Posts Tagged ‘fabric’


A Verb for Keeping Warm

Written by Sarah. Posted in knits, lys, travel, yarn

While I visited a lot of museums, my first stop when I go to a new city is the LYS. It makes me feel like I’m part of the community, like I could picture myself living there a little bit. Every store I’ve visited is different and really shows what the area is all about but at the same time it’s very familiar. There is no better home away from home for me than a LYS.

Speaking of homes away from home, I was just about ready to move in when I got to A Verb for Keeping Warm. I’d always wanted to go after seeing photos by other bloggers and it was so exciting to finally be able to make the trip. I decided to dedicate a day of my adventure to Oakland so that I’d have a good amount of time to spend at Verb. It was way more than what I’d expected!


Verb is just a lovely shop with a great selection of the higher-end delicious yarns we all love. The fabric selection is something else. There were so many bolts that caught my eye, everything from organic, natural-dyed cottons to Japanese Nani Iro prints. There were a lot of things that wanted to go home with me. Verb recently released their first sewing pattern so I had to pick up a copy of that.


Sarah gave me a little tour of the shop. Verb specializes in natural dyeing. They sell dyes (which I was VERY tempted to buy but have promised myself that I will not take up dyeing. I can’t have another hobby!) as well as their own line of natural-dyed yarns. I’m absolutely obsessed with these yarns and spent a long time petting them. Sarah explained that the fleeces come from a nearby organic cotton farm which is fertilized by sheep. The mill is also located within 90 miles of the shop and everything is dyed in house. I don’t think it can get more local than that.


I wish I could’ve taken one of the natural dyeing classes while I was in town. Luckily, Verb’s owner Kristine Vejar is busy finishing up a book about the subject. Those of us who are not lucky enough to be in the Bay Area for lessons will soon be able to learn at home!

This bold red “Transitional Fury” really stood out to me so, I had to have it.


My favorite thing about the shop is the garden. Not only is there a beautiful and sunny place to take your needles, there is a little garden of plants that can be used in natural dyeing. It really made me want to make better use of my window garden. Maybe a project for next summer? I got to meet Verb’s very own angora rabbit, Marcel. He was the sweetest! So soft and happy. He’s sheered four times a year and the angora yarn quickly sells out every season.


I’ve certainly seen my share of LYSs. This one is definitely one of my favorites. I love it when a store not only is beautiful and friendly but has a really solid identity. Verb is really dedicated to being a great resource for all crafters and you can tell just by spending a few minutes in there. I’d love to take another visit (maybe when I can afford to bring more souvenirs home) and attend one of the classes there!

Have you been to A Verb for Keeping Warm? Do you want to learn more about natural dyeing?

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I Went Fabric Shopping With My Mom

Written by Sarah. Posted in fabric, sewing

“Oh crap,” I say. “Ohhhhh shit.” My mom starts to laugh. We’ve been inside of the store for about forty-five minutes, I’ve already snagged a pattern that I don’t need (oh, but I do) and I’m toting a bolt of cotton I have no plan for ($3.50/yd, I can’t say no) and I’ve finally found a display of all of the especially twee fabrics that are my kryptonite.

This is my third time rounding the table where the bolts are lined up like an ice-cream-colored, floral-and-deer-printed carousel that was at one time my whole paycheck but will soon become the revenue of Fabricland, “New Jesey’s Largest Fabric Sewing & Window Fashions Store!” My mom is following me, practically wiping sweat from my brow like a 1920s boxing coach at a prize fight asking, “When should I stop you from buying things? You tell me.” The most supportive woman in my life, I tell you. All dress fabrics are 20% off. I’m beginning to feel light-headed.

When I asked her two weeks ago if she wanted to go fabric shopping with me, I wasn’t expecting her to say yes. Turns out she was in the market for a few yards of linen. So we set out on this mother/daughter shopping spree to the first fabric store I ever visited. Honestly, I thought it had closed down. When you google “Fabricland” with the corresponding zip code, they are not even on the first page of search results. But she assured me that they still exist*. I wasn’t expecting find much of anything there, the dressmaking fabric tucked away in the rear of the store, behind yards of heavy, ugly brocade curtains and old-fashioned, upholstered armchairs, and so many valances. (Valances, guys. People still buy them. They get them at Fabricland.) I mean, I know I could go to any number of Manhattan stores and find anything my heart desired but I’m going to be completely honest with you here and say that I was incredibly intimidated. I was too scared to go to Mood because there is a huge selection and I don’t know the difference between voile and double gauze (???) and Tim Gunn shops there (not sure if that is even remotely true but I really loved Project Runway back during season one). I figured that if I could find a decent cotton solid or even a funky remnant in a place where no one would judge me as they purchase their custom bed canopies that it would be a good baby step for me. And besides, if I didn’t find anything my wallet would thank me.

