Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Watch the Birdie

I've had a lifelong love of birds.  Some say it might be cuz of my nose...a bit bird-like.  Or maybe it's because I dream of flying.

I pin birds on Pinterest, I have a board in fact.  I have two birdbaths in my garden and one is particularly popular with migrating birds.  We sit at the dining room table and watch them endlessly.  Right now there's a little yellow guy taking a bath on this chilly morning.

Ann Wood's wonderful birds have inspired me for years.  I think her work is so important in its simplicity and joy.  I follow her blog and wonder at her dedication to creating objects of such meaning.  Check her out!

I finally purchased and downloaded her pattern for a songbird.  I've had it for several months, even picked out the cloth for the first bird.  I just didn't get around to starting it until a week ago.

And then this happened.

I can't seem to sew anything else.  They make me so happy, both while I'm sewing them and afterwards looking at them.   I can't stop myself.  This first one is made using Talbot tie scraps with a bit of quilting cotton and sheer organza.

This second guy...made a mere two days after the first one was complete... is made from kantha scraps, silk and a Guatemala-style woven.

And the third is from vintage kimono scraps I got in Japan years ago.  

I can see where this is going.  I need a flock.  I need a big flock.  I will make ones from other Japanese textiles I've collected, denim, various vintage blacks, the list goes on.  I see no end in sight.

The body is sewn using a machine and then the rest is by hand.  Sewing on the little wings (and there are many) is an exercise in giving the little guys their personality.  Other personality traits show up in the beak, which is hand carved, they eyes, and the legs which you fashion from wire, floral tape and paint.  Every one of these turns out completely different.  One is bigger, the next is smaller, even though they are all made from the same pattern.  I can't figure out why but they emerge as individuals.  

I draw the line at naming them.  But I'm headed to the bunkhouse to make another one right now.

Thank you Ann Wood!!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Fall Sewing

I had a great summer and early fall, busy traveling and sewing.  We have had a beautiful fall here on the Central Coast of California and now we are experiencing the smoke from the very tragic fire up north.  My heart goes out to the people who have lost their community.  I can't imagine such a loss.  My community is so dear to me and losing almost the whole thing is just unimaginable.  But it occurred to me that it could happen almost anywhere now.

October is always a busy month, retreat-wise.  First it's my annual sewing retreat in San Juan Bautista with about 20 of my sewing pals.

Fabric flies, there may be some wine consumed, machines whir.

It really gets going towards the end of the week.  Here's the dynamic sister-duo Mary and Patty.

One night we watched the Dries Van Noten documentary.   Here's Sass doing her imitation of the way he mixes pattern and color.  She grabbed a few pieces from the scrap pile!  

The following week I attended my umpteenth million DOL in Ashland.  I love Ashland more every time I visit.  Fall is my favorite time of year there.

Diane Ericson, the DOL lionhearted leader, wowing everyone with her morning lectures.

Guest teacher, Gwen Spencer, teaching buttonhole techniques.  Super teacher!

More fall in Ashland.

Sometimes I avoid serious sewing for a while.  I don't know why but I just don't want to sew a garment.  Could it possibly be that I already HAVE too many garments? That's where I've been the last two weeks.  I just couldn't bring myself to start a new garment.  Does that happen to you?

So I mended, fixed hems, put new elastic in waistbands, did everything and anything NOT to sew a garment. I actually like that kind of sewing, contrary to what I hear from my sewing friends.   It worked, I'm ready to sew again.  But I'm glad I got all of my small-stuff work out of the way. 

This is the start of a quilt square.  A group I sew with is making a quilt for a local non profit.

Then I made two Kleenex box covers....see what I mean?  Major avoidance going on here.  The lengths we will go....
I'm not terribly happy with them.  Next time I'll use heavier fusible interfacing to make them stiffer.  

I did manage to do some sewing by the end of last weekend.  I sat on my deck and hand sewed all day Sunday.  This is a Faultlines Vest in recycled cashmere.  All hand stitched, using 3 reds.

This will be useful.  It's just the weight I like these days.

Hand stitching details.  I think I'm hitting my stride with hand stitching.  Finding what I like to work on.  Cashmere never fails to excite me.  The drape and feel are comforting.

