Friday, May 30, 2014

No More Sleeps

This is an old story... and some of you have read it before... but it has a point that's worth repeating. As soon as I post and get dressed, I'll be in the car and off to Ashland. I hope to be over the mountains, across the border, and through Seattle at all the right times and avoid delays and long waits. We'll see. It's not that I'm in a rush. I just want that peaceful drive. I'm heading down the I5, staying overnight in Lake Oswego, having breakfast with Jean - a blog reader - and then driving the rest of the way to Ashland on Saturday. The workshop starts Sunday afternoon so I'll have plenty of time to wander, meander, and look around.

This trip happens to coincide with my birthday and is both a gift to myself and a celebration of self. When I was eighteen, I had an accounts payable position with a unionized company. As part of our contract, we received our birth day off work. Ever since then, I have made it a habit to do something for myself on my birthday. What I do varies but it has never been a trip of this nature. This is an extra special celebration.

Leaving feels very freeing. It's a break from the mess of the stress of the rest of my life that I have really been looking forward to and even with the potential of my husband having emergency back surgery, my family is determined that I should go. And so I'm going. There's no point being a martyr when you're exhausted to the core and in need of refreshing. The troops are organized. They know what they need to do if it needs to be done and I need to trust that my adult children are as capable as I believe them to be and that all will be well.

I am positively vibrating with excitement, looking forward to being completely alone, being completely irresponsible, and to having both a new, a comfortable, and a creative experience.

All these pictures of Ashland were gathered on-line since I - of course - haven't taken my own yet. The one above is of the hotel I'll be staying in and the one below...

... is of one of the rooms. I have a feeling they'll be smaller than the resort we stayed at in Sisters for the past two years but will be wonderfully pampering just the same. I love the light showing in all the pictures. Light is important to me.

There will be more to do in Ashland than there was in Sisters. The picture above and the one below are of Lithia Park in the downtown. It looks like a fabulous place to go for a walk plus there are more stores, galleries, and restaurants to chose from and I imagine coffee shops, perhaps even my typical morning Starbucks. I still intend to journal. It's part of how I breath. The Shakespeare Festival will be on so things may be busier. I'm not really interested in Shakespeare but I do love people watching and to meet new people.

The structure of the workshop will be familiar and I will have met many of the attendees before and yet it feels like I'm taking a step into something new. I feel like I've found my feet - just a bit - in terms of focus and of the work I love to do and that I'm prepared to make the most of the holiday both from a resting and rejuvenating and an inspirational shot in the arm perspective. YES YES

What do you do to practice self-care? Do you think it's important? To me, it's like the airplane speech where they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else. How can we fulfill our roles in life, how can we live our own life fully, without filling our own gas tank, knowing and nurturing ourselves, and taking time to smell the roses - or in my case stroke the fabric. If self-care is not something you're used to practicing, I encourage you to start with something small - perhaps buy a magazine and read it in a coffee shop or go snoop shopping in a high end boutique. Alone. A huge percentage of people have not learned how to be alone but it is in the alone times that we truly learn who we are and become rested.

I'll post about the retreat, my real room, and the trip down next week.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - no more sleeps

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Some People Fly

Getting ready was feeling a bit frazzled yesterday and then things come together just fine - like they usually do - and I will definitely be ready to go on time. Tomorrow morning. Early. Today, I need to print out driving instructions, make an itinerary so my family can find me if they need me, get American money from the bank, and put my clothes in the suitcase. And then I'm ready.

Yesterday, I hemmed three pairs of jeans. The two darker pairs needed to be taken up an inch and the blue pair an inch and a half. Measuring, pinning, stitching, and pressing all three pairs took about twenty minutes using this technique that I've talked about before. SO easy.

Apparently, I waited a bit too long especially on the blue pair as it's showing some fading already. I think I'll try painting that "patch" with fabric paint and see what happens. If it's too blue, it'll also fade down again so I think it'll be okay. Right now, they're just off the floor with a slight heel. I prefer flatter shoes to wearing heels with jeans since I wear them for more practical than pretty reasons.

