apihappi – hand loomed fabrics from sri lanka

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Recently I was contacted by a company called ApiHappi regarding a review of their hand woven fabrics. Founded by partners Aparna and Etosha, ApiHappi is a new creative endeavor that provides jobs for underprivileged women in Sri Lanka by teaching them to weave fabric on a handloom. Handloomed fabrics are unique because the looms are operated entirely by human energy, and you can see that hand made touch in each piece of cloth.

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ApiHappi got started by making drawstring “stringy” bags out of their handloomed fabrics which led to a program to provide backpacks to children in rural, poverty stricken areas of Sri Lanka. Aparna has a beautiful selection of bags to choose from on the ApiHappi website, but the product I’m here to talk about today is handloomed yardage that you can now buy for your own sewing projects!

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Here are just a few of the fabric options now available on ApiHappi.

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The fabric is standard width and has the weight/durability of a canvas but with a bit of give to it. It’s woven with hand dyed cotton threads which are sourced from another small artisan in Sri Lanka. The nature of this type of weaving makes for a beautiful solid colored fabric at first glance, but upon closer inspection you can see the different colors of each individual thread. It ads so much depth and texture to the fabric! This particular color is called Beluga Blue.

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The fabric has a selvage just like you’d see on store bought yardage but definitely has a rustic, old world sort of overall appearance. I used my serger to finish the top and bottom edges and then threw the fabric in the washing machine to see how it would hold up. It came out just fine (even after a good tumble dry) and softened up nicely. I found the fabric surprisingly easy to sew with, and my machine handled the thickness really well.

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I made two simple throw pillows (well, three if you count the one I made with my own fabric design) and I love the way they turned out. A throw pillow was my unimaginative choice to test drive the fabric, but you could use ApiHappi yardage for almost any Home Dec project including table runners, place mats, roman shades, etc. Utility bags, beach bags, and tote bags are also perfect projects to pair with this fabric. They even have a fabric estimator to help you decide how much you’ll need.

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(Lucille was my creative director for today’s post. The colors in her collar just happened to match my photoshoot perfectly ;) She’s doing well after her surgery but I’ll have a real update on that later!)

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Though I didn’t immediately think of garment sewing when first handling the fabric, I bet it would work well for a pair of shorts or jacket (especially in those beautiful stripes!). I have a little bit of the fabric leftover that I’m going to experiment with and report back. All in all it’s been a real pleasure to get to know more about ApiHappi and their mission to support creativity and community, and now I have two beautiful handloomed throw pillows to enjoy.

What kinds of things would you sew with a beautiful fabric (handloomed with love!) all the way from Sri Lanka?

xo
Rochelle

*I was provided with the fabric and bag in exchange for this product review. All views expressed are my own. Photos by me.

love letters

After confessing in my last post about so many things that I realized I didn’t love, I thought it would be appropriate to follow up with some things that I do love. I’m not a negative person by nature but sometimes being honest about a situation, especially when the outcome isn’t what you want, sure feels like a whole lot of negativity. That part can be tough, especially when I like to keep things light-hearted and not so serious around here. I might make this a regular series to help remind myself to take a step back and appreciate all the little things that make me happy. Here goes…

Dear Blog Readers, I love you.
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When I confessed in my last post I wasn’t sure what the response would be. I wasn’t really looking for any kind of help or support, I just needed some official closure for myself so I could move forward. What I got was a wonderfully overwhelming response of empathy and general positivity, and even though I thought I didn’t “need” that… I totally did. I was reminded why the online sewing community is so important to me and if you’re reading this right now, I want you to know how much I appreciate you.

Dear Nature, I love you.
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I do not always love the bugs that live in you but I still love the fresh air I’m blessed to breathe, the warm sun that blinds my sunglass-less eyes, the peaceful woods I’m surrounded by, and the moss that grows on your floor. Moss is really cute and fuzzy as it turns out and I hope I come back as a forest nymph in my next life so I can sleep on it.

Dear New Serger, I love you.
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I was on an anti-serger kick for a while there (not for any good reason, I just didn’t have one I liked) but then I saw you on Amazon Prime for under 200 dollars and I came to my senses. Best purchase ever. I’ve been using it to finish everything, including the raw edges of my fabric before I wash it. Cotton doesn’t fray that much, but still. New serger, as I said.

Dear Fluffies, I love you.
fluffiesEven though I fall asleep every night with a dog butt in my face and a cat paw in my eye, I still always love my fluffy kids. They never, ever fail to make me happy even though I have back problems from never being able to use my laptop correctly. Apparently laps are for cats, not for computers. Even so, my kids are my everything.

