Student innovators are my inspiration! 4

img_5263As a freshman design student, my Textiles professor started our first day of class by bleakly stating that none of us would develop anything new… It’s all been done before, she boldly stated. She believed there had been nothing new in fashion since the Dior silhouette. It wasn’t until I transferred to my alma mater that I realized the possibilities – the open doors. Having access to textile printing machines, 3D printers, pattern design software, and embroidery machines was all new to me. And all of it was new technology!

Every week I am lucky enough to work with sewers of different skill levels and ages. I’m consistently reminded that innovation still exists. I regularly work with a young girl who is particularly inspired by Manga and comics. She is currently bringing to life a design that began on her computer screen. Another student I work with, a high schooler, will be holding his second fashion show at school this year. He has designed, sewn, and created 100% of the garments all on his own. He even learned how to mix music for the runway and pooled his friends to be models for his show. Yet another, much younger sewer, comes to my studio with an idea every time I see her. Together, we bring it to life! I’ll tell you much more about these students in future blog posts!

Often while we work I’ll ask them what they are doing after high school or college. Many of them know right away what their plans are, while some are more hesitant and unsure of what the future will hold. Some of them are unquestionably leaning towards careers in fashion, while others are hoping to sew and create as a hobby while working in other industries. I always encourage them to experiment with things while they are at this level of learning. It’s a great time to try new things without the pressure of having to make money or having an employer demanding that you produce or design specific pieces.

For the students that are considering fashion design or a job in the fashion industry, it’s hard to realize the possibilities – especially with all of the new developments in technology and textiles. When we think ‘fashion design careers,’ we think of designers sketching away on croquis and flats in a busy workroom or office, a room full of sewers on huge commercial machines, or a huge warehouse stocked with bolts and bolts of fabric. But what if fashion were more personal? More accessible? Downloadable?!

In this TED Talk you can learn about how Danit Peleg made her senior collection with the use of a 3D printer in her own living room. I especially enjoyed hearing her talk about her process. As with sewing and physical design, there was much trial and error as she sourced her materials and learned about new ones.

I don’t think that in the early 2000’s any of us saw the possibilities that technology brought to fashion. I wonder what that Textile professor would say now?




Lately Rex is crazy for robots. He is always pretending to be a robot with a basket on his head. Today I decided to get crazy with the sewing machine and make him a robot helmet!

This is my own pattern and I’ll be sure to let you know when I have it ready for you to try out!

I really enjoyed getting creative with things from the hardware store to make my robot. I used a sink strainer for the antenna and screen door handles for ears! To create a moving mouth I used doll eyes as joints. I found great things in the scrapbooking aisle for my robot, too – the gears and metal punched numbers really made this metal monster come to life. The mouth zips open and closed so Rex is really enjoying making a smiley robot and a quiet robot!

Our favorite Ohio designer – house tour!

I know you all can’t get enough Amy. Have you seen the great house tour on Apartment Therapy today? I love Amy and David’s home! I’m getting so many ideas for ways to incorporate her fantastic style into my own home…

I love that the pillows on that couch totally make the whole room! Textiles can do so much! And don’t you just love the wallpaper? If Amy’s wallpaper line is out of your price range you can try using fabrics as wall decals. They stick to wall using liquid starch and are perfect for rentals because they come right off!

Have you ever thought of framing fabric? It’s one of my favorite easy art projects! The bird in the frame is one of her free pattern ideas.. Try it out this weekend! P.S… I am lusting after that reclaimed table!

Generation Next 1

Have you seen the fresh new patterns at McCall’s? I’m so excited to see some familiar faces with patterns of their own!  As you know, I frequent NY often to visit my son (how convenient-huh??)  and love to stop in Williamsburg to visit all the fabulous local talent showcased in boutiques up and down  the hip streets in Brooklyn.  A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting with Patty, at Flirt.  They have the coolest fashions, and also have a sewing workshop called Home Ec, where they teach sewing.  Don’t ask me how I found them, it must have been my fabric radar!!

