Faux-nthropologie (okay, maybe that's a stretch...)
Get the Look:
So, I saw that beautiful tshirt with its elegant cutouts on pinterest, and I thought to myself “I could do that!” So I did. Then I thought to myself “I should share how I did this!” So I am. This is my present to all my faithful readers who are here at my 201st blog post. (Not really, actually, thats a complete coincidence. But still, 201! Holy crap.)
I made some minor modifications to the pattern for my own amusement which you can choose to follow, or not, as you will. I added a bit of flare in the back, and used a tutorial for petal sleeves. I also thickened the crosspieces, because the knit I was working with was pretty thin and I was worried that going too narrow would be just be difficult and annoying. That knit, by the way, I found at Joanns for $4/yd.
Feel free to go with your instincts, change things up, and make a shirt that YOU want to wear.
For this tutorial, you’ll want to use a comfortable 4-way stretch knit, and contemplate using a serger, or double needle. You should also have a basic tshirt pattern that you’ve used before and know you like. (If you don’t have such a pattern already, I highly recommend this Deer-and-Doe pattern. Its free, simple to follow, and looks great on everyone!.) I used bias-tape made of the same fabric to finish all the edges in my shirt, but that’s not necessary. If you want, you can simply use a fold-over hem. This site has some great tutorials on a variety of ways to finish knit hems.
So, to make this shirt you’re going to want to modify the back pattern piece of a generic tshirt pattern. The front and sleeves will stay exactly the same. I’m going to use some pretty impressively crappy paint sketches to illustrate my points.
Trace the back pattern piece out on some large sheets of paper. If your pattern is a piece that is “cut on the fold” flip it over so that you have a full piece, exactly like the piece of fabric you *would* be cutting out for the back. Find and mark the center line of the piece.
Then, on one “half” of the pattern piece start at the shoulder neckline and draw a dip and a line that crosses the center line, and goes all the way to the opposite shoulder. Starting off parallel to that line, but a few inches lower (how much lower is up to you, that will determine the width of the crosspieces) draw another line that that crosses the centerline, and then curves back towards it to end in the middle of your back. If those words made absolutely no sense, as I suspect is the case, just look at this image:
If you want a more flared effect like my brown shirt, continue the line diagonally to end somewhere on the other half of the shirt pattern. If you want a straighter/tighter back to your shirt, just follow the centerline straight down.
This is your NEW back piece. You’re going to want to cut out two of them (but mirrored, obviously.)
Next, I would recommend finishing the lower edge of the cutout and crosspiece on BOTH back pieces in whatever way you choose. It’ll be easier to do it now than later. I’ve highlighted the edge I’m talking about in purple below:
Then sew the shoulder seams together. You’ll end up with a funny kind-of T-shaped thing, with the crosspieces of each back pointed toward the center.
Next, you’ll want to finish the edges of the neckline and the top side of each crosspiece.
After that, you’ll want to sew up the seam in the center back. Go only as far as the bottom of the cutout curve. Also go ahead and put the sleeves on, or if you’re doing a tanktop finish the edges of the armholes.
Then, you’ll want to sew up the side seams. Go from the edges of the sleeves, all the way through the armpit (making sure to match the sleeve seams) and down the shirt to the bottom hem. Finish the bottom hem in whatever way you see fit.
Finally, you’ll want to attach the crosspieces to the inside of their OPPOSITE shoulder seam. You might want to put it on and play with their placing for a couple of minutes. The angle at which you end up sewing them can make a difference.
And you should end up with something that looks sort of like this:
This whole concept is also pretty easy to tweak and customize and get creative with. As I mention, I also added some petal sleeves. (I used this tutorial).
You can also cut different shapes, or even do multiple crosspieces.
I haven’t been brave enough to try more than two crosspieces on each side yet, but I think you could end up with an incredibly complex and beautiful pattern.
Or instead of the leaf-like oval cut-out at the bottom, I think it’d be pretty easy to make a shape more like a heart, or go with super straight lines and make a triangle. The possibilities are endless!
If you want to see some higher resolution shots of the shirts I made, check out these posts.
Feel free to share your success and even your failures with me! I’m curious to see if anyone else has any luck with this.
Do you find that working for a fabric company inspires you to create your own clothing more than you would if you worked somewhere else? Or does it simply allow you greater opportunity to create what you want?
I would say that working for spoonflower definitely allows me a greater opportunity to sew. One of our benefits is a certain amount of free yardage, and simply having that to play with is a huge bonus. It gives me a chance to try patterns I’m uncertain of, or work with fabrics I have little experience with, without worrying about the cost of such experiments.
There is also the benefit of working in close quarters with many other sewing enthusiasts. If I’m curious about a new technique, there’s almost always someone nearby who’s tried and can give me some pointers.
