Friday, September 15, 2023

Fault Lines

DH and I visited Taos October, 2022

For a little while now, I've been preparing for a trip out west for Diane Ericson's Design Outside the Lines. 



My method of preparing: I started out crazy excited, then briefly wondered if it makes any sense, then realized the money was spent, then worried about how to prepare and what to take, what to mail ahead of time, and now 24 hours before I leave, calmly drinking a cup of tea, knowing the light will come in, no matter what.

Mabel Dodge Luhan House where DOL is held.
DH and I stayed there one night.

Diane Ericson is full of light. And I'm looking forward to meeting and learning from her invited co-teacher Susan Dillon, fiber and mixed media artist. So many possibilities with these two. And then there are the other attendees. Remembering my previous DOL experience in Sisters, Oregon with Diane and Marcy Tilton, I know that the attendees are also likely to be full of light.

Years and years ago I tried Diane's Fault Lines pattern. It contains tissue and instructions for two garments - a cropped jacket and an undershirt. This is a very cool pattern with so, so many design and stitch possibilites. And it has the most elegant sleeve I've ever sewn. 

Behold, the sleeve!

Undershirt with a sleeve

Because my body has changed in the intervening years, I decided to make up a toile of each, using an old cotton bed sheet. The undershit is sleeveless, but the instructions indicate you can fold out the fullness in the sleeve cap and insert it into the undershirt to make that long sleeved.

Undershirt toile

My experience was that the sleeve fit perfectly into both the undershirt and the jacket without any change. 

Toile for undershirt and jacket

The jacket is designed for shoulder pads. I did not want a garment that structured, so I watched a couple of youtubers on how to alter a pattern to remove or reduce the shoulder pad. After that, I simply pinched out the excess on my toile and was happy with the change. Of course, I have not made up the jacket in proper fabric yet, so I may formalized that process a bit. Or not.

Undershirt back. Note the lapped center back seam. Lovely!

Next I cut into some light weight linen from my local wonderful fabric store, Gail K. The color does not photograph well, but it is a yummy medium blue with a tiny touch of black. Opaque but quite light weight. It reminds me of the sky right before a storm. It's been delightful to sew.

Left side, undershirt

Right side, undershirt

The undershirt is composed of 4 pieces - two distinctive fronts, and two slightly different backs. One of the fronts, and the two backs are cut on the bias, which adds to the fun. After cutting carefully and stitching the shoulder seams, I let it *rest* for 24 hours. 

I'm finished with my first undershirt. The closures are simple sets of ties - one set inside and the other set outside. 

I've added a bit of hand-stitch. 

Now it's time to pack. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Sewing, not Seeing, Red

Christmas prints on cotton, some with a little gold sparkle

A dear elderly - that is, older than me - friend keeps cleaning out her stash and giving me quilt cottons. Though my quilting activity is low, my traditional quilting activity is non-existent. Recently she gifted me a stack of red Christmas prints. I said Thank you.

Now I do love red. My dear sainted mother used to say that red is her neutral. When it's cold enough, I wear a long red wool coat bought at Talbot's decades ago in her honor. Red has a special place in my heart.

My local ASG has issued an art-inspred challenge to sew something - anything - inspired by Klimt's well-known Lady in Gold. The story behind the painting, particularly as portrayed in the movie staring Helen Mirren, is riveting and inspiring. I read a bit further about the painting and became curious about the dress the Woman in Gold wears in the painting.

Emilie Flöge shown here with Klimt

Emilie Flöge is the clothing designer behind the beautiful garments worn by those Viennese women in Klimt's colorful paintings. She has a storied past that piqued my interest. She was a companion of Klimt's, a hippie in her own time, a free spirit. Her designs are works of art, detailed, exquisite. 

Back panel

Her personal choice of clothing led to my response to the ASG challenge. I imagine such a linear dress as the one above might have been seen as radical in her own time. And Klimt is dressed similarly. You can see more of her designs here.

I chose a favorite pattern from Folkwear: 104 Egyptian shirt. I have used this pattern at least 4 previous times. There is something appealing to me in its rectangular lines. My most worn version is in an interesting white linen weave. Extended full length, it is called a galabia.

104 Egyptian shirt from Folkwear

By combining so many red prints, my hope was to get away from the Christmas theme. Some of the pieces were 1/2 yard; a few were a full yard. I cut them into 8" x 18" chunks. I created fabric, sort of, by sewing them together along the short ends, making one very long 8" wide strip of fabric. There was no plan to the order in which they were sewn together, except to avoid sewing identical fabrics together.

Center back panel of the Egyptian shirt

I chose the 8" width based on the size of the front and back pieces in the Egyptian shirt pattern. Along the way, I wondered if I needed to break up all that red print, perhaps with something like a black and white print piping. That did not work out - it looked more like Little House on the Prairie than it did Turn of the Century Vienna.

one of the sleeves

This pattern introduced me to the idea of flipping an exagerated facing to the outside of a garment. I have used that idea many times since on tops. I especially like the lines of this particular facing flipped to the outside. It reads exotic. I imagine that Emilie liked exotic. Perhaps this traditional Egyptian look would have appealed to her. 

For the facing, I used a remnant of red silk dupioni, sashiko-stitched in vertical lines. I backed it with cotton batiste. Once I had completed the garment, I thought to check to see how the shoulders lined up. Of course, I needed to do a little after-the-fact sashiko correction.

