The Maker's Atelier, in Brighton, UK, is celebrating its first birthday. I thought you'd enjoy reading about this lovely place with impeccable design, so here's an excerpt from their press release:
Frances Tobin and The Maker’s Atelier
Designer Frances Tobin has been making clothes for as long as she can remember, her mother taught her. When she left home, she trained in fashion and textiles graduating from The Royal College of Art in London. She went on to design for many leading fashion brands in Italy, the US and the UK, including Gucci, Les Copains, Esprit, French Connection and Warehouse.
Throughout her design career, Frances has always continued to make her own clothes. But she has never used shop bought patterns, as they don’t have the look that she wants. When someone suggested she publish her own dressmaking patterns, she thought yes, why not! Here was an opportunity to create something special.
So she created The Maker’s Atelier for women of any age or shape - who know how to dress well, but can't always find what they want. Her aim is to help fashion-conscious women, create beautiful clothes to wear with style. She takes the key shapes from current fashion trends, refines them into clear dressmaking patterns, and then sources the perfect fabric. Frances believes that the simplest shapes in the finest fabrics make the most successful clothes.
The patterns and making-kits are sold exclusively from the website, and the making-experiences take place in a beautiful, vaulted atelier in Brighton's Kemp Town. The courses are suitable for beginner and intermediate dressmakers; they focus on fabric selection and making an individual item from the current range. Lunch, refreshments, maker’s gift bags and, of course, the finished garment, are all included in the experience.
It was a beautiful Sunday at Heritage Park — our first visit of the season, perfectly timed to be during the 20th annual Festival of Quilts. The quilts were perfectly paired with the buildings, like all these high contrast and graphic quilts hanging on the Wainwright Hotel.
Finley felt like doing a little dance.
Last year's festival.
Please join me and a roster of talented Western Canadian artists and artisans at the New Craft Coalition craft fair this Friday and Saturday.
Friday, May 22, 4-9pm
Saturday, May 23, 10-6pm
Festival Hall, Inglewood (1215 10 Ave SE, Calgary)
I'll have the current issue (with free printmaking samples while they last) plus back issues, books, papergoods and special offer: subscribe/renew and get a free issue!
I hope to see you there!
A Journey into the world of Marbling
Barb Skoog is one of 75 printmakers profiled in the current issue. When I was going through the many, many submissions (250!) to curate the content for this printmaking-themed issue, I was delighted to see a paper marbling submission. Barb generously donated a delicious stack of hand-marbled papers for subscriber copies (for those subscribed prior to the end of March).
It was tempting to keep this beautiful stack all to myself, but I know there are dozens of subscribers out there who now have the joy of holding her papers in person.
Barb is a Los Angeles-based artist specializing in the Turkish form of marbling called Ebru. She writes, "This centuries-old art form involves floating paint on thickened water, making patterns and designs using special tools, and then placing paper, fabric, wood, or other materials on top of the water where the image is immediately and permanently transferred. In addition to having my work featured in art and lifestyle magazines, juried shows, and galleries, my marbled pieces have been used in bookbinding, in mixed media, as fashion accessories (purses, scarves), as home décor, and more."
If you'd like to learn this technique, Barb has a freshly-launched eCourse. The video below offers a happy teaser on what you'll learn in the course. It looks like so much fun!
Barb has a special offer for UPPERCASE readers. Using the promo code UPLOVE, you can get $80 off the regular price ($259) and take the course for just $179 if you sign up by May 31. Class officially begins on June 8 (6 weeks guided instruction) but students have access to all info for six months.
Thank you to Barb Skoog for her support of UPPERCASE through a Calling Card. If you'd like to purchase a Calling Card ad for the next issue and for the blog sidebar, please visit this page for more details.
This is a snapshot from surface pattern designer Sophie Stock's inspiration board, one of the recent submissions to the Compendium. I hope you'll be just as brave and enter your creativity into the UPPERCASE Compendium of Craft and Creativity.
The entry form for this book project closes in a few days: Tuesday, March 31 at midnight MST.
You've got the rest of the weekend to pull together your images and answer the questionnaire. You can do it!
Read the latest news about the Compendium and get to know Sophie here.
"We will be bringing the island’s bohemian lifestyle and fresh finds from our hottest artisans with over 30 unique brands to discover," write the organizers. "From the modern to the rustic, chic to traditional—there's something for everyone. Salt Spring in the City will take over Heritage Hall (3102 Main Street)."
There looks to be a nice assortment of vendors at the event. If you're in Vancouver this weekend, please go check it out!
Doors open on Friday at 4pm and the event is open until 9pm. On Saturday, March 28, 10–6 and on Sunday the event is from 10–5.
Thank you to Salt Spring in the City for supporting UPPERCASE by placing a sidebar ad! Visit their blog for plenty of artisan profiles and for more information.
