Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Interview with C&T Publishing

In 2015, C&T Publishing or rather, Stash Books excitedly published my book The Upcycled T-shirt. I had a chance to sit down with Katie who asked some fantastic questions about my creative process and the journey of a t-shirt.

KVA: In the introduction to your book, you write that TrashN2Tees has saved the equivalent of 404,407 T-shirts from landfills! Did you ever think you would have such an impact on clothing recycling? 
JM: In 2012, I undertook a project that nearly put me under... 

To read the entire interview head over to the C&T blog now. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Dying with Rust Experiments: Day Two Imprints

Day two of my rust dying exploration: Late last night I mixed up a bath of warm water and salt. I soaked the wrench prints overnight and now I'm soaking a wrapped design (seen above.)

I found that the best imprints were made with the fabric draped over top of the metals. My lay out was set up with a four sided pan. I prewashed/dryed white Kona cotton fabric. Before laying out a cut piece along the bottom of the pan I soaked it in 3:1 vinegar/water mix- ringing it out so that the fabric was not dripping wet but still quite damp. Placed fabric in bottom of the pan. Arranged rusted materials on top to my pleasing. Then I placed another cut of fabric on top of the arrangement. (The second fabric was prepared the same way) I filled a spray bottle with the same mixture and used it liberally to keep fabrics moist throughout the day.

The top fabric as I mentioned took the best imprint I can imagine for several reasons: 1. the moisture allowed the fabric to drape around/onto the shape of the wrench more clearly defining the shape 2. the exposure of oxygen 3. additional moisture

This piece above has been washed and soaked now, I have it setting in the full sun. Hoping to set the rust and maybe whiten the fabric. I'll share my findings later this week. I also have some samples of other techniques I'll show you including one of my favorites that was made using a stapler. Thanks so much for checking in. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Dying Fabrics With Rust

The past few weeks I've been content in not sewing an ounce. I was investing so much energy into preparing for events and lectures that my thoughts were beginning to stale. The boys and I have taken on art prompts each morning - much of it mixed media, paper crafting, drawing, painting. Leaving my comfort zone to play and explore in other mediums always helps to recenter my motivation.

Today I started experimenting with rust dying. Luckily- Nicks profession, he's a metal fabricator and all around industrial tool/machinery hoarder... I have access to a lot of different shapes and rusted materials. Now it's just a matter of figuring out what works best, how to fold and manipulate the materials to create patterns.

Here's the coloration after just few hours... I reset the wrenches before taking the picture so you can see the before/after

I'm using vinegar, rusty objects, and will use salt water solution & heat to set the coloring. Check back tomorrow for some progress.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Fringed T-shirt Bucket Bag Tutorial // Szoke Bag

Back to school sewing has started here, and while you'll find me sewing all things boys! I can't help but notice clever and creative patterns out there in the blogsphere. Today I wanted to share with you the Szoke Bag from Petite a Patite & Family  I love the scale of this little bag- which would be perfect for kids or adults to carry. I also love that the entire bag can be made from salvaged materials (upcycle a faux leather tote & tees!) You can find more tshirt repurposing tutorials on The Ultimate Upcycled T-shirt Tutorial list with this and 500+ others.

Get the Szoke Bag Tutorial and Pattern 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Tale of the Serger I Wanted to Smash

A few weeks ago I shared this image and many commented & chorused my misery. We were sisters and brothers, bound together by a single life altering experience. We all wanted to smash our serger machines to smitherines. (Wondering what is a serger? Click here)

As it started, my first purchase of a home serger was nearly 8 years ago. I purchased the Singer 14CG754 Profinish Overlock Serger on sale one day at Joanns for around $200. Up til then, my boys' tees had been constructed on my sewing machine with a simple zig zag finish- but I felt that in order to have an official business; making/selling custom clothing I needed to produce professionally finished seams for garments with a serger. Basically that's all I knew when I went to the store that day. Oh and from what I read on the internet I would dread threading the machine or altering the tension in any direction for fear of never getting a balanced stitch again. When we got home I set the machine up for a 3 thread overlock and that's the only stitch I ever ran.

I believe there's a worse fate for a sewing machine or tool of any type, beyond smitherines. That's sitting in a corner collecting dust. Eventually that little Profinish filled me with frustration (which I recognize now to be several factors: I was afraid of the machine, which is silly. I never took time to understand the mechanics of how a serger worked. I bought crumby quality thread that broke.) and I packed it back up in the original box where it sat in the corner for a few years. At this point- I, personally, was confident enough in my knit sewing skills that I could construct any garment "well enough" and despite the fact it took me twice as long to complete one. I felt it was justified for the comparison in time I fiddled and fumbled around the serger. Slowly the Profinish got covered in by a scrap pile and was never heard from again.

Until more recently I've lived a blissful serger free life. That's what I thought until one day I found myself behind the seams of an industrial overlocker/serger. My heart skips a beat when I think about that moment- I was sewing up tees and gosh how smooth and easy (and all that table space!!) That experience compared to my Profinish got me thinking about the serger in a whole new way. I no longer want to smash my serger to smitherines and I urge you not to do it either! (I also no longer have a Profinish!)

If you're experiencing a love/hate relationship with your overlock/serger, are considering buying one, own one and don't know how to use it or have any questions I'd love to hear from you in the comments- What are you biggest frustrations or fears when it comes to serger sewing?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

What I'm Working On Spoiler Alert: It's NOT Quilt Market Related

Last week I went on a mini shop hop tour and visited some of my favorite local quilt shops. Now, you should understand that I use the word local very loosely. Here in my hometown- there are zero quilt shops. The next town over has a small shop but it's primarily very traditional fabrics and the colors range from mauve to mustard to snow flakes. We do have a Michaels and a Hobby Lobby though if I get in a tight pinch. On any account, if I need some good Floriani or OESD (embroidery products) or want to grab a new presser foot for my machine- I'm driving at least an hour away.

With all of that being said I don't often make it out to my dealer, or any of the others as often as I'd like. However, I've started stitching up samples for my upcoming lectures at BERNINA University in July- and I need fabrics (and some other supplies too) so I dropped by both Pennington Quilt Works in Pennington New Jersey and Steve's Sewing, Vacuuming, and Quilting in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania this week.

Choosing fabrics, is like a thorn in my side. I love admiring prints and colors but when it comes to pulling things together all of the options make my head spin. It takes days. Weeks! I call in back up for help and I'm grateful that I have talented friends who put up with me and my fits. I started with this color palette.

This particular lecture is geared towards designing an eco home. Before I'm even sewing samples I'm thinking about how the room will be set up, the items displayed (not just laid across a table!), the colors used in my presentation the fonts etc and what roles they play in the overall experience.

We have some fabrics here and much of the work from here will be behind the scenes- but I'll be sure to share a few glimpses on techniques and other fun things along the way. I'm excited to share more about the new overlocker/serger too!

In addition to prepping for BU, this weekend is our local Comicon so I've been doing some final touches on costumes. Plus I'm still working on a collaboration quilt using beautiful fabrics from Art Gallery Fabrics.

Wishing everyone heading to Salt Lake City an amazing and connected time with friends and fellow makerlys folks. I'll be here hopping between projects. Do you work on more than 1 project at a time? Don't read this- So You Think You Can Multitask? Think Again.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


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