@Meetmakersofcolor is an online community that celebrates color and diversity in the maker community! If you aren’t following them, go ahead and do that now! They reached out to me and asked me the question “How has my heritage has influenced my maker journey??” I really had to reflect on that question and my journey thus far, before I could write an answer.
Sometimes when life is just happening you don’t realize the obstacles you overcame, or you don’t stop to congratulate yourself! I hope this brief summary gives you some insight into how my heritage has influenced me and my style!
I tried to write a response that would fit in an Instagram caption, that didn’t work.. So here we are. Lol! Before I get to answering that question, let me introduce myself. Hello, I’m Nichelle B, I’m from Maryland, a very short version is, I’m a maker, teacher, yogi, natural hair lover, sewing blogger and creative being.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been enamored with black people. I never wanted to be anything else. Growing up Diana Ross, Aaliyah, Domonique Dawse, my mom, and older sister were some of the women I admired most. Growing up they inspired me to pursue things like dance, gymnastics, piano, ballet and modeling. My mom swears this “creative bug” bit me when I was 10 and turned an old pair of jeans into a purse using needle, thread, and hot gluing on some rhinestones. lol I do remember that bag and as corny as it sounds, she may be right, because ever since then I’ve loved creating. As I got older I realized, I feel most alive I’m creating with my hands or moving my body.
I graduated from Clark Atlanta University and anyone else who has graduated from an HBCU knows that is the blackest edutainment experience you can get. College was a pivotal experience for me, educationally and personally. Being surrounded by so much culture, history, and friends who felt like family, gave me even more sense of pride for being black.
As it pertains to fashion and college, before attending I didn’t really think about things like the environmental impact of the garment industry, the things companies do to produce fashion FAST, or the lack of diversity among luxury fashion brands. It was all kind of disturbing to me, so during my junior year of college I started teaching myself how to sew. I got a job at a fabric store part time. I started going to the thrift store, revamping clothing, and slowly falling in love with sewing.
My love for my heritage definitely influences my style as a sewist. I use a lot of Ankara prints, make headwraps, and love vintage garments. I make it a priority to infuse my culture in my wardrobe and my handmade garments because I want people to know I’m proud of my roots!
In 2015 I started Blog.Nichelleb.com to share with the world everything I make. In 2016 started teaching at a local sewing studio.. The blog and teaching happened organically. I started the blog to inspire other people to learn how to sew and hopefully meet like-minded people. I never planned on teaching because being self-taught I struggled with self- doubt, but someone believed in my potential and here I am 3 years later, still growing and glowing with this teaching thing. Lol
Teaching sewing is my way to help be the change, give back to my community, and hopefully inspire them to keep pursuing creative arts.
My culture is a huge part of my makers journey because I realize how important it is for a little girl or even an adult to see someone who looks like them teaching in the sewing world. Diversity and representation matter as well as community and sisterhood.
One message I hope to convey to my blog readers and students is to be the change they wish to see in the world and to never give up on themselves, or their dream. Stop to congratulate yourself on your strength!
It takes courage to create.
Remember, it’s a slow process, but quitting wont speed it up.
Hold onto the vision, trust the process.
Heyyy Thanks for stopping by! I’ve been fabric shopping in New York quite a few times and these are my top 5 tips! Have you been fabric shopping in New York? Let me know if you have anymore tips on how to have a great fabric shopping experience!
- Bring Cash– Cash is KING. Some of the smaller fabric stores offer you better prices when you have cash. There is literally sooo much fabric in New York, I think some sellers are willing to negotiate prices because they have so much of it. I’m not saying walk around with a wad of cash but do have some cash on hand.
- Do not try to be cute and wear fancy shoes. Do not wear Uggs. Uggs get soggy in wet weather and ew who wants to walk around in shoes that feel soggy. I don’t recommend you wear your fashion boots either. Like those cute over the knee boots you got from Macys. Nope. Lol Wear tennis shoes or shoes made for walking. Period. Trust me, your feet will thank you for allowing them the joy of comfort on this journey.
- Mood is not the only fabric store in NY. I know Mood is AMAZING, it’s on Project Runway and everyone talks about it, but don’t let that be your only stop! There is a plethora of fabric stores in NY. Most times I go to Mood I end up buying 1 or 2 fabrics. Partly because fabric can add up quick in Mood and partly because the selection is insane, one could spend all day in there. The quality of fabric at Mood is always impeccable so it’s totally worth the price and the stop. I put a list of a few other stores I shop at while I’m there.
