Tuesday, September 3, 2019

We're On A Mission: Curvy Sewing!

So, curvy folks...how many tearful fitting room moments have you had, trying to find clothes that fit? Or what about those sewing disasters, where you tried an up-sized pattern and the fit is definitely not fabulous?
Those days are over! We're on a "curvy sewing" mission at Hip Stitch, with upcoming events where you can learn to alter a pattern for a custom fit and sew a garment you actually feel and look great wearing.
Montrose shirt by Cashmerette
Megan Green of The Green Violet (and a geologist in her day job) started our curvy sewing exploration earlier this summer, with a York Pinafore class. The mission continues with "Sewing with Knits--Let's Make a T-Shirt!" this Saturday, Sept 7. (It's full, but you can get on the wait list.) And here's even more excitement: Nov. 2-3, she's teaching a two-day retreat, the "Curvy Sewing Intensive," featuring the Montrose shirt by Cashmerette. (TWO days of focusing on custom fit, pattern grading, sewing a muslin and more! Go here to read more about this class.)
We asked Megan to share a little about her sewing journey, and how empowering it has been. She is also a contributor to the Curvy Sewing Collective and well-practiced at sharing about her sewing passion. Here's her story:

How long have you been sewing? Who taught you?
The projects in the first year I sewed could probably be classified as fitting "disasters," but you know what? They still fit better than RTW, so I call that a win! Every garment I sew is part of the learning process, so even if the final garment wasn't very wearable, I still learned something to apply to the next garment I tackled. 
I don't specifically remember learning to sew, but my grandmother was a very talented seamstress and she taught my mother to sew. I remember my mother sewing Halloween costumes when I was a kid and a formal dress for me when I was in high school. I suppose I picked up the basic skills somewhere along the way, but most of my garment sewing skills I have learned though reading blogs and books. I'm going to be taking a pattern drafting class at Santa Fe Community College this fall and I am excited to keep learning more about the technical aspects behind garment fitting. 

Did you start with garments of other items?
Garment sewing was always my goal and passion. I remember wanting to sew garments for a long time, but being quite intimidated by it. Fortunately, it's not nearly as scary! Like most people, I did work on learning basic machine sewing skills on some home decor projects such as curtains and pillows, but garment sewing was always the end goal. About 90% of my wardrobe is now handmade. The last frontier that I would like to tackle is "gear" type clothing, such as hiking pants and raincoats.

Has learning to create garments for yourself contributed in any way toward reinforcement of positive self-image? 
It has had a huge impact on my self image! As a teen and through my 20s, I was always just outside of the RTW size range.  I remember squeezing myself into jeans that were too small. I literally had no idea that clothes could be comfortable and functional! Now, as the fashion industry catches up with reality, we have more options in a variety of sizes and styles. Did you know that studies suggest that the average size of the American woman is 18? However, being three different sizes between my bust, waist, and hips, I will continue to sew most of my clothing because now I know clothing can actually fit well, be comfortable, functional AND express my individual style. 

Did you have some fitting disasters?
The biggest "aha" moment was when I really embraced the concept of cutting a pattern in different sizes to correlate with my different measurements. For example, in most patterns I am an 18 at my bust and a 24 at my hips and instead of cutting an average of a  20 or 22 so that the bust is a little too big and the hips are a little too small, I actually blend between the sizes and come out with a garment that is size "Megan". This is one of the skill we will focus on in the Curvy Sewing Intensive. 

Megan, modeling a Knit T-shirt she created.
Why is it important for those with non-RTW shapes to have access to purpose-designed patterns and good instruction on fit? 
When I first started, very few pattern designers were making patterns in my size in styles I liked. I first had to grade up the size of each pattern before starting the actual cutting and sewing process. It was a major barrier and it is why I was so intimidated for so many years. Fortunately, things have really changed and there are more patterns available in a variety of sizes. Things are getting better every day. In the past year, I have personally worked with a number of designers on improving their size ranges and it has been great to see curvy sewists have access to patterns that were previously inaccessible!  It is a screaming relief to be able to make clothes that fit and look good!

What are the hardest areas to fit, usually?
For me personally, the biggest fit challenge has been pants! Fortunately, it's actually quite straightforward to construct a wearable pair of pants, but when you really fall down the fitting rabbit hole on pants, you can spin yourself in circles. It's the same with nearly any type of fit issue.You can spend ages trying to perfect the fit on a garment. In my opinion, there is a middle ground where a garment fits and looks better than RTW and functions well. By that, I mean that any fit issues that impact the function of the garment have been addressed, but perhaps the garment isn't "perfect" from a technical standpoint. I personally think wearable is more important than perfect, and that is how we are going to approach the Curvy Sewing Intensive! I don't want anyone to be intimidated by trying to get a perfect fit!

