In the past few years, nearly every fabric designer — including us — has come out with a black and white fabric line. Now the Smithsonian has published a fascinating article on the history of black and white fabric in the US. Who knew that black and white fabrics came into vogue as a result of President Woodrow Wilson’s marriage coinciding with the start of World War I, which created a dye shortage in the US? It’s a fascinating read and shows us once again that the cultural and geo-political history of fabric is full of surprises.
Most days we’re in our studio or office in the historic village of Oak Park, Illinois, which borders Chicago. Thanks to social media, however, we get to connect every day with people around the world through this blog, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Here’s how we use each of them:
We use this blog to share longer-format ideas, free patterns, topics in the quilting and craft worlds and projects or designers whose work we think you’d find inspiring. We post here when we have news or a new project to share and it shows up on our Facebook page as well. Weeks has a personal blog Yes, It’s My Real Name, where she writes about topics unrelated to quilting.
We post information about special sales, pictures from shows and in-progress quilt shots on the Modern Quilt Studio Facebook page. If you only want to follow us in one place, this is the site where we can easily link to Pinterest and Instagram. We also have occasional giveaways or online offers on this page.
Many people send Facebook requests to our personal Facebook pages. Facebook limits the number of people we can have as friends on our personal pages but doesn’t limit the number of people who can follow our business page. In addition, we use our personal pages for non-work-related posts (family news, thoughts about current events, pictures of our foster pets, etc.) Most people who send friend requests to our personal Facebook pages often don’t realize that they are personal pages and are looking for quilting posts so we encourage them to like our business page to find posts that will be of interest to them.
We use Instagram for pretty pictures, sometimes shots we’ve featured in our publication Modern Quilts Illustrated or others we’ve taken while we’re on the road. Sometimes they are related to our work and sometimes they are just beautiful images from our garden. We post images that we hope will inspire you to see design differently. And occasionally we can’t resist sharing a cute picture of one of our foster pets. We generally post daily on Instagram, linking all shots from Instagram to the Modern Quilt Studio Facebook page. You’ll find us on Instagram as Modern Quilt Studio.
Our Pinterest posts are divided onto boards by various topics. We show our fabric, patterns, and ideas that we hope will inspire you to take on a new project. Posts may include a quilting detail so you can see a thread color or a pattern that you might want to try. Other posts show how we organize our tools or store fabric. Our goal on Pinterest is to help you see possibilities and fearlessly try something new. Typically we post several times a week a variety of posts to different boards. We link our Pinterest posts to the Modern Quilt Facebook page as well. You’ll find us on Pinterest as Modern Quilt Studio.
Want to windowshop or actually shop at 2am when you can’t sleep? Our webstore is always open! If you don’t see something you’re looking for, it means it’s out of stock or we don’t carry it as our system is constantly updating inventory. Fabrics and kits sell out quickly so if you put something in your cart last month, it may not still be there. As always, shipping to US addresses is FREE! If you mis-cut a piece or want backing options for a quilt in progress, feel free to call us at (708) 445-1817. Nancy, our wonderful and knowledgeable studio manager, will take good care of you if we’re not available.
If you’re interested in hiring us for lectures or workshops, you’ll find our Booking FAQs a helpful read before you email or call us. Descriptions of our lectures and workshops are here. Please email booking requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re fully booked through January 2017 but are taking requests for 2017-18 now.
Two hot summer days ago, UPS delivered bolts of our new Barbados fabrics. Wanting to make something right away, I thought of the cool comfort of dashikis I learned to love when I lived in Kenya years ago.
Weeks and I combed the internet for a good pattern and she found an affordable ($5.99) and downloadable pattern — Burda “Men’s Linen Shirt #138.” Though the pattern calls for a fabric that is the same on both sides (which is to say not a print), with a little adaptation I hoped I could make it work.
This was my first time using a downloadable Burda pattern. Though it has only four pattern pieces, it required 26 sheets of paper and a fair amount of tape.
The material requirements called for 59″-wide linen. I calculated that I’d need 2 1/2 yards of 42″-wide fabric which I prewashed as I taped together the printouts.
I’m a sucker for blue and thought the scale of our “Breeze” fabric would have the cool summery feel I wanted. Unlike any patterns I’ve purchased in stores, this one did not include seam allowances. I used a flexible drafting curve to extend the pattern and create the seam allowances. I don’t know if this is common in downloadable patterns, but I found it a bit annoying (though easy enough to deal with). In fairness the pattern did say it didn’t include the seam allowances.
Though it adds work, I prefer to sew french seams when I make shirts. If you’ve never sewn french seams, they’re counter intuitive. It’s a two-step process. First you sew your pieces wrong sides together:
Next you trim close to the seam, press the right sides together and sew another seam to encase the raw edges. It creates a smooth, finished seam with no raw edges to fray and no need to overlock:
The front comprises two sides which each fold inward to create a front facing. They are joined with a center seam. Given the graphic wave motif, it required careful planning and alignment of the pattern before cutting the fabric to ensure alignment of the repeats. The reason most dashikis have a center seam is that it allows you to have nicely finished neck and hem slits. It also lets you mirror large scale motifs if desired.
Earlier I mentioned having to make a small adaptation since I was using a print and not a solid linen. The change had to do with how the back neck facing and inner front facings were attached at the shoulders. If you decide to make this pattern, it’s not hard to figure out, just know that it’s indeed possible.
After wearing my dashiki all day in the summer heat and being so comfortable, I know I’ll soon make another. So what would I do differently next time? Add an inch to the sleeve length! I’ll probably wear the shirt with the sleeves rolled up most of the time, but when I unroll them they’re just a tad short.
Overall I’m happy with the pattern. The dashiki has room for movement without being boxy. The biggest question is which fabric do I use next? I’m leaning toward the red and gray Lanai print but am fond of the tan and taupe Resort print as well.