Sunday, February 14, 2021

The Lessons of Hand Stitched Lettering

I've heard several friends refer to hand stitching as a form of meditation.  I used to think that wasn't the way I experienced it.  But I've just changed my mind after starting the book, How To Meditate-A Guide to Self-Discovery by Lawrence LeShan.

If I can paraphrase, Mr. LeShan describes meditation as a practice in which you are always striving for improvement, acknowledging your shortcomings, meanderings and frustrations along the way.

I now realize hand stitching is like meditation for me.  I'm really pretty bad at the nuts and bolts of it.  I'm not a consistent stitcher and no matter how hard I try to work towards exact stitches my words are rarely even or good looking.

But I persist.    

My mother, to whom I owe my great curiosity for and ease in making things with my hands, passed away in 1992.  Not only was she a passionate serial maker but she had a phrase for everything.  

The day she passed away her sayings began to pop up in my mind.  I started writing them down and for the next week I kept writing.  They just flooded back, one after another.

By the time we gathered at her grave, I had a pageful of them and recited them that day as my eulogy.  During this time of covid I've been cleaning drawers, file cabinets, the garage, the basement, you name it.  It was in one of these clearing that I found that piece of paper with all of her sayings.

Mom always encouraged me to make things.  Tables were set around the house with materials she was currently using to make one thing or another and I had full access.  What a gift.  To learn at an early age the effortless practice of just sitting down to start something using your hands.  No judgement about the way it will turn out.

The only thing she hated to do was cook.  She was a good cook with a two week rotation but she never liked it.  When I came home from school and saw the turquoise electric skillet set out on the counter I knew dinner would be Rice a Roni and Jimmy Dean Sausage casserole.

This shirt started out with just her sayings but as it went along I felt the need to tell her story.  

Here is Otafuku, from a Japanese folktale.  She represents mirth, joy and good fortune. 

This was a project that took over 8 months to finish.  Mostly because hand stitching is a love/hate thing with me.  I used a thrift store Brooks Brothers shirt.

I haven't worn it yet, not sure it was ever intended to wear.  Maybe this spring.


Sunday, January 31, 2021

One More Shirt

Here's another shirt made with fabric I printed in two Pat Pauly classes.  It is an OOP Marcy Tilton pattern V9174.  I wish Vogue had not discontinued it.  This shirt is one of my favorites.

I've used most of my printed fabrics that have enough yardage for a garment.  I wish I had more, I love sewing with them.

I'm learning how to print enough fabric of the same or similar designs.  At first I only printed a yard at a time.  Then realized a yard of fabric wouldn't be useful for me.  

So I started printing three yards at a time.  That turned out to be way too cumbersome on the printing table.  From now on I'll print in 1 and a half yard lengths and print two or more of the same or coordinating designs.

I created this barbed wire screen in a screen printing class at Cabrillo College many years ago and return to it every once in a while.

Can't wait for warmer weather to get back out in my printing studio, otherwise known as my garage.  Pat Pauly, watch out, I'm going to take another class in the spring!


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Staying Busy...Slowly

Our days here on California's Central Coast have been fairly mild.  Lots of sun and chilly, although that sun keeps my mood fairly even.  But dang, some day's it's hard.  I feel swept up in all the angst and yet find myself feeling detached because I'm so disconnected to my usual life.

I have slowed down, something I've wanted to do for years.  Days and sometimes a week go by without anything on the calendar.  That means my creative pursuits are front and center in my thoughts many hours of the day.

I'm practicing several disciplines at the same time, a luxury.  I have projects all over the place; started a Kaffe Fassett Persian Poppy shawl; hand hemming an organza scarf I printed; working on an Alabama Chanin piece I bought at her factory in Alabama 3 years ago, stitching away it,  still not sure what it will be; eco printing paper and cloth along with India Flint's Eucalyptographia class;  am signed up for three Shibori classes with Aya Fiber Studio, let's see...oh yeah, I'm sewing.

I'm still working down my stash of fabrics I created in both Pat Pauly's and Kerr Grabowski's screen printing classes.  This is Marcy Tilton's OOP V9174 shirt pattern that lends itself well to multiple small pieces of cloth.

I originally printed two-1/2 yard pieces a year ago but needed more to make something.  I printed another two yards this past October in Pat's class.  The various yardages aren't exactly alike, as no two pieces of hand printed cloth can be.  But I'm satisfied with the two together.

