Friday, January 20, 2017

Stitch By Stitch

After today, I have one more week of shadowing at the salon and then a week of holidays before starting my regular schedule. Routine works for me so I'm really looking forward to re-establishing one and to moving forward from there.

Above left is the side seam of the Burda 7062 pants I was working on last week. I sewed the facings to the front and back separately to allow for continued fitting as I lose more weight. To finish, I matched...

... the waist seam and then sewed up the side seam across the facing. On a skirt or a pair of pants, this will allow you to take in the side seam without having to do a lot of unpicking and fiddly fixing. The new side seam is then tapered into the previous one.

In the previous post, I planned to use this pant pattern as a blank canvas. NOT. Taking photos of the side and back views reminded me of my outline which hasn't altered with losing weight. A fitted pant leg - like tights - or a wider pant leg looks good on my figure but not one with limited ease because my calves protrude further outward than my behind. This pulls the fabric backward shifting the side seam and creating crease lines from the hip to back calf. This is not a fitting issue. It's my shape. Unless tucks, darts, or a princess seam was used at the back calf, it's virtually impossible to fit this shape smoothly. Which is why...

... I moved on to a skirt. Until I reach my goal weight, I'm more concerned with being clothed than with fitting issues. Burda 8213 has been a favourite skirt pattern for years. When I first returned to sewing fashions in...

... January 2010, this was one of the the first garments I sewed. My traced patterns are marked with the date and my measurements at that time so I will quickly know which pattern to use. WHAT FUN to pull this out and see that I'm back to the same weight I was then. A whole bunch of "stress weight" is gone. YES YES January 2010 is a significant date. It's when I made the decision to stop creating textile art and return to fashions. Apparently, I've had a seven year cycle of working through the impact of that decision.

This week, I reached another five pound increment and am wearing my "twenty-five pound" necklace. Because I have more weight to lose, I serged around each skirt piece individually and then sewed the sections together leaving the waist unfinished. None of the seams at the waistband are stitched across so I can take them in as needed and finish the facing when I'm ready. With a top over, no one will know my skirt isn't finished unless I tell them.

The skirt is for next Wednesday when we're having a spring themed potluck at work. I am making a top to go with. I started with the Butterick 5786 pattern from November because although I don't want that hemline, the pattern is traced and fitted and the shirt fits comfortably so it's a good starting point. 

On top, I traced the shirttail hemline from one of my favourite patterns,out of print Butterick 5678. With this pattern, the width wasn't correct but all the lengths were and transferring that useful information to a fitted pattern combined the best of both.

Tuesday was my coaching session with Diane. One of the things we talked about was when to sew. Before, when I was a hairstylist thirty years ago, I got up early to sew before work. Later, when I had children and a business, I continued that routine and have been doing it ever since which means I don't need to develop a new one now. This is especially good as by the time I get home from work in the evening I'm exhausted and the couch calls louder than the studio. I knit, read, or nap - LOL.

I've heard a lot of people say they have no time to sew. For me, it's a matter of making time and then stitch by stitch finishing a project even if it's with as little as ten or fifteen minutes a day. On Monday, I chose the skirt pattern and fabric and cut out the pieces. On Tuesday, I serge finished all the pieces and sewed the front and back sections together. On Wednesday, I inserted the invisible zipper, sewed the side seams, and finished the hem. Done. Wearable. On Thursday, I traced the front and back blouse pieces and altered the hemline and cut out the pieces. This morning, stitch and finish the center back and side seams and work and start making decisions about the sleeves and collar. It's roughly a garment a week and that - or less - is a routine that works for me especially since I don't think I've ever had 52 garments in my closet.

Speaking of routine - my intention is to post once a week on Fridays for the next while and see how that works. Hopefully good but time will tell.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - maintaining and re-establishing routine

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Minimalism As A Style

One of the women I see at Starbucks every morning commented on how many people she knew whose lives had gone through a significant shift with the end of last year and the beginning of this year - as if change was in the air. How interesting. For me, it is.

At the end of the month, my friend Caroline will visit for a week. We've known each other since we were sixteen and have been a part of the significant shifts in each other's lives. This year, she is retiring. This year, I am going back to work. We've often joked about that but I certainly didn't expect it to become reality, especially considering how picky I was about the work I wanted to do. And yet, here we are. I'll continue shadowing at the salon for the rest of the month and in February will become a permanent employee working one evening, one short, and one full day a week. So strange. So exciting.