The studio is picked up, dusted and vacuumed - even the design wall and the work surface. I cut out a skirt and it's sitting on the machine-less sewing tables ready for when I get back. It's nice to be able to transition smoothly back into the work by having a project waiting otherwise I find that I can stutter and stall although, I doubt I will finish all the work I've packed to go so perhaps I'll have a project in progress to complete and that's always a perfect return to the studio.

I know that some people fly to this retreat but I have absolutely no idea how they do that. This is packing light for me. I restrained myself. A small rolling suitcase of fabric, interfacing, and other project supplies. A carry bag of tools, patterns, and thread. The sewing machine. The serger in a box along with a pressing surface and light. My journal bag. A flat cardboard box with the extension table, rotary mat and rulers, a roll of tracing paper, and teflon pressing sheets. My adjustable rolling chair. A wooden stool to put the serger on. AND.. a bag of purses, the challenge project, and the little girl twirl coats for show & tell along with the child size mannequin to show them on.

I bought new luggage for this trip. Nothing expensive. Just a four piece set from WalMart for less than the price of one good suitcase only it's in a girl pattern. The men in my life are constantly taking the suitcases on men trips and they come home dirty. I figured with a girl print, they wouldn't take my suitcases... which is why I didn't buy the beautiful purple ones... because my youngest son would so have borrowed those.

This morning, I have an appointment for a manicure and pedicure. Nothing fancy. Just clean, trimmed, and painted. I'll do my fingers in a clear or light color and have a bit more fun with the toes. There was a really short time frame when I got my nails done regularly and then I went back to leaving them bare since I didn't like the bill, about two days later I'd want that stuff off my hands, and I keep them short for working in the studio anyway BUT... I've noticed that most American women have their nails done and to avoid the potential for feeling self conscious with my scraggly fingers, I'm treating myself before the trip. The esthetician is someone I've known for years so we'll have a great chat while she works. Tonight, we're going out for dinner to celebrate my birthday since I'll be at the retreat on the day. That's like having two birthdays. But I'll only age once - LOL.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a clean studio to come home to, one more sleep

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wild Wonky Hem

My plans for yesterday were turned around and mixed up BUT... I did get everything done that needed to be done and in particular finishing the jacket, errands, and cleaning. It's a good thing because today is coffee dates and packing. Oh... and I need to hem my jean - my last sewing project before I go.

The jacket has buttons and button holes. You know you're committed when things get to that stage. In this picture, you can also see the piping around the front and collar. I've never piped an outside edge like this and...

... I wasn't quite sure how to end so I simply cut the strip and finished the edge with Fray Check. In a detail shot you can see every fussy bit but in real life - at a respectful distance - it looks okay. It's someplace to do more learning as is working with linen. It's so soft that I had trouble getting crisp corners and...

... finishing the edge of the facing may have created too strong of an edge because...

... it ended up with a wild wonky hem in the back. Millicent is still a bit smaller than me in the hips so maybe it'll "stretch" out on my body otherwise, I'll get some feedback at the retreat and perhaps fix that edge... if it's fixable. I'm wondering if I need to implement more stabilizing techniques when working with linen. That's something else to ask. AND...

... can you believe how many scraps are still left over? It amazes me when I aim for zero waste how it can go on and on. The scraps seem to breed in the night and extrapolate into a million pieces. I've packed these into a zip lock to take to the retreat. I'll use them as the start of a little girl twirl coat. Speaking of which...

... I added a pleat and a button to the sleeves of the twirl dress from March. I think it makes the sleeves more interesting especially as they're actually a three quarter sleeve and not the full length the pattern pretended to be.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a finished "challenge" project

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Another Teaser

I spent yesterday in the studio and the coat is almost finished. There are just the facing, the buttonholes, and the buttons left to go. I'll have a few more pictures tomorrow but not one of the completed coat until Gwen gets to see it first at the retreat. For now, another teaser.

