Raphael’s Endless Inspiration

click to zoom, large file with rich detail.

click to zoom, large file with rich detail.

Today’s Three Graces come to us from Raphael, a masterful Italian Renaissance painter.  This tiny (6.5″x6.5″ or 17x17cm) oil painting resides in the Musée Condé of Chantilly, France.  He painted this around 1503, in his late teens.  This is only a couple of decades after Botticelli’s immense Primavera was painted in Florence.

While Primavera is a dense, multi-layered allegory about divine and mortal love, Raphael chose to focus solely on the physical forms of the Graces.  He was undoubtedly inspired by classical motifs of the Graces, which were common in Italy at the time.  This is a similar Pomeian example, typical of the classic representation:


To me, Raphael’s vision of the Graces looks like an experiment, or maybe an artistic task.  Raphael’s Graces is more or less the size of a mousepad, with a strict color palette, featuring a well known theme from antiquity.  It wouldn’t surprise me if he used these parameters to hone other skills, like composition and brushwork.  The focus of the painting is on Raphael’s obsession with harmony and beauty and realism, expressed through the composition.

I think it’s also likely his Graces also represent Chastity (no necklace, kinda wearing clothes), Voluptuas, and Beauty.

Legs as Strong Stems

The three figures spring from the ground like flowers, their legs the stems, each with one foot solidly rooted on the earth and the other gently lifting.  Their bodies curve harmoniously like dancers though they stand still.  They wait, absorbed in their mysterious orbs while exhibiting a gentle awareness of one other.

Strikingly, the central figure faces away from us, arms outstretched.  Some see this as a deliberate mixing of classical (the nude Graces) and Christian iconography (the outstretched arms of the central figure, suggestive of a crucifix).  The far left and right figures flank the central figure with an almost perfect symmetry of torsos, arms, and heads.

colors sampled from Raphael's  work.

colors sampled from Raphael’s work.

In the same way, the colors used suggest a certain earthiness mixed with the divine.  These women represent the Italian Renaissance standard of beauty with auburn hair, fair skin, and soft bodies.  Every other color used in this painting complements the coloring of these Graces- the deliberate shades of red used for the necklaces and spheres, the blue sky, hidden green background and tawny foreground.

Beads Detail

It’s as if Raphael deliberately chose the colors that would complement the fair, firey complexions of the Graces.  This furthers the illusion that these women sprang from the earth itself or perhaps it’s the opposite.   They inhabit a world created for them.

Long Gaze at the Orb

The commonest interpretation of this painting explains that these are the Hespirades, nymphs who guard the Golden Apples in a garden at the edge of the world, but no one knows for sure.  Hercules and other heros quested to find the Golden Apples, which appear in any number of myths and generally impart wisdom or immortality, or are simply objects of desire.

This is perhaps another blending of Classical and Christian themes.  In the book of Genesis, Eve (the first woman) eats the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, gives it to her husband.  As a result, they are cast out of Paradise and the presence of God to toil in the world of sin we know today.  The fruit Eve ate is often represented in art by a bright, shining red apple.

But are they holding apples?  One orb shows the suggestion a stem, but otherwise Raphael left it ambiguous.  Why do they gaze so calmy, so intently into the spheres?  Do the orbs represent a reward?  Are they pretty placeholders?  Raphael lays bare his Graces, but draws a veil over the mystery of their gaze.  (Maybe they can see Mercury in their little red spheres? )

Raphael’s Graces were based on other versions of Graces.  His stands out for harmony of color and composition which inspires others through history (small sample!):

I particularly like that Vargas photo, though his Graces don’t have the same “earth and sky” quality.

Let’s play “two words” again, that was fun.   My two words for Raphael’s work is “iconic” and “pensive.”  Which two words would you use?  What do you see in Raphael’s Graces?