I just picked up a copy of Vogue Patterns sewing magazine and was thrilled to read about her, among other fabulous seamsters, featured on their pages.  You have to check out their skirt pattern, as well as patterns from Marcy Tilton, Rebecca Turnbow, Melissa Watson and Megan Nicolay.  All of them are very cool and trendy.  I love finding patterns that showcase similar ready to wear designs as H&M, Anthropologie, Eileen Fisher, etc.

And don’t miss the article on Sewing Lounges!!  It’s so great to see so many like minded seamsters sharing their skills as we do right here at Stitch Cleveland.   There’s Helen at Seam Divas in Vancouver, Michelle, Gina and Lupine at Modern Domestic in Portland, Citycraft in Dallas,  Diana at Make Workshop in NY and so many others!!

So, get your sewing machines out, open up that fabric stash…and get sewing!  Sewing is def not a dying art!  Stop in and take advantage of Free Sew sessions, schedule a few private lessons or check out our class listings.  We’re here to keep sewing alive and want you to join in the fun and hang at your local sewing lounge, Stitch Cleveland!

French Hen Farm

One of our students has been busy sewing and brainstorming new ideas to sell at her sister’s barn. Seems like barns are a really popular thing these days. I’m tempted to  clean out the one I have in my backyard and fill it with cool stuff… good thing I have Stitch Cleveland.

Anyway, thought I’d share with you what Becca’s been up to. She’s been taking lessons at Stitch Cleveland for a few months and has made some really great things… burlap pillows with printed numbers, banners, and totes! She’s been selling her things at French Hen Farm.

We started as sisters from Ohio who got “bit” by the antiquing bug thanks to our parents. Then when we bought a farm in rural Ohio, the whole family got involved. French Hen Farm is the big, red barn surrounded by perennial gardens, an old willow tree, and 100 acres of farmed land. We have semi-annual barn sales featuring everything from antiques, homemade baked goods, recycled, repurposed vintage jewelry, fresh produce, flowers…the list goes on and on. We’d love to see you at the next sale!

I am dying to make my way down there for the next big sale! Hope I see you there!

Local artist: Amy of Little Sprout Baby – Giveaway! 13

Meet Amy… runner, teacher, wife, mom, and sewist! Her sewing business started off as nothing more then a need for a cute hat! With a little guy in tow, she was unable to find anything that made her happy at the store. So she devised a plan to create him a one of a kind hat. That hat turned into 2 hats, turned into 5! The other mommies in her mom’s group started requesting hats for their little sprouts and soon she was in business!

Amy is giving away a great car toy organizer to one of our readers!

There are 2 ways to win… first, check out Little Sprout Baby’s Etsy sight. Then, leave a comment on this post telling us what your favorite item is. To be entered a second time, leave a comment on our Stitch Cleveland Facebook page about Little Sprout Baby also! You can enter until October 15th!

Read on to see more of our interview with Amy…

How did you start sewing as a business?

Well, if I could make hats and mittens, then I could make the other things I couldn’t find in the store too, right? Right. Each new item is a fabulous challenge. The truth is, I’m having so much fun that I’m taking another year of parental leave this school year. Life is funny. I never imagined myself as a stay at home mom with a small business. It’s a grand journey and I’m loving every twist and turn.”

How are you inspired? What gives you ideas for your next creations?

I am inspired mostly by hiccups in daily life. If I have a difficulty along my way, I think, “Hmmmm . . . I could make this and life could be a bit easier.” Currently I’m fashioning a sun shade for the front of my jogging stroller. The poor little guy gets blasted by the sun in the AM. Gorgeous fabric also inspires me. Amy Butler and Michael Miller fabric just speak to me sometimes. The other day, Michael Miller’s Edgy Veggie told me to make reusable sandwich bags.

What are your favorite things to sew?

My favorite things to sew are things for babies. I can unleash my creativity and have fun. A plain backpack becomes a baby backpack that looks like an owl. It makes me giggle and happy. The items I like the least to sew are purse straps. I’m very picky about my purse straps and that requires lots of interfacing, pressing, edge sewing, on and on. Tedious stuff, those straps but you have to do it.

