Friday, May 30, 2014

Vasalong Success: Summer is for Sweaters!

Summer knitting. It's the best. It goes so fast without those pesky sleeves and there are so many amazing summer yarns out there with linen, cotton, or hemp in them. If you're not knitting right now, you are missing out on some amazing summertime yarn action. My newest summer knit is the Vasa tee and I love it. 

Pattern: Vasa Tee by Paper Tiger
Yarn: Madelinetosh Dandelion in Dust Bowl (main color) and Nectar (stripes)
Size made: 38
Alterations: I altered the pattern to knit it in the round. Also, with my gauge the size 38 is really a size 36

We recently started carrying Paper Tiger knitting patterns by Dianna Walla. She has classic style and smart, interesting designs. When she announced a Vasalong (a knit-a-long for the Vasa tee) I was in. We also had just gotten in the new Dandelion yarn by Madelinetosh - it was a match made in heaven! Dandelion is a single ply fingering weight yarn, exactly like Tosh Merino Light but with 10% linen added. The linen gives a more rustic look and a bit more drape - perfect for this pattern.

I'll let you in on a secret: this tee is just two rectangles sewn together. That's it. This is the perfect first sweater project for a new knitter or anyone who says, "I just knit rectangles." The pattern is meant to be a loose fitting tee and Dianna suggests at least 4" of positive ease. This is what size I made, but after measuring my finished gauge, my sweater was a bit smaller than intended at 36". It still looks great, but I think the extra 2" of positive ease would be great for next time.

My cute little 3 needle bind-off shoulder seam.

I altered the pattern to knit the tee in the round (I couldn't have all those purl rows slowing me down). The sweater is knit bottom up. I knit it in the round until the bottom of the sleeves. I put half of the stitches on hold for the back of the tee and knit up to the top of the front. I cast-off the center stitches for the neck and then put the remaining shoulder stitches for each side on hold. I then repeated this process for the tee back and used a simple 3-needle bind-off to join the shoulders. This bind off creates a raised seam, which I thought would be a cute added touch, but you could also use the kitchener stitch for a seamless join. 

Another reason I love this pattern is that it uses 2 colors - this makes it so fun to pick out your yarn! You could also easily play with your stripes to have skinnier stripes or thicker stripes. Check out #vasalong on twitter and instagram to see more adorable knit tees. Summertime knitting, people. #thebest

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Caitlin's New Belcarra Blouse!

I'm always searching for cute top patterns that I can pair with jeans.  When Tasia from Sewaholic released her newest pattern, the Belcarra Blouse, I wasted no time cutting into the pattern! 

Pattern: Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic
Fabric: 2 1/4 yards voile from Rashida Coleman-Hale's Koi collection
Size Made: 14
Alterations: None

This adorable blouse is super quick to sew up.  There are no darts and no zippers - just a simple pullover top shaped with raglan sleeves.  That's right - raglan sleeves with woven fabrics! I've never sewn raglan sleeves with anything but jersey, so it was fun to try the technique with voile.  

The simple construction of Version A lends itself to using a fun and funky print, like this Scalloped Edge voile designed by Rashida Coleman-Hale.  Version B of this shirt has adorable pintucks on the raglan sleeve, so I might just have to make another Belcarra out of a solid voile.

This will be in heavy rotation this Summer and I can't wait to make more!  If you want to make your own, you might consider following Tasia's sew-along that just started this week.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Fancy Cooper Bag-A-Thon is bringing you a load of CUTE!

Kiyomi here, I've been coveting the Cooper Bag by the Walden line of Colette patterns since it came into the shop last year. I had a trip to the northwestern coast planned and I needed something to carry the various layers required and all the fabric souvenirs I would be picking up along the way. Lucky for me Fancy Tiger had a Cooper Bag class that walked me through every step of making this cute backpack!  

The Cooper Bag comes in three versions. The class covers the backpack style but leaves you with the skills to be able to complete any version. As a novice sewer, I'm not sure if I ever would have pursued the pattern on my own. The class was a perfect way for me to pace myself and not get overwhelmed by all the pieces (there are so many pockets!) and gave me courage to tackle the various hardware required for the straps and detailing. 

