Cool PDX Event: Heather Ross at PNCA

croppedmermaid Cool PDX Event: Heather Ross at PNCA

If you didn’t get a seat in Heather Ross‘ fabric design class at PNCA this weekend (it filled up in no time!), here’s your chance to meet Heather and learn about her design process. Come hang out at PNCA (12th & Johnson in the Pearl) on Friday, July 23 at 7:00, meet some cool local sewers & sewists and some folks who have come in from out of town as well.

See you there!


Cool PDX Event – Laura Gunn at Modern Domestic

index trio Cool PDX Event   Laura Gunn at Modern Domestic

Laura Gunn's new Poppy Patterns made up in fabric from her Poppy collection from Michael Miller.

Gina, the owner of my favorite fabric shop ever–Bolt in northeast Portland, emailed me this week about an awesome event at Modern Domestic, the new sewing studio down the road from Bolt (Gina’s a partner in that business as well).

Modern Domestic is hosting a talk by Laura Gunn, who designed a beautiful new fabric collection, Poppy from Michael Miller, next Thursday, July 8th. I’m usually not a huge fan of fabric that’s so painterly, but I just love Laura’s work, it just makes so much sense translated into textiles. The colors are clear and bright and designs are the perfect scale for fabric. Gina tells me that Laura will be talking about her fabric design process, which should be fascinating!

The event starts at 7:00 (at Modern Domestic on Alberta Street) and will last until around 8:30. Gina tipped me off that not only will there be snacks and drinks, there will also be some sweet giveaways!

See you there!


Best of ’09: Blazers Letterpress Project

I’ve spent a lot of time dwelling of how awful 2009 was for us–which is probably not all that healthy, but it was bad at an epic level. However, in my continuing effort to be more positive, I thought I’d take the chance to write about my favorite project of the last year. Amazingly, it wasn’t sewing or screenprinting, it was one of my first letterpress projects. I realized I’d never really shared this project with “the World,” though all my Portland buddies have seen the results in person.

3639293351 8c15c3fe2c Best of 09: Blazers Letterpress Project

I was never able to print this type, but it was for the back of the Brandon Roy card--the header read, "The Reason." Because, when it comes down to it, B-Roy is the reason that many, many people came back to the Trail Blazers, after the team had some very dark days.

What I really loved about this project, is that I got to experiment with photopolymer and the results of using different ink and paper combinations. My original goal was to print an entire team set of basketball cards, complete with back descriptions. However, between limited access to printing facilities and my workload increasing, I didn’t make my goal. However, I was very happy with the prints I did make. The red were printed in open editions, but I limited the silver to a small run of 12 each. The cards are around 3×4, printed on acid free paper, with round corners. The silver ink is actually made with silver–so the metallic quality has a lot of depth, and I suspect that it may be oil-based–given how long it took to dry and how difficult the clean-up was. The variations in the red are due to mixing the red at different times (I have to hand-blend the rubber ink), I also learned that if consistency is important, you need to mix all your ink at once. I ended up only writing a few descriptions, again, because I ran out of time with the letterpress studio and hand-setting all that type is extremely cumbersome.

So, with all that said, here are the results (please keep in mind that these are based off of the 2008-09 team, not the current team)

4304685304 02f635c3b7 Best of 09: Blazers Letterpress Project

4303940389 337cbd5587 Best of 09: Blazers Letterpress Project Continue reading »

Ooooh! Bolt’s having a sale!

bolt Ooooh! Bolts having a sale!

Even if you don't live in the Portland area, you should be reading Bolt's blog--it's full of awesome stuff and pretty pictures of fabric.

So, we’ve been very naughty bloggers lately. Basically all summer long. We haven’t really had a post of any substance in over a month–isn’t that terrible. We have lots of good reasons, basically that this summer has been very hectic and extremely stressful. We’re hoping that things will calm down over the next couple of months, and that we’ll resume our regularly-scheduled programming here at Sewer-Sewist. We so enjoy writing this blog and connecting with all of you.

Anyway, we wanted to let you locals know about an awesome sale that our favorite fabric store, Bolt on NE Alberta Street, is having this weekend. All fabric is 20% off all weekend long! And Gina, Bolt’s fabulous owners, only carries top-notch, beautiful fabrics, so you’re bound to find something that’s just what you “need.” We love that Bolt doesn’t just carry quilting cottons, but also has a huge variety of stuff that’s great for garments, decorating, etc. Plus, the quilting cottons that are at Bolt are all ones that work for a whole lot of other things, which is great for us, since we make mostly clothes and accessories. We don’t really need to go on and on about the awesomeness or local fabric shop, but we sure do love it! So, if you’re local, and looking to treat yourself to some wonderful fabric, head on down there this weekend. Oh, and if you’re not local, you’re not totally out of luck, because they recently launched a very cool blog about the shop and neighborhood.

~S & J

Be There – Denyse Schmidt Lecture in PDX

Summer of Making portland Be There   Denyse Schmidt Lecture in PDX

Image courtesy of Denyse Schmidt Quilts

This Friday, July 17, Portland folks have the chance to attend a very exciting talk from a really fascinating person–quilt artist, fabric designer and entrepreneur Denyse Schmidt. She’s a really interesting person–I’d highly recommend that you read this article that appeared in American Craft Magazine awhile back for a bit of insight on Denyse’ and her work.

PNCA’s Continuing Education program has organized and is sponsoring this talk as a part of their Summer of Making program–and Denyse is also teaching a (very full) weekend-long class (that I wish I could take). My pal Susan is taking the class, and I bet she’s going to blog about it a bit–so make sure to check out West Coast Crafty next week for a bit more about that experience.

The talk–generously provided free-of-charge by PNCA-CE–is being hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Craft here in Portland, starting at 5:30. It’s bound to be pretty crowded, but it’s really a can’- miss if you’re interested in fabric, quilting, textiles or craft.

If you read this site, and you go, please let us know–we’ll make sure to say “hey.” And, if you go–consider thanking the folks at PNCA for providing this high-quality free public programming as a supplement to their Summer of Making classes, I’m sure they’d appreciate it.

Be there.

Letterpress Project Preview

3651823351 6dc42dd1c0 Letterpress Project Preview

As I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t get a chance to finish up my project during our letterpress seminar last week. But I did go back on Monday and work on the fronts a bit. This it half of my postcard project. I haven’t printed any of the other side yet. I think I mentioned this before, but this project is inspired by a couple of my favorite Portland-y things–the Steel Bridge and the Loretta Lynn-Jack White song, Portland, Oregon.

steel bridge d300crw00817 s Letterpress Project Preview

Photo (c)2006 by Andrew Hall,

I created the letterpress using three different techniques, which always makes me happy. Not because it’s more complicated (it’s really not), but because I love the vastly different results you can get in letterpress, depending on your approach. For the back, I used type–obviously. For the front, I carved a 4″x6″ linoleum block in sort of a freeform oblong shape and printed it in an ultra transparent gray with a good measure of reflex blue mixed in.

Here’s what the lino block looks like set up in the press bed:

3652611860 4bdfe1569d Letterpress Project Preview

(Thrilling, huh?) And this is how it looks printed on the paper:

3651811513 3fb2106042 Letterpress Project Preview

Then, using a photopolymer plate and artwork I’d created of the Steel Bridge, I printed over it in a darker, bluer gray.

The idea with using the lighter gray first was that it created that hazy, monotone look the Willamette River (pronounced Wil-am-it) gets sometimes, when you can’t tell the difference between the water and sky. It’s quite beautiful, and something that I’ve really only seen here. I wish I had a photo of that effect… I love the functional beauty of the Steel Bridge, and how trains pass under it all the time without anyone really noticing. It’s a real workhorse of a structure.

Anyway, I’m printing the other half of my cards with another version from the song,

Well I lost my heart.
It didn’t take no time.
But that ain’t all.
I lost my mind in Oregon.

More on the artwork for that soon…


Steel Bridge photo via Portland Bridges.

Ten Things I Heart Right Now (And a Few I Don’t)

Ten Things I’m Really Loving Right Now…

1.) While I was in Pittsburgh, Josh was able to put heavy-duty grommets (Or are they eyelets? I never know the difference.) in the awesome Trail Blazers-ified Gadsden flag he made me and hung it in our entryway, which is looks totally amazing. Yeah, visiting our house is probably a strange experience for newbies.

3563592029 4f7238e977 Ten Things I Heart Right Now (And a Few I Dont)

2.) When Josh picked me up from the airport, after I’d been in Pittsburgh for over a week, he met me with my favorite burrito from Laughing Planet (tempeh, pinto beans, rice, veggies, salsa verde). Some gals get flowers, I get burritos. Reason #817 I love my husband–he knows how happy a burrito would make me (I have lots of food weirdnesses, so Pittsburgh was tough on me with regard to eating). Continue reading »

Summer of Making Registration + Denyse Schmidt Awesomeness!

3433808390 ea76b37768 Summer of Making Registration + Denyse Schmidt Awesomeness!

Hi folks! Registration is now open for the incredible Summer of Making program that the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s awesome Continuing Education department is coordinating this summer.

These are unique courses, offered in more comprehensive formats than you usually get the opportunity with in craft and DIY courses. The classes run for longer–so you really will get to know the subject matter in a thorough way. I can speak from experience–I came away from my letterpress class (which I’m going to write about soon, but I got a bit derailed by my overly-ambitious project) really feeling confident in that particular medium. Also, the other–rather intangible, but extremely important–thing that was really different about the class I took through PNCA’s Continuing Education department was the eagerness of the other students; everyone was extremely engaged and it was a real community within our class. I expect the same out of the Summer of Making–especially because of the awesome line-up of instructors. (Check out all the instructors’  bios here.)