People ask me if I felt cashmere.  I haven't ever tried since it would ruin the drape and feel I love so much.  And I've heard that most cashmere can't be felted the way wool can.  Cashmere is the underbelly hair of a particular goat and so does not have the same fiber quality as wool. 

I wash my thrift store cashmeres in my front loading washer on cold with the gentle cycle, no special detergent just my regular.  Then I lay them flat to dry and they come out soft and fluffy.  I don't think dry cleaning does them any good at all!

And BTW, I have found a new detergent I love, thanks to my friend, Sharon.  It's called Zum.  I get the Frankincense and Myrrh.  I love the smell and love how my clothes feel afterwards.

I saw the Contemporary Muslim Fashion show at the DeYoung Museum.  I came away with a better understanding of what it means to wear "modest" clothing.  As I understand it, each woman who chooses this type of clothing has her own set of values about what that means to her, her family and community.

Therefore, the degree to which she feels comfortable in covering herself varies widely.  I am so glad the museum chose this exhibit.  There were a lot of people there the day I visited.  All of them learning more about a culture and religion we all need to learn more about.  Good on you, DeYoung!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Happy Accidents, Serendipitous Slips, Marvelous Mistakes...

I don't know where my head was when I cut out my #4 version of Marcy Tilton's V9171 "lantern" tunic.  I think I wanted to have enough fabric so badly that I tricked myself into thinking I only had to cut one front/side piece.  Not.  It wasn't until I tried to sew both pockets into one piece of cloth and scratched my head that I figured it out.  (I hear you laughing, Marcy!).

At first I freaked out because I've been holding this fabric from Marcy for months.  It is exactly the kind of fabric I want to work with and wear.  Seems a bit Japanese to me with lots of texture and some give.

I started riffling through the meager scraps I had and miraculously turned up enough to cut most of what I needed, only needing to piece at the shoulders and one place on the bodice.  Well, in fact, I think it turned out more interesting than if I had just sewn the darned thing as is.  What a lesson.

I decided to make the most of it, hoping to make it look on purpose, by inserting a strip of fabric in the seams.

I initially cut this pattern a bit too large for me so I usually just take more of a seam allowance in the center front seam.  This time I used the selvage, another happy accident, and overlapped it.  I added a button at the top to make it appear as if it opens.

I purposely made the added seam strips a bit uneven, wabi-sabi style.  This is what I love about sewing my own clothes, making these design decisions as I go feels so RIGHT!

I blogged about this denim vest before but I don't seem to wear it.  Thinking about cutting the shoulders back a bit, racer-style, thinking it might make it a bit more flattering.  And also thinking about cutting off the bottom band to make it really cropped.

By doing that I think it might look good with this tunic.  Still pondering this possibility.  Suggestions??

For those who didn't see the original blog about the vest the front has black vintage buttons sewn at the neck and the back is woven denim, a la the fall 2016 Viktor and Rolf collection that I just can't get enough of.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Summertime of 2018

I've been absent on these pages since June.  I HAVE been sewing...in several ways, but just haven't had any one thing I thought worth a post.  Hopefully, the sum total of the whole summer will be of interest.  This is a long one, feel free to skip around to what you like.

First, I attended my second Shakerag Workshops in Sewanee, Tennessee.  Once you attend this weeklong summer arts camp you can't NOT go back.  This year I took a class with the very talented Christine Mauersberger.

A whole week of hand stitching in the school library was delicious.  I was there with four friends from various spots around America.  The food at Shakerag is phenomenal.  In fact, I love it so much I brought the chef and baker out to California is July for a week of Southern cuisine at the bakery.

As you can see, the dining room is a beautiful old room, feels like it should be at Hogwarts!  We ate well all week!  My pals, from left to right, Sarah, JM, me, Sharon and Lisa.

They post the menu for the week so you can dream about what's next.

I made Marcy Tilton's V9174 out of an old Eileen Fisher sheet.  I figured I would hand stitch on it.  Never did that, we worked on prompted samples the whole week which were fascinating enough to hold my attention.  Something will come of this shirt someday, we'll see!

The camp is held at St. Andrews-Sewanee, a private boarding school, and is just gorgeous.

They have an unusual kind of "gum" tree there--made out of real gum!

