Saturday, April 2, 2016

small art-big ideas

I went to Taos, New Mexico a few weeks back and attended a 1 week art retreat titled "A Case of Curiosities.".  The workshop was taught jointly by Roxanne Evans Stout and Seth Apter.  I have known Roxanne for years and was thrilled to take a class from her.  Meeting and working with Seth was frosting on this very sweet cake!  Here are their sites: rivergardenstudio
           The Altered Page

Above is the courtyard of the beautiful adobe studio at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House..  My room was off to the left and I could go back and forth easily, working late most nights in my pjs.  
The workshop focused on mixed media pieces, all of which were included in our bare and empty boxes.
We used lots of found objects such as sticks, feathers, bone-as well as paint, fabric and wire.  I tried to be open to what might come from my hands and let my work evolve over the 6 days.  The photo above is probably day 1.  
Playing with objects and letting something happen (nothing did on this meditative assemblage).

The week was an incredible stretch for me as I am most happy with a ruler, some fabric, and a pattern.  I love straight lines.  Intersecting lines are magic to me.  The geometry of clothing construction intrigues me and I found myself missing that while I painted, and sanded, glued and gessoed.  

I am the keeper of the family memories, and I chose to use some of the family photos.  This is part of my family from Bisbee, AZ. and was taken in 1917.  What to do with ephemera which brings both sadness and connection?

My art progressed as the week went on, and I came back over and over to certain pieces to add detail.  I used more and more photos, and moved away from straight lines.  As I worked, I learned that the small compartments could contain some feelings or thoughts in safety.

I would sometimes retreat to my room to meditate on these lovely straight lines on the ceiling.

These became a small collection of memory cards with messages from many of the other artists.  They stay in one of the little compartments.

I'll share more in a few days.  Ideas, shapes, and colors are percolating inside and I am working them into some clothing right now.  I want to come back to my Taos case of curiosity and play a bit more with some of the elements.  Afterwards, I'll be able to show you some more of what I made.  

As in all creative adventures, it takes effort to construct a narrative.  

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The power of repetition

How many of you make a pattern, and then even though your garment was fabulous, that pattern sits ignored while you go on to the next new pattern?

Me too.

In my quest to be more mindful in my craft and life, I have asked myself to use a pattern more than once.  Not just to improve it, but to use it.  Again and again.  

An example is the Quincy:

#1 version:

#2 version (actually just an alteration):

#3 version:
I added 3 inches to the length and included a tie instead of a zipper.  3/4 sleeves and sewed an xs-small. 

Two Quincy jackets in my spring and summer wardrobe which will be perfect for layering in AC or the hot sun.  I am not done yet because these jackets were made with second choice fabric.  In fact, the 3rd version is made from pillowcase linens and cottons I had cut and stored for a project!  I had to piece the fabric for the collar. 

Spending the time necessary to analyze the pattern, get feedback on the fit, try a simple alteration to the sleeves, and revisit the pattern again has benefits far beyond 2 light jackets.  I learned about the pattern draft for the sleeve and underarm, and why it may have been used; I learned again why certain silhouettes are flattering or not on me; I learned about color and what works together; I used what was available and thus was invited to be creative.  

I am currently making this shell (My Hearts A'Flutter) from Cutting Line Designs.  I'm enjoying the process and I know I will be making more of these as the weather warms up.  

I am interested to know how many of those reading use a pattern multiple times, and if you find it freeing to do so.  As we say in the classroom, talk amongst yourselves...


Monday, February 15, 2016

The Quincy jacket-some thoughts on patternmaking

I finished the Quincy jacket and I like it.  As sewn, it is casual, easy to wear, and sporty.  However, it is NOT what I thought it would be.  Here, let me show you what I saw when I looked at the fashion drawing:

I see a trim jacket with some ease for movement, a horizontal seam under her arm which is almost an empire seam, and some vertical seaming which are close to princess seams.  The collar looks oversized on her left side but not the right, and the sleeves look as though they are straight sleeves.  

