Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Class Begins

It's Monday night and I am in that exhausted-excited state that happens when class begins. Diane is - as always - incredibly inspiring and Christine, the guest instructor, equally so. Sunday night started with an opening circle and dinner out as a group and Monday was first a power point presentation about her work by Christine and then each participant shared the "stash" they had brought to work from and picked a starting point. In the afternoon, we had a draping presentation from Christine and then began working on our individual projects. I believe mine is a skirt but it may become a dress - or something else - you never know. I don't have any pictures right now but I do have some of the drive down and of the beads I made at my friend's.


Above left is a picture I took beside the road. The river leading to the mountains with the snow dusted peaks was so beautiful. The Canada Geese were just outside my room at the hotel in Yakima. LOL - I guess they didn't want me to be lonely.

In Eugene, spring had already sprung. I took these pictures for my husband while walking around the neighbourhood. He's in Guatemala where it's already hot but we're both looking forward to spring in our own back yard when we get home.


How pretty is this? Spring is always so encouraging. My plan for April is to finish up work inside the house and then I'm looking forward to working on my front yard. I don't have any bulbs planted and even so, it will be lovely to see green shoots coming through the ground.

At Sheri's we worked on fabric beads. I do not like working with glue however, this is such a small amount and applied with a paint brush that it was okay. I began with long strips of selvage that I'd cut off of a less-than-best fabric. Rolled...


... up they were not so bad and made interesting little cones. You can see the straws inside. Supposedly - according to the instructions I was following - they'd be easy to remove. They were not. I trimmed them shorter and left them in.


The beads on the left were made from rolling strips of fabric into balls. I've done a similar method before with upholstering cording inside a bias tube only rolling is easier, faster, and wastes less fabric and if I twist the strip as I go, it creates similar ridges. I played with different widths and lengths of fabric to see how the finished product varied. It's good to make samples especially as there is a fabric factor to consider as well. Gauze-like fabric results in vastly different beads than cotton or denim. I made some gauze ones only it seems I forgot to take a  picture of them. Later.

The beads on the right where rolled over lengths of plastic tubing from the hardware store. I made some with 1" wide, 1/2" wide, and 3/8" wide fabric strips and each has a completely different look. I preferred this tubing to the straws and will leave it in the beads to form a solid core.

Millicent - my dress form - enjoyed a few moments in the driver's seat before we headed from Eugene to Ashland. There are fourteen students in the class and more than fourteen dress-forms which is rather amusing although they - the dress forms - are easily managed. The window on the right is the view from my bed in my lovely room at the hotel. I can see silhouettes as the light appears or disappears and remnants of last snow falls.

Tomorrow, I'll have my friend take the picture of my outfit from a different perspective because these are not at all flattering although they are a reminder to get with my walking program when I get home. I have never had tummy rolls like this before and I'm determined that they are leaving. The pants are already too big so I guess something is happening. It's been nice to get up in the morning and walk without fear of ice and falling. The first morning, I looked at all the old houses on the side streets around the hotel and the second morning, I walked up one side of main street and down the other since I had on new boots and wanted to preserve my feet. I'm looking forward to a longer walk in the park and to my walk to Starbucks routine when I get home.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - new learning

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Copying RTW

Writing this, I'm sitting at a Starbucks in Eugene, Oregon where I'm visiting a friend for several days. This morning, while she had appointments, I went for a walk around her older, established neigbourhood where not only does every home look different but they have developed in organic and individual ways over time. This is a creative community so there were all sorts of She-Sheds and Studios poking out from houses or sitting in the yard. So fun to see. AND...

... spring flowers. I left home at -7C with three feet of snow in the low areas and far more in the piles. Before I arrived at my hotel the first night, it was +17C and quite a lovely difference. Right now, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and fluffy clouds are floating by. Perhaps by the time I get back home, that will be my "new" reality. I hope so. I'm ready to get to work on finishing tasks around the house and the yard.


One of the studio tasks I wanted to finish before leaving was copying several ready-to-wear garments to create patterns. If I can cut it apart, I typically will use half a garment to make a pattern and half to refer to for the sewing structure. With this Eileen Fisher skirt, I didn't want to cut it apart and so pin pricked a pattern by placing it smoothly over tracing paper and outlining the edges with pins.

Then I go around and make a mark by each pin indicating where the corners are. Later, when I connect these marks, this is the stitching line. Seam and hem allowances will need to be added.

