Farewell Summer, it’s been a blast!

screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-3-24-33-pm

If you happen to stroll past our little studio late into the evening on any given weeknight… or maybe a sunny Sunday afternoon, you’re more than likely to see a dozen or so dedicated students working hard on their class projects – from pillows to party dresses to zippered pouches to leather belts, it’s a beehive of activity in here…   But don’t let all the productivity fool you – we still know how to have a little fun!  Like this Labour Day weekend, for example – we invited Jaunt, Blunt Chunks and Charise Aragoza to play in our dreamy little backyard for an event called ‘Farewell Summer’, (curated by Isla Cowan, Maya Lyn and Ikoro Sekai). Such a magical night!  Our former student (and current Londoner/Vogue UK intern) shot these clips from our rooftop…

We were also excited to have vintage vixens Maya Lyn of Eleven Eleven Vintage and Isla Cowan of H3avyFlow Vintage sharing their edited selection of fall picks, photographers Daniel Reardon and Ikoro Sekai showing their work in the back yard, the beautiful work of artists Josefina Hernandez,  Fraser Wrighte, Jacqueline Ashton, Melina Mehr, Aurora Shields joining us for the weekend, and locally made swag for sale from The Manning Knot, and The Bacon Berry Cards.

Leia Bryans clean, simple and heartwarming prints and t-shirts are currently available for sale at the studio if you’ve fallen in love with them – we sure have!

We were especially proud to have Jack Jackson and their curated collection of locally made bow ties, All Jacked Up at our event.  Jack learned to sew at our studio about a year ago, and gosh have those lessons paid off – Jack just made their debut at the Brooklyn Museum as part of DapperQ, an interactive queer style event.  As part of NYFW, Jack is blowing us away, not only with their success but also with their commitment to their community and social justice.

Thank you to everyone who came out and joined us!  We hope you had a blast!!!

screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-3-28-02-pm

Top Photo Credit:
Jacqueline Ashton

Lower Print Credit:
Leia Bryans

Video Credit:
Tristan Amato

Urban Cottage-ing at The Woven Wolf Launch Party!


unspecified-1
What an amazing night!  We had so many familiar faces stop by to help us celebrate the launch of our new website (check it out!  It’s finally live:  The Woven Wolf) and we’re already getting psyched about our next video featuring one of our VERY favourite pattern designers!   Thank you so much to everyone who came out!  It’s so exciting that we’re starting to get feedback from Kickstarter backers who’ve used our videos and love them – we’ve heard from students who are using them to teach their friends and loved ones how to sew and the response has been incredible!  It’s so amazing to know that we’re making it even easier for people to learn how to make their own stuff, from anywhere, on their own schedule.  unspecified-24
unspecified-41We were so thrilled to have one of our very favourite fabric designers,
Elizabeth Olwen  stop by and of course, vintage vixen (and former student!) Isla Cowan from H3AVY FLOW vintage, Korey Robyn (also a former student!) of K*STAR CLOSET, the boys from local brewery Longslice, Kung Fu Dawgs and the lovely Kristiann Boos from Toronto based Victory Patterns!   And last but certainly not least, our rad Woven Wolf cake was made by the talented Sarah Fortunato Smith, of Cocoa Fortunato!   Isn’t it just the best?  We had so much fun giving out these cute Woven Wolf necklaces that we had laser cut at Hot Pop Factory to everyone who came, too.  Did we mention one of the founders of Hot Pop Factory was a student at one point, too?   Man, what a great night!  We’re so proud of all our student success stories.  Finally, did I mention our new propane campfire in the backyard?  It was just lovely to eat hot dogs and roast marshmalllows with friends around a campfire on a deliciously warm summer night.  Happy Summer 2016!

Check out The Woven Wolf for beautifully shot, easy to follow sewing tutorials and patterns!
Xoxo!
Irene

unspecified-4
unspecified-25

Brooklyn’s Best Kept Shoemaking Secret!

