Sunday, February 25, 2007


years ago when i had my shop in the lower east side, patch 155, all of the designers whose stuff i sold used to tell me they wished i would organize a network so we could all know each other and share information, advice and resources. it can be a surprisingly isolated life when you are making things on your own, often out of our apartments... at the time i thought it was a great idea but i was just too overwhelmed with running the store to give it my attention. over the years most of these same designers have all become friends, and we bump into each other while participating in group fashion shows and sales. but since these events are so intense, we never really got the chance to sit down and tell our stories and share ideas... so finally last summer i decided it was time to put this plan into practice, and SAPLING was born! after much brainstorming and determination to come up with a really good acronym, that's what i came up with. it stands for Society for the Advancement of People Loving Independently Nurtured Goods! as our header states, 'the SAPLING society is a group of makers, designers, and artists trying to spread the love of all things handmade. we embrace sustainability and eschew mass production'. so we have all met about once every month or two, since last july, and it's been a beautiful thing, in my humble opinion. we've rotated around at different members' homes, studios and stores, and it's so inspiring to see where and how we all live and work. we've organized one sample sale and participated in two holiday sales together, discussed goals and ideas for developing and expanding our businesses, visited a cooperative women's sewing facility, and shared organic fabric resources and design advice. you can see the complete list of members and check out their sites on our blog... which we hope will sprout unto an online community forum of its own for independent designers and makers all over the globe!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

truly for the birds!

my b.f.f. from high school, howard (aka the busy signals) is making these beautiful folk art birdhouses and selling them in his etsy shop. everyone's fave leafy green #9 has been sold, but the others are still up for grabs if you act quick! i am rather partial to pink and brown double hangout 21 but that's just me...
here is howard's statement:

All of the sudden last summer I started being driven to build these bird houses out of anything I could find. I haven't stopped since!
I made these very durable for outdoor use but most people so far can't bring themselves to actually put them outside and usually keep them indoors on display. I would really love them to be outside with a bird living in em. Each house is numbered with old fashioned window numbering brass tacks so far I have made 50.

i only wish i had a tree to hang one in!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

i took the pledge!

one of the things i planned to write frequently about was the unofficial pledge i took about a year and a half ago, to stop buying clothing produced by corporations who use sweatshops (which is pretty much any corporation that i know of!). my goal is to eventually be wearing only clothing that i have made myself, sprinkled with items made by my friends or other small, independent designers (gotta support!), and a little vintage. so when i discovered the wardrobe refashion blog a few months ago, i knew i had to join! i chose the 6 month pledge since i've already been doing it for so long. my friend kayte is doing it too...

The Pledge
  • I _cal patch__ pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 6 months. I pledge that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoated, recylcled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftyness brings! Signed__cal patch________.
The Rules
  • 1. No buying new! (handmade is excepted; So this allows for Etsy purchases etc!!) All clothing must be Recycled, Renovated, Preloved or Thrifted, or Handmade only for the term. Employment related and special needs clothing (ie sports, school), shoes and undies are excepted from the rules, although you are encouraged to have a go at making these.
  • 2. In extreme circumstances, maybe a special event, or the worlds greatest and most amazing never to be repeated sale that you simply can not pass up, you may use the Get out of Refashionista Jail Free card. You are able to use this card once during the 2 month part of your contract; ie 1 for 2 months, 2 for 4 months etc. Of course you need to fess up on the blog and display the button!
  • 3. You must post on the blog at least once a week to let the community know what you've been up to. This will not only give you brag points, but inspire and encorouge others! Of course you need to display the button on your blog and have copied the pledge in at least one post, and provide a link to your pledge under the button.
  • 4. You need to be honest and admit when you've fallen off the Refashionista Wagon! Go directly to Refashionista Jail, do not pass GO and do not collect $200! Apply for parole once there.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

aaawwww, you old softie, you!

my friend therese laskey has come up with a brilliant way to beat the late-winter blues: it's the First Annual Softie Awards! crafty peeps from all over the world can enter their masterpieces of softiness, and win prizes and fame. you can view the entries so far... competition's gonna be fierce! i hope to enter one of my amigurumis (i am working on a few new ones) and to top it off, i get to be a JUDGE!!! i will be judging the pincushion category, appropriately enough. and the other judges are all people i admire like crazy, so i'm indescribably honored to be listed amongst them. oh yeah, i'm also making the award ribbons!

here are the details for entry:

entries must be submitted to the flickr group by march 9, 2007.
the top five in each category will be posted on The Softies Awards site and then voting will be open to everyone. votes will be counted and winners will be announced after april 1st.