Headlining the program is the phenomenal Denyse Schmidt. She is one of my favorite fabric designers, and everything I see from her is just beautiful and inspiring. We are so lucky to have her coming to Portland to teach her workshop–I have only heard wonderful things about her classes, which focus on improvisation and intuitive design. If you’re interested in anything from quilting to jewelry design to macrame to fiber arts, there’s a class for you at the Summer of Making. Also–and I think this is incredibly cool, and not just because I’m one of the teachers–they’ve made the bold move of incorporating the DIY digital communications arts into the program as well, so you can learn how to effectively communicate about your craft or art. (My mom is taking one of these classes, actually because the idea of learning new technical skills in a creative environment appeals to her.)

Also–while not formally part of the Summer of Making, my awesome letterpress instructor is offering a Beginning Letterpress and Mail Art class that spans four full days. It’ll be awesome. If you’ve ever been interested in letterpress, and are in Portland or want to take a long learning weekend vacation in the City of Roses, I’d highly recommend taking Abra’s class. While the tuition may seem pricy, compared to how expensive the letterpress two or three hour seminars are around town, it’s a great deal–and the presses at PNCA are really great to work on, since they’re large cylinder proof presses that are well maintained. (Also, after having taken letterpress, I really don’t think you could learn letterpress at the level that you’d need to take on an independent project in a short workshop. It’s just too involved and sophisticated. )

So, check out the offerings from PNCA-CE for the Summer of Making–I bet you’ll find something that’s just what you’ve been wanting to learn!

Summer of Making Links

Help spread the word–the cutie-pie program coordinator for the Summer of Making would certainly appreciate your telling your pals about this awesome learning opportunity right here in Portland.


Cheer Up, Blazers Fans!

The loss tonight in Game Four had me in tears. I bet it did a lot of you, too. But, this should cheer you up a little bit.

3479224222 8f24554681 Cheer Up, Blazers Fans!

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Yes, Josh really made this flag.

Yes, it’s completely reversible.

Yes, he cut and appliqued the felt pinwheel.

Yes, he sewed the whole thing together.

And, yes, he hand screenprinted the “Don’t Tread On Me.”

Oh, and yes, that’s Josh holding it up and he’s about 6’2″, so it’s really, really big.

And then he informed me it was a gift for me.

Because my husband is just that awesome.


Josh per a tres!

3456887492 ccaa330068 Josh per a tres!

Red, black & white banners flying on the stage outside the Rose Garden Arena before the Trail Blazers' first playoff game in several years. These semi-transparent banners are really beautiful rustling in the breeze with the cityscape in the background.

I’m hoping that “Josh per a tres!” actually does mean “Josh for three!” in Catalan, because that’s what the online translator said, and those things are never wrong–right?

I thought I’d share Josh’s latest screen printing project–an impromptu one, at that. (Although, let’s all agree that normal people don’t plan and execute a three-color screen print on an “impromptu” basis–Josh is weird.)

It’s been well documented that Josh has officially jumped on the Portland Trail Blazers bandwagon in a big way. (Although, really, he’s been on the bandwagon for about three years, but he’s reached the terminal stage of BlazerMania–emotional investment.) He has also sucked it up and finally become, like the rest of us here in Portland, a big Rudy Fernandez fan. Portland hearts Rudy, an flashy player from Spain–and people are wearing the T-shirts around to prove it. (Seriously, the now-defunct G.I. Joe’s sold them. First they were just women’s shirts, but then they started stocking men’s and you’d see a lot of very old male Blazers fans wearing them too.) I think the final straw was last Wednesday, at the Trail Blazers’ last regular season game, and Josh’s return to going to games after nearly a month of dealing with a nightmarish situation with regard to the horrendous customer service by the Trail Blazers season ticket staff and dealing with the thugish occupants of section 322 in the Rose Garden over the course of 41 games (and really, I’m pretty sure that I’m not quite ready to drop my complaint after the service folks’ pathetic reaction to our concerns). What was so special about Rudy’s performance that night? Well, he made six freaking three-point shots! Six! Which meant that he also broke the rookie record for most threes in a season. (You can check out some highlights of Rudy hitting threes this season here and if you’re feeling really wild and crazy, check out this phenomenal bit of play from Rodolfo.)

So, a bit more about Josh’s inspiration. Rudy makes a really unique and energizing hand gesture when he makes a three, and fans have started imitating him when he scores. It’s joyous, and it gets everyone fired up.

b89284b54f535e6bc2ea0a3c94d8799f Josh per a tres!
Rudy’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch, and Josh decided that Rudy deserved his own tribute T-shirt, since I’ve made a couple in support of one of my favorites. But Josh, of course, couldn’t settle for making (or–the horror–actually buying) a normal Rudy T-shirt. Nope. He had to create something totally unique and abstract in honor of both Rudy and the Trail Blazers’ first appearance in the NBA playoffs in some time. 
3454251791 506e5feb78 Josh per a tres!

Portland, Oregon - Where the NBA Playoffs are finally happening again!

Josh got the idea to create a screenprint based upon the logo from the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain–you know, as a shout-out to that awesome city and country. (We went to Spain in 1998 and spent quite a bit of time in Barcelona, it’s one of the most wonderful places we’ve been–and we’d love to go back sometime.) Do you remember that logo

This is Josh’s re-interpretation:

3457966772 41dc95f71f Josh per a tres!

A last-minute three-color screenprint? What a maniac!

Josh elongated the “face” to better resemble Rudy, and added Rudy’s signature “3″ hand gesture. The results are pretty nifty, if I do say so myself. 

3455063686 bd5737a66d Josh per a tres!

The Trail Blazers put up this awesome banners of all the players all over the Rose Garden Arena outdoor concourse. They're really swell-looking. Here, Josh demonstrates Rudy's "3" sign under one of the Rudy banners.

Now, Josh would be the first to admit (actually, he did admit it to me yesterday), that he got all nervous about the playoff game on Saturday night (with good reason, apparently) and had to do something, hence the complexity of the three-color screenprint. He also printed me one. 

3454247203 bfda0798e1 Josh per a tres!

Josh tried to get me to take my picture under a certain players banner, but I thought that would be 1) a mixed basketball metaphor and 2) too Fan Girl.

Sadly, the Blazers lost their first playoff game, and I was–frankly–devastated. I never imagined that they’d lose, let alone get blown out. But, I’ve got to believe they’ll come back with a vengeance. So, I’m asking y’all a favor: If you currently have no NBA loyalties, or if your team’s not in the playoffs (I’m speaking to you, Phoenix Suns fans–I rooted for y’all’s team for a long while during the Jail Blazers Era and have even read :07 or Less.), please consider sending some positive playoff energy our way. It would mean a hell of a lot. For inspiration, here’s a video we shot at the Playoff Rally at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Thursday. 

Trail Blazers Pioneer Square Playoff Rally – April 16, 2009

15,000 of us showed up to cheer on the team just for making the playoffs! Look how excited everyone is! We need this here in Portland! So, please, send some positive vibes here to the Pacific Northwest.


P.S. You can check out my Flickr set for our pics from Saturday’s game.

Comeback Covered Button Jewelry Set + Our Favorite Texan Visits PDX

I’ve given up all hope that any of y’all who read this hear blog think that I’m in any way what you’d call, “normal.” Just so you know. I figure I’ll just keep sharing all my weirdnesses and those of you who enjoy it will stick around, and those of you who don’t will head for the hills. Fair enough? So, I’ve got a couple of random ramblings to share today.

We had a great weekend last weekend hanging out with some lovely creative folks who were in town. And we were super-fortunate to have the delightful Rachel staying with us. I took her to hang out with me in the letterpress studio at PNCA and, after I was done working on my project (I have slacked on posting round-ups after each class, because my progress has been slow, slow, slow, but I’m working on an update for this weekend.), we set some type for Rachel and printed her up a little monogram celebrating her and her awesome husband’s tenth anniversary. It was so much fun! Please, check out her post on our day in the letterpress studio. Rachel did beautiful work, and I think she’ll be seeking out a letterpress facility soon–letterpress really floated her boat. On Rachel’s last full day in Portland, we had a get-together with some of our favorite Portland buddies (Caitlin and Patrick, Michelle and Brian, Susan and Pearl, Kellie [who doesn't blog, but should because she's so darn funny] and our other friend Patrick] to indoctrinate her into “real” Portland life–watching a Portland Trail Blazers game. But of course, we also had to spend some time looking through our vast collection of wild Japanese craft books. Because basketball and Japanese craft books are such a natural pairing. Susan aptly described this afternoon as, “Blazers-make-the-playoffs-meets-Japanese-craft-books wind-down.” Where else but at the Casa de Sewer-Sewist will you have that experience? I have to say, it was so wonderful getting to spend time with Rachel again, and both Josh and I can’t wait until she makes her way back up to Portland.

3427699319 b42b418443 b Comeback Covered Button Jewelry Set + Our Favorite Texan Visits PDX

This Denyse Schmidt cotton canvas print from her "County Fair" line is perfect for this super-quick project.

In completely unrelated news, I have actually gotten back on the sewing and crafting train and I’ve got a few sewing projects that we’ll be photographing this weekend and sharing. But, I did make a snazzy new bit of fabric jewelry on Wednesday night, using this tutorial from CraftStylish. It’s a quick project, and it only needs a tiny scrap of fabric. I’ve had some really lovelt Denyse Schmidt cotton canvas from her County Fair collection left over from this project, and the floral motif was the exact size of the covered buttons that we had. It was a perfect pairing. (It’s important to note, I neglected to look back at the instructions and didn’t include the flat button for extra stability. That would have made my life much easier. If you make this project, I’d suggest that you actually look at the instructions. Do as I say, not as I do, okay?)

3426248845 0c96e3a6e0 b Comeback Covered Button Jewelry Set + Our Favorite Texan Visits PDX

I love this ring! It's so funky and kind of screams, "I heart fabric!"

