Friday, March 7, 2014

Hello Heidi

Time and time again, I've mentioned that I'm not a shirt tucked in person. It's so rare for me to tuck and belt that I can probably count on one hand the number of times in a decade that that's happened so... then... what made me think I could successfully turn - with success being defined as suitable to my style - the t-shirt into a dress by adding a skirt.

When I started pinning and playing with the bits of shirt, I fell in love with the ragged edge. In my mind, it zig-zagged beautifully to the t-shirt and flowed graceful and effortlessly - say like Vogue 8685 - in an classic with a twist kind of way. Yes... well... hello Heidi. With the skirt pleated and pinned to the t-shirt, I looked like I was ready to hit the alps. It was so bad that I totally forgot to take a picture but trust me, that was not the look I was going for.

And then began the debate. The fabric starting jumping up and down - figuratively of course - and demanding to be a pencil skirt. My inner artist took up the cause whispering sweet somethings in my mind - you love pencil skirts Myrna, pencil skirts make you feel flirty and thin. I ignored her because pencil skirts are something I've done for years and years only the fabric kept jumping and the artist kept yammering and - sigh - to make them both happy, I wrapped the fabric around my body and yes, it looked interesting, even a pencil-skirt-with-a-twist-ish kind of interesting but really...  I was hoping for something a little more edgy.

AND... that would mean the t-shirt needed to stand alone which in turn means coming up with a hem solution. Right now, it feels conservative which really is quite funny because back when I was a lot more conservative than I am now, this would have been nowhere near conservative. It would have been way out there and weird. I cut the collar off one of the men's shirts and wrapped it around one side of the neck and pleated the button band around the other side, stitched them in place, and cut away the t-shirt behind. MUCH more interesting than the failed version.

I'm sure it was this edge that had me thinking jagged for the skirt. After this picture, I zigzagged it to the neckline of the t-shirt. The collar is held in place with stitching along the edge of the collar stand underneath.

The sleeves were replaced with lace, three quarter length, with striped fabric from another of the shirts for the hemline. They should - ideally - be multi-seasonal.

I used the design wall to lay out the pieces of shirt and eventually added black to this mix both for more contrast and because I thought the piece wasn't going to be wide enough. It's plenty wide. WAY too wide. I definitely didn't need that much fabric on my hips which led to an interesting observation.

We have to - it's just part of enjoying fashion - try on different garments and play with new lines and shapes, and it's fun, only the older I get, the more I gravitate toward MY shapes. The challenge then becomes how to reinterpret those shapes in new ways. Pieced with surface design is a new way even though long straight pencil skirts have been one of my favourite style since high-school.

When I wear the skirt in this picture, I feel great, especially with higher heels. It's quite old. I made it twelve or fifteen years ago before I returned to sewing fashion full time and learned new things. Now, I'd shorten it slightly, peg the hem more, and wear a top with a softer hemline... which gives me something to think about since in all likelihood pencil skirt is the direction my inner artist, the demanding fabric, and I are headed in this morning. We'll see this afternoon. More on Monday.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the willingness to let go of an idea and move in a new direction, to not cling


  1. You are so awesome! Love all of your ideas.

    Yes, fabric *CAN* be quite demanding in what it wants to become, can't it!?!

    1. On yes, it surely can although most people look at me quite strangely when I start talking about conversations with my inner artist or my fabric. You can just seem them debating should they call the guys with white coats.

  2. How funny! I can totally relate to the "what made me think..." part. I think we return to certain elements because on some deeper level, they are very "us" - they express some very essential part of us. It's fun to experiment, but when we stray too far, the "what made me think..." realization happens.

    This sort of goes with your post from yesterday. I think envy is good if it inspires progress (as in, ooh I like so-and-so's successful ____, I'm going to create my own version). It's only a problem if the reaction to it is negative (as in, so-and-so success must be the result of some illegal/immoral/unethical action and he's really a jerk so I'm going to continue wallowing in my mediocrity and try to bring everyone else down to my despicable level). Does that make sense? I've met a few people of the second variety and oh, what energy zappers they are. Best avoided. People who sew tend to be in the first category, in my experience.