- Go with a sewing plan! Check your fabric stash. Do you know you need knits? Are you making a red dress? Do you need swimwear fabric? Great write all of that down and don’t forget about the notions! Once you have what you are looking for in mind, write down everything you will need to complete it. It is so annoying getting home and start making your garment only to find out you don’t have a lining fabric, or a zipper, or some eyelets. Lol
- Have a budget!!! This one is major. Now if you can fabric shop without a budget, then I’m jealous. Lol However, for the rest of us, if your budget is say $300 get some of that amount out in cash. It makes it way easier to stay on budget when you can actually see the cash. When you get to NY and see so many beautiful fabrics you might get excited and want to impulsively buy every cute fabric you see. Having a budget and writing down what you actually need will stop you from buying unnecessary items. Oh, and its ok to set a budget and then set another small emergency budget in case you see a fabric you ABSOLUTELY cannot leave without. No judgement here. LOL
*BONUS* I absolutely MUST go out to eat anytime I’m in New York. Pizza is cool but after all that walking around you will want to sit down and have a niice meal to bring you back to life. Lol Restaurant options in NY are endless even if you eat vegan like me I’m pretty sure there will be something near you.
*BONUS* About 3-4 years ago I did a fashion tour and that was pretty cool. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the particular person/company I used but if you research I’m sure you will find some options. I did a 3- hour walking tour, it was a small group of about 6 ladies, and I think I paid about $50. There are plenty of tours happening all the time in NY. I know going on a tour is such a “touristy” thing to do, but if you still feel a bit intimidated, or are going to NY for the first time, going on a tour is a great way to explore!
Other fabric Stores:
- Spandex House
- Fabrics and Fabrics
- Ebad Fabrics
- Diana Fabrics
- Fabrics Express
- Sil Thread
- B&J Fabrics
- New York Elegant Fabrics
I wanted to give you all the details on how to create this bag! Whether it’s for yourself, someone else as a gift, or your little one this bag is fun to make and perfect for everyday use. This is the tutorial I followed to make this bag. However, I made alot of adjustments because this pattern is really for a kids size messenger bag. I really just made it bigger and added lots of hardware, some of it is optional. So for this bag you will need everything listed/pictured below. I use heavy fusible interfacing for the body, a medium weight for the flap, and a lightweight interfacing for the straps and tabs on the side. You can also use fusible fleece if you want a softer bag without as much structure.
For this bag you will need:
- 1 yard of fabric for outside of bag, cotton or canvas
- 1 yard of fabric for inside lining,
- 1 yard of interfacing for outside of bag
- 1/2 yard of medium weight interfacing for the flap
- 1/2 yard of lightweight interfacing for the straps and tabs (optional)
- pins, scissors, chalk, pattern weights
- 2 swivel hooks
- 2 1 inch D- Rings or you can use the triangle rings
- a purse closure of your choice (flip, turn, or press, lock)
- a fashion slide adjuster (optional if you want adjustable strap)
- small closure for the inside of the bag
So to construct the bag you are going to follow the tutorial, ignoring her dimensions because again, they are for a kids bag. So follow her construction process and when it comes time to actually sew the lining to the bag, sandwiched in the middle will be your flap, 2 side tabs, and small closure in the middle. The last step is the most important part in the construction of this bag. You need to make sure everything is being caught then sew over it a couple times for security. Also don’t forget to add the shorter hand strap in the back! I like being able to carry the bag 2 ways.
ALOT of the time that goes into making this bag is in the prep work. So before you actually sew the bag I suggest you to prep everything. That means making the flap, sewing pockets on your lining, making the bag straps, and making all the tab pieces for the D-rings and inside closure. ISo now onto the dimensions. The body of my bag is about 15 inches x 27 inches. Thats 15 inches across and 27 inches down just so were clear. LOL So you will cut your bag and your lining out at that size.
Interface your outside bag piece and be sure not to interface your seam allowance, if you are using a stiff interfacing it will be too bulky to sew over. If you are using fusible interfacing you should be fine with interfacing your entire outside bag piece. If you are doing purse feet add them on after you interface the outside bag piece. You can do 2 or 4 purse feet on the bottom if you desire.
Then you will cut out the flap which is 13 inches x 9 inches. As she does in the tutorial cut a rectangle first then use something round to cut 2 corners off to have rounded edges. I normally just use my curve ruler, but you can use a bowl, a cup, anything round. Rounding the corners is also optional but I think it looks best.
To make the straps and tabs I use a 4 inch wide piece of fabric. Fold the ends in to meet each other, press, then fold them in again to have those ends meet and press. Sew down both sides. After the flap is cut out interface one side of it and sew the 2 flap pieces together. I use a medium weight fusible interfacing for my flaps and lightweight for the tabs.