So you may have noticed that I called this project the “Comeback Covered Button Jewelry Set.” There’s a reason for that. Of course. You see, on Wednesday, Josh and I were listening to the first half of the Trail Blazers game on the radio. (We don’t have cable/satellite, and this game was supposed to be on over-the-air television, but it was rescheduled without notice to ESPN–errrgg, so we listened on the radio, Old School Style.) It was horrifying. Really, really, really bad. I got all anxious, because all day I’d been thinking that the Blazers would win this game–it’s important for playoff positioning–and I was wrong. They were going to lose. So, I had the finding for this project sitting on the table and grabbed them, cut out my fabric for my covered buttons and started making my necklace and ring. All the sudden, the team starts coming back. And then, Steve Blake makes a halfcourt shot to end the first half. By the time I finished this project, the Blazers were leading. In the end, they won by 12. And, that put the team at the 50-win mark. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the win was a result of some crafty superpowers, I did bring the ring to the Blazers-Lakers game tonight, just in case it was needed. (It wasn’t.)


Garden Dreams

3400290769 8823622af6 Garden Dreams

Some of last year's bounty. Those beans were so, so, so good--an heirloom mix of bush beans that were almost leggy enough to be pole beans. Very sweet and crisp.

We’ve still been sick around here. Between the two of us, there hasn’t been a single healthy day in all of March. Pretty crummy, huh? We’ve been keeping thoughts of warmer weather and less sickness alive in our hearts, though, by dreaming about this year’s vegetable garden.

We plant an organic vegetable garden every year. In fact, we have gardened together since 2001, when we had a plot in one of the original Victory Gardens in the middle of Rock Creek Park in the Glover Park neighborhood of Washington, DC. That year, we had put our names on a waiting list for a garden plot in the community garden near us, knowing that it usually took several years to get a plot. However, right at the beginning of the season, someone was unable to care for their plot anymore (there were a number of people who’d had their plots since they were originally developed in the 1940s), and the garden coordinator went down the waiting list, and we were the first people who answered the phone. And that’s how we wound up with a primo piece of D.C. real estate–a large garden plot right across the street from our apartment building, for the very small price of $40 a year. Our plot was pretty overgrown, and we didn’t have garden tools per se, so we spent a lot of time on manual labor churning up the soil and preparing it for planting. We walked all over the city in search of vegetable plants and seeds and, not having access to a car, carried some pretty wacky things on the subway and bus. That summer was incredibly hot, and our garden flourished. Quickly, vegetables started producing. Soon, we were feasting on fresh lettuce, peas and all sorts of other goodies. And just as quickly, wildlife began having our way with our bounty. Oh yes, Rock Creek Park is home to a lot of urban wildlife–coyotes (we would hear them howl from our apartment), turtle, foxes, rabbits and deer. Those damn deer. They would crawl under our fence, leap over it and just push through it. No matter what we did, the deer would get in and eat our vegetables. Despite that trauma, it was one of the best summers ever–and we spent hours every night outside in our garden. We’d often take our dinner out to our garden and sit in lawn chairs, enjoying the opportunity to have a piece of the country right in the middle of the city. Friends would stop by our plot and say hi. We made friends with the older folks who’d gardened there for decades, many of whom were also seed savers who shared seeds and knowledge with us. It was a special place. After 9/11, the garden was one of the first places we visited, and when we left D.C. later that year, the garden was the last place we said good-bye to.

We’ve pretty much gardened together ever since.

Continue reading »

More Buttony Goodness

3372378124 fb04e8999e More Buttony Goodness

Some of the original projects from "Button it Up." I got to pick a necklace to wear during the event--I sort of felt like Angelina Jolie borrowing fancy jewelry for the People's Choice Awards.

No, it hasn’t gotten to be all buttons, all the time here, but Josh and I have both been sick with various bugs–again–so we still haven’t had much of a chance to do much in the way of projects or photograph a few (now) oldies for Sewer-Sewist. I’ve also not had a chance to take pictures of my progress on my colossal project for my letterpress class through PNCA’s Continuing Education program, but I’m going to go to some printing tomorrow, so hopefully, I’ll have an update for you soon! (Hint: My big project is looking like it’s going to be bad-ass.) Anyway… I just had to share some of the pictures from last night’s awesome event in support of Susan Beal’s new book, Button it Up. (Yeah, I’ve mentioned it once or twice.)

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Three of my button hairclip creations. I love these. They also reminded me that I need to accessorize more often.

Susan’s event was at the Best Bookstore in the World (aka Powell’s Books here in Portland) and was loads of fun. Not only did we get to hear all about buttons and check out the original projects from the book, Susan brought along the supplies for a really marvelous little project–hairclips embellished with buttons. It was so fun getting together with folks and working on this simple project. I honestly think I could have made button clips all night–if I’d had my way, they probably would have had to kick me out of Powell’s, clutching the tube of Dazzle Tack in one hand, vintage buttons in the other.

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I love the clip on the right--Michelle snagged those buttons out of the pile and said, "These so look like you." And she was right. I wore this clip around today.

It was also lovely getting to catch up with some cool folks from around our area–and it reminded me how fortunate we are to live in a community that really fosters such creativity. In addition to Susan, I got to chat with the undeniable Queen of Craftiness Diane, Knitter Extraordinaire Lee (who also took the crown for “Best Dressed”–check it out), Baking Phenom Caitlin and my fellow member of the Blazers Craft Posse (yeah, we definitely need T-shirts), Michelle. (Y’all know about my love of assigning random nicknames to people, right?)

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Three different sets of fingers digging into a rainbow of buttons.

Oh, and Caitlin and I “styled” this part of the display.

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It's sort of hard to believe all these beautiful pieces are made with something as simple as buttons. It kind of blows my mind, even though I've seen a number of the items before.

I totally think that we knocked it out of the park–we could totally get jobs doing window displays at Anthropologie based on our skills here.

It was loads of fun, and reminded me of the importance of taking a bit of time to do something simple, like make a little hairclip for yourself. I felt a nice bit of creative revitalization, and I think everyone else did as well.

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Don't you just want to plunge your fingers into all those buttons and play with them?

You can check out all of my pictures from the event over on this Flickr photoset.

Also, there’s still an opportunity to come do some buttony crafting with Susan and pick up a signed copy of her book. The Best Fabric Shop Ever (aka Bolt in Portland’s awesome Concordia neighbor, right on Alberta Street) is hosting a book event where you can also make a bit of buttony goodness to take home next weekend. As a double-bonus, everyone who buys the book at the event at Bolt will get their own sampler bag of vintage buttons to take home–so you can get started with your own button projects right away. Get the details here and here. As a triple-bonus, Bolt is a unique independent sewing shop, so if you haven’t been there before, you’re in for a real treat.


Another Reason to Love Buttons

3347783758 2ba80fe932 Another Reason to Love Buttons

What’s this? Two posts in one day? Be still my beating heart! (Although the first was definitely “unplanned posting,” so I’m not sure if that really counts.)

In case my review of Susan‘s new book didn’t give you enough reason to love buttons, here’s another–this really charming necklace that the aforementioned Susan dropped off at the house last night. But, before I get into the awesomeness that is this necklace, I have got to say that this is one of the reasons Susan is such a gem–she’s always finding or making things for other people–and they’re always things that are just “perfect.” For example, shortly after we met Susan and her lovely family, she gave us this awesome cocktail trail with a New Mexico motif on it. She’d purchased it before she met us, and said something along the lines of, “When I bought it, I didn’t know whose it was supposed to be, but then when I met you guys, I knew who the tray’s owners were.” She’s also the queen scavenger of vintage Trail Blazers paraphernalia as well–and I have definitely reaped the benefits of that. You can check out a couple of her finds that she’s passed on to me here and here. Or better yet, you can admire her own handiwork right here. My point is, that’s just the sort of exceptionally thoughtful person Susan is, and I really, really appreciate it. So, I’m reciprocating in my own way, by encouraging you to check out her book.When she gave me the necklace, she had no idea I would post it here, she just said that when she was making it that it looked like me. (Which is totally does–it has an almost Marimekko element to it that I love, love, love.) It even perfectly matches my favorite pair of spectacles.

Anyway, back to this necklace–which is definitely one of the the coolest things ever. Sure, it’s made from buttons, which rocks. But, not only is it made from buttons, Susan made the freaking buttons herself! Which might be a little crazy, but is also awesome. You can learn how to make your own buttons just like this over on Susan’s post on CraftStylish, and then get the instructions for making the necklace, plus two other styles, on this post. It looks like loads of fun–plus, how long has it been since you’ve played with shrinky-dink?

So, as you’ve probably noticed, I’m going to continue my little one-woman campaign to encourage you to buy Button it Up (it would make me super-happy if you’d consider buying it from your local, independent bookshop, too).  I can’t help it–I’m a “public relations professional,” promotion’s ingrained in me, I guess. (Although, if I can be introspective and random for a moment, I rarely ever promote myself–I’ve been trying to more lately, but it’s really hard.) I know economy’s crap–trust me, I know–but it’s a relatively inexpensive book, with great bang for the buck, since it includes some 80 projects. And, as I mentioned in the original review, the vast majority of the projects can be created with things you have on hand–since I know we sewers and sewists love to hold onto our favorite buttons!

And, since I’ve got a captive audience here, a reminder that Susan’s also got a couple of events coming up here in Portland in support of Button it Up. You can get the details here. There will be lots of crafty fun–you can be sure of it!


Letterpress Class – Week Deux

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Photos of letterpresses and letterpress tools from around flickr. Click through for links to the original images.

