July Fabric of the Month: Batiks

Bolts of beautiful batiks at Make It Sew.

When the weather gets sultry, daydreams drift to beaches on faraway islands, where people wear colorful sarongs in an array of patterns created using the wax-resist technique known as batik. Although many people associate batik cloth with Indonesia and Malaysia, the oldest examples of batik come from Egyptian tombs dating to the first century CE. In fact, numerous cultures around the world include some variation of batik in their textile production (e.g., in Nigeria, the Yoruba people use a cassava-based paste to create patterns that resist dye). At Make It Sew, we have an array of fabrics with lovely batik-created designs, ranging from crisp cottons to flowy rayons to wonderful blends, and they are all 10% off through July 31st! So wax on, sewists, before this deal waxes off.

Everything old is new again (and even more beautiful)!

We all know the sadness of that moment when a favorite piece of clothing, which was getting a little frayed around the edges, finally becomes unwearable. It’s closely related to discovering moths have been feasting on a treasured coat or suddenly hearing a ripping sound when you’re all dressed up and ready to go. Ugh.

Here at Make It Sew, though, we try to embrace the Japanese concept of wabi -sabi, which celebrates impermanence and the beauty of aging, scars, and imperfections. Over the next few weeks, Make It Sew is offering two opportunities to learn techniques that you can use with new materials but which were originally created to salvage or re-purpose damaged and worn items.

reverse applique
A beautiful example of reverse applique created by Theresa Reid.

During a daylong workshop on July 6, Theresa Reid will teach students how to “reverse applique,” a technique pioneered by designer Natalie Chanin, eco-conscious founder of Project Alabama and Alabama Chanin. Attendees will learn how to design a stencil, paint and cut fabric, and then sew different stitches to create a reverse applique sampler from knit fabrics that do not fray. Most students will opt to use new materials to create their projects, but Chanin frequently included recycled t-shirts and other salvaged fabric when she first introduced the technique in the early 2000s. Reverse applique is a dazzling way to remake worn-out favorites into something new to love.

Make It Sew fan Laura Parsons’s much-loved top from Natalie Chanin’s Project Alabama. It is made entirely from repurposed materials.
A sashiko embellished coaster similar to ones students will make during the “Sashiko Basics” session of Grownup Summer Camp

A month later on August 7, Make It Sew’s own Accacia Mullen will teach “Sashiko Basics” during the final session of Grownup Summer Camp. Although campers will focus on crafting either coasters or sachets using new fabric, this Japanese embroidery technique originated as a way to prolong the life of clothing and other household textiles. The repetitive geometric patterns, traditionally sewn with white thread, not only repaired and strengthened thinning and ripped areas, they also added a new level of beauty to the original objects, which is the essence of wabi-sabi!

Robe, unknown, 1850 – 1900, Japan. Museum no. FE.27-2015.
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Make it Sew and So: Etta

Etta in her element!

If you stop into Make It Sew with any regularity, you have probably had a conversation with Etta King, our Jill of all trades with the contagious smile! Perhaps you have even had the good fortune to take a basic sewing or accessory-making class with her. How did we get so lucky to have Etta at Make It Sew? Read on to learn a little more about the wonder that is Etta King.

Originally from upstate New York, Etta remembers playing under her mother’s sewing table in the family’s basement. It was her aunt, however, who taught her to sew. “I still think of my aunt to this day when I’m pressing a seam,” Etta says. “She taught me that.” Etta and her mother did collaborate on one memorable project, though: Etta’s wedding dress. They tiptoed into the experience, she says, but ultimately, it allowed them to grow together.

When she was a newlywed, Etta moved to Rockbridge County with her husband, who was finishing his college degree at Southern Virginia University. They then moved away for 10 years before returning two years ago, this time with three children! “I think it’s a great place to raise a family,” Etta says. She met Accacia at the community pool, and before long they were talking about sewing projects.