Dear Jessica Fletcher, I love you.
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Even though you are arguably the worst person to associate with since you witness at least 52 murders a year, you make for good TV and I think we could be friends in real life. You’re teaching me to be more aware of my surroundings, and making me want more blue eyeshadow in my makeup case. Murder She Wrote is my stress free wind-down show lately. I love it.

What do you love this week?

xo
Rochelle

winner announced!

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Let me extend a huge thanks to those of you (all 173 of you!) who entered the giveaway to promote Christine’s new book. What an awesome kick off! The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction is on sale now and has a five-star rating on Amazon so I bet copies are flying off the shelves! I wish I had a prize to giveaway to everyone, but alas, there can be only one winner today.

The lucky randomly generated winner of the fabric and notions prize goes to:

Caroline of The Sewcialist!

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Congratulations, Caroline! I’ll have your goodies on their way to you next week.

In other news, Sew For Victory 2.0 is making its grand return REALLY soon so start thinking about 1940s sewing! Check out last year’s final project parade and archived posts for inspiration. More on that soon. …real soon.

Stay tuned, everyone!

xo
Rochelle

Craftsy
 

now closed – giveaway! blog tour with christine haynes

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Hello! I have a special giveaway today to help kick off and promote Christine’s brand new book: The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction. I’ve had the pleasure of previewing the book and let me tell you, it is THE Complete Photo Guide for beginners. Christine covers absolutely everything from pattern terms, cutting layout, marking tools, fitting your shape, actually sewing a garment together… I mean it. She really thought of EVERYTHING. I wish I had a guide like this when I was first starting out!
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Aside from the very thorough information and instructions, I really appreciate all the photos of vintage notions sprinkled throughout the book! A lot of instructional books tend to be very visually dry and wordy, but this book definitely isn’t.
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Oh right, the giveaway! Christine has generously offered up 1 and 3/8th yards of a fabulously fun wool blend, along with some vintage notions, for one lucky winner! This giveaway is extended worldwide and will close on Thursday March 13th at 10pm EST.  One winner will be randomly selected and announced on Friday, March 14th.
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For your chance to win: Leave one comment below (with your first name and a valid email address) telling me which of your sewing skills you’d like to improve on. That’s it!

Check out all of these other chances you’ll have to get a sneak peak of the book and win some really awesome stuff! Don’t miss out ;)
tourschedule
Monday, February 24 – City Stitching with Christine Haynes
Friday, February 28 – Sew L.A.
Monday, March 3 – Coletterie
Tuesday, March 4 – Miss Crayola Creepy
Wednesday, March 5 – Whipstitch
Thursday, March 6 – Lucky Lucille
Friday, March 7 – Grainline
Monday, March 10 – Oonaballoona
Tuesday, March 11 – Paunnett
Wednesday, March 12 – Sewaholic
Thursday, March 13 – Lladybird
Friday, March 14 – House of Pinheiro
Monday, March 17 – Flossie Teacakes
Tuesday, March 18 – The Sew Convert
Wednesday, March 19 – Craftsy
Thursday, March 20 – Sublime Stitching
Friday, March 21 – Sew Stylish

 

Good Luck!

xo
Rochelle

(**NOTE: Your comment may need to be pre-approved before appearing below. All comments will be approved in the order they were received.)

my twelve pattern challenge

I had a big enlightening moment at the end of 2013 that sparked an idea that would overhaul my entire approach to sewing. Last year I was constantly choosing patterns to sew that never got worn, I wasn’t making an effort to alter patterns that didn’t fit, I wasn’t choosing quality fabrics, and I wasn’t properly finishing the insides of my garments (all according to my own standards, of course). After evaluating my ideal wardrobe, and understanding why I wasn’t wearing what I was making, I came up with the Twelve Pattern Challenge. The purpose of this challenge is to create a handmade vintage wardrobe that I will want to wear everyday, that I can wash with ease and I’m proud of inside and out. Quality, not quantity, is the goal.

Here are the basic rules:

  1. I will pick a total of 12 patterns to sew from in 2014. This is my bank of wardrobe staples.
  2. I will select patterns from my stash first, but also give myself an allowance of new patterns to purchase.
  3. I can sew any combination of patterns, in any order, but…
  4. I will sew at least one pattern every month, and all 12 by the end of the year.
  5. I will make a muslin for each pattern and perfect the fit to the best of my ability.
  6. I will concentrate on proper, durable seam finishing techniques in order to really finish each garment.
  7. Once the fit is perfected, and the initial pattern has been made according to the original instructions, I can re-make and alter the pattern as many times as I’d like.
  8. I will attempt to use up my stash fabric, but only if the fabric is appropriate for the garment and of good quality.