Botticelli’s Three Graces in Primavera: Golden Bellies

The three graces are symbolic figures from classical mythology represented in verses, sculptures, mosaics and vases in ancient Greece and Rome.  Their names and shapes shift through history, and I thought it might be interesting to take a look at how artists portray these three over the past few centuries.


This is Boticelli’s Primavera, painted in Florence c.1482 to commemorate a wedding in the ruling Medici family.  The painting itself is enormous, larger than life at about 6.5 feet tall and over 10 feet wide (202 cm × 314 cm)! (I used a large image file, click to zoom for details.)

We’re most interested in The Graces, but first let me set the stage for those graceful dancers:


At the far right, we see the god of the west wind as he abducts Chloris.  He makes her his bride Flora, goddess of springtime and flowers.  In Ovid she describes her married life this way:

Flora’s transformation bothers me (those ancient gods were so aggressive…!), but if she’s happy, I’m happy for her.  Besides, goddess of flowers is a pretty sweet gig.  She looks rather like a hippie, doesn’t she?


Venus, the goddess of love, quietly dominates the painting from the background.  She’s framed with trees, Cupid, and flowing robes, suggestive of Madonna.  Venus represents the Italian Renaissance ideal: red-haired, pale-skinned, curvaceous.

Three Graces

Beyond Venus, her handmaidens dance, entwined.  Botticelli’s three are active, their bodies veiled but not fully concealed by their diaphanous gowns.  At first glance, their dresses look more like mist than clothes, but they’re actually cleverly seamed, with puffy sleeves and careful lines of gathering and rich embellishment.

I found a brief but rich interpretation of this painting as the average 15th century viewer would see this work, quoted above.  Voluptas faces in opposition to Beauty and Chastity, looking on as the god of the west wind kidnaps Chloris.  This lust is viewed as the “lower” form of love.  Beauty and Chastity outnumber Voluptas, and face away from the lust of the wind god.


Instead, Beauty and Chastity gaze on the figure of Mercury, who is busy arranging the clouds with a wand.  Between the wand, mastery of the elements, the rad toe-less boots and that sword, who can blame Chastity and Beauty for staring longingly at Mercury?


Cupid’s bow aims at Chastity, who gazes on a young god who in turn gazes up to heaven.  From right to left, it’s a 15th century allegory for the nature of love and its transformative effects.

Three Graces Clothes

What do you see in this painting?  Isn’t it interesting that Chastity has no necklace, but bares her shoulder?  What does that mean?  I suppose Beauty and Voluptas “earned” their necklaces, but in the end Charity will get Mercury.

If you could use two words to sum the physical appearances of the women figures in Primavera, what would they be?

I’d say “bellies” and “golden.”

Edited to add: I like to watch/listen to documentaries when I sew, I just found this one from the BBC about Primavera.  Should be interesting…!

Hummingbird Sewalong Winning House: Sabrewing

shared on flickr, not blogged, an experiment from the process...

shared on flickr, not blogged, an experiment from the process…

Hi Everyone!  I’ve been silent here at 3 Hours Past over the past almost-two-weeks while I wrote and ran the Hummingbird 30 Minutes A Day sewalong over at sewingcake.com.  Personally, this is my favorite part of the pattern production process.  I spend weeks and weeks behind the scenes working on production, sewing up my own samples and writing guides and tutorials before the patterns are even printed/distributed.  But once we start sewing along together, I can see my work in your sewing and on your back and that’s really rewarding.  Thank you for sewing along!  (And remember, there’s always next time!)

Last time, when we sewed Pavlova together, the Hummingbird presale followed close on the heels and I couldn’t fit in any group posts.  I did start making the Community Gallery pages over at sewingcake.com at that time.  If you haven’t already, do check out the growing Community Galleries, there’s one for each current Cake Patterns release.


