the attention span for it right now. So small, immediate-gratification projects are my current thing. The one above is for my knitting necessities, and it’s a big improvement over the rainbow-and-unicorn embellished card tin I’d been storing them in for the last 20 years!

Denim pencil case with a patch of black and charcoal bonsai screen-printed fabric

Fortunately small projects are a good way to use up small bits of the expensive Japanese or hand-screen-printed fabric I’ve used on other projects. This case is for pencils, pens, glue sticks and other journalling supplies.

Red linen pencil case with strips of red and white floral quilting fabric

This was an experiment. The red linen is lighter weight than the denim, so I lined it. It turned out just fine, but I like denim better.

Lining detail of red zipper pouch

There are a number of tutorials available around the web for making zippered pouches, but I’ve found this one to be the clearest, and it’s the one I used for all the above. In most cases I cut the fabric for the front and back and lining pieces to 8-1/4″ wide by 5″ high (the robot one was only about 6″ wide).

Denim pencil case with a stripe of red and white alphabet screen-printed fabric

I didn’t have a tutorial for the last one, I was just going with a picture I saw somewhere, but this tutorial is very similar. I didn’t line mine, just used a serger for all the seams. (In the interests of full disclosure, I made this one months ago, but it fit in with the theme and was a result of the same ADD behaviors. I use it to take my bookbinding tools to classes, as the denim is sturdy enough to take an awl point occasionally poking through.)

Knitting Bags
January 23rd, 2010 | Link

Before I started trying to make a dent in my fabric stash, I had a couple more unfinished projects lying around that needed attention: some knitting project bags. I bought the fabric in Portland last September and cut it out almost as soon as I got back. But then I needed interfacing, and template plastic for the bottoms, and then everything languished for a while. But, I finished them last weekend!

Tote bag in black fabric with images inspired by old sailor tattoos (mermaids, hula dancers, etc)

The first is from fabric by Alexander Henry. Not my grandmother’s knitting bag! The outside fabric is upholstery weight, and the inside is a quilting weight in the same style:

Detail shot of inside of the bag - same fabric as outside

The bag started out as the Un-Paper Bag using directions from The Purl Bee. I actually made another bag using the Alexander Henry fabric following the instructions exactly about a month ago (I don’t have a photo because I gave it away as a Christmas present). It looked great, but I dreaded doing all that pressing again so I just made this one in a standard tote bag style.

I made two others, also from Alexander Henry fabric (at least on the outside) but with a different feel:

Side shot of two bags - green and white lattice fabric
Front shot of bag with green and white lattice fabric

These ones are lined with a fun polka-dot fabric (I forget who makes it):

Detail shot showing contrasting green fabric with white polka dots

Why do I need so many knitting bags? I don’t. I had planned to use the green-and-white ones for Christmas gifts, and then never got around to making them. They’re pretty, but not exactly my style. But I wanted to finish them anyway. There’s always next Christmas!

Last night I started making a t-shirt from some of the white jersey in my stash. This weekend is all about sewing and watching Fruits Basket on Hulu.

My Fabric Stash
January 14th, 2010 | Link

I’m starting The Year of Making It Happen with a couple of strategies. The first is to finish all of my in-progress projects, and I’ve shared some examples of this during the last couple of weeks. My second strategy is to take stock of what I have, so I can plan for future projects. (My third strategy is to spend less time on the computer, but you can see how well that’s working out.)

Bookbinding, sewing and knitting are all hobbies which tend to lead to stashing. You buy paper, but it’s cheaper to buy some of it in bulk (for pages) and some of it just comes in large sheets. You buy yarn for a specific project without ever getting to it, and the same goes for fabric (and, for that matter, paper). Or sometimes you just fall in love with a material without knowing what you’ll do with it—and end up buying more than you might have, just in case.

I have great paper storage and last fall I went through a very productive run and worked through a lot of it. And I only have a few knitting projects worth of yarn stashed right now. But my fabric stash is close to becoming a problem. I have limited space to store it, just a few shelves tucked into the window sill of my studio:

Six shelves of fabric, about a foot wide.

