Thursday, August 28, 2014

Texture And Architecture

One of the things I'm doing in Ashland is taking a one-to-one coaching session with Diane. To prepare, she sent me some questions around the kind of work I like to do, what I'm proud of, and what I'm hoping for. One of the things I mentioned in my reply is my love of texture and architecture.

Diane designs her patterns for a completely different figure than mine so I haven't had much success making one yet. When I was at the Design Outside The Lines retreat in June, I tried on Helen's version of Diane's Faultlines vest  - bottom pattern in the above picture - and it looked surprisingly good on me so I'm making it using the fabric below that I bought from Marcy Tilton a few years ago. LOVE the texture. It's black black but very hard to photograph. It typically comes up some shade of grey.

I've been thinking about the sweater to shrug refashion. In the past - with RTW or sewn garments - I've had far more success with cropped designs that close across the front and are short enough to show off my waist than with ones that open at the front and - seemingly - draw a line straight to my tummy. This vest is the later type with a softer, asymmetrical hemline.

I sewed the muslin in a really busy print so it's hard to see all the edges unless you click on the picture. In the instructions, each piece is sewn and lined separately and then overlapped to join together - I think - they are not the clearest of instructions since there are a lot of you could do this or this or this design possibilities included, which are fabulous, but it takes some reading through to find the actual instructions.

I pieced the back, sewed the shoulder seams, and overlapped the front the way I wanted, and then pinned the sides in a configuration that worked.

The left side is a bit too long so I may change that angle. The fabric doesn't flap from the bust on me as much as it does on Millcent. She's smaller. At some point - hopefully soon - I plan to buy another - larger - mannequin so I have my complete range of sizes but for now, Millicent does her best.

With this vest, I want to incorporate more than one fabric. Far left is a light-weight woven stripe that may become bias. Next to it is a ribbed knit  that I'm auditioning for the bottom edge. The zipper has crystal teeth and is too long but if I could find a shorter one, it would be great for closing center front. My mind is bubbling with ideas and I'm telling myself not to dumb them down. That's another thing I wrote in my answers to Diane - that I want to create the ideas in my head and stop simplifying them all the time, to risk more.

There won't be any time to sew today. I'm off to journal and then coffee with my other mother and then an hour and a half drive to meet a friend for lunch. She's visiting her daughter three hours away and we're meeting in the middle.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - friends who will meet you in the middle

Life is sacred. Life is art. Life is sacred art.
- Gabrielle Roth

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This Is Magic

Chasing the magic number is chasing an illusion, because it not only puts us outside of ourselves and our process, it puts us outside of today - far into the future, where we are free to make up stories based on nothing but fantasy.

There's no such thing as a magic number. But there is such a thing as magic. What feels like magic is different for all of us - a bluebird on the windowsill, a beautiful sunset, the handmade valentine from our child, the friend who holds our hand and listens to us with compassion and total acceptance - this is true prosperity. And true prosperity always feels like magic. Because it is.
- Julia Cameron

I'm re-reading Julia Cameron's book The Prosperous Heart. Although I rarely reread novels, I frequently reread non-fiction books - especially those to do with art and life coaching - and every time I do, I discover something new. The quote above was from yesterday's reading. Later that morning, the doorbell rang and a small, friendly woman with a basket full of cleaning supplies explained that she was going to clean and prep my front door and that her husband was following along behind with paint and a paintbrush. Apparently, at the last general meeting of the strata, the one I didn't attend, they had volunteered to paint the trim and yellowing plastic on each set of 113 doors. This struck me as magic. It's a task that's been on my to do list ever since we moved in and one I felt that I had to get to this fall. Now, I just need to paint the door itself and that is so much easier.

The roll above is the remnants from the Lyn Mizono dress. There's quite a bit but perhaps not enough for another garment. I bought the fabric in Salmon Arm and a friend is going there tomorrow. She offered to stop by Fabricland and see if there is any more AND... tomorrow is the start of a buy 1, get 2 free sale in which this fabric is likely to be included since it was already discounted the last time I was there. Even if the fabric is sold out, this is magic.

After restarting the little girl's sweater twice due to a lack of yarn - and even though I'm now knitting the smallest size - I'm still not sure that I'll have enough so I found another ball, different dye lot, on Ebay. When it arrived, the color was ever so slightly darker than the other balls but not dark enough to present a problem. I can use it for the edging and the collar. This is magic.

I've been knitting and knitting and knitting and my scarf-like shawl is now 69" long. I'm aiming for somewhere between eight-six and a hundred and four inches but the real length will be the length of the remaining yarn. This variation is the third with this yarn and it appears to be a case of third time lucky. The shawl is looking like a perfect fall and spring accessory, perfect for Ashland if I finish it on time. This is magic.

