Sew Mama Sew Wool Appliqué Guest Post and a Giveaway

Alison | October 11th, 2014 | Comments (117)

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Hello! If you are here from Sew Mama Sew, welcome! If not, I have a guest post over there today with a wool appliqué tutorial. If you’re curious about working with wool I’d love you to take a look at the project.

I am a big fan of hand stitching, so sharing a technique tutorial as part of the SMS Slow Sewing Series is really an honor. I won’t go on and on here because I’d rather you click over to the full post, but in summary: hand stitching is my favorite type of sewing! My new book Alison Glass Appliqué (out next month!) has a ton of it, and the project for the tutorial today is a modification of one of the book projects. I really like how it turned out. It will fit right in as a new pillow on my sofa. My daughter’s first question was, ‘I love it, do we get to keep it?’ Sweet, right?

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The background fabric is Bouquet in Yarrow from my new fabric line Alison Glass Handcrafted, and the wool is from my brand new, shipping any day now wool collection with Weeks Dye Works. It is stitched with perle cotton from the coordinating sets. I cannot tell you how much I like their wool and threads. Kits for the project and all of the materials are up in the shop.

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Win A Copy of My New Book and A Project Kit

In celebration of my tutorial and release of my new book – Sew Mama Sew and I are offering a giveaway! A kit to make this project and a copy of my book are up for grabs. Just leave a comment here answering why you are dying to try wool appliqué for a chance to win! I have to approve each comment, so don’t worry if you don’t see your’s right away. We will pick the winner next Friday and will announce in the comment section. Thanks!

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Alison Glass Handcrafted: Technical Information

Alison | October 2nd, 2014 | Comments (1)

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Well, that last post is officially the longest I’ve ever written. I guess I had a lot to say about my new fabric line for Andover Fabrics, Alison Glass Handcrafted. So much so that I didn’t even get to some of the technical information details that I think is important to share with you. Mainly, the names (design and color names) of each fabric, as well as an answer to the most frequently asked question about the fabric so far: ‘Is there a front and a back? How do I know which is which?’ Good questions.

Before we get into the technical information, I wanted to share a reminder that 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. The price point is a bit higher than other quilting cottons, not really higher than a lot of garment fabrics. I hope to get to share more about the process soon. When I do, the reason for the higher price point will seem obvious, as this really is made by people by hand. It’s really pretty amazing, the time that each piece of this fabric takes. I am thrilled to get to be a part it and to share it with you.

First up, ‘Bouquet’. I am so excited about this one. You really have to see it in person to get the full effect of how much the designs glow within the background. I have a feeling that these particular prints will go fast, no stress though, they’ll make more.

Bouquet in Duck Egg:

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Bouquet in Yarrow:

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Bouquet in Ruby:

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Next is ‘Plus’ in (from left to right) Shortbread, Strawberry, Chartreuse, Teal, and Lagoon. These make such a nice set. The scale is really nice, not too big, not too small. I will be making for sure a skirt out of the Chartreuse or the Strawberry, or wait, maybe Lagoon. I don’t know. I’ve seen a couple of really fun little bags too!

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Fun, right? The ‘a’ is for Andover. I like how they did this. I also like the letter a.

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Here is ‘Geese’. Definitely a take on a flying geese block, the randomness of this one I think is particularly nice. The colors turned out so nice too! Be on the look out for a gorgeous long dress in Graphite at Quilt Market!

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From left to right: Tomato, Lichen, Graphite, and Storm.

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‘Penny’ in Fossil, Beet, Navy, and Peacock is named kind of as an ode to Lucky Penny, my first fabric collection, and also kind of because they look like little coins to me. I see this design as a super useful one. Fossil is one I personally want to wear soon. It seems super practical.

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Close up, so you can see the color variation a little better. These fabrics have a clear, handmade look.

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Finally, ‘Petal’. This is a boarder print! The design gets less dense as is approaches the middle. I’m seeing skirts and scarves, and maybe some fun tops that really take advantage of the boarder feature. Charcoal is a really lovely deep grey. Eggplant, gosh, so much glowing of all of the little bits on the deep background.

‘Petal’ in Charcoal:

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“Petal’ in Eggplant:

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Now, the big question! ‘Is there a front and a back and how do I know which is which?’  This is a really super question! The non-helpful answer is that there is a right and wrong side, but it’s hard to tell. While this makes it tricky, it is actually a really super aspect of this fabric. It is practically reversible, and it only kind of matters, meaning that a single layer scarf or unlined skirt is not a problem, none of that weird faded out to deal with. My take is that if you can’t easily tell, then there’s not anything huge to worry about.

That being said, there is a difference. From just looking at it, there are a couple of things that I’ve noticed that will help. First, every so often on the selvedge there is an ‘a’ for Andover, like their logo. I mentioned the ‘a’ above, and you can see it in a couple of the photos. If you get a piece with that stamped on it, then you can tell the front because the ‘a’ is facing the right way.

However, it’s not stamped often, so that’s only kind of helpful. As far as just looking at the fabric, if you compare the front and the back of some of the shapes, the back will have more areas where the color is kind of missing, little white or lighter bits. It is really hard to see on some of the fabrics, particularly on the ones with smaller motifs. Take a look at the photo below, both right and left are approximately the same area on the fabric, but the left is the back (see the white bits?) and the right is the front. It’s pretty easy to see on the larger shapes.

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The smaller shapes are a little harder to see. If you look closely at the photo below you can tell a slight difference. Back is on the left again, front is on the right. Some of the front and back shapes look exactly the same, so not every place has these white bits. Look around the fabric until  you see some, and you will know that is the back, but keep in mind that both sides are viable options. If you like the ‘back’ better for your project, then go for it. There is no wrong side!

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I hope all of this information will help you start to plan your projects! I am so excited for Alison Glass Handcrafted to get in everyone’s hands – I can’t wait to see what you make!

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Introducing Alison Glass Handcrafted

Alison | September 30th, 2014 | Comments (32)

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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!

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