Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

Big News

Hi, there!  Guess what? This week I signed a lease on a new space for Blackbird Fabrics. That’s right – we’re moving! But first, let me back up a bit…

You may not know this, but for the past 2.5 years, I have been running this small business out of a bedroom in our Vancouver apartment. It’s worked well, but lately, I feel like I’ve outgrown the space, like big time.

So I started looking for the perfect spot a couple of weeks ago, and I really didn’t expect to find something so quickly. But when I walked into this place, it felt meant to be. It’s big and airy with beautiful natural light and high ceilings. I can’t wait to show you guys.

Since the new space is empty now, I was able to sign the lease and get the keys immediately. So now I am holding the keys to a sunny and open studio space in a great area of East Vancouver. I honestly could not be more excited. It’s perfect.

The past few days have been filled with celebration and reflection. I find myself feeling so humbled by the support I’ve received over the years. I’m also incredibly excited for the future, and what this means for my small business. This feels like a success for me personally, but also for the community we’ve built. You guys are passionate about fabric, as am I! I’m proud to be a part of the exciting and ever evolving world of home sewing.

Okay, here’s the fun part! I’m having a sale to clear out some inventory. The less I have to physically move, the better. 🙂 Also because I love you guys and I want to celebrate with you.

Everything in the shop is 20% off now through Friday, March 31st at 11:59 pm PST.
No code is required, the discount will automatically be applied at checkout.

Visit the shop and celebrate with me! I couldn’t have done this without you.

xo,

-Caroline

Snapshots

Hi friends! With summer in full swing, does anyone else just want to spend all day by the pool? I know I can’t be alone in this. But work must go on despite the gorgeous weather. I am keeping super busy hunting for new fabrics, planning for the upcoming months, and doing my best to get outside when I can! It is summer after all. Here are some snapshots of life lately behind the scenes…

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A little preview of what’s to come… I love snapping photos like this when I visit my favourite suppliers (I came across a new source last week – second photo – and I am SO excited about their fabrics). I’ve been working on buying more summer fabrics while they’re still in season, and then it’s onto fall! Oh, how quickly things move along.

Fall Fabrics Preview

Made some selections for fall too. These won’t be in for a few months but I thought you’d want to peek at them anyways. I’m not good with secrets.

Remnants

Remnants! I’m always amazed at how quickly our remnants sell out. This pile disappeared in just a couple of hours (most of them within a few minutes!). Crazy right? If you like bargains and don’t get stressed out about shopping fast, sign up for the shop newsletter and you’ll get an e-mail when the remnants are listed. You should also sign up if you’d like to be the first to know about sales and shop news. I send out a newsletter about 2-4 times a month.

Office

When I started my business, I learned really quickly that so much of running a small business is spent behind a computer. I recently moved my desk next to the window in the office. I definitely feel my most productive when I’m there. There’s something about the natural light and little dedicated corner that really helps me to focus.

Flowers

I’ve been taking daily morning walks around our neighbourhood. There are so many beautiful flowers everywhere, it’s always such a treat. This also really helps me to stay energized and focused throughout the day.

Meadow

Vancouver is full of little street art moments! This is in front of Meadow, in Gastown. I was on my way to a meeting to look at new fabrics at a local supplier. Someday I’ll bring my DSLR along and photograph all of the street art gems. When I do, I’ll share the photos here!

Helen + Spool of Thread

I got to meet Helen in May and it was such a treat! We had coffee in the park and then spent the afternoon cutting out projects at Spool of Thread. Speaking of which, did you hear the big news? (!!!) This local shop is going to be a great fit to keep Tasia’s vision for Sewaholic going. I’m excited to see where they take the company next!

Recent Makes

Some recent makes! Clockwise from top left:

I’m going to blog about those culottes soon. I have a lot  to say about them (I love them). What are you guys sewing up lately?

P.S. I really, really loved this post from Cup of Jo on being a feminist.