This is Kerr's technique of deconstructed silk screening.  I like both Kerr's method and Pat's method which is...well, I can't really find the words to describe the differences in their work.  Kerr's seems looser, where you are not sure what image you will end up with, while Pat's is a bit more studied in form and line.  Please, if I have offended either one of you (if indeed you are even reading this) I'm sorry.  I love both of you and your work!

This pattern is flattering, easy to wear and super fun to sew.  It's still a bit cold to wear this now, I look forward to wearing it out in the spring!  I've made this pattern twice before and seem to pull it out of the closet often. 

I used buttons I got in Kyoto in 2019.  They have been so special to me I didn't want to use them but they were the only ones in my stash that looked right. After sewing them on I realized that of course I should use them, when if not now?!

I had to do a bit of piecing, not every inch of fabric I screen print is worth showing so I just sew a little patch of the good stuff over it.  

 I'll show you my second make using this pattern and my screened cloth soon.

I hope you are staying busy, doing what gives you joy and makes you learn something new.  It's a life raft right now.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Two Marcy Tilton Patterns

I have been making a lot of comfy clothes lately.  What I'm wearing most days.  This one is Marcy 
Tilton's  V1768.  It's fairly figure hugging but I like it a lot and I think it would look great on a lot of figures.

I love the asymmetrical neckline.  I've pinned the lapels down to see if I like them flat but I think I like the way they stand up in the pattern photo better.  I'd love to figure out how to get a pocket in this thing tho.

The back has a great detail that could be used in other garments.  I used two different sweatshirt fabrics since I didn't have enough of either one.  All raw edges, the fraying adds texture.  I'll make this again for sure.

This one is Marcy's V1694.  I'll be making this often, too.  I'm sorry I made it in such a hard fabric to see the details!  I got this fabric at my local fabric shop, Hart's Fabrics.  

Check out the pattern, the details are fantastic.

Another asymmetrical neckline.  I like the way it looks on, very flattering.  I wrapped the neck facing around to the outside, will do that again.

Always love these built in pockets, they're fun to make and feel really comfy.

Again, I'm sorry for the fabric choice.  The details in the back are great.  Trust me.  Get this pattern!

OK, now for the rant about Vogue Patterns.  Yeah, I know they're now calling themselves Something Delightful.  What a crock.  This new name feels demeaning somehow.  Why change a name everyone knows and loves?  It's just one of many company decisions I think are unwise, if not downright stupid.

Another one that particularly irks me?  They now minimize the designer's name.  Don't they realize that many of us buy these patterns BECAUSE OF THE DESIGNER?  Are you listening Vogue (no, I will not call you by your new name...ever!)?  

What the hell?  These designers have been part of the success of this company for decades.  Why disrespect them now?  What could have gone into THAT company decision.  And who is making these decisions?  Must be people who think women wear mostly dresses...and dresses with big puffy sleeves?  Get real.  Take a look at the indy pattern companies that are doing so well right now, Vogue!  You need someone under 50 with influence in your company!

I buy Marcy and Katherine Tilton patterns, period.  And I want to see their names in BIG BOLD LETTERING on your website and on the pattern envelope to know that your company values it's designers.  And BTW, change your name back, it's not too late!


Color Galore Tunic

As promised, my next garment from the fabrics I worked on in the last Pat Pauly class.  If you're interested in this type of work, Pat has two openings in her January class.

This garment is not for the feint of heart.  Good thing I'm not feint of heart.  I really loved the brain tease of getting these fabrics to work together.  I had my doubts more than once and some would say I should have listened to these doubt.  But I'm super happy with this.  

Close up.  Color is so exciting for me.  There is so much joy, for me, in making these textiles.  Using them is tricky, that's why I usually like to use black and grey instead of these bright colors.  But I have several to use and use I will.  Stay tuned for more eye-popping results.

This garment is one I've made a lot.  It's self drafted from RTW and I can't get enough of it.  So comfortable and fun to work with because of the many pattern pieces.  It works well with several fabrics for that same reason.  And it's pretty much zero waste which is another plus when you're working with fabric you have made.

The back is two solid pieces with a contrasting pocket sewn in for a bit of color pop.