I love making games and giveaways, and for the Hummingbird Sewalong we sent out all pre-ordered Hummingbird patterns in brightly colored envelopes to separate anyone who wanted to play for the Hummingbird House Prize into your house:

Everyone who made a new garment or learned a new skill or pushed their sewing “comfort zones” during the Sewalong is a winner.  You won by extending your sewing experience, building your wardrobe, making new friends or even just trying something a little different.  This time around, we had 108 members join the Flickr Group and 522 photos uploaded!  That’s way more than the previous sewalongs!

I really enjoyed getting up every day and putting the lesson on, tidying it up and updating the lesson to reflect what was going on in the Flickr group.  Then I go running around and looking at all the pretty new makes and progress!  I love it, I’ve gotten to know many of you and your figure types and a bit about your life during the sewalongs.  I think of y’all while I’m working on the next set of designs, you’re really inspiring!

The tally was close, and I probably should end this series with the winner.  Instead, I’d like to announce the winner right now, then we can take some time to look through the other houses over the next week.  I thought that would be a nice way to showcase all the lovely new Hummingbirds!

Sabrewing Hummingbird

  I’m pleased to announce: The official winner of the Hummingbird House Competition was Sabrewing!


Way to go, Sabrewing! You sewed really well and worked hard, please visit our old Sabrewing House haunt to collect your prize code.  The code is available openly on the honor system, I know who is in Sabrewing and I believe I notified everyone.

Unfortunately, I could not link each photo from Sabrewing House above to its Flickr page, but you can find all public Sabrewing makes tagged here in chronological order.  I’m so impressed with the work you all did!

Denim waistband no zipper!

Gillian (House Sabrewing) made two Hummingbird Skirts without a zipper.  Click here to learn how.

Maryanne's Hummingmisu

And yes!  This is a Hummingmisu, one of several varieties of Hummingbird Dresses that popped up in the sewalong (stay tuned this week to see others!).  Here, Maryanne used the Hummingbird Blue as a bodice with the Tiramisu half-circle skirt!

Extra Points for Community Support

Find your knit stitch

When we were working on Finding Your Best Knit Stitch, I felt my visual reference/troubleshooting guide was incomplete.  After all, machines vary widely.  I show the settings for my machine and while the settings would be similar on other machines, I thought it might be nice to take a look at what everyone else is using for knit seaming.  So I asked, and it became a part of the game: one point for each individual’s photographed sewing machine/stitch settings for a knitstitch (at the bottom of the visual reference, here). This was really interesting, and I think I’ll use “Community Support” daily points like this for future Sewalong games.  It’s a really great resource for new-to-knit-sewing friends, too.

Been Quiet, What’s Up?

I’ve been quiet on the blog front because I’m working hard on solidifying Cake.  I’m changing up the way I handle productions, streamlining, taking stock, building infrastructure, checking the books, all of those things that take a lot of time.

I’m finishing up the next release, too- Red Velvet!  She was sidelined for a couple of weeks, but now we’re finishing up and nearly to the pre-press stage.  Originally, I had planned to pre-sale her from next week, but that is not what we’re doing anymore because I want to avoid supply chain errors bred by pre-saling.  I hope to have her printing toward the end of this month, and then dear me, don’t I just have some wonderful new things to show you?

In the meantime, I want to feature the other Hummingbird Houses (which are full of goooooorgeous work and deserve their own posts!) and then venture into a light little series I’ve been thinking about for a while- it’ll be something fun to talk about before the next round of pattern releases…

Hummingbird Class in Brisbane

Hummingbird Class at Voodoo Rabbit

If you live in Brisbane and you’d like to join me and a small group of like-minded sewists to explore the Hummingbird Skirt and Top pattern, then click here to visit the Voodoo Rabbit Class Listings for more details!  It’s a four-week Tuesday Evening class (6-9pm) from July 30- 5 spots left, book early!  (Price of the pattern is included in the class, “discount” if you already own the pattern!)

What do you think?  There’s some pretty nifty sewing from Sabrewing House, dresses and details.  Great work, Sabrewing!