The original pattern is drafted with center back cut on fold. I added a seam to allow for easier piecing since I was re-using the cut up bits from the first version. I also added a bit more hip room by flaring the seam below the waist. Above, I'm sewing the scraps into the shape of the right center back piece. The goal is to make a piece of fabric that is...

... slightly bigger than the pattern piece you want to cut out from it. Before I cut out the pattern pieces, I steam pressed the pieced sections and allowed them to cool which made for a crisp, easy to cut fabric.

One thing to be careful about with this kind of work is that you actually mirror the shape to make a left and a right section. It's all too easy to forget and to make two that are alike. That doesn't work.

The jacket is unlined. I used a matching thread to serge each seam and pressed them in one direction and then...

... top stitched with a fuchsia thread. This isn't the same thread I used last time. It's slightly brighter. I choose it because it's thicker and I thought it would stand out better against the fabric. In retrospect, the previous one was a better color choice but I doubt anyone would complain. I'm not going to. It's just good learning.

I even had to piece the facings. For these, I pressed the seam allowances open and then topstitched on both sides of the seam. I did that for the center back, the underarm, and the shoulder seams as well as it helped to eliminate bulk and to secure the seam allowances. Today, I'm finishing the coat and have a bunch of errands to run and will - hopefully - have coffee with my youngest son depending on his schedule and then I've traced a skirt pattern to go with the jacket. There's a dark denim in stash that would be great along with a white t-shirt. LOL - I bought one just in case.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a successful refashion on a tight deadline

Monday, May 26, 2014

Comparison & Insecurity

This morning has been a whirlwind of events already and here it is almost noon and I haven't published the blog yet. Obviously - LOL - I need to get back to writing the day before and editing in the morning. That system was a lot more consistent.

On Friday, I finished the black and white paisley top. It's Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8691 without the ruffle and quite easily the pattern I have sewn the most in the last year. It has wonderful lines that are flattering to my figure. The black and white paisley is another one of the knits - like the pink and black skirt from last week - that have beautiful hand and drape but are printed on a white background that shows through on the turned edges. In this case, it's not so bad since it's a black and white design although I did press the seams open to minimize that show-through tendency. I'll wear the top with the pants I finished last week.

On Saturday, I started to refashion the coat I'd made for my challenge with Gwen. I am SO GLAD that I decided to start over. I had such fun playing with the pieces and heading in new directions. Here's the lining stripped of the fashion fabric. I removed the fuchsia binding from the bottom and recycled it into the new project as well. Later... I'll shorten the lining and make a new overcoat to go with - with hopefully a better fashion fabric choice.

Here's the collar that I spent considerable time playing with. I do like the way the ruffles fold, pleat, and meld and the contrast of the flange however... the completed coat felt prissy and conservative and that wasn't what I was going for. Hence the refashion.

I spent Saturday and Sunday making fabric from fabric so I could cut the pattern pieces out. I'll show you more of that tomorrow. Luckily, I was able to cut the new sleeves from the previous sleeves. They were slightly too short so I added a strip at the bottom with the stripe in the opposite direction. There...

... wasn't a wide enough scrap so the hem is less than the drafted 2". I utilized the selvage of the striped fabric and then trimmed it in fuchsia which is the accent color throughout the piece. I love the combination of denim and fuchsia and I'll be able to use the same vintage buttons I'd planned for the previous coat. YES YES ! ! !

The pattern is Vogue 8982 by Marcy Tilton. Knowing I was going to spend a lot of time making the fabric, I made three muslins to perfect the fit first. I may have made another except for the forgiving nature of linen. There is a problem with the pattern. The front piece is marked as the front and UNDER collar and the facing piece is marked as the facing and UPPER collar. This is not true. As you can see, the collar does not fold down and so the front is the front and UPPER collar and the facing is the facing and UNDER collar. I didn't make that realization until I had finished piecing the fronts and was working on the facings. I'd intended to add more fuchsia elements to the "folded down" edge... only there isn't one... so I'll be paying more attention to how I can add fuchsia as I put the garment together.