Stay tuned for my next post, coming up soon.  It's on two of Marcy Tilton's patterns...and a bit of a rant on Vogue Pattern Company....yeah, I know they're now calling it Something Delightful....yet another reason to wonder where their heads are located these days!  

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Screen Printed Haori Jacket

I took another online class, screen printing with thickened dyes from the lovely Pat Pauly. She is offering several such classes online in the coming year.  I recommend them.  They are labor intensive but really fun and very professionally done.

I wanted to try the Wiksten Haori pattern so I purchased a huge painter's drop cloth from OSH (Outdoor Supply Hardware here in California).  It had a lovely hand, loosely woven, it was a runner of about 20'x3' and cost only $18.  I washed it in Synthrapol which made it even softer.  

I traced the pattern pieces with a Sharpie, giving myself some extra room in all directions in case of shrinkage.  Next time, I'll cut it out, it will save space on the worktable.  I serge all of the edges carefully to avoid fraying during wash out.

I scraped grey over the entire piece of cloth in an uneven design...after all, I don't want it to look like I bought a piece of grey cloth to screen onto!  

I used several screens of my own making.  And some hand scribbling with a squirt bottle.

I really like the pattern.  It's extremely roomy tho so be careful.  I cut a medium and I think I could go down to a small on everything but the sleeves next time.

This garment looks and feels like it's been worn by someone at work for a few decades, which I love.  The minute I threw it on it felt like a favorite old garment; soft and comfortable.

For the lining I used a heavy cheesecloth, or really shear muslin, not sure which since I've had it in my stash for years.  I printed it with an old silk screen I created years ago.  The weight works really well next to the drop cloth fabric.

One huge plus about this pattern is that it's almost zero waste, something surface design folks look for.  Who wants to cut away so much of your hand printed fabric?

My next post will be another use of the cloth I made in the class.  This time I'm trying several different pieces in one garment.  Watch out...might want to put on sunglasses before you open the next post...just saying...


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Block Printing

A few months ago I took a block printing class from Valori Wells of The Stitchin' Post.  It was one of the best classes I've ever taken.  And it was online!  She taught us from her home studio over two sessions.  I got so much out of this class I've joined a small group of women from my area who were in the same class.  We meet every month or so online to share what we've been carving and printing.

Of course, I'm printing mostly on fabric, which is what Valori teaches.  But the same principals can be applied to paper.  I'm slowly building a "block library", trying to make focal point images as well as border images and overall background images.

I'll be posting more about this in the future but here's a start.

You may be asking yourself, "What is a cucumber doing in a block printing post?".  The answer is that I shot this in the summer just when my cucumbers were starting to ripen!

This is printed on an old Eileen Fisher linen sheet that I used to practice.  The main image is Amabie.  An ancient Japanese yokai,;creatures, monsters and fairies from Japanese folklore.  Amabie is said to help protect against epidemics.  I've been printing her lots lately!

I wanted strong graphic prints for borders and backgrounds.

This garment is made using the indigo fabric I made in Japan last year, plus some other pieces I have made since.  It's a very simple, no-waste pattern.  When you put that much time into making the cloth you don't want to cut out much!

Detail of the panel I hand stitched onto the front

You can catch a glimpse of Amabie peaking out from the sleeve on the back view.

Close up of Amabie, a mermaid with three legs and long flowing hair.

When RBG passed away I felt compelled to do something and this is what emerged.  I've printed dozens of these and given them to friends.

I tried printing on paper for the first time with paper my husband Joe made.

I also tried printing on scraps of cloth I'd previously dyed.  I would use a darker ink next time.

Little RBG pieces of hope.

Then I went wild on the old EF sheet.  I kept practicing and practicing till I had enough cloth to make Linda Lee's Cottage Shirt.  I struggle with the collar on this pattern and this time just omitted it. 

I love this pattern so much.  I'm going to try another collar technique next time.  Her instructions for the collar on this pattern are just too darned hard for me.

Amabie shows up a lot in my work these days.

I continue to carve and print.  Some work better than others, it's the learning curve.  But I'm signed up for more classes with other teachers and will continue to incorporate this technique into my surface design.

It's election day here in the US and I'm trying everything I can to avoid thinking about it.  Next up, Apple Butter, which will keep me over the stove for 4 hours...that should do it!