Anita - my boss - asked how I felt doing hair now as opposed to doing hair thirty years ago. One thing I particularly notice is that I'm much more confident creatively. The same ability to work with and respond to the developing project applies to hair as much as it applies to sewing as does building a set of skills and abilities that allow your hands to move with ease while your mind bubbles with creativity. The client's request and the limitations of their hair determine the boundaries and within those boundaries there is tremendous freedom to create. I appreciate that now from an entirely different perspective.

I've been watching endless hair videos online. It's amazing what I can learn overnight and take to work the next morning. This week, the focus is on refreshing colour skills. Colour theory with hair is, of course, completely transferable from any of the other colour work I've done. This return to work journey is a fun example of how all the experiences we have in life build on one another and lead to how we experience the present.

While all of me is creative, how I create has divided into primarily private and primarily public avenues. That shift is changing how I approach studio work - like the red and white piece. I was making it for the exhibit in order to introduce myself to the creative community even though making it was not feeling completely comfortable and my skills were beyond rusty and into I'm not sure I actually want someone to see this work... which was weird... because my hair skills don't feel that way at all and thirty years is a lot longer than nine. When I asked myself why are you doing this, I decided the reasons were no longer valid and that doing hair could be my introduction to the creative community. I packed up the piece and put it away. YES YES!

My wardrobe right now is minute and beyond boring. The newest jeans are loose enough to feel frumpy and the next size down is still too tight. My tops are bagging and need a sweater to contain them and I've tightened the elastic waists on skirts so they stay up but there's a lot of hip ease. I cut out two pairs of pants and flopped two pairs of pants. Apparently, when one shrinks horizontally, there are also changes vertically. It's not just a matter of making the garment narrower. Since I have...

... another twenty-five pounds to go, I don't want to spend time now figuring out new measurements. I altered this pair of floral pants by taking in 1" at each side seam or 4" in total and 5/8" at each inseam or 1 1/4" per leg. Instead of sewing a waist facing, I made an elastic casing with tight elastic that while allow me to wear the pants longer once the hip is loose again.

This picture of me wearing the unaltered pants is from May 2015. I plan to wear the altered pair on the 25th to the spring themed potluck at work and get a new picture for comparison. The pattern is Burda 7062 - slender basic pants. The pants that failed were funky, not basic. I like funky pants only they involve a lot more work so I've decided to play with this pattern until I'm ready to commit to new measurements. Because it's such a basic pattern, it sews up quickly and I've cut out another pair three sizes smaller using a stretch denim. They're finished except for the waist band. This time, I'll use the facings but sew them on in such a way that I can easily alter the side seam as needed. I'll get a picture of those asap as well.

In Anuschka Rees' book - The Curated Closet - she talks about minimalism as a style and says it's all about that little bit of extra intention and making conscious choices. It's about being thoughtful and selective and figuring out what's right for you and your life specifically instead of blindly following trends or the advice of others. Minimalism is not a numbers game. The goal is not to build a wardrobe that is as small as possible but one that is as functional and personalized as possible.

I'm not sure I've ever heard the term minimal applied in this way to wardrobe building although it certainly fits the way I think and how I want my wardrobe to be - which is typically very small at the best of times. For me, a lot of stuff equals a lot of stress and I prefer less stress. I'm interested to see what she has to say that will help me to do a better job of building my wardrobe especially when, with losing weight and going back to work in a creative environment, I currently have the opportunity to develop an entirely new one - from lingerie to outer wear - that feels comfortable both emotionally and physically and that expresses my inner self outward. That may seem daunting to some... and on days when even my lingerie is too big, it feels that way to me too... however, I see it as a fabulous opportunity to pull together all the fashion experiences of my life.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - hired!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rusty Skills & New Adventures

On New Year's Eve, I did something I've never done before. I stayed home completely alone - with no parents, siblings, children, friends or spouse. Howard had to be in Kamloops early the next morning and the weather forecast was for snow so we went out for a nice brunch and he left just as the first flakes began to fall and made it home safely. I curled up on the couch, ate yummy food, read a novel, did some sewing, knit, went to bed early, and started the new year well rested. One of my favourite questions from my studies last year was when was the last time you did something for the first time? This fit. It was good.