Then, after you have done all of that, you are ready to sew the bag together. Now if you are using really stiff interfacing keep in mind this bag does have to be turned right side out, so you will have to use a bit of force with that part. Also another note I like to do a small strip of lightweight interfacing in my strap and on my bag tabs.
Again interfacing the tabs and straps is optional and I know you probably want to just skip it but I think you should do it. This bag is big enough to hold a 13 inch Macbook Air and I carry my laptop in it sometimes but the tabs on my first bag were not interfaced, so they kept doing this. lol
This was soooo annoying. These interfaced tabs aren’t going anywhere.. They sit perfectly in the D-ring and I know this bag can support alot of weight. The straps on my other bag weren’t a problem so just using a small strip of lightweight interfacing in the middle of those should be enough!
Pleasee let me know if you have any questions about this bag or if you create this bag for yourself. I know this was alot of info but if you read everything thoroughly before getting started you will be good! I’m here if you have any questions! Add a comment here, email me, or find me on social media @itsnichelleb! I’m still trying to play around with how to have this bag convert into a backpack so if you have any suggestions on that help a sistah out!
Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day beautiful! XOXO
So I wasn’t going to do a review for this pattern only because I feel it is super simple and I don’t make any adjustments when making these pants. If you are a super beginner the trickiest part may be the zipper. Other than that I highly recommend this pattern if you want a simple wide leg trouser pant. A wide leg is forgiving if you are worried about fit and I love the side pockets.
The only small adjustment I do when making these pants is I don’t make them fit perfectly snug, I leave a tiny bit of space at the waist so I can wear thin leggings under my wide leg pants. I’m one of those people who hates being cold and is always cold. Wide leg pants can be cold in the winter with nothing underneath! Sometimes lining a pair of wide leg pants is great if you need opacity, but not for warmth because it isn’t close to your skin, and in the summer you want to take the lining out. I find this to be a great medium to provide coverage, warmth, and the option to wear with ease in the summer!
Do you always line your pants? Does lining bother you in the hotter months? Let me know.
Also this is an African or Ankara print cotton fabric!
Scroll down for more pics! Thanks for stopping by and a huge thank to McCall Pattern company for featuring my pic on their page!
Stay tuned, up next is a tutorial for a beautiful bag!
Thanks for stopping by my blog! I love being creative and recycling/upcycling clothing or fabric. This shirt is a great way to spice up a basic button up shirt! This is a really easy, and fairly quick refashion. To make this shirt you would get a long sleeve button up shirt, preferably denim, cotton, or linen or average dress shirt weight, just not anything too light or flowy. These sleeves are kind of big so if you get a lightweight fabric is may look kind of weird with the weight of the bell sleeve on it.
Once you have your shirt, mark where you are going to cut it. I recommend 1/2-1 inch above the elbows. This gives you a slightly dramatic sleeve, you can definitely go lower if you want a smaller sleeve, or cut right above your sleeve cuffs if you want a smaller baby bell sleeve. lol
I used a kids circle skirt in a size Small/Medium, as the bell for my shirt. If your arm is bigger go up to a kids size large circle skirt. Note you may have to shorten the skirt a bit. Having a pattern is not necessary as there are lots of tutorials on how to cut out a circle skirt. You will be gathering the sleeve anyway so the fit does not have to be super precise. I like using the kids size skirt because I feel like it gives me just the right amount of fabric. You don’t want it to look like your arm is drowning in your sleeve… Or hey maybe you do.. LOL Test it out, cut the skirt out of muslin if you are unsure of the sizing.
Once you have the sizing right and the skirt cut out hem the bottom of the skirt, gather the top of the skirt, and sew it onto onto the shirt. Press and finish your seams and thats it! Go out and rock your new upcycled shirt!
Hey Lovesss! Happyy Fridayyyy! This is the last look for my week of teacher style. This is a simple D.I.Y dress. I’ve made this dress before in a yellow linen. These colors are soo my vibe and I felt like the Kente print would be a great way to kick off Black History Month! I wanted to make something that was appropriate for work out of this fabric. I didn’t want to do pants because I have a few pair of Ankara print pants already and I thought a dress would be cool because I can layer it. I like this dress because its very chill.. lol I know I can wear it in the summer, layer it in the fall, and its cute with flats or heels!
What do yall think?
If you follow me on IG, I have been showing you a week of teacher looks. I dress pretty chill/minimal for work. I didn’t want to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe for this teaching job so I decided to dress up or tone down the pieces I already have. Stay tuned for Fridays look which I’m kind of excited to wear, it’s an outfit to kick off Black History Month!