*If I’m working through a pattern and I discover it’s just not working out (because of construction or fit problems) to the point where it’s no longer fun to work on, I will move on to a new pattern or replace the pattern that’s not working with a new one.

My Pattern Bank will consist of: 2 pant styles, 2 shirt styles, 2 wrap dresses, 2 skirt styles, 1 lounge wear set, 1 handbag, 1 jacket, and 1 blazer.

My Pattern Bank so far:
Pattern Number One: DuBarry 2434B Jacket – circa 1939
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Pattern Number Two: Simplicity 4498 Wrap Dress – circa 1943
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Pattern Number Three: Advance 3297 Wrap Dress – circa 1943
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Pattern Number Four: Simplicity 4139 Shirt – circa 1942
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Pattern Number Five: Mail Order Pattern 4821 Dirndl Skirt – circa 1954(?)
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Pattern Number Six and Seven: Simplicity Reproduction 3688 Blazer and Pants – originally circa 1944-45(?)
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My Pattern Allowance:
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I just purchased a six-gore suit skirt pattern (circa 1944) from Vintage4me2, so there’s one more to add to my bank! Now I only have four patterns left in my allowance to find. I’m still looking for a 1930s or 40s loungewear/pajama set that I can wear inside, but will also be acceptable to wear outside (if made in the right material) when walking Lucille in the summer time, or running errands. I need a second pants pattern and shirt pattern in slightly different styles than the ones already in my bank. The one handmade item I DO use every single day is my little tote bag, so I’d like to make another one that’s more durable and more purse like.

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I bought an entire bolt of muslin fabric (50% off at Jo-Ann’s!), and I have pattern tracing paper, so there’s no excuse for me not to test fit each one of my garments. I’m also considering the Craftsy class Sew The Perfect Fit in order to help me with any alterations I might need.

fabric

I’m going to try to sew from my stash first and foremost, but my stash only has shirt/dress weight cottons in it at this point. I’ll be ordering a lot of fabric online this year since there are NO fabric stores near me (besides Jo-Ann’s and I’m not happy with their bottom weight fabrics recently). I’ll be making an effort to plan new garments with an entire outfit in mind, and I will order swatches before buying unfamiliar fabrics.

Phew! Okay this post is getting slightly long winded but I really needed to spell this all out for myself so I have a solid reference to move forward with. Having a set plan is a big factor in sewing success so I’m just trying to follow my own advice for once ;).

This is the official kickoff to my Twelve Pattern Challenge!
What should I sew first?!

xo
Rochelle

merry happy joyus etc

I hope everyone had a happy holiday! Mine was filled with eating way too many cookies (there’s no such thing actually), taking too many photos of Lucille (also no such thing), spending time with my family, and purposefully not picking up present boxes to see how many cats I could catch. Sounds like a pretty perfect Christmas if you ask me.

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Lucille looks guilty here because she was caught red handed at the Cat Box Buffet and was unsure if Santa Paws would still bring her presents. She’s definitely not on the naughty list, but I still think Santa should have brought her a new tooth brush instead of a Petco giftcard.

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cookies

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I was really bad this year and spent a lot of time sewing my Archer button-up shirt instead of sewing Christmas presents. I tried to sneak in some last minute rush sewing on Christmas Eve but, as you can probably guess, I finished nothing. Oh well. You don’t need to use Christmas as an excuse to give gifts to the ones you love, right? Right.

Speaking of my Archer project, I’ve made some progress and it’s nearly finished! In fact, it would have been finished by now except it was amateur hour at Lucky Lucille Headquarters and I sewed a perfectly set-in sleeve on inside-out. Not once. But TWO TIMES! This is why you don’t sew late in poor lighting with fabric that doesn’t have an obvious right and wrong side. I wish I could use the excuse that I hit the Eggnog too hard that evening but I don’t drink much else besides coffee, and that wasn’t helping me either.

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I also made things infinitely more hard on myself by being too lazy to turn on my laptop and follow the actual Archer instructions. If I had done that, I would know that Jen eases the sleeve into the shoulder and then stitches up the sleeve seam and side seam in one step. You’d think I’d be better at following directions by now but uh, …yeah.

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The good news is my button hole foot and I are on speaking terms again! I’m happy to report I had not one problem with it this time. At least not with the standard button hole. I haven’t tried the rounded end ones since “the incident“.

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Again, I made things infinitely harder on myself by altering the original collar to a 1940’s collar and then attempting to keep the yoke facing. I’m almost too embarrassed to share the state of the inside of my Archer, because it’s not too pretty after hand basting the yoke facing in place and then top stitching it from the outside. But! It does look nice on the outside so who cares about the inside, right? (Uhg. I do. Who am I kidding.) I know it doesn’t look that bad (I’m not showing you the BAD side), I just know I could have done a much more tidy job and it’s bugging me that I didn’t.