The hardest part was probably picking out my fabrics. I constructed my bag using Etsuko Furuya's 2014 collection for Echino - it has a very clever "birds and bees" theme. The bag came together pretty easily once the millions of pieces were cut. It was fun adding cute details like the yellow straps and the fussy cut bird pieces. This bag was a great way to showcase this amazing fabric with all the strap details and pocket separators.

One bag wasn't enough though. My partner mentioned how cute it would be if we had matching bags for our trip, and of course I agreed with them! So one bag down, I made a second using a Muddy Works Japanese fabric by Tomotake, and Carolyn Friedlander's Botanics collection for Serina's bag. These bags were perfect for our trip and now continue to be our go to bags for everyday use. The pattern book is well written with tons of pictures, but if you're hesitant about doing a large project like this on your own then I highly recommend taking the summer class!

Hi, it's Nathalie! Like Kiyomi, I've also been dreaming about making up a Cooper bag ever since we got the pattern. I'm a grad student and I didn't have a good bag to haul around my books and my computer, so I knew I needed to make a backpack. I'm a huge fan of Colette patterns (I've made several of their dresses) and I was so excited to see that they are branching out with some cool men's and unisex patterns. This bag is perfect - I love the magnetic snaps on the flap that keep the bag closed without fussy clips or zippers, I love that I can adjust the straps based on how full I fill it, and I love that it's big enough to hold a lunch and my most recent knitting project!

The pieces were a little bit of a pain to cut out because there were so many of them, but once I started sewing it came together really quickly. I've sewn a lot of clothing but I've never sewn anything with hardware before, so I was glad that the instructions for the straps were clear and easy to follow. We sell kits here at the shop for all the hardware you need for each version of the bag , so don't worry about where you'll find the right rivets, magnetic snaps, and slides!

I wanted my bag to be sturdy, so I made the lining and the bottom out of duck cloth. I think if (or when) I make another backpack, I'll add stabilizer to the lining to make it even more robust. I loved the bee fabric from Etsuko Furuya, but I have a little more muted tastes than Kiyomi. Pairing it with black and grey duck cloth gave me the more subtle look I wanted while also highlighting the fun and colorful honeycomb. One of the great things about the pattern is that there are endless possibilities for fabric combinations! You can follow the pattern recommendations for which fabric to use for different parts of the bag, or you can mix it up and use a different fabric for every strap and pocket if you want.

What a perfect comfy and casual bag for bike rides and summer picnics!  

Friday, May 23, 2014

Jaime's Geometric Leini Dress

If you're a blog reader, you know we recently started carrying Named patterns from Finland. These patterns are beautifully packaged and tend toward more fashion-forward designs. I was excited to try them out and choose to make up the simple dress, Leini.

Pattern: Leini Dress by Named Patterns
Fabric: 2 5/8 main fabric, Japanese cotton print & 1 yd white cotton/silk lining
Size Made: EUR 38, US 6
Alterations: None

The Leini dress features two bold pleats on the front and a fully lined bodice. The bottom is gathered with an elastic waist which makes it easy to finish. I've never done a fully lined top before and I did have to rip some arm holes before understanding the instructions. Once I figured it out, the top came together nicely. I love the way this finishes the top and the cotton/silk blend I used to line this makes it oh-so-soft on the inside.

The fabric I choose is a soft neutral geometric print. This Japanese fabric is a fine cotton sateen - it is extra soft and flowy. We have this print in three colors including a bolder navy and a bright chartreuse if you need more color to your summer wardrobe.

The fit of the dress is great. I did my size 6 with no alterations (knowing there is extra room in the hips because of the gathered waist) and it fits perfect. There is some extra room in the bust so if you have a fuller top, I think this would be a great and flattering pattern. The loose fit of the dress makes it extra comfortable to wear so I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out of this on hot summer days.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Quilt Market Report Spring 2014


Amber and I just returned from 4 whirlwind days in Pittsburgh to attend the 2014 Quilt Market! This is a trade show where we get to see and order all the upcoming fabric lines, meet the designers and authors, get inspired by new quilts, and brainstorm ideas with other shop owners. We are always so inspired to sew after we go to Quilt Market! Here are our top picks for new and exciting fabrics coming up.