Above, one of my prompted samples made from vintage kimono scraps, below, a terrific necklace made by the beautiful Martha Myers, who I'd met at a Design Outside The Lines many years ago.  It was wonderful spending time with her again.

Here Martha shows a top she made with repurposed denim.

One of the best things about Shakerag is it's director, Claire Reishman.  She's a marvel in many ways but one is that she remakes the current year's tshirt with hand stitching. Much of her work is in the Alabama Chanin style.  She's been doing this for several years and graciously agreed to bring in all of the tshirts for us to look at one day.  This one is the current year's rendition.
I found out, only after returning to home, that the tshirts are designed by baker, Ginger Freeman, who came to Capitola in July.  A talented woman in many respects.

Tennessee has the best food!  We enjoyed visiting Biscuit Love in Franklin.  We had to have their Bonuts--fried biscuit dough with lemon mascarpone and blueberry preserves.  Yes, they were as good as they look.

Then it was on to Nashville for a few steamy days of fun and food.

We saw the Nick Cave show, on it's last day.  His work is truly unbelievable.  Just the shear volume of it is staggering, not to mention the intricacy and imagination.  Love his work.

We ate at Husk, a place I can't miss when in Nashville.  It didn't disappoint.  This is the ham curing room.  They procure hams from several farms.

I had to try one of the dishes using the ham!  Yikes, their food is good.

A week later Joe and I went up to British Columbia for a summer holiday.  We flew into Vancouver and spent a few days eating and site seeing.  
Here's the fried zucchini blossoms at Osteria Salvio Volpe.  The whole meal was memorable.  Go if you can.

From there we took ferries up the coast to spend time in little inns along the way then ferried over to Vancouver Island where we spent a magical week in Tofino on the west coast.

So glad we went on a bear watching boat trip.  It also allowed us to see the coastline from the water.

And then we took a small plane to see it from the air.  Wow...

There was lots of beach walks and plenty of beach combing.

And of course, there was food.  Ice House Oyster Bar was our favorite.  Friendly, beautiful views, such good food.

We ate our fair share of oysters.

Their motto, outside the restaurant.  You can't help but....

We visited a famous taco truck, worth it.

And on the way home I saw a small exhibit of paper couture clothing.  Sorry this pic isn't good, the light made it impossible to capture the details.

A week after getting home we hosted the two Shakerag gals, Sarah Gunn, left, and Ginger Freeman, right.  They brought some fantastic recipes with them that our customers just loved.  We are still making them.  

One their last day I took them to Big Sur.  We had a great week.

I had to take a major break after they left, it was a whirlwind.  But, a friend brought me raspberries and blackberries she had picked so I was compelled to make a small batch of jam.  I used the The Blue Chair Jam Book, a must have if you are a jam maker.

There is nothing like a row of canned goods gleaming on the counter...major feel good moments!

My dear friend Lisa was so kind in offering to reupholster a free chair I found on the street a few months ago.  It was in pretty bad shape, you know, that 1960's gold velvet...there was lots to do on this chair.  Joe whitewashed the wood, then I painted some canvas and Lisa did her magic.  She had help from her teacher, Charlie.  I am so grateful.  It sits up in the bedroom where we can relax and read now.

And finally, here's some sewing.  A year ago, after Shakerag, a few of us visited the Alabama Chanin factory in Florence, Alabama.  There I picked up a bundle of hand printed scraps.  I pondered their future for a year, thinking of a scarf...pinning them together in various configurations and finally gave up on that idea.
Ultimately, I made them into Diane Ericson's Faultlines Vest, a pattern I return to often for it's versatility.  I like it because it uses so little fabric, is adjustable in fit and looks so good on.  On this one I closed the front to make it a pullover vest.  Did some hand stitching, both as seams and embellishment, and pulled it on last night just after the last stitch was secured.  It felt like I'd been wearing it my whole life.  It's funny how some clothes feel like that, eh?

That's all for now.  Maybe there'll be more before the summer is over, I am taking a wonderful sewing workshop every Friday at our local Community College.  Our instructor, Kiki Barrett, is so talented and knowledgeable, I'm working on some things I needed to learn so I may be showing those...depending on the outcome!  You know how that is...