Why I felt the urge to call this post “Week Deux,” I cannot explain…

Last night was the second installment of my letterpress class through PNCA’s Continuing Education Program (and, no, I’m not pushing PNCA just because I’m teaching a class there this summer–it’s an awesome place, I swear). We got to fire up the printing presses and play with inks and actually start printing. Well, by “we” I really mean the collective “we,” rather than actually “me.” You see, when I pulled out my project from its drawer, I set it down with the other side facing toward me and noticed a big, huge gap next to the large “7″ I had in the middle of group of wood type. The “7″ seems to be fairly old, and the type slopes down and is significantly worn on one side. What this ended up creating was very loose type that would be a mess once it was placed in the press bed. So, the TA helped me fill in that large gap, which then affected the structural integrity of the entire thing. We ended up spending probably an hour and half filling in each little gap (they were odd-sized, too, since my type was going all different directions) to create a nice rectangular design that could then be placed on the press for printing.

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A nice clean, tight rectangular shape, ready for printing! Finally. All of those little pieces of leading, word spacing and reglets (the odd-shaped wood pieces) were items we used to fill in all the gaps created by that funky "7."

While I didn’t get the chance to start printing my project, it was really helpful watching several people lock up their type–a much more complex process than I ever imaged. Many of you probably know this already, but you can’t have any movement in the type, so you used furniture (wood blocks), reglets (funky-sized, smaller wood pieces) and leading (thin pieces of lead) to “lock up” your type. You then use quoins (our instructor pointed out that this is a great word with which to zing someone in Scrabble) to tighten everything.

The inking process is really interesting as well. I sort of regret not taking pictures, but I think that would be a bit obnoxious to those folks who are in the process of inking their projects. We used rubber-based inks (some people use oil as well–rubber dries through absorbtion, oil through evaporation) and they’re mixed according to a pantone formula guide. (Sidenote: I would love to have one of these formula guides for screenprinting–but they’re so expensive.) Since I love inks and colors, I’m really looking forward to my turn to mix. The rubber ink is so different from what I’m used to in screenprinting–it’s the exact opposite consistency.

Once the type was set, and the rollers were inked, people started printing and experimenting with adding more color to their inks (we used rather transparent ink on very transluscent paper). I think everyone who printed tried layering by printing repeatedly over the same sheet of paper–which created really beautiful effects.

Finally, clean up took a good twenty or thirty minutes with mineral spirits and three different people. Geeky me, I really enjoyed the chance to see the “guts” of the printing press.

Lots of fun again this week. While I didn’t make a huge amount of process on my project, I felt like I really accomplished something, because I spent so much time problem-solving. I’m looking forwarding to sharing photos of what I’ve printed and (hopefully) what other folks have printed as well. We have two weeks to come up with our proposals for our personal projects, and I have a pretty good concept formed in my mind. But, I’m not quite ready to share it yet.


P.S. We’ve got several sewing projects to share with you, but our camera has been acting up (these pictures were with the camera on my phone), so we haven’t had a chance to photograph them–hopefully, this weekend. Also, plans are in the works for an upcoming Video Threads episode that we’re very excited about.

Buffet of Goodness (AKA The Mysterious Case of the Cursed Hoodie)

I have a terrible, sinking feeling that my latest screen printing project may be cursed. Which is truly unfortunate.

3178055170 b846ae1300 Buffet of Goodness (AKA The Mysterious Case of the Cursed Hoodie)

This cool hoodie can't be cursed... Can it?

Before you continue reading this post, I do want to make an important point: I’m not a Fan Girl. And I’m certainly not a Channing Frye Fan Girl. If I were going to be a Fan Girl of any of the Trail Blazers players, it would have to be Martell Webster. Yes, I know Rudy Fernandez is the flavor of the month, but, for me–if I were to become a Fan Girl in a parallel universe–it would have to be Martell. (Now you may click through to the rest of the post, and settle in for a lengthy post.)

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PDX Event: Handmade Nation at Powells

hnbook sm  lgjpeg PDX Event: Handmade Nation at Powells

In case you haven’t heard, Faythe Levine, co-author of the new book Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft and Design will be having a book signing at Powell’s on Burnside here in Portland this coming Sunday, January 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pearl Room. The lovely folks at Princeton Architectural Press sent us a copy that we aren’t quite ready to review yet, so we’re eager to hear the author’s perspective on the book, in advance of writing our review.

If you’re in town, check it out and make sure to say “hi” to us if you see us there!

Get details about the event over here and info about the other west coast Handmade Nation signings right here.

~Sarah & Josh

Snowpocalypse ’08!!!

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Our plants are really not prepared for this type of thing.

Portland’s was under siege–by snow–for the better part of two weeks. We, like everyone else in Stumptown, didn’t adapt too well to our forced solitary confinement. But, it did give us a chance to take a few fun snow pictures–including those of the projects we (read: Sarah) made for people for Christmas. While we showed y’all these in our first Video Threads episode, we thought you’d want to see a few pictures–plus, you just gotta check out all the snow.

First up in our snow fashion shoot, the Amy Butler Downtown Purse. Ah, yes… Getting a little tired of making this one, but it’s always so well-received and doesn’t take a lot of effort… This is in one of the newish Denyse Schmidt cotton canvas fabric from FreeSpirit.

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This will be the last one of these bags for awhile. As cute as it is, there are only so many one person can make...

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The button on this was leftover from the last knitting project Sarah did before tendinitis ended her knitting for once and for all.

Next, the “I’ll have one of everything…” bag from Anna Maria Horner’s new book, “Seams to Me.” This is made in various quilting weight cottons in peach, green and pink tones.

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It's kind of a pain in the butt to find that many fabrics that coordinate. How on Earth do quilters do it?

The handles are braided using 12 strips of different town fabrics, which creates a really fun and funky sort of look. It really keeps this back from looking too “quilty.” If that makes sense. (Probably not, huh?)

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These rag rug looking braided handles are so awesome! They really make the bag look unique.

And another one from Anna Maria’s book, this one the “Cup Half Full” apron. This is pretty darn cute in two fabrics from Heather Bailey, and an orange checked print for the bias border.

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Everyone needs a fancy hostess apron to wear in a snowstorm, right?

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This color combo is really bright and fun--almost Christmas-y, but not quite.

Sarah’s mom, who usually scores in the homemade gift department was the lucky recipient of a violet iPod Nano, and most everyone else got silly gifts/books… Despite the snowfall, this Christmas was far less stressful than last because we weren’t under the gun to get things made. Production sewing can be nerve-racking.

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Our view for days and days and days...

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Our poor house started to look like it was going to get buried under all the white stuff.

Thankfully, the Snowpocalypse is over and we were able to successfully leave our house in our own vehicle for the first time in a VERY long time yesterday. (We had to borrow Sarah’s mom’s SUV to go to the Christmas Day Blazers game–which was, uh, “rad.”)

In completely unrelated news, we’ve added a Facebook/Blog Networks widget to our sidebar. If you’re on Facebook, you can join our network by following the sidebar link and see who else is reading Sewer-Sewist. It’s kind of cool, actually.

Happy holidays, everyone!

~Josh & Sarah

Just a Little Crazy

Actually, technically speaking, it’s actually a mania.

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Rip City, Baby!

I promise that it’s not turning into all Blazers, all the time here, but I did have to share my latest (and certainly not last) crafty Blazers project. For the ill-fated Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Clippers game, I made fabric bracelets (I was later informed that they’re actually referred to as “cuffs” in most circles) for Susan and I to wear to the game. I also wanted to say thank you to Susan for the most bad-ass, awesome gift I’ve received in a very long time.

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1990 NBA Finals Trail Blazers Button!!!!

Inspired by this project in Seams to Me, I created my own design for a fabric bracelet out of some rather tacky Trail Blazers fabric I found at The Despot last year (they appear to be out of this stuff now, sadly). The one in the pictures is mine, which I don’t like as much as the one I made for Susan. (Hers has smaller ruffles and used shirting interfacing rather than fusible fleece–mine was the prototype.) Rather than buttons, I used my snazzy crop-a-dile to place some funky red, white and black eyelets and used a thin checked ribbon as a closure.

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This is actually really pretty ribbon--almost too pretty for a silly project like this. I had to make an emergency ribbon run over to Bolt for this...

And, course, I had to use metallic thread. (Seriously, I’ll make any excuse to use metallic thread–that stuff rocks, but there’s only one brand that doesn’t snap, Sulky.)

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Sadly, I didn't get any "action shots" of this thing...

This was actually a very quick little project–two of them took me less than an hour (not counting the run out to Bolt for ribbon and the chatting with the gals who work there). It’s actually something I probably wouldn’t have made normally, but now I keep seeing other bits of fabric and thinking, “I should make another cuff out of that.” or if I see some snazzy buttons or ribbon, “That would look sweet on a one of those fun cuffs from Anna Maria’s book.” So, to me the moral of the story is that I need to start paying attention to the projects that I’ve dismissed in some of my sewing books–even if I don’t make that exact item, they certainly provide inspiration–and that’s something I really need more of these days, it seems. (When I saw the version in Seams to Me, I thought that it was cute, but not that I’d ever make something like it.) Wouldn’t it be pretty to embroider some natural-colored linen and make a cuff only 3 inches wide (mine are four-plus inches) for a pretty summer accessory?

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I wonder what the (crazy) dudes who sit near us thought of us and our crafted up accessories? Hmmm...

I also have created a snazzy new Blazers screen print in honor of poor Channing Frye, who’s now out of the ten man rotation, and am planning my next Trail Blazers crafty project inspired by the awesomeness that was Brandon Roy’s amazing game on Thursday night (seriously, that was the best basketball game I’ve ever attended). I haven’t taken any pictures yet, but–rest assured–I’ll be sure to share them with you once I do…


Snowed In

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Notice that the dog has kicked off one of her booties? She really regretted that once she realized how cold the ground was.