Etsy is a super popular crafter’s website… How did you get started there?

I started on Etsy because I made my own infant mitten pattern and I thought I’d try to sell it. I then started adding things that I was making for Local Girl [a fabulous gallery showcasing local art], friends, family, and moms from my support group. It was very blurry and confusing until recently when I broke my store into two stores. One is for adults (purses, yoga mat bags, laptop sleeves, etc) and one for babies. This change has focused me and I feel less like I’m having an identity crisis and confusing my clients.

Do you sell your work on other sites?

I don’t sell on other sites but I have items at Local Girl and sell at artisan shows such as Hessler Street Fair, the Coventry Art Fair, and LEAF Night.

You seem like a busy lady, yet you find time to do what you love! Do you have any advice for other people looking to make their hobby into their living?

Finding time to craft when I have a baby is very hard. It is hard to maintain a balance between sewing and my commitment to stay at home with my baby. It’s a struggle nearly every day. The most important thing is that I nap when the baby naps. Still and he’s 18 months. I cannot work while he’s napping and not have the energy and patience I need for him. That said, I craft in small pockets of time. It’s slow and messy because I have to start and stop based on the mood of my son.

My advice is to find your thing. Your thing is the thing that others don’t make, the thing you like to make, and the thing that resonates with others. It’s so hard to find that thing. Once you find it, try to make that your bread and butter product. I think I finally found my thing after ten months. No one else sells anything like my car toy organizers on Etsy. There was a lot of joy, pain and self-doubt along the way. Until you find your thing, just jump in and enjoy where the ride takes you.

Thanks for sharing your work and advice with us, Amy! It’s always nice to hear from other artists and designers!

Yay, Emily!

We are so impressed with the latest creation to leave our workshop…

Ms. Emily is rockin’ the sewing machine. This is the beautiful rain coat she made this month. It looks amazing! We know you’re jeal. We were amazed (but not surprised, since Emily is a highly gifted seamstress) at how much the coat looks like she could have purchased it at a store!

This jacket is fully lined using Amy Butler’s Home Dec weight fabrics. The fabric can be a little challenging because the layers do get thick in spots. But Emily handled it like a pro.

Some other projects that Emily has done in the past include pajama pants, skirts, and bags. She has also drafted her own slopers and created her own skirt pattern with cargo pockets. The finished product was great, too! Emily also loves to design and has been working with me on sketching and designing her own creations. She has learned how to draw a fashion figure, render and illustrate different fabrics, and draw technical flats! Emily’s sketches have appeared in her school’s literary magazine, too. Great job, Emily! It’s a joy to have you in class!

Inspiration for the boys.

A concern we hear from many sewers is regarding the lack of patterns available for boys and men. We agree! Think about your last visit to a website or pattern book. How many unique or fashionable garments did you see for the guys?

Sure, you can usually find the old button up and possibly a traditional suit… but who makes (or wears) those anymore?

A few months ago I was on the look out for some new resources for boys’ fashions that I could make. There are lots of boys on my shopping lists – two teens, a husband, and a toddler. I like to sew for all of them but I also want to make them things they will wear and not just hang in their closets!

In my searches I found Ottobre design, a company in Finland that caters to subscribers worldwide. I really like their take on fashionable kids’ clothes. The boys’ clothing is current without looking too trendy. I also love that the magazine provides resources for the fabrics they used to create the samples! In a recent blog post they revealed that they will be launching an online fabric store so that we can get our hands on the fabrics they use in their samples! The blog is fabulous. You can download free patterns, subscribe to the magazine, and even preview issues before ordering!

The attention to detail is what really makes these patterns unique. Each piece has a unique detailed pocket or closure. The patterns come folded in the center of the magazine. Each pattern is printed in a different color and gets traced (I use butcher paper) then cut out. This is great… you can reuse the patterns over and over and also trace several sizes of one garment.