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Once I get the sleeves in I just need to hem it and sew on the buttons, then it’s finished! Just in time to wrap up Archer Appreciation Month. I might even attempt some decorative saddle stitching around the collar and cuffs to compliment the brown buttons. We’ll see. I’m eager to finish so I can move on and get serious about sewing for 2014! I have A LOT of goals.

xo
Rochelle

 

my apologies, winner announced!

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My apologies! I was supposed to announce the Vintage4me2 giveaway winner on Friday after a day out with my family, but we got home late and it slipped my mind! Then we literally spent all day yesterday playing musical rooms in my house. I needed to move my sewing room so it could double as a guest room while my mom stays with us this month, but that meant we had to move three other rooms around in order to do that. (Excuses. I know.) The sewing room was top priority of course, meaning I had to climb over bins and piles of clothes to get into bed last night haha! Needless to say, I didn’t even turn my computer on at any point this weekend until right now so I’m sorry for the delay.  Also needless to say, my dress that I planned to post about, along with today’s winner, still needs buttons and a hem! Whoops! Life happens right? I’ll be finishing that dress up today!

Now the real news you’ve been waiting for…

And the giveaway winner is… RawInTheMiddle! Congratulations, and thank you to everyone who entered!

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Judy will be having a huge 50% off sale coming up in the next few weeks so stay tuned for that!

xo
Rochelle

vintage pattern giveaway (and coupon code!)

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As if one birthday giveaway wasn’t enough, Judy at Vintage4me2 and I had been planning another special November giveaway, since we both have birthdays this month. What better way to celebrate than with MORE presents for you?! I know, Judy is the best.

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Since the 19th was my 26th birthday, Judy is offering a very generous $26.00 USD credit to her eBay shop for one lucky winner, AND a 26% off coupon code for ALL to use until the 28th!

To use the coupon code: Visit the Vintage4me2 eBay shop and select any item with the “Buy it Now” option.

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Then, using this handy percent off calculator, enter the 26% off price into the “your offer” space. Finally, add a message to the seller and mention the code LUCKY26 to get the discounted price! You can use this coupon from today (11/21/13) through midnight on 11/28/13 EST. Judy ships worldwide, with free shipping (and $5 off international shipping) on orders over $75.

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To enter the $26.00 store credit giveaway: Find your favorite item in the Vintage4me2 shop and click to share it on any social media platform. Then leave one comment on this post and let me know where you shared it! (Try to tag me so I know you shared your favorite: rochelle_new on twitter, and luckylucille on facebook and pinterest)

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The giveaway will close on Thursday the 28th at midnight EST. I will announce one winner (drawn at random) on Friday the 29th along with my completed birthday dress made with a pattern from Vintage4me2!

Good Luck!

xo
Rochelle

**GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED**

generation q magazine giveaway!

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Today is my birthday, so to celebrate I have a little present for two lucky readers! I’m very excited to report that I’m featured in the November/December issue of Generation Q magazine in an article all about vintage sewing. The lovely folks at Gen Q gave me two extra copies to share. Wasn’t that nice of them?!

In the article you’ll read the ins and outs of sewing with old patterns, as well as tips and tricks from some pretty amazing ladies, including: Lauren at Rosie Wednesday, Gertie at Blog for Better Sewing, and Lynn from Little Red Hen. It’s an honor to be featured along side such great seamstresses, and speaking with Linda (my interviewer) was also a real pleasure. It’s so nice to be able to talk to eager ears about why I love vintage sewing so much, and in turn, it was wonderful to pick up the printed magazine and read why these women love it too!

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I don’t want to give too much of the content away, but it’s quite a few pages long and packed full of some seriously helpful sewing tidbits! …and some funny quotes from myself now that I read them again haha! William laughed when he read the part about us not being married because I can’t find the right sewing pattern for the occasion. We’ve been together for five years now so I’m sure nothing out of my mouth surprises him anymore ;)

For a chance to win: (GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED)

Leave one comment, using a valid email address where I can reach you, and your first name.

Also, just because I’m curious, let me know how you feel about vintage sewing!

This giveaway will close on Tuesday, November 26th 2013 at midnight EST.

I will randomly draw TWO winners and announce them on Wednesday the 27th.

Good Luck!

If you can’t wait to get your hands on a copy, you can find Generation Q magazine at select Jo-Ann and Barnes and Noble locations, and many other local on online sources.

xo
Rochelle