Ugh. It’s been frigid here in Portland, and we’ve even had a dusting of snow–a rare sight, for sure. So we’ve been stuck in the house (with the notable exceptions of Josh going to work for a few hours each day and venturing out to the Blazers vs. Kings game last night). You’d think that would help with the final push to get all of our holiday gifts finished and shipped. Yeah, you’d think. As of Sunday, this was the state of all of our gifts that needed to be made.

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The pile looks pretty daunting, eh?

We sent Sunday slogging through a couple of gifts for folks–the pieced bag (for Josh’s grandma) from Anna Maria Horner’s new book and a fancy hostess apron for Josh’s stepmother (also from Anna Maria’s book). Josh’s other grandmother is going to be getting an Amy Butler Downtown Purse, which she specifically mentioned when she didn’t get one last year (she saw Josh’s stepmother‘s last year), and it’s almost done, just needs the lining sewn attached to the bag body.

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Half of the pieced bag--this is looking dangerously close to quilting...

We’re on the home stretch, but totally blew our December 16 deadline. (Snow was a factor, but not the factor.) This year, we’re not attempting any insanity like last, in which we tried to make everything for everyone. That was just too stressful and exhausting. And, frankly, not everyone likes a homemade gift (weird, huh?).

In other–completely random–news, Sarah was shopping for the fabric for the pieced bag at Fabric Depot last week and was innocently minding her own business when she crashed smack into this pillar with her cart.

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At least they had the decency to paint it red.

Yes, it’s a concrete pillar, the same height as the bolts of fabric, in the middle of the aisle. Hands down, The Despot has one of the most inhospitable shopping environments ever. What, they’re booby-trapping the store now?

And, finally, this is Josh’s secret holiday project. He calls it, “A Very Zombie Christmas.” Can’t say much else about it…

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This guy was left over from our garage sale from hell.

Happy holidays, everyone. And please reassure us that we’re not the only ones who have totally botched up the gifting and decorating this year…

~S & J

More Blazers Craftiness

Obviously, I’m in need of a cell phone with a better camera, because I’ve spotted some awesome Trail Blazers craftiness at the last three games and my pictures suck, suck, suck. First, on Monday versus the Sacramento Kings, Susan and I were behind this guy on our way to the Fan Shop:

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This dude cut strips of black, red and white felt and then sewed them to a patch to create a wig fit for a true Blazermaniac.

Next, the lady sits in the row in front of us, and sewed a great blouse out of Trail Blazers branded fabric (they sell it at The Despot) that she wears as a jacket to the games. Her collar points are a work of art, and I wish this picture was better so that you could see them in all their perfectly pointy glory.

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This woman is a hardcore fan. Not only does she wear this awesome home sewn Blazers blouse, she simultaneously listens to the to games on the radio and keeps a stat sheet while watching the games. Impressive. She's kind of my personal hero now.

And finally… Josh and I got to sit in a suite in the game versus the Miami Heat because I was on the 2008 Fan Advisory Board and it was our last get-together. (This was a nice upgrade from our upper bowl seats.) The wife of one of the Board members made the most amazing sign ever. Ever. Check it out.

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For those of you not in the know, "G.O." stands for Greg Oden, the team's 7 foot center who was out last year (his rookie season) due to knee surgery.

The sign was created by Michelle, who is another Crafty Blazers Nut. She made this sign using glitter and installed a battery pack (battery pack!!!) to illuminate the basketball. The glitter letters pulled the whole thing together. Needless to say, her sign is unchallenged in its awesome. However, the geniuses who operate the fan cam thing that put people’s signs on the giant jumbo-tron thing obviously didn’t understand this and failed to feature her sign. Personally, I think this is a travesty of monumental proportions. My theory is that they didn’t want all the other sign makers to feel bad because their signs didn’t involve battery packs. It’s just a theory, though.


Bingo, Bango, Bongo!

That post title doesn’t really mean anything, but it’s a quote from the great Bill Schonely, the best play-by-play announcer of all time. When someone would do something really awesome, The Schonz would randomly shout, “Bingo, Bango, Bongo!” There were other things, too. Like, “Rip City!” or “Ocean to Ocean…” or “Lickety Brindle up the Middle.” I listened to him call Portland Trail Blazers games on the radio my whole life, and no on will ever be as awesome as The Schonz. Seriously, Josh and I saw him walking down the street last year and I literally started hyperventilating. He’s that rad of dude.

Anyway, this post is about a T-shirt I screen printed and embroidered, but you’re going to have to humor me a bit while I digress…

3060653786 e7db88841f Bingo, Bango, Bongo!

I'm not a crazed fan! Really. I'm not. I swear.

It’s been well established that I’m a crazy fan of Portland Trail Blazers basketball. And keep in mind, Trail Blazers fans are a special breed of crazy in general, so that’s saying something. This season, we are actually season ticket holders. We have seats waaaaaay up in section 322 to each and every game this year. This is going to sound cheesy, but this is actually a life-long dream of mine. When I was a kid it was nearly impossible to get tickets. When Josh and I moved back to Portland, no one was going to the games, because of the whole Jail Blazers thing, and we were able to score all kinds of free or deeply discounted tickets (great seats, too). So we went a lot. (An aside: for the longest time, I thought that if I was at the game, the Trail Blazers couldn’t lose–it wasn’t until Portland played the stupid Clippers that season that I attended a Blazers’ loss.) That year, 2006-07, was Brandon Roy‘s Rookie season–he eventually become Rookie of the Year, Ime Udoka made the team (he’s a Portlander) and Nate McMillan was coaching. The vibe was changing, and fans kind of knew that it was Zach Randolph‘s last season before he was traded. Portlanders knew the team was changing–and something good was going to happen. Then Portland won the #1 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

It was amazing.

Blazermania was back.

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Election Pennants at Crafty Wonderland

2941998971 6fe494df12 Election Pennants at Crafty Wonderland

A message from an adorable little girl at Crafty Wonderland: "Vote!"

A couple of weekends ago, I ran the DIY table at Crafty Wonderland here in Portland. If you’re not familiar with Crafty Wonderland, it’s a monthly crafts fair that’s held at the Doug Fir Lounge and is organized by gals from PDX Super Crafty. One of the fun things they do each month is host a free craft activity that anyone can try out, and it’s loads of fun.

It’s sort of funny, because–and I think I’ve said this before here–I don’t think of myself as a particularly “Crafty” person. First and foremost, I consider myself a person who sews. And the crafty stuff that I’m attracted to are generally the things that are more technical or more designy; and I see sewing as definitely both of those things. Screen printing, which I really have grown to love, is very technical and design oriented. I’d love to learn letterpress printing (and I’d take a class if they weren’t 1) so damn expensive and 2) always full), which I see as technical and definitely very much a design process. It’s probably because I am a tremendous geek (just ask Rachel and Diane who have both been victims of my eagerly volunteering as tech support for their various web and computer woes) and I have somewhat of a background in art–since I took a number of art history courses in college and was particularly interested in mid-century advertising/propaganda and popular art. (Like I said, I’m a tremendous geek.) Anyway, that was a long-winded way of saying that when Cathy asked me to consider doing my election pennants as the craft at October’s Crafty Wonderland, I had a bit of anxiety over being “crafty” enough.

I cut out about 90 triangular pennants in advance, and instead of hanging them from a string, like I did for mine, I hot glued each one onto a skewer so they’d be like a little DIY flag.

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This was one of my prototypes. I hadn't used glitter glue in about 15 years.

I also created several stencils with slogans like “Vote” and “Hope” as well as some stars of various sizes. We set everyone up with fabric paints and glitter glue and let them go to town.

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Supplies ready to go...

There were basically no supplies left over at the end of the day. I was shocked at how enthusiastically everyone embraced this dorky little project I came up with. (Sidebar: A young gal, probably 20 or so used the “Hope” stencil to make a “No Hope” flag to commemorate a recent breakup. Not really what I had intended, but oh well…)

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The "Hope" stencil was definitely the most popular one of the day--it had pretty much disintegrated by 3:00 p.m. A number of people remarked that they felt like it was a message was timely, given the horrible news about the economy the previous Friday.

We literally had folks ranging from infants to nearly 100 years old!

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My pal Bryan and his 96 year-old grandmother working on their flags together.

I so appreciate how enthusiastic people were about sitting down and doing something fun like this. Everyone was chatting with one another, sharing paints, discussing glittering techniques (that is, until one young man literally used all the glitter) and just having a good time. I think that this type of thing is so healthy for folks of all ages to try out every once in awhile–there’s something good for the soul about getting messy and goofing off with complete strangers. (I probably helped in the cause by resisting the urge to lecture everyone about the history of political flag-making while they worked on their project. It was tough, but I kept myself in check.)

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This couple made two of my favorite pennants.

When Josh came to pick me up, he said it was quite the delightful sight as people walked down East Burnside on a windy, yet sunny, Portland afternoon with their little flags waving in the wind. I wish I’d seen that.



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I’ve cooled down a bit on my complicated garment sewing lately, partly because I don’t really have anywhere to wear dress, etc, and partly because we’re stuck in that weird time of year when I know it’s not going to be warm much longer, but don’t want to actually admit that I need fall clothes. But I did recently have the opportunity to wear a dress in good weather — since my hairstylist recently had a lovely wedding on the rooftop of the Ecotrust building in Portland’s Pearl District. It was motivation to get the Amy Butler “Lotus” dress that I’d started awhile back good and finished finished. It was a good thing I wore my “inked” dress, since I think I’m the only person in Portland without a tattoo (well, Josh doesn’t have one either, but my mom has two so the law of averages, their are a lot of tattoos in this city), I felt like I fit in a bit better…

Like I said in my first post about this dress, this is actually the second Lotus dress I’ve made, the first was actually out of a black stretch twill, which is — is you can believe it– the first basic black dress I’ve owned in my entire life (I’m just not a basic black sort of girl). I still haven’t gotten around to taking pictures of that one. However, this second dress is from a pink soft non-stretchy chino fabric from Italy (I think) that I got at Bolt. Comparing the two, as much as I like this dress, I actually think that it’s better suited for stretch woven, simply because the bodice needs to be very well fitted (I spent a lot of time on the fitting of this one) and the stretch is a bit more forgiving in that effort. But, regardless, I’m very happy with the result of this dress. I think it’s fun and I love the interesting neckline and vibrant pink fabric.