Next up: Violetear

Then: Annas

Finally: Rufous

paper and pdf patterns on Etsy

paper and pdf patterns on Etsy

Pavlova Pdf Pattern Releases!


The paper Pavlova pre-sale patterns have been arriving in sewing rooms from Brisbane to Yellowknife to London to Wellington to Brooklyn and most places in between.  If you’re still waiting on yours, give it a few more days and if it doesn’t turn up, please email me.  stephc(at)3hourspast(dot)com

Meanwhile, three Pavlova Patterns are available now for download from Craftsy:

Pavlova Skirt OverviewPavlova Skirt & Pocket, all sizes

Pavlova 30-35Pavlova Wrap Top 30-35

Pavlova 35-45 OverviewPavlova Wrap Top, 35-45

Pdf patterns are interesting.  Everyone, everyone, especially those who have never attempted making pdf patterns, has an opinion about the best way to do it.  Personal preferences of various sewists often conflict, and there’s no way to please everyone.

click for printable sample pdf page

click for printable sample pdf page

Naturally, we gave it our best shot anyway.    It’s time-consuming to field emails about pdf pattern tiling and scaling.  I’d rather make a pdf that prints perfectly for anyone, anywhere without tech support.   This meant hours of back-and-forth between me and TaranM, printing samples on our printers, wringing our hands, working out the “best” way.

It seems the “best” way for us is to create a tiled pattern with somewhat generous margins, no overlaps, and  a simple layout.   We divided the top into two sizing chunks to conserve paper for smaller Top sizes, and separated the tops from the skirt.  This pdf has printed out properly on A4 and Letter printers (100% scaling), and I’ve done everything possible to ensure I don’t wake up to a morning inbox full of printing/tiling issues.

It’s been hard and weird working out a good solid “system” for making pdfs.  I hope that with Pavlova, we’ve finally hit the right note.  Do please let me know if we haven’t.

Off Week

I’m going to take off blogging this week while I prep for the 30 Minutes A Day Pavlova Sewalong that kicks off on Friday.  We’ll have such fun. I’ll be back on Thursday evening to announce the house prize for the house that completes the greatest number of Cake Standard Pavlovas during the sewalong, as well as an explanation of “Cake Standard.” I’ll be prowling around social media and the flickr group, too.  (If you purchase a pdf and want me to “sort” you into a house, email me and I’ll assign you one at random.)


Do you have any questions about the pdf  making process?

Pavlova Patterns Arrival: Australia First

Four big boxes packed with Pavlovas!

Four big boxes packed with Pavlovas!

The great Pavlova Shipping Season has commenced!  The printer shipped our lovely Pavlova patterns to me in Brisbane via dhl, and to Leila (Cake, NH) in Indy via UPS.  Leila in the USA should have hers on Thursday morning, but mine have arrived already and it’s only Thursday afternoon!


I know. It’s mad. Best to just lean into the International Dateline Weirdness and enjoy it.  Also weird: the patterns arrived 10,000 miles away in Australia sooner than they did in Indianapolis.  From Kansas.


Cake’s Australia/New Zealand orders are nestled snugly in their shipping envelopes, most of them with postage already attached and ready to slip into your postboxes.  Friday is our drop day!  We’ll be posting all current Pavlova Wrap Top & Skirt patterns purchased via Etsy, and sending out our pre-order shipments to Cake Retailers.

That’s Friday world wide. Tomorrow, if you’re in the Antipodes.  Day after tomorrow if you’re in the US.  I know. Weird.  Let’s just focus on Friday.


I’ll get a better shot of the map while we’re tracking.. :)

We’ll track the progress of our patterns as they arrive and y’all tweet or email or convo me to let me know you got them.  I can’t help it, and the map is right there on the wall already…

Leila and I are especially keen to race to the Great White North, Canada.  It seems that patterns from the US to Canada take a looooong time, and I have an idea the post might work more smoothly from one commonwealth country to another.

