Sunday, January 8, 2017

Winter Behavior

 California's Central Coast is getting a the rainy season it truly deserves this year.  I'm loving it.  We live by a creek that does overflow at times but this year the rainfall has behaved itself and given us some respite between downpours.  It's only flowed over the dock once.  Maybe tonight though...

Winter is not my favorite season.  I'm not a skier so there's really nothing in it for me except I love seeing the trees sing with happiness when it's wet.  I try to keep myself busy during the winter months while having no true passion for anything in particular.  It's a good time to finish projects, clean out the studio, take stock of my fabrics and patterns and generally get ready for the time of year I go into full swing.

I've been doing a smattering of things.  My friend Lisa and I were out in the garage on New Years Day over-dyeding previously eco-printed pieces.  With eco printing you win some and you lose some.  But you can always do something with the losers.  Now my losers are all a gorgeous shade of Cabernet.

We used a technique we learned from another sewing pal, Janet.  You mix a slurry of dye, about 2 quarts.  Mordant your cloth...in our case it was old cashmere sweaters...in my case it was ones I'd already mordanted when I eco-printed them.  Then, using a kitty litter tray you pour the slurry over the cloth and "scrunch" it around with your (gloved!) hands.  Wring out any excess dye, place the garment in a lightly sealed plastic bag and steam for about 1 hour or until all of the dye has exhausted (that means you can't wring out any more color).

It makes a really lovely mottled effect that looks interesting when it's cut up and used as pieces.  I made one sweater and one very large scarf/shawl out of my pieces.  I'll get them photographed soon when the sun comes out!

Right now I have a vat of Osage sawdust steeping away in the garage to dye some sweaters and cloth. And I'm dreaming of painting on canvas cuz I went to an art gallery Friday that inspired me....more on that later.

One of my UFO's was a piece of ice dyed stretch cotton.  My attempt at ice dyeing looked like a bad night on Haight Street in the 60's...and I know cuz I was there!  It was truly ugly.  So, I overdyed it with a dark green and this is what happened.  It's now wearable.  The muted over-dye knocked back some of the yellow and got rid of a couple of other colors that were even worse. 

This is a self drafted pattern I've used several times.  Here I hardly had enough for a neckband so I used the fabric single layer and had to piece it in two spots.  It has that deconstructed look which works.  

I'm glad to have this piece of cloth out of my stash and in my closet.  Now, let's see if I wear it!  I'm planning a huge art garage sale with three other artist/sewist friends in the spring and a LOT of my garments are going on sale then.

 This piece is Katherine Tilton's B6381.  It's the first time I've made it but I'll make it again for sure.  I love the fit and shape.  I omitted the pocket in the front and added inseam pockets.

I've had this fabric for about 4 years.  Couldn't figure out what I wanted to do with it.  It's a pretty unique fabric.  I got it from Marcy Tilton.  I think it's a Japanese hand printed piece, I could be wrong but you can really see the printing coming through the back here and there and it looks hand done.  It has a very crisp sort of rough dry hand and it's super stretch in both directions.  Not an easy fabric to find the right pattern for.

I have the fabric going in different directions for the top and bottom.  Not sure it works but I haven't worn it yet so time will tell.

I couldn't find buttons that looked good and I'm not interested in buying more buttons right now (!) so I used this toggle.  Again, I'll see if this works when I wear it.  If not, I'll figure something else out.  It's been so cold it's not vest weather right now.



Joe and I went to the Anderson Collection at Stanford University on Friday.  It's a gem of a museum/gallery.  It's free, huge and focuses on modern and contemporary American art.

Their collection is powerful and very well represented.  Right now there is a Nick Cave show going on that I had to see.  I admit, it's our first time there but we'll go back, we both loved it.

I've wanted to see more of Nick Cave's work and this was my chance.  Mr. Cave makes what he calls Soundsuits. There are 8 pieces and two videos running.   The suits are meant to be worn and the videos show him performing dance movement in them.


Mother of Pearl buttons, wooden sieve with wire.

It reminds me of a sardine somehow.


Mr. Cave uses old textile a lot.  Old crocheted pieces, sweaters, pot holders, socks...
Here he also has beautiful old enameled flowers.

Close up.

Another close up.

Abacus and buttons

The video of the dance movements is mesmerizing.

