UnBag Bend

Plastic one-use bags, I have a love-hate relationship with them. I've been trying for years to kick the habit, and am about 60-70% of the way there. Realistically, the best way to be free of these environmentally unfriendly things is to ban them. There are many places all over the world that have already done so. That's why I was so excited to learn of UnBag Bend. It's an initiative to ban one-use plastic bags here in Bend, Oregon.

UnBag Bend has been making reusable bags from old t-shirts to help educate and spread the word. Today a few friends gathered with their sewing machines, and we stitched up about 200 bags from recycled t-shirts. These bags will be distributed throughout the Bend area. In each bag will include information about the UnBag Bend project.

If you have extra, unused t-shirts, just cut off the arms, leaving the arm/shoulder seam intact on the t-shirt, and cut off the neckband. Make the top (neck) opening large enough to be able to take things in and out of your bag. Then sew the bottom hem of the shirt together. We took four passes on the sewing machine to make sure the bottom of the bag was nice and strong. No need to sew the arm or neck area, as t-shirt fabric does not ravel or fray.

I hope you'll make some of your own reusable bags. They're quick and easy and so very useful.

For more information about UnBag Bend, here is the UnBag Bend Facebook link and a link to an article in the Bend Bulletin and an article in The Source. Check it out!


April showers bring May flowers. Not only is May a welcoming to Spring, it is also the month of #memademay. The #memademay movement is a great way to bring attention to hand making and slow fashion. Plus it's great fun to see what everyone is creating and an opportunity to show our own hand made goodies.

I'm going to post my #memademay outfits with details and links. I hope you'll join in and use the #memademay hashtag to post your own handiwork!

MAY 1:

I wore this outfit with black Converse tennies and my charcoal gray Patagonia down sweater. It was a chilly day.

I had access to this polo pattern during my Individual Studio Day at Alabama Chanin. I used black jersey fabric under and I believe midnight over. It's the Little Folks stencil, backstitched with DMC variegated embroidery floss and a few matte grey sequins.

The sequins are stitched over, with two French knots spaced between. They're a little difficult to see.

This is the Alabama Chanin Factory dress pattern (more details here), done in a single layer of wet paint stenciled fabric that I made. More about wet paint stenciling here.

MAY 2:

I wore grey wool felted Haflinger clogs with this outfit.

This crisscross top I also cut out at my Individual Studio Day. I had originally made it with Apple colored jersey on top and a hot pink underneath. Big mistake! It turned out looking like Strawberry Shortcake to me, something a two year old would wear. I was ready to give it away, when I thought I'd try to overdye it in black. It's not black, but I'm so happy with the results. It even goes perfectly with this single layered, lightweight plum colored Alabama Chanin fitted top.

This is the fitted t-shirt pattern with a v-neck modification.

Here's some detail of the rosebud stitch done in slate thread.

MAY 3:

This is the Alabama Chanin Factory dress in the Magdalena stencil, dusk over sand (or parchment). I wore it with an older Cabi top and my wool clogs. You can see more details on the dress here.

MAY 4:

It was a loungy sort of day, so I wore these pants. You can read more details about these Sonya Philips pants here.

MAY 5:

This is my very first hand stitched item I made. It's the Alabama Chanin fitted tank made from my husband's old t-shirt. It's one of my favorite go-to tops. Today I'll be working out in the yard, so I'll be wearing this with an old pair of pants and gardening clogs (so fashionable :).

MAY 7:

It was a hot day and I wanted to wear this yellow dress (full story here) with sandals, but my summer shoe box was still stored high up on a shelf, and none of our ladders could be found, so I spied an old pair of Toms cream colored lace shoes that belonged to my daughter and borrowed them for the day.

MAY 12:

Oh boy, I was so busy this past week, this is the only photo I took. It's my hand stitched fitted Alabama Chanin skirt in the color suede (more info here) and a "new" repurposed blouse I scored at one of my favorite local haunts, Cowgirl Cash. Rebecca always has something special in her shop! I wore my favorite brown short boots with this outfit.

MAY 16:

MAY 17:

I'll add more to this post as the month progresses.

What are YOU wearing for #memademay?

Alabama Chanin Suede Colored Jersey

There was an Alabama Chanin collection featuring Suede colored jersey a few years ago. It was the perfect basic color, going with almost everything, yet beautiful enough to stand on its own. When it finally became available for purchase, I splurged and bought six yards. I had dreamed of making up a "capsule" wardrobe of basics in this lovely color. 

Time ticked by, and last December I finally dusted off my Suede stash and began a bit of a basic stitching marathon. My first garment was a pair of Alabama Chanin pants. You can read more about those here.

I had joined the Alabama Chanin Build a Wardrobe 2017 program (more about that here), and had some really great patterns to try out. The pants fit perfectly, so my next pattern to try was the car coat. Because I'm rather short, I was a little apprehensive about the fit of the car coat, but I just had to try it out. 

I ended up sizing down, but should have cut it even smaller. The back fits really nicely, but the front has too much fabric for me. One day, I'll get in there and re-work the pattern, but for now, I'll just wear it as-is, more like a housecoat. I would usually just roll up the sleeves, but it added to the excess of fabric in this case, so I cut off about five inches. Being a double layered garment makes it warm and cozy.

My next item was a mid-length fitted skirt. This garment is so quick to cut and stitch. I was wearing it within a day. I like that I'll be able to layer this under a few of my shorter skirts and dresses.  Here it is with an indigo T-shirt top (full story here.)

Sorry for the not-so-great selfie shot, but I liked this outfit ~ printed top, Suede skirt, with my Alabama Chanin indigo blazer. I wore it with a super cute pair of brown Fiorentini+Baker ankle boots. 

Next up was the wrap top! I love wrap tops, wrap tunics, wrap dresses, wrap cardigans, wrap sweaters....you get the picture. 

The Alabama Chanin wrap pattern did not disappoint! I really like the fit of this top. I can foresee making quite a few versions of this top (and eventually tunics and dresses). Since this was a single layered garment, I felt it could use a little extra weight at the hem, so I added binding

It's easiest to pin, then baste the binding on, take out the pins, then secure your binding with a stretch stitch. 

If you can imagine how much easier it is to do the Cretan stitch without all those pins!

Here it is layered with my white Alabama Chanin fitted t-shirt (full story here.)

I like the detail of extra panels in back.

 Here's the inside tie. You can see the rosebud stitch on the skirt waistband.

I've dressed it up with an ochre bolero with burgundy stitching (more here). 

I think I have enough fabric left for one more garment. I'd like to try to make a pattern from my favorite slouchy, warm up top. Fingers crossed it turns out!!

I feel I've only touched on the versatility of these garments in Suede. Unfortunately, the color has been retired. But you never know, sometimes Alabama Chanin brings things out again.