Friday, February 19, 2010


This is one for all the lovebirds out there who put any stock whatsoever in Valentine’s Day. First of all, you’re all fools. Fools I say. Perhaps this is harsh of me, or perhaps it is not completely unfair of me to loathe any holiday completely over-taken by greeting card companies. Don’t get me wrong, the idea behind the holiday is still a very nice one, but sappy greeting cards, tacky flower arrangements, and chocolates in heart shaped boxes don’t really say that you care. Unfortunately, the commercialization of this holiday is almost exclusively American. There are still plenty of places around the world with the right idea. Take Finland for example; instead of a holiday for lovers, they celebrate a day of friends. Or the Slovenians, who believe it to be a day that birds are married, which is just about the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. Or the Brazilians perhaps, who skip the holiday altogether and celebrate Carnival, a whole week of celebration in honor of sex and debauchery. Yes please! Don’t think me to be a poor, single, bleeding heart. Quite the contrary in fact, but I still believe in the power of a hand-made gift, and I sincerely believe that any gift worth giving is worth putting a little effort into. That being said, nothing says Valentines Day, other than a Christian martyr, like matching handmade underwear.

At first glance, the pattern piece for a pair of briefs is an extremely odd one, but once they are put together it makes perfect sense. Let me start by saying that making men’s briefs are not in the least bit difficult or even very time consuming. I would urge those who wish to make their own, however, to start with a pair you like the fit of and make a pattern from there. I ended up using Kwik Sew pattern number 2334 and they were more or less the male equivalent to granny panties. Once I made the first pair, I made a couple of changes to the pattern and it made all the difference, but were I to make them again I would certainly be making even further changes. The other major thing that I gleaned from this project is that the ideal fabric is very specific. I chose to make mine of a basic cotton knit because I really liked the colors, but it ended up being far too thick and completely lacking in the necessary spring-back quality. This resulted in lettuce-edged leg bindings and saggy, non-supportive crotches. I assure you, these qualities aren’t in the least bit sexy. The pattern used ¼” seam allowances and was completely stitched together using a narrow zigzag.

The first step is to attach the bindings for the fly openings. Simply pin and stitch with right sides facing.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Where I'm at & what I'm trying to get done sitewise...

So most of our fabric is up on-line now, and our classes are  up through June. We have a few classes that we're working out the details for, so as soon as they're done those TBA's will be replaced. Books are still coming, we just have limited numbers as far as quantity goes so it's not as much of a priority as we don't really want to list a bunch of items only to put most of them directly set to out of stock. This will change over time and most titles are re-orderable so eventually we should have a nice selection on the site.

Tools and supplies are still being added and updated as we replenish the stock. We'll continue to focus on the most essential items and add some of the items that are more of an optional or 'personal choice' nature as time progresses.

Notions are still something we have to determine with regards as to what we'll put on the site. Some items that we carry in the store can quite easily be found practically everywhere, so whenever possible we try to be a bit more selective with these. Thread won't be sold through the site, accurate color representation is difficult enough for the fabric and trying to match thread for a project over the web just makes me cringe. It may be possible in the future to order thread if you know the exact color code for a spool that you have now, but this is something for a future day. Buttons, zippers, fasteners, ribbons, bias trims etc... we do stock them but again with so many options out there it's a huge task to get it done right.

Which brings me to the most pressing task before me, the patterns we carry.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Foxy Pajamas

   I recently had the pleasure of seeing one of the most awe-inspiring stop-motion animation films ever made by one of my favorite contemporary directors. I was a little late in the game as it was released on Thanksgiving, but now that I’ve seen it I’m completely obsessed. The director is Wes Anderson and the film is Fantastic Mr. Fox.  If you have yet to see it, run out of your house immediately, if not sooner, hop on your motorcycle, preferably with a sidecar as to take a loved one, and get your tail to the theater. You will thank yourself, and me. Unless of course you already have seen it and did not appreciate it accordingly, in which case I say Bah! Read no further!

    First let me tell you that whoever conceived the costumes, if something made of clay can constitute a costume, is my new personal hero and that I simply must have every ensemble worn by Fox. Of course I can’t have them all, at least not yet. But I can start with one, and the pajama set seemed a fitting first project. A little simpler than that amazing double-breasted tan corduroy suit complete with a short sleeved shirt, tie and short pants.  Sigh. Foxes pajamas were gold and striped and piped with burgundy. Not only did we not have a stripe in these colors in the shop, but these colors also happen to be both my high school and university colors. As you can imagine, after seven years of staring at the same color combination one can become somewhat adverse to them. Thus I chose to select my fabrics based on the color pallet of the film in general, which I would definitely categorize as autumnal.
    As it happens, I’d been lusting after a particular fabric in this family for quite some time. I just didn’t know what to do with it. It is Japanese, of course, and is covered with hills, trees, rabbits, and tiny squirrels toting equally tiny acorns. Cute explosion! For the piping I chose a rich chocolate cotton sateen with an ever-so subtle sheen, and the buttons are a bronze-colored metal with acorns on them. Holy cuss are they cute.  I’d never actually made my own piping, and though it was surprisingly easy, it took a cussing long time. I imagine that had something to do with the fact that the pattern called for six yards of the stuff, although I only ended up needing about four.
    I’ve had my eye on Kwik Sew pattern 2388, and it turned out to be a very simple, straightforward pattern to follow. The only thing I did to change the pattern was shorten each arm and leg by 2 1/2”, but were I ever to make it again I’d shorten the legs another couple of inches and create a back neck facing because the method of attaching the collar was not to my liking. I would also cut off a couple of inches from the top of the pants because they ended up at my waist, which I suppose fits in with the old-fashioned appeal to pajamas.
    The first step was to cut bias strips which I only recommend doing if you have the use of a rotary cutter and mat. One of my first jobs in Los Angeles was a designer’s assistant, so I’ve hand-cut my fair share of bias. Let me tell you, I don’t recommend it in the least.