Sock monkeys (whoohooo I love sock monkeys) and various knitwear




Buttons, sequins and beads.

Close up

Human hair.  I know, this photo looks like it's out of focus, but it's not.  It's just the way the suit is made.  Kinda made me queasy...







Pot holders and crocheted pieces to coordinate.  I noticed that Mr. Cave likes circles and round shapes.

These are two very goofy guys.

This piece was made of various plastics, mostly from the 40's and 50's I think.

Close up of the pot holders.

This is the back of the pot holder suit.  I love this hand stitching!


Pipe cleaners??  The center is one of those plastic bead vases from exactly which era I'm not sure.  I started a collection of them many years ago then had to back away from that idea.  Too bad I didn't know Nick!!

I'm sorry to say I did not take down the name of the artist who painted this.  Bad.  But I love it.  This is the feel I'm trying to get with my painted canvas for purses.

Yum.  I love the layering.  Back to the canvas next weekend!


Well, there you are.  My winter of tying up loose ends.  I'm determined to clean up, clean out and begin the spring with only those materials that are calling to me right now.  Art Garage Sale (otherwise known as You Gotta Have It Garage Sale!) here I come!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It's been a busy fall and early winter around here.  This post will be a grab bag of all the things I've been doing and working on.

Here's the latest version of a pattern I've made three times now.  It fits me to a T, I love making it and I can now whip it out in about four hours.  It's Marcy Tilton's Vogue 9130.  I think this could be flattering on lots of figures.

This fabric is a heavy cotton jersey I got at Fabrix in San Francisco (so I can't tell you for sure what the content is, they don't have labels on their bolts).  It's a huge print so I thought breaking it up into smaller parts would be wise.

First let me say, THANK YOU INDIA FLINT!  You have been a huge influence on me in many ways.  Not the least of which is my ongoing practice of eco printing.  I am humbled and inspired by you constantly.

Knowing I could do something with it my pilates instructor gave me a cashmere sweater that had been left in her studio for months.  I've been working with cashmere for about 12 years now, using various methods of construction.  For the past year I've been using every light colored sweater I have, or could lay my hands on, to eco print.  This latest acquisition got me started again.  Back to the dye pots.  Since it was fall many of my tried and true leaves were available again.  Eucalyptus and nectarine leaves are two of my favorites.  But I had many other dried leaves that worked as well.

I hadn't been able to figure out what to do with the huge selection of previously printed pieces in my stash.  I had whole sweaters and smaller bits.  I've been taking them out, fondling them, refolding them and putting them back in a pile for about a year now.  I finally concluded that using them in a whole sweater wasn't for me.  So, I cut them all up (it stopped my heart for about a split second) and made scarves out of them.  I think I was feeling like they were too precious to cut into.  Wrong!

Wow do I love them!  I think the piecing is a really good way to show off the individual marks.   

This one is hand sewn using Valdini purl cotton.  It's a very satisfying process to pick each piece and work with it.  Another big plus is that you can still smell the plant materials.  Especially the eucalyptus!  This piece is mostly nectarine leaves.  They start out orange and yellow but dye green, my favorite dye color!

Here's my favorite piece.  It's nectarine leaves again.  They were in various stages of dying, some yellow, some orange some green.

I played around with sizes.  I like varying them but mostly using larger ones, these got a bit too small.

Here you see most three types of eucalyptus, onion skins and dried crocosmia blossoms.  I machine stitched these and like this look a lot.  I used my walking foot which made it a cinch.


I steam most of my pieces.  It gives a more exact print, which I like.  But I love the watercolor effect on this middle piece.  It's submerged in a water bath instead of steamed.  Among other things there are plum leaves, oak leaves and onion skins.

Sorry for this dark shot.  I did most of the dyeing on this one so long ago I can't remember what each piece had on it!

Same here...should be writing these things down but that's just not who I am.

That's all of the eco printing for now.  

Random... but I couldn't resist showing you a piece of sidewalk art.  It wasn't meant to be that but it looked so beautiful to me.

We had quite a nippy fall this year on the Central Coast and the leaves all turned brighter than usual.  Here's a shot of the Spirea looking towards my studio bunkhouse.

And the giant fig turning it's glorious yellow.  It's great for eco-printing, too.  It makes a shocking yellow.

