Arielle’s Hoodie

DSC04471.JPGBack in December 2012, I told four of my closest friends – Arielle, Tsige, Dev, and Aysha – that my holiday gift would be embellishing an article of clothing for each of them.

DSC04548.JPGI asked them to give me an article of clothing that fit them well and said they could make requests for how I should embellish it, such as using certain colors, specific fabrics, or particular shapes like hexagons or triangles.

DSC04537.JPGIn the upcoming weeks, I’ll make a post about the gifts I made for each person. This post is about Arielle’s hoodie. We were first introduced to each other through Dev and consider New Years to be our three year friendiversary. Since we met, a week has rarely gone by when we haven’t spent quality time together. Arielle grew up celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa in Los Angeles, so we lovingly refer to this hoodie as her Christmahanukwanzaakah present.


298951_10151171432690146_368543026_nI got the idea to make these gifts for my friends after embellishing some of my own hoodies — two of which are pictured above. Arielle didn’t make any special requests for her article of clothing. Instead, she gave me the creative freedom to make whatever I thought would work well for her.

DSC04445.JPGArielle wanted the article of clothing I embellished to be a hoodie, but she didn’t own any hoodies, so she bought a unique hoodie that flared out at the bottom.

DSC04489.JPGAll four of my friends were extraordinarily patient as I worked on this project on and off for a year. Here are the steps I took to embellish Arielle’s hoodie.

DSC01279.JPGWhen I originally started working on Arielle’s hoodie, I didn’t even realize I was working on something which would end up on her hoodie one day. I’d taken a piece of fabric with a geometric design and began adding embroidery to it.

DSC01280.JPGI simply followed the shapes on the fabric to add a bit of texture to it.

DSC01290.JPGOne of the times I worked on embroidering this piece of fabric, Arielle and I were hanging out on my bed watching TV on the computer. At the time, I was just embroidering for the fun of it – little did either of us know that it would eventually end up on the back of her hoodie.

DSC04175.JPGI struggled for months trying to figuring out what colors to use with the mint green of Arielle’s hoodie, since it’s a color I don’t use very often in my sewing or quilting. Then one day when I pulled out the piece of embroidered fabric, I realized that the colors went well with Arielle’s hoodie. I set some studs I’d recently purchased from a website called on the fabric and knew I had a start for Arielle’s hoodie. I love it when the right fit falls into my lap unexpectedly.

DSC04177.JPGI still wasn’t quite sure how I’d put it together, but knew that if I just took some time to get started, I could get over the initial lack of momentum. I’ve found that being in the same room as someone else who is working on a creative pursuit is the perfect way for me to start on a project. Sometimes it just takes saying, “I’m going to start this project,” and setting aside the time to begin. I contacted Season, who I met through the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild, and asked her if she’d like to get together to sew. I brought the embroidered piece of fabric, a handful of studs, and a stack of fabrics to her house to begin putting Arielle’s hoodie together.

DSC04185.JPGWhile I pieced the embellishments for Arielle’s hoodie, Season worked on handquilting for her new business S.D. Evans Quilts.

DSC04187.JPGWith a little bit of basic piecing, the embellishment for the back of Arielle’s hoodie came together.

DSC04190.JPGI decided to use the same fabrics for the front. After piecing them, I realized I didn’t make the strips long enough to reach all the way up to the shoulders of the hoodie.

DSC04194.JPGThis “mistake” ended up being a blessing in disguise – I love it whenever what initially feels like a mistake takes the project in a direction I end up liking better in the end. I like working on projects by starting out with a vague idea of where I’m headed and then remaining open to it taking unexpected turns. In this case, in order to help the fabric reach the shoulders, I added pieces of dark turquoise to the areas needing coverage.

DSC04229.JPGI pinned the strips to the front of the hoodie with the edges butting up against the zipper.

DSC04231.JPGI turned under the edges of the fabric and hand sewed the material to the hoodie.