I have a nice schedule of posts lined up regarding sizing, length alteration guides, grainline blasphemy, light drafting exercises, and of course our appliqued birds!   (Oh yes, and my invisible zipper lesson for complete beginners.)  I’ll post the table of contents for the week’s posts tomorrow, and also the links to sign up for the Pavlova Sewalong!

Side note: Would a flickr tutorial before the sewalong be useful?  I know some readers wanted to join in with Tira, but weren’t sure how to.  Let me know in comments.

Pdf patterns: Once the Pavlova pattern begins arriving in Europe, I’ll launch the pdfs.  I separated the top from the skirt, and the tops are further separated with 30-35 together and 40-45 together.  If you just want the pocket, it’s already available.

Simple and Quick: Ironing Board Recovery


Yesterday, after months and months of telling myself to recover my ironing board, I finally did it!  Why is it so hard to do these little maintenance jobs?   I took a few pictures to show you how I did it- it’s kind of quick and dirty with a serger thrown in, but effective.


As much as I enjoyed sharing my sewing space with these gnomes, I had to admit the fabric was no longer suitable as a pressing surface.  It’s been washed multiple times and is stiff as a board and perma-sticky.  I think I should invest in an applique mat.


I had a cute self-made textile design printed onto Spoonflower linen-cotton, which arrived the other day.  I washed it well and pressed it.

The blue quilt is lap size.  It began life as a dye experiment, then a free-motion quilting primer.  I finished it but it never gets used and we have plenty of other blankets so I’m using it to help pad out my ironing board surface.


I started with one of the original layers of batting.  It’s polyester and wool, which helps hold in heat and moisture when I’m steaming and clapping seams on twill or bulky fabrics.  It was already trimmed to my ironing board shape.  Then I layered the board with even more padding (and covered the end, too).

Recovering an Ironing Board Brief

I used the wool blend, a thermal layer (potholder batting), and the cotton quilting practice.  It’s very firm.  Then I draped the fabric over the board and adjusted as desired and trimmed away the excess.


I trimmed the fabric in such a way that it hung down about 1/2″ (1.2cm) below the lower edge of the board- roughly a thumb length.


Then I used 1/4″ (6mm) underwear elastic on the edges.  I suggest using regular elastic, this isn’t really starchy enough.  Pull the elastic fairly tightly while serging the cover to the elastic without cutting the elastic much.  It takes a little coordination at first, but it’s quick and very neat.  I start with a few meters of elastic in my lap and simply trim it off at the other end.


Mine isn’t perfect- I pinned the fabric below the board in a few places. Weak elastic.  But it’s clean and fresh and won’t damage my fabrics, which is the main consideration.


Now I can get on with some other work!

Pavlova Shipping

The Pavlova Wrap Top & Skirt patterns have shipped to Cake NH and Cake Central to be shipped to youCake Stockists will receive their orders as we ship out the presale.  Then we can get started on the new tutorials!  Woohoo!  I didn’t want to get too much into the technical posts until the pattern was also in your hands, I’m so thrilled to get started sewing up Pavlovas together!


Meanwhile, a little bird is in production…

The Weather in Kansas and Cake in Brisbane

click for source and a little info on The Little Apple

click for source and a little info on The Little Apple

Just a quick update on Pavlova progress today.  Cake Patterns are printed and assembled in Manhattan, Kansas.  Aka The Little Apple.

click for source. This is from the same storm, photo at Dove Mountain.  Pretty.

click for source. This is from the same storm, photo at Dove Mountain. Pretty.

The Little Apple is currently under deep and picturesque snowdrifts, which explains why I couldn’t get the printer on the phone for two days earlier this week.  I have to stay up late or get up quite early to speak to them, and I was getting a little frustrated.   Rest assured, the Pavlova patterns are printed and ready to ship.  As soon as the logistics carrier can break a path to the printer and pick up our patterns, they’ll start their journey!

