written by:
December 16, 2010

Ever since I got my hands on a copy of Meg Mateo Ilasco's latest book, Crafting a Meaningful Home, I've been flipping through trying to decide what to start working on first. Calling upon creative folks from across the country to share projects with a personal tie, Meg's hardback not only offers a wide-ranging array of 27 things to make, but a lovely portrait and background of all the contributors, too, who range from Lisa Congdon to Billie Lopez and Tootie Maldonado from ReForm School to Derek Fagerstrom and Lauren Smith of Curiosity Shoppe fame. I was drawn to Brooklyn–based Sian Keegan's braided rag vessels when I had a chance to check them out in person at a show at Congdon's Rare Device and, as luck would have it, found all the necessary materials already kicking around my apartment (yesss!).

(note! :: the instructions are from the book, and I took the accompanying snaps of my vase-in-progress)

Materials (for one 6 x 3" vessel)<br /><br />

-Scrap fabric (such as old clothing, sheets, leftover pieces from other projects, etc.)<br /><br />
-Ma
(note! :: the instructions are from the book, and I took the accompanying snaps of my vase-in-progress) Materials (for one 6 x 3" vessel) -Scrap fabric (such as old clothing, sheets, leftover pieces from other projects, etc.) -Matching sewing thread Tools -Measuring tape -2 safety pins -Scissors -Hand-sewing needle -Straight pins
1 / 14
1. Tear fabric into strips, 2" wide x 36" long. Tie the three strips together into a knot at one end.<br /><br />
1. Tear fabric into strips, 2" wide x 36" long. Tie the three strips together into a knot at one end.
2 / 14
2. Braid the strips together. The final braid will need to be about 10' long, but it is best to work in 36" segments. Sew additional strips to the end of braided strips as you go until you achieve the total length.
2. Braid the strips together. The final braid will need to be about 10' long, but it is best to work in 36" segments. Sew additional strips to the end of braided strips as you go until you achieve the total length.
3 / 14
3. Undo the knot and braid the remainder of strips at that end. Attach a safety pin securely to either end of the 10' braid. With scissors, trim each end at an angle. Using your needle and thread, sew each end of the braid to secure it and remove each of
3. Undo the knot and braid the remainder of strips at that end. Attach a safety pin securely to either end of the 10' braid. With scissors, trim each end at an angle. Using your needle and thread, sew each end of the braid to secure it and remove each of the safety pins.
4 / 14
4. On a work surface, lay the braid flat. Take one end of the braid and coil the braid around itself in a circular motion to create the base of your container. Create a 3" base. Pin each row of the coil into place.
4. On a work surface, lay the braid flat. Take one end of the braid and coil the braid around itself in a circular motion to create the base of your container. Create a 3" base. Pin each row of the coil into place.
5 / 14
5. Using your needle and thread, make small stitches between the braided rows of the coil to secure. Remove the pins when complete.
5. Using your needle and thread, make small stitches between the braided rows of the coil to secure. Remove the pins when complete.
6 / 14
6. When the base is secure, you will start building the vessel upward. Holding the excess braid so the flat side is facing out and is uniformly flush, coil the braid on top of the base, pinning each row into place as you go.
6. When the base is secure, you will start building the vessel upward. Holding the excess braid so the flat side is facing out and is uniformly flush, coil the braid on top of the base, pinning each row into place as you go.
7 / 14
7. Using a needle and thread, stitch between each row. Remove the pins when complete.
7. Using a needle and thread, stitch between each row. Remove the pins when complete.
8 / 14
8. Tuck the top end of the braid into the vessel, making sure the top of the vessel is flat, and sew in place.
8. Tuck the top end of the braid into the vessel, making sure the top of the vessel is flat, and sew in place.
9 / 14
And here's my little mantle tableau. I put some twigs wrapped in embroidery floss in there for a bit of color, and surrounded it with some wooden bud vases that my grandpa made. Lookin' good! This project was seriously perfect for a drizzly afternoon indo
And here's my little mantle tableau. I put some twigs wrapped in embroidery floss in there for a bit of color, and surrounded it with some wooden bud vases that my grandpa made. Lookin' good! This project was seriously perfect for a drizzly afternoon indoors. The next one I make I'll try with a softer knit that might have less strays threads to trim away in the end, and it's tilting a little, so I will make sure that when I'm pinning it up it stays straight. Loads of fun, though, and I'd very highly recommend trying out your own textile vessels.
10 / 14
Meet Bette, a pretty damn adorable 3-D pet made by Sian Keegan.
Meet Bette, a pretty damn adorable 3-D pet made by Sian Keegan.
11 / 14
And the Sian-made Wally, who literally could not be any cuter. Literally.
And the Sian-made Wally, who literally could not be any cuter. Literally.
12 / 14
Here's a selection of Sian's digitally printed fabrics, available for purchase <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/sian">here</a>.
Here's a selection of Sian's digitally printed fabrics, available for purchase here.
13 / 14
Another festive fabric from Sian. <br /><br />It's not everyday you have the chance to chat with someone who's described as "owning an eponymous company that creates stuffed animals," so I got in touch with Sian to hear a little more about her unique occu
Another festive fabric from Sian. It's not everyday you have the chance to chat with someone who's described as "owning an eponymous company that creates stuffed animals," so I got in touch with Sian to hear a little more about her unique occupation. Click here to read the interview and see more from Crafting a Meaningful Home.
14 / 14
(note! :: the instructions are from the book, and I took the accompanying snaps of my vase-in-progress)