Now look at the line drawing...carefully.  The horizontal seam is quite near the bottom of the sleeve, the vertical seams look to be close to the shoulders, the neckline appears cicular rather than oval, and the sleeves are quite wide.  Also, the proportions of the top of the jacket to the bottom is about 1:1 in the line drawing, but not in the illustration.

I got snookered and it's not the first time.  It's okay; I actually expect to be surprised sometimes, and if I venture into Sewing Workshop land, I am just pleased that the garment is not too voluminous.  

I brought my jacket to my sewing group today, and shared my thoughts.  We all agreed I could go down one size, and with extensive alterations, make this to be more fitted.  But, as an experiment, many tried on the jacket.  While it fit most everyone somewhat, the vertical seams were always outside the bust area and the overall silhouette was almost a swing coat.  You can see that in the line drawing.  

We agree that there is a certain set of designers who work this tpye of pattern well, and it sells because the sleeves and armscyse are manipulated or even absent, thus ensuring a broader range of fit.  This realization helps me see why I like SW patterns for their design, and find them so darn hard to fit my small shoulders and bust.  

 You'll see this pattern again, and before I leave, please note the awesome job of pattern matching and motif placement, even though this was my wearable muslin!

Thursday, February 11, 2016


The Quincy top is on my work table right now, and I have been thinking about Quincy, CA while I work on it.  Have you ever been to that part of California?  Quincy is on Spanish Creek, which feeds the Feather River.  This is rough, but beautiful, country.
Gold miners came through here in the 1850s, as well as settlers.   The railroads built tracks and bridges through the Feather Canyon, allowing travel over a lower pass of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  

All of this, and more recent memories, are swirling as I slowly work on my Quincy.  I am thinking of Lassen, of Oroville, of the Sacramento River and of rice fields.  This is my different from the TV version of beaches and babes.  

I have the front section attached to the back, the collar sewn on, and today I installed the separating zipper.  I am loving this pattern so far.  

Here it is on my dressform-The left sleeve  is complete but only pinned.  I need to reduce the length a bit more.

 I found a cool zipper on an old jacket so I harvested it and used it here.  It is an inch short but so am I. :-)  The collar can be turned up or folded down, and the zipper continues partway into the collar, giving the whole top a rakish and sporty look.  

I hope to get done tomorrow, and will be sure to post my pics. This is going to be a great sporty top,


Sunday, February 7, 2016

after the party...

....of the Pattern Stash contest on PR, I am settling in for some leisurely sewing.  Sewing with a plan and sewing slowly and carefully.  Here is what I am making at present-
This is Sewing Workshop's Quincy top/jacket (and pants).  I cut out the jacket as a medium, using a nice blue and white linen.  The only alteration I have made so far is to shorten the sleeves.  I'm considering adding a cuff.  I will most likely reduce the length after the first fitting, but I want to see what happens to the shape of the jacket when sewn.  

This will be a light barn jacket for "cool" mornings and sun protection.  My real plan is this-

Add length to the jacket, do not use a closure at all, make 3/4 sleeves and no pleating.  This will be a spring coat and I am considering using a nani IRO fabric (herringbone pencil in denim).  Or, a strong idealized floral.  

Doesn't this sound pretty?  I can't take credit as I bought a year of the Sew Confident course from Sewing Workshop.  This project using the Quincy jacket is one of the monthly lessons.  I am really enjoying the lessons, and will be a repeat customer, I'm sure.  Each lesson has clear, straighforward directions, extremely good photographs and illustrations, and result in well made garments with a high end look.  What could be better?  Here is the link to the class info if you are interested- Sew Confident

Today's blog title comes from my current read.  I am reading The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian, and having lots of fun following the characters.  It centers around the aftermath of a bachelor party in which 2 Russian prostitutes make a break for it...after killing their handlers at the party.  The novel examines what happens to the brother who hosted the party, and to the wife and daughter, as well as the Russian women.  Fun, and engaging.

Other books taking up space on my cyber night table are:
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton-circuitous and forbidding murder mystery
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante-Book 2 in the Neapolitan series
These is my words by Nancy Turner-a diary of an Arizona settler
All three are highly recommended and I know surely one will be your pick.

Happy Super Bowl,