Since that photo was taken last April, the shelves have become jammed full, even after moving the thread and notions elsewhere. So as my holiday break was ending, I spent an evening and took everything down and sorted it and measured it, and came up with the following spreadsheet:

Amount (yards) Width (in) Fabric Weight Color Content
0.5 60 Superfine worsted flannel Light Black 100% wool
0.75 60 Superfine worsted flannel Light Dark Red 100% wool
1.5 60 Worsted flannel Medium Black 100% wool
2 60 Ralph Lauren stretch suiting Light Black 96% wool, 4% lycra
2 60 Vera Wang twill suiting Medium Charcoal gray 80% wool, 20% nylon
2.5 60 Poplin Light Black 55% cotton, 45% silk
3 60 Tropical hemp/cotton Medium Rust 60% hemp, 40% cotton
3 54 Linen (maybe a blend?) Medium Dark red Linen, maybe w/cotton
2.5 42 Linen (maybe a blend?) Medium Light red Linen, maybe w/cotton
3 60 Linen (maybe a blend?) Medium Black Linen, maybe w/cotton

… and so on for another 21 rows (and whatever comes in the next few days when my latest order from is delivered).

See any trends there? (I’ll give you a hint. In the 31 rows in my spreadsheet, black makes up 11 rows, red is five, and gray (in all its shades) is five.

Now that I know what I have and how much I have of it, I’m ready to compare it to the patterns and many Japanese pattern books that I’ve also been accumulating recently, and figure out what to use it for. And once I finish the few remaining unfinished sewing and web projects that are waiting for me, I’ll be ready to take on that stash.

Robots Guard My ID
January 7th, 2010 | Link

Front view of card wallet: green and brown cartoon robots on linen

I’ve been using a duct tape wallet that Edmond gave me for a couple of years now, and it’s still holding up well but it’s hard to get the cards out sometimes. I decided to make another one for myself.

Inside view of card wallet: backing fabric is lavender polka dots

The fabric is a reversible Japanese cotton-linen blend from Superbuzzy: yes, it is reversible; the lavender polka dots you see on the inside are the back side of the robots! How awesome is that? The linen bias tape is also from Superbuzzy.

I used a 1/4″ radius for the corners, and found it difficult to do the stitching/turning/topstitching, so I probably should have used a 1/2″ radius. And it could probably benefit from a snap or some velcro to hold it together, though I haven’t had any problems with it flipping open in my bag.

It was super-quick to make, and I got six of them (with leftovers) out of one half-yard of fabric and one package of bias tape–one for me, and a bunch to give away at Christmas. I lurve it!

Bonsai Messenger Bag
January 5th, 2010 | Link

Last May I made a very practical, boldly graphic messenger bag that I’ve been very happy with and worn all over the place and loved dearly except for one thing: the awesome red and white fabric on the flap doesn’t always go with what I’m wearing. Usually, since I wear a lot of black, but not always.

(Brief interjection: last summer when I visited Portland I made two trips on consecutive days to Knit Purl, because I got overwhelmed the first day and wanted to look up some patterns on Ravelry before I purchased anything. When I went back the second day, one of the employees said “Oh, you’re back! I recognized your bag.” See, bold!)

So, I made another messenger bag:

Front view of bag

This one is almost identical to the last, except for the fabrics. For the flap, I used charcoal and black linen Bonsai fabric, designed by Lara Cameron and hand-screened at Ink and Spindle in Australia. For the body of the bag I used a dark blue denim that looks a lot like the denim I used on the last bag but isn’t stretchy and is a bit heavier. I also used medium-weight interfacing on the flap of the bag, so this one holds its shape more than the last one. And I used a black twill for the lining.

Front view of bag

Most other details are the same: the pattern is the Diana bag from Burda Style, with modifications to add an outside pocket and inner slip and zipped pockets and a key ring hook; and I used seat belt webbing for the strap and made it adjustable. I also remembered to add a magnetic closure before I attached the lining this time, so I won’t have to hold the flap down when I’m walking in the wind!



My name is Shannon Hale. This blog is on indefinite hiatus, but it contains archives of the last 10 years of posts about bookbinding, knitting, sewing. and other random things in my life.


2014: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2013: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2012: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2011: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2010: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2009: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2008: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2007: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2006: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

2005: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12