Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesdays At Ten

And now... sigh... Internet Explorer and Blogger are really not getting along and I couldn't get in to write today's postings but thankfully Google Chrome worked otherwise I'd be picking this out one finger at a time on my husband's tablet which is not really what I want to do.

This time at the start of the new year has always been my favourite. I find it a calm, creative space. The next major holiday is months away and the weather is doing its best to encourage me to stay inside and play in the studio.

Patti - my once a week creativity friend - and I discussed how the last year went, what worked and what didn't, and how we want to go forward and have decided to meet Tuesdays at ten to discuss what we've been working on in our studios over the past week. I love the push of having a creativity get-together each week. My plan for the next few months is to spend my afternoons in the studio so I have something to show for myself and to focus on my surface design goal.


Yesterday, I worked on a little girl twirl coat. Over the next several posts, I thought I'd illustrate how I made decisions along the way with the warning that it's really hard to take notes and brainstorm solutions at the same time. Hopefully, I'll remember enough to give you a sense of the path.

I started with cotton sweater above. I didn't like the color so I decided to dye it blue using Procion MX dyes for natural fibers. Dyeing fabric is not my favourite thing. I prefer the what-you-see-is-what-you-get aspect of painting because - with dyeing - it's so disappointing when you create a lovely color like above and then it washes out in the rinse. The first dye bath ended up with a light colored sweater so I did it again with twice as much dye and it was better - usable.

Having made the decision, I really wanted to get started on my "use surface design techniques" goal and the sweater was taking too long so I chose this piece of hand-painted fabric from a play date with Patti this past summer. This is all I have, just barely enough to cut the two center front pieces which I was really excited about until I realized I'd forgotten about...

... reversing the second piece when I'd calculated that two would fit. The first piece was already cut. I went ahead and cut the second one and how to blend these two became just one of the questions I needed to ask. Adding more yellow was certainly a possibility although it's not the one I used. At each step of this process, I am answering questions and working to blend the elements into a cohesive garment.

When I'm using refashioned clothing as a fabric source, I try to maximize the opportunities. With this garment, I could cut the sleeve from the sleeve with the underarm seam already sewn and the use the existing hem. Above, I pinned the pattern in place with the hem aligned at the bottom and the stitching line aligned at the underarm seam and then...

... carefully cut through one layer to cut out the shape of the sleeve cap which is slightly different front to back.

Removing and using the sleeves first allowed me to cut across the shoulder seams, lay the rest of the sweater open flat, and see how much of the main garment would be useful. The pattern I'm using - Simplicity 2745 - has flared pieces that require a fair amount of fabric. The side front piece extends from the front of the sweater slightly into the back. Because the back pieces are also flared, I already know at this point...

... that I won't be able to cut the side back pieces out of the sweater knit and that I have absolutely no more of the hand painted fabric which means adding a third fabric to the mix. Both the sweater knit and the hand painted fabric are 100% cotton as is the print above from my stash. The blue is almost exactly the same and blends well with the other two.

I now have two light colored, center front pieces cut from a hand-painted fabric, two side front pieces cut from the sweater knit, and two sleeves cut from the sweater knit. This print fabric will be around the back so I need to think of ways to bring it forward to connect with the front and of ways to bring elements of the front backward. More on that tomorrow.

Did you notice the undertones in the print fabric? The complementary color to this shade of blue is yellow-orange. That's information I may or may not use but it's good to note because the complimentary color can provide interesting moments in a developing piece.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the happy coincidence of dyeing the sweater the same color as the painted fabric.

Jeremiah 1:5 - Before I (God) made you in your mother's womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.


  1. It's so interesting following you along on your refashioning. Opens me up to different possibilities.

    One thing I find amusing, is that you don't like the impreciseness of dyeing fabric, and for me that is the fun part, not knowing exactly what you will get. I love it.We are all so different.

    1. YES - I'm glad. That's exactly what I wanted to do, open up possibilities.

      I think with dyeing, it's not the impreciseness because I've made some gorgeous fabrics over the years by just playing with color. What I find frustrating is the waiting. It takes so long to do this and that and then you have to adjust things and add to them and that can be fun when it's the thing I'm doing but not so much - for me - when it's a step. It's a bit like knitting versus sewing. I enjoy designing knitted garments but it's WAY TOO SLOW for me to actually bring those designs into being and see how they work. I'd rather sew a garment.

      It's fabulous that we are all so different. We can learn so much from each other.

  2. I think a shot of the yellow orange would be a wonderful addition. An nice change from the lime that is used so often the past couple of years, although lime would be a nice accent too. You've probably answered this many times before - what is that color chart you use? It looks so familiar (I may even have it lost in my stash somewhere), but I can't place the name.

    1. OH... but I am so in love with lime. I agree though. I'm going to try different shades of the yellow-orange for the buttons.

      The color chart is the 3 in 1 color tool designed by Joen Wolfram. I bought it through Dharma Trading. A friend recently ordered one and it has changed somewhat but is still a fabulous tool. On the back of each card, it shows the direct compliment and the other color schemes and refers you to the correct card numbers for those colors. From there, it's a matter of playing. FUN! If you have it, I'd recommend digging it out because it's incredibly useful for all sorts of things.


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