Monday, December 15, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

I was asked to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop by Wendy Franzen of West Zen Studio.  I met Wendy at last year's Ashland DOL, that's Design Outside The Lines for those of you who have not yet attended these magical sewing retreats.  Wendy was one of those people I immediately zoned in on because she just LOOKS creative...and sure enough, I was right.  Her work can be seen here.  I encourage you to start following her blog, she's really inspiring.

This blog hop thing is sort of a creativity chain mail but you only have to pass it along to one person. I'll tell you who I was lucky enough to get at the end of this post.

In the meantime, here is the info I need to cover.  This is going to be a photo packed post since I like images better than words.

#1. What am I working on?
I always work on several things at once.  I like jumping back and forth between three to five projects.  I also like finishing project fairly quickly.  I don't enjoy the feeling I get with a bunch of UFO's hanging around.

I make refashioned cashmere sweaters, hats and scarves for a gallery next to my bakery.  I just finished three sweaters and three hats.  This sweater uses three cable knit sweaters.  

I made this one entirely by hand using a double row of Pearl Cotton to attach all of the pieces.  I remember now why I don't knit anymore; keeping my head down for that long wracks my neck!

The motif in the back is made with vintage kimono scraps.  I tried cutting the back hem so that it curves up at the center but I'm not sure it looks like I envisioned.

And here's another sweater .  It always helps to look at my pieces in photos because I can see them in another light altogether.  Here I can see that I should have reversed the pocket positions.  The higher pocket would have looked better on the other side!

A little hand stitching on the back.

Another sweater, this one a pullover.

A hat made from Marcy Tilton's hat pattern.  I liked making it.  I would cut the rise a little higher next time and make it a bit smaller.

Another hat, another pattern learned in a hat class years ago.  This one is from an over-dyed argyle sweater.

Hat #3 is a beret with some do-dads I crocheted a few years ago when I thought I could choke out a few for hats.  I knew I hated crocheting and sure enough...I do.  So these are the last of the little stash I had.

Here is a canvas I'm working on.  It was inspired by a piece I saw at the Metropolitan in NYC a couple months ago.  You can see the piece  below.  The funny thing is, I didn't realize I was being inspired by this piece of art while I was painting.  I was thinking of those Chanel backpacks!  See how inspiration works?

I used a "scrumbling" technique I learned from my painting teacher Maryjo Koch

I used Jacquard paints in copper, gold, metallic red, grey, white and black.  I mixed water into them and scrumbled with a sponge.

I consider this the first layer.  I will go back in with one brighter copper and more bold blacks and whites; dripping, stenciling, silkscreening, etc.

It will be for a new handbag.  My old ones are worn out!

Here's a fun combo I worked on last month.  The vest is copied from ready to wear using a fabric I bought at a Fabmo sale.  It was so cheap I couldn't pass it up ($1 a yard!).  It is two layers of shear knit tacked together every few inches.  The bottom layer is a lighter green, you can see it at the pocket.  I could never think of what to use it for.  This worked out well.  The fabric for the top was from Marcy Tilton years ago.

And here are a couple of works in progress.  This first is from a man's jacket.  I wanted to learn from my sewing pal, Helen Papke, how she reworks men's clothes.  She is a brilliant refashioner.  She coached me through this vest.  It's a start but still has pins all over it...much to do yet.

And inverted sleeve as the big pocket.  I'm loving big pockets.

And I'm considering these buttons over the zipper.  It looked too bare without them.

Helen is also a genius at remaking men's white shirts.  Geez, I wish I could just channel her when I'm working on these.  Mine never turn out half as good.  This one is still in progress.  I think I'm going to take off one of the pockets but not sure yet.

And finally, little kantha "pillows" I made from Mieko Mintz's scraps.   I was so excited to learn that she sells little pieces of gorgeous kantha cloth left from the garments she makes.  Many of them are larger than this.  I'm planning a garment with them, too.  These will be for a necklace.  I'm going to need lots more but this is the start.

