Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Love Birds!

Most everyone who knows me knows that I love birds.  Joe says it's because I have a bird beak for a nose.  I'll take that.  I do!

Often, when I don't know what I feel like sewing my hands go to bird making.  You can see several Ann Wood birds that I've made in the Misc. page on this blog.  

I make other types of birds, too.  One that I've been fooling with for a few years now is a bird broach.  I've gathered a little flock.

Here they are, all flocked together on the railing of bunkhouse deck, enjoying this ancient red rose in all her glory.  We inherited this rose, I know not the name.

My little broaches, well, they're not so little, are really satisfying to make.  I pull out the bin full of hundreds of fabric scraps and start painting with cloth.

 They are very rough, I don't like to work in an exacting way, nor am I able to so that works out.  I use pearl cotton, embroidery thread and regular sewing thread.  The base is cardboard.  I tape wire to the legs for stability.

These little guys are a joy to make because each piece of cloth is a reminder of a project I worked on. The cloth could be old silk scarves, cashmere, vintage kimono fabric, pieces of garments I made or remade from RTW.

I glue a piece of cashmere onto the back, cut it just a smidge bigger than the cardboard.  I attach a pin back to the cashmere before glueing.
Then I sew the small pieces that make up the bird to that along the edges.  I finish with the stitching.

And I make a big, glorious mess doing it!

Here is a post from Colossal, a wonderful online newsletter that I subscribe to, showing  latte birds.  So delightful.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Sewing

How can I feel so good about all this time to sew and make?  Shouldn't I be feeling anxious, worried and stressed?  Am I the heartless person who blithely goes about her life not caring about others?

These are the questions I've been asking myself lately.  I am comfortable with this new life.  Staying home, wandering around the house and garden, cleaning...tidying...disinfecting(!)...making things work again that have been broken for years.  More time to consider, notice and just be.

There is something about this time that is very calming and satisfying.  Maybe it's my age?  Maybe it's where I am in my life?  Whatever, I feel lucky to be in the position I'm in.

Of course I am horrified by the tragedy we are witnessing and I am mindful of how fortunate I am.  My major worry and heartache is that our business is closed and we have had to lay off dozens of people which was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.  We are trying hard to work with each of them to help in some way.

But I find some comfort in knowing we are not alone in this.  It is what's happening and there's little that can be done right now.  We just have to wait and see when we can open again and bring back as many of our wonderful staff as we possibly can.  It will take a long time but we will do it!  And for the meantime, I intend to use this time for reflection and self improvement.

So, I'm sewing like a fiend!  And making stuff.  Making masks for my colleagues and friends.  I find that sewing clothes does not have the same appeal it did before the SIP order.  I can't wear any of them!  And the clothes I find myself wearing are the old ones that I can throw in the washer after one wearing and set it to HOT...which I never do normally.

I'm in the bunkhouse pretty much every day.  Some days I just tidy up, and I mean some deep cleaning that's been needed.  I've been mending and remaking; the projects that always got sidelined because of lack of time.

So here goes, this is what I've been doing.

Back in February, so long ago in so many ways, I attended the Design Outside The Lines Carmel retreat with Diane Ericson and Kay Khan.  Kay's work uses fabric scraps that are sewn together with a felt interior making a stiff, shape-able form. 

Her work is usually very large, 3D sculptures but she also makes jewelry using her technique.  This is the third class I've taken.  Previously I made collar-type necklaces, that you can see them in my  "Misc" category on this blog.

This time I wanted to concentrate on earrings, which I wear much more frequently.

I like the way this project is going.  The earrings are light and have just the right amount of swing and movement.  I'm using beads and elements from thrift store jewelry for embellishment.  I just signed up for a Blueprint class on wirework.  I need it!

Please excuse the over exposure and generally horrible photos for this excuse other than I really don't know what I'm doing!  This is a vest that was drafted from ready-to-wear.  The fabric is a black techno-taffeta with metal threads to give it memory.  I bought yards of it from a California designer who was retiring.