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(Ooh, kinda crummy posture in this picture — remind me not to take photos for this blog after drinking marionberry martinis…)

My favorite aspect of this dress is the neckline, which is an interesting take on the traditional “sweetheart” neckline.

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(Nice farmer tan, eh?)

I screwed up a little bit in the sewing, which I am not sure was in the instructions or not (I’m terrible when it comes to reading sewing instructions — I just charge ahead, I blame Burda World of Fashion). Since I was making the sleeveless version of the Lotus dress, I should have removed the seam allowance (1/2 inch) before binding the sleeves, so my sleeves are a bit wonky, which you can see in the photo above. I may still fix that if it annoys me enough..

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(Oh, geez, and look how wrinkled I am in this picture…)

So, since I’ve made this dress twice, I can say it’s pretty sweet, it’s interesting neckline, the Sublime Stitching embroidery, the slight A-line, it’s a pretty complete package dress-wise. Turns out, my black dress would have been more appropriate, since in the hip ‘n’ trendy Pearl District everyone wears black to weddings. (When did that trend start??? Someone please explain this phenomenon to me! It was in the afternoon!)

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(Don’t we look adorable in our handmade clothes?)


That was awesome!

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We had a real treat today—Rachel (aka Average Jane Crafter) and her wonderful hubby were here in Portland and Diane facilitated a fun get together this evening at Thatch, the super-cool tiki bar on northeast Broadway. Not only was the company fabulous, it’s pretty awesome to feast on pupu platters and drinks with umbrella garnishes.

We feel so lucky to be a part of such a fabulous creative community and even more fortunate that those connections can translate into “real life.” Thanks, Diane, for bringing everyone together—this was definitely a major highlight in our year!

Although we do think that Rachel needs to be a little more encouraging of her husband’s desire to sew himself a pair of Gene Kelly trousers. We’re just sayin’…

~Sarah & Josh

Crafting Across Cultures

(Or why we love Uwajimaya.)

Maybe it’s because we both lived in the international dorm in college, went to grad school oversees, did a fair amount of international traveling (before the dollar tanked and it was actually affordable to travel) and possibly even because Josh has a degree in International Studies, but we are both really interested in books, magazines and publications about sewing and “making stuff” from around the globe. (We also are both compulsive consumers of books and magazines on all sorts of subjects, so this feeds multiple interests at once…)

One of our favorite Portland grocery stores happens to be Uwajimaya, way over on the west side (it may technically be Beaverton, actually). Uwajimaya is an Asian supermarket with lots of wonderful foods are very wonderful prices. They have interesting vegetables, noodles of all kinds and more sauces than you can imagine. They also have a fascinating assortment of Hello Kitty merchandise, Japanese cookware, a Shiseido shop and all sorts of odds and ends. But the gem at Uwajimaya is the Kinokuniya Bookstore, which is a chain of bookstores in Japan that has a few branches in the U.S. as well. Whenever we do some grocery shopping at Uwajimaya, we always spend a fair amount of time poking around the bookstore at the interesting magazines (the men’s fashions magazines are amazing—especially the single-topic ones devoted to things like canvas sneakers or jeans) and the gorgeous craft books. In fact, we’ve accumulated quite the little collection of Japanese sewing books.

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The photography and styling in these books is just beautiful.

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When we stopped by Uwajimaya this weekend, they were featuring Japanese craft books as part of their “Japanese Crafting Books Fair.”

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Which was less of a “fair” per se (but it was still more than usual), and more of a special table set up with a display of unique craft books. This was our favorite that they selected for special display:

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In addition to the “Handmade Dog Dresses” book above (which we resisted buying, but it sure took a lot of self-discipline and reminders to ourselves that the dog mind not ever forgive us), there was a huge knitting book selection (Japanese knitting uses charts, so the language issue wouldn’t be too bad), softies, crochet, beading and embroidery as well as the awesome sewing selections.

We’ve been exercising restraint with the unnecessary purchases lately, but had to get the latest issue of “Female,” a sewing magazine.

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The reason? TEN HAT PATTERNS! The perfect companion for the Idea Hat Recipe Book! Our hat-making power has almost doubled. (Perhaps we have an unusual enthusiasm for hat-making? Just maybe?)

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Even though the patterns are complicated-looking because 1) neither of us knows a word of Japanese (okay, Sarah knows how to answer the phone in Japanese due to having a roommate from Japan for a semester) and 2) the pattern paper is crazy, with loads of intersecting lines, our (really Josh’s) first foray into sewing hats using the Japanese patterns really helped us develop an understanding of how hats are constructed and what shapes make up the various styles of hats. It’s pretty fascinating, really.

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The perfect accompaniment to a fresh set of Japanese hat patterns? A bit of fabric from Heather Ross’ Rabbits and Racecars line for Kokka of Japan (purchased at Bolt after our trip to Uwajimaya). This may just need to be a driving cap…

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~Sarah & Josh

Spring Training

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As you may know, I love baseball and I especially love old school baseball uniforms and hats (oh yeah and jackets and sweaters and stir-ups, oh my). While I am happy for spring training to have started, I do feel a little distant from my favorite game. Another bad year for my Reds is definitely on the books, and goddamn, I am sick of steroids. With my newfound love of the Blazers, I don’t need baseball to signal the new year. After working diligently to make Sarah’s idea hats realties I decided to tackle making myself a baseball cap.

Using the basic set of skills acquired from the Idea Hat Recipe book and the remains of an old hat that I ripped apart for pattern pieces, I set out to make myself a hat in the style of the early 20th century baseball. My first attempt was a lovely red wool number that unfortunately looked more like a bicycle cap than a baseball cap, with its bill pointing straight down. There was a really great look to the cap, unfortunately, trying to fix the hat and make the bill more symmetrical, I totally cheesed it up and had to ditch it. This sucked for a number of reasons, it had a great look to it and had already been to its first Blazer game, you know one of those “the path to hell is paved with good intentions” kind of deal. (Note: Sarah is still pissed at me for wrecking this one—it looked really good.)

This first example is what I am now calling “The City” hat (the “P” on the front for, you guessed it, Portland). Instead of doing the mathematics (err, liberal arts major that I was) I decided to guess and added an inch of length to the pattern pieces left over from the dearly departed hat from the last paragraph. Since I was guessing the hat turned out to be an enormous size. To get it to fit I added an elastic band which gave “The City” a cool look with a “baggy” style cap with a really 19th century bill. It took me a couple of days, but I really have grown to love the damn thing.

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Being that I really wanted to make an authentic cap I sat down at the kitchen table Saturday with the French curve, a piece of scrap paper and my thinking cap, in the guise of my previous hat. I took the circumference of my head, divided it by six (the number of panels) and added a seam allowance. I used the French curve to make the triangular shaped panels. After sewing the body of the hat together I tried it on and walked dorkily around the house with a nicely fitted unfinished hat. All baseball hats have vents, in the last hats I used the eyelet function on the sewing machine to make them in, with this hat we used Sarah’s lovely new “Crop-a-Dile” to add metal eyelets, which were sweet. I added the bill and used satin ribbon to make the band. After all the math, sizing and thinking, it was still too big, which meant a piece of elastic sewn into the back two panels to pull it tight. I wore this around Sunday and have decided to re-make the headband out of cotton, satin feels nice for a while but is too weak and just basically doesn’t work.

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I probably should mention that the wool I used for these hats was from the scrap bin at the Pendleton outlet in Washougal (we rushed up there one Sunday afternoon to get there before they closed—how dorky is that?), which totaled $4 for two hats that are wearable and two that are now in the trash pile. To make the bill, instead of using cardboard or plastic like modern hats, I used a piece of buckram and fusible fleece which makes a bill that is shape-able and works really well for the short brimmed style. If I were to make a more modern (like say the 1940s) hat, I would use a harder material because it allows for the hat to pull tighter on your head. I will probably be making a lot of hats for the next couple of days, (indeed there is a half finished “Idea Hat” for Sarah sitting on the table).

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Sarah and I went down to Civic Stadium (actual name PGE Park—Sarah calls it Civic Stadium because that’s what it was called when she was growing up here in Oregon) to take some pictures.

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We missed the big college baseball games from the weekend, but take a look at the Oregon State Beavers’ new uniforms. A nice retro style, with the contrasting colored facing which the Sewist has informed me is going to be really cool this year (she actually follows these trends). I just want the socks!

I am trying to decide what to do with a beautiful piece of cream-colored wool flannel, either an old style baseball jersey or a hat like the Babe’s.

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Any ideas?

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Back Pocket

I recently had a moment of weakness and was once again tempted by HotPatterns‘ sewing patterns that promise high fashion and really long legs (if you’ve visit the HotPatterns site, you know what I mean). I’d had my eye on a couple of their patterns for a long while (pretty much since my original HotPatterns purchase last year) and finally decided that they’re never going to have another sale, and I was going to have to pay full price (long-time readers will know that this is a rare occasion indeed). These were my two picks (great restraint, just two):

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The “Biker Babe” jacket, I have no idea why I wanted it, except I had to have that pattern—I mean, it’s got an asymmetrical zipper! Who could not want an asymmetrical zipper? It’s pretty bad-ass…

The trouser jeans I’ve wanted since they came out. I love the Burda World of Fashion jeans I made last year, but they definitely have a straight-up jeans look… The trouser jeans are a bit different, kind of dressier—as dressy as jeans can get, that is.

