Friday, December 7, 2012

Researching Me

My friend Caroline and I met when we were sixteen. I've told it before and I'll tell the story again in case you haven't heard it yet. We met in Sunday School, wearing the same dress, which seemed indicative that we had things in common so I took mine back and we've been friends ever since. Twenty-five years ago, she moved 2,400 miles north and instead of coffee once or twice a week, we now get together once or twice a year. It's not nearly enough and far better than nothing at all.

One of our get togethers is always sewing related. We've gone to workshops and retreats, have rented cabins, hotel suites and B & B's to sew in, and have spent time in my studio. No matter where we go, or what we do, it ALWAYS includes fabric shopping. She needs to stock up. I need to see and touch and talk sewing with someone who gets it and who gets me. We know each other so well that we've often been asked if we're sisters. Yes. Of the heart.

I emailed Caroline pictures of the Vogue 1312 inspired dress and she wrote back - What a nice dress! I love the skirt. Somehow it is really you too. It would be the perfect backdrop for some of your beautiful jewelry pieces - which made me feel like I was on the right track.

The picture above is an illustration of the Chic-Avant-Garde fashion personality from the book Nothing To Wear? and I would wear every one of those pieces including the heels. A huge part of what I define as my style is simple garments with interior design lines, tone on tone or monochromatic prints, and textural details. AND jewelry. AND colorful cardigans. AND flirty shoes. I like a simple base with pops of color - like a black t-shirt with statement jewelry. Simple can be hard to do. Every design element has to work to its best because there is no place to hide. In terms of sewing, simple can also get boring.

Kathy wrote - The dress looks fabulous! Sculptural and simple at the same time...very elegant. 

I loved that description. It resonates both with the clothes I want to sew and with the way I hope to express myself.

When I looked up Vogue 8712 the other day - for the pant pattern number - I noticed the design on the t-shirt and wondered about the possibility of stamping or stenciling something similar on yardage before cutting out a t-shirt. Having identified the styles and lines that flatter my figure, it seems that one aspect of moving forward in 2013 is to be more adventurous within those shapes. That led to thoughts of journalling ideas or of collecting inspirational pictures both of which are not something I normally do. I tend to go with what tickles the loudest and yet this seems like an idea that might give direction, a way of researching me. It's a possibility. How do you collect - and follow-up - ideas?

As part of my Christmas present, I've asked Howard for a counter top, sink, and faucet for the laundry room. I'm not a person for practical gifts and this may seem more practical than frivolous but it's all about spending time exploring surface design in a conducive environment. If I had to clean up the kitchen each time or worry about accidentally painting the cabinets or the hardwood, not much would get done. Second hand is good. We could support the ReStore associated with Habitat for Humanity.

I worked on the secret present yesterday and got most of the threadwork completed. It's in the wash to remove any chalk lines before I move to the next stage. VERY fun.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - Have you noticed expenses rising? There was a section on the news last night about how much food prices will rise in the next year and I've talked to so many people who are feeling increasingly pinched financially, ourselves included. Conversations like that can focus your thoughts on lack rather than on abundance. I have so much to be thankful for not the least of which is that I am warm, dry, fed, clothed, safe, and loved.


  1. Myrna, I think you would love looking through the wardrobes of the Frenchwomen in my area...they tend toward smaller wardrobes with colors that don't necessarily attract attention, but with details that do. They also tend to make most of their selections from styles that figure-flatter, but they may also include pieces whose shapes or styles are chosen simply because they are interesting or sculptural.

    Observing these women has made me more daring in my own choices, both of what I buy and also what I create. To that end, I try on all sorts of styles in the stores, and I keep a small corkboard with inspiration pieces or details above my sewing machine. Sometimes they get used as direct inspiration, sometimes they stay there more as art, but it's always good to be able to look up and see something I like.

    Stamping that t-shirt design looks like it would be easy and a lot of fun--I hope you go for it.

    1. I would. I've read a few books about the style of French women and it sounds desireable. My wardrobe is quite small and I can't see that changing. It seems to be a part of my style - LOL.

      Do you have pictures of your favourites? I'd love to see them. Or a book to recommend?

      I really want to stamp and paint. It's more a matter of the space.

  2. I recently was introduced to "Pinterest" by my kid sister, it is a kind of online visual pinboard, where you can pin images that are live links. She is using it to keep track of images of things related to her current house remodel, and I have started using it to gather images of inspiring clothing and tutorials. There is some controversy about using the site, since it is fairly easy to lose the original link back to the online source and have the links become recursive. What I have been doing to attempt to avoid that is to follow the links backwards to find the original post or image and "pin" that. This is certainly faster than my previous way of noting inspirations, drawing them in a notebook. I still will draw out the techniques that end up being useful so as to have hard copy of it for future reference.

    As far as actually using my inspirational images, what I am doing this year is participating in Stitchers Guild "Sewing With A Plan" 2013, which is an online sewing challenge to make a coordinated wardrobe of 9 - 11 garments, and my personal challenge is to try some new techniques on as many of them as seems feasible. There are always more new inspirations than garment that I sew, so it is never boring...

    1. A lot of people seem to like Pinterest. I know images from my blog had been pinned by several people and they just disappeared - I assume - when I deleted the blog. I think something more tactile might be better for me right now.

      Good luck with the SWAP. It's such a fabulous idea.

  3. I've started using pinterest to keep track of inspiration pieces for my jewelry making endeavors and sometimes for sewing projects...ok. I've used it for one sewing project where I was combining fabrics and wanted an idea of how different fabrics would inter-relate. Over my jewelry bench I have a bulletin board where I pin up random pictures of things that strike my fancy, but it's gotten overly cluttered and really needs to get sorted and cleaned. I also have a 3-ring binder overflowing with interesting pictures of jewelry I've stumbled on and articles about techniques I'd like to use. All, kind of ad-hoc and not very well organized, but useful to me.

    And, yes....I think we've all noticed rising prices, food, fabric, silver for jewelry. It is hard not to feel that scarcity pinch, but we are still are in a part of the world that really doesn't experience scarcity in all it ferocity.

    1. I'd love to see your jewelry. Is there a link?

      A lot of people seem to enjoy Pinterest. I'm leaning toward something more personal and private. Since the "great delete" as I think of it, I am giving more thought to how much and exactly what I share on-line especially when I'm in the middle of transitions and discoveries.

    2. Sorry, Myrna. I am a reader of blogs rather than creator of blogs. I can send you some photos by email though, if you would care to share your email address.

    3. It's myrna at myrnagiesbrecht dot com. Thanks.

  4. I suspect you'd prefer the tactile approach (vs. Pinterest). I have a small spiral bound book that I just started putting fabric scraps into. I don't have the right space for a large idea board, so this will have to do--plus, it's portable!

    In the past, I've pulled pics from magazines and found it very helpful.

    1. I don't have a large space and even if I did, I couldn't stand the visual clutter so a folder or book of some kind makes the most sense. I don't see it as a long term thing. More an assignment that gives me a sense of direction and on I go from there. Portable sounds good.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.