I recently came across Pschh I Can Make That.com
, a craft blog where Abby Elaina & her husband make cute videos showing how to create designer inspired garments at a fraction of the price. It looked like so much fun I said to myself, "Pschh, I can do that too!"
And so I present my first attempt at sewing a garment. I make bags (and I make 'em good too!) but I hadn't tried clothing yet, and this seemed like a good way to give my usual "learn by doing" approach a try.
The inspiration garment was a baby doll dress
from Planet Blue that cost $110. I loved the style but it was a little too short, I didn't want the open back. I also wanted the hem short in the front, long in the back, instead of short on the sides. Ok, so I basically wanted a completely different
dress, but with a similar feeling. Oh and mine ended up getting buttons down the front of it too because I wanted to try doing buttonholes by hand.
I found some cheap quilting fabric with a similar dip dyed feeling (cheap seemed like a good idea since this was a first attempt) and I made my own pattern by tracing a shirt I already had. I went pretty good! The only snag was that the first version was WAY too big, so I ended up taking the whole thing apart, trimming it down and reassembling it.
I started working with canvas because I like it and it was the best material for my board bags. Since finishing the first board bag collection, I've kept on working with the same materials to come up with some new bags and purses.
Each one is decorated by hand with desert-inspired, tribal style design. I just love drawing on fabric. I've been playing around with different ink on fabric applications for awhile and it may be my favorite medium at this point. See more of these creations in my Etsy
Anyone who knows me knows I like to create. Even though drawing/art is my main thing, I take a lot of breaks from it to try other forms of creativity. It keeps my brain fresh. Working on the same thing too long tends to make it feel heavy, makes the project seem dull and its fun to try new things. That said, I'm SO excited to announce my latest project: Chapman Board Bags
I have a WWII army bag that I inherited from my grandfather and it's one of my most favorite things. When I take trips it gets stuffed full of supplies and gear and off it goes. It's been all over the place and gotten lots of abuse, but the worse it's treated, the better it looks. The only problem is, even tho it holds a lot, it's not big enough for my surfboard. So I decided to make a board bag in the same style as the army bag, something that had the same old school vibe, and was well made out of durable stuff.
My grandmother taught me how to sew, so I had a pretty good idea what I was doing. It turned out to be a lot of fun too, and I made a pile of them. They're available for sale on Etsy or through me directly. So far, each one is unique even tho they all share the same old school aesthetic.
Check them out at the website: ChapmanAtSea.com
and on Etsy. I love making these things and am super proud of them. I did a lot of research on the design, materials and sewing methods to make sure the quality would be awesome. Customs are available: customer orders, custom colors & sizes, all of it. Let me know what you want.
Still working on wooden canvases. I'm enjoying using my hands more in making art. Obviously working in photoshop requires hands too, but somehow it's not the same. It's nice to put a pencil on a surface and whatever mark it makes is the one you're stuck with. No erasing, line smoothing, adjusting. It's honest.
This is a series done on pieces of balsa wood. I also have a surfboard made out of balsa wood. It seems like there's a connection between sea & summer and balsa. So this series is a happy, bright set. Simple patterns and warm summer colors.
They're about 4 x 6 and are in my Etsy shop. Each one is matted in a bright white mat.
I did a design that I submitted to Threadless a couple years ago called "Best Knot Sail Here." Part of it was a happy whale character that I really liked. A lot of times I'll have these characters that are cool on their own, but need to be developed more to make a good design. This guy was one of them, and I didn't know what to do with him.
So I tried painting him in watercolor in my next wooden block piece and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I'm slightly less happy that I can't take a photo that makes it look as good as it does in person... but that's how it goes. Still, he makes me want to do a series of sea creatures. I'm going through my sketchbooks to find all the other abandoned critters from the past.
8 x 12 Watercolor and graphite.
It's been difficult to get real quality computer time lately. So more than ever I've been relying on traditional means of making art. This is cool because it's gotten me to try something I've wanted to for a long time: painting on wood. It's one of my favorite looks, I love when the wood grain shows through the image. It just gives it an extra dimension, makes it feel warmer and somehow more "real."