Anyway, I absconded with Josh’s lightweight denim he’d bought recently and am intermittently working on these. I’m trying to make them a bit special, so am busting out with some funky fresh pink stitching details. It’s amazing what you can do with the zig zag stitch.

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All 180+ stitches on our little Kenmore, and it’s the old fashioned zig zig that’s the best for embellishing.

Not that I’m working on these jeans at all tonight, since we went to Russell Street Barbecue this evening for some barbecued salmon and NoPo lemonade (me) and barbecued tofu and chocolate milk (Josh). After a meal like that, you just don’t come home and sew. That would be weird. Even for us.


Field Trip: Our Sewing Heritage

Today we headed out on a field trip in search of a good deal on a Pendleton flannel shirt for Josh’s grandpa’s birthday. If you’re not familiar, Pendleton is an Oregon company that’s been around for ages. They weave their fabric here in the Northwest, and the garments used to be sewn here. It’s very nice, quality wool that’s so soft you can wear it directly against you skin. It’s nice stuff, to say the least.

Our first stop? The Woolen Mill Store out on McLaughlin Boulevard—they didn’t have any shirts, but they had a giant warehouse annex of fabric next door. Pretty good deals to be had over there, we got to admit. (Sorry for the graininess of some of these pictures—we used the camera on Sarah’s phone, so the quality is rather hit and miss.)

There were cheap linings at a buck a yard…

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Ultra Suede for $15 a yard (it’s $40 at Fabric Depot)…

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Lots and lots of lovely wools at great prices (ranging from $6-$72, with most being around the $15 price point—and this stuff is wide: we measured, and was wider than 60 inches)…

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Bags of buttons were in abundance at $5 and lots of other zippers and notions—even a big box of fringe—in case you ever need it in a large quantity. (And if you ever need that much fringe, send us the pictures of your finished project—’cause we know it’ll be something amazing.)

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Apparently, the loom selvages are the thing to get here—people make rugs and other crafty stuff out of them that look pretty cool.

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Josh got a pretty cool $2.50 souvenir—a wooden bobbin that’s used in the Pendleton mills for weaving that is dark with dye from the threads and still smells like the pigments used in fabric production.

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Not finding what we wanted and needing to meet up with Sarah’s mom, we decided to continue our search for a shirt for Josh’s grandpa later.

Something that Sarah mentioned in her “About” page is that her mom, Sandy, worked for Pendleton when she was young. She did a bunch of different jobs in the old factory on McLaughlin: lining inserter, thread trimmer, button sewer, etc. Sandy excelled at Pendleton (of course! she’s kind of an over-achiever), and likes to talk about how when she worked there she annoyed the crap out of all of the people who had worked at the factory for ages because she was promoted really quickly. (According to her, “Getting to trim the threads meant you were really good.”)

Anyway, when we met up with Sandy and told her that we’d been looking for a shirt for Shorty (that’s Josh’s grandpa), she got very excited about the idea of going to the Pendleton outlet store at the mill in Washougal, Washington—which seems like is so far away, but it’s actually only an half-hour drive.

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At the store, we did indeed find a great shirt, at a great price, for Shorty. However, what was more interesting was all of the historical stuff that was in the store (the mill’s only open for tours during the week, unfortunately) and how excited Sandy got about so much of the stuff that she found there.

This thing is an old sewing machine from the mill. Check out the pedal! This thing is serious…

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This is what Sandy got most excited about:

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Do you all know about the Pendleton Reversible Skirt (also known as the Turnabout Skirt)? It’s a Pendleton tartan, wool, pleated skirt that can be turned completely inside out and worn so it looks like a completely different garment. One side is lighter colors, the other dark. Sandy claimed that she was the “queen of the reversible skirt” and that she thought that she “looked quite cool in all her Pendleton reversible skirts.” (She had a great employee discount when she worked their, apparently.) She actually found one reversible skirt in the racks of discounted clothing—but it was purple and no one’s size. Too bad.

There were a couple of interesting styles that Pendleton has done for a long time (according to Sandy) that still look quite contemporary and fresh:

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(For what it’s worth, Sarah’s pretty sure that she can replicate both of these expensive skirts using the brilliant instructions found in the Sew What! Skirts book, combined with the super-cheap wool from either of the Pendleton Mill Stores.)

Sandy is a big fabric nut. Which is pretty amazing if you think about it. She said today that when she worked at Pendleton that there was so much lint in the air from all the wool that it would get into her nostrils—they were literally breathing fabric fiber. It’s amazing that she can even look at the stuff after something like that…

Anyway, she got very, very excited about the amazingly cheap prices for all of the beautiful woolens that have been around for ages. She got some of the amazingly cheap wool flannel in a lovely scarlet for something like $3 a yard, and a gorgeous green plaid remnant of over two yards for about $6. Needless to say, she was ecstatic about the deal she got.

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We picked up a few interesting pieces of fabric that we’ll write about when we get around to making stuff out of it, but here’s a sneak peak:

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We could go on and on about some of the interesting stuff that Sandy told us while were on our little field trip to Washougal. The textile industry here is such a important part of this region’s heritage, but I think that we often forget that. It’s wonderful that the wools are still carded and woven here, even if the garments aren’t produced locally anymore.

Perhaps our sewing this locally-milled cloth here in our own home helps preserve just a little bit of that tradition?

Rip City Raglan

from sarah the sewist

People who know me, usually know at least this one thing about me—I am a tried and true, dyed-in-the-wool, unwavering Portland Trail Blazers basketball fan. It’s a bit embarrassing, because I think that I’m a fairly interesting person with a variety of things that I do and am interested in, but I have actually had someone (my boss, which makes it even worse) introduce me to someone else like this, “I’d like to introduce you to Sarah. She’s a huge Trail Blazers fan.” No, this didn’t make sense in the context of the conversation. So anyway, I’ve always been a Blazers fan, always will be.

Anyway, Blazers season started this month, and we’ve gone to three games so far. I have some pretty cute Blazers T-shirts, but I’ve noticed one tremendous problem: the terraced style of the seats combined with the seats’ odd, woven upholstery has a tendency to grab onto whatever you’re wearing and pull it upward, my jeans will then of course, slide downward. Not a pretty sight for those unfortunate folks who are seated behind me. Since I have a tendency to leap out of my seat (poor Josh, he’s such a good sport about my Blazermania [that's what it's called here]), this is a situation that desperately needed addressing.

 Rip City RaglanJosh found this fabric to the left at Fabric Depot on Friday (we desperately needed some Stitch Witchery and braved the post-Thanksgiving crowds) and snagged a couple of yards for me (fabric and the Trail Blazers—in my world that’s perfection, true perfection). A few weeks ago, when we were at Portland’s new IKEA store, I picked up some vibrant red cotton to use to make muslins of some Butterick dress patterns I’d purchased recently.

The two had to meet. It was fate.

I whipped up (pretty much literally, this pattern takes basically zero effort) another Built by Wendy/Simplicity 3835 dress/tunic—this time in the shorter mini-dress/tunic length to wear over jeans. But long enough to sufficiently cover my butt when I leap out of my seat. I didn’t make the collar with this one, instead opting for the elasticized neckline in the alternate view (although I kept the back darts for shaping). I also eliminated the zipper, since I don’t used the zips much in two other versions that I’ve made of this dress—the modified neckline is large enough to just pull over my head.

However, I wasn’t done…

 Rip City Raglan I cut out one of the Trail Blazers emblems out of the fabric, backed it with some fusible fleece, and stitched it around with a narrow zig-zag in black. This went onto the bottom left hand of the tunic, like the tags on the players’ jerseys. (Yes, I know I’m a lunatic…please don’t hold it against me!)

 Rip City RaglanFinally, my last bit of embellishment was the addition of small number 7s in black (Blazer colors are red and black) on each arm. Why the 7s? Well, 7 is a very important number for the Trail Blazers. They won their first and only championship in 1977 (a couple of months before I was born—my mom has a complicated theory about how this influenced my becoming a Blazer fan). In 2007, they only had a 5% chance of hitting the #1 pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, and they won, resulting in the drafting of Greg Oden (center from Ohio State—Josh, being an Ohioan, was thrilled, as was I). 2007 was also the year that Brandon Roy won Rookie of the Year, which was pretty exciting. Oh, and 7 is also the number that Brandon wears, and he’s probably my favorite player at the moment. Plus that whole lucky number seven thing. (When I made this yesterday for that evening’s game, the Blazers were on a five-game losing streak, so a little luck is probably not the worst thing.)

So, after making this yesterday, I wore it to the game against the Kings. It was an awesome game—and the Blazers broke their losing streak (although it was pretty exciting, and was really close). The length of the shirt did the trick, too.

So, I guess this shirt’s record is 1-0.

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(In case you don’t recognize the location in this picture, that’s me at the Rose Garden before the game.)

A Sewer-Sewist Holiday Gift Guide, Part 2

Part 2 of our Holiday Gift Guide…

Miami Valley Pottery. This next one is a little tricky. Josh grew up with a guy named Nays (pronounced nace) who now runs a small pottery business near Dayton, Ohio. The thing is his website seems to be down and it is hard to get a look at the wonderful work that he does. Nonetheless, we strongly support his desire to bring hand made and wood fired pottery to people at production pottery prices. You can see we used one of his lovely pieces used to model the “Call of the Wild Hat” hat. You can read all about his shop here and get more information here . The pottery that the faux shearling Burda hat we made recently is photographed on is one of Nays’ originals.