Picture 53

Meanwhile, another project I’ve been working on behind the scenes is coming to fruition.  During the Pavlova pre-sale, I was suddenly struck with an urge to make a rag doll based on Esme the Pavlova covergirl.  Mikhaela and I put our heads together and made a jointed paper doll.  Our resulting work deserved to be sampled in fabric, tested, and refined.  That’s what we focused on once production on Pavlova wrapped up.  Very soon, I’ll be able to talk about this a little more.  In the meantime I thought I’d ask for your reactions to the overall design of the pattern?  It’s 18″ sq (~45cm) and makes a lovely detailed 17″ dolly.

I’m printing off a few copies for myself to test and finalize and quickly stitch up samples, then I’ll formally introduce you to “the girls.”

And still more…

Another behind-the-scenes project at Cake involves working with an indie printer to produce more patterns.  More!  We’re still talking and sampling, but once we’re all on the same page I’ll be able to start sending some sweet Cake Riffs your way.   These will be like Cake given the Burda treatment, created with intermediate and confident sewists in mind with minimalist instructions.  I thought I’d mention it, because one of the first Riff releases will be this lovely striped top that I’m dying to put in your hands…

If you’d like to receive an email message when this pattern becomes available, leave your email address below and I’ll let you know.  The RRP for the printed pattern will be $8.00 + S&H and $5.50 for a pdf, tiled or printed on AO size paper.

Whew!  Do check out the applique tutorial and template poll, I’m closing that on Saturday morning and I’ll make whichever applique you vote for.  (Go Team Skunk!!! Unlimited voting.)

Today’s winners of the OCC Lip Tar Giveaway:

Picture 56 Picture 57

Congrats, ladies!  Please email me and I’ll drop it in the post early next week.  (stephc at 3hourspast dot com)

Pavlova Goes Live and Wintry Photoshoot

Pavlova Envelope Front | Pavlova Circus | Hi Res

The Pavlova Wrap Top & Skirt Pattern is now available on Etsy!  If you missed the whirlwind pre-sale in December, you can head over now and place your order.  We’ll be shipping Pavlova from our sewing rooms to yours from the last week of this month- and will keep you updated on the progress in the meantime!


Purchase your Pavlova pattern in the next week to be included in the color “sorting” for the 30 Minutes A Day Pavlova Sewalong!

Cake Collabvertisements

In the early days of creating Cake, I had to decide whether to hire models to show off the pattern samples.  For now, I’m not entirely comfortable working with models.  I don’t think of Cake as “fashion,” I think of Cake as clothes worn by regular women in our daily lives, with a bit of fun and whimsy thrown in.  Clothes for people, not clothes for fantasies.

As a part of the production process, I continuously make samples- to test proportions, to take photos for instruction drawings and tutorials, to test various seam finishes and fabric, and so I can show you all how the pattern looks made up.  I don’t see a reason to keep multiple finished samples once they’re finished.  I don’t need them.  My thrifty soul wants those clothes to be worn.

Then I realized- sewing bloggers model.  Sewing bloggers are regular people.  Much more goes into taking good photos than standing still and smiling, and many sewing bloggers take amazing photos.  Why not work with other talented entrepreneurs to take sample photos for Cake and help each other promote our work?   Collabvertisement.

For Pavlova’s collabvertisement I spent some time emailing with Lauren, American Duchess, to choose fabrics that would be appropriate for her climate and lifestyle.  We settled on gray wool windowpane suiting and a merino jersey that reminds me of creamy vanilla ice cream.  Once I sent the samples (stitched with Hong Kong seams and a lace faced hem) to Lauren, she took a series of photos for Pavlova.   It’s a cosy little winter blouse, and the skirt lends itself well to suiting fabric:

Wintry Pavlova In Woolens 4 | Cake Patterns | American Duchess Wintry Pavlova In Woolens 3 | Cake Patterns | American Duchess Wintry Pavlova In Woolens 2 | Cake Patterns | American Duchess Wintry Pavlova In Woolens | Cake Patterns | American Duchess

I love the photos Lauren took- she styles herself beautifully in modern clothes as well as those from 50 or even 200 years ago.  She’s a chameleon.   Thanks for the lovely shoot, Lauren!  If you’d like to see all of Lauren’s photos from the shoot, check out the Wintry Pavlova Gallery on sewingcake.com.