I've been practically around the world and back since I last sent or posted a message about the UPPERCASE Compendium of Craft and Creativity, but now that I'm back from Australia, I'm in full design mode to get the next issue of UPPERCASE off to print. Which means... I'm keeping the Compendium entry open until the end of March since I won't be doing final reviews until April anyway! So please take a chance, gather your images, and submit to the Compendium today!
I just sent out an email sharing more of Elyse Wigen of Prim Society's submission (sent to those who have expressed specific interest in receiving emails about it. You can sign up for those emails here or on the sidebar. To read more about Elyse and see her beautifully made children's products look here.
Guest post by Linzee McCray
For day two of QuiltCon, I wasn’t up for the 7:45 a.m. yoga session, but did enjoy the Maker to Making a Living panel at 9 a.m. on Friday. Four industry professionals whose experience ranged from a few to 40 years shared their career paths, their aspirations vs. the reality of “making it” in the quilt industry, and the challenges of small-business ownership. While each panelist (Denyse Schmidt, Mary Fons, Heather Givans, and Brenda Groelz) looks for personal fulfillment and a life filled with making things, they acknowledged that making money to pay the rent (or “buy the kitties food” as moderator Jacqueline Sava called it) was of equal importance. I loved hearing these women riff off one another’s comments and acknowledge the satisfactions, but also the hard, hard work that goes into making careers like theirs happen.
Next up was one of my favourite lectures: Modern Materials: Quilts of the 1970s with Bill Volckening. This Portland resident found his first quilt rolled up under a table in an antique store and though he didn’t buy it at first, he couldn’t get it out of his mind and returned for it. He was initially seduced by the colors of the quilts of this era, but also became intrigued by the fabrics themselves—Dacron, polyester, and some quilting cottons—and the context in which they were stitched. (He compared one quilt to the painted bus used by The Partridge Family.) A number of quilts from his collection are on the show floor, so it’s possible to admire them in person. They’re pretty wild.
At noon I gave a talk about UPPERCASE and expanded on the story I wrote about feed sacks for issue #24. Audience members ranged from people who had never heard of feed sacks to two women who had worn feed sack underwear as children. I shared a photo of a doily crocheted from the strings used to hold feed sacks shut and an audience member recalled a relative knitting a pair of socks from the strings she’d saved. Another pulled the loveliest piece of feed sack material from her purse—the pink, grey, and gold apples had such a contemporary feel.
All day long I ran into people who wanted to talk—about quilts, about feed sacks, about fabric, about a quilt they’d seen on the exhibition floor. Those conversations are the real highlights of QuiltCon. Even after the convention center doors closed for the day, Austin was full of people talking about textiles in hotel lobbies and over dinner and drinks. The quilts and the lectures and the workshops provide fodder for getting a conversation started, but the shared love of stitching keeps them going.
Alas, I can't be in two places at once, so while I'm over here in Australia, Linzee McCray is in Austin experiencing QuiltCon and will be our correspondent on the scene. -Janine
Greetings! Linzee McCray, here. I’m a quilter, knitter, embroiderer, and a former weaver and spinner. I’m also a long-time writer and editor who’s had the good fortune to focus on textiles, fiber, and craft for nearly a decade. So I’m especially excited about covering QuiltCon 2015 for UPPERCASE.
I pitched my first modern quilting story in 2009, when I noticed that while traditional quilt guilds had been around for decades, blogs and Flickr were changing the status quo. If modern quilters—those interested in functional quilts influenced by modern design—couldn’t find like-minded sewists down the street, they sought them out online. In January, 2009, Jacquie Gering’s virtual quilting bee, Project Improv, drew 225 participants via her Tallgrass Prairie Studios blog. In October of that same year, the first Modern Quilt Guild meeting took place in Los Angeles. Quilters from geographically diverse regions, including Denyse Schmidt on America’s East Coast and Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr in the Midwest, were designing quilts with a modern feel, too. All this coincided with a rising interest in handmade goods and DIY.
Not surprisingly, fabric-lovers are a tactile bunch, and the opportunity to both touch quilts and meet face-to-face with other quilters spurred the growth of the Modern Quilt Guild. Today, there are more than 100 groups around the world, as well as many individual members. In 2013, the Modern Quilt Guild organized the very first QuiltCon in Austin, Texas, to bring many of them together.
I missed that first QuiltCon, which is why I’m especially looking forward to this year’s speakers, workshops, and exhibitions. If you can’t make it, I’ll share some of the excitement and eye candy with you.