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.18.24 PM
What do sewing teachers do when they’re on vacation?  They keep sewing!  This time our ongoing quest to learn how to make absolutely everything under the sun took us to sunny Brooklyn, NYC…   Here on Grand St. in the heart of the Big Apple, I met two exceptionally talented ladies who are making some of the most beautiful hand welted leather shoes that I’ve ever seen – and they were kind enough to share some of their shoe making tips and tricks with me!  Jesse Moore and Marika Verploegh Chassé are Brooklyn Bespoke, New York City’s premiere shoe makers….  and occasionally they play shoe making guru to the shoe-curious like me.

tumblr_npjbytPYNk1tofo8io1_1280

Here’s Marika, working on a pair of mens derby shoes.  Do you know the difference between a pair of derby shoes and a pair of oxfords?  Marika, a shoe making teacher at FIT will make sure you know!  There’s a big difference if you’re drafting a pair – brush up on your shoe making terminology here!   Sadly, there aren’t alot of people who are making shoes like these ladies are anymore.   They have travelled the world over for the last 20 years, learning from the best of the best.     Likewise, there aren’t many contemporary shoe making text books – many of them are over 100 years old and aren’t of much use for the aspiring modern shoe maker.  Frank Jones has written the most up to date text and shares his years of factory experience in his book, ‘Pattern Cutting’.

tumblr_ney2isGoBu1tofo8io1_1280

My pattern drafting experience for garments proved helpful in understanding the basic concepts of pattern making at times, although shoe making tools are not always dress making tools.  I loved using the roller foot on their beautiful post-bed machine, though it took some getting used to – as did cutting patterns with ‘windows’, where the seam allowance for every piece is included in the master pattern.
tumblr_npqqnlGxjw1tofo8io1_1280

Regardless, I am obsessed with shoe making.  The space you have to work with is extremely limited, so millimetres matter.  Even a 2mm  pattern adjustment can make a huge difference in the way a shoe fits – but despite the careful delicacy that’s required to design an elegant pair of shoes – the final product needs to be as solid and tough as it can possibly be if it’s going to withstand the abuse and punishment that we give to our shoes. Thanks for a great week, Jesse and Marika!

Cool Hunting in Costa Rica… Pt. 1

IMG_6455

Costa Rica is my promised land, my Mecca, and the holy grail of beachy fun, adventure and general good times.  If there isn’t a Make Den in Costa Rica in the next few years it’s because I’ve been kidnapped by pirates.  So of course I decided to head there on vacation with my awesome bud, Niamh for a yoga retreat this March! But first, I wanted have a few adventures on my own.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

My first host, Erika runs her Airbnb like it’s a pop-up shop/art gallery which  gives her guests the chance to support local artists and designers while they’re staying with her in the capital city of San Jose.  Erika is a former gallery curator, and although San Jose gets a bad rap as ‘the city that you have to pass through to get to the beach’ in many travel guides, Erika’s apartment defies the trend.  There are obviously a few undiscovered gems in San Jose that make me wish I could stay for longer – if only to learn how to make one of these awesome seafoam plant holders!

IMG_6446Erika promises that she can show me next time, but alas I only have one night here before heading to visit the internationally recognized eco-lodge, Rancho Margot, on Lake Arenal.  It feels like Rancho Margot is nestled away at the end of the world, in the middle of nowhere.

IMG_6513But once you arrive, it’s a hub of activity.  Practical solutions for everyday sustainable living are everywhere.   Chickens are fed on Banana leaves which act as chemical free antibiotics.   Green Rooftops make the buildings indistinguishable from their surroundings on Google Earth. Soap is purified and recycled to make new bars after guests leave.   Volunteers run the organic gardens and farm, which provides enough food for guests, volunteers and staff.     IMG_6545

The ranch is powered by an on-site hydro-electric turbine without constructing reservoirs or dams.   The DIY mentality is incredibly inspiring and I’m still processing ways to incorporate it into my daily life.