I added an interior back facing of the red print quilt cotton so that the back side of the cotton print does not show when it is hanging. I am pleased with how it looks hanging on the wall of my sewing room. 

The Egyptian shirt pattern resembles the lines of the Fit for Art Tabala Rasa pattern, another I've used multiple times. It also resembles the Sterling pattern from the Sewing Workshop. Good design is present in all cases. This traditional design includes clever and easy pockets in the side panels. 

My long-term plan for this piece is to use it as a summer weight robe. While at Shakerag this summer, my sweet roomie demonstrated the need for such when she accidentally locked herself out of our room following a shower in the communcal bathroom.

This piece already has a few stories sewn into it.

Saturday, August 12, 2023


As I begin a new year around our planet, I am pausing to think about the joy I receive from my hobby of sewing and other making. 

It is no longer all about the fabric. I do love fabric and fabric shopping, and I salivate knowing I am about to enter a fabric store, but it does not drive me to making one garment after another, as I've done in the past. Instead I am looking at existing garments and imagining improvements.

Though I am still enamored of patterns and will always use them - why invent something that others invent for a living - I do not feel the need to constantly try another new-to-me pattern. I have a fairly large collection of unused patterns when that urge strikes.

North rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona

I want to push myself in new directions. In the last few weeks, I have been pulling out Diane Ericson patterns and I love her inspiring videos. Her patterns are unique, I think, in that the instructions are chocked full of ideas and variations on the pattern enclosed. The instructions are different from, say, Cutting Line Deisgn patterns, in that they invite creativity rather than precise results. 

Modified TSW Urban pants + self-drafted pullo-over

Here is my latest make. I am not too sure about wearing these pieces as an outfit. I may find them to be more useful as separates with other pieces. The fabric is light weight cotton pique from Five Eighths Seams in Charleston SC.

The pants are constructed with a slight modification to the Urban Pants pattern from the Sewing Workshop. Instead of tabs and buttons, I threaded a bias tube through a channel in the bottom hem. Then I gathered it slightly to give a little shape. 

The top is constructed from the pants remnants. I created to rectangles, roughly 25" x 25" each. I opened the center fron seam on the front piece enough to create a V neck. The triangles are folded to the inside and top stitched in place. I added a small pleat to each arm cap to bring in the silhouette a bit, but I may remove that and do something different. It is too cutsie right now.

It is not terribly creative but the process is engaging. I'll keep pushing Diane's approach to constructing garments.

A decade ago I spent one week with Diane at Design-Outside-the-Lines in Sisters, Oregon. It was the last one where she partnered with Marcy Tilton. I met some wonderful women and I was overwhelmed with inspiration. Though I was sort-of a deer-in-the-headlights during the workshop, I soaked up a playful attitude shared by all present.

Taos location for upcoming Design Outside the Lines

Now I am excited that I will spend another week with Diane in Taos, New Mexico next month. I am tickled. A space opened up and now I am working on the logistics.

Biking in Zion National Park

Meanwhile I have returned from a wonderful time with family in Las Vegas, NV, and Zion National Park in Utah. What a blast! My legs are still sore. My elbow scrapes are healing, as are the bruises. 

I bought two souvenir T shirts that I am treating as fabric. The price of the shirt does not change as sizes change so I bought the largest shirts I could. I cut open the side seams and began to experiment with some Diane-style ideas. I started with this very inexpensive, very large shirt from the Cirque de Soleil show I saw in Las Vegas.

After some play, I shopped by closet for clothes I made but never wear. This yellow shirt seemed to be ready for a remake. That yellow is cheerful but not good with my skin tone. So I never wear this shirt.

I used the Grainline Studio Lark shirt as my base. I was able to cut two long sleeves from the yellow striped shirt. I slit the front and back of the pink Love shirt with an S curve. Once I had assembled them, placing part of the back on the front and vice versa, I knew I had made a mistake. 

I sort-of wish I had kept the two images as they were in the original shirt and just cut them to fit the Lark pattern. My work-around was to cut some black-and-white striped knit into strips and zigzag onto the seam line. After washing and drying, it curled up and I'm OK with the result.

I hope that this new shirt gets more rotation than that yellow one. In any case, it was great fun to use for my experiment.

Canyoneering in Zion's slot canyons

*My title 1001001 is a palidrome when written in binary. Yep, I'm still a geek.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

More Eco-Printing

 I am addicted.

I could not resist trying these eucalyptus leaves, leftovers from arrangements at church on Sunday.

I've learned that dogwood leaves from my yard are predictably good prints.

Here is the first layer of leaves, a combination placed on a length of cotton canvas that I've used previously.

Next is the layer of blank watercolor paper.

Here's my second layer of leaves. There will be a different set of prints on both sides of the paper. It is sturdy enough to resist bleed through from the leaves. I had trouble identifying the *right* and *wrong* sides of the eucalyptus, so I just ignored that aspect of the process. Note that this new layer of leaves means that the paper is in contact on both sides of the paper.

After one more layer of cloth (cotton muslin that has been used in previous prints), it is rolled tightly around a dowel and secured with cotton twill tape.

Then it's squeezed into the pot for some time simmering. 

It cannot be submerged completely in this pot so I'm on the look-out for a larger pot from the thrift shop.

The next day, I enjoyed the big reveal - some pretty prints on the cotton canvas.

After the paper has dried completely, it is fun to see the difference in the dogwood leaves and the eucalyptus leaves.

And here is the other side of those watercolor papers. I am enchanted - bookbinding is next!