Materials (for one 6 x 3" vessel)<br /><br />

-Scrap fabric (such as old clothing, sheets, leftover pieces from other projects, etc.)<br /><br />
-Ma
(note! :: the instructions are from the book, and I took the accompanying snaps of my vase-in-progress) Materials (for one 6 x 3" vessel) -Scrap fabric (such as old clothing, sheets, leftover pieces from other projects, etc.) -Matching sewing thread Tools -Measuring tape -2 safety pins -Scissors -Hand-sewing needle -Straight pins

It's not everyday you have the chance to chat with someone who's described as "owning an eponymous company that creates stuffed animals," so I got in touch with Sian to hear a little more about her unique occupation.

 

 

Meet Bette, a pretty damn adorable 3-D pet made by Sian Keegan.
Meet Bette, a pretty damn adorable 3-D pet made by Sian Keegan.
Not many can list their occupation as stuffed animal maker (!). How did you establish yourself in such a niche field? And how would you describe what you do?
I started making the stuffed animals in 2006, but they didn't really take off until a couple of years later when I began offering custom pieces. I make custom three-dimensional portraits of pets based on photos sent in by their owners. I mainly do stuffed dogs and cats, but I've also done rabbits and couple of pet rats.
You use almost exclusively recycled fabrics. Why are you drawn to them?
Mostly out of concern for the environment, but also I enjoy working with a limited range of materials. It can actually make things easier to have fewer choices, and you end up with a more interesting product when you use vintage or found fabrics. Sometimes I'll have a piece of fabric for years before I find the right use for it.
And the Sian-made Wally, who literally could not be any cuter. Literally.
And the Sian-made Wally, who literally could not be any cuter. Literally.
Most rewarding part of the job?

I love making my 3D Pet Portraits. Its a lot of fun to receive photos from pet owners and hear about their dogs' and cats' little quirks. They all love their pets so much, and many of them are ordering portraits of pets they have lost. It feels great to be able to give them a little something tangible they can hold on to to remember their pet.
Most challenging part of the job?
Everything I make tends to take a really long time! Budgeting enough time for each project and being honest with myself about how long something will take is definitely a big challenge.
Who are your favorite designers?
I've always loved Alexander Girard's work. I'm also inspired by the many young artists/designers I've met while living in Brooklyn the past several years. There are so many talented people here!
Here's a selection of Sian's digitally printed fabrics, available for purchase <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/sian">here</a>.
Here's a selection of Sian's digitally printed fabrics, available for purchase here.
Favorite project that you've completed or are working on?

I recently had some of my patterns digitally printed onto fabric to sell in my shop, sian.etsy.com. After doing freelance textile design work for clients over the past few years, it's great to finally see my personal work on fabric! I can't wait to start making things with it.
Favorite music to work to?
I like to listen to something fun and upbeat while I'm working. My favorite recent album is "Age of Adz" by Sufjan Stevens. Lately I've also been listening to Kanye West's and Nicki Minaj's new albums--they are great!
Where do you turn for inspiration?
I love pretty much all fashion magazines, especially Lula and Teen Vogue. I read a lot of blogs, but my most visited are Design*Sponge , Oh Joyt, Lena Corwin's blog, and Jeana Sohn's blog. I also spend a lot of time watching movies on Netflix streaming while I'm working. The most inspiring I've seen lately is "I Am Love" with Tilda Swinton.
How did growing up in such a creatively rich home influence your current work?
It was great having an artistic mother and grandmother to help and encourage me with craft projects. We spent a lot of weekends going to antique and thrift stores and flea markets, so I guess that's where I got my start working with used materials. I definitely got my appreciation for all things cute from my grandmother. She used to keep a scrapbook full of pictures of cute dogs she clipped out of magazines!
Words of encouragement for newbie makers and crafters?
I would say it's important to have patience. It took me a long time to figure out the best way to sell my work (i.e., which shops, craft fairs, websites) and to find the most efficient way to create it.

Here's a taste of the rest that Crafting a Meaningful Home has to offer.

 

Crafting a Meaningful Home from Meg Mateo Ilasco on Vimeo.

 

Click on through to the slideshow for a how-to make your own (the instructions are from the book, and I took the accompanying snaps of my vase-in-progress).