If you will be attending, I hope to say hello in person. In addition, I’ll be doing a demo on Friday at 12 noon in Exhibit Hall B, sharing information about UPPERCASE, including a special QuiltCon subscription discount, and expanding on the story about feed sacks that I wrote for the latest issue. Join me to learn more about this remarkable bit of history, which touches on issues of recycling, early marketing to women, and of course, fabric. (Feed sacks so fascinate Janine that she had 10,000 tiny pieces of vintage feed sacks applied to each cover of issue #24. Janine is sending along 10 copies of that issue—come to the demo for a chance to win one!)
It's QuiltCon this week! Linzee McCray will be there representing UPPERCASE and will be sending in some blog posts from Austin. For event goodie bags, I've provided 1500 copies of both the current issue and favourite back issues.
The 300+ quilts that I judged with Carolyn Friedlander and Stevii Graves will be on display. I learned a lot about quilt-making in the process of judging, from the practical to the subjective. I've not actually finished my own quilt yet; I was there as the "outsider" to judge from an design perspective, but when I do dive headlong into quilting (which is inevitable) I will have a lot to live up to!
Three days, 300 quilts
- Dark fabrics show through light colours. Press your seams towards the dark and use white batting under white fabric to get a clean look.
- Binding matters! A poorly applied quilt edge can really make a difference in the perception of the overall quilt. There were some impressive examples of binding where the maker had matched the binding colours to the design. Unfortunately, there were also submissions where the binding was literally falling off. Facing the quilt was also an effective design choice.
- Machine quilting motifs should work to enhance the piecing and be harmonious... or completely contrasting with purpose and intent.
- Pet hair is never a good idea. A few entries caused fits of sneezes! A few entries were quite full of hair or threads and hadn't been properly cleaned before submission. It's hard to judge an entry when no obvious care was put into the submission.
- Creating a dynamic and unique composition is harder than it looks. The modern aesthetic pushes the use of negative space in interesting ways.
- Though pre-bundled fabrics have lovely colour and pattern combinations, unless it's a fabric challenge to specifically use a particular collection, try to mix up the fabric selections from beyond a single source.
- An extremely high level of craftsmanship and technique is possible—and breathtaking to see—but perhaps was more rare than I was anticipating considering we were viewing quilts to be judged.
- Be inspired by a variety of sources — quoting "Pinterest" as a design source is not very impressive. My favourite entries had interesting and personal descriptions of how the quilt's inspiration came into play.
- There was a deep appreciation and respect for all the quilts that were submitted, by the judges and from the entire team at QuiltCon (who where impeccably organized and efficient).
- Quilts in which the personality of the maker shone through were the most pleasurable to look at—and the most memorable weeks later.
A Gathering of Stitches is offering some amazing retreats next year! Participants will have the opportunity to work intimately with some really talented and generous teachers in 2015.
The dynamic trio of Carolyn Friedlander, Chawne Kimber and Rebecca Ringquist take up residence at the Medomak Retreat centre in Washington, ME, in August, for a long Slow Stitching weekend. Slow down and connect to needle and thread or floss in a summer camp setting with a small community of stitchers.
Thank you to Samantha Lindgren for her support of UPPERCASE magazine through the purchase of this Calling Card ad.
This is going to be a long-term project, but I finally started making a braided rug! I've wanted to give this a try for months and months—nothing like declaring a day called Make Something Monday and hashtagging it on social media to get me motivated! Now that I've started, it will be fun to braid a few feet here and there when I have time.
Happy Monday and Happy December 1st! There's no denying that the end-of-the-year rush is on. Today, let's just catch our breath and get back to doing what we love... making things!
Today's the day to create a good old-fashioned made-by-hand gift. It doesn't have to be something complicated, just something simple showing your recipient that you took some time. Time is precious; showing someone that you took time out of the busy season to make something heartfelt is powerful and will be appreciated.
Create something that comes from YOU. It could be a handwritten card, a little embroidery on a hankie, some cookies made from scratch, a simply sewn pin cushion, an ornament made from found objects, a collage of pretty pictures, a finger-painting made with your child, a handmade notebook of blank pages with a found-paper cover... just take a look at an issue of UPPERCASE and I'm sure an idea will come to mind.
Stay away from DIY posts and Pinterest! These days, it is too easy to get bogged down into the perceived perfection of Pinterest and the tyranny of step-by-step craft instructions. Today's the day to unplug from these distractions. Comparing yourself to others and following directions can be so detrimental to genuine creativity. Use your own ideas, your own resources, your own ingenuity... you will make something that is from you and your heart.
Make something out of nothing. Be experimental. Be silly. Creativity comes from letting yourself go a little bit. If you worry about stitching a straight line, today's the day to zigzag. Just gather up all your creative supplies onto the table and see what emerges.
Enjoy the process. Making things is a lot of fun! Share what you're up to on Twitter and Instagram #makesomethingmonday #uppercasereader.