Where do pattern designers need to fill in the blanks, so curvy sewists can expand their custom wardrobes? 
There are still huge gaps in the pattern market. Some are just in the plus-size realm, while others are notably lacking in all ranges. I think the patterns for business clothing like suits, more formal blouses, etc., are lacking across all size ranges. More trendy, causal styles are widely available up to a size 18 or 20 pattern, but taper off in sizes above that. It's the same with athletic offerings; leggings and tank tops can be found in plus size patterns, but anything more specific or technical is also lacking (coats/jackets, workout shorts, hiking pants, sun shirts...the stuff I wear everyday as a geologist). There is also a huge lack of plus-size pants patterns available, which frustrates me to no end.

Can you share a few of your fave pattern designers? 
I nearly exclusively sew indie patterns instead of the traditional McCall's/Butterick/Simplicity patterns that you can find at JoAnn's. "Indie" is a general descriptor for a wide range of patterns made by smaller companies, often started by home sewists who saw a need for a specific type of pattern and decided to create it themselves. 

For beginner plus-size sewists, I always recommend Cashmerette Patterns (https://www.cashmerette.com), which are available in sizes 12-28 with cups sizes C-H. Jenny of Cashmerette Patterns was the fist to identify the huge lack of plus size patterns and do something about it! Her patterns are classics, the types that can be made repeatedly and easily incorporate into your wardrobe.  

Many other indie pattern companies have finally followed Cashemerette's example, but most only have a limited selection of their patterns available in plus sizes. Helen's Closet (https://helenscloset.ca) is working hard to get its entire range of patterns up to a size 30 by the end of 2019, and I love the styles for being modern and fun. They also have great directions for beginners. 

If you are looking for something a bit different with stylish details, check out In the Folds (https://inthefolds.com). These patterns have a slightly more limited size range (for example, Australian 24, which is a 52" bust and 55" hips), but they are beautifully designed. This designer also makes patterns for the Peppermint Magazine Sewing school (https://peppermintmag.com/sewing-school/), which are free on their website and come in the same size range. 

Any advice for non-RTW people who feel like custom sewing is beyond them?
This isn't a skill I was born with; it just took lots of practice and a willingness to fail a few times along the way. I truly believe anyone can learn to sew a beautiful and functional wardrobe to fit their lifestyle if they just have the time and patience to put into the practice and develop the skills. And I promise it's not as intimidating as anyone fears!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sewing Sunday and 10 minutes

Today included a trip to Goodwill to search for 2 things:  a floor lamp and a white cardigan.  Neither was found, but I did score this ecru pullover sweater for which I had a vision.

Here's the sweater:

I took out the scissors and cut it straight up the front.  Then CAREFULLY took it to the sewing machine, as this is a knit sweater, and the edges can start to un-knit/unravel very easily!

Took out my knit/jersey needles:

And started sewing up the edges, folding in the raw edge as I went.  I sewed with  a zig zag stitch, as I wanted to catch in all the raw/cut edges of the sweater.

And done!

(thought about pressing carefully to get out the 'lettuce edge' look, but decided I liked it.

Got myself a cozy cardigan to layer on these crazy spring days when the weather can't decide what to do....wind?  cold?  warm?  rain?

Thursday, January 17, 2019

New Clubs, Classes for a New Year

We really DO listen to you--our esteemed customers--when it comes to planning stitchy education, and our new line-up for 1st Quarter 2019 has more of what you love. Here’s a snapshot of the line-up:
·         42 classes and events
·         14 NEW classes and clubs
·         15 teachers
·         Expanded machine and hand embroidery events
Here are just some of the new events on our educational calendar:
Collage Quilting with Gail Shannon—This popular Tucson teacher returns to the ‘Q’ with four new collage classes you won’t see anywhere else, including Creating Your Own Collage, using your photo or illustration; Landscape Quilt collage, Dia de Los Muertos collage, and Happy Birthday Frida (a collage celebrating Frida Kahlo.  
Strip Club—Mystery club meets block of the month. We’ll pick the fabrics and pattern, and reveal it to club members at a meet-up. Two days/times for your convenience.  
In the Bag Club—A monthly club where the focus is on bags, totes and purses—and helping you learn the finer points of sewing these popular accessories.
 Learn more about these and our other classes and events at the Classes Expo this Friday, Jan. 18, from 5-7 pm, and Saturday, Jan. 19, from 10 am-1 pm. Meet the teachers, see the samples, and sign up!
Bonus: If you sign up for a class, club or event during the Expo, you will earn a same-day 10% discount on any product purchases. (Note: Does not apply to class, club or event fees.)
Take your stitching to the next level of enjoyment in 2019! See you at the Expo!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Hip Stitch Class Expo

Our first-quarter 2019 line-up of classes debuts in just a few days, complete with samples, class descriptions and even the teachers, who are ready for your questions and sign-ups!