And, I watched the news. Before the calendar had even turned over where I was others were experience violence, pain, loss, and chaos. I'm not sure what the right word for how I'm feeling is - not fearful and not overwhelmed and yet exhausted and disturbed - and I can only imagine how those who are living in the midst of it are feeling. I had intended to post that night and then suddenly everything I wanted to say felt so wrong. What I do know is that I want to fully engage in life and enjoy every moment than I can. There is only this moment and it's both precious and fleeting.

Even though I've been working steadily on the red and white piece for the gallery show - with every intention of finishing it - it has stuttered and stalled along the way. I kept putting down the pieces and then scooping them up and rearranging them yet... still... again... until I finally arrived at the arrangement above. It felt like something I could go forward with however...

... just to be sure, I converted the image to grey scale and looked at the arrangement of values. This works for me. I liked how the lines leading in from the edges meet where the dark patch is and how the rest of the piece balances that focal point so I fused the bits in pieces, added the backing and batting, and started stitching.

Stitching a textile piece is not a new skill but it's not a current one either. The last time I stitched one was in the summer of 2009 for a show in early 2010. I'm feeling very rusty and the lines aren't coming out as I see them in my head. And that's okay. I'll push through. I'll finish. And then, I'll gladly return to sewing creative everyday wear. That's the playground I'm most comfortable in right now.

Plus hair. This sudden return to work has significantly altered my schedule. I've been in the salon quite a lot as well as doing research into how to cut different styles and how to put hair up and I'm - LOL - playing with dolls a lot. The partners haven't met yet so it's still not 100% for sure that I'm staying but it is looking good. Once they met and make some decisions, I'll know my hours and that will make things easier although I'll still be shadowing the owner for a while. It's a new (old) adventure that I'm really enjoying.

This posting could just as easily have been titled The Twenty-Five Pound Break. Between my return to hairstyling, my current weight loss, and the next twenty-five pounds, there's not a lot of time for sewing or need. I've taken the elastic in on a few skirts, purchased a couple pairs of pants, and am making do with tighter cardigans over looser sweaters. It'll only last for so long and I do have garments plans in the works but it's going to be hit and miss for the next several months.... as will posting. I'm sorry to be saying this again especially since I thought I'd figured out the rhythm that would work only I didn't know then that other parts of my life were going to unpredictably and significantly change.

The cardigan pictured above is Snowland. It's knit in one of Rowan's cashmere blend yarns. That's not my style or price range so I bought a 55% nylon and 45% acrylic blend of the same weight. In pink. I've always liked fuchsia toned pinks but apparently different tones - just please not baby pink - are calling my name right now. I want to knit this for my spring wardrobe and some garments to go with.

Today, I'm wearing the Butterick shirt I sewed in November. I sized it to a smaller set of measurements and it fits great so I'll use those for the cardigan as well. At the boxing day fabric sale, I bought a cotton large floral print at the that will make a nice skirt and a rayon/polyester blend in light grey for pants.

This is one of the projects I couldn't show you before Christmas - boxer shorts for my son-in-law that are painted with metallic black hearts. He dared me. You should never dare your mother-in-law if she happens to be me.

In November and December, I did a lot of painting on fabric and my skills definitely improved and at the same time, I'm much happier working with fabric and thread. There are a lot of fused bits of cotton left from doing this textile piece that I may use for my next coaching assignment. Diane asked me to take a skill that I typically use small and to make it bigger. I think fused jeans could be fun - LOL - when I get to that.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - two pounds lost over the holiday without measuring or recording - YES YES

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Transitional Phase

This time between Christmas and New Years is a transitional phase. Next year is going to look a lot different than this year with me working outside the studio. For now, the holiday is over and most everyone has returned to work although that looks rather strange and reversed at our house. Howard has the week off and I'm working afternoons at the salon. I was teasing him that I'd want to come home to dinner on the table. Not. We ordered Chinese food yesterday and there are leftovers which means dinner tonight is done too. This is good.

I've been shoveling a LOT of snow. The pile on top of the pot is just from one afternoon. It's pretty though. The trees look absolutely gorgeous and I'm enjoying watching how the light changes throughout the day and how it reflects off the snow.

Last week, I made a quick trip to visit my daughter for her 30th birthday. We all went to Starbucks in the morning and then Jessica and I went shopping and out for lunch. It's probably the first time in ten years I've been with her on the actual day and I really enjoyed that. Even though it was a quick trip, there still was time for fabric. Jessica and I picked out some for her purse on Wednesday and on Thursday, my friend Mary picked me up and we took the fiber tour to the airport stopping at the fabric store, the bead store, and the yarn store. YES YES! She said I was a mere shadow of my former self which makes her my new BFF and - LOL - makes me potentially invisible when I lose the next twenty-five pounds. Too fun.