April Rhodes in her awesome booth!
Art Gallery Fabrics has a new Limited Edition division they have launched. April Rhodes, Sew Caroline, Sara Lawson are the three new designers for these collections, which we love! All of these limited releases include voile and knits in addition to quilting cottons. April Rhodes' Arizona fabrics will be here later this month. Her booth at quilt market was stunning, displaying her very cool collection.

Next at Art Gallery, we met the charming Caroline Hulse of Sew Caroline. Her bright, poppy collection Gleeful will be available in July, for cheery summertime sewing.

Sew Caroline in her sweet booth!
Thomas Knauer was at market to promote his new book, Modern Quilt Perspective. The "12 patterns for meaningful quilts" each have a really interesting story and concept behind their design. We were able to see the quilts from the book in person and chat with Thomas about the story behind each one. We are thrilled to host him in Denver this November for a book signing event so stay tuned to find out the details.

Mr. Knauer signing books in his awesome booth!

Speaking of new books...Tasia of Sewholic was there from Vancouver! Tasia was promoting her new book, Sewtionary. It was so great to meet her--look how cute her top is out of her newest pattern, the Belcarra Blouse! Sewtionary is an awesome resource book that every sewist will want to have in their library. We can't wait for it to get here in early July.

Tasia of Sewholic - isn't she cute?!
We recently featured the new American Made Brand fabrics on our Instagram (@fancytigercrafts), but we have to show you again because they are so exciting. These are new cotton solids from Clothworks that are entirely grown, spun, woven and dyed in the USA. Modern quilter, Heather Jones is the spokesperson for this new fabric and has made some beautiful quilts out of it already. The icing on top for this sustainable fabric is a very affordable price point. These should be here this June.

Heather Jones!

Violet Craft has a new collection for Michael Miller, Brambleberry Ridge. Oh man, did we love this. The mix of sweet florals, geometrics, and woodland creatures were all highlighted with metallic ink - so precious! Her upcoming quilt pattern features paper pieced animals and birds - I am going to make a hawk pillow stat. Brambleberry Ridge will be here this July.

A new Violet Craft quilt pattern on the left and a detail of a print from Brambleberry Ridge on the right.

Alison Glass was debuting her newest collection for Andover, Handcrafted. This collection was really different from anything we saw at market. Alison designed these prints using the traditional wax-resist method of making batik fabric, but they have a look that is all Alison Glass. All these fabrics will be hand-printed and therefore completely unique with no yardage exactly the same. This printing method also means the fabrics have a lovely hand that will lend itself well to both garment and quilt-making. Alison's booth was inspiring with her lovely quilts and embroidery.

Us and Alison Glass in her awesome booth
Some of Alison Glass' amazing quilts. Those are her new fabrics draped on the chair...
We loved this new quilt design by Alison Glass, Timber.

You know how we feel about Nani Iro around here. It's no surprise that we are in love with Naomi Ito's newest collection. These dreamy prints will be here in June, but Amber and I were able to come home with 1/2 meter bundles so we can sew up quilts before then. We can't wait to show you what we make...

Ok, the moment you've all been waiting for...Cotton and Steel! Yes, we saw it! Yes, it was amazing! Yes, we ordered it all! Yes, we love them! It is just as awesome as all the hype would suggest. This new division of RJR headed by none other than Melody Miller is so great and you are all going to be sewing with it this summer. Start planning, people. There are 123 bolts of delicious fabrics coming our way this July in quilting cottons, voiles, and linen/cotton canvas. Are you ready?