The Classes Expo will be Friday, Jan. 18, from 5 pm to 7 pm and Saturday, Jan. 19, from 10 am to 1 pm, in the Hip Stitch Lounge. The class line-up, which includes several new classes and club programs, is described in a four-color booklet for your convenience. We’re ready to take sign-ups during the Expo, but at the very least, come by to get your copy for future class planning.

Among the new programs this year is In The Bag, a monthly class plan presented by instructor Lorna Loeffler that teaches how to sew specific totes, purses, bags and wallets. And several new quilting classes, taught by instructor Cindy Bruner, offer progressive quilting education designed to help students learn solid—and artistic--foundation techniques.

We’ll see you in T-minus NINE days for the Classes Expo to, ahem, launch a great stitching year!

P.S. While you're perusing the new classes, take a few moments to look over the goods in the Semi-Annual Clearance Sale, which ends Jan. 20. There's always a gem waiting for you!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Enchanted Knitting: Artistry in Yarn

Vibrant fingerless gloves by Dagmar Beinenz-Byrd, this
month's featured ARTSCrawl fiber artist at Hip Stitch.

 When a custom yarn dyer/knitter tells you she is inspired by the New Mexican landscape as she chooses palettes for her hand-dyed yarns, well, believe her! Especially if that artist is Dagmar Beinenz-Byrd, who will be showcased Friday night, Dec. 7, in our final 2018 installment of Albuquerque's First Friday ARTSCrawl. Dagmar and her knitting artistry--and her luscious Zia Woolz hand-dyed yarns--will be on display from 5 pm to 8 pm in the Lounge at Hip Stitch.
Hand-dyed yarns by Dagmar. See more at ZiaWoolz.

"Knitting is my passion and I knit almost every day," says Dagmar, in describing her connection to knitting. "I dye yarns and spinning fibers in small batches, mainly for local New Mexican fiber artists. I also spin and try to source local fibers."

Her knitted pieces are visually vibrant with color or with textures and motifs, and her pieces include shawls, sweaters, purses and her fingerless mittens, an original design. For Dagmar, it's all about a visual connection to New Mexico. And she's modest when you ask her what makes her work unique.
Original shawl by Dagmar Beinenz-Byrd.

"There are many other equally talented fiber artists out there! However I’m passionate about capturing the spirit of our beautiful New Mexico in my yarns and I hope to capture a little bit of enchantment in the knits I create!

In addition to displaying her creations (some available for sale) tonight, Dagmar's custom-dyed yarns will also be available for purchase. And the knitting artist herself will be on hand to talk about her work. Refreshments will be served. Join us from 5 pm to 8 pm!

We asked Dagmar to share a little about her knitting journey, and here is what she had to say:

When did you learn to knit? What was your first project?
I learned when I was about 7, and was taught by my mom and in school (in Germany). My first project was a hideous stuffed doll which now hangs from the ceiling in my dye studio (the garage) to remind me of my humble beginnings.

What 'hooked' you about knitting?
I'm both a project as well as a product knitter. I love the creative process of making wearable art, and I love having the finished objects to actually use, especially shawls and sweaters. I like my hands to be busy with beautiful materials, and I'm very much inspired by colors and our fantastic New Mexico light.

What knitting challenges are you taking on lately?
I'm just starting to knit a lace shawl with very fine yarn, and find that quite challenging. Knitting is a journey. You most likely will never stop learning as long as you are open to it. I'd also like to continue to design knitting patterns and practic writing them up for publishing--that's another challenge, because of course a pattern has to make sense for everyone, not just you!

Any tips for newbie knitters?
Just keep knitting! Every stitch will make you better! And use beautiful yarn. That brings you joy.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Got Jelly Rolls? Get Stitching!

Somehow, quilters have a reputation for loving sweet treats (especially chocolate) so it’s probably not surprising that many quilty pre-cuts are named for baked goods, such as layer cakes, turnovers and the well-known jelly rolls. And because Saturday, Sept. 15 is National Sew a Jelly Roll Day, well, we thought you might enjoy knowing the back story.

