The Make Den Makes Boots!

The second the doors were locked for the Winter Holidays at our little studio, Irene and I hightailed it to Chicago to pick up some new skills at The Chicago School of Shoemaking.

irene makes boots

After a 12 hour overnight bus ride (we caved and bought plane tickets home) we arrived.

The beginning of a Make Den vacation requires a few things. So we picked up our friend and gracious host Jenn and headed out into the world.

Step 1: Nails

After some extensive research, we decided on Naughty Nail’z. These girls were serious artists and we will most definitely be going back to see them again.

Step 2: Burgers

A post nails stop a Kuma Burger, where the burgers named after metal bands were as hardcore (and as delicious) they sounded. Plus the burger was a great backdrop to showcase Irene’s amazing nails.

kumaburger nails

Step 3: Bourbon

And Dahlilias to the rescue! No trip is complete without discovering a gem of a local watering hole.

Now that we had our nails, burgers and bourbon it was time to get to work. The next morning we arrived at The Chicago School of Shoemaking and met the owner and our teacher Sarah. The studio was beautiful. A bright wide open work space, a wall full of leather to choose from and so many cool leather machines to try! We were in nerdy crafter heaven, which is clearly the best kind of heaven.


The first day we tackled custom sandals and picked up a few tricks for leather bags. Both of which we are planning on sharing with all of you soon!

walking foot machine boots

But the real excitement was day two and three, where we drafted (with some help from our talented and patient teacher Sarah) and made our very own custom boots. It was strange to be on the other side of the teacher/student relationship for a change. But I have to say I loved it! Now I know what keeps you all coming back to our studio. Learning a new skill and coming home with a finished project is so rewarding.

Our last day we had one more stop before heading back home to Toronto, The Art Institute of Chicago. This art gallery is seriously amazing, and huge. We spent four hours there and had to run through Ancient Egypt at the end so we wouldn’t miss our plane.

Now that we are back in Toronto we are working on collecting the machines and tools we need to make more shoes! Now we can really say we make our own clothes from head to toe.

boots finished product


I met my Canadian partner on a big gay tour of the world back in 2011 and left the small island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands to live in Toronto – one of the best cities in the world.

After leaving a small and somewhat conservative island, I decided to never again tone down my dress sense, which had always been so intrinsically tied to my identity. I unapologetically refused to abide by the gendered binary dress codes that had previously suffocated me. Herein lay the problem; most of the clothes I loved didn’t fit my body or gender – they had been designed for cisgender men. Frustrated and fed up spending money to have men’s clothes altered to fit me, I took out a loan, bought a sewing machine and started on a passionate love affair with fashion on my own terms.  And this is how alljackedup was born; born of frustration with the dated notion of the gender binary and from a desire to firmly plant roots in my beloved Toronto.

Zee and Me 1

Alljackedup was launched at World Pride in June 2014 selling matching bow ties for the dapper human and their hound. The website followed shortly after and can be found at Follow us for the latest news on Facebook.

Summer bow ties 1

Next on the agenda I’m super excited about a range of Canadian and Toronto-inspired boxer shorts to suit and fit all genders. The Make Den are kindly helping getting me started on this next project.

Toronto is the first place that truly feels like home and I want to celebrate that and give back to the very communities that make me feel like I belong. Thank you for having me Toronto, I love you in all of your diversity.

Wow, Lucas, Zee and Skye

I Made A Coat!

Vintage Pattern

The Make Den has a wonderful of collection of vintage and out of print patterns.  I found my pattern at the vintage pattern store, Redcurlzs, on Etsy.


Sewing Teacher

I decided to make my first coat so I signed up for Tailored Jackets.   I had the opportunity to work with Cat.  She is super fun to work with. She has fantastic experience in the industry and has a great deal of knowledge to share with you. You know those stressful times during a project?  Well, she is so confident and relaxed that as a result, that attitude gets transferred to you!