Gibson Shoes | American Duchess

I own one pair of Lauren’s shoes, and with the Gibson pre-sale now in full swing I think that very shortly I’ll own another!

Tomorrow we start a week long glam-samples giveaway! Red lips, pink lips, vegan and cruelty free lips!

Candy Piqué or Boucle?

Cotton Pink

Yesterday, I had the chance to visit The Fabric Store’s 50% off sale (on through tomorrow) with a fellow fabric geek.  We were picking the fabrics to stitch a “collection” for a certain upcoming pattern release.  I’ve seen this fabric before at TFS and longed to make it mine except I habitually refuse to buy anything for which I do not have an immediate purpose in mind.  If I bought everything I liked when I saw it I’d be in debt and surrounded by piles of “stash” fabric.


the color is most accurate in this photo

The tag said dry clean only, but I’ve worked with this kind of fabric before so I shoved it into the machine with like color and a warm wash with normal liquid soap.  I also washed this lightweight textured merino in that load- intended for the same collection.


It’s soft and drapey, yet firm.  I like textured cottons because they easily wash and wear well. This piece was washed last night, crammed into the dryer and stayed there until after lunch when I pulled it out to take pictures.  Not bad, only a little rumpled.


The question is- boucle or piqué?  It looks like a basketweave pique, except for the thick-thin quality of the yarns used, which lends a gentle slubbed effect.  The slubs and the soft irregularity say “boucle” to me.

Click for wikipedia entry- implies looped yarns...

Click for wikipedia entry- implies looped yarns…

Picture 8

says stiff- but knit pique is used for polo shirts and it’s soft. I’ve seen many vintage fabrics called pique that were also quite soft…


I can’t decide what to call this lovely fabric!  What would you call it?  Do link to articles on boucle or pique if you please! (also- what do you think of white, blue and pink together on me?)

Today’s winner:

Picture 9

The Red Plastic Seam Ripper

Panels Giveaway

Today’s random winner of a Cake Fabric Envelope panel offcut is Ginger!  I’ll drop that panel in the post tomorrow, Ginger!  I have five other panel offcuts to give away each day over the next week, drop your name and measurements here and check back tomorrow!

Seam Ripper Red 2

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it countless times: “I hate unpicking/ I hate ripping seams.”  An aversion to “reverse sewing” (as some of my quilter friends call it) is understandable, as it can represent work once done and then undone.  I prefer to think of it as moving closer to completion/perfection.   The aversion is also a beginner/intermediate sewist trait- once you’ve sewn for a while, you realize that *everyone* unpicks stitches sometimes, it’s just a part of the process.

Red Seam Ripper 3

Recently Lladybird Lauren mentioned that she enjoys ripping seams because it feeds her destructive side.  I get that, I absolutely enjoy taking a seam ripper to RTW jackets and dresses.  The only seams I do not unpick are knit seams. Unless it’s a very expensive/delicious knit, I cut off my seams rather than unpick them.  Life is short, knits don’t like to be unpicked, the seams are usually narrow and the fabric is forgiving.

Seam Ripper Red Plastic

These are the “Cake-Approved” seam rippers I’m using in kits because they meet my criteria and they’re red.  I look for a few things in an unpicker- a lid, a long handle, and a sharp, sturdy blade.  It’s easy to forget the importance of a sharp blade for an unpicker, but it shouldn’t be neglected.  A sharp blade makes all the difference to “reverse sewing,” greatly speeding up the process.

How often do you replace your unpicker?  What do you call this tool in your native tongue?  What was the biggest mess of seam ripping you ever did?