I can certainly find my proximity to spoonflower inspiring sometimes. There’s such a wide choice of fabric designs, certainly more than in generic fabric stores, and I can find the weird and odd and off-center designs that fit my personality better. Coming across a truly wacky or wonderfully beautiful design during my work can definitely inspire specific articles of clothing in my imagination. Some of them even end up in reality, eventually.
Sometimes though, that can become as limiting as it is inspiring. When I get some free fabric from work, I find it difficult to convince myself to pay full price for fabrics outside of spoonflower. And while spoonflower is fantastic at what it does (digitally designed and printed fabrics) it doesn’t do everything. I have to force myself to work outside of that comfort zone sometimes, and experience fabrics that we don’t offer at spoonflower. We’re never going to be able to print on velvet after all, or many other heavily textured fabrics. And printing fabric in solid shades just doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes I depend a little too much on the fabulous fabric design, and its ability to hide my own flaws in sewing. Working with simple fabrics and solid colors forces you to be much more careful and and correct in how you sew a garment.
However, spoonflower’s influence in my sewing has been overwhelmingly good in the long run. Simply being surrounded by fabric on a daily basis has encouraged me to sew much more than I think I ever would have had I not had the opportunity to work there.
Oops, I've been busy... Belated New Years: A Year In Books
Yeah, so I know, its been 8 months since I made an appearance. I’ve been busy. Which is a sad excuse, because no one else on the face of the earth has ever been busy AND kept a blog. Because if you were busy, what could you possibly have to write about in the blog, AMIRITE?!
Anyways, so in 2013 I read a lot of books (though not as many as in previous years, or even as many I’d hoped.) I certainly didn’t write as many full-length reviews as I promised I would.
Apparently there was only one book I felt deserved 1 star: A Princess of Mars (John Carter #1). I didn’t even finish it. Here’s my review: “I’m sorry. I couldn’t do it. Maybe someday, when I’m more in the mood for dated sexist writing. Or maybe someday when I bored and desperate and don’t have a pile of ACTUALLY good books to read.” And I stand by that. I probably should read it, someday, because that series has a place in the history of sci-fi. But…. not while I have actually good books to read.
I read thirteen books that I felt deserved five stars. Most of those were actually re-reads or childhood favorites. There were two that were completely new to me and I really felt deserved the title of favorite book of the year.
The first is Anglemaker, by Nick Harkaway. This is the author’s second novel, and even though I was pretty impressed by the first one (Read my review of The Gone-Away World), this one completely blew me away and shows that the author is still growing and improving his skill. The plot switches back and forth between present day Joe Spork, who wishes he could be a simple clock-maker and ignore the legacy of his mobster crime lord father, and WWII spy Edie Bannister, a kick ass lesbian lady whose brilliant mathematician girlfriend just wants to save the world. Fancy clockwork, perfectly evil and hate-able villains, little old ladies who are more than they appear, noble mobsters who steal from the rich and give to the poor, all of these make an appearance. Its a pretty perfect book in my opinion. Reading it allows you to escape into the perfect adventure where you find love and save the world and people who have been fighting for the powers of Good and Truth.
The second book I’d recommend, The Universe Versus Alex Woods, by Gavin Extence is really quite the opposite of that. Its a story of normality, and real life, and the tiny battles we all face in life: acceptance of difficult things, unfairness, our parents being weird, the world just not understanding. And yet, it wasn’t the usual “coming of age” story full of morals and “lessons learned” and other things that usually come off as condescending crap. This book struck me because it was so completely different from anything I had been expecting of it. And I found it touching and emotional in surprising ways as well. Here is what I wrote on goodreads: This was a fantastic read. I really had no idea what to expect, and even then it wasn’t anything like I expected. It is a wonderfully witty funny story about a boy with a rather unique outlook on life. Possibly because he was struck by a meteor at age 10, or possibly because his mother read tarot cards for a living, or possibly just because he was born that way. Or, well, its a witty funny wrapping around a compelling and deeply emotional core. Read it. It is good.
I promise, I’m also going to try to catch up on posting various sewing projects as well. Though probably not in the order in which I actually sewed them.
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but it was definitely one of those books that just by changing one or two things it could have been FANTASTIC. The fresh look at zombies and vampires and fantasy creatures in a modern urban setting was nice. This is no True Blood, or Twilight, or even Charles DeLint, it is definitely its own thing, and I loved that unique view. I loved the concept, a human woman writing a travel guide for unnatural creatures visiting New York, awesome. It had a good sense of humor, definitely some silly moments, some witty lines. I understand that its supposed to be a fluff book, and I wasn’t looking for anything too serious.
But… I got so sick of plot twists that entirely revolved around the romantic history and sex life of the main character. Really? I mean REALLY?! She’s supposed to be a strong intelligent driven woman, so why is it always about the MEN in her life???