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

french evolution paris daniel rozensztroch living area eames la chaise butterfly chair moroccan berber rug
A tastemaker brings his distinct vision to an industrial loft with a centuries-old pedigree.
February 07, 2016
senses touch products
The haptic impact can’t be underplayed. The tactility of a material—its temperature, its texture­—can make the difference between pleasure and discontent.
February 07, 2016
senses smell products
The nose knows: Though fleeting and immaterial, scent is the lifeblood of Proustian memories, both evoking and imprinting visceral associations.
February 06, 2016
design icon josef frank villa beer vienna
Josef Frank: Against Design, which runs through April 2016 at Vienna’s Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, is a comprehensive study of the prolific architect, designer, and author.
February 06, 2016
senses sound products
From an alarm to a symphony, audio frequencies hold the power to elicit an emotional call-and-response.
February 06, 2016
Italian Apline home with double-height walls on one facade.
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
February 05, 2016
A built-in sofa with Design Tex upholstery marks the boundary between the two-level addition and the bungalow. Leading up to the master bedroom, a perforated metal staircase, lit from above, casts a Sigmar Polke–like shadow grid on the concrete floor.
From a minimalist Walter Gropius design to a curving sculptural stair, these six stairways run the gamut.
February 05, 2016
distant structure lakeside prefab norway facade stones green roof
Dwell has traveled all over the world, from Tasmania to Indonesia, to report on modern houses.
February 05, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment master bedroom atrium
Get ready for a weekend of rest with these sleepy, little cocoons.
February 05, 2016
lamp show 99 cent plus gallery 0
At Brooklyn's 99¢ Plus gallery, 30 artists and designers re-imagine the lamp in an illuminating light show.
February 04, 2016
Hidden storage stairwell with raw brass hardware
Having ample space to stow items is a daily struggle—peep these modern homes for some ideas on maximizing your square footage.
February 04, 2016
modern fairhaven beach house blackbutt eucalyptus living room Patricia Urquiola sofa
Whether it's along a coast in Australia or the French Alps, wood provides a natural touch in these interiors.
February 04, 2016
Glass and steel sculpture in Printemps store of Paris.
In the Paris' venerable Printemps department store, two Toronto-based firms were tasked with enlivening a new atrium and creating a unique experience for visitors. YabuPushelberg, partnering with UUfie, designed this stunning steel "sail" embedded with vibrant dichroic glass.
February 04, 2016
Monochromatic Master Bedroom in Copenhagen Townhouse
Whether it's to maximize limited light or create a soothing interior, these five projects go white in a big way.
February 04, 2016
EQ3 Assembly quilt by Kenneth LaVallee
The new Assembly collection from EQ3 celebrates up-and-coming figures in Canadian design. Discover this newly appointed class, which debuted at Toronto's Interior Design Show, here.
February 03, 2016
The Greenhouses of Half Moon Bay
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most viral design and architecture shots of the week.
February 03, 2016
Deck of Australian addition to Edwardian home.
A 1,500-square-foot home in Melbourne welcomes a modern black and white kitchen, dining, and living area.
February 03, 2016
open plan concrete home in japan
Embracing the organic, imperfect material, these raw concrete surfaces are a step up from exposed brick.
February 03, 2016
Renovated DC Row House loft space with Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair.
The classic designer's signature and comfortable forms continue to be popular in homes today.
February 03, 2016
Zinc-roofed cabin France.
An architect builds an energy-efficient home near one of France’s most popular pilgrimage sites.
February 03, 2016
1973 Palm Springs home
Made for casual design enthusiasts and Palm Springs connoisseurs alike, Unseen Midcentury Desert Modern offers a peek into 51 buildings—some not open to the public—in that Southern California mecca of modernism. Begun in 2008 by photographer Dan Chavkin, the book is set for release this February 9th and will be available on Amazon and at multiple venues of Modernism Week in Palm Springs, February 11 - 21. Here we preview some of its images.
February 03, 2016
Millennial concept home with an outdoor living area
A concept home aims to reflect the requests of the Millennial market.
February 03, 2016
The two twelve-by-sixteen-foot bedrooms, directly above a comparable pair on the first floor, feature a glass transom that follows the pitch of the roof. “The stair and railings were very simple,” Depardon observes. “We added a bit of design, with panels
Skylights needn't be simple overhead daylighting; sometimes they can truly define a room.
February 03, 2016
Modern small space Rhode Island cottage with landscaping and cedar cladding
Surrounded by nature, these cottages are tranquil retreats from the city.
February 03, 2016
The couple kept original touches, including the arch.
Historic archways belie these contemporary homes with physical reminders of each structure's storied past.
February 03, 2016
modern guesthouse in norway with angular facade and cutaway patio with spruce cladding and ikea chair
These houses make room for nature, not the other way around.
February 02, 2016
Modern kitchen with yellow sectioned walls and monochrome appliances
Whether it's a splash of color or bold strokes, this collection of interiors brightens up these homes.
February 02, 2016
Rust-washed concrete wall in Moscow apartment renovation.
This 590-square-foot apartment was stripped down to admit sunlight and dramatically reveal forgotten surfaces.
February 02, 2016
Nendo's collection of objects inspired by Star Wars
In a galaxy not so far away, Japanese studio Nendo has released a versatile collection of objects inspired by classic Star Wars characters.
February 02, 2016