At the root of comparison is something a little nastier: insecurity. Instead of saying "I wish I were better than I
am," we say, "I wish I were as good as he is." In one fell swoop we negate our work and our originality. No two players play alike, and there is that word, play. As artists, we do better focused on the play of learning than on the work of getting ahead. Centered on our own creative trajectory, each small gain is an encouragement. Each slight increment of mastery holds the sweet promise that the days of awkward repetition and frustrating blunders do lead somewhere after all. When we compete and compare instead of strive to emulate and empathize with other artists, we greet their skills with hostility and our own lesser skills with dismay. When we embrace the idea that all artists at all levels are still learning, still struggling, still evolving, growing, and grappling with their craft simply at a different altitude, we are encouraged by another's mastery to know: "It can be done.". We need such encouragement. Our talent may be large, but our struggles may be large as well. - Julia Cameron, Walking In This World

When I'm working on a project like this, I am thoroughly engaged. The work flows. I think that's in part because the style of work is similar to patchwork which I'm very confident with. The same thing happened with the purse above. With the purse, I was attempting to learn to incorporate painting and stenciling. I did that by detailing the fabric first and then cutting it up into the purse shapes. It was a decision that built on what I already knew and allowed me to incorporate something new and learn to do while doing.

One conclusion I've come to recently is that while I'd like to know more about painting and stenciling and to be more confident with those skills, they are not my primary love and are unlikely to ever become so. I can work on them bit by bit in a way that allows me to grow my confidence but I will never work in say Diane's way because I am not Diane. Instead of wishing I was like Diane, I need to wish I was better than I am.

The quote from Julia's book really resonated with me. I think we can spend far too much time in the candy shop - to use my analogy from a previous posting - finding it hard to focus and decide when perhaps what we really need is to pick the peppermints and move in that direction and see what happens. To build on what we know for sure in the direction of our yearnings with gentle encouragement for our learning, struggling, evolving, growing and grappling artist.

For me, I love adding new lines to a T & T through seams and piecing and I love highlighting details with thread. And right now, I'm enjoying finding that personal and individual balance between interesting and too much clutter and I'm excited about my decision to focus on collars and closures. This is good - especially as I head for the Design Outside the Lines retreat at the end of the week. I think I'm in a fabulous frame of mind to really maximize my time there.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - some answers around Howard's health that are finally leading in a positive direction - slow - but positive

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Plaid And The Polka Dots

White is not a color I sew with often however... eventually... even though you rarely use them... the spools do run out... which happened yesterday. When I went to change the serger thread to white, I couldn't find the spools and then remembered I was supposed to buy more the next time they were on sale. Which I hadn't. But luckily they were on sale again. I picked some up when I went out in the afternoon - buy 1 get 2 free - which was good - but the day still got turned around and I didn't sew until after dinner - in my pajamas.

I finished up to the fitting stage and then set the top aside. I didn't feel like getting dressed again to try it on. This morning, I'll finish it before taking the challenge project apart and starting to refashion it. I'll be sure to get a before picture for next week's posting. I realized I hadn't shown the completed collar in the earlier posting.

I'm getting really excited about my trip. A week today and I'll be on the road. I have a section in my closet where I've hung all the garments I'm taking. They're all there now except for this one top that I'm still sewing. Typically when I travel, I...

... scoop up all my favourite jewelry and take it along and decide on the day what I'm going to wear only jewelry is heavy so this time I'm putting the chosen necklace together on the hanger with the outfit. I picked up this silver and black one downtown the other day. It was hard to find since smaller jewelry seems to be in right now. That's not my style. I prefer statement pieces. I think this one is just perfect with the plaid and the polka dots. AND...

... I found this other piece in my jewelry box. A friend gave it to me for Christmas and I remember thinking at the time that it was pretty but didn't seem to really go with anything I already owned. It does however go with the red floral dress and is the right length for the neckline. Too fun.