I've messed around with wood painting in the past, but not seriously or for any length of time. I have an attention problem. Something that makes me avoid sitting down and really working on a thing... Once I start, I'm happy, it's just before that that is difficult. There always seems to be something more fun to do...
Anyways, here is my first ever real attempt designing on wood. I found these pre made wooden blocks at the art shop. They just under an inch thick, so they stand on their own and don't warp the way wooden sheets from home depot sometimes do.
It's simply called "Feathers" and is done in graphite.
Here is a little step by step look at the making on one of my latest pillows. I didn't realize how much I would like drawing on fabric, but it's really fun!
With just about everything I do, there's usually an initial sketch. Even if it's a drawing, I like to get the overall layout down quickly, so I'll draw it out and then go and re-draw it somewhere else when it's all planned.
This photo is good because it shows how important it is to have all your supplies laid out. Coffee, snacks, sunglasses for some reason. I think this day they had the vanilla bean scones = awesome. Those thing are so good and they almost NEVER have them. Don't know what the problem is. If you know a Starbucks that carries them regularly I'd love to know about it. Anyways... So in this case I was drawing on a white tee. I like to use vintage fabric, but this was a new shirt. The fabric gets stretched over a board and pinned down and I get to sketching. Should have done more progress shots, but it only occurred to me halfway through, so this is what you get.
It took maybe 3 hours to draw the whole thing. I like to be picky about shading and things. And I'll draw over the same line probably 10 times until it's the thickness and texture I want.
My original plan was to have the pillow be the shapes of the owls, but I sewed it up that way and the seams weren't laying right. It was passable, but not really nice, so I took it all apart and made it into a square shaped patchwork pillow instead. Doing the patchwork was pretty involved, but I think it came out great. And that's the story of how this pillow was made.
I have a lot of tees. Between shirts that I've actually designed and other shirts that I've seen along the way and had to have, the pile has gotten pretty huge. A lot of these shirts are designs that I love to look at, but don't necessarily love to wear. I mean, I there are other kinds of clothes out there too, I can't wear a t-shirt everyday! So recently I came up with a new use for one of my favorite woot tees - it turned into a pillow!
This was one of those shirts that I just didn't wear, maybe because it's brown, I don't know. So it was in great shape and with a little sewing, can sit happily on the sofa instead of being tucked away in the closet.
I'm not going to go into a whole list of instructions on how to make your own shirt pillow because that's probably already been done. Google it if you need to. I do have one bit of advice that should be helpful tho...
Since tees are made from a knit fabric, they're really stretchy. Great for wearing, not so great when you want it to hold it's shape like in the case of a pillow. So my #1 tip
before you sew it all up is this: Get something to reinforce the fabric.
I like to use a fuseable interfacing. It bonds to the tee and won't let it grow any bigger. You could also just stitch it to another piece of non-stretchy fabric, like a linen or cotton, but make sure you do something to keep the knit from stretching out.
And that's it, sew it up and enjoy! Or if you prefer not to sew, let me do the work for you. The tea pillow
is available for purchase in my Etsy shop. Even easier.
Wednesday is craft day and I'm really looking forward to it. It's nice to have a time set up to get away from the usual and try something new. I have a friend who's an amazing craftsman/artist and she lets me hang out with her from time to time. I love seeing how other people work on things.
Last week I started sketching on vintage tee fabric and came up with some cute little animals pillows. I was pretty much delighted by them. Yep, that's the word: delighted.
So this week I'm expecting to do some more fabric sketching. Found a skirt made out of beautiful linen that would look quite nice on the couch. The fabric that is, I don't decorate with skirts. So that's what the next pillow will be out of. I'm thinking of drawing rabbits today. Little snuggly bunnies. And some owls in a row would make a good pillow as well. Trying new things. Always more exciting that doing the same old all the time. And btw, all these things I'm making will be in the etsy shop.