If  a section is rounded like the bottom hem band, I sometimes have to walk along the piece smoothing and pinning in one direction while unpinning the opposite one. The most important thing is to smooth the garment out completely.

Pay attention to how the garment is constructed. In this case, the only difference between center front and center back and the side fronts and the side backs was the height of the waistband. The bottom curves are identical which means that when I smooth out the lines and add seam allowances, I can do the information once and then transfer it.

I also pay attention to the fabric used so that I can copy the hand and drape of the original. This skirt would be not nearly as wonderful in a much stiffer or a much looser fabric.

Change what doesn't work for you. In this case, there is a side zipper and I am much too curvy for that. I prefer a center back zipper. I'm also unlikely to add the button flap and button as they are more decorative than necessary.

I highlighted these marks in felt pen so they'd be easier for you to see. They are the seam line marks made near the pins. I use a French Curve to connect the dots smoothly and again to add a seam allowance or hem. Be sure to write on the pattern the information you need to know. With the skirt above, it's too big for me and I'll need to narrow the pieces as well as add some length because it hits at a less than flattering place on my leg. With the pants below, they fit well in a stretch denim but would be too tight in a woven one.

This is a more complicated pattern. The back of the outer leg wraps around to the front and there is a little dart at one side extending from the end of a cuff seam as well as a longer dart on the opposite side matching up with the same seam. It'll make for a very interesting back pattern shape once I finish developing it.

With the darts, it was important to record both the length and the width of the dart although, it is equally important to adjust these lengths to match your body. The long darts extending down from the waistband need to end above the knee.


I copied this pattern before wearing the jeans because they were brand new and hadn't been stretched out in any way. Now, I'll wear them and see how the crotch seam feels and performs and if I like it better than a pattern I've already developed, I'll copy it however, if I only like it as much as - or less than - one I've already developed, I'll use that one and transfer the already developed information from a different pattern.

These Vogue 8499 pants have center front and center back seam that I can replace with the darts while taking the modifications I already made to the pattern to successfully fit them and start there. There's no point in re-inventing the wheel. These are the denim trousers with the orange top stitching that I showed in a previous post. It's a bit hard on my notebook to do all the hyperlinking so I'll let you research that if you need to. I'm looking forward to sewing my own version of the - consignment store - pants.

I think tomorrow my friend and I will be working in her studio on creating fabric beads. I printed out some instructions before leaving home and have brought a basket of supplies to begin working with. It's a pre-start to 52 Weeks of Jewelry that I want to begin when I get home. Right now, I'm debating the best way to organize that project and I think it may be to set the goal of one piece a week and to explore one medium a month. Right now, I have fabric, wire, and resin in mind as well as combinations of two or of all three. It'll be a good start and - bonus - I can watch for starting points as souveniers of my holiday.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - safe travel and sunshine

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Lean In To The Experience

This week started out rather interesting with my youngest son having emergency surgery to remove his appendix. Since he lives out of town, I made a day trip to Kamloops to hug him and "count his fingers and toes" like a mother does, no matter how old your children are. And I shopped, picking up a few things for my trip that I couldn't buy here... which was a nice bonus. Now I won't need to shop along the way. With the exchange rate, I'm attempting to take as much as possible with me.

A key component of the workshop is working on a dress form. Only the Millicent closest to my current size will be coming with me. I cross over sizes in both patterns and dressforms with one better for my upper body measurements and one better for my lower body measurements. Both Millicents just got a new cover sewn from a silky grey knit. The previous cover was black which didn't work well for sewing black garments and it didn't cover the neck leaving the manufacturer's blue covering to interfere with my garments. I like this better.

Along with working on a dressform, we will be re-purposing garments. I've packed two XXL men's shirts, two skirts, and a pair of pants, all purchased at the thrift store, AND...

... an assortment of notions, embellishments, and fabric scraps that go with. I've deliberately kept the colour palette tight limiting it to light to darker grey tones. Since taking this picture, I've eliminated some of the items because I know from past experience that limitations will make it easier for me to work through the assignments. Too many options can be just as difficult to deal with as not enough and I have come to really enjoy the freedom of boundaries.

Diane suggested that we come with not only the garments to be re-purposed but with some fabric made from fabric as a starting point. This is something she has demonstrated in previous workshops but not something I've been able to fully embrace in the way that I was interpreting it... which seemed silly... since my background in quilting and textile art is all about piecing fabric from fabric... SO...