The threads create these little barbs at the cut edges that tend to poke you no matter how you finish the seams.  So for this version I tried encasing the edges around my neck and armholes with cashmere.  We'll see....

Detail of a little cashmere piecing along the neck edge.

I applied a second pocket with the cashmere to tie in the other elements.  Plus you always need more comfy pockets to sink your fists into!

Diane Ericson's son, Miles Frode, makes the most wonderful textiles.  I've purchases and used several over the years.  I designed this purse from a Garnet Hill catalogue I saved years ago.  It has huge exterior pockets on either end.  I like this kind of pocket and have used them in previous totes.  Good place for keys.

The sewn-on center pieces are from canvas I painted many years ago.

And this particularly bad photo shows the inside, my fabric used here.

And now, you will see just how whacky I am.  This is my latest invention.  It's a Covid-19 nose scratcher.  My nose is always itchy!  If I were serious about this, which I'm not, it's a joke (!) I would pin it on and use this nifty little brush to scratch my nose.  The velcro attached to the brush makes it easy to take off and put back on!  I know...too much time on my hands!

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay creative...all three save lives.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Sewcial Distancing

Hi everyone!
I'm here on California's central coast basking in the rain and staying home.  It freaked me out at first to realize I'll be home for the next few weeks (months?) but I'm fine now.  I want to devote this time to learning new things, cleaning up around our home, spending more time with my darling husband and bakery/rosticceria business.

I sewed this VOTE pin at a Design Outside The lines recently with teacher Kay Kahn as my inspiration.  

Thank you to my pal, Wendy, for coming up with the term "sewcial distancing".  She used it to describe what we will have to do now that our sewing retreats, classes and get-togethers are canceled.  More home sewing and sharing with friends.  

I'm beginning an online group sharing project with several friends who will not be meeting for our annual retreat.  There's always a way to stay connected.

I've also decided to share more on my blog.  I'm finding more time to read blogs right now and I'm sure you're in the same boat.  So, look for more coming from me.  But please remember, for some reason I am not able to respond to your comments right now.  I can't find out how to remedy it so please don't be hurt when I do not respond.  I don't want it to keep me from reaching out right now tho!

About a year ago I bought a long boro vest on Etsy.  It came from Japan and the gal selling it said she found it in a multi-generational antique store in a small town, in the very agricultural area of Shikoku.  

It did not fit well and would have taken a lot of remaking to work so I finally decided to remake it into a haori jacket.  I kept all of the original stitching and piecing and used every single scrap of the fabric.  I hand stitched it.

Most of the edges I left raw but did sew a little hem in the sleeves.

In some spots it was (and still is) in very threadbare condition.  I patched some areas with vintage Japanese textiles I got there last year.  Other areas will have to remain tattered and be fixed as they tear.

The white threads were original to the piece.  I've seen them in other boro pieces and decided to keep them.  I believe, although I don't know this for certain, that they are stitches that were inside garments to secure raw edges.  

I just finished another haori jacket using vintage men's kimono pieces I got last year.  I wanted a quilted jacket so I bought very thin, good quality cotton and indigo dyed it for the lining.  I also indigo dyed the cotton batting.  

Originally I was going to quilt the boro haori but decided that hiding the back side of that cloth wasn't the right way to go.  Before I changed my mind I realized it was so threadbare I had to dye the batting as it would have shown through.  Boy, dyeing batting is not easy, I wouldn't recommend it.  

I inserted welt pockets cuz a girl's gotta have somewhere to stash her Kleenex!  I remember all of my old aunties with theirs tucked up their sleeves.  Never works for me, it always embarrassingly falls out at the most inappropriate times!

I hand quilted the jacket pieces with sashiko thread.  It's the first time I've used it and love this stuff!  It glides through the fabric like butter and doesn't knot or tangle like so many other hand stitching threads.  I'm a convert.