Why is it always about the fact that she slept with her last boss who was actually married? Why is her coworker a super sexy incubus who somehow talks her into going to a bdsm sex club and nearly having sex with her in front of a crowd. (Which, of course, she doesn’t protest at the time, but gets pissed about later). And of course, her next door neighbor just HAPPENS to be a super sexy knight in shining armor, employed by Public Works, the secret police force of the unnatural world. And OF COURSE the big evil of the climax of the book just HAPPENS to be her ex-boyfriend’s wife, who is a voodoo queen coming to take over New York City, and also has a personal vendetta agains the main character. I mean, really?!
That just pissed me off no end. The villain of the book is the wife of the man the main character slept with. Think about what that says for a moment. And, by the way, the married guy in question isn’t portrayed as evil, or a true shithead, just a kind of weak, icky womanizer. When the main character runs into him again, not only does she NOT kick him in the balls, or at least punch him in the nose, she saves his life. Twice. I’m not saying he deserved to die, and good for her taking the moral high ground. But she also doesn’t even TELL HIM HE’S A SHIT HEAD FOR LYING TO HER AND CHEATING ON HIS WIFE. Neither woman knew about the other, the guy is the one who’s really a freakin’ jerk AND YET its the two women who end up battling each other with constructs in central park. I’m not saying every woman who’s ever been cheated on by her husband is automatically a good person, but COME ON. That just left a nasty taste in my mouth. Especially since every other plot device was also SOMEHOW related to the main character’s sex life and the fact she slept with her last boss who happened to be married. Ick.
But enough about that. One of the other things I really liked about this book is that the author is local. Not in a super flattering light, but its still mentioned. And that makes me smile, because I love where I live, and I love that interesting people who are succeeding at their dreams are living here too.
While this book definitely had things I didn’t like about it, it had enough things I did like about it that I will continue to read works by this author. I want to support local authors, but also because I think the flaws that so bothered me are somewhat from her being such a new author. This is apparently her first largely published book, I’m excited to see where she goes. Hopefully she’ll find her strengths in her humor, and her fun new look at urban fantasy, and NOT in her sense of “romance” or dependence on male characters as plot points.
I love my birthday, I mean really really love it. And to a certain extent, I don’t understand people who don’t love their birthday. I can understand not liking cake, so eat pie, or hamburgers, or whatever you want to eat. I can understand not liking the attention, so avoid people. Don’t like parties? Well, don’t throw one. Don’t like presents? Make that clear, and tell people why, and they probably won’t give them to you. What I can’t understand is the fear of getting “older.”
Well, okay, I “understand” it, I just refuse to give into it. I think it’s entirely the wrong way of looking at things.
Every year that passes is a success. You survived. You made it to where you are, and it wasn’t easy. And there will never be a point where it becomes easy. You don’t cross a line where it all starts to make sense, it’s life.
Having a birthday isn’t a time to look at all the things you thought you’d have accomplished by now, that’s all backwards. Birthdays should be about going, “Look what I did! Look who I AM. I did this, I made this, I saw this, I am this.” And it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, or made, or saw, or been, because the mere act of doing those things is a huge accomplishment. That’s life, and you’ve survived it, you’ve made it this far.
Birthdays are literally a celebration of life. To me, saying that you don’t enjoy your birthday also says that you don’t enjoy being alive. Everyone seems to imply that I only feel that way because “I’m young.” Bullshit. There’s no line you cross where life comes easily, and its not a reason to celebrate the fact you’re still alive. Oh, I only like birthdays because I’m not 30 yet? Bullshit. I’ve been waiting to turn 33 and throw a Hobbit Coming of Age Party since forever.
I fill my birthdays with tiny rituals. Things that make me feel good about myself, feel good about the world, feel good about being alive. Why would I do anything else? It’s MY birthday! Every year I make a mixed cd of all the songs I want to hear that day, songs that make me happy, or that move me, or feel beautiful. Every year, I try to do something outside, surround myself with trees, or flowers, or anything thats alive. Because I’m alive, and no matter what you believe in, thats a pretty amazing mystery, and if there’s one day a year when I should think about it, this is it. But I like over romanticized silly faux-philosophical meanderings like that. I also do shallow things like eat whatever I want, get a hair cut, follow my every whim, hang out with only people I want to.
Maybe I’m just selfish like that, but its been working for 25 years so far, so I don’t really plan on changing it. If there’s one thing you shouldn’t feel on your birthday, its guilt. You have 364 other days to worry about the things you should or shouldn’t have done, to feel down on yourself, or to be annoyed with people around you, or be unhappy. Don’t do it on your birthday.
