Textile Byways: A Handmade Wardrobe - Montana 2014

Posted by Kristine Vejar on November 06, 2014 0 Comments

This Fall, the Bay Area has been exceptionally warm with only a few days here and there to wear a heavy wool sweater. So, pretty much the first thing I did when deciding to visit Montana was to think about what warm and woolly things I would get to wear. My good friend Julie has a vast collection of hand-knit sweaters. She kindly allowed me to bring along Nieve knit in Horizon.

Stephen had given me a long-term loan of his Iberian Discovery. I felt it was time to knit my own. So I cast-on using Horizon in Grizzly Peak.

And then Tasa, Verb's pattern drafter and sewing teacher, and I got to talking. The Uptown Top is Tasa's personal favorite of the Verb sewing patterns. She has at least 4 variations that she has made for herself! She has one as the pattern is written, one without the hip band but with a vintage lace inset, one out of Alabama Chanin organic cotton jersey, and one out of a delicious wool jersey. She loves this pattern. And when she has a pattern that she loves she finds ways to alter it and expand on it. 

So let me introduce to you the Uptown Jacket! From here, Tasa is going to step in and tell you a little bit about how she transformed the Uptown Top into this amazing jacket.


We had already started talking about hacking this pattern into a jacket when Kristine got the news about Sweet Grass and started planning her trip to Montana. I don't know about you guys, but my wardrobe is the next thing I start thinking of when I have my travel dates! So when Kristine said she would like to take the jacket on her trip north I grabbed some of the amazing Pendleton washable shirt weight wool we have in the store and went to work. 

I knew I wanted this to be a pretty accessible pattern hack because we wanted to structure a class around it later. The silhouette of this garment is already perfectly suited to be a jacket. It's simple, loose in the arms and torso so you can wear anything under it, and fitted at the hip so the jacket won't get in the way of movement. So I really didn't have to play with anything besides the front pieces.

The first thing I did was to split the front panel of the shirt down the center. Then I drafted a facing piece for the new front neckline/center front opening. 

An important part of the process was pattern matching the plaid when I was cutting out all the pieces for the shell of the jacket. Pattern matching is something that beginning sewists are often overwhelmed (dare I say frightened?) by, but its bark is much worse than its bite, I promise! It's more time consuming than hard, and the extra time is well worth it if you are working with plaids or stripes. It can really elevate your garment to the next level to have things line up nicely.

After cutting out my shell pieces, I moved on to the lining. I used a solid color cotton voile for the lining. It's a really tight weave so despite the fact that it's thin it should hold up fine as a lining fabric. It's also nice and smooth which is the other main consideration for a lining fabric, you don't want your jacket to stick to whatever you are wearing under it! Also I snuck a patch pocket on the inside of the jacket, because pockets are a must have for almost every garment. 

The assembly for the jacket is basically the same as it is for the top, except you are making two instead of one and then connecting them at the arm openings, neck opening, hip band and center front. The only other thing I really altered was to cut a deeper hip band out of the wool and fold it over, as opposed to lining it with the voile. I think it will make a sturdier hip band and hold up better over the life of the jacket. Installing the separating zipper is the final step for this jacket.

I love how this pattern hack turned out. It works great as an extra layer in the temperate Bay Area climate and I plan on making one for myself in the very near future. The hardest part is picking which lovely fabric to make it out of! 

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and that this project inspires you to re-envision one of your favorite pattens! 

Happy sewing!



I am very grateful to Tasa for making this incredible jacket. If you would like to learn how to make your own, Tasa is teaching a class. Click here to learn more.

I hope you are having a wonderful Fall season. Thanks for reading! 


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Stitch Exchange: Something Fancy This Way Comes

Posted by Kristine Vejar on October 23, 2014 55 Comments

On Friday, Fancy Tiger Crafts, located in Denver, Colorado, released their very first sewing pattern named the Sailor Top

Tasa, Sarah, and I have been awaiting the pattern and were thrilled to sew our very own.

Tasa made hers out of Liberty Tana Lawn. She thinks this is a lovely pattern, a really easy sew, is a great fit, and will sew it again for sure. She is looking forward to making it in a variety of fabrics and doing some embellishments on it! She is already thinking of making it in a wool/silk crepe for the winter and an eyelet for next summer. (Actually, Tasa has already sewed a second Sailor Top this weekend). Tasa added lightweight fusible interfacing to the yoke.

Sarah made hers out of Verb khadi - which is a lightweight fabric made of 100% handspun, handloomed organic cotton - made specially for us in the Great Rann of Kutch in India. She also really enjoyed sewing her shirt. She, like Tasa, added interfacing to the yoke. Sarah used 2.5 yards of khadi to make a size small.

I made mine out of Verb's line of naturally dyed lightweight linen - which we dye right here in our Oakland studio. I dyed my fabric with acacia. Also, I dipped embroidery floss into indigo and embroidered little doodles along the front and back yoke. Soon, we will have naturally dyed fabric and floss available online for sale. Stay tuned!

