Sunday, August 13, 2017

What I Did With My Summer Vacation


In late June I was lucky enough to attend Dorothy Caldwell's Mark Making class at Shakerag Workshops in Sewanee, Tennessee.  I met three of my sewing buddies, Sharon, Sarah and Holly for a time of pure bliss.
Shakerag is a summer arts program at a private high school on the campus of the University of the South.  Attendees live in the dorms, eat in the dining hall and take classes all day for an entire week.  
Just being in Tennessee was magical.  The folks there are friendly...with a capital "F".  So warm and welcoming.  The campus is gorgeous, the meals were insanely wonderful.  In fact, I am bringing their two head chefs to my bakery/restaurant in July of next year to cook for our customers, they will love their southern food.  Every meal was better than the last.  Hush puppies, stewed greens, lots of vegetables right from local gardens, meats from local pastures, we couldn't have asked for better food.
And Dorothy's class was a meaningful experience.  Her term Mark Making refers to the shapes we make with our hands, whether using a brush, a pen/pencil or a needle and thread.




Dorothy explaining one of the many techniques we used to create pages for books we assembled later in the week. 

One of our assignments hanging to dry.  Each of our assignments, after completed, was hung together with the other classmate's and together they were very powerful.  This one used our fingertips.

This assignment used brushes on bamboo poles with the paper on the ground.  Using our whole bodies we made shapes with India Ink.  So fun and surprising.

Our brush-poles and tootsies.

We burned holes in paper with incense and smudged paper with soot from candles.

The inimitable Claire Reisham, the founder of Shakerag Workshops giving us instructions for the day to come.  She is one powerful woman.  Her energy and spirit sets the tone for the week.

The gorgeous dining hall.  A pleasure to dine in.

Our first finished assignment,  little bound books made from scraps of paper.

After our week (and believe me we didn't want to leave! Were all signed up for next year already!) the four of us piled in the car and headed to Alabama for a day in Florence to visit the Alabama Chanin Factory.  On the way we needed to find somewhere to have breakfast.  We were traveling the Nachez Trace.  Holly found us a true southern breakfast in a little town along the way.  
It was Father's Day Sunday.  It was a traditional southern cafeteria-style buffet with every imaginable thing on the groaning table.  So good!!

And finally we got to the Factory.  First ,we sat down for another meal.  It's lucky for me I travel with women who like to eat as much as I do.   Everything was delicious, but the biscuits that Natalie Chanin's son created were out of this world.  We asked her if we could come back for one of her sewing classes and learn how to make the biscuits, too.  She said yes!
Above is a shirt that I fell in love with.  We really enjoyed our day there.  Bought lots of fabric and had patterns made for us that would be shipped.  I've got three scarves in the works.

I wasn't home for a week when Joe and I took off for three weeks in Montreal and Nova Scotia.  While in Montreal we caught the Gaultier wedding dress retrospective, 'Love Is Love", at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Much like the show I saw twice in San Francisco, it had talking mannequins.  Loved the whole experience.

One thing I didn't find in Montreal was a clothing shop.  No inspiring clothing anywhere...maybe I just missed it.  Can't imagine they don't have style there.  But I did see this cool vintage sewing machine that had been sprayed silver.  It was in the window of a clothing designer upstairs.

We fell in love with Nova Scotia.  We put 2,100 miles on the Jeep.  NS is worth visiting.  The people are super friendly, the shellfish is everywhere and utterly fresh and delicious.  The landscape is fascinating with little fishing villages tucked into deep coves everywhere.  We really had fun. 
Here you see the cottage of the famous Nova Scotia artist, Maude Lewis.  The whole cottage has been transported to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia museum in Halifax.
I'd visited once before and wanted to show Joe.  Little did I know that Maude has had a comeback and is very popular right now.  There's a wonderful movie out right now called Maudie.  If you haven't seen it I recommend you do.  She was extraordinary, very inspiring.
We also visited two other replicas of her home in various parts of NS.  And the museum has a large show right now with dozens of her works loaned by a collector.

