Saturday, March 4, 2017


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.

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 our case it was old cashmere 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 right now so if there are errors here please forgive!