Indigo Dye Nights

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Last week, I spent two evenings learning all about indigo and shibori dyeing at Maiwa in Vancouver. I had so much fun you guys! This class was a birthday gift from my boyfriend, so it felt extra special to take a break from my usual routine and get my hands dirty (literally – my nails are still stained with a hint of blue).

We spent the first day learning technique, and preparing our pieces for the dye bath. The amazing teachers Sophena and Danielle were clearly super passionate about indigo dyeing and all of the techniques. They brought tons of samples to inspire us.

We were given a set of cloth napkins, a huge cotton gauze scarf and various small silk and cotton pieces to test on.

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The dyeing all happened on the second night of the class. The energy in there was awesome. Everyone was so pumped to get their pieces dyed, and we only had a couple of hours so the night zoomed by. Want to see how my pieces turned out?
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I tried a few different techniques on my napkins: stitch resist, binding (one with string and one with elastics, rocks, and marbles), and finally, “the cloud”. The cloud was the most quick and fun – it’s really just bunching the fabric together and tying it up. I wish I took before pictures!

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I used my silk pieces to try out stitch resist in circle shapes, and tying in a knot! The second piece is literally just tied twice.

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The folding and clamping technique was my favourite by a long shot. The two pieces above were made with triangle shape resists. I’m am in love with them!

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Finally, my scarf! This was made using a simple method of folding in half, rolling on the bias, and scrunching the fabric. Again – I promise I will take before pictures next time.

The coolest thing about shibori is the instant gratification! You tie, bind, fold, or clamp your pieces, dye them, let them oxidize, and then you can unwrap your work and see the results pretty much instantly. The unveiling is the best part. Every piece was so beautiful and unique.

I can’t wait to grab some supplies and try this again at home. I see a lot of indigo dyeing in my future!

Filming my Skillshare Class

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My Skillshare class launched on April 19th, which is exactly one month after they first approached me about teaching. Super fast, right? The timeline looked like this:

  • March 22 – 29: Receive e-mail from Skillshare, agree to teach a class, figure out what I want to teach.
  • March 29 – April 11: Research, write script, find location, gather all of the materials needed, practice, practice, practice.
  • April 11: Have a mild freak out about this crazy decision I made to be on camera. Pull myself together. (Thanks, mom.)
  • April 12: Film the class!
  • April 13 – 18: Breathe, review edits with video editor, finalize everything.
  • April 19: Launch and celebrate!!

Truthfully, when I agreed to this, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It was a ton of work! But I really loved the process – stressful, scary, challenging, fun, exhilarating, and character building. You really get to know yourself when you have to practice saying the same thing a million times in front of a mirror.

Here are some behind the scenes peeks…

Planning

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The writing and planning phase took the longest, of course. I brushed up on my knowledge with the help of some of my favourite books from the library. I highly recommend Fabrics A-Z by Dana Willard. After writing out a script for the class, I probably edited and cut it down at least ten times. It was really tough to keep things short and sweet – I have so much I want to share about fabric!

The week before filming, I treated myself to a hair cut and colour and manicure. A little pampering went a long way to make me feel relaxed prepared for filming. (Don’t worry – I was parked while taking that selfie!)

For the day of the shoot, I rented an SUV and filled it to the brim with materials and furniture for the class. Thank goodness I didn’t have to do it alone. My mom was in town for the week of the shoot. She helped me with practicing, and all of the logistics on the day of. She even makes a cameo appearance in my intro video!

The filming took place at Atelier 254, a light and airy space in the heart of Vancouver’s chinatown.

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I discussed in advance with the videographer, Louai Munajim, about how I wanted the class to look. He brought a special macro lens so that we could get some great closeups of the fabrics.

Digitano Media did the editing for the class. We got to use a cool program called Frame.io where I could see the class drafts and make comments right in each video. I couldn’t believe how quickly things came together. We filmed on a Tuesday, and by Friday I had the first edits to look at.