When Accacia decided to open Make It Sew, hiring Etta was the obvious thing to do. Etta says she loves meeting customers and enjoys the wonderful fabrics Accacia acquires for the shop, but her favorite thing about working at Make it Sew comes down to one word: potential. She likes the potential for creativity. She likes the potential for people to gain confidence by learning to make something. And she likes the potential for growth during the process of making. She says what has surprised her is how emotional sewing is for people.

While working at Make It Sew, Etta says she has learned two valuable lessons: 1) Done is better than perfect; and 2) Just go for it. Elaborating on the latter, Etta explains, “Sometimes we’re so afraid to cut into the fabric. We think it’s so permanent. But you don’t know until you try—and you can adapt, and you can change. And if it doesn’t work, you can make something different!” Words to live by!

Come in and say hello to Etta. No doubt she will be smiling as she offers to help you realize your creative potential!

Make it Sew much fun: Grownup Summer Camp!

During our first summer camp session, Mackenzie Brooks (pictured here, looking all tasseled up) will teach you how to make tassels and embellish a scarf.

When summer arrives, do you get nostalgic for childhood days making lanyards, popsicle-stick God’s eyes, and birdhouses at camp? Do you feel a little envious as you drop off your kids for hours of crafting when you’re heading into another ho-hum day at the office? Well, take heart and prepare to have fun because Make It Sew is offering Grownup Summer Camp on select Wednesday evenings this summer! Each session will let you get crafty and feel the satisfaction of making something sassy to take home and show off.

Binge on fringe and make some tassels!

Summer Camp Session 1 will convene on June 26, 5:30-7:30pm, when Mackenzie Brooks will teach you how to make tassels and add them to a scarf. For $25, campers receive instruction and basic tassel-making materials, although you may want to purchase additional components if you get inspired. Each camper will bring a lightweight scarf to embellish. Make It Sew has numerous fabrics that will work and can provide guidance on how to hem them, so you will be ready to tassel away!

Learn to make fun felt coasters to go under your glass of ice tea, bottle of cerveza fria, or highball of gin & tonic.

Summer Camp Session 2 will take place on July 10, 5:30-7:30pm, when camp counselor Mackenzie Brooks returns to guide you through cutting, designing, and hand-stitching felt coasters. Once again, the $25 enrollment fee gets campers Mackenzie’s expert instruction and basic materials for crafting the coasters.

Sashay into camp and make a Sashiko sachet.

Summer Camp Session 3 will occur on August 7, 5:30-7:30, when head counselor Accacia Mullen will provide an introduction to the tools, materials, and techniques of Sashiko, a Japanese embroidery style created to repair worn fabrics but often used today to simply make things more beautiful. The enrollment fee of $25 covers Accacia’s instruction and basic materials. Prepared sashiko coaster kits (also good for coasters) are an additional fee.

Counselor Mackenzie Brooks is a librarian, crafter, gardener, and relaxing lady. She’s a Make It Sew regular who is learning to embrace the wabi-sabi nature of her sewing projects.

Counselor Accacia Mullen loves sewing on vintage machines and thinks sashiko is one of the most enjoyable forms of hand stitching.

All campers receive a 10% discount on any camp materials bought at Make It Sew. Come get your summer crafting craving satisfied during Grownup Summer Camp! In addition to having fun stitching, you never know who you will meet. “Make new friends, but keep the old . . .”

June Fabric of the Month: Ginghams

Accacia couldn’t resist the charms of this green batik gingham and made herself a summery dress! Cay-ute!

Nothing sings “summer” like gingham! But the fresh-checked fabrics at Make It Sew go beyond your grandma’s red-and-white picnic cloth to include lovely batiks and other eye-popping options. Through June 30, our ginghams are a breezy 10% off. Come check out our checks because all this month it’s hip to be square!

Check out all of our gorgeous ginghams, and think outside the box about what you might sew!

May Fabric of the Month: Florals

Sew so many lovely florals!