When I was at my friend Rosemarie's the week before last, she showed me a triangular scarf knit in garter stitch that started with five stitches and increased each end of every row to a short and wide scarf that wrapped well around the neck. This past Christmas, I knit a lot of scarves attempting to use up all the recycled yarn in my basket. I didn't BUT... some of what I have left will be just perfect for this scarf and the scarf will be just perfect as a take along project for both my trip and the drop-in session at Diane's studio on the Wednesday. This is magic.

The prosperous heart is abundant. While we may not have all that we wish, we can be assured that we have "enough." Rather than insatiably craving more, the prosperous heart makes the most of the stores that it has. We find we can meet our needs and even our wants. We know that prosperity is more than our cash flow, more than our fiscal bottom line. Prosperity is a matter of faith. The prosperous heart trusts that the future will be cared for, as is the day at hand. The prosperous heart does not fear abandonment. The prosperous heart believes that even its tiniest whisper meets God's ear. - Julia Cameron

Lately, I've been struggling with the lack of progress in the mess of the rest of my life and I've been soothing myself with a little too much on-line shopping - some fabric, some yarn, some books. The magic within my studio is a good reminder that while I may not have all that I wish for, I certainly have enough and that I can soothe myself at home while knowing that even my tiniest dreams and wishes are reaching God's ear.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - stash magic

Our greatest fear is that we will never live a life worth sharing with others, never live a story worth telling but that we will find ourselves trapped in a story for which there is no ending, only an endless cycle of disappointment and defeat. The lie that paralyzes us is that those failures and disappointments disqualify us from living out the great story of our lives. The reality is that our struggles and suffering give us the content to tell the greatest story of our lives. To do this, though, we must discover the unique characteristics that distinguish those individuals who have know both tragedy and triumph, who have found the dancing after the mourning and who have learned to count it all joy when they faced trials of many kinds. 
- Erwin Raphael McManus

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sweater To Shrug Refashion Part Two

Thanks for all the compliments on the Lyn Mizono dress yesterday. Steph's comment about still cameras versus video cameras was quite interesting. I'll aim to get a video of me wearing - and walking in - the dress asap so we can compare.

Here's a detail image of the Burda 7118 shrug muslin. Once again, it is quickly apparent that dolman sleeves and I do not get along. The image above is bad enough and then...

... there's this one. I grabbed the white t-shirt off Millicent since the one I was wearing had sleeves and the result was DEFINITELY. NOT. FLATTERING. I look pregnant and no... won't be wearing that t-shirt ever again... and probably not the black version either - LOL. However...

... on Millicent, who normally wears a black dress, the t-shirt helped to show off the sweater to shrug refashion. It's okay. Nothing fabulous and it didn't play nicely with the dress. It took away from the waist feature and dominated. For a winter version of the dress, I'd add sleeves instead of a cover-up.

BUT... I really like the texture of the tucks and how they wander over the surface. I've always been drawn to visual and especially tactile texture.

With the back hemline, I tried to create a soft wandering edge and was only partially successful.

It looks more like a mistake than anything purposeful. LOVE the idea though. It's something to play with. Next time, I'll either start with yardage or with a sweater that is considerably larger than me. With this refashion, there wasn't a lot of room for adjustments. Good learning.

Meet my new keyboard. Last week, my previous one - which looks identical - started sticking and a bunch of letters would run together every time I typed a letter. Howard insisted it was irreparable. He wanted me to get a new one because the letters were worn off my other one and he always had to bring his own keyboard when he worked on my computer. Kyle prefers a straight keyboard and insisted Microsoft wasn't making this model anymore and that I'd need a "normal" one. Not likely. Apparently this 4000 series, ergonomic keyboard is one of their best sellers. After a week with the teeny, tiny, ridiculous thing that Howard uses, I'm glad to have "my" keyboard back.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a new keyboard

When we hear God's voice, we finally find our voice. When we find our voice, we discover we finally have something to say, and that when we speak our words have power. 
- Erwin Raphael McManus

Monday, August 25, 2014

A True And Safe Question

We took these pictures on Saturday just before heading off to the wedding. Apparently, along with how I'm standing and whether my chin is a mile up in the air and do I have a weird smile on my face and is my hair doing crazy things, we need to watch for sun spots. Photography is complicated.

The dress is ULTRA comfortable. I don't know if that's due to the style lines or the fabric I chose but it's quite wonderful, more wonderful than it looks in these images. When how we feel in a garment doesn't match how the picture looks, which impression do we go with? I have found the camera to be both truthful and a liar.

The dress makes me feel slim and feminine. The pictures don't. It doesn't help that when I asked my youngest son if he liked my new dress, he said he liked the color and when I asked don't you think it gives me a nice figure, he said if you want to look like a fat old lady - ouch - so I asked don't you think it makes my waist look small thinking this was a true and safe question and he said, that's not your waist and pointed to an area near my high hip and said that was my waist.