A huge thank you to UPPERCASE reader Lisa Courtnage for the beautiful quilt block made of vintage feedsacks. She writes, "I saw your request for feedack fabric on your blog. I found a vendor while at the International Quilt Festival in Houston who was selling charm squares of feedsack fabric (5 inch squares) so I snagged a few packs. I have enclosed 419 one-and-a-half-inch squares. Also made a mini-quilt block with the leftover scraps... that is how quilts were made back in the day!" Once again, I'm amazed and inspired by the generosity and talent of UPPERCASE readers. Thank you, Lisa.
My son was with me at the office when I received Lisa's package of feedsacks. He was instantly enamoured with the quilt block and wanted it for his teddy bear. I have other plans for the block, so I suggested that we make teddy his own special blanket. All my sewing supplies are here in the office so Finley selected a favourite feedsack square from Lisa's packet and we went to work. My mother-in-law had recently downsized her fabric collection and I acquired some of it, so the blue and white fabric was at-the-ready. The train fabric was purchased from a thrift store on a car trip home to Saskatchewan some summers ago. Finley helped by sitting under the table and pushing on the sewing machine pedal or by taking out the pins as needed. Within an hour, we had a cute but wonky tiny blanket and a happy mother and son. We'll both cherish the blanket for the stories of how the fabrics were chosen and the fun we had putting it together. I think teddy liked it, too.
Speaking of quilts, I'm excited to tell you that I'll be one of three judges for next year's QuiltCon! I look forward to spending three days surrounded by beautiful quilt designs.
Have a lovely day making something!
"These earrings are made from tiny denim shards are cut into 2x2 cm squares and placed by hand onto ear wires to create these stunning and light weight earrings. Trashn2Tees has diverted more than 476,000 pounds of clothing with our designs and established nationwide clothing recycling drop offs across the United States."
The next challenge:
With the holidays coming, we always seem to end up with a lot of catalogues. We might flip through the catalogues a few times but eventually they end up in our recycling bins within a pretty short time frame. Let's see how creative we can get by recycling these catalogues into something useful or beautiful. Here a few ideas from Pinterest to get those creative ideas flowing.
To enter the challenge, please email good quality digital photographs of your creation (800 pixels wide at 72 dpi) to email@example.com. Entries must be submitted on or before January 30th to qualify for the challenge. Entries must also include your name, contact information and a brief description of your creation. If you have any questions about this challenge, please direct them to Solita at the email listed above. UPPERCASE is not involved in the administration or adjudication of this challenge.
Solita and Reworks has a Kickstarter campaign on now to create a maker space within their shop which is in the heart of Calgary's Inglewood community:
We are carving out the back third of our shop to provide a maker space to supplement our artists' existing home studios. The space will be available for makers to meet, share ideas, and develop in a common space. They will have access to higher end tools such as a Janome serger, air compressor, and upholstery stapler that are often beyond the means of a single individual, but which become so useful in the hands of many people in the right environment.
Their products are always carefully selected and they really excel at COLOUR. Beautiful colour combinations showing real sophistication—subtle differences in shades, beautiful gradations, unexpected pairings... the Purl Bee, their inspiring blog, showcases various projects using Purl products and for those of us admiring and shopping from afar, offers an up close appreciation of their fabrics and yarns through great photography and really accessible patterns. Here are some simple striped patterns that are easy for beginners and meditative and satisfying for expert crocheters and knitters.
On a cold winter's day, I'd love to be encircled by this gradient cowl.
And I'll curl up under a striped blanket... or perhaps I'll just snuggle up to these skeins of yarn that look warm and inviting just like this:
Blackbird Letterpress is the name of Kathryn Hunter's creative and prolific letterpress company.
Kathryn Hunter started Blackbird Letterpress in Lafayette, Louisiana, in her friends' house in 2003. Blackbird began with the purchase of a Chandler and Price "Old Series" platen letterpress (circa 1904) from a long-time printer in Hammond, Louisiana. The movable type came from a printer outside of Chicago. One crisp October weekend (well, crisp in Illinois, not necessarily in Louisiana), Kathryn and her friend flew to the big midwestern city, loaded a couple tons of type and cabinets and other goodies out of a basement into a moving truck, and drove it back to Bayou Country. A collection of vintage printer's cuts came from a long-time printer in New Iberia, Louisiana (the trip was luckily much shorter that time). Blackbird Letterpress currently works out of a mural-clad building in Baton Rouge, which they share with a metalworking business and two frisky guard dogs.
"I noticed, about a year of so, the term hashtag — I didn't think much of it... Until one day I finally took a good look on the computer at a hashtag and I said, golly - that's a pound sign!" Watch the Wall Street Journal video about a shop called Letterpress Things in Chicopee, Massachusetts.