IMG_6549

My fellow guests were as interesting as the ranch itself.  Martina and her husband Mads joined me for a successful Macrame session in the bar, where we traced the history of macrame back to 13th c. Arabic weavers who would use knotting to finish the edges of carpets and shawls.  Martina recalled seeing Italian fisherman making their nets using the same technique.   She wanted to make the plant hanger for her daughters bedroom in their beautiful apartment in Copenhagen.  Mads and Martina are photographers whose work has taken them all over the world.    As luck would have it, they were driving into town the next day, and gave me a lift.  On the ride, they happened to recount their experience during the Milan Furniture Fair in 2010, when hotels doubled their prices and people were taking 72 hour bus rides home to Denmark because of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupting in Iceland.  Their words turned out to be rather prescient and quite helpful later that day when the Turrialba Volcano erupted and left me stranded at the San Jose airport.   The sky was dark with ash and their was an exodus from the airport that made it nearly impossible to get to my hastily booked hostel that night.

IMG_6577

To be continued…

Shop it while it’s hot!!! Fabric SALE this week Feb 14-21st!

April Rhodes Fabrics have arrived - and they are BEAUTIFUL!

April Rhodes Fabrics have arrived – and they are BEAUTIFUL!

Screen shot 2015-02-14 at 11.10.51 PM

FABRIC SALE EXTENDED UNTIL FEB 21ST!

FABRIC SALE EXTENDED UNTIL FEB 21ST!

Screen shot 2015-02-14 at 11.13.30 PMScreen shot 2015-02-14 at 11.14.12 PMScreen shot 2015-02-14 at 11.11.31 PMSo apparently we’re having a fabric sale?  We’ve never done this before, but someone asked if we could have a sale and we were like “Yeah, why not?  Let’s do this!”.  Everything quilt related is 30% off until Feb 21st – quilting cotton, Aurafil thread, charm packs, jelly rolls, quilting rulers, rotary cutters, cutting matts and more!  If we don’t have it in stock, we can order it for you!  Here are the hours at our Bloordale location this week:

Monday Feb 16 (Family Day) – noon-5pm
Tuesday Feb 17 – noon – 10pm
Wednesday Feb 18 – noon – 10pm
Thursday Feb 19 – noon – 10pm
Friday Feb 20 – noon – 9pm
Saturday Feb 21 – noon – 7pm

 

Unveiling our new Leather Studio!

leather_studio_1It’s official!  Toronto’s first DIY Leather Craft space has finally opened it’s doors for classes!  Our new space is located right on top of our Bloordale studio, at 1244 Bloor St. W (just steps from the Lansdowne subway station).  The space features hand tools for leather cutting, skiving and stamping, a rivet/snap press, an industrial leather walking foot machine as well as space for dying and finishing leather.  Check out the Leather FUNdamentals class page for dates and times!   The space also features a beautiful salvaged wood wall, made from stained and up cycled pallet wood from around the city. We had fun cutting up the old pallets and staining them different colours back in August when we started renovating.

Leather_studio_2The projects that people have been creating are out of this world – Lindsay King has been crafting leather and upcycled fur mittens (for sale through her Instagram) and other students have been making leather bags,  upcycled fur earmuffs, leather sunglass cases, iphone and ipad cases, sandals, moccasins and more!

leather_studio_4

 

Serpentina North Ensemble

I really love how many different, unique ways our students find to use their new sewing skills.  It’s incredible the way that fashion is a common denominator for so many different cultural, athletic and creative fields.
I first met Laura when she was taking our Serger Basics class.  She was using black jersey to create big, oversized cowl neck sweaters and long, stretchy sleeves.   But now, she’s putting her sewing skills to a different use.   By day, Laura is the editor of Morbid Outlook magazine, but by night, she is a professional bellydancer with The Serpentina North Ensemble.  The Serpentina North Ensemble is a Toronto-based tribal bellydance troupe that has been regularly performing both locally and internationally since 2007. There are currently 6 members, and they frequently make a lot of their own costume pieces, scavenging new and vintage finds into cool jewellery pieces and creating their belts and headpieces.   Their upcoming performance will be at Habeeba’s Dance Studio (179 Dundas Street East @ Jarvis) for Moonlight Tribe – A Nuit Blanche party on October 4th, and there’s no cover.

Tribal bellydance classes with the director, Orkideh Serpentina aka Laura, are 8-9:30pm on Thursday evenings at Aum Centre Yoga (468 Spadina @ College).

More info can be found at http://www.serpentinatribal.com

***Many Thanks to Laura McCutchan for her help writing this post***