Spring ’14 Wardrobe Inspiration

Grainline Studio | Spring '14 Wardrobe | Inspiration


If you’ve been following along with this blog for a while you may remember that I used to plan out seasonal wardrobes and then make as much of them as I could (wardrobes one, two, three if you’re curious). I really had fun doing it but then work took over and I let that slip. Well I’ve really been wanting to do another one so over the past week I’ve been thinking about what sort of garments I want to be wearing come spring…if it ever shows up! I’ve been posting silhouettes (and shoes) I like to my Spring ’14 Inspiration Pinboard (all of these garments can be found there for more info) and searching through my fabric stash for the proper fabrics. A bit of new yardage may have been purchased as well.

Grainline Studio | Spring '14 Wardrobe | Inspiration

1. Button-up shirt alternatives: Obviously I’m really into the button-up shirt, I’ve made about 18million Archers, but I’m always looking for a fun way to hack that pattern and this looks to be the next one I’m planning!

2. Letterman / bomber style jackets: I tried to include one of these in a hound collection a few years ago and everyone thought I was nuts. Well, who’s nuts now? Probably still me. I really want to make one of these happen and I happen to have the Papercut Patterns Rigel Bomber sitting on my pattern table.

3. Ummmm shoes. Not making them but in my head these Swedish Hasbeens will go with all my spring / summer dresses.

4. You guys, I am so into the sweatshirt at the moment. Regular sweatshirts, ‘fancy’ sweatshirts, printed sweatshirts, give them all to me.  I have a sweatshirt pattern I just drafted and sweatshirts will be happening for spring.

5. Loose striped tops, and loose tops in general, are always a must have for me. I’ve got the perfect fabric under my table right now for one of these.

6. I’d really like to make a nicer spring coat that isn’t a jean jacket – currently my only non-winter jacket.

7. These babies are my ultimate dream shoes and sadly they’re sold out in a 6! As soon as they’re back in stock they WILL be mine and they will go perfectly with everything despite the fact that they’re orange!

Up top are two other things I really want for spring. Shirt dresses and a leather mini skirt. I’ve got this awesome shirt dress pattern and I’ll be using some bronze leather with the Moss pattern for the mini. What types of garments & silhouettes are you guys into for spring? Is there anything you’re dying to sew for the warmer weather? Hopefully it’s on it’s way soon cause I’m getting tired of all puffy coat alllllll the time.

29 Comments Posted in Inspiration

Upcoming Craft/Work Panel & Shibori Dye Workshop

Hey guys! Just wanted to stop in and let you know about an upcoming event I’m involved in. Next Tuesday, March 4th I’ll be taking part in Craft/Work’s next event, Global Practices & Economic Sustainability: the Ethical Implications of Local and International Craft Production. I’ll be chatting alongside Harish Patel of ishi vest and Maureen Dunn of Mata Traders with an after discussion Shibori Dying workshop by the crazy talented Nora Renick-Rinehart who I was lucky to meet over at Lillstreet! So if you want to hear us chat or you want to learn to Shibori dye techniques head over to Beauty and Brawn Gallery at 6:30pm next Tuesday!

1 Comment Posted in News
Life Lately

Where I’ve Been Hiding

Grainline Studio | Life Lately

Nothing new to show today, but I needed to get back into blogging somehow and this seemed like the best way. This flu or whatever that’s been going around grabbed on, turned itself into bronchitis, and now just won’t let go! After 4 weeks I am still coughing, omg when will it stop?! Anyway, since I last checked in, besides getting sick, I’ve been watching a lot of Olympics & knitting, teaching pattern grading over at Columbia, got interviewed for Marketplace (no air date yet but I’ll post when I get one), and eating delicious vegetarian takeout in the hopes of getting healthy again someday. HA!

Grainline Studio | Life Lately

Above we have a late night hair braid-off, Roamy helping me with my taxes, a very very frozen Lake Michigan from when I was down at WBEZ, and some tool knolling. ALWAYS BE KNOLLING GUYS!!

I’ve had to reconfigure some of my Grainline Studio plans since getting sick, I still get crazy tired after a moderate amount of activity and I injured a rib pretty badly coughing last week. I *might* have been stuck on the floor at some point and couldn’t get up, even with help, and it WAS really funny even at the time so feel free to giggle at that mental image. I definitely am! Anyway plans were scrapped and plans were remade and hopefully things come together. Soooooo we’ll see what the future brings!

Also, if you want to watch the rest of the Tom Sachs 10 Bullets here’s the link. Words to work by. 4real.

43 Comments Posted in Life Lately
Journal Entry

Fusible Interfacing for Coating

Grainline Studio | Fusible Interfacing for Coating

After my last post, Tips for Choosing and Working with Wool Coating, I got a ton of questions about what fusible I prefer for a project like this. Unfortunately I also got really sick at the same time so apologies for not replying to comments and only answering you guys now. I wrote a few months ago (woah just checked and it was almost a year ago!) about my favorite fusibles which featured the fusible I used for this coat, medium weight black fusible tricot. You can click over there for a more in depth look at, as well as a link to the exact fusible I use, if you like.