I decided we should stop talking about the dress and how it looked on me and have an anatomy lesson instead - and perhaps a sewing one - about waists and pant waists. It was much safer. I will conclude that it does indeed make my waist look small.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - beautiful sunrises

There is little sense in attempting to change external conditions, you must first change inner beliefs then outer conditions will change accordingly. 
- Brian Adams

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sweater To Shrug Refashion Part One

Yesterday's trip to Kelowna was pretty specific, not  a day of much meandering.. Sharon found some great swimsuits at the first store we went to, we looked at a few other stores in the mall, went for lunch, and then stopped at the Fabricland there which is still closing out and hasn't moved to its new location yet. A lot of the fabric left was special occasion and higher end like satin, Chinese brocade, and wool coating however, there were still tables of other pieces and...

... what I found particularly interesting was that in a store that's been on sale for months and currently has sale prices at 75% off, where the stock has been whittled down to near to nothing, there were four or five bolts of fabric still left of which I already have some of that fabric, including the knit of my recent dress. Apparently my taste isn't mainstream enough to sell out quickly. That made me laugh.

I forgot to get a picture of me wearing the muslin of the shrug yesterday and it won't be happening this morning until I'm dressed. I'll add it later. When it didn't fit...

... I decided on a sweater to shrug refashion starting with a cardigan that I picked up in Portland on my trip in June. It was already cut apart when I realized that I hadn't taken a picture of it intact. Think basic, black, button up front, crew neckline, ribbing at the hems. Nothing too amazing but a nice stable fabric mix and too big for me which left room for playing.

I started by taking off the shell buttons. These alone were worth the price of the cardigan that had a "blue tag" on blue tag day. I got an extra 50% off the already great sale price.

Before I cut apart the pieces, I used chalk to mark the back of each one and then used interfacing to stabilize the back shoulder seams before serging them back together. I had intended to serge to the outside and forgot when adding the stabilizer. That changed the direction of my thoughts so I...

... next pinned a bunch of tucks across the back and then stitched them 1/8" away from the fold. That's the stage I'm at. The back is fitting nicely so I'll add some tucks to the front next - vertical - and to the sleeve - horizontal because I need all the width - before sewing in the sleeves and deciding on the shape of the hemlines. Today is busy and the wedding is tomorrow afternoon so if I want to wear the shrug with the dress, I'll need to get my act in gear. Luckily is not that complicated. More on Monday.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - finding swimsuits, a fun day

My heart is at ease knowing that what was meant for me will never miss me, and what misses me was never meant for me. 
- Imam Al-Shafi'i

Thursday, August 21, 2014


The dress is finished. Today, you can see it on Millicent and on the weekend, I will - hopefully - get a picture of me wearing it to post next week. But first...

... I had an absolutely delightful time teaching my friend and her son how to fuse, and cut, and satin stitch a banner. We made Tom do most of the work since it was his banner and he had a fabulous attitude and really wanted to accomplish. He caught on quick and did a great job. In the time that he and his Mom - my friend....

... Rosemarie - were here, he made a lot of progress and is now ready to finish the piece on his Mom's machine. I got them past the part they didn't know. It was fun to watch them interact and Rosemarie said it meant a lot to her to work on the project together. Mom-son bonding. YES YES - I love teaching and especially teaching creativity. It's so important when you're trying something new, that it's a project that means something to you. That's what worked for Tom. He was invested.

Here's my dress. The light is making both the wall and the dress extra vibrant. It's a gorgeous magenta-ish purple with black stripes. Instead of buttonholes, elastic cording, and a cord stopper, I sewed a button to each fold and then used a tie made from the fabric to loop them together.

The width between the buttons can be adjusted narrower or wider depending on the desired look. The dress is both comfortable and flattering. It worked out well... not like the muslin of the Burda shurg which I also sewed yesterday. Definitely. Not. Flattering. I'll show you that tomorrow along with the sweater I'm refashioning into a shrug but... first...I'm off to Kelowna - 2 1/2 hours away - to help my friend shop for a bathing suit for her upcoming vacation. All I can say is that I'm glad it's not me who needs a bathing suit and I'm looking forward to a day with my friend.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - an opportunity to teach

When you really listen to yourself, you can heal yourself.
- Ceanne Derohan

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Recognize That Design

I'm finding it hard to believe that we're in the second half of August already. It probably makes me sound older than old but the seasons seem to flip by so fast now or maybe it's that they're delayed. Summer seems to arrive and leave later than it used to and we're back on our fall schedule before the weather says fall. The dates on the calendar don't coincide with the temperatures.

I spent some time yesterday morning working on the Lyn Mizono - Vogue 1410 - dress and it's coming along well. I'm not having any issues with the knit. It's working wonderfully. The neck and