Ok, enough of where I've been.  I've not been sewing much, as you can imagine, but did manage to make this shirt.  Designed by Katherine Tilton, B6459 is a fun shirt to make.  Here I used three scrap fabrics to see how the pattern fit.  I really didn't expect I'd like the mix of fabrics but I do.  The body is fabric leftover from another garment I made, the light blue is some quilting cotton I got at the Expo in Puyallup cuz I loved the octopi, and the sleeves/collar are Indian hand blocked cotton I got at MAIWA while there for a class.

This pattern has lots of details that are fun to put together and looks really good on.  I recommend this pattern!!

That's all folks, more when I can get back to the workroom.  Enjoy the halcyon days of late summer.  I sure am!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Off The Grid Vest

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been working on Heidi Emmett's Off The Grid Vest.  In the beginning I was nervous because I'm not a quilter.  After the first hour or so I just went with my gut and forged ahead.

My sewing style isn't one that lends itself to perfection.  I'm incapable of sewing straight, I love raw edges and I don't care when everything isn't quite perfect. 

It's the overall look I go for.  The feel of a garment.  And to be honest, I change my style so often that I wear a piece of clothing for 1-5 years, tire of it and sell it at a garage sale.  It makes no difference if I've spent days or hours on it, when I'm done-I'm done.  My style changes yearly and so do my clothes.


All that said, I loved working on this vest.  It has so many things going for it.  Simple lines mean you can focus on the fabrics which I love.  I used Moda Grunge cotton for the base fabric.  It's black with washes of pinky grey.  

I've had a huge stash of vintage kimono scraps since our trip to Japan about 10 years ago.  Although I've been using them in projects for years I still have lots.   So I decided this was a good project for that.  The pattern calls for quilting cottons and the main fibers in my kimono collection are silk and rayon...much less stable.

Although Heidi recommends using Terial Magic, a kind of starch that quilters use, it still didn't provide all of the sturdiness I needed for this project.  But I forged ahead with a somewhat wonky result.  But I like it anyway!

I think this style qualifies as a tabard, right?  The sides are held together with just one button.  One of the reasons I wanted to make this vest is that I tried it on at a retreat in April and it's VERY flattering. In fact, it was flattering on every single woman who tried it on.

I had a devil of a time figuring out what binding to use.  I wanted something that would remind me of a light summer suit that I would see on a businessman in Tokyo.  A tiny grey on darker grey pattern that read solid from far away.  Understated but elegant.  Couldn't find it.  Finally I went with a purple quilting cotton that has a tiny pattern.  But I wasn't happy so I picked up another couple of fat quarters at The Stitching Post in Sisters, Oregon.  One of them I incorporated into the blocks but I didn't think either would work on the bias trim.

Luckily, I also picked up a bottle of Jacquard Pewter Dye-Na-Flow.  It's kind of like India Ink for clothing.  I thought if I knocked back the purple it might blend in so I painted that on the bias strips.  It came out very uneven but when I folded them in half and laid them under the garment edges to audition the color it worked. 

I found two 30's deco buttons in my stash that felt right...finally had buttons that actually worked on a garment.  Somehow, with hundreds of buttons in my collection none seem to be right!

This vest is a very dramatic look.  I can't wait to wear it.  Joe says I look like a warrior!



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Wedding Outfit

I haven't been to a wedding in years.  I guess I just don't have enough young people in my life. My goddaughter Laurel is getting married in a couple of weeks and I wanted something new for the occasion.

It's an outdoor wedding here on the Central Coast of California so it could be warm, it could be foggy or it could be just downright cold.  Here's what I came up with.

I bought some gorgeous linen from Carol Lee Shanks at DOL Ashland a month ago.  This Style Arc Jema Panel Dress seemed like a pattern that would be easy to wear but has some cool lines that make it a bit more interesting.  Of course you can't see them here...bad photo...but the lines remind me of a Mondrian painting.  It's really a long tunic so I'll wear grey capri length leggings.
Simple and understated, fade into the background garment so I don't look like I'm trying to compete with the bride...not that I could at 68!