Yesterday I picked up all those little things you need for a trip although I forgot a garment bag so I need to go back today and take a look. Normally, I put everything in my suitcase only I'm trying to pack more compact this time. I want to try a smaller suitcase and a garment bag. Perhaps I can even throw my shoes in the bottom.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - statement necklaces

Thursday, May 22, 2014

That's How It Looked

A few weeks ago, I wondered if I would be heading off on holiday with nothing to wear - nothing new that is - but slowly and surely my wardrobe is coming together. I bought two tops and three sweaters and have sewn two dresses, a skirt, and two pairs of pants including...

... one of out-of-print Vogue 8397, view A in the middle. I'm not comfortable in ankle length pants so I added two inches to wear them with flats. These are the same pants...

... that I sewed last year. They're very fun to wear. The ones above are a size larger and were sewn from a cotton that wrinkles far too much and is annoying to press. Since they're now too big, I've put those ones in the to be refashioned box and chose...

... a black and charcoal stripe, unknown fiber, with a bit of Lycra that doesn't wrinkle but still presses well fabric for this new pair. They are finished except for the waistband which I'll do this morning before sewing another one of the tops shown above, this time in a black and white paisley design. I cut it out last night so it's all ready to go as soon as the pants are finished.

I tried something new for this latest pair of pants based on a comment Kristin made in a post a few weeks back. She was writing about fitting pants and mentioned something about crotch extensions and flat derrieres and wrinkles that I can't remember exactly but none-the-less had me thinking about how wide and how deep a body might be compared to the pattern. I have no idea what body depth is used for drafting nor how mine compares. But it got me wondering about whether I'm flatter than the pattern draft.

In the past, I've experimented with the shape of the crotch curve and have determined that I am L versus J shaped plus my hip depth is 8" and not the 9" that patterns are drafted with. For this pair, I shortened the hip depth, squared out the back crotch, and then shortened the front and back crotch extensions by 1/4" each or 1/2" in total. I arrived at that amount by pin fitting the tuck first. On another pair of pants I may need a different amount however, from what I can tell, this pulled the pants in snugger to my body and eliminated the bagging in the back. Or I'm hopeful that's what actually happened since that's how it looked all pinned and tucked. Once the waistband is on, I'll be able to tell better. Pictures asap.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - sewing blogs, sharing information

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Something I've Never Done Before

To be an artist, you must learn to let yourself be. Stop getting better. Start appreciating what you are. Do something that simply delights you for no apparent reason.

For an artist willing to have a learning curve, all directions lead to somewhere worthy. The problem lies in parsing out what constitutes a success - and for an artist that may be making something new and challenge rather than repeating a known success.
- Julia Cameron, Walking In This World

My goal this past weekend was to finish the challenge project and have it out of the way and done so I could focus on a few simple garments for my holiday wardrobe. When I got to the collar stage, I decided to work at it step by step and to do something I've never done before - which is not to say something that has never been done. Sometimes I can worry too much about being original rather than letting my work develop and grow organically and enjoying the process. I started with a simple band and then...

... added a flange around the top and then spent a considerable amount of time created a pleated frill above that and I liked it... sort of... only....

... when I got to the button stage, the work ground to a halt and sat there for a few days. I couldn't make myself make the buttonholes because I'm not happy with the piece. I don't think it's the best use of the fabric and I think the linen is too soft for a coat SO... I'm going to refashion it next weekend and I feel good about that decision. There's something about listening to our intuition that is very important. When it's jumping up and down and saying no, there is something new to learn in this situation. I'm excited about the project I have in mind but first....

... a few simple projects in-between. Palette cleansers. Yesterday, I sewed Burda 8213. This is my all time favourite style of skirt. I can remember buying this style in a sage green, baby cord, when I was in high school and I've bought or sewn variations of it in the forty years since. It always flatters and feels good on.