award categories:
1. Best Bunny or Bear (a special category for the always popular bunnies & bears)
2. Best Rest of the Animal Kingdom (2 legged, 4 legged, aquatic, winged, etc.)
3. Best Softie Cuisine (food, glorious food made of plush)
4. Best Creepy Yet Still Cute (everything from monsters to conjoined rats)
5. Best Inanimate Object (robots, plush vehicles, etc.)
6. Best Holiday Inspired (Santa Claus, Easter chick, pumpkin king)
7. Best Pincushion (let your imagination soar)
8. Best Cozy (ipod, cell phone, toaster, tea pot)
9. Best Needle Felted (any softie style using this technique)
10. Best Amigurumi (any small softie using this technique)
11. Best Functional Softie (other than pincushions, for example, a scarf with a 3D, stuffed element)
12. Best My-Softie-Doesn’t-Fit-Into-Any-Of-Your-Damn-Categories Softie (the wildcard category)

prizing: each winner will receive an official The Softie Awards ribbon (handmade of course!), as well as a special prize. prizes include an original print by Camilla Engman, a subscription to CRAFT magazine, and an ‘Ask the Editor’ phone conversation with a craft editor at Chronicle Books.

judges: each judge brings a unique perspective on crafting and design, and an eye for quality and originality. all are artists themselves.

Lena Corwin (textile designer and illustrator)
Jenn Docherty (softie artist)
Natalie Zee Drieu (editor, CRAFT)
Marie Kare (creator of The Sampler)
Jef Kaminsky (Kids TV development executive)
Leah Kramer (founder,
Heidi Kenny (softie artist, My Paper Crane)
Hillary Lang (softie artist, Wee Wonderfuls)
Robert Mahar (owner, Mahar Dry Goods)
Chika Mori (softie artist, Chikagraphy)
Sarah Neuburger (artist, The Small Object)
Cal Patch (clothing & embroidery designer, Hodge Podge)
Alicia Paulson (designer/creator, Posy Gets Cozy)

for more information about how to enter, prizes, rules, etc. go to The Softie Awards site...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

for the birds

in addition to all of the classes i teach at MAKE, i now teach a thing or two at my new williamsburg hangout treehouse. so far i am teaching crochet and embroidery there, and they also offer fun stuff like decoupage, book making, jewelry design, and knitting, all taught by the very designers whose handiwork hangs on the racks! take a look at the current schedule and sign up for their mailing list so you'll know when they add new dates. plus, their amazing craft book library is always available for your reference; check out the amazing NATIVE FUNK AND FLASH for some 70's-style embroidery inspiration!

they also carry hodge podge clothes and crochet goods, in addition to the collections of many other local indie designers. all winter merch is on sale right now so stop in soon if you can...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

coupla quickies...

i made this skirt one morning using a remnant i got from a denyse schmidt sample sale. i kept it very simple since the piecing's pretty busy.

...and gertie has really been needing a new batch of sweaters so this will be the first of a series. these are perfect quickie projects! gertie seems very popular over on lena's flickr page!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

you wanna MAKE something?

in spring 2002 i co-founded MAKE workshop with my friend diana rupp. MAKE is a craft school offering classes in how to 'make' almost anything! it will be 5 years old this year. in the beginning, the two of us taught everything ourselves, but now there are all kinds of guest teachers (including craft idols like jenny hart, denyse schmidt, prudence mapstone and teva durham) allowing for an amazingly diverse roster. diana runs the school all on her own but i still teach many of the classes. i think teaching will always be my most rewarding work because it feels so good to share a new skill with someone who wants to learn...

at first we mostly focused on sewing, knitting and crochet because those were diana's and my specialties.

at left is shibori dyeing, which is the original form of tie-dyeing from japan. and because we love all things japanese, here's a pic from my kimono sewing class.

shoemaking has been one of MAKE's all-time most popular subjects. even i took the class! right now i don't think there are any shoe classes being offered, but sign up for the mailing list and you'll always be informed of what's happening.

i teach so many different classes it's hard to keep track of them all, and the list is constantly changing, but here's a sampler (i'll link the ones currently offered to the complete description): crochet, patternmaking, sewing II: dress, sock animals, embroidery, block printing, spinning, altered states, lingerie, kool-aid yarn dyeing, applique, t-shirt workshop... most of these are on the schedule for february or march but if you want something that's not listed right now just shoot an e-mail to

phylleri made the trip to nyc and taught a weekend spinning workshop which was really fun. we also took a group of MAKE-ers to her farm once for a 3-days-on-the-farm camping , spinning and fiber-dyeing adventure!

one of my favorite-ever classes that i took myself was wet felting taught by kelly mulloy. we took up all of the floor space and laid out the colored wool roving, then soaked it with soapy water and SCRUBBED til our backs ached! the floor got very clean that day. i still wear my scarf and it's extremely warm and cozy.