Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hold onto your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown.  Once you're brown, you'll find out you're blue.  As blue as indigo.  And you know what that means.  
Indigo, indigoing, indigone.

Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume, 1984
One of my favorite books.

I've had indigo on my mind the last few months.  I took one class here in Santa Cruz last spring and saw a wonderful exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum called Mood Indigo.  The vest above is from this show.  It's well worth a trip and is showing until early October.  I also took an eco-dyeing class at MAIWA in the spring that had an indigo bath.

I'll be taking an eco-printing class in a few weeks that will have an indigo component that I didn't know about.  I'm happy about that.  I have some previously eco-printed cashmeres that can use a little brightening and indigo might just do the trick.  More on that class later in September.

So I've been getting the indigo bug slowly and without really going after's coming after me I think!

 I purchases 3 yards of this gorgeous fabric from Marcia Derse at the Puyallup Expo last year.  I'm continuing to incorporate color into my piece at a time.

Marcia was in her booth and what a lovely, fun and talented artist.  We had so much fun in her booth. We were there twice and spent a LONG time with her.  She designs all of her own fabrics and has them printed.  I couldn't decide which one I wanted, I wanted them ALL!  And the cotton is such a fine quality.  I didn't realize how lovely till I started sewing with it, and then wore it.  I want more!

This pattern is from the Bookends line and is called Cat's Cradle in "fig".  I wore it yesterday and everyone said, "Gayle, you have to wear this color more often."...ok.

This is a Vogue Lynn Mizono pattern that, thankfully, is still in print.  I've made it twice before and have just re-ordered it to cut a bit larger.  I love this pattern.  

The print worked out well for this pattern.  I think I've finally drilled into my brain the benefits of getting enough fabric so that I don't have to sweat whether I'll have enough or not.

I've been making these collars for several years now.  I used to sell them at a wonderful little shop in Carmel, Findings.  Do any of you remember it?  I mourn it's passing.

I make these by starting with a double thickness raw silk background. Then I drape fabrics around the base and stitch them on.   I have so many vintage scarves and bits of fabric I used in the re-made cashmeres I used to sell.  Now that I don't do those anymore I'm fishing around for ways to use these beautiful textiles, I'm not ready to give them up.

The little "puffs" are pieces of fabric, kimono fabric, cashmere, anything that works.  I stuffed them and then used Pearl cotton for the wraps.  

The little pinwheels are Dorset buttons made from curtain rings and various yarns.  I've given my pattern at the bottom of this post.  I taught it to my knitting guild many years ago.  I'm sorry I wasn't able to get my photo to copy here but if you look up Dorset buttons you will see many.  I didn't want to copy someone else's photo without their permission.

I was happy to finally finish the piece.  It's been in my UFO pile for about two years.

I'll wear this one, I think.  They are really comfortable.

The closure is offset, or I can wear it so that the button is center back and the front is offset.

Here's the pattern for the buttons, try them, they are so fun and easy to make.

                                               DORSET CROSSWHEEL BUTTON

These buttons are fun and easy to make. They are particularly cute for children’s
garments. They can be made any size depending on the size ring used. 

Materials needed:
Plastic or brass curtain rings to fit buttonhole
Darning needle
Strands of yarn in 3 colors (A, B and C)


1)    Tie a strand of A on the ring.  Thread the needle with the strand.
2)    With the yarn positioned away from you on the ring, bring the needle up through the hole and then down and away from you between the loop of yarn on the outside of the ring.  Pull tight to form a buttonhole stitch.
3)    Continue around the ring, pushing the stitches tightly together as you go.  When all the way around the ring secure the first and last stitch. If this is the color of the body of the sweater, leave the tail long to sew button on.
4)    Push the stitches to the inside of the ring
5)    Join a strand of yarn B to the ring and make 8 spokes that have a front and back, evenly around ring, interlocking each spoke in the center.
6)    Make cross stitches in the center of the button that holds all the stitches together and makes a nice center.  Weave in loose ends.
7)    Join a strand of C at the back center and bring it through to the front.  Backstitch in a clockwise fashion, back over one spoke, then pass the needle under the next spoke, backstitch over that and so on to produce a spider’s web pattern.  Repeat as many times as necessary to produce a full center of the button. Weave in loose ends but leave a shank to attach the button to your garment or project.

And finally, a couple of photos from a fun visit I made with my pal, Julie, to the Gilroy Gardens to see their Illuminations show that is there till November, I think.

Enjoy the end of summer!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Canvas and Confessions

Confessions first.

I've been blogging for about, I don't know, three years now, give or take.  I had a gal configure my blog with features I thought would be good to have.

Over the years I've been receiving emails when I get a response and I ALWAYS responded to those emails.  But, come to find out, I'm pretty sure the person wasn't getting my emails.  They were going to Blogger!  Oy.  I am SO sorry if you responded to one of my posts and never heard back from me, that's not like me at all.

So, from now on, I will go to my blog and respond from there when I get one of your emails.  And, if you are Gail from Sydney who responded to my Japanese jacket post asking about fabrics please go back to that post, I have added my comments and recommendations for you.  I originally sent you a big email but it never got to you!

Huge thanks to Shams, AKA Sharon Zakhour of Communing With Fabric, for helping me get this all sorted out.  OK, confession over, now on to the subject of this blog.

For several years I've been making painted canvas purses.  I've made 5 so far.  They are the only purses I wear unless I'm going out in the evening.  I love them because they're easy to see into, they have pockets that I place in strategic spots so I know where stuff is and they're fun to look at.