But I was wrong. Fabricland is no Mood. It’s certainly not glamorous or overwhelming. It’s exactly what I wanted. It’s got a tight selection of quality fabrics and just about every Simplicity, Burda, and McCalls paper pattern ever manufactured. The prices were right, the sale helped, and my mom has a frequent buyer card (whatever that means. Neither of us know. She has about five hundred frequent buyer cards on her keychain). While there are a lot of novelty prints (potato fabric?) and some others that just weren’t my style (I’m picky), there was plenty to choose from and when we reached this last table, I was really going through the ringer, trying to talk myself out of buying every polka dotted, pastel piece there was. To top it all off, everybody there is nice and they didn’t think I was crazy kick me out even though I was yelling, “I don’t want you to stop me! I want everything!”

In the end, I did good. This was self-control at its best. I purchased two yards of this adorable pink and white striped cotton. I said before, it was on sale so I felt the need to get 2 yards even though I have no idea what it will become. Scout tee? Probably that’s the only thing I know how to make!


The best was this adorable print by Art Gallery Fabrics. It’s got these little tiny Xs on it in pink. I don’t know why but it really spoke to me. So adorable. Since I was holding onto this Simplicity 1693 pattern that I was JUST carrying around but DEFINITELY WASN’T GOING TO BUY, I admitted I had been lying and that I was buying this fabric with the intention of it becoming this very top. The pattern was half price when I got to the register.

fabricland 3

The most exciting part was this melon fabric. It’s Robert Kaufman Kona cotton. I decided that I was going to make the collared version of the top and it was going to have to be a matching solid. I was pretty psyched to find a dead match. It’s the little things, really.


It looks like my starting to build a fabric stash. I’m trying to be good and limit myself since I have nowhere to store more material and my yarn stash is threatening to eat me in my sleep. It’s hard to say no, though. I dream about yarn and fabric and thread and buttons. I’m so happy that I made the trip to Fabricland. I was just so pleasantly surprised. Thanks, guys!

Do you have a favorite local fabric shop? What treasures have you uncovered there?

*I remember taking a basic sewing class at Fabricland when I was in high school. I learned to make a cozy for travel-sized kleenex packages. That was the last time I touched a sewing machine until I bought mine two years ago. I’m definitely going to blame that fricking kleenex cozy.

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Guess the WIP: Embroidery Edition!

Written by Sarah. Posted in art, design, DIY, embroidery, gift, instagram, life, photos

Shall we play a game? There was another piece I finished recently that I kept pretty hush hush.

Here are a few shots!

embroidery hamsa

It’s pretty easy to narrow down what’s going on with embroidery. But the piece is very special and of my own design. I really love photographing embroidery. Something about the way it stands up off of the fabric really fascinates me. I can’t explain it. Do you know what I mean? I think I feel the same way about cables.

I can’t wait to show you more but you’ll have to wait until next week!

Don’t forget! Holla Knits Fall/Winter 2013 collection comes out Monday!

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Guess This WIP

Written by Sarah. Posted in baby, sewing, wip

I’ve been working on so many secret projects recently, I can’t tell you how hard it is to keep all of these things under wraps! I thought it might be fun to just put out some hints.

All I can say is, this is a sewing and hot glue kind of project. It’s something I’ve never made before. And it’s full of stuffing. Here are some photos:


Any guesses? I’ll have real photos of the whole FO later this week!

ps. Speaking of secrets, check out my post on the Holla Knits blog to find out more about my design for the upcoming collection!

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Fabric Stash

Written by Sarah. Posted in sewing

Remember that time that I bought a sewing machine and tried to teach myself to sew? That was almost a year ago! I’ve really slacked off since my first two sewing projects. Like, I started sewing a tank top but then the weather turned cold and I had no motivation to finish it. I’ve promised myself that I will this summer, though! Since I’m not very experienced, I’m not afraid too tackle simple summer clothes like tank tops and dresses so sewing will be a seasonal thing for me, for now.