Fabric Woes


Boucle: A fabric made from uneven yarn of three plies one of which forms loops at intervals.  Boucle in French means curly. (Merriam Webster)

So I found my boucle at Fabricland on the clearance table.  There are reasons why bolts of fabric end up there!  It was probably an acrylic mix.  I loved the black, white and purple loops with a glittery silver yarn running through it.

I fused (interfaced) every piece of the garment before I began sewing.  That took about three hours.  As I began to handle the fabric it began to ravel at the edges – even with the fusing.  The loops would occasionally get caught and spring out from the fabric too!

I was committed to the project so I stayed the course!

Every Project has a Silver Lining

I found silver Kasha lining at Affordable Textiles on Queen St. Kasha lining is flannel backed satin that adds warmth without bulk.

Completed Project

I couldn’t be more pleased. Check it out the pockets too!

noname-3noname-2noname-1Have you ever made a coat?  Do you have plans to make a coat?

Happy Sewing!

~ Janet




Youth Love Fashion

Youth Love Fashion 2

To culminate a five-month student fashion program presented by the PACT Urban Peace Program, the Toronto District School Board and sewing studio The Make Den, Youth Love Fashion will see talented youth designers showcase garments they designed for the women who inspire them, modeled by the women who inspire them.

Youth Love Fashion
The event will feature family-friendly food and drink, live music by youth musicians, interactive art, fashion, hair and makeup installations and a “runway walk-off” competition hosted by drag queen Tynomi Banks.

Saturday October 18, 2014 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Runway presentations begin at 3:00 pm.

InterContinental Toronto Centre’s Azure restaurant. 225 Front Street, Toronto M5V 2X3.

Tickets: $5.00 for kids and $10.00 for adults, with net proceeds going to the youth designers’ charities of choice. Tickets

Tickets Available Online at

or In Person at
The Make Den – 1244 Bloor Street West

A celebration of Canadian fashion for all ages, Youth Love Fashion will unite youth and their families, politicians, local celebrities and youth-focused agencies and community partners to shine a spotlight on 11 talented student designers who have overcome adversity – from blindness to bullying to financial hardship – and honed their skills during a free five-month student fashion program.

“This event and the program it culminates eloquently addresses a need that’s not being met in the fashion community – a focus on young, emerging talent. It’s so important to encourage and nurture these students, and to celebrate Canadian fashion in a fun and family-friendly way,” says Kyle Kofsky, PRODUCT-Toronto Magazine publisher, organizer and co-host of Youth Love Fashion.

youth love fashion 3

The PACT Urban Peace Program, the Toronto District School Board and sewing studio The Make Den recruited passionate aspiring designers in May 2014 who were required to submit illustrations and an essay in order to apply for the program.

Enrolled students participated in intense sewing, pattern making, event production and management workshops at The Make Den over five months, and will showcase the garments they designed during Youth Love Fashion.

Youth were asked to design dresses for women who inspire them, and the dresses will be modeled by these role models – including mayoral candidate Olivia Chow and The Honourable Jean Augustine among others.

Presented by

InterContinental Toronto Centre

Sponsored by

Toronto Fashion Academy 
Spellbound Hair Design
Duet Public Relations

Introducing Iskwe Couture

My name is Lindsay O’Keese and I am a member of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. I am in the process of a career change from Social Work, which I’ve practiced in the last 10 years to Fashion Design. I am currently designing my first clothing line, Fall/Winter 2014 along with business planning.


I have always dreamed of owning a clothing business, but didn’t think it could be a reality due to my busy career in Social Work. I never thought it was possible to learn how to design and sew until I started at The Make Den (my transition from Social Work to Fashion Design was a two year process which included a move and many hours of research and planning). I started off with the beginners sewing class at the end of May 2014 and then completed 6 weeks of camp throughout July and August 2014. During that time, I learned how to illustrate, draft and sew my own pattern for a jacket. Completing this jacket has given me the confidence that I needed to continue in Fashion Design and start my own business.