Grainline Studio | Fusible Interfacing for Coating

Grainline Studio | Fusible Interfacing for Coating

While we’re on the subject of interfacing, you guys might be interested to know that I have a 6 page spread in the latest Feb/March ’14 Sew News issue all about interfacing. I walk you through when and why to use each kind and we even brainstormed up this chart so that you can see the effects of 6 different weights and types of interfacing applied to 6 different weights and types of fabric. I’m really excited & proud of this article so if you have more interfacing questions you may want to head out to wherever you buy your sewing magazines and pick one up (I’ve also heard you can purchase a digital copy, though I’m not sure where). I also have a little web-only interview on their site here.

One last thing, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who sent me kind words etc. while I’ve been sick. I’m finally on the mend after LOTS of medicine and rest. I’m actually out of bed and working at my computer today after deciding to do absolutely nothing all weekend but sit on the couch, knit and watch the Olympics! I *might* have pulled a stomach muscle coughing last night though… haha!

7 Comments Posted in Journal Entry
Tips & Tricks

Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

I know that sewing a full on winter coat can seem a bit intimidating but they really are a most rewarding project, and one of my favorite things to sew! In this post we are going to talk about choosing the right fabric as well as construction tips to get a professional and long lasting coat. The pattern used in this tutorial is my Birchwood Toggle Coat pattern, which will be available in my shop shortly, paired with this unbelievably beautiful and warm Double-Faced coating. I’m also kind of freaking out about the toggle closures as well. So beautiful and actually made from quality materials. The colors really are a perfect match with this wool!

Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

The first step on the road to your new winter coat is choosing your wool. This can be a bit of an intimidating process, there are so many types and weaves. Lets start out by talking a little bit about wool and the many properties that make it an ideal cold weather fabric

  • Wool is a natural protein based fiber shorn from one of many types of sheep.
  • Wool is an incredibly resilient fiber which means it has the ability to spring back after being crushed. In addition to resiliency cutting back on wrinkles, it also adds to the warmth and insulation wool is able to provide. Since the air pockets within each fiber of wool don’t become crushed over time they are excellent for trapping body heat.
  • Wool fibers have wicking properties that allow them to absorb moisture equal to around 1/3 of their weight, because of this wool will not only keep you warm, but also dry.
  • Wool is more flame resistant than other fibers because of the higher temperature it takes to ignite it.

Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

Britex has a pretty great selection of wool coating, from double face to melton to bouclé, but which one is right for your coat? Lets talk a little about each type.

  • Boiled : this fabric has been knitted and then felted to create a dense fabric that falls somewhere between a knit and woven. It does not fray much.
  • Melton : consists of short haired fibers which are tightly woven and then felted to create a dense, warm, stable fabric. Fraying on Melton is at a minimum.
  • Tweed : a rough, textured wool mottled in color which can be woven with a plain weave or herringbone weave.
  • Double Faced : double faced wool consists of two layers of wool linked together with a thread and then felted much like a Melton would be.
  • Bouclé : loosely woven fabric made from a bouclé yarn which is usually 3-ply and has one thread looser than the others. This results in the nubby loops bouclé is famous for. Bouclé definitely needs to be lined and will fray badly when cut.

Keep in mind while selecting your fabric what sort of end result you’re looking for. Do you want something warm and tailored? Try a Melton. A coat with a softer drape? Perhaps boiled wool for a warmer coat or a bouclé if less warmth is needed.

Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

Once you’ve selected your wool it’s time to get to work! Below are a series of tips that I’ve found result in a more professional looking coat that lasts year after year and looks great the entire time.


Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

There are a lot of methods out there for pre-treating your wool fabrics. Some people like to toss them in the dryer on air dry with a damp towel and some people like to get the yardage dry cleaned as they would treat their finished coat. What I do is give the wool a nice press with a steam filled iron. I’ve never personally found any shrinkage to happen when dry cleaning any finished wool garments I’ve made but if you feel more comfortable, the above two methods are options.


Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

I really can’t underestimate the importance of proper fusible application. Wool is an amazing fabric, it molds itself and can transform shapes under heat and stress which can enable some really wonderful tailoring at times, but that also means that wool can stretch when you don’t want it to at points of great stress. Typically on all of your garments you will be fusing your facings, but with a wool coat we’re going to add a few extra places. You will want to fuse the front and back shoulder areas of your coat extending down along to the armholes. These parts of your garment are under constant stress and also get a great deal more body heat than the rest of your garment and by fusing them you are ensuring they don’t stretch out of shape and hold up over time.

Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

The hem is another place you’ll want to make sure is fused, again, preventing any unwanted stretch and it also helps keep a sharp press along the bottom of your coat.

Britex13 Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

If you’re adding pockets to your coat, place a square of fusible on the back of the garment slightly larger than the pocket you’re sewing on. This way when you’re waiting out at the bus stop in the freezing cold you can jam your hands into your pockets without worrying about stretching out the points where the pocket joins to the body of your coat.


Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

Things get bulky very quickly while making a wool coat and because of this it’s a good idea to grade as many seams as possible. In something like the above photo, two seam allowances pressed to one side then topstitched, grading slightly reduces bulk and allows for a more beautiful seam line.

Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating


When working with a part of your coat where you have layers and layers of fabric such as the center front closure, grading becomes more than helpful, it becomes a necessity. Without grading the center front would be bulky and hard to turn to the inside of the coat.

Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

If you’re working with a double faced wool like I was you may want to consider separating the two layers for your facings. Since you want to interface your facings, they can get a bit bulky if left as the two layers.


Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

When working with wool, the best way to press it is with a lower temperature (the wool setting on your iron) and lots of steam. Because of the properties we listed above wool responds remarkably well to a good steaming. What I like to do is press my wool seams on top of the wool side of my ham or sleeve roll and then after pressing the seam with ample steam, use my hand or a press cloth to press the seam till the heat and steam has dissipated. This allows the steam to really set the seam crisply.


Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

If your sewing machine comes equipped with a walking foot it could be your wool coat making best friend, especially if you’re making a plaid one like this! A regular foot can have a hard time with the thickness involved in a project like this but with a walking foot you just glide on through. A sharp, heavy duty needle and a slightly longer than normal stitch length are also a great idea to get you through this much fabric.

Grainline Studio x Britex | Tips for Choosing & Working with Wool Coating

I hope you feel a bit more confident with the idea of making your own wool winter coat, it really is a fun time and all your friends & family will be so impressed with your work too. Just take your time, breathe, and follow these tips and you’ll have a quality garment to last the years over!

46 Comments Posted in Tips & Tricks
Journal Entry


Hey guys! As you can see things look a little different around here. At the moment all of the free patterns are unavailable until I set them up with a new system. I’m crazy busy at the moment so I think I should have all the free patterns back for download around Wednesday. Just wanted to let you know since I’ve been getting a lot of emails this morning about it…glad to know you guys still want those patterns though! Have a great Monday…back to work for me!

9 Comments Posted in Journal Entry
Journal Entry

Fruits of the Loom

Grainline Studio | NYTimes - Fruits of the Loom

Grainline Studio | NYTimes - Fruits of the Loom

Grainline Studio | NYTimes - Fruits of the Loom

Grainline Studio | NYTimes - Fruits of the Loom

Have you guys seen this NYTimes article, Fruits of the Loom yet? It’s pretty amazing and a colorful glimpse into textile manufacturing in the US. According to the Times, “Christopher Payne has spent much of the past few years photographing more than 20 of the mills that make up what’s left of America’s textile industry. Three appeared to have closed midproduction, looking like soft, bright Pompeiis, the colorful yarns still piled on the factories’ floors after the doors were permanently closed; others continue to function, often with machinery and techniques valued precisely because they are decades or even centuries old.” Pretty crazy. Click over to the NYTimes article for more photos and the full story, it’s definitely worth reading!

20 Comments Posted in Journal Entry
Journal Entry

Archer Appreciation Finale

Archer Appreciation Shirts from Jen Bee on Vimeo.

December 2013 was Archer Appreciation Month! So many amazing Archers were sewn, I’ve gathered them all into this video. I think I counted about 80 or so Archers, totally mind blowing to me, and they’re all so beautiful and unique! There are plenty  more views of each shirt in the Flickr group so be sure to click over there and check them out! Many many thanks to Rochelle of Lucky Lucille and Erin of Miss Crayola Creepy for organizing this!!

16 Comments Posted in Journal Entry

Lillstreet Archer Wrap Up & New Class

Grainline Studio | Lillstreet Archer Class


Last night was the final night of my Lillstreet Arts Center Archer Class! I was a little bit terrified to teach this class, it’s the first class I’ve ever taught, but I really had so much fun with this crew, I wish we had more than 4 weeks! I forgot to take a photo of everyone with their Archers till right before class had ended and so a few people had left already, but I’m so proud of all the Archers that came out of this class!!

I’ll be teaching a 10 week Garment Construction course starting next week on Wednesday evenings at Lillstreet so if you’re in Chicago, here’s the link. It’s a bit of a free-form class, but if you’ve got a specific skill or project you’d like to tackle, this is a great class for it. Also Lillstreet’s sort of my new jam…everyone is SO nice and helpful and fun!

Heads up, I just started making the slideshow of all of the Archer Appreciation photos. I was going to post today but realized I was super unclear about when things needed to be posted to the Flickr Group by. I’ll be posting Monday so have your Archer in the group by Saturday at noon CST and you’re in!

11 Comments Posted in News

Cozy Up

Grainline Studio | January Inspiration

cabin / teapot / pillows / quilt / teacup / log basket

We’ve been stuck in a bit of a cold spell (breaking today!) here in Chicago and I’ve been doing a bit of curling up and tea drinking with Roamy. I want to start sharing some mood/inspiration boards for things that inspire both my everyday life & what I design, so I thought this would be a good place to start. Cabins, tea, quilts, a fire…you know.

10 Comments Posted in Inspiration