Limited Edition Hand Printed Zsálya Blouse in collaboration with Anna Joyce Design

I am super thrilled to announce the results of a new collaboration with Anna Joyce Designs: limited edition Zsálya blouse in Anna Joyce’s amazing hand painted and hand printed fabric available for purchase!

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These one-of-a-kind, handmade blouses feature the Zsálya’s crossover neckline and scallop-shaped cuff detail. The sunny, joyful and oh-so-soft fine cotton voile is hand painted and hand printed in Anna’s Portland studio, then sewn up into a beautiful, wearable work of art in New York City’s Flower District.

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Let me just say that Anna Joyce’s fabric is a dream to touch, look at, and wear. I love how the design works with the Zsálya’s details and silhouette, and the whimsy it infuses int the Zsálya’s clean lines.

Click over to the Anna Joyce Design web shop to order, and while you’re there, have a look at Anna’s amazing Spring-Summer 2015 collection. So much gorgeousness!

 

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If you’d like to sew your own Zsálya blouse, you can purchase just the Zsálya sewing pattern PDF or paper version (30% off old print edition while supplies last!), although you won’t have any luck finding the fabric, sorry ;).

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I have also added a page to my web shop for the Anna Joyce Design and Kate & Rose collaboration Zsálya blouse, from where you can click right through to the ordering page.

 

 

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Returning after a small but full stop

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I am returning to normal life but it’s taking a while. Do you ever walk into your office/studio/maker space and feel like you’ve arrived in a little spot of heaven? I missed mine so much this month. School’s back now after our winter break in New York State. This morning I woke up early with my younger daughter (there she is below, eating carrots and thinking what we should play), thrilled that later today I will have hours, several glorious full HOURS, one after the other, all in a row, just for work.

 

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It’s been a challenging month-and-a-half, though there have been some wonderful moments too, with bits of making and stitching in between.

 

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I’ll start with the announcement-y things: my shops on Etsy and Bigcartel are open again, with the newly redesigned PDF patterns! I think you will like them. With the help of the talented Yuki Maeshima, who owns and designs Waffle Patterns, There are many improvements to both the pattern files and the instructions, which I REALLY hope to be telling you more about in the coming weeks. (Unless someone gets very sick, of course.)

 

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Meanwhile, the redesigned instruction booklets for the paper patterns are getting printed. I hope to have them in stock next week! In the meantime, I still have some (tiny) stock of the old versions, which you can snap up at a 30% discount. No coupon code necessary! But hurry because there are very few left…

Now, with that out of the way, let me tell you a little of what’s been going on, in real life, behind the scenes, the good and the bad.

 

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If you follow me on Instagram, you already know this – my older daughter spent a bit of time in the hospital a couple weeks ago. A kidney infection for which IV antibiotics were needed, and morphine. Morphine! I have never seen a child in so much pain! She is fine now, having weathered the storm in her usual spirited fashion, finding fun during our hospital in things where I wouldn’t have thought fun was possible. But – our room had a gorgeous view, right past scaffolding that squirrels ran up and down on.

 

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Managing family life was tricky: my husband was out of town for work when we had to go to the ER, and for the first two days in the hospital. Our lovely babysitter stayed with my younger daughter at night until he got home, and during the day we traded time at home and in the hospital, and then I spent the nights.

And right before that we all had the flu. That yucky, exhausting, fevered, I-can’t-get-out-of-bed flu that’s been going around despite this year’s flu vaccine.

 

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I didn’t get much work done. The week my older one was at the hospital, I fit in a couple hours of sewing on two afternoons, in between running home to shower and rushing out to pick up my younger daughter from preschool. I don’t know when I’ll get caught up with everything. Most likely never. I had to close my shops completely because I could barely (and sometimes not at all!) keep track of orders. And we really can’t have that.

So that was the bad stuff.

 

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One budding new thing: a blouse I collaborated on with the amazingly talented fabric and accessories designer Anna Joyce (those are the cuffs above!). (If you could see her fabrics in real life! Ooooooohhhhh…) She hand-painted the fabric, a lovely voile, which I sewed into a Zsálya top, about which more to come… (a sneak peak here).

Then, winter break! By then my older daughter was well enough that we could keep our date with skiing in the Adirondacks we’d been planning a long time. Apparently, we really love upstate New York. But no pirates this time! And guess who learned to ski:

 

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After last week I will never complain about cold again. It’s cold back here in New York too but nothing like the wind-chilled, frozen weather of the Adirondacks. Although now I can’t get the thought of wearing my ski pants all of the time out of my head.