My business name is Iskwe Couture. “Iskwe” is a Cree/Plains Cree word meaning ‘woman”. My clothing line will initially be based out of my home where production will take place and marketing will be done via social media such as Instagram, Facebook and Etsy until I am in a place financially to open a store. My clothing line will focus primarily on trendy outerwear and accessories and will include Pendleton fabric, which is a tribal design that is popular in many First Nations communities in Canada and the United States. Leather is another favourite, which will be included in most of my designs.


Every step in this new journey has been exciting! A lot of creativity, patience and hard work go into Fashion Design, business planning and marketing. I am learning something new everyday and I am excited about my future endeavours. My designs and new journey can be followed on Instagram @miss_lking81 Iskwe Couture By Lindsay. I am always open to making new connections and supporting others in their journey.

Mittens Workshops!  Nov 11th, Dec 2nd and 16th

“Choose A Job You Love And You Will Never Have To Work A Day In Your Life” –Confucus

Check out Iskwe Couture on instagram here.

A Peek into Ellen Evered’s Design Process

Hi, I’m Ellen owner and designer for Ellen Evered Designs. I am a graphic designer with 10+ years of experience in the packaging and product design field and a graduate of OCAD.


Ever since I can remember, I’ve seen patterns in my surroundings – the silhouette of tree branches against the sky, the repetition of flower petals in my parents’ garden, the dots of umbrellas along a rainy street. I’m also pretty obsessed with patterned textiles – my home and wardrobe are full of fun florals, colourful geometrics and abstract patterns. I’m now combining this love with my experience as a graphic designer to create fabric and other surface pattern designs.

Until recently, pattern design was just a fun means of creative expression. Then I kept hearing how my designs would look great on pillows, a scarf, drapes or maybe wrapping paper. So I decided to take a few online courses offered by Make It In Design. I loved it! I learned how to put together a collection and some of the business side of the industry too. Since then I’ve launched Ellen Evered Designs  and have a variety of products available. In May I was featured in the latest issue of Moyo Magazine.  I’m now in the process of making my patterns available on fabric and hope to license my designs to manufacturers.


Here’s a peek at my creative process:

I draw inspiration from many sources and the idea for a design or a colour palette can come from quite random places. I’ve learned to keep my eyes open to the world around me, because you never know where an interesting image will lead you! My “Garden Grace” collection contains gingko leaves from a tree I saw everyday commuting to work and lupins from one of my son’s favourite picture books. Tree stumps visible throughout my neighborhood following Toronto’s ice storm this past winter inspired a design from my “The Great Outdoors” collection.


I’ve learned to sketch a lot so I have a wide selection of content to work with. It’s a practice that was instilled in me from my days at OCAD. If I don’t have a notebook and pen on me, I’ll take a picture or pocket the object that catches my fancy and draw it later. Once I have enough interesting drawings, I scan the sketches and bring them into Adobe Illustrator. There I’ll clean up and redraw the images or use live trace to create vector versions. Then I’ll combine the elements to create patterns. Usually I have an idea of what the overall look and feel will be, but I also like to play around. I work out the kinks and the technical repeats after.


I typically create 1 to 4 main designs, and then a group of supporting patterns with a variety of scale to form a collection. I try to ensure that the different patterns work together, but are also interesting enough to work independently.

You can keep up to date on my progress by following my facebook page:

I’d love to hear what you think!

Tips Tuesday- Easy 1/4″ Seam

Want to sew a 1/4″ seam and don’t have the proper foot? There’s an easy way to ensure your seam allowance is accurate using just stuff around the house. Take a stack a masking tape or a pile of sticky notes and stick them to the throat plate in front of the foot along the 1/4″ seam allowance mark. When you sew, the cut edge of your fabric will run along the edge of the stack and keep your seam allowance accurate. Quilters, this trick is great for piecing together quilt squares. photo

Quilter Steph: Fills us in on Fat Quarters

I don’t know if you are like me, but I tend to like to collect fabric, and fat quarters are a perfect way to feed the obsession. You can buy just a little “taste” of each of the beautiful fabrics without really needing to commit to anything. I guess it’s like speed dating for quilters?