All three of these shirts are currently hanging in the shop - in the case you would like to stop in and see them in person or try them on. We also have hard-copies of this pattern for sale.

We wanted to give you an idea of how the shirts looked in action - so instantly thought - cake and tea break! Now sew yourself a Sailor Top and eat some cake :) I promise you won't regret it.


GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment within the next 48 hours - letting us know what fabric your dream Sailor Top would be made of - and enter a chance to win a digital copy of the Sailor Top pattern.

BONUS GIVEAWAY! Creativebug, a website dedicated to DIY classes, has given our readers a two week free membership. Jaime and Amber of Fancy Tiger have made a class teaching you how to sew a Sailor Top. Click here to learn more!

Next up on the Sailor Top blog tour is Miss Make! Her blog is well worth a visit - she's funny, talented, and makes adorable garments. I can't wait to see what she does with her version of the Sailor Top - and - she also just might be giving away a Sailor Top pattern too.


Next on the blog: Join us Wednesday to learn if you have won a free copy of the Sailor Top - and - on Wednesday - I will begin to write about our recent trip to Montana - where we went recently to meet the shepherds of our newest yarn (made of Montana Targhee wool), and have many more exciting new adventures to share with you!

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Stitch Exchange: Let's Sew an Endless Summer Tunic out of Knit Jersey

Posted by AVFKW Staff on May 01, 2014 1 Comment


Summer is a great time to start sewing with knits. Kristine recently did a "Chanified" version of our Endless Summer Tunic. For those of you who are not familiar with Alabama Chanin, it is 100% hand stitched clothing that we at Verb love! We coined the term "Chanified" and use it when talking about clothing that we have made out of patterns outside the repertoire of Alabama Chanin patterns, though still employing the Alabama Chanin style: the use of their organic cotton jersey in addition to their technique of hand-sewn garment construction with embroidered details.

Kristine started with white medium weight white jersey and dipped it in the indigo vat and then sewed it up by hand. She used flat felled seams for the center front, center back and the side seams, she left the v-neck and the hem raw so that they curl under a little, she hand dyed the floss she used to sew the tunic and she resist-dyed the yoke lining so there is a fancy surprise on the inside! Kristine also decided to take the bias edging all the way around the arm opening and the neckline of the yoke instead of sewing it up with the seam allowances inside. This is a great option and adds lovely detail to the garment.

Kristine usually wears the 39" bust size in our pattern, but for the jersey she dropped down to a 37" bust because of the extra stretch the knit provides. The tunic came out looking really lovely and I'm exited to see people playing with the pattern! 

With a few things taken into consideration, I think the pattern translates well to a knit. Kristine left off the pockets, which I think was smart. Here at Verb we are all big fans of pockets and the Alabama jersey is probably sturdy enough to support having them, however I would put some reinforcement in the side seam if you are going to try it. If you are thinking of doing the pattern as written and working on a sewing machine (as opposed to a serger) special care should be taken with grading your seams. Specifically on the inside of the yoke. Knits can oft times be more bulky than woven fabrics and so taking care to trim internal seams will make your finished garment look much more professional. 

Other ideas for fun projects from knits include the new Colette patterns Mabel and Moneta, some lightweight leggings or knocking off your favorite summer tank from last year in a new fabric! We plan on making some of the above in the next few weeks as our participation in Me-Made-May 2014.

For our First Friday Fabric Sale this month we are offering 20% off all knit fabric! We wanted to continue to celebrate our selection of Alabama Chanin 100% organic cotton jersey, our new Liberty of London knits, and the lovely selection of printed summer knits we have.

Happy Sewing!


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The making of The Endless Summer Tunic Pattern

Posted by AVFKW Staff on April 07, 2014 0 Comments

This past week we released our first sewing pattern, The Endless Summer Tunic. It is currently available on our website as a pdf download. It's a simple and elegant number with a flattering v-neck and optional pockets.

The pattern itself has been rolling about in Kristine's mind, ready to spring forth. However, she knew that it would need to be graded for different sizes and since pattern drafting is not one of Kristine's strong points, she let the idea rest.  Only a couple of months ago she received a cheerful note from a pattern drafter hoping to work with her. Jumping at the opportunity, Kristine told the woman she had many ideas but very little time to execute all of them.

They met and shared these ideas of lines, lengths, and design elements leading Kristine to commit to one pattern with her. They sketched ideas out on paper, made muslins, and tried them on. After deciding on a pattern, Kristine chose fabrics for samples. When the sewn samples came back, Kristine danced with excitement. Her dream had come true and she now had a sewing pattern design she could recommend for the fabrics she carries at the shop. It is our pleasure to announce we have hired that pattern drafter for more projects. Her name is Tasa Gleason and has experience drafting patterns of all types. We look forward to many more patterns that will inspire folks to sew their own clothing.