Right away I subscribed to the magazine and received a free women’s magazine with my order of four children’s issues. When the first magazine arrived, I hurried to make a little bunting for Rex (my toddler) to wear in the cold weather. The directions in the magazine are short and to the point. I didn’t find it difficult to follow along but, a beginner should expect to need a little help. General knowledge of garment construction will be necessary. The finished product was adorable. Unfortunately Rex grew so quickly… I don’t think I even got a chance to photograph him in his cute little bunting. Oh, well, better get my sewing machine ready for some spring weather sewing!

I’ll fill you in on what I found in menswear later this week!

Check out the Cleveland Craft Coalition! 2

Looking for another great group to get you inspired? Clara from the Cleveland Craft Coalition stopped by Stitch Cleveland today to drop off some flyers for the Valentines Day Craft Show. They are a newly formed group of artists and crafters who’ve made it their goal to sell their handmade wares once a month at Bela Dubby! Anyone interested in joining? Drop them a line and tell ’em we sent ya!

Next Saturday, February 6th from 12 – 4pm you can stop by Bela Dubby for a great handmade show. Bela Dubby is an awesome coffee & beer bar in Lakewood that is sure to get your creativity flowing. Get all of your valentines something handmade and from the heart!

Are you planning a handmade holiday? Leave a comment and share your good Valentine’s Day ideas with us! Someone will get a Valentine’s Day prize…

Amy Butler happiness

There is nothing happier than a BRIGHT ORANGE Amy Butler shower curtain when you get up first thing in the morning, and here’s proof:

Karen hemmed it up for me while I was busy with 2 classes (thanks, Karen!) It’s 2 widths of fabric, sewn side by side. I wanted it deliberately long, but this has made it the cats’ new Favorite Hideout. The biggest challenge was spacing the metal eyelets at the top appropriately, since the curtain itself is wider than the liner, but once that math was out of the way, all was well!

Handy-dandy thrift store list

If you’ve come in to the shop or taken a class with me, you’ll know that I am always saying (particularly for the felters) that they should check out the local thrift shop for materials. And now the PD has posted a handy-dandy list of local ones: see here!

Speaking of felting, there’s been some interest in doing a hands-on wet felting workshop lately — anyone else on board? Let me know via email or in the comments so I can order extra supplies.

Midwest Plushform Show + Bazaar Bizarre

John from our favorite comic book shop (namely Carol & John’s, in the Kamm’s Corners plaza) just stopped by with some fab plushforms for us to customize. Why, you ask? The Midwest Plushform Show, co-sponsored by Carol & John’s and Shoparooni, which is raising money for Toys for Tots! We’ve got applications here at the shop, or drop by either of the above shops — but hurry!

Also, the vendors have been picked, the tables ordered, the helpers organized — get ready, Bazaar Bizarre 2008 is coming! Stitch Cleveland and 80 other indie vendors will help you find the perfect item for that special someone on your Nice List.

Finally — in response to popular demand, Shannon is offering more design your own sweater classes! Just in time for NaKniSweMo! Scared of sweaters? Don’t be. You’ll be designing your own in no time.

A Success Story!

We thought it was about time to show all you doubters what a true believer in craft can do! Many people assume that sewing (or any form of crafting) is something you have to do for years to achieve a great result. Not true! All it takes is an idea…

Kellie is a new sewer. She inherited her mom’s old Kenmore sewing machine — the metal kind that almost requires a wheely cart to move it! Kellie spotted some curtains for her nursery in a catalog, but after spending a bit of money on having a crib skirt and some other simple items made she was ready to venture out on her own. She sent us a picture of the curtains she wanted to make and chose her fabric.

Kellie came in to Stitch Cleveland for a private sewing lesson where Megan taught her how to measure, mark, and cut her fabric. After revving up her machine for the first time, she was hooked.

One lesson later, Kellie had finished the first curtain (check out the picture)! Kellie learned enough in her two lessons to make the second curtain on her own… just in time for her new arrival!

We are so happy that Kellie found her “inner designer” that we just had to share her achievement with everyone! You can take lessons, too! Have an idea but just don’t know where to start? Stop in to talk about it and see where it takes you.