But then, it was a little too understated...so I found this gorgeous cotton lace I bought from Marcy Tilton about 87 billion years ago.  It's been fermenting.  I take it out every now and then and dream.  I thought a kimono shaped duster over the grey linen might dress it up just enough.

And now I'm on the hunt for the perfect necklace.

These might do.


I'm just back from a dreamy four days in Tumalo, Oregon with a pack of wonderful quilters.  I'm not a quilter but was inspired by Heidi Emmett's Off The Grid Vest pattern.  I met Heidi at a recent retreat (yes, I'm a retreat addict) and loved her.
I decided to try the vest using my kimono scraps.  I worked on it in Tumalo and have it ready to bind the edges.  Here are the first few pieces up on the design board.

Some of the cuts for the long rectangle pieces that float here and there on the vest.

This is what it takes for me to be a quilter.  Two fingers of Bullet Rye Whiskey.

Heaven.  Thank you Eloise and Victoria for making this happen!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Classes, Retreats and More Retreats

I know it's been a long time since my last post.  It's not because I haven't been sewing cuz I have.  I've sewn in Aptos, Capitola, San Juan Bautista, Santa Barbara and Ashland over the last 4 months.  And there's more to come.  I'm going to a sewing retreat in Oregon and a sewing camp, of sorts, in Tennessee!  And then another retreat and back to Ashland again in October.  Geez...I have what my friend Lisa calls FOMO...or Fear Of Missing Out!  Yeah, I have it bad.

I took another class with Jody Alexander, the book maker, boro queen and all around incredible artist.  This one was on remaking clothes using boro techniques.  I didn't end up using any boro in my piece but did try a Junko Oki embroidery pattern that I've been wanting to learn.  Jody has done a lot of it so the class was a good opportunity to give it a try.


I started with a thrift shop men's grey sweatshirt.  First, I cut off all of the ribbing.  Above you can see the beginning of the Junko Oki embroidery.  I used Pearl Cotton.  Basically, it's the blanket stitch done in a spiral.  Kinda mesmerizing!  


I took this photo to help me remember which direction I was went in!


For the embellishment I took a very small grey tshirt and cut out everything but the neckband, shoulder seams, armhole seams, underarm seams and sleeve cuffs.  Then I hand stitched them onto the sweatshirt.    


It's weird but comfy.  And it does get the looks.  People can't keep their hands off of it.  They have to figure it out.



Then I hand stitched one of the tshirt bodice pieces onto the back and that's where I applied the Junko Oki spider web-y thing.


And THEN, I went up to Ashland, Oregon to attend a Design Outside The Lines with Diane Ericson and Carol Lee Shanks.  I love Ashland more and more each time I go back.  This time my pal, Sharon, and I rented a house which was great fun.

The retreat was wonderful, a great group of gals.  Loved getting to experience Carol Lee's work...and Carol herself, she's a keeper.  And of course being with Diane is always inspiring.  

Above you see a little seersucker shrug; a new Diane pattern that will be out soon I think.  It's super easy and really versatile.  


The back of the shrug.  I sewed it using all raw edges, still not tired of those little guys.


The retreat was about making an outfit for spring.  That is something I've never done before.  I have only made single pieces that I know will go with other things in my wardrobe.  So this was a good exercise for me.  

I tried using only fabrics in my stash.  I almost got there.  The drapy under tunic is a stash piece from way down the pile.  It's a very sheer knit.  The top is a Carol Lee pattern done in a mooched (thank you, Sharon!) grey linen and the pants are a stretch woven from my stash.  I also bought a beautiful mossy green silk top just like this one from Carol to wear instead of the grey one.



I used a fairly new Marcy Tilton pattern for a hoodie.  Marcy blogged about it recently, you should check it out.  There are some great ideas.

This one is made using a beautiful Italian fleece I got at Fabrix in San Francisco. It's thick and soft and yummers!


I'll use this pattern again.  I like the back, I think it would be flattering on many figures.


