fabric

Basic Geometry

Recently, I became painfully aware that my reusable shopping bags do not match my winter coats. Those crinkled, off-white cloth bags – while ever useful – clash horrendously with tailored black wool. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a DIY solution – the triangle bag. With basic geometry and some imagination, you can turn a simple fabric rectangle into a cheap and oh, so chic tote of your dreams!

I recommend using Between the Lines‘s tutorial, the original source of my inspiration. I put a personal spin on the directions by doubling the height and sewing a tube (18″ x 54″) for added durability. Once complete, my tote measured approximately 24″ x 20.5″. Like I said, it’s roomy. For the finishing touches, I wrapped the handle in charcoal wool and slipped on an antique gold ring for visual interest. Double bonus: I can add charms later!

triangle bag on floorwool wrapped handlelinen close up

While I love the black, pinstriped linen, it was the colorful raw edge that really won me over. It’s perfectly imperfect and brings a hint of color to my dark winter wardrobe.

I’ve already taken her out for a spin and was wholly satisfied. A simple project with big impact… I will certainly be making more of these in the future. Summer farmers’ markets, anyone?triangle bag on door vert

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The Big Costume Reveal

After weeks of deliberation, I have finally decided on my Halloween costume. This is no trivial matter, mind you, as I take this holiday very seriously. Out of many excellent possibilities, I have chosen to revisit one of my favorite childhood costumes:

Grey-Eyed Athena. Minerva.
Ancient goddess of wisdom, arts and crafts, and strategic warfare.

I have always found Athena to be absolutely fascinating and visually stunning. Born from Zeus’s head fully clad in armor, she was both feminine and masculine, nurturing and destructive. Artisans throughout the centuries have been inspired by Pallas Athene, depicting her in paintings and statuary in all her terrible glory. The goddess, even when adorned in beautiful woven robes, bears the head of Medusa on her aegis. In other words, she’s a total badass.athene

For my costume, I have chosen a non-traditional color scheme of gold and navy in a variety of textures. The light and airy navy (with a subtle black dot) will make up the tunic, while the gold solid will be draped from one shoulder and gathered in some fashion.

bundled jacquardI fell for the stunning gold and silver jacquard fabric in the store and couldn’t leave without it. The raised bumps reminded me of hammered metal, but it still was beautiful enough for a goddess. I’m thinking it will be perfect for a breastplate, which no Athena costume should be without. I am hoping to add some quilting and beadwork to the armor to give it even more depth.

As I construct this year’s costume, I will share updates on my progress. Have you decided on a Halloween costume yet?

Florence Mini Tutorial

This tutorial is for the Florence Mini, a slimmer and shorter version of the Florence skirt that I unveiled last week. It’s lightweight, has pockets for stashing small items, and will show off those legs!

Florence MiniWHAT YOU WILL NEED
Scissors
Pins
Yard stick
Large safety pin or double-sided knitting needle
Iron and ironing board
Sewing machine
1.25 yards of fabric
18″ x 22″ of contrasting fabric for pockets
3/4″ or 1″ non-roll elastic

HELPFUL EXTRAS
Seam ripper (just in case)
Fabric chalk

Today’s skirt is for my little sister – a 5’10” stunning and über-talented Amazon/photographer. She might be 2″ taller, but we have the same waist (26.5″) so I was able to use my own measurements as a guide. The final product was 17.5″ long and 26″ wide (or 52″ around). If you desire a longer and fuller skirt, simply increase the measurements I have provided.

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Florence Project Prep

PROJECT PREP
After pre-washing and ironing the fabric, I cut two identical rectangles that were 20.5″ long and 28″ wide. That leaves plenty of room for the seam allowance at the sides, the elastic casing at the top, and the hem at the bottom. Once sewn together, these rectangles will form the front and back of the skirt.

You will also need a pair of pockets, which I cut out after loosely tracing around my hand on contrasting fabric. In total, you will have two matching rectangles and four matching, mitt-shaped pocket pieces. Assemble your other materials, brew some tea, and then you are ready to go!

Florence Pockets & Side Seam

1. ATTACH POCKETS
Measure 5.5″ from the top of the first rectangle and pin one piece of a pocket. The fabric’s right-side (RS) should face the RS of the skirt. Measure 5.5″ on the other side of the rectangle, and pin another pocket piece. Repeat for the second rectangle. Before proceeding, make sure that the pockets will line-up!

Sew the four pocket sides to the rectangles and press the seams open.

2. SEW SIDE SEAMS
Line-up the two rectangles, RS together, with the pockets pressed to the outside. Pin in place. Your skirt should basically look like a tube with elephant ears.

Sew along the outer edge of the skirt while being careful not to sew the pockets closed. Press the seams open and turn the skirt inside out.

Florence Elastic Casing3. CREATE ELASTIC CASING
Beginning at a side seam, fold the top down 1/4″ and iron all the way around. This will create a nice finished edge for the waistband. The height of your casing all depends on the size of your elastic. Mine is 3/4″, so I folded down 1.25″ and pinned, leaving space for my seam and allowing the elastic to lie flat.

Sew the casing along the bottom but leave  an opening approximately 2″ long. This is for placing the elastic.

Florence Elastic4. MEASURE & PLACE ELASTIC
Measure the elastic by pulling it snuggly, but comfortably around your waist where you would like your skirt to sit. Note how much you need and cut a little extra (1.5″ – 2″ will do).

Anchor one end of the elastic to the skirt, just under the opening at the top. Taking the other end, attach a large safety pin so you can pull the elastic through the casing. I like to use a double-sided knitting needle, which I liberally tape to the free end of the elastic. I find it easier to hold, but to each her/his own!

Pull the elastic through the casing, being careful not to let it twist. Once out the other side, pin both ends together with some overlap. Feel free to try to skirt on at this point.

If it fits, use a zig-zag stitch (it’s stretchy) and sew the elastic. I like to make a rectangle, securing all sides. Switch back to a regular straight stitch and close up the opening at the casing.

Florence Hem Sew

5. HEM BOTTOM
Now you are in the home stretch! Hem the skirt to whatever length you desire. I rolled the bottom twice, creating a neat 1/4″ edge all the way around.

Sew and press the hem.

6. ENJOY
Try on your new Florence Mini and enjoy your creation!

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Today’s skirt took a bit of patience, some tea, and a lot of Queens of the Stone Age to complete. Overall, I am very happy with it and I can’t wait to ship it off to Chicago!