Don’t do anything you don’t want to on your birthday, if you can help it. And if you can’t help it, then don’t let it overcome you. Don’t give into the world’s expectations for your birthday. If you don’t like parties, don’t have one. If you don’t like cake, don’t eat it. If you don’t like people, take some time to be alone. If you don’t like being alone, surround yourself with people you love. Don’t think about the things you haven’t done, revel in the things you HAVE done, no matter how small. Celebrate YOUR life in whatever way makes you feel alive.
And there’s my platitude of the year. Sermon done. Happy birthday to everyone. :-D
Reblogging this again because I see it come up so often, and I don’t know that people really talk about it and explain as widely as complain.
“Why is everything on spoonflower so fucking expensive?”
Because a lot of the work has to be hands on, individually supervised and handled, one order at a time. Because they try to choose fabric sources and types as ethically as they can, and they use higher quality organic fabrics often. Because they want to pay their employees well, and keep them happy. Because they sometimes eat the cost of print errors or oddities in favor of customer satisfaction. Because they keep investing in adding more quality to the service, tech, and customer service.
Any kind of print-on-demand service will be expensive, if for nothing else but the man hours involved. If you want to do quality business, you try to pay decent wages and make your staff comfortable. Doing this sort of thing cheaply would make poor quality products, and overburden employees, so in the end, everybody would loose.
In terms of trying to buy a large piece of fabric for clothing, I feel you - I’m plus sized and need yards more than many people. What you could try to do is look for really tightly designed patterns that would hopefully fit in less space. You could also consider multiple fabric sources - buy a cheaper mass-produced fabric of the same type, and see if you can just use a Spoonflower print as an accent.
For smaller items, you may want to keep a keen eye out for sales. Sometimes Spoonflower does cheap fat quarters. (Note: Seasonally near Thanksgiving and Christmas, and sometimes swatch or fat quarter sales at other times.)
And finally, you could try to design patterns that might strike people’s fancy, put it up for sale, and earn credit to put toward your order.
You dream of pants, I dream of voluminous skirts. Let’s both cross our fingers and keep hoping and working toward it! :)
I would also like to add a little more about their staff: All of the orders come signed by whoever put it together to ship to you, and even the tiniest little glitch in print is noted and an offer made to re-print if needed. I’ve even gotten a drawing once related to my designs. Happy staff makes me so happy as a customer and designer.
Anyway… I know, it seems so expensive, but you do get what you pay for with the way Spoonflower seems to be doing things!
As one of their (very happy) employees, I heartily agree with everything this person said.
Every piece of fabric for a spoonflower customer is custom printed. To your specifications. Its not like a joanns where you go into the store, pick up a bolt of fabric you like and have them cut off however much you want. Your fabric doesn’t exist until you order it, be that an 8” swatch or a 10 yard piece. Its also been personally designed by an individual not a company, probably a normal person with an annoying day job, just like you. When you buy someone else’s fabric, Spoonflower pays the designer a 10% commission!
Do you know how many people are personally involved with a single piece of fabric from when its ordered on the website to when it goes out the door? First there’s the engineering team that builds and keeps up the website, constantly adding new features and making it easier for you to order fabric. Then there’s the customer service team, they answer any question you ask. Trust me, ANY QUESTION, haha. Then there’s the print team (thats me) we run the printers. Constantly. 24 hours a day. And printers are temperamental creatures, fabric is NOT easy to print on. It takes about 10 minutes to print one yard of fabric, if you’re lucky. Then someone puts that fabric on a massive heating device that fixes the ink to make it as wash safe as we can. Then there’s the quality assurance team, they check over every inch of every piece of fabric that gets printed. Did a stray string interfere with the printing process? Did the colors turn out right? Is the image on grain with the fabric? If not, it goes back to the printers and the whole process starts over again. If it did print perfectly, then it gets handed to ANOTHER person, who checks over the order, makes sure all the pieces are there, packs them up to look nice, and personally signs the packing sheet. Then it gets handed to yet another person, who sends it through the mailing system. Only then does it go out the door to get to you.
And that happens for ever piece of fabric. Every piece. That’s just the labor involved. That doesn’t even take into consideration the price of the unprinted fabric, the amount and price of the ink used, the cost of upkeep for the printers themselves, the cost of the fixing machine, the cost of the endless coffee supplied to keep us all running around at top speed at 2 in the morning to keep your fabric printing.
So yes, it’s more expensive than the off-the-bolt, polyester, somehow-constantly-on-sale fabric at Joann’s. I’ve been a poor college student (and poor post-college person) who saves up every inch of every scrap of fabric, because you never know when you could use a bit of trim. I hear your pain. But it’s also very very worth it. Not only am I spoonflower employee, I’m a spoonflower customer. When I create my own designs, it gives me such joy and glee to see them actually physically printed on fabric. To know that I made this. Its a really really awesome feeling.