In the fall, I sewed it out of a knit and love wearing that skirt so much that I decided to make another knit version. The fabric is gorgeous and has a lovely hand and drape and even though I bought it on sale, the regular price was quite expensive. Even so, it's somewhat disappointing because it's printed and any time you press a seam to one side, the white of the backing shows through. With this pattern, the white is only visible at the waistband which will be covered by my top and occasionally at the hemline which would take a lot of effort to see. Otherwise, the seams are pressed open and that seems to work. Sorry for the blurry picture.

I didn't try to match the print. With busy designs like these, I never bother because I love the way the lines meld and merge and create new images. I'll wear this with a black top and a pink sweater I bought RTW last week that matches just perfect. A total fluke. A welcome one.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a new idea for refashioning the striped fabric

Friday, May 16, 2014

Too Much, Not Enough, And Just Perfect

Although I'm THE most disorganized I've ever been heading into a trip, I am started to get super excited about my holiday. Two weeks today, I'll be on my way, heading to the border and then down the I5 to the first stop. I'm taking two days to drive to Ashland so I can meander my way.

My wardrobe might be a bit scattered and that's okay. I will be dressed. Holidays for me are a wonderful opportunity to dress up a bit more and it was quite delightful the first time I went to this workshop to not be the only one. I'm looking forward to that again. I love seeing the clothes and the accessories that other women use to bring their look together - all the little details.

I've been thinking a lot about details. These first four images are of Marcy Tilton's pieces. Marcy does a lot of work with knits while Diane Ericson more often works with woven fabrics. While I've worked with knits quite a bit over the past few years, I haven't managed to take that step where I start adding all these delightful collar details which are...

... in my opinion... a way of adding interest not only to the process but the finished product. In packing for the trip, I've been thinking about what do I want to work on and I've decided to take supplies for little girl coats and for bags because I'm very familiar with sewing those two products and will be able to sew with ease while my mind sifts through the stimulation of the instruction and the other workshop members.

Too much stimulation can become quite overwhelming. Like I mentioned last week, suddenly your mind is going in a million directions and you want to incorporate this and that and that and this and you're not actually moving forward with much momentum. Or I'm not at least. It's more like spinning in circles, a kid in a candy shop, too much to make a choice.

These next three pictures are Diane's. If you get an opportunity to hear Diane talk at Sew Expo or to check out some of her on-line videos or - best of all - take a workshop, you'll discover she has such an ability to see potential in the smallest of bits. One of the things I've asked her to talk about at the workshop is how to store all those bits and pieces so you know what you have and can actually find and use it. I think there are at least six fabrics in the above collar treatment and...

... probably just about as many in this lace version in progress. The earlier one I can see myself wearing. This one is not at all my style. That has been my strongest learning over the past two years. What is and isn't me and what to focus in on.

One consideration for me is how to mix collar treatments with my love of statement necklaces. I'm not sure how the two go together and that may be why I've haven't quite yet embraced this direction. However, simple collars are not as challenging to sew and I'm ready for more challenge so this year I plan to pay particular attention to collars and closures. To me, they represent a way to take a T & T pattern and evolve it in new directions as does...

... my awareness that I prefer wearing monochromatic color schemes and avoiding what I refer to as too much clutter. My friend Sharon took this picture for me when we were out shopping the other day. It's a wonderful mix of fabrics and details that was probably over-dyed to one color after the fact and even so, it's the type of direction I'd like to move in. Katherine's Vogue 8691 would be a good starting point for this idea. My years in quilt making and textile art provided plenty of experience in mixing fabrics. I've been doing some of that with my fashions but there's certainly room for more and room for finding that line between too much, not enough, and just perfect.

This morning, I'm off to journal, and then to buy dirt, and then to weed the flower garden. The weeds are threatening to take over the perennials and since the sun is finally shining and the weather is warming up, it's time to clean things up pretty. After that, I'll work on the coat some more. It's making great progress.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a focus for both what I want to sew and what I want to learn at the workshop