Ack, ack, ack! Here it is the tail end of May, so it’s now or never to get your floral project going at 10% off! Get up off the bloomin’ couch and get some blooming fabric while the sale is still in flower! (Apologies–we promise to post the June fabric with plenty o’ time for you to take advantage of the discount.)

Totes Adorbs: Make it Sew Bags!

Accacia demonstrates how form meets function in the Make It Sew tote bag .

Just in time for the downtown Lexington Sidewalk Sale this weekend, Make It Sew is premiering its new line of bags! And are they ever fantastic! Made to last a lifetime, these bags feature an exterior of wonderful waxed canvas and a roomy interior lined in natural herringbone denim twill (the light color means you will never lose a tiny item like a seam ripper in the black hole of your bag). Best of all, these unisex bags originate at Make It Sew—designed, cut, and sewn right here in Lex Vegas!

The Make It Sew bag line currently includes three styles. The haul-it-all tote measures a spacious 15″H x 23″W x 7″D. The reinforced bottom means you could throw a few bowling balls in there without a care in the world. If you can lift it, it will hold! Also, Grigg Mullen designed this tote so the seams are functional without being bulky. The tote retails for $120 and is sure to become your BBF—Best Bag Forever!

The Make It Sew tote will go the distance and look good doing it!

Make it Sew is also offering a 2.5″ x 4″ card wallet that is the ideal size for carrying cash, credit cards, and IDs. Just slide it in your pocket, and you’re good to go. The third style is a limited-edition sleeve/pouch that measures 3.5″ x 5″—perfect for stashing your phone or large bills. These two smaller bags each retail for $15.

The card wallet (left) and limited-edition sleeve/pouch (right) are all fun and no fuss! Don’t they look nice with Etta’s flower brooch? (She can teach you how to make a flower brooch to match your new bags on May 1 at 5:30.)

Make It Sew plans to add more styles to its bag lineup in the near future. So stay tuned for more beautiful ways to carry your kit and kaboodle!

April Fabric of the Month: Manchester Shirting

Beautiful weaves + lovely colors = Manchester Shirting

During April, Make It Sew is offering 10% off all Manchester Shirting fabrics! Made of all or nearly all cotton—some weaves feature a touch of lurex/polyster thread for subtle dazzle—Manchester Shirting is the ideal weight for spring and summer dresses, tops, tunics, pants, skirts, pajamas, napkins, tablecloths, etc. Not only is this fabric versatile, its lovely weaves whisper sophistication. Their textures and colors are so pretty they don’t need to shout.

Manchester Shirting comes from Robert Kaufman, which is named for its founder, a Russian immigrant who started his first company, Meadowpark Clothes, in New York during the 1920s. Unfortunately, the stock market crash of 1929 put this first endeavor out of business, but Kaufman persevered and opened the current company in 1942. When doctors diagnosed one of his sons with asthma, Kaufman moved his family and the business to Los Angeles, where it continues to thrive today.

Robert Kaufman designs many of its fabrics with quilters in mind, but the exquisite weaves also work well for garment sewing and other projects. Pick up a yard or two of Manchester Shirting at a special price through April 30, and add some subtle zing to your spring.

At 10% off, this gorgeous pink Manchester Shirting will have you in the pink!


Learn to Sew a Capsule Wardrobe (a.k.a. a whole lotta Lotta)

Make It Sew’s front window is not only springy, but it also showcases the pieces students will make in the upcoming Capsule Wardrobe series!

There are so many reasons to get excited about Make It Sew’s upcoming “Capsule Wardrobe” series that it’s hard to know where to begin! Here are a few nudges for why you might want to sign up for one or more of these two-part sewing lessons: 1) You want to learn or practice basic sewing skills; 2) You want to make truly wearable clothes while you learn; 3) You want a small class size so you can benefit from individual attention; 4) You hate picking out what to wear and simply want to grab things off a couple hangers, knowing you will look great!