This mannequin is getting as many haircuts as possible. I've cut the overall shape twice, one of which you can see in the back and yesterday, I cut asymmetrical bangs using a twist and cut method that is new from when I did hair before. And VERY effective. The right side head was already shaved so all my styles are working toward a final short one that will maximize that element.

I bought two balls of Bernat Sox yarn to make a pair in this fall color palette only to discover that the one ball and three joins. One join I'm okay with since thread does have to stop and start somewhere but three in one sock is frustrating. I'd much rather knit them end to end without any joins. Sigh. That I'm even complaining about sock yarn is...

... funny in itself because years ago I did an entire sock study trying every method only to conclude that not only did I hate knitting socks, I hated wearing knitted socks, only I knit eight pairs for Christmas presents including two pairs of sock slippers for my grandsons. They're made using a ribbed pattern that is supposed to prevent them from slipping off. Socks are as easy to knit as the triangular shawls I've spent so much time on over the past few years so they're perfect for knitting in public or in front of the TV.

No progress was made on the textile piece. In fact, you could say it has gone backward since I decided the background that I'd previous stitched wasn't working and I needed a new one. Yesterday, I picked up a heavy, white linen and I'm ready to move forward again.

I also printed out a portion of the design and folded it into grids to see how the colour distribution went. I like the way the printer blurred the design all together. Once again, that allows me to be inspired by without copying or cloning. And this is good.

I like to end the year without any unfinished projects and if that isn't possible, I prefer to end it with only one project in progress. This year, it will most likely end with one knitting project and one sewing project in progress and that's okay too.

How do you like to end the year?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - hair videos on YouTube

Friday, December 16, 2016

And Then I Let It Go

Next week is incredibly busy. I'll be working, travelling, celebrating both my friend's and my daughter's birthday, and getting ready for Christmas. There won't be much to share before the 25th so I'll wish you a Merry Christmas now and will - hopefully - post again that week with something new.

These two weeks of shadowing at the hair salon have gone well. I'm very hopeful that it's going to turn into an actual job. On Wednesday, I brought a mannequin home to cut and my boss said it was "excellent" which was especially wonderful to hear since I hadn't cut that style in thirty years. Last night, I cut another - slightly shorter - haircut. I'm hoping to get three or four done before I run out of hair on this mannequin. FUN!

 I cut the image above out of a magazine when I was doing my birthday collage in June and don't know who the artist is. I think it's fabulous and a great starting point for my red and white textile art piece for the gallery show in January.

To work from an inspiration source like this, I isolate different parts of the original that make up an interesting composition and then decide which of those I want to take forward. The goal is not to copy the original which - of course - isn't even possible since I'm working in fabric and not in paint - but to create my own interpretation of the inspiration.

When I've decided which section I prefer, I then look at the details that appeal to me and make a list of them such as asymmetrical balance, soft lines, scribbles, barbwire imagery, focal and secondary focal points, high contrast, soft edges, and flow from horizontal to vertical placement.

I study the inspiration source for as long as it takes me to feel ready to move forward and then I let it go and don't refer back to it again. Above is my starting point, You can see that right now it's very similar to the inspiration however, as I respond to the developing piece, it will begin to take on a life of its own. When I finish, sometimes a hint of the original remains; sometimes is vastly different.

A couple of months ago, I layered and stitched a linen tablecloth with thread circles. One thought I'm evaluating is to add in some smooth sections of a white cotton fabric to make the design stand out and to create contrast within the background.

Another is to create some scribbled lines by using the thread ends saved while stitching the background. They could be stitched separately into thread lace and then applied or they could be stitched directly onto the developing piece. It all depends - LOL - on how it develops.

The fabrics are beautiful hand-dyed cottons that one of my students sent me. I'm really excited to be using them in a piece. I started by pressing all of them and then separating out a starting pile.

AND... some black. One artist I really admire says that all pieces should go from white to black. I agree. I find that having both black and white helps to add definition and light to the piece. This black is a binding that I removed from a quilt recycled earlier. The mottle reverse side is going to add an interesting visual texture as well. I don't know if the piece will be finished by the next posting but it definitely has to be finished by the middle of January. Which is good. Because some clothes ideas are also dancing in my head.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - positive feedback on the haircut