There were two slashes cut in the original cloth which I wanted to include in their natural state.  I simply layered a piece of cloth under them to secure the small opening.  I wonder which part of the kimono they were used on?  The neck, the underarm?  I've never seen this before in the kimono's I've taken apart.

Here's the second opening I mentioned above.  

I'm very happy with this jacket.  It feels like it's old already and reminds me of the worker jackets I saw in antique markets in Japan.

Last fall I was gifted a huge bag of very good, hand selected scraps from a group of sewing pals.  The leader of that group asked that everyone contribute only black pieces.  But then, my other two favorite colors, grey and mustard, showed up unexpectedly.

I decided on the Sapporo coat.  I had so much fun putting this together.  It will be a great spring coat.

I sewed the pieces onto a very drapy linen.

I still have my Girl Scout sash.  Raise your hand if you do, too!  A friend gave me this badge that seemed to fit right in since I was definitely a troublemaker when I was a kid...ask my mother.

And finally, I was lucky enough to see the Norman Rockwell retrospective at the Houston Art Museum before the world clipped my wings for a while.  It was far better than I expected and huge.  One section had the images he painted about social injustice.  This one has always felt so powerful to me.  

There were black and white photos of the little girl who posed for the painting with her father who was lovingly helping her with her braids.  There was also a video of her as a woman describing what it was like to go to and be a student in that school.  Such a wonderful exhibit.

And here is the dress Norman Rockwell had made especially for that painting.  It's the one the little girl wore.  Imagine, he saved it...

That's all from my neck of the woods.  I hope you are exploring your own creative options in your neck of the woods.  Stay well, be kind.  More ongoing creative activities will be posted soon.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Trouble with Blogger

Thanks to all of you who responded to my last post.  I answered your comments but Blogger is not posting them.

I've been researching this issue online but have not solved the problem.  I'm also having trouble staying signed in.

May have something to do with the latest Apple update to Catalina...not sure.  If anyone else has had this problem and resolved it can we chat?

Thanks so much for tuning in,


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Cashmere and Vintage Japanese Textiles

It's cashmere season.  I've been digging into my stash and fondling the pieces.  My hands landed on a big bundle of overdyed orange I'd been holding onto for years.

They finally called to me.  I was leaving for a week's retreat on the Oregon coast and I wasn't bringing a machine.  This shawl went together quickly while I was looking out to the tumultuous  northern Pacific and listening to all the conversations of the women who surrounded me.  Bliss.

I used Perle cotton, mostly single strand, but stitched two rows on each seam for strength.  I've made half a dozen of these cashmere shawls.  Some machine sewn, the others by hand.  But never double hand stitched each seam.  I can't believe how much weight it adds to the garment.  In a good way.

This fragment was one from the '90's!  First I tried stitching pompoms on what is now the underside of the fragment.  I must have used a piece of printed paper to stabilize the back, then I eco-overdyed it, washed it and the paper partially disintegrated.  It's machine sewn with vintage Japanese silver thread I got at the Santa Cruz Flea Market years ago.  

It's funny how, 10 years later, my tastes have changed so much that I love the back of a piece better than the front!

The dye method is one my friend, Janet, taught me.  Make a slurry paste of your desired dye.  Mordant the fabric, keep it damp.  Put it into a kitty litter tray and add the dye slurry.  With gloves (!) squish the fabric until you are satisfied with the look and coverage.

Put the fabric into a plastic bag and steam or microwave until the juices run clear...oh wait, that's a poultry cooking method...well you know what I mean. Then, let the fabric cool and wash it on gentle, front loader machine preferably.  Lay flat to dry.  This is not meant to be a specific formula.  It's a loose process kids.

But, it produces a wonderful mottled look that lends itself to piecing.

This sucker is long, about 30" X 7'.  Possibly too long...

But I wore it the other day and it felt so good!

And here's all I had left!  Oh but wait, I just found more on the guest bed...hmmm, hat?