... when I thought it, I realized that part of my struggle was that while I really like the samples she shows, they are not consistent with how I dress and the way I put things together. The more I take workshops, the more I realize that I'm not there to do X, Y, and Z exactly like the instructor. I am there for the inspiration and to then take that inspiration and adapt it to a way that works for me. Which I did.

I have a lot of a black/grey striped fabric so I decided to piece it together starting with scraps from a previous project. Instead of attempting to create one big piece of fabric, I'll create elements like the curved pouch-looking piece as well as some flat yardage type ones. These can be added together if needed as the project develops on the dressform.

I signed up for this workshop in November and decided at that time that I was going to fully lean in to the experience which for me included the outfit project, creating one complete garment for each day, as well as the prep work of packing and making fabric from fabric, as well as creating an inspirational journal. As when I make a collage, I limited myself to twelve each inspirational photos of dresses, jewelry, outfits, pants, skirts, cardigans, and tops and only included photos of items I would actually wear which made me really think about what was included.

On the cover, I put a cartoon that my daughter sent me a few years ago -  she always wears black but she has a colorful mind - as well as a quote cut from a magazine - Letting go obviously has several meanings. Letting go of the past; letting go of grief. But surely the most resistant is letting go of fixed ideas, keeping our minds open to a future we can't see. I have learned to be less rigid about what I think I want from a workshop and more open to how the experience unfolds.

Along with a limiting colour palette, I've also been limiting space to one small suitcase plus the dressform plus the box for the extension table and a folding table, cutting mat, extension cords, and tracing paper. The basket is bead making supplies for the four days I'm spending at my friend's in Eugene. All that's left to pack are paper templates of my crotch, armhole, sleeve cap, and neckline curves, one or two T & T patterns and some colour in the form of buttons, piping, and thread. OH... and the sewing machine and serger.

The workshop doesn't start until the 18th, I'm leaving on Monday and taking a different route than I've traveled before. I'm looking forward to that. I've loaded some pictures into a draft posting to finish for next week. I'm not sure what will happen the week after but hopefully I'll be able to fill you in on how things are going at the workshop and post some pictures from the trip - LOL - outfits even.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - hospitals and healthcare

Friday, March 2, 2018

A Mini Trunk Show

Yesterday morning, two friends came over on their way to work, sat on the couch, and participated in a mini trunk show of all the garments and accessories made for my trip. I wore one outfit and then used the dressforms to display the other pieces like an exhibit. FUN - and great to get feedback on all the work.


After stitching the orange cording halfway around the bracelet, I decided it was too intense and took away from the rest of the work so I removed it and instead zigzag stitched with orange over a blue cording and then wrapped that around the bracelet. It was just enough to merge the edges with the inside and bring the piece together. I'm really pleased with it.

The bracelet is the jewelry piece for the turquoise vest and t-shirt and hand painted pants outfit. As I described in the last posting, I evolved the collar forward into a mandarin collar and then didn't like that and starting playing with ideas for another one - the third - and final - variation.  I'm not going to bore you with all the details or I'd be writing forever but it I will say it's always worth the work to attempt to move something you don't like forward into something you do. Even if it doesn't succeed, you weren't going to wear it anyway and the fabric can still become something even more again. I'll be using these remnants for jewelry.

Looking for inspiration online, I was most attracted to vests with a more open neckline rather than one that buttons closed or feels constraining so I opted for a traditional V-neck and...

... edited the collar once again taking off the second version and reshaping and refinishing the neckline. I used self-made bias to finish the edge and then vintage buttons that I've had in stash for quite a long time. That's one of the reasons why I washed the chalk marks out first before sewing on the buttons. I'm not sure if they are actually machine washable.

This is the vest to date. I may add a few more details later on but for now I'm pleased with how it has evolved and how it looks with the t-shirt and the pants. This is also the outfit with the orange shoes and it's a fun one to wear.

After my guests left, I tried on all the outfits to determine what undergarments were necessary and any adjustments, put what I could with the garments, and made a list of the things that need to be finished. There's not much left to do.


The outfit I wore was the one that I was the least confident with - as a test - because I don't want to spend a day of my holiday in an uncomfortable outfit. Good thing. By the time I had even finished putting on my make-up, I'd taken the shirt off. I kept pulling it down and adjusting it and wasn't at all comfortable. Instead of assuming I'd need to sew something else, I first tried it with the linen top I'd rejected earlier and because the sweater - worn open - has a similar neckline, it worked and the colours are all pulled together nicely in the shoes and with the topstitching on the denim trousers.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - using a lot of souvenier items in these outfits and enjoying the memories