Jelly Roll Fun Facts
Jelly rolls are a creation of Moda Fabrics, and were “born” in September 2006 in Dallas. This roll of 2 ½” x 45” strips usually contains 40 prints from a single fabric collection, and many say it launched the pre-cut revolution in quilting. Jelly rolls are just one of many pre-cut “sweets” Moda offers; the others include 10” square layer cakes, and 2 ½” square “candy.”  Most fabric manufacturers have followed suit, and have their own line of named pre-cuts, but Jelly Roll is a registered trademark of Moda. Here are a few more facts and tips: 
  • There are about 140 feet of fabric in one jelly roll.
  •  38 jelly rolls end-to-end measure nearly one mile.
  • Leftover jelly roll strips are perfect for English Paper Piecing, string quilts and bindings.
  • Pre-washing is definitely not recommended.
  • Use a sticky lint roller over the raw edge sides of a jelly roll before unrolling it to minimize lint
  •  Pressing with steam and spray starch can help realign fibers in the strips and get them sew-ready.
Sounds like an ideal pre-cut, right? Here’s the thing, though: People often treat jelly rolls as jewels and they sit on a shelf, their strips tightly furled, because people can’t bear to open them. Just. Too. Cute. So Moda decreed National Sew A Jelly Roll Day would be on the third Saturday in September every year, and give people a reason to be brave, untie that jelly roll, and just make something already!
Get Ready to Rumble!
Hip Stitch is participating in all the jelly roll frivolity with a Jelly Roll Race class taught by Bralia Mease at 1:30 pm on Saturday, Sept. 15. (Sign up HERE.) Everybody should do this, at least once! In a timed sewing session, you’ll sew the strips end-to-end, and then lengthwise to eventually form a quickie quilt top that usually takes about 2 ½ hours to stitch. Rumor has it Bralia is bringing real jelly roll treats , plus a prize for the first one to finish.

Of course there are tons of other jelly-roll “recipes” for fun quilts and projects, including in many books and magazines on sale at Hip Stitch. Moda Bake Shop is a website dedicated to free patterns and project ideas for using pre-cuts of any size/shape. And we can’t forget the latest Jelly Roll project craze--Jelly Roll rugs! We’ve had several classes on these and more are planned.(For details, go HERE.) Hip Stitch teacher Cindy Bruner calls these uber-popular rugs the “Cabbage Patch Dolls” of the quilting world. 

So, whether you join in the group Jelly Roll Race fun this Saturday, or choose another project, just unroll one of these babies and let the creative fun begin!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Defining 'Modern Southwest'

How do you define “modern southwest?”

It can be a line of fabrics, reworked traditional motifs, timeless-yet- fresh color palettes…and so much more. At Hip Stitch, we define “modern southwest” in many ways, including our shelves full of fabric with kitschy and cutting-edge Southwest, Native American and Dia de Los Muertos prints. (Did you know we have the biggest collection of Dia de Los Muertos prints in Albuquerque? Yep. We love our little sugar skulls...)

At Hip Stitch, "modern southwest" is also about connecting with the natural world in New Mexico, with our local mix of traditions and cultures, with bright colors and bold designs. And it’s about the satisfaction of working creatively and helping others tap into their inner artist. Today, we’re sharing the first in an occasional series of mini profiles about our Hip Stitch staff, the real jewels in our modern southwest collection.  

modern southwest: Claudia Reyes   

Claudia has been in the U.S. more than 25 years, but she was born in Mexico and lived there the first half of her life. She is a lifelong creative, doing “all kinds of artsy fartsy stuff,” she says, including ceramics, silk printing and stained glass. She earned her B.A. in Visual Arts and had the rare privilege of working for a time at the Museum of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Mexico City. It was a one-year professional development requirement for her degree, but it was thrilling! She and other students catalogued photographs and other works by Rivera, Kahlo and other surrealist painters and photographers of the time, and assembled archives.  (“I touched photos and paintings that had not been on exhibition before,” she marvels.) After earning her degree, she owned a stained glass shop and studio in Mexico City, designing and making stained glass and etched glass creations. Quilting, in fact, reminds her of stained glass because you cut and assemble pieces, choosing colors that will pop, but not really quite knowing what the final composition will really look like until you’re finished.
profession: 4th/5th grade bilingual teacher in Albuquerque Public Schools
hobbies: quilting, sewing and cooking. (“Cooking is number 1! I love to eat food…that’s my hobby!”)
fave fabric style/color: modern prints, Kaffe Fassett
local food love: “Definitely I love green chile! I’m a foodie.”
known for: Her brutal honesty and sense of humor.
Hip Stitch claim to fame: Claudia loves helping teach the kids’ summer sewing camps. During the school year, she works the front counter on various Saturdays. and Sundays.
life goal: To have a big sewing room with lots of windows! And a mid-arm.