While I was in Japan last May I was lucky to visit two of the temple markets and found several pieces of vintage fabric.  Some of which had some boro hidden inside.  This is NOT a boro garment per se.  This is a garment made in the boro tradition using vintage fabrics and modern piecing placement.

The pattern is self drafted from a RTW garment owned by a friend, Sarah.  I've made it four times. 

Here are two examples of the original boro parts of the garment.  The patched area on the left is the way I bought the fabric.  It is the way they patched holes.  I learned how to do this in a class with Jody Alexander and it was a thrill to find this original bit of patching hidden in the fabric, I didn't find it till I washed it at home!

The area to the right is another example of a piece of cloth that I bought like this in Japan.  It may be old or not but I'm sure the one on the left is boro.

Again, another hole patch on the left.  I hand stitched the patches using a thick thread.

The back is made of vintage fabrics but new construction.

Detail of back, the fabrics were lovely to work with. 

The Oregon coast, right?

Monday, September 9, 2019

Cool Idea

I feel more than a little guilty every time an Amazon package comes to our house.  I save them but my carbon footprint build up was beginning to look like Bigfoot.  So I decided to try making a market bag using two or three sewn together.  They were pretty easy to sew. The main problem was fitting them into the throat of my machine once I'd sewn two together.

I used a simple market bag tutorial photo to sew the bottom gussets.  Here's the link to my pin of my Pinterest board Bags, Purses and Totes.

I painted the background orange with poster paint and the designs with craft acrylics.  The handle is canvas webbing.  You can see the Amazon logo a bit through the orange paint but I like that since it informs the person looking at it how it's made.

The darned thing is holding up!  I've used it for the farmer's market, the grocery store and a recent sewing retreat.  The paint is not cracking, the seams are holding and I'm pretty pleased.

I think it's the first of many. I'm going to try patching some fabric on the next version.

 You outta give it a try!!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Late Summer Check In

It's been a wonderful spring and summer with lots of travel while learning new techniques.  

After Japan (see the last post) I went to Tennessee for our annual trek to Shakerag Workshops, with a stopover in Washington DC for some magical art time.  At Shakerag I took a class with Katja Toporski on making molds from found objects.  Something I have wanted to learn for many years.  

Next I traveled to Whidbey Island for a workshop with Pat Pauly on printing fabric with thickened dyes.  

Then it was back up to WhidbeyIsland for a class with Kerr Grabowski on deconstructed silk screening.

My head is swimming with all the new techniques.  I will attempt to give a brief, photo-laden account of my classes.

This is just a teaser photo from a Pat Pauley class.  There will be more later.

In between all of the classes I actually got time to sew.  This jacket is from a designer I like a lot, Pearl Red Moon.  It's called the Zambeezi Jacket.  I used stash fabrics, cut the medium which turned out to be way to big so I cut 4" from the center back and sewed it back up again (that after this photo was taken).  I like the details and think this pattern is good for lots of different fabrics and renditions.

It's somewhat labor intensive since you have to sew each seam wrong sides together and then sew them flat with a contrasting color zigzag.

Love stash projects!

I've been taking an every Friday workshop here in Santa Cruz with Kiki Barrett, the pattern wizard.  She helped me redraft a varsity/bomber jacket pattern to have a swing back.  I tried it first in an inexpensive sweatshirt fabric.  This one will fit my husband...back to the drawing board, which I have already done.  Am figuring out which fabric to use for #2. 

One of the things I changed for #2 is extending the back hem even more than this photo.  I want it to be somewhat dramatic.

I used Dritz snaps but I think I did something wrong cuz they rattle.  I feel like I'm a one woman tambourine band when I put it on!

Next was a go at the Sewing Workshop Cottage Shirt using Marcia Derse fabric. 

I remade a short men's Japanese kimono by cutting off the drapes part of the sleeves and using them for hanging pockets.  I know this type of garment has a specific name but I can't remember it.  Anyone?