And what is a “fat quarter”? It’s a quarter yard of fabric, that is cut wide instead of long. So they take a half hard cut of fabric and then cut it in half again along the fold, so you get a half of a half, which makes a quarter. It is a nice way to give the user a wider piece of fabric so you can cut pieces that are more than 9 inches across.

And never fear, there are lots of projects that are “fat quarter friendly” including the beginner friendly Chunky Monkey Modern Masterpiece. It is an easy quilt that highlights a few of your favorite fabrics.

And a free project, that I really like, is this Flag Quilt Tutorial which is a little more advanced.
And, if by some crazy circumstance, you don’t have any fat quarters, you can get your hands on them at both studios!

Introducing Magoo Active Wear!

I always wanted to design clothing but, every time I tried, I was turned away or discouraged… until I found “The Make Den”!!


For many crazy reasons, I decide to leave Los Angeles and spend the winter in Toronto! I was sitting in my condo on a cold November day without much to do so I started searching the Internet. I was looking to hire a designer or seamstress to help me bring to life an idea I had. I emailed many people but no one seemed interested in helping out. I figured my concept was just too hard to understand or seemed like too much work. I also realized I didn’t even know how to communicate my vision to them! I needed to understand the design world and its language which is what brought me to the idea that I needed to learn to sew. I found this studio on Bloor that looked really cool. Quite honestly, what first caught my attention was the class they were offering on learning to make Mexican wrestling masks! I emailed them immediately to get more information.  A short time later, I received a very friendly email asking me if I had ever used a sewing machine. My response was, “Sure, once in 7th grade”.  I was then invited to the studio to take a private lesson to learn the basics of operating a sewing machine.


After the first lesson, I was hooked. Irene Stickney, the owner of “The Make Den”, gave me lessons on garment making. By the end of the second class, I knew that Irene had all the resources and knowledge I’d been looking for all this time at her creatively manicured fingertips. She knew who I should contact for materials, who I should contact to eventually make the clothes, and how we should go about making the first sample. She showed me how to measure, draft, cut and work the machines. All of these skills I now know are what I needed to begin the real work on my design business. She also taught me the language of a designer, the names of each machine and the names of each stitch.  Before too long, we had a working sample of woman’s athletic leggings! I also wanted to make a sports bra to accompany the pants so we went back to the drawing board and came up with a sample of the bra as well.


Now the design was complete. I had the pattern and it was time to produce the garment. Irene introduced me to a couple of her friends that were in production. They basically mass produce the product. One of the girls also teaches at Irene’s school. I walked into their studio called ‘Pigeons and Threads” and knew these girls were going to be awesome to work with. They took my sample, all the fabrics I bought and, BAM, just like that – made me 15 different samples! I officially had a clothing line.

I took those samples and hired a few models and a photographer. Now I have all the promotion material to market the line. I already have a few stores interested and am proud to launch Magoo Active Wear through the online funding source, Kickstarter, to raise capitol, take pre-orders, and do some market research.

The Make Den is a special studio where anything is possible. Whether you’re looking to start a clothing line or just hem your jeans, it’s a magical place to start. The staff is friendly and welcoming to all.


I am now finally able to say I am a DESIGNER! Thank You Irene and The Make DEN!

Bobby Waldron
CEO & Designer, Magoo Active Wear

Click here for a Magoo Video Teaser!

Walden Patterns Have Arrived!

Walden Patterns, by Colette have arrived at the studio.

colette walden patterns

Awesomely stylish patterns for men, although the Cooper bag would be great for just about anyone. It may even make an appearance in my bag collection.

And… if you are feeling extra crafty, you could always screenprint your own fabric before making the Negroni shirt, like August did.

screenprinted tailored mens shirt