The first month of school has come and gone, and even after only a few days in all of the new already felt normal and like we had been at it a while. My kids love school, I am so fortunate with all of that. The rhythm of fall feels great to all of us. I like cooler weather, boots and jeans and sweaters. Heck, if I’m being honest I try to wear winter clothing as year round as possible.
As usual I wonder if we could heave made more of the summer, but then I think that the days of unplanned are consistent with the personality of my family, and I think the kids won’t mind it when they are grown. They both went on a special trip with Chris. We visited family in Austin for a good long while. We went on our annual cabin weekend with good friends, and friends visited us. Not too bad really, pretty simple, which is my preference. If I was more organized I would show photos, maybe next year!
There is a lot to do this fall, a lot to share and introduce, and a lot of new to make. I want to do all of it well, to inform and share, and not bombard. I really struggle with all of this, what is appropriate to share, what is a good amount and what is just pushy. I’m pretty sure I’m the opposite of pushy though, so I think it all feels like way to much to me, when maybe it’s not. I am actually a very (obnoxiously) reflective, over thinking, quiet person, and sharing here feels public in a way I wish it didn’t. I always go back to that I need to just get over it.
I thought I should just say it though, so then you can all know my heart. It’s so tricky to promote what I am working so hard at when I am so uncomfortable with it all. And I work so much at this because really, I love the art, I love designing fabric, and I want to be able to keep doing that. Most of the other stuff exists to support that end. That, and that I really do like people and interacting about a shared interest, but the shared interest is really just a way to get to know others more. I think this is why I like teaching and talking to groups about my work. I don’t like the getting up in front part, but I like the interaction it allows for. I care about quilting, but I care way more about people, so sometimes is seems weird to talk so much about fabric and sewing and all of that, and so little about all of the rest.
However, this post is for the purpose of introducing my newest fabric line, Handcrafted, so let’s just get to it!
Technically the line is called Alison Glass Handcrafted, but I know it will be shortened to Handcrafted, totally fine. There’s a big reason for the name, both in it’s generalness and in what it represents. I wanted something simple, because really this is a new look for this fabric making process. That alone is really thrilling. I wanted a name we could continue to use as the collection grows because it represents the overall look of the technique, thus the generalness. I also wanted something descriptive to the process. Before this line, all of the fabric I’ve designed have been manufactured in large fabric mills, a totally amazing process where huge machines move very fast to produce large quantities of goods quickly. This is all super good, but there are other ways to produce fabric.
The backstory is pretty simple. Andover Fabrics (well, really the people at Andover, but you know) asked me if I wanted to develop a fabric line using a batik type printing process. A lot of the time we (maybe it’s just me?) think of batik as a style, as in ‘I like batiks’ or ‘I don’t like batiks.’ The truth is, batik is a technique that uses wax-resist dying to make patterns on cloth. There is a huge, rich history to the technique. It is part of the culture of many countries, each with varying styles and specific ways of using wax, dye, and tools to get vastly different results. Indonesian batik is especially well known, so much so that it was designated as a ‘Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) in 2009. Yes, this is from my google search research, but it is really all very interesting, totally worth your own google search if you want to learn more.
Back to the backstory: Just before Andover brought up this possibility, I had been thinking about how to make a line of fabric geared towards garments. See, I want to sew things with my designs that I want to wear, but I’m a pretty simple (boring? probably!) dresser. I like a more muted, in general, palette, and a lot of solid color, not tons of dense prints. You’re maybe thinking, ‘Ummm, Alison’s quilting cotton prints are pretty dense in design, bright, with many colors, blah, blah.’ You’re right! While I love this for my home (remember, my background is home dec) and for patchwork and bags and many things, I personally can’t pull off wearing most of it. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen a ton of DARLING garments made with my prints, especially the cutest kid things that make me wish mine were still little and would want to wear something other than t-shirts and jeans. For me though, as a grown up, not stand out type, I wanted something different.
As soon as Andover mentioned it, the two thoughts swirled together in my brain as a possible way to get a design printed in a way that I (and hopefully many others) would like to wear. Add in the fact that the fabric is a bit lighter and more flow-y than quilting cotton, and I was sold. The challenge was exciting. Communicating what I wanted first to Andover, then to our partners in Indonesia through our local agents resulted in a year long development process. I have to tell you, that the artisans who are physically making this fabric have perfectly interpreted my vision for a new application of the hand stamped, hand dyed fabric process. They are patient in using different techniques within this process to get the look I wanted. It’s pretty amazing.
This fabric is very different, it’s created entirely by hand. Handcrafted is a new interpretation of the ancient wax resist fabric dying art form. It is made in Indonesia by people who have great skill. Having had the privilege of seeing a handful of photos of the process, I feel a deep connection to the idea that many hands went into the process of making this fabric. This bring me to something I feel strongly about. I think it’s easy to give credit to the designer for coming up with the idea or the artwork, it’s an obvious statement. I am, frankly, so lucky to get to be a part of the art on surfaces process, but it’s not at all just me. When you look at a piece of fabric, and think about the designer, think also about the art director and staff that ready the art for the mill, the agents who travel far to communicate with people who actually physically make the goods, weather it is in a large mill or in a village in a remote area. Think that there are real people, in this case, physically adding wax and dye to fabric specifically how I have asked, in order to bring this idea to life. It is kind of a bit overwhelming to think about how many people it takes to pull almost anything together.