I dabbled in more jewelry using scaps.  I am still working on this necklace.  Needs some color.

A group of us went to Washigton DC to visit a friend we met in Ashland at a Design Outside The Lines last year.  Kathy is a longtime Reference Specialist at the Library of Congress.  She was so generous in giving us a tour that you just couldn't get any other way but by knowing someone who has been there for 30+ years.  

We visited the public spaces, Kathy giving us insider history of many architectural features, art and displays.  THEN, she lead us into a private library where she had prepared a 15+ book lecture on books related to textiles.  Our mouths were agape the whole time.  One book dated back to the 1500's.  

Every one she showed was one of her personal favorites and they quickly became ours, too.  She is such an expert in her field that we felt honored to be able to hear what she had to say on these books.

This "book" was actually a fabric covered bento box from Nuno Corp in Tokyo.  We were luck enough to visit their shop in Tokyo while there and purchase textiles and scarves.  I love their aesthetic. 

The box contained several layers of fabric swatches based on the type of textile and techniques used.

We didn't want to leave...needless to say.

And here's Sarah trying to figure out a way to slip the box into her purse.

She took us through the old library index card room.  Sharon and Sarah shared my awe at the site.

All of the cards were hand printed.  Just look at this, were we lucky or what!?

We flew from DC to Nashville and on too Shakerag.  These are some of the objects I made using molds I created.

And here is Katja's work.  Just stunning.

Katja wearing the crazy necklace I made using cashmere, painted canvas and objects I had cast.  She was a good sport and an amazing teacher.

OK, stay with me here, I'm almost through the summer!  Then it was Whidbey Island to the Pacific Northwest Art School and a workshop with the very talented Pat Pauly.  I learned an incredible amount from Pat.  I will say that she is somewhat "honest" with her criticisms so she is not the teacher for the faint of heart.  You gotta be tough to take a class with her.  But it's so worth it!  And she is a very giving teacher.  Plus she's funny!

This technique uses thickened dyes.  It is mainly for quilters but I can certainly incorporate this into my clothing somehow.

One of the things I worked on were vintage linen napkins that I've picked up at garage sales and flea markets for a song because they are stained and nobody wants to iron anymore!  They worked well, we're using them often.

We were lucky to have a visit with the talented Marcia Derse who designs fabric.  15 of us descended on her.  She is a dear heart and so inspiring.  I've used many of her fabrics in my sewing.

I was home for 10 days and went back up to Whidbey for another workshop with the wonderful Kerr Grabowski.  This time it was deconstructed silk screening using the same thickened dyes we used in Pat's class.  Very different results and so fun.

Kerr is a great teacher, I recommend a class with her, in fact I will take another some day.  Here she is modeling a Turkish towel I screened for a beach coverup.

Some of my work from Kerr's class.

More work.

And then last weekend Sharon and I hit the garage to do our own dyeing using thickened dyes.  I wanted to tone down some of the bright pieces I'd made in Pat's class and make them work together.  Per her directions, to rework your "dogs" just paint over them.  

This time I decided to use several different blacks and by creating a screen that blocked out everything but polka dots I managed to get several pieces of cloth that I think will work better together.

I also printed two pieces of recycled clothing.  This is part of a white tshirt in progress.  I will do more of this!

And Sharon used my polka dot screen in her own way.  Love this tobacco color with the black.

Pieces drying.

And although I'm hesitant to tell you just how crazy I am I'll say that Sharon and I stopped printing long enough to attend a 2 hour indigo dyeing session with a local teacher who provides a vat for use. 

I'm finished with workshops...until just after Labor Day when I go up to Tahoe for a Mary Boalt workshop at Artistic Alchemy. 

The summer is just starting here on the Central Coast of California.  This will be some of our best weather all year until late fall.  So I'll be doing more dyeing.

Thanks for hanging in there with my long posting dry spells, interspersed with even longer posts.