DSC04240.JPGWhen I got to the top corners, I pinned excessively and continued to hand sew the fabric down, so it would lay fairly flat while on the body. After securing the fabric to the front, I moved onto connecting the back section of fabric to the hoodie.

DSC04245.JPGHere you can see where the original piece of fabric I embroidered became the strip of fabric down the middle of the back of the hoodie as I pinned it in place.

DSC04252.JPGWhen working on craft projects, I’m oftentimes hanging out with family or friends. Since I wanted to keep the hoodie embellishments a secret from Arielle, I made sure not to work on it when she was around. I took lots of pictures in the mirror as I tried it on, so I could see how it was coming together. Where the front and back of the hoodie embellishments met, I overlapped the back over the front a bit.

DSC04270.JPGIf you look closely in the picture above, you can see the thread along the edge of the fabric where it is secured to the hoodie. I wavered between leaving the front of the hoodie plain like this or putting studs in the dark turquoise section.

DSC04269.JPGI ended up deciding to scatter studs throughout the dark turquoise section near the shoulders. When I decided to go for it, I poked a stud through and hoped it’d look alright, since there wasn’t much turning back after putting a hole in the fabric and hoodie. Luckily, I like the way the studs ended up looking on the final piece.

DSC04342.JPGFor the back of the hoodie, I added lines of studs down either side of the dark turquoise strips of fabric. This took much longer than I expected, but I think it was worth it.

DSC04346.JPGEach stud had two small spikes on it, which went through the fabric fairly easily with a forceful push. I pressed down the points by pushing them against the cover of a hardcover book. I watched many Project Runway All Stars and Chase Jarvis Live episodes online while adding the studs to the hoodie. By the end of it my thumbs were quite sore, but I was pleased with the extra layer of interest the studs added to the hoodie. I like it when my sewing projects include a variety of textures. For this one, the final hoodie included cotton fabric, studs, and embroidery thread.

DSC04465.JPGArielle, Tsige, and Dev all supported me by going to the Binary Two Color Quilt Exhibit. One year after saying I’d make them these holiday gifts, I finally handed them their embellished articles of clothing while we ate dinner after the exhibit. I really, really appreciate their patience, since it took me way longer than I originally expected to find the right fit for how to embellish each person’s outfit. It was great to see their reactions as each of them opened their gifts. Arielle said she was impressed with how each outfit matched the person’s particular style.

DSC04455.JPGAfter the quilt show, we all headed back to my hometown of Sequim for a weekend out of the city. We decided to do a photoshoot of each person in their new article of clothing.

DSC04546.JPGArielle was the first up and she chose the pond and hayfield surrounding my family’s house in Sequim as the location for the photoshoot.

DSC04541.JPGIt was a crisp winter day and we had a blast clicking away a ton of photos in the beautiful natural light.

DSC04475.JPGHaving modeled professionally before, Arielle was down for taking all sorts of shots, including climbing in the neighbor’s tree by the pond – anything for a good picture!


DSC04516.JPGArielle amazed me with her creative ideas for different places on the property to take pictures. As she climbed down from one of the trees, I was still snapping away. Right after shooting this picture, Arielle said, “Anna, help me out here! This isn’t a pose, I’m trying to get down!”

DSC04558.JPGI absolutely love this photo, which I snapped at the end of our photoshoot right after telling Arielle I thought we got some great shots. She clapped her hands and had such a huge, genuine smile. I deeply appreciate our friendship and am so pleased that she thoroughly enjoys her gift. One of the things I like best about sewing is that it provides a perfect way to make loved ones heartfelt gifts. Thanks Arielle for being such a fantastic friend!

4 responses to Arielle’s Hoodie

  1. Ratana says:

    I LOVE this story! What a special gift made by a very special person.

    • Oh Ratana you’re so sweet! I look forward to hopefully seeing you and your litte guy one of these days!! Let me know when you’re back in the PNW next :)

  2. Candace says:

    thank you for the inspiration! this is so reflective of both of you! love it!

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  1. […] mentioned in the last post about Arielle’s hoodie, during the winter of 2012 I told four of my closest friends that I’d embellish an article of […]