Here is the canvas I used for the lining.  I painted half the canvas in black with white accents and the other white with black and grey accents.  I used the lighter one for the inside and the darker one on the outside of the purse.  I like to be able to SEE into a purse...why do purse makers make the inside black?  Probably so it doesn't show the dirt.  But stuff gets lost in there!

I use heavy canvas, I don't wash it before painting because I want it to be stiff so it holds up to future wear and tear.  I use Jacquard fabric paint or just plain craft acrylic.  I apply it with paint brushes of various sizes and foam brushes.  The images are painted freeform, stamped, screen printed, stenciled or I write with Sharpies. 

I layer the paint.  I start with large forms, let them dry and apply smaller images on top.  Usually it's a 3-4 step process.  I don't use an primer or overcoat.

Here is the outside of the purse before I sewed in the lining.  The purse starts out pretty stiff but after a month of wearing it becomes softer and a bit slouchy, which I like.

 One side of the finished purse.  This time I decided to follow the original pattern of the Mackerilla Maxine Bag by putting the long pockets on the bottom of the outside.  I'll see if they work for me.  Usually I just sew in the ones on the ends.

I like to bind the top with fabric I have on hand.  This time I used several fabrics I'd sewn together for another project.  I've used cashmere and raw silk in the past.  I get the handles on Etsy.

The side pocket is lined with a poly techno type of fabric that is smooth and helps protect glasses from getting scratched.

 I carved three stamps for this purse.  The largest one is shown above.  It's the two squarish white shapes.  I've never been very good at carving stamps but I had so much fun this time I think I'm going to carve my own shapes from now on.  

Have a great weekend, I'm headed over to the bunkhouse to start a new, yet-to-be-determined project.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Japanese Boro Class

I took a Japanese Boro class last weekend from Jody Alexander, a local book, textile and installation artist.  I've been an admirer of her work for many years and have recently begun taking classes with her.

Jody is an excellent teacher.  I like her classes because she is thorough, brings tons of books and materials to share and paces her classes so that you don't feel rushed.

Just so I don't get it wrong, here is the Wikipedia definition of Boro.  There has been a lot of discussion lately about whether someone can make new Boro since the very nature of it is something that is old and had to be made that way because of a lack fabric available to make whole cloth garments. I don't think Jody or anyone in the class was trying to say they are making true Boro;  just honoring the tradition by creating new pieces that are in the spirit of Boro.

I won't go into a long description of Boro here, it is a very complicated subject and one I am not qualified to describe accurately.  If your interest is piqued here you will find lots of information about it on the internet.  You might start with a site I found here.

And, if your interest is piqued, Jody is giving the same class in September (which I am taking!) Here's the info on it.  Cabrillo College Extension Fall Textile Classes.  You won't be sorry you took it.  And act fast, there aren't very many places left.

This blog post is photo laden because it's hard to describe what we saw and made without showing you examples.

Here is a beautiful example of original Boro that either Jody or another student, Tracy, brought in for us to study.  These old pieces are in various states of perfection...and by that I mean that the older, more worn pieces seem to be more perfect to me!

Another beautiful old piece.

These are old Zokin which means dust cloth.

On the left is a dress Jody purchased on her trip to Japan two years ago.  It is newly constructed of old Boro pieces and fabrics.  Jody was granted a Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship and chose to use her funds to study Japanese textiles in Japan.  Her fellowship show Keep Modern Library was mesmerizing and so complete in it's interpretation of Boro.
On the right is a dress she created and wore to the opening. The colorful pieces are from old book covers.

Detail of the Japanese dress.

Here's Jody instructing about one of the several bags she taught.  The class was full of really interesting and talented people.

The first day of class we studied how to make the various components of Boro by making pages that were sewn into a fabric book.  These are books that Jody has made over the last few years.

An example of the (pardon my using a culinary term here) groaning table that Jody provides as a visual prompt for the class.  She is so generous with sharing materials.  New and old, they are so inspiring!

Another example...and I can't tell you if it's new or old.  I think it's new.  There was just so much to take in I'm glad I'm going to the class again!

The second day we made a bag using the techniques we learned the first day.  This is mine.  I used a pair of thrift store white levi's and bits of other fabrics I had on hand.  The round/square stamps are ones I just carved last week.  Carving stamps is a new one for me and I loved it.

I'm sorry this piece is so dark.  It is the start of a vest.  More on this in another post as I progress.  I have promised myself I will take photos along the way.

Here's the cover of my little book.

And one of the inside pages.

A sewing pal, Lynn, came down from Oakland to take the class and stayed with us.  Here is her bag. She chose to make it oversized and it's just gorgeous.   It's made from a beautiful hemp canvas she got at Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkeley.

I regret that I don't have the name of the person who was making this bag.  I got around to see everyone's work and check in with them during the workshop but names always escape me.

This is going to be a stunner, wish I could see it finished!  Look at this collection of fabrics!

Another beautiful piece.  I love this fabric and detail.

One of my classmates, Tracy, had some gorgeous old Japanese fabrics.  And the handle is an old dog collar!

More of Tracy's work.

Again, I'm sorry I can't tell you the creator's name.

Now this one I know because it's my pal, Lisa, who made this from textiles she discharged, eco-dyed and stitched.

Another friend, Marilou made a bag using her eco-dyed fabrics, really great.

My table mate, Pam, had some great ideas.

Another of Pam's ideas.

So, you can see we all got a lot out of this class.  Can't wait for September!