#2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Everyone's work differs!  What kind of a question is this?!  My work differs because it is from my hand as opposed to anyone else's.  I'll give you an example.  When I belonged to The Baker's Dozen, a professional bakers association, they asked everyone to make an Angel Food Cake using the same recipe.  These were professional bakers and no two cakes looked alike.

Every person has hands, a mind and spirit that are uniquely theirs.  No two are alike no matter what they are doing.

#3. Why do I create what I do?

I was lucky enough to have a mother who couldn't go a day without creating something.  There was always a table set up somewhere in the house with works in progress.  She always encouraged me in my own making, no matter how weird it was.  Hence, it became a part of my everyday fiber.  If I go too many days without making something I get cranky!

#4. How does my creating process work?

I get my inspiration from my sewing/designer pals, my sewing/design teachers, magazines, museums, Pinterest...PINTEREST!, fabric...just about anything.

Sometimes my process is quick. I see it, I do it.  Sometimes it foments, percolates and gestates until it pops out of me.  I tend to be fast, sometimes too fast...but I'm working on that.  Slowing down sometimes helps the process.

Well, I'm done with this post.  Hope you enjoyed it.  The person I found to follow my Blog Hop post is....drum roll....Shams!!  Here incredible blog is named Communing with Fabric.  I've been following it for several years.  She's one of the best sewing/design bloggers out there.  If by any chance you aren't following her now you should be.

I asked her to describe herself and here's what she said.  "Shams has been blogging for over 5 years and her blog tagline states, "Just another blog from a red haired, 50-something, uber busty, slim hipped, funky lovin' sewist!"

It doesn't begin to describe what she does in her blog.  She writes about her process in a thorough, comprehensive, well written (she's a professional writer) and highly entertaining way, sometimes inserting the best tutorials online.  I admire her creative process AND her sewing chops!!  

Thank you so much, Shams, for agreeing to do this.  I know your post next Monday will be one of the best...that's just you!


  1. I know what you mean - Helen is just SO inspiration you can't help but want to grow up like her only you don't need more Helen, you've got plenty of wonderful all your own. It's so fun to see her inspiration develop into your personal expression. Being around both of you does that for me. LOVED your answer to how does your work differ. So true. Some beautiful pieces. Thanks for sharing.

  2. So happy you participated in the blog hop, Gayle! I love what you make. How do you find so many nice sweaters to refashion? Around here all I can ever find are pilly acrylic. Bleh. I think the good stuff is edited out before it ever hits the thrift shop sales floor!

    Ooh, congrats on getting Shams to follow you! I'll be watching for her post.

  3. Thank you for participating in this blog hop. I enjoyed seeing all of your recent projects, and those in the works. I love the vest made from a man's jacket. So smart! And the painted canvas is gorgeous, even just this base layer. You do great work. Thanks for sharing!

  4. WOWOWOWOWOW, Gayle. WOW. I've long known how creative you are, but this post just staggers me.

  5. I love your originality. Never stop posting!

  6. I love seeing what you make. Interesting and different (for me anyway). Eventhough with my lifestyle I wouldn't wear what you make I still find it inspiring. Perhaps the real me is under this corporate self that I am. I love Shams blog too.

  7. What a delicious post, Gayle. Each item, each idea is so rich. Thanks for this!

  8. Wow, what great ideas you have - I love those little handmade beads.

    Whoops, I am getting excited by your makes - when I should also say I loved this post.

  9. I just love all your great projects. What great ideas.

  10. Love, love, love your creativity. I NEED vests & making some is on my 2015 list. Thanks for the inspiration

  11. You have such an amazing style and artistry - I'm always so inspired by you. This is such a great post, it's such fun seeing what you have to say and giving us a little insight into your process. I also love Helen's work so much, I'd love to crawl inside her head and just see how she is seeing something, she has such a wonderufl "eye" as they say. Such creativitiy. So proud to know you and see your work up close!


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