Then there’s you! You can take this fabric that has already had so much humanness poured into it, cut it all up and sew it back together to make your own handmade goodness. It’s really so awesome.
When I really started looking into the history of batik, the term ‘acculturation’ emerged. Not being a vocabulary champion, I had to look up the concept. It’s the idea of change that results from the meeting of cultures. As out there as it seems, for the first time in my life, I really feel like I’m a very small part of something different that has resulted from the coming together of cultures. The batik printing process applied to fabrics that are created to appeal to people who enjoy what we have termed ‘modern’.
Basically, I hope you will love it, or at the least appreciate what it is. It’s really very lovely, better in person than in the photos (a huge thank you to Nicole at Modern Handcraft for taking and sharing most of these lovely photos, by the way). Super glow-y with a nice drape and feel, and as much as I envisioned it for garments, it is completely rocking in the patchwork projects you might have seen popping up as we prepare for Quilt Market in a couple of weeks.
The fabrics will ship to stores in October. I do have bundles and yardage up for pre-order in the shop (including a 10” square set if you want to get a little feel for each of the prints), and many other online and local shops will have it soon too. Each fabric has a design and color name, to hopefully simplify things when you are looking for a particular print. The next post will be a quick summary of those names with some other useful information about the fabric. What do you think? I’d love to hear what you might want to make, or any of your thought on the process, or on fall, or whatever you want. I can’t wait to see what you make!
American Patchwork & Quilting is challenging quilters, sewers and crafters to help them reach their goal of donating one million pillowcases to local charities, and today I’m sharing a pillowcase I’ve mad as a part of their blog hop as they prepare for the pillowcase challenge 24 hour sew-a-thon. The challenge gives you the opportunity to donate and make a difference in your community! Events are happening all over, and you can also join in virtually. Their site has more information if you are interested in joining in.
I have a new fabric line for fall: Handcrafted. It’s hand stamped and hand dyed in a lengthy process that results in some really distinctive fabrics. My sample yardage just arrived this week, and I will share a lot more about it next week, but for now am very glad to get use it for this special project. This pillowcase is my first time sewing with Handcrafted! I used 11 out of the 18 prints to make up Pattern 16, Piano Key Band, a free pattern from the All People Quilt website. It is an easy pattern to follow. The only change I made was to increase the number of fabrics used in the band.
Originally I was planning on sending the pillowcase to my chosen charity, like the directions said. I didn’t have one in mind, so started looking on the list form the website. I wanted to find one that supported women and children, and happened upon Enchanted Makeovers. The more I look into what Terry and her team are doing the more impressed I am. You can read about it on the main website, but what I really wan to highlight is their Sacred Sewing Room program.
Here’s a quote, “This year, the Sacred Sewing Room program is embarking on a national tour to create a unique, beautiful and inspirational sewing room in five shelters across the country. These Sacred Sewing Rooms will each be equipped with Baby Lock Rachel sewing machines. The Baby Lock Rachel is a computerized sewing machine with push-button features that make every project easier. This high quality, easy-to-use machine will eliminate any frustration that could create setbacks for the women as they learn this new skill. In shelters with Sacred Sewing Rooms, Enchanted Makeovers volunteers teach residents the basics of sewing. With each class, sewing becomes an important coping mechanism for the women as they build their confidence and start looking at sewing as a potential life-saving skill. It is empowering as they learn that they can do something for themselves and for others, too.”
So here is what I decided. I could send this one pillowcase to them, and that would be great, but it would be even better if we could work together to give them more than a pillowcase. I’ve arranged with Terry to have a little raffle. For each $5 you donate to the Sacred Sewing Room project you will get an entry to win the pillowcase! Click on the DONATE NOW button on their site to pay through pay pal, YOU MUST type ‘Alison Glass Pillowcase Raffle’ in the ‘add special instructions to recipient’ section to enter the raffle. Enchanted Makeovers will pick a winner and I’ll send the pillowcase! Pretty easy, maybe you’ll win, and definitely you will help a great program. You can also help out by sending pillowcases! To Enchanted Makeovers or to any other charity of your choice.
Please take a look at the rest of the blog hop posts! Thanks American Patchwork and Quilting for all of your work!
Thanks for considering being a part of this super project!
This is a pretty last minute announcement, but if you are in the Blacksburg, Virginia (close to Kentucky and West Virginia too!) area I’ll be at The New River Fiber Company this week teaching embroidery and wool appliqué and doing a trunk show! The class is on Thursday morning from 10:00 – 1:00 and you can register by calling 540-552-0231. I have brand new sampler design, above, that covers ten useful stitches, plus gives an introduction to wool appliqué. The trunk show is Wednesday evening from 6:00 – 8:00. I’ll share a ton of samples, including the new Handcrafted fabric, and a bit about my design process. I would love you to join us for either event! New River Fiver Company is a beautiful shop that you won’t want to miss. They have a gorgeous selection, highly curated, in a lovely town! Located at 880 University City Blvd, we would love to see you there!