And the stand of Japanese maples turned better than ever!

On to the holiday.  My Sewing Guild has a holiday sew-in every year where we exchange gifts.  They are the best gifts cuz these women KNOW what we all like!  I've been wanting to use my kantha scraps and decided to make a flower pin to go on each package.  

I had so much fun making them.  And I used some of my button stash.  I'm determined to use what I have and not buy stuff!!!

Here's how I made them.  I cut three different sized templates for petals, then I cut out 5-7 of each size in the kantha cloth.  I sewed each of the petal sizes together at their bases, end to end, with a basting stitch.  I gathered them so that they formed a circle and layered each petal circle one on top of the other.  Then sewed them all together and sewed the button on.
I glued a pin back to black felt and glued that onto the flower backs. They were pretty darned cute on all the packages.

And finally, I tried to include a video I took of the holiday window at Molly b's on 4th Street in Berkeley. But my post wouldn't send with it attached so just go to their website and check it out!

Have a warm, loving and delicious holiday!
PS...the preview feature is not working on Blogger.com right now so if there are errors here please forgive!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Holiday Weekend Sewing


I've had this entire weekend without a single plan except a wonderful raucous Thanksgiving dinner with 17 friends.  So what does that mean?  Time to sew-sew-sew...and listen to a book.  Plus, it's raining here on the Central Coast of California, finally, and it feels so good to sit inside and listen to the rain.

I finished Marcy Tilton's Vogue 9230 which I'd started a few weeks ago.  I loved making this jacket.

It's not easy.  And I wonder where Vogue lists the difficulty level now?  Is it the colored symbol?  I couldn't find it on the package.  That doesn't mean it's not there...I know someone will tell me.  I can't find it on their website either.  I think this must be average or maybe somewhat advanced?  It's tricky but fun.

I used a unique fabric that has metal woven into it so it has a strong opinion about where it wants to wrinkle, twist and turn.  It's easy to sew with but feels sort of like wearing armor!  It has every chance of being rain resistant but I don't think it really is, darn it.

The tricky part of the pattern is where the bottom pieces fit onto the top of the jacket.  It's do-able though, and is very unique.  I could see this being flattering on all kinds of figures.

Because of the sticky-outie nature of this fabric the bottom back pieces needed to have the pleats sewn down.  It worked fine and you may want to do that with the fabric you choose since there is quite a bit of volume in the bottom.

I love the collar, plenty of drama here.  I auditioned button after button but maybe I just have button fatigue or something, none of them seemed to work.

I've been wanting to use this snap tape for years now and it worked well on this fabric and shape.  
When I told my husband I'm going to get a lot of wear out of this garment he laughed.  What the...???  I couldn't figure that one out....but yeah, I will wear this often.  It's comfy and stylish, my kinda combo!

OK, here goes with this one.  Yes, this is a Diane Ericson Faultlines Vest, and yes, it's made out of men's slacks.  While I was at DOL last month one of the attendees brought in a big bag of fabrics to give away.  I swooped in and got several wonderful pieces, thank you Lucy!  Her husband's worn out khaki slacks were among them.  
I've had them on the dress form in every angle you could think of.  I knew I wanted them to be upside down.  Finally, the Faultlines pattern came to mind and it worked.  The layout was tricky.  I got almost all of it cut out in the fabric but had to use another fabric for two of the lining pieces.

Boy, men's wear is made so that it will survive any disaster you throw at it.  Just "unmaking" these pants took hours.  

I wanted the vest to be as lightweight as possible so I took out all of the pocket linings.  I also ripped out the clothing designer's symbol and put a bronze stud in it's place.  You can see it just below the upside down pocket.

I think the fly is hysterical.  It will be interesting to wear this and see what people say.  Will they notice?  Will they say something or just walk away...??


You get a glimpse of what's going on in the back here but...


Here's the close up.  There was the hole just below his back pocket.  That's probably why he threw them out.  I didn't feel compelled to cover it.

I just couldn't think of anything that would look right so I left it.  Finally decided to use more studs to bring even more attention to it.

I'll give this puppy it's day out soon and then decide if I really want to wear it.  The process alone was fun though!

I hope your holiday weekend was full of the things that make you the happiest, whatever that might be.