This is a pattern drafted by a friend.  I've made many of these, they're my morning noodle-around-the-house top.  The fabric is from Marcy Tilton, I got it years ago.



Another Marcy Fabric.  I fell for this one the minute I saw it.  Something I'm trying not to do these days but every once in a while the bug catches me.  This is an exquisite pieced Ikat with colorful vertical stitching that holds down little cotton dots.  All the work that went into this piece of fabric is mind boggling.  I'm just gaga over it.

I made the Lynn Mizono shirt again.  It's a pattern I go back to often.  Certain fabrics just call out for these lines.


It's hot off the machine, think I'll wear it tomorrow!!

 

I finally got up to UCSC's Sesnon Gallery for the Crochet Coral Reef show.  I'm glad I did.


If your in the Santa Cruz area check out Seymour Marine Discovery Center.  They are showing several pieces that community members have made, very cool!

That's all for now, I'll check in around the beginning of June.  Hopefully I'll have something fun to show you...it's a sewing project completely new to me that has some quilting in it...yeah, I know.  I'm not a quilter.  I couldn't sew two lines of fabric together evenly if my life depended on it!  But hey..I'm game!


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Spring~Finally!

I know I'm blessed to live in such a moderate climate but, boy,  has it been a hum dinger of a winter here on the Central Coast.  One storm after another, trees down, flooding, roads caving in you name it.
But, we do have water now which is such a relief.  I think I can actually hear the trees heaving a huge sigh of relief.

My garden is singing happy songs, one plant after another.  These hyacinths are always the first to arrive.

 Followed by the violets.

I haven't been sewing for a few weeks but here's a vest that was drafted from ready-to-wear that I tried in an upholstery fabric I got on a free table.  It actually works for this but I'll be making it again in a grey ponte.

 Here is one of three tshirts I made from Katherine Tilton's V8817.  I used only scraps and felt so great about reducing my stash.  I love this pattern for that reason but also, it's just a darned good pattern.  I always get compliments when I wear one of these tshirts.

The back only has three section, unlike the front which has three.

And here's Marcy Tilton's V9130...again.  I make this often.  It's super flattering and I just feel good in it.  These were scraps...albeit large ones, too.



I attended my 9th year of DOL (Design Outside The Lines) Santa Barbara.  For those of you who don't know what this is I'll explain.  It's a four or five day retreat, given in three different locations each year.  They are put on by Diane Ericson (above), the pattern designer, re-fashion queen, stencil designer, heavy duty teacher of the century.  This woman can do it all.
She teaches at these retreats and now brings in another teacher, sometimes from around the world, sometimes from here in the states.  I've loved every teacher she's ever brought.

This year she brought Christine Mayer from Berlin.  Christine is a clothing designer who specializes in using old textiles.  She brought a line of garments to show and sell that were made from the cloth used to line the old ironing mangles in Germany.
She also loves to work with military rucksacks, jackets, pants and tents.  Her pieces are exquisite and perfectly executed.  I so wanted to buy a piece but they were all too small on me.  So, what could I do, I asked her to help me make a couple of pieces.  She was happy to oblige, that's what she was there to do.  She helped so many of us during the five days and several women went away with new garments that were co-created with Christine.

Here you see a denim jacket that she draped and I sewed.  I had two very large pairs of men's denims which she showed how to cut in the exact way so as to get the most out of the fabric.  Then she began draping the two pants on my dress form.  She used this piece for instructions purposes in one of the morning classes.  We were all staring at her with our mouths open the whole time.
She, like Diane, has an innate feel for fabric and drape.  They just know what to do.  It is always a revelation to watch.
So, she pinned, tucked, created the armholes and sleeves using what she called the Japanese draping technique.  I learned SO MUCH!  I'm panting to get back in the studio and sew.  I did manage to finish a shirt made from three white men's shirts.  It's good but I have lots to learn.  I'll post those pics soon.
If you haven't had the chance to attend a Design Outside The Lines retreat you should seriously consider putting it on your bucket list.  I don't know of a better way for a creative sewist to spend time.