The ladies of Cotton and Steel from left to right: Alexia Abegg, Melody Miller, Rashida Coleman Hale, Kim Kight, and Sarah Watts
Highlights from the Cotton and Steel booth
We will be implementing a new uniform policy where staff at FTC can only wear this print from Alexia Abegg.
Just kidding, but seriously you guys!! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Meet the Designer: Lisa Solomon!

We are thrilled to host Bay Area designer Lisa Solomon for two classes at Fancy Tiger Crafts! Lisa is the author of Knot Thread Stitch which brings us a creative approach to thread and embroidery projects. As a mixed media artist, she embellishes her work with embroidery to add texture and depth. The root of her art is driven by her keen interest in hybridization. Mixing materials that normally would be considered wrong question the line between art and craft. We couldn't be happier that she is pushing this line. Lisa will be here teaching 2 classes at Fancy Tiger. Join us for her classes on June 7th and learn how to make an Embroidered Necklace from 10:30am-1:30pm or jump into her second class where you learn to make an Embroidered Portrait from a Photo from 2:30pm- 5:30pm. In the meantime, lets meet Lisa!

1) Tell us about yourself -  how did you get started? What is your background?
I’ve been making things for as long as I can remember. Not too long ago my mom and dad gave me a bunch of my school “reports” from elementary school and almost all of them said something along the lines of “wonderful art”. I didn’t really think of myself as particularly artistic or creative growing up though. And I didn’t really call myself an artist until I went to graduate school and got my MFA. It was actually in grad school that I taught myself to embroider and fell in love with it. My grandmother had taught me to crochet and knit and embroidery just seemed like a logical step. I really adore how it functions like drawing and painting simultaneously. You can create very fine or thick lines with it and you can also fill in spaces with color.

I grew up in Los Angeles, went to high school in California, and came up to the Bay Area to go to college [UC Berkeley and Mills] and basically have never left.

2) What are you most excited about creating right now? What projects or mediums?
I’m currently working on an exhibition that will open in November at Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles. It’s a continuation of my exploration of the number 1000 – or Sen in Japanese. My mother is Japanese and so I often find myself researching that aspect of my heritage. The number 1000 is prevalent in Japanese culture. It’s often used as a symbol of luck or good fortune, often with a component of communal good will – think 1000 buddhas, 1000 cherry blossom trees [given to Washington DC after WWI], 1000 cranes…

I actually did a show with the same theme at Fouladi Projects last November. I had 45+ women from around the world help me make 1000 doilies [a prevalent motif in my work], 10 each in 100 colors. I displayed them on the wall in a modified rainbow order… this Fall I’ll be reconfiguring the piece at Walter’s space. Working with collaborators from all over the world was so inspiring and amazing I’m actually trying to do it again ;) ! I’m trying to get people to draw me doilies and make me small swatches with French Knots. I put a call out on my blog – if any of your readers are interested I definitely still need help!

So this summer I’ll be in the process of making a series of drawings that go with the doily piece. I’m doing more 1000 buddhas and cranes, and also 1000 samurais [I discovered there’s a 1000 samurai parade that happens every year]. These are colored pencil, ink, acrylic on Duralar with embroidered elements.

3) Is creating a daily thing for you? How do you find time? Do you create in a studio or at your home? Where do you feel most inspired?
I think creating is a daily thing for me. But it’s not momentous creating every day. It can be very small – even just thinking about something. I tend to use photography to document things that visually interest me through out the day, so instagram is a big fav of mine. I find that helps to keep my creativity active on a daily basis. In terms of finding time… I’ve become very good at making in small spurts. I used to need long chunks of the day to BE CREATIVE. But these days – especially after the birth of my daughter – I have found the means to be more portable and work in short spurts. I almost always have a bit of crochet, or my sketchbook, or my phone to take a photo handy. I work a lot in front of the TV at night. I do still set aside whole days to spend in my studio, but it isn’t as crucial as it used to be.

4) What is your favorite mythological animal?
I’m interested in tengu – a Japanese mythological creature.

5) If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Oh jeez. How to choose???? Flying? Invisibility? The ability to wave my hand and have everything be clean??

Thanks Lisa, we can't wait to embroider with you!