I can’t wait for spring. In the Flower District, near our apartment, there are of course colorful blooming beautiful flowers everywhere. Look, aren’t they so pretty:

 

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They let us pretend it’s spring, bustin’ out at the seams, just a little bit.

 

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Oh, yes. I’m working on new embroidery patterns.

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Announcement: Kate & Rose sewing patterns at Indiesew

There’s a new place to buy Kate & Rose PDF sewing patterns: in the Indiesew shop! Indiesew founder Allie posted a lovely introduction on the Indiesew blog yesterday.

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I especially love the fabrics chosen for the Zsálya blouse sample, they make me think of summer and sunlight and Colorado deserts. I also love the Mariska in a geometric print, it would never have occurred to me to choose it and it looks really good.

There’s another bit of news. Indiesew carries all new, updated and revised PDF files of all patterns. Never fear, the pattern pieces are still the same, but everything else has been made a little better. I have been a busy bee working on these improvements during the past month. I had several goals in mind, based on how I use PDF patterns and find helpful, as well as feedback from customers and other pattern users. First of all, I wanted to make the home printing version easier, less time-consuming, and more economical to print and assemble. Each pattern still has a copyshop version formatted for 36″/91 cm wide paper, never fear! In fact, I am curious if there are other formats that you’d find useful, as I can include those in future updates.

The pattern instructions have also been streamlined and redesigned in a way that, hopefully, makes your experience of using them even better. The one down side: I had to raise the prices. This was something I should have done a while ago but kept putting it off. Yet the reality is that the new prices better reflect how versatile the patterns are and how many options they include, as well as how much work and care went into designing and producing them.

I will tell you more of the details next time, along with something else that will, I hope sweeten the new prices. Stay tuned!

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New year, new skills: new bra

If you follow me on Instagram you already know this: last weekend I went to Philadelphia to participate in Madalynne’s inaugural bra making workshop.

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Ah bras! So many of us have our own special love-hate relationship with them, don’t we?

Maddie’s workshop was a great place to learn more about this garment but it was also more than that. If you’ve seen Maddie’s blog you know how beautifully she presents her content, and how much care she takes in what that content is. The workshop was a real treat too, and not just visually. You were equal parts pampered (like spending the day in a relaxing spa) and challenged to learn something new (umm, make a garment with highly specialized materials, details and construction techniques from scratch). Your eyes felt pleased, your mouth felt pleased – there was a lovely lunch and snacks.

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Maddie presented things in an approachable, friendly, and easy-to-follow way and did not skimp on individual attention. The basket of goodies included enough fabric that, after making a muslin in class, you could make a whole other bra at home to reinforce what you learned. (It’s the fabric you see in this set, a lovely powder blue that my iPhone can’t quite reproduce.) The baskets were so pretty:

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So… I have a somewhat hard-to-find bra size: 32 DDD in the brands I like. (Bra sizing is not standardized and there can be quite a bit of variation between brands.) I didn’t figure out how my bra should fit until I was nursing my first daughter and had constant back pain. But since I was sure that having children is no reason I should have to give up feeling good in my body, the hunt was on for a well-fitting bra. I nursed my two little girls for a total of 5.5 years, after all was said and done.

Oh! I want to say something here that bears saying (now that I told you what size bra I wear, dear sewing friends). I also just told you how long I nursed my babies, and nursing is the kind of topic that can plunge women into resentment or joy or deep despair within seconds, along with the whole having-children-or-not issue. Which is to say even among my friends both can be sensitive topics. So, because I believe this is not said nearly often enough, I want you to know: whether you have children or not or never want to, whether or not you nurse or don’t want to or can’t, I have no judgement or comment for you except this: hi, how are you? So nice to have you here!

I believe we all deserve to live in a way that is right for us, and we deserve to do so honestly, without having to fear judgement or worse for personal choices from anyone around us, especially not when it comes to the intimate realities of our bodies. Life’s plenty hard enough without that, don’t you think? So yes, even bramaking can be a feminist act. It’s about accepting ourselves and others, or more precisely: figuring out how best to support our body’s natural symmetry, in both comfort and aesthetics.

