Friday, July 12, 2013

A First Step On The Path To Where I'm Going

While sitting in that memorable traffic jam between Tacoma and Everett a few weeks ago, one thing I thought about was what do I want to sew. The answer was two fold as in I want to sew more creative clothes meaning a larger wardrobe of interesting garments and I want to sew more creatively meaning using piecing, details, and surface design techniques that add individuality and uniqueness. Ideally, the later would lead to the former once I'd made it through the learning curve.

At that time, I made a mental list of ways to get started, one of which is copying work that leads in the right direction. Copying has the negative overtone of stealing someone's work and the positive overtone of learning from the work of the masters. Painters especially copy technique in order to learn. I'm aiming for the later. I paint with fabric and want to learn from master fabric painters.

Diane is amazing at making fabric from fabric. Sometimes the shape of the resulting piece dictates what the garment will become and sometimes she shapes the fabric to the desired pattern. The dress above was shaped to Sandra Betzina's Vogue 1234.

The technique was not completely unfamiliar to me since I used a similar version with textile art but there's a new curve to seeing how the fabric will fit and flow over the body. Learning how to make fabric is a goal I'm working on. I've made small bits. I've watched Diane sew. I've examined in detail as many pieces of her work as I can and I've taken numerous pictures although they lose something in the translation. Holding the piece in my hand is a much better learning tool and even better than that would be Diane, sitting in my studio, right at my elbow, walking me through, which is - LOL - not likely to happen but I can study her "painting" and learn from it with adaptions that work for me.

A big ah ha I had before leaving for the workshop was that I don't like clutter in my surroundings and I don't like clutter on my body. It explained so much and especially my preference for solids, texture, structural garments, and statement necklaces. Since then, I've looked more closely at the garments that catch my eye and they are predominately a single color with texture and detail or a monochromatic color scheme.

This white blouse was at South Of Pine, the shop just around the corner from my friend Lorraine's house.  It was still tickling a week later, so I asked Lorraine if she'd mind walking by and getting some pictures. Shella - the owner - knew right away which blouse I was asking about. She's absolutely wonderful. If you ever get a chance to go to the shop, you'll love the customer service.

I can see how copying this white blouse would be a first step on the path to where I'm going. It has a knit back and side fronts, a woven center front, and woven details on the collar, armhole, and hem. It uses touches of lace and cotton lawn and a variety of buttons. There is enough in this blouse to inspire me through several garments. I could mix cottons and wovens, incorporate bits of lace, use a selection of buttons, make over a t-shirt, work with a monochromatic color scheme, and... and... and...

Barb and I were at another clothing store this week and once again I didn't take my camera and should have because now there's another blouse dancing around in my head. It too was monochromatic but instead of solid fabrics, it was a mix of prints.  Mixing prints in a monochromatic color scheme could be a next step forward from mixing solids of the same color.

With both of the inspiration blouses, sections of the garment - such as the front and the back - were constructed from different fabrics. In Diane's case, each section (or pattern piece) was constructed from multiple fabrics.

Wednesday night, I traced a dress pattern and yesterday, I altered the pieces, cut out the fabric, and started sewing. If only we could record the messages flashing through our heads, it would certainly be interesting. I wanted to use more than one fabric. I wanted to incorporate a new technique. I wanted to make a creative garment. I wanted it to be a garment that I'd actually wear and the list went on. I found myself changing my mind way too often or dumbing down my ideas to make it easier. I had to keep asking myself what is it that's preventing me from doing what I want to do. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of looking ridiculous. Fear of incompetence. Fear of _____ fill in the blank. It happens to so many of us so often.

And then - LOL - I read about Marcy's dress contest and went through that whole debate of entering or not, of being good enough or not, of wanting to win because I'm so darn competitive or of using it as a way to encourage me forward, or... or... or... I don't know if I'll enter but I do know that I don't want sewing this dress to be a competition. I want it to be a "slow sewing" experience, to just be in the moment stitching fabric to fabric and enjoying the process which is why...

... I'm allowing myself only two points at which to try on the dress - once before I sew the side seams and once to check the hem length. Other than those two times, I'm choosing to trust the adjustments I've made based on what I know about my body and my fitting shell, I'm choosing to enjoy learning a new technique, I'm choosing to enjoy "painting" the garment, and I'm choosing to let go of will it fit. Most likely it will and if it doesn't, it'll fit someone.

The new technique I'm incorporating is a flange along the seam lines. It's unstuffed piping. I cut bias strips from a plaid fabric, pressed them in half, basted them in place, stitched the seam, and they looked TERRIBLE so I called Lorraine for technical assistance and she explained how to stitch and get the flange even. It worked, and was familiar from quilting so I'm not sure why I didn't make the connection earlier but I am so thankful to have such a talented friend who is both a couture seamstress and willing to share. A delightful combo.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - Today is my friend Sharon's birthday. She's one of several I call my black and white friends. It's fabulous. She gets me and tells me the truth even when I might not want to hear it and laughs at my idiosyncrasies in a nice not mocking way. We're celebrating her birthday tomorrow by driving Barb to her next destination three hours away, dropping her off, and then meandering our way back shopping and eating and having fun. I'm looking forward to the day... and I have her present... and I know what it is... and she doesn't... and that just drives her crazy - VBG. 


  1. Hi Myrna - your post made me smile. You sound so excited about your new direction for the dress and it sounds so neat and interesting. I'm toying with going that way for a top/cardigan combo. Something a little different but still meets my "professional dress" expectations of myself. Once I'm done in bridesmaid-land, I'm going to play a bit. Black and grey with shots of brights are my scheme and will work with the rest of my working wardrobe.
    Have you seen this blog: I found it via Shams' Communing with Fabric. She (Gayle) is making garments from garments and has taken a couple of the Design outside the lines workshops. It seems a similar direction to where you want to go.
    Have fun on your journeys!

    1. The dress is coming along wonderfully. I keep patting it - like knitting. It sounds so weird but there's something so satisfying about stitching and pressing a lovely seam. Perhaps, I'll get to more adventurous as some point but for now a little different is probably need to create a bridge and since I've tended in this more monochromatic direction most of my adult life, I won't hold my breath - LOL.

      Gayle was at the two DOL workshops I attended. She's not only incredibly talented but a delightful person. It was fun watching her build the red and black top she showed recently. And inspiring since at one time she didn't know how to do this either.

  2. Kick the dissenting voice out of your head and go for it. After all, it is only fabric.

    1. Exactly - and I'm having a lovely time. Thanks.


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