Sunday, March 22, 2020

Now Sewing, for sure

Sarah Campbell
with a muslin she painted during my workshop
Welcome to the new world. It has now been a week since the corona virus changed the world. Of course, it's been coming for a while, but now we are all feeling it, I think. 

I hope you are safe and well and spending lots of time creatively. Sewing and other making keeps me sane and cheerful. So far. Perhaps you are finding that too.

Sarah has a fun sense of style. 
Like so many of you, I have a bit of a stash. Now is definitely the time to be sewing, isn't it. And I happen to have a few new pieces in said stash.

Striped linen, Japanese cotton crepe, plus two Sarah Campbell designs for Michael Miller
A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to attend another Sew Kansas in Topeka with Linda Lee of The Sewing Workshop (TSW). This one was very special because Linda brought in the delightful and amazing Sarah Campbell from her home in England.

Sarah's design for Michael Miller fabrics
Sarah is a well-known print designer with impressive credentials. She and her sister Susan Collier created together for over 50 years before Susan died. They created prints for Liberty of London, for example. Lately, Sarah has created designs for home goods found in West Elm.

Another of Sarah's designs for Michael Miller fabrics
For an entire week we created pattern, as Sarah called it. We started with plain newsprint, then muslin, and finally some fabric of our choice from the Sewing Workshop. We played with shape and color and repetition, all areas where Sarah is expert. It was loads of fun.

one of my muslin pieces
For my workshop design, I chose some wonderful light gray linen from TSW. It is one of those really good linens. You know the kind. Perfect weight, soft after washing and drying, lovely to sew, and a dream to wear.

another of my painted muslin pieces

I chose the Cottage Shirt pattern for my workshop piece in the linen.

But then I got cold feet. So, instead of painting the linen, I painted my paint shirt. I needed more practice. It was a fun project without any worries or second guessing.

If you look carefully, you may be able to see that I spelled out my name.

You may have noticed that my aesthetic is a a bit different from Sarah's. I do love Sarah's wildly exuberant style but that kind of painting takes a lot more practice than I've had. And I'm OK with simpler designs, in general.

Linda Lee, Sarah Campbell, and me!

Next I began to paint on the linen. 

My idea was to rough-cut pieces that could be re-cut when I was home. It was not a bad idea, exactly, because it's a lot easier to manage small pieces in shared spaces. I did not have the actual pattern with me and so made rough guesses as to the size of the pieces, based on a finished sample from TSW. 

Once I was home and had washed and dried the pieces, I began to cut out the Cottage shirt. Except for the cuffs, nothing fit! I had to completely rethink the pattern placement. This is what I thought the front might look like. I thought I would make the Cottage as a pull-over, perhaps with a front placket.

Here is the actual front:

Likewise, here is what I thought the back would be:

And here is the actual back:

Something else happened that surprised me, but should not have. Maybe it's more accurate to say it disappointed me. The color faded quite dramatically. I feel certain that the color attached to whatever sizing was in the linen and then washed away.

It's finished now. But I may go back in and paint some more, now that the sizing is gone. I'm running a little experiment with a washed scrap so that I can compare the results You can see in the picture the pre-washed paint (black and red swirls at the bottom), and the new paint I added at home. We'll see!

For now, I'm quite happy with this piece. I really like the cottage shirt and the linen feels great. Of course, for now, I'm all dressed up with no place to go.


  1. Thank you for this post! SO much gloom and doom, and it's scary, but it's great to get reconnected to creativity. I love your shirt, and I also love that muslin above with the red leaves. Keep creating, and stay safe!

  2. I really like to receive your posts. Thank you for sharing, you truly brighten my day.

  3. Thanks for all the photos, love seeing your process and trials, and the finished top, nice! I'd love to take a class such as this, perhaps one day when we've gotten back to a bit of normalcy I shall. Can you let me know please, what paints were suggested to be used for fabric application purposes? Thank you! Waving from Wilmington, NC

    1. Sarah had some paint from the UK that she really likes. It's evidently not something we can import, so I used those readily available in the US. I do not know what the other brand was. Instead I used Jacquard neopaque and setacolor.

  4. Thank you for giving me some inspiration, and I love where your shirt end up. Stay healthy!