Anyway, back to bra sizes. Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the particular fit challenges presented by large busts, and what shapes and details are most flattering for them – and how these might differ from the shapes most flattering for smaller busts. One of the challenges, of course, is having bras that fit. I keep finding a brand that makes a line of bras with sizing that works for me, only to see it discontinued by the time I need to replace my bras. So I decided I’m going to make my own from now on, especially since there are so many new resources out there, for learning how, up to and including workshops you can take.

The pattern Maddie chose for the workshop was the Marlborough bra by Norma Loehr, author of Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction. This is a very thoughtfully designed pattern I think I can now honestly say, a good place to start one’s bra-making journey. The Marlborough is a full band bra with a 3-piece cup, which is to say a more structured kind of bra that gives a good overview of most details of bra making without overcomplicating them. One side note: it wasn’t designed for very large busts (cup sizes only go up to DD) but Norma has helpfully provided sizing equivalents for the workshop. Since you’ll be making a muslin and later tweaking the pattern anyway (most likely), I found it to be a good starting point even for someone with my size. The bra I made in class is very, very close to fitting me comfortably. I’m in the process of figuring out what tweaks to make to further improve the fit, and I plan to share with you what I learn.

Thank you to Maddie for organizing the workshop! And if you’d like to learn bramaking in a friendly, supportive, and beautiful environment, make sure to take Maddie’s workshop when she offers it again. I have a sneaking suspicion she will…

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The Absolutely Last Minute Christmas Tree Ornament: tutorial+free pattern

I wish you the very best of holidays! I hope you are enjoying time with loved ones and some well-deserved fun and relaxation – and good food – during these last few days of 2014.

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As a thank you, I have this tiny little (albeit picture-heavy!) tutorial for you, if you have a free minute and want to make a last-minute ornament for a Christmas tree.

The design for the embroidery is similar to the designs in the Floral Geometry pattern set, which are often made up of clean, straight geometric lines, a kind of simple pattern play. What I also love about these designs is that they can be stitched in a way that’s really, really easy and fast (although you can also use more complicated stitching, like I did for my samples). The scale of the individual lines in the motifs lends itself really well to simple outlining: one stitch per line. Fast.

Supplies you’ll need:

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  • Two 6 cm by 6 cm  (2 3/8 by 2/38 inch) squares of felt
  • Embroidery thread (I used #5 perle cotton – FAST!)
  • #22 Chenille needle
  • cotton balls (I needed five of these in the end)
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • ruler (optional)
  • the patterns (download here)
Transferring & embroidering the designs:

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With a sharp pencil, poke holes at the points of the snowflake designs, wiggling the pencil slightly if needed. Check to make sure your marks are visible.

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Once you’ve marked marked all the points in the design, we’ll have to play a bit of connect-the-dots to mark the lines of embroidery. You can freehand this:

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Or use the ruler:

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Refer to the pattern design to figure out which dots to connect, oh! and take care not to smudge the pencil lines too hard, that could get pretty messy (ask me how I know! I forgot to take a picture of the piece of felt I smudged up before one of my daughters ran off with it but believe me, it’s very messy).

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Now to embroider. Each line up to the points can be stitched with one stitch:

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Really, these snowflakes work up in no time, and #5 perle cotton is thick enough that it will mostly cover the lines you marked on the felt. Added bonus: since the back of the embroidery won’t be visible, you can just leave it messy – use knots to start and tie off threads. (You won’t need that much thread anyway!) Here are the finished snowflakes:

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Aren’t they pretty?

Assembling the ornament

Since the designs are so geometric, I’m using a bit of geometric play to assemble the ornaments. Take the two embroidered felt squares and, with wrong sides together, turn them so that the corners of each square line up with the center of the edges of the other square:

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Using a blanket stitch, begin sewing the squares together, attaching a corner of one square to the center of an edge of the other square, like this:

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The corner of the back square will end up at the center of the edge of the front square:

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Here it is from behind:

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Keep going around like this until you only have one half-edge left open.

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Now it’s time to stuff the ornament with cotton balls. I needed five. Now we’ll also need a ribbon for hanging the ornament.

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To prepare the ribbon, fold it in half and tie a knot at the ends. Then, stuff the ribbon into very edge of the open bit of the ornament:

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Then continue with your blanket stitching, letting one stitch go through the ribbon to secure it.

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(At this point I BARELY had enough thread left to finish. But it turned out to be enough!) Stitch up the rest of the opening and voilá! You have a lovely new ornament.

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Happy Holidays and I will see you in the new year!

 

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