Of course after the physical pattern has been made it then needs to be made accessible: to be drawn out on paper, sized up, and expressed in words. When this part was finished, it came to my desk to be put into production for print.  Thankfully digital publishing allows the pdf version to be accessible much sooner than the printed one. As I write this I have our local printer creating proofs for me to review. After I see the printed proofs in person, I will then order a specific quantity to be put up for sale.  

Somehow this all happens while Kristine does dye tests and writes for her book, Stitches West flies by, we continue our participation with The Possible at the Berkeley Art Museum, and teach an indigo workshop at the UC Botanical Garden.  Not to mention playing host to visiting teachers, various workshops, and news articles.

I'm not quite sure there was a time when we have ever been this busy. The energy that surrounds the store is lively and dynamic. Every day we work on a multitude of projects behind the scenes (and other times, not-so-behind the scenes) at the shop. It is with a great sense of achievement we release a pattern that is worthy of our hard work. We hope you enjoy it and know that all our work is in thanks to your support.




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In the Dye Studio x Stitch Exchange : Another Rendidition of the Alabama Chanin Tank Dress

Posted by Kristine Vejar on August 21, 2013 6 Comments

On Saturday, I spent the day assisting Natalie in her day long Alabama Chanin workshop at Heath Ceramics in San Francisco. Where do I even begin. The space at Heath is amazing. If you haven't had a chance to make it over there yet, it is a must-see. Heath is a Bay Area icon and have been manufacturing their stoneware for over 50 years in the Bay Area, specifically Sausalito, and have now expanded production to San Francisco.

When you walk into Heath SF, look left, you will see the Blue Bottle Coffee kiosk. The first thing I did early Saturday morning, was grab a cappuccino. Running through the center of the building are the the new, gigantic kilns. This warms my heart to see production at this scale in the US as it gives me hope that maybe one day, our production may be larger, or at least more professional. And also, the fact that their production has grown to this size means indicated that they have demand for their product, which must mean that more people are valuing products made in the US, and absorbing the cost of such products. Possibly, smaller homes, with more conscious materials to make them. Maybe? Using simple form in their design, so the pieces have a classic look, less likely to go out of style, less need in the future to remodel. Hopefully.

I walked into the kitchen which is located in the Heath store and Natalie was baking biscuits - from flour grown in the South. Grabbing a warm biscuit, I headed upstairs to begin preparing for our guests. The workshop took place in the private studio of the owners of Heath and their product manager. What that means to those of us obsessed with shape, form, and process, is that this space was filled with light and samples of what they were currently tinkering with.

As the stitchers arrived, and received their kits consisting of everything from table linens to corset tops, everyone settled in to hear Natalie speak about how Alabama Chanin pieces are made and then they dove in and began to stitch. I don't think I will ever tire of seeing a table full of people stitching together.

One of the topics that came up during the day was if Natalie was going to design more patterns. You know makers, we can never get enough. Though really, making patterns for a wide audience to be able to follow and understand, rather than for her production studio, is quite time consuming. Natalie made a really great point in her discussion. Given the current options of patterns, fabric colors, jersey weights, stencil options, paint options, applique / reverse applique options, and embroidery options, there are nearly infinite possibilities within the Alabama Chanin line. Plus, Natalie has been writing a DIY feature for her blog which is very inspiring. She takes a commercial pattern and Chanin-fies it. Chanin-izes it? Either way, she takes a commercial pattern, cuts it out of jersey, which she added they treat as a woven, sews it be hand, adds the hand-felled seams, and it looks beautiful and unique. This option is perfectly viable for anyone who would like a slightly different style, sleeve, or shape. It's another realm to explore possibilities.

A week or so ago, I wrote about a new Alabama Chanin dress I made while in Minnesota. Here is another new dress. Both dresses use the same AC pattern, the dress pattern from book 3. Both dresses I dyed with indigo. And both, I think, are nearly night and day in style. Now the major modification I did was add sleeves to this edition. I am still new at drafting sleeves, so bare with me.

Guys. Can you be easy on me? It has been a huge stretch for me to model for the things that I make. But I feel like, being that I am encouraging making, and not being a perfectionist (spoken from a true perfectionist at heart), that it is important for me to sometimes model the garments that I am making. Then, there's the fact, that I ran to work this morning at 8am, no makeup, um, no bra, and felt like this blog post needed to be made today! All I can add is a great big smiley face! :D

So back to making for a moment, we still have the Alabama Chanin DIY Trunk Show at Verb. Between being able to try on all the sizes of the samples, and thumbing through the fabric swatches, we've been helping and watching customers design the most amazing kits. We are happy to help you do the same! I hope you can make a bit of time to come by and check out these beautiful pieces.

As I slip back into my jeans and sweatshirt, and head back to the dyeing studio, I wish you all a great rest of your day!

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