The last few days before launch were just finalizing the videos and uploading everything to Skillshare. It felt so good to hit publish.

P.S. The videographer, Lou, put together a little blooper reel for his portfolio. Here it is, if you’d like to see.

My New Skillshare Class: The Beginner’s Guide to Fashion Fabrics (!!!)

You guys! Over the past month, I’ve been working hard behind the scenes to prepare, write, and film a class with Skillshare. It’s all about fabric!

If you’ve never heard of Skillshare, let me fill you in. It’s an online learning platform for creatives. When you sign up for a monthly membership, you get access to thousands of classes in categories like design, photography, business, DIY, fashion, and so much more. Skillshare fosters creativity, and learning by doing. When the folks at Skillshare got in touch with me and asked if I was interested in teaching a class about fabric, I basically jumped for joy and then said heck yes.

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My first class is called The Beginner’s Guide to Fashion Fabrics, and it’s all about woven fabrics. I wanted to create a class that would help beginners to navigate the world of fashion fabrics. It’s kind of a like a map to fabric selection success. I cover some basics like fiber and weave (What do they mean? How do they affect a fabrics characteristics?). Then I walk you through some tips for shopping for fabrics. Finally, I offer some guidance for actually preparing and working with the fabric as you get ready to sew. For the class project, you’ll get to apply what you learned and plan your next sewing project using a design worksheet.

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I am such a firm believer that selecting the appropriate fabric for the project you want to make is the key to sewing long lasting, quality garments. Yes, sewing technique is important, but so often fabric selection is overlooked! I learned so much about this through my schooling and experience in the textile industry. I sometimes forget that beginner or even intermediate sewists might scratch their head through this process. This was the inspiration behind this class.

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It’s a quick and focused class running at just under twenty minutes. My goal was to pack in as much useful information as I could while keeping it practical and digestible. Everything you learn will help you to make confident and informed fabric choices so that you can sew handmade clothes that will last and that you will want to wear again and again.

I’m especially excited that I was able to create a class focused completely on fabric. There are tons of sewing classes and sewing resources online, but not much out there about textiles. I love that I can share my knowledge and experience in this way.

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In the coming weeks I’m going to share some of my favourite Skillshare classes with you, and give you a more behind the scenes glimpse into the making of the class. (Spoiler: I was sick with nerves when I thought about being on camera, but in the end it wasn’t so bad!).

Alright, so now that you’re all filled in, I will be so thrilled if you check out my class! Use this link to enroll and Skillshare will give you three months of premium membership for just $0.99. Be careful though, you may get hooked! I have an enormous queue of classes I want to take and there are new ones coming out daily.

Snapshots

Hi friends! How are you? I know it’s been quiet on this space for the past little while. Things have definitely been busy, and I just haven’t found the time (or made the time) to write. I think in a way I lacked inspiration, and I didn’t want to post to the blog just for the sake of sharing something! After some reflection and brainstorming, I’m determined to update the blog more often, and I have lots of ideas for where I can go with it. I’m excited to pick up where I left off and make this a space where we can share and chat about fabric and sewing.

So! I thought it would be fun to show you some snapshots of the studio and what I’ve been up to behind the scenes.

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Recently I picked up a bunch of remnants and off cuts from a local designer and friend. Can’t wait to get these listed for you guys!

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Typical day photographing new fabrics…

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Some of my favourite corners in the studio. As inventory grows, storage is becoming more and more limited. I’m constantly rearranging and adding more shelving. It will be so great when I can move into a larger space! Maybe this year?

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Had to share this gorgeous rose bush. I took this photo last week – I can’t believe how green and beautiful Vancouver is right now.

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New Colette Selene skirt pattern is now in stock! A modern pencil skirt with classic lines and a little bit of vintage flair.

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I’ve been working hard on a special project that I can’t wait to share with you next week!

What have you been up to lately? Any fun projects planned for the weekend?