Although I haven’t touched my machine in a few months, I have been dreaming about stitching a few things. Especially since my big spiel about how I want to add more hand made pieces to my wardrobe due to my general distaste for the current state of the garment industry. There have been multiple occasions over the past few weeks when I’ve thought about buying a tee or a dress and I’ve assured myself that I could just make one instead and then put my wallet away. (Keeping myself from impulse purchases is a victory in and of itself!)

While I’m still learning to sew, I’ve decided that I should really only be making with cheaper fabrics. I treated myself to some Liberty fabric last summer for the yet-to-be-finished Wikstein tank top. But, as I work towards making more difficult garments, I don’t want to waste money in case something goes awry (as is often the case).

So I decided to do some browsing on JoAnn Fabric’s online sale section. I had a few extra dollars kicking around and the weather was just starting to warm up. Why not treat myself to the foundations of a fabric stash?


I’m still really learning about sewing. I’m like beyond a beginner class but I don’t know any lingo or fancy stuff. Not a girl, not yet a woman. I feel like an absolute idiot when it comes to buying fabric but (true to form) I’m just diving in without asking too many questions and I’ll fake it ’til I make it. Like, here’s a good question (that I actually did ask before I spent cash!), how much fabric do you buy to stash? I know I can buy one skein of sock yarn and throw it in my stash or maybe two skeins of worsted weight yarn to make a hat or something. How much fabric should I buy when I don’t have a project in mind? (The answer I crowdsourced was 2-4 yards depending on the width whatever that means – I know what that means, just kidding, kind of. I’ll report back when I have more information.)

I bought four yards of a green seersucker which I think would make an adorable sun dress. Not sure if I’m ready to tackle such a big project or if that’s way too much to get but I bought it. I also bought two or three yards of this yellow cotton fabric that I thought was plain but it actually has a stripey texture to it? I’m thinking a simple t-shirt or tank top with that. Maybe this Mathilde top? It looks intimidating but that’s how I roll! Finally, I bought this really pretty crepe(???)/silky (God, I have no idea what I’m talking about here) pink fabric and, surprise! it has little flowers cut into it. I thought it was printed with a pattern. Guys, dye cut means that there are holes cut in it. Online fabric shopping is just as hard as online yarn shopping. No worries because I don’t think I’m ready to work with slippery fabrics yet, anyway. There’s still time for me to find a pattern that involves sheer fabric with little decorative holes.

Every time I put my toe into the swimming pool of sewing, I’m afraid that sharks will bite me. I totally understand how newbies are so nervous when it comes to knitting. I’m not sure which one seems more complicated (I like to think knitting but mainly because I want to know that I’ve mastered something really difficult!) but there is certainly a lot to learn about both.

What are your tips for buying fabric? Am I doing this right? Do you sew all year long?

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In Which I Teach Myself to Sew…

Written by Sarah. Posted in DIY, sewing, skirt, style

I got a sewing machine and I’m already up to no good! I’m about halfway through the Sewing in a Straight Line One Hour Skirt. I saw the video for it a while ago and it ignited this desire to sew. It looks so damn easy! Just like pin two rectangles of fabric together and put in an elastic band and you’re solid. Easy. I can do that.

Sewing in a Straight Line by Brett Bara – How to Sew a Skirt in One Hour from Rarebit Productions on Vimeo.

Here are some reasons why I can’t do that:

I completely misjudged the width of the fabric that I needed. I cut it about half the size that the pattern required. That was wrong. I realized this was wrong after I’d sewn them together. Guhhh. Luckily, I bought an extra yard of fabric that I used but it meant that the pieces were an inch and a half shorter than what the pattern called for. That’s ok, though, I tell myself. I’m very short, I can spare an inch of skirt.

I also don’t have anywhere to cut fabric. This is my cutting mat/ironing board. You’re right, it’s just a flattened cardboard box on my bedroom floor.

Cutting straight lines using shears without a yardstick is impossible. I should’ve bought that rotary cutter. Uneven edges when sewing two (theoretically) identical pieces of fabric together means that you are not sewing two identical pieces of fabric together and therefore the seams are all higgilty piggilty which here means they look like crap.

