Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pay Me In Fabric

Although it was designed as a coat, depending on the weight of the fabric chosen, this pattern can be either a sweater, a coat, or a dress which leaves me wondering what to call it so I've settled on The Twirl because no matter what form it takes, with or without godets, it still has that twirlability that little girls love.

I always sew a size three since I'm not sewing for any specific child. That makes things easy. All the pattern pieces and variations have been traced and can work with what I have. It's a T & T and the great thing about a T & T is that it allows your hands to move with ease while your mind bubbles with creativity. YES YES.

This version from September started with a hand painted fabric I made in the summer and some recycled denim from a blouse that didn't work out. Although it wasn't officially part of the surface design series I'm working on now, it was a good beginning. It turned out well in that encouraging, you can do this, kind of way. All of our previous learning goes forward with us and encourages our new learning. This is good.

As I mentioned in Tuesday's posting, I cut the center front pieces from the hand painted fabric, the side front and sleeve pieces from the dyed sweater knit, and the side back pieces from the darker, print fabric. By placing these on the design wall, I could see how they flowed together and start to evaluate what to do to connect the front and the back and to create a cohesive garment. One decision needed was...

... which fabric to use for center back. As a connecting element, it's a very important piece. I tried using the darker print and rejected it because it left the back with only the color blue to connect it to the front. To me, it was like a beautiful hair style from the front and a flat crown with a hole in the back. Not a good look. Above, I auditioned the possibility of cutting the entire center back from the sweater knit but rejected it because the look was too choppy. Leaving that, I worked on...

...connecting the darker print fabric from the back with the front of the garment. I auditioned a  narrow 1" button band and decided this would nicely do the work without overpowering the hand painted fabric.

My goal starting this project was to learn and utilize surface design techniques in a step-by-step doable manner, stretching a little with each step while avoiding leaping over tall buildings without a safety net. One big piece of white fabric was more than I could handle so I chose to add detail to an existing fabric as my first step. Above left is the before fabric - another that I painted this past summer - and above right is the same fabric with stitching lines drawn using a fabric pen. To draw the lines, I meandered over the fabric with the pen just as I would have done with a quilting stitch in the past. It adds a lot of energy to the hand painted fabric while blending it with the darker print.

Another blending element was to create a small flange of the darker print to insert in the front princess seam. I auditioned several widths of flange and settled on a generous 1/8" and then I tried top stitching the seam using blue thread on the hand painted side but found it was too harsh. The zigzag stitch was softer.

After evaluating several options for the center back, I separated it into two pieces and cut the upper back from the sweater knit and the lower back from the darker print and then used a band of the hand painted fabric to connect to the front of the garment. This created a less choppy looking back while effectively blending the three key fabrics.

When I dyed the sweater, I also dyed a piece of linen thinking it might be useful as a collar or piping. When I placed it between the center back and side back pieces, it was too bright and too solid - intense and visible - and distracted from the focal point of the upper knit back and the waistband. Instead...

... a row of topstitching along the seam was enough to add interest without overpowering the rest of the back. The seam on the left is topstitched and the one on the right is not. I think the top stitching was necessary but it's personal choice however...

... it becomes another connecting element between the front and the back when the same top stitching is done on the side seam.

While the sleeves are visible from both the front and the back of the garment and help to blend the two sides, the collar and the hem are the only elements that wrap completely around. While I'm working on other parts of the garment, I debate those possibilities. Above, I determined in advance that there was enough of the knit fabric to cut out the collar if I chose to use a knit collar and below...

... I'm debating bias tape around the hemline. Numerous options will come forward if your allow your mind to invite and evaluate options. All are possible solutions. Your job is to choose the one that you think will do the best job. There's always more than one right answer so don't beat yourself up trying to figure out "success". Try something. Next time, when you make another garment, you can try something else. The world won't stop turning if you just play. It won't even stop turning if you make a "mistake" because "mistakes" lead to opportunities. More tomorrow.

My friend Patti claimed the beige silk cardigan. She says it's fab, she loves it, it's really comfy, here look, isn't it perfect. LOL - yes. We agreed that she can pay me in a gift certificate to Pay me in fabric is my new mantra. I can use it when we go to Sew Expo at the end of February. I'm looking forward to that already. Marcy has scrumptious fabric.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the electricity is back on in my studio. Garry had to turn off the breaker for some of the basement work. I know I shouldn't complain. It's certainly better than an ice storm.

Job 19:23 - Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book!!


  1. I love how you are documenting all your sewing/fabric decisions for us! Thank you.


    1. You're welcome. Please let me know if there's any other process you'd like me to document. If I can, I will.

  2. The cardigan looks great on Patti. I love seeing your thought process. I'm not creativity so I love seeing your choices.

    1. It does look fabulous on her especially with her hair color. I'm glad you're enjoying the thought process. I'm going to call you on your terminology. You are creative. I've seen the work you do. Why not use a phrase that supports you such as I am in the process of growing my creativity - or - each day I become more and more creative - or - just say I AM creative and go with it, feel it, let it develop. You'll be amazed at how that changes your perspective and develops your creativity. I've always felt that way about creativity but reading Imagine Big is pointing out where I need to change how I think and speak in other areas as well and I'm thrilled at the impact in such a short time. FABULOUS.


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