St. Josef’s Winery. Neither the Sewer no the Sewist are experts on wine (or oenologist if you prefer), the Josh can tell you with all certainty that Turkish wine doesn’t taste particularly great, but will lead to pretty big drunkenness and a massive hangover. Sarah has much more refined taste and loves Reisling and whatever. We can both agree that St. Josef’s wine from Canby, Oregon is pretty great. Our love for their wine is more than taste; their vineyard sits right behind the home of the Sewist-in-law and the place the Sarah grew up. She can remember going to the Fleischmann’s bakery in Canby as a kid and both of us have enjoyed walking over to the tasting room when visiting the Sewist-in-law. Besides the nostalgia and the pleasantness of their vineyard, the wine is damn fine. Sarah prefers their Reisling and Pinot Gris while Josh likes the L’Esprit (Gewurztraminer) and Syrah. We are both looking forward to tasting their late harvest Pinot Gris desert wine. If you are out Canby way or are looking for a place to visit on the weekend definitely stop by or contact them to order.

Cello by Jan Vogler. Again, we are not experts on classical music (and the things the we are “experts” on, Race and Ethnicity in George Pelecanos’ D.C. Quartet, Beatrice Grimshaw and late 19th century feminism, building public support of bond and levy issues for municipalities are not necessarily the most exciting things to read about) but we both like the music of Jan (pronounced “yawn” but that’s the only thing that’s yawn-inducing) Vogler. The Sewer in the past had a contract to do marketing work with a classical music organization in Santa Fe and worked with Jan and his agent on promoting his appearance. Jan, in addition to being a great cellist, is a hell of a nice guy. Despite his working with a great big music conglomerate, we wanted to include his music in our list; musicians, even when successful, are always working to get heard. We would recommend his album of American composers Barber – Korngold – Bürger. (Just as an aside we are also fans of Portland hip-hop group Lifesavas new album Gutterfly in the car if you want to go in a completely different direction.)

Poppi Swimwear. Just the most rockin’, retro-fabulous, gorgeous swimwear anywhere. Sorry, guys, they only make swimwear for the gals. Poppi is owned by Portlander Pam Levenson, who is a great designer and very nice person. Her swimsuits are beautiful—the way swimwear used to look, and it’s actually flattering. For our Australian readers (you know who you are) who are enjoying summer right now—yes, we’re jealous—she has reasonable shipping to Down Under. Sarah really likes the Skirted Boy Short (who knew a skirted swimsuit could be so cool) combined with any of the Retro Tankini Tops—especially the Wendy top. It’s just so refreshing to see swimwear that’s attractive, flattering and fun.

Powell’s Books. Okay, we know there’s Amazon, but before Amazon was even a twinkle in Jeff Bezos’ eye, there was Mike Powell and Powell’s Books, a regular bricks and mortar store that always seemed to have it all (before Amazon had everything you could ever want book-wise). A gift certificate to this wonderful “City of Books” can be used in person or in their vast online store. The book lover in your life can load up on used sewing books (they’ve got some good ones, too, like the old editions of Readers Digest Guide to Sewing) like they won’t believe. Give it a whirl…

A Sewer-Sewist Holiday Gift Guide, Part 1

 A Sewer Sewist Holiday Gift Guide, Part 1

Despite the continued pressures of “buying stuff” we love the holiday season and love giving gifts (and the Sewer loves to get them—lots of childhood issues, that one). In the spirit of the season, we decided to put together a gift guide to handmade or unique gifts. Some of these are Portland-centric, but they’re certainly a great excuse to visit our fabulous city (aside from the lack of a sales tax and not pumping your own gas)—some of these may seem odd for a sewing blog, but we believe in supporting the unique and creative whenever possible. Besides, we know that (amazing as it may be) not everyone shares the sewing bug.

We’re trying to make most of our gifts, but, undoubtedly, some will come from this list once our sewing energy wears out. The following represent our favorite individuals, small companies or large companies with a unique approach to their business.

Bolt. Obviously we love Bolt here in Portland’s Alberta Arts District/awesome Concordia neighborhood. You guys have heard us sing the praises of this wonderful little fabric shop a time or two, and we’re lucky enough to have this shop right here within walking distance of our house. What better gift for your favorite Portland-based sewer or sewist (or even a quilter) than a gift certificate to this lovely shop? If you want something more personal than a gift certificate, how about a couple of yards of fabric from her selection of interesting wool blends or silk, or some funky sweater knits, or maybe even an interesting embroidery pattern for someone looking to learn a different type of stitching. Sadly for those of you outside of the Portland area, Bolt is a bricks and mortar operation. (While you’re at it, check out some of Alberta Streets other interesting, independently-owned shops—you’ll be sure to find something unique, handmade and thoughtful.)

Ebbets Field Flannels. Sometimes you just want to buy something that you could probably replicate. As you can tell the Sewer loves (loves) vintage athletic wear. Mitchell and Ness (now owned by Reebok, which is owned by Adidas) is probably the name that is most associated with the “throwback” look, but if you are looking for old baseball stuff Ebbets Field Flannels is the place to go. Located in sunny (har!) Seattle, their flannels are made in the U.S. and Canada of original fabric, construction and craftsmanship. After a brief merger with Stall and Dean, when the Sewer felt the quality was not as high, the original owners are back. The Sewer has a jacket and his eyes on a ton of flannels. Two favorites are the classic Josh Gibson (the Sewer’s namesake, by the way) Homestead Grays Flannel and this 1953 Estrellas Orientales Road Jersey. They can also custom-make a jersey of your choice. Their stuff isn’t cheap, but that’s sort of the idea—it’s not cheap, it’s made authentically, and we don’t see quality like this much anymore. By the way, the Sewer’s father has always enjoyed great customer service, especially by phone.

Arbor Longboards. When the Sewer was a kid he had skateboard and rode all around the little town in Ohio in which he grew up. Josh was also terrible at: tricks, jumps and cool stuff. Now that he is feeling old and wants to skate again, he is riding a longboard, which allows him the free feeling of skateboarding without the pressure to do anything but go forward. The Sewist is starting to pick up this habit and has been riding an Arbor Longboard (the 36” Bamboo Bug to be exact, a great size for Sarah). The Sewer has been looking on in great jealously and plans to upgrade to an Arbor soon. Why do we like Arbor? Well, their longboards and snowboards are incredibly beautiful to start. They use environmentally friendly woods like sustainable Koa and maple wood, bamboo and non-toxic glue in their boards. Did we mention that they are beautiful? To order we suggest Daddies Board Shop here in Portland (in person or by their extensive website), they have always been great to deal with, can answer any questions you might have and are strong supporters of the skate community in PDX.

Uniwatch. Do you or significant other love a specific sports team or care about one at an unhealthy level (The Sewer slowly raises his eyes to the Sewist, who is dressed in red and black for her beloved Blazers as their game against Detroit is broadcast through our radio). One of the most unique gift ideas we have seen is a membership to Uniwatch. A great website to track sports uniforms and a great access to insider information on uniform design, construction and materials (believe it or not the Sewer has figured out construction techniques while reading an entry). This lively community not only features your “ra-ra” sports fan but also includes professional and college equipment managers, designers (not just sports), sporting good manufacturers, and jersey customizers. If you love Purple or Nike this is not the place for you. If you love socks you will like it here. The website is free of course, but one of the advantages of membership is a custom member card that features your name and number on the “jersey” of your choice. You can choose the back of your favorite teams jersey from your favorite year and color, even the 1977 Blazers.

The Button Emporium. Buttons, who doesn’t love ‘em and who doesn’t need them. The place we go when we need something unique or specific is the Button Emporium and Ribbonry here in Portland. They have a metric ton of buttons (we didn’t actually measure, but it is impressive). We have found them to be incredibly helpful and have picked up tips on buttons and sewage hookups. Really this place is small town America (and all of its wonderfulness) in the middle of Portland. If you need to close something, this is the place to go. The do have online ordering, but it’s worth a visit if you’re here in Stumptown.

Well, that’s the first five. Hopefully, you’ll find this useful for the oddball in your life. We’ll post five more in a couple of days.

Sporty Fabric Haul

923803847 81094a2cc8 b Sporty Fabric HaulIn our ongoing quest to identify and procure the perfect vintage-style baseball flannel (more on that later), we visited Rose City Textiles deep in the heart of Portland’s Northwest Industrial District this weekend. We’d read that they sold fabrics mostly for active wear, and thought they may sell the perfect stretchy wool flannel. They didn’t. But it was an experience nonetheless.

We walked in, and were greeted with, “Are you here for the sale?”

Looking at each other, “Uhhh, okay.”

We were led through the store (Sarah was momentarily distracted en route but some interesting-looking bamboo knit) to the back, which was an enormous warehouse with rolls of fabric of all colors, textures and types piled on shelves. Our friendly guide to the store then said, gesturing at the piles,

“All this back here is a buck a yard.”

We stood there and watched him walked away. It was a heady, overwhelming experience, because this place sells fabric that’s from all of the big active wear retailers: Nike, Adidas, Columbia and lots of the designers and boutiques. Literally, there were piles of stuff that we civilians can’t normally buy.

Sifting through the piles and piles of huge bolts of fabrics, we found some gems. Josh discovered what’s probably the coolest fabric in the haul—a strechy fabric for basketball uniforms from Nike that was the fabric worn by the USA Men’s Basketball Team. Does it get any better than fabric AND basketball? Josh also found some interesting red and white soccer jersey fabric and felt the need to purchase quite a bit of red ribbing—and they through in the trimmings from the ribbing as well, so we now have a big pile of red ribbing sitting on the sewing room floor. Sarah found great high-end raincoat material in both brown and blue (the cool satiny stuff) and then went a little crazy and bought who-knows-how-much smoky-purple organic cotton knit that was the EXACT same as her favorite hoodie from JJill. Because you really need lots and lots of purple hoodies. Oh, yeah, and we won’t even talk about the hottest of hot pink knit that made its way home with us as well.

All and all, it was pretty awesome. Thirty-eight dollars (and at least 50 yards of fabric—they threw in extras), we loaded the loot into the MINI Cooper—which was a story in and of itself—and headed home, high on the excitement of scoring the weirdest lot of random fabric ever…

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