With all those reasons in mind, Accacia has created a five-garment instructional series, drawing on the patterns and inspiration provided by the book Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style. She says, “They’re nice, simple designs. With the five different garments, beginning students can make a garment that I think they will want to wear and enjoy wearing. But they’ll also learn some skills that are part of making more complicated garments and sewing in general.” Starting in April and continuing through September (with a break in July), on the second and third Tuesday evening of each month, 5:30-8:30 pm, Make It Sew will guide students through making a new garment, building sewing savvy as students build their wardrobes. What’s particularly nice about the Tuesday class schedule is students who find they need extra time will be able to drop by Make It Sew’s “open sewing” on Thursday evening (5:30-8 pm) and/or Friday midday (11 am-2 pm) to catch up and prepare for the next class.

April’s project: Lotta Jansdotter’s terrific Kiomi dress, which students have the option to make as a top.

During April’s sessions, students will sew either a sleeveless top or dress (their choice) while learning how to attach bias tape and gather, a skill that helps create shape.

May’s project: Lotta Jansdotter’s perfect A-line Tedra skirt, which students can create at whatever length they desire.

In May, each student will make a skirt and learn to put in a zipper, which Accacia says “is not nearly as scary as some people think.”

June’s project: Lotta Jansdotter’s easy-to-wear Owyn pants, which students can choose to make as shorts.

In June, students will not only address the shapes and geometry involved in making pants, but they will also learn how to create a channel and insert elastic.

July’s project: Lotta Jansdotter’s versatile Esme top, tunic, or kaftan.

August’s sessions will focus on making a top, tunic, or kaftan (again, up to each student) that will entail learning how to create darts to enhance fit.

August’s project: Lotta Jansdotter’s stylish Pilvi jacket or coat, which students will learn to add in-seam pockets to, if they wish.

Finally, in September students will make either a coat or jacket, learning how to sew in-seam pockets, which Accacia points out, “everybody loves.”

Each class will also include optional “extra credit” skills for students who feel competent and ambitious. For instance, students will have the chance to add patch pockets to their skirts in May and belt loops to their pants in June. Plus Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style includes all kinds of accessories students can make to enhance their wardrobes.

Just a few of the fun accessories Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style includes to help you add pizzazz to your capsule wardrobe.

Are students required to take all five classes? Nope (although we’re pretty sure you’ll want to). Each two-session class costs $60, but if you sign up for three or four, you can save $20 on the overall cost. Sign up for all five and get $45 off! Students will need to buy Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style (trust us, it’s a great investment at $29.95), as well as fabrics and notions, but Make It Sew will offer those enrolled 10% off all goods purchased.

Nota bene: These classes are not for those who have never touched a sewing machine. But don’t worry if that’s you—simply sign up for a private sewing lesson with Accacia prior to the course, and she will get you up to speed!

Versatility galore with the patterns in Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style!

Come make a capsule! There’s a whole lot to love about a whole lotta Lotta!

Pattern patter: Cashmerette

Any grown woman, no matter what size or shape, knows the frustration of trying to find flattering clothes that hang just right and feel comfortable. One of the best things about sewing is being able to adjust patterns to really fit our bodies rather than having to make do with what comes off the rack. Even so, ladies with a little more here and a lot more there have often had to work overtime to make patterns work. Enter Cashmerette! Designed specifically for women sized 12-28 with busts ranging from C-H, Cashmerette aspires to let every woman look chic and feel at home in her clothes.

Cashmerette founder Jenny Rushmore, a self-described “curvy sewist,” began stitching at age 30 and discovered her new skills opened up endless possibilities for creating a wardrobe to match both her mind and body. Based in Boston, she first founded the Curvy Sewing Collective to share tips and information with other like-bodied women online, and that endeavor eventually led her to create Cashmerette patterns. Offering women with bodies ignored by the fashion industry an avenue to style and comfort, Cashmerette believes “in changing clothes and mindsets, rather than being told we should change our bodies.”

Make It Sew offers a range of Cashmerette patterns. Quite a few of them, like the Appleton Dress (pictured on the right above), work particularly well with our March Fabric of the Month, Andover jersey knits!