Finally, I realized I’ve always been intimidated by sewing not because it required investing in a piece of machinery that is rather large and costly (compared to most knitting needles) or the finality of an incorrect measurement when it comes to cutting fabric but because it involves lots of sharp objects. I was stuck twice with pins and that is two times too many, my friends. (I also bought pins with gigantic neon plastic flowers at the ends so that in the nightmarish event that one were to find itself on the floor, it could be easily identified and prevent injuries to the foot.) Furthermore, I am afraid of getting my hand sewn into the machine because that happened to my grandmother once which resulted in a call the fire department. She had to explain to the firemen how to take the machine apart while her hand was stuck in it which I have always imagined to be a gruesome scene.

Actually, really finally, I don’t like ironing and I’ve discovered that sewing requires a lot of it. I try to never wear clothes that need ironing and, luckily, I can dress casually for work which means that my wardrobe is much more ready-to-wear than most working professionals. It’s not just that I don’t like ironing (I mean, how could you not love it?), I truly believe that I am a sub-par ironer. No matter how much I press or play with the little temperature dial or fill the thing up with water, nothing ever seems to lose the wrinkles. (One day when I’m a grown up, maybe I’ll learn how to do it properly.) After you sew anything, you have to press it.

In fact, sewing might be only about 30% sitting at the machine while I’ve discovered it is 70% cutting not-straight lines, pinning fabric without drawing blood, and ironing things that were just sewn. On a cardboard box on my bedroom floor.

This is a terrible, grainy photo of the skirt. I’ve cropped it because I look insane and also like a sewing machine exploded all around me. I haven’t finished the hem because I gave up around 11pm.

Despite all of this, sewing has not defeated me. And, although my seams would lead you to believe that I was drunk (side note: drunk sewing sounds TREACHEROUS), I chose a black fabric with a pattern and black thread so that no one will ever know. So I’ve got at least one thing right. And, it is certainly not perfect but I’m proud that what I’m working on mildly resembles a piece of clothing. Although I’ve already spent about three hours on it (trust me, the pattern is not a misnomer, it’s all me), I feel like I’m at least learning how to iron.

What do you think? Have you ever had a new craft disaster? Also, anyone have tips? I can trade for knitting tips!

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Merry Christmas!

Written by Sarah. Posted in baking, gift, holiday

Christmas time has come and gone. I was excited to start blogging up a storm about the adorable Xmas I was planning but my forgetfulness got the better of me and I left my computer charger in Manhattan!

Disappointed as I am, here are some of the homemade presents I made for Christmas. Of course, I’m all about homemade gifts. They’re fun to make, they’re inexpensive, they’re really appreciated, and they usually impress people. This gift was inspired by a lot of time surfing on Etsy and this recipe by Baked Bree.

I started by buying a dozen quart-sized mason jars. This was probably the most exciting part of the gift because I found out that my local hometown hardware store sells them. And at $13 a dozen, I don’t think I’ll be buying them from the chic baking store in Manhattan anymore. (Apparently it’s common knowledge that hardware stores carry mason jars, I was surprised. Maybe I’m out of the loop.)

Anyway, Bree’s recipe is really beautiful. You should check out how her jars came out. They call for:

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup Heath Chips

which I layered in order in the jars. The rest of the recipe is on her blog.

I also used a recipe for Butterscotch Chip cookies which starts with a jar layered with this:

1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup rice cereal

On the recipe tag, I wrote out all of the jar’s ingredients along with the wet ingredients which are:

1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Empty the contents of the jar into a large mixing bowl and add the wet ingredients.
2. Mix until completely blended.
3. Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

That’s a picture of the finished product amid the Christmas mess. I went to the Christmas Tree Shop (which I have to say, is one of my least favorite places to shop) and bought two 10×10″ festive fabric napkins for only a dollar. The napkins were my mom’s idea. She knows how to innovate like no one else. I really like the snowflakes on these because they’re a little more secular and still beautiful (read: red and green plaid didn’t make it).

I cut each napkin into quarters and trimmed the hem off. It left me with a little bit of a rugged edge but I liked the home-made look. I wrote up the recipe cards with festive colors on a plain index card. I would have liked to have done a more decorative card but time kept me using white ones and swiftly-dying markers. After punching a hole in the recipe card and gift tag, I put a rubber band around the fabric to hold it onto the jar and tied everything together with a piece of shiny red yarn (hooray for stash-busting, even if only a few yards).

I made one for everyone in my family. It’s a fun gift because it’s everything you need for a lazy day-after-xmas cookie baking kind of day. I have a feeling it’ll make a great gift for other occasions, too. And I’ve got a bunch of extra mason jars so we’ll see what happens with those!

What adorable gifts did you make? Or bake!

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