    Anyway, I sometimes wish I could wear prints, in large areas, like a dress or a jacket. I wear prints in scarves but my garments are all solid-colored. On a few occasions, I decided to make my own version of whatever printed beautiful thing another sewing blogger showcased. Invariably, it got worn once, for blog pictures, and then never again. Prints are just not me. No amount of envy is going to change that. This is where self-knowledge comes in. If ignored, it will reassert itself in that "what was I thinking?" feeling.

    1. Thanks for understanding. Sometimes it feels comforting and sometimes it feels like a rut hence the desire to interpret those lines in new ways that express the growing and evolving part of us.

      Energy zappers. Yes. Isn't it interesting how we can meet two people and one's enthusiasm and curiosity can energize us and another's envy and lack of action can drain us and then there's that interesting shift when the energy transfers over and becomes either something more positive or - unfortunately - something more negative and you have to evaluate change to the relationship.

      I used to always wear solids. I've found now that I can add in prints if they are fairly monochromatic in a medium to dark value scale although I prefer to add texture over print. It was an evolution though. I started with just a little bit, first in a skirt, then a sweater, then a dress and have a better idea now of the kinds of prints I can wear successfully (soft edges, flowing, small, monochromatic) but I have to be really careful or the prints overwhelm my face and I'm lost. My wardrobe is starting to include more prints but it was a really REALLY long journey to this point. I think that was a journey of self knowledge (what makes me comfortable) and longing (I want to wear some prints) and doing the work to figure it out (size, type, which garment) in a way that could work for me. It has added an element of fun. Perhaps there's a way for you that you haven't quite found yet but then again - I won't be wearing certain styles that I really enjoy looking at, especially ones with volume and no waist as they are definitely not me, so I can totally relate to your no amount of envy is going to change that awareness. Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves is accept that only... we're always evolving so there's always more to learn.

  3. I really like the way the stencilling made the shirts REALLY look great together!
    And, even if you DO make a pencil skirt, which may not seem all that 'out there' for you, the fabric will elevate it to the creative place you desire, I'll bet!

    1. Paint and thread have a way of unifying that's really interesting, worth exploring. I just finished playing with the pieces to see how long I want to make the skirt and now I'm starting on the actual details. We'll see how creative it gets - VBG.

  4. Hi Myrna! that pencil skirt is WOW!! i can see why your inner peeps want more of that, for sure!! :) heehee, me too!

    I so agree with so much of what you and Alexandra (hi!) wrote in the comments. Self knowledge + longing + work to figure it out = a great little equation for how to pursue these type of evolutions in a successful and authentic way.

    I think so many people don't realize how much time and reflection it takes in order to develop a unique, rock solid authentic style like Helen P's. That authenticity just oozes from her, and we want it too, and think maybe if i do 'XYZ' that she did.....but she is a good example of someone who wears things that just ROCK on her but are very very difficult for anyone else to pull off.

    I was so thrilled to learn you wore your refashioned sweater coat to the Expo!! and how lucky for the rest of the attendees to see that arty, flattering, feminine and truly unique garment on the woman who can rock it like no one else :) I see that piece as a real breakthru and touchstone for you Myrna in developing your own unique approach to 'art to wear', one that is so fun on a hanger but truly comes alive on a living, breathing female. That's nothing to sneeze at, in fact it's one of the most difficult things to accomplish i know of.

    The style blogosphere has that drawback of more is better - more color, more going on, always a new outfit every single day. now there's ladies who embody that style and i love them and they make life so darn fun! (hello Sheila!) But how boring is a world where everyone does everything the same? And how many style icons get known for wearing everything possible, all different every day? Not Audrey and Kate Hepburn, not Liz Taylor or Princess Di or Amelia Aerhardt or......i've written so many blog posts on just this, mebbe time for another! ;)

    pls. excuse typos, just back from colonoscopy (nothing interesting, yay!). You hang in there and have a blast in the studio!!! steph

    1. You are getting to the heart of something incredibly important when you reference the issue of authenticity. That really pushes buttons for many people and can trigger all kinds of responses......

    2. Helen wears her clothes very comfortably and she's so excited about each piece and what a wonder it is and was to create. It's a joy just to be around her. At home in my clothing is exactly the feel I want, that what I'm wearing is as close to who I am as I can possibly get at the moment with my current combination of skill and self knowledge. A big part of the journey is paying attention to what is NOT me and making sure I don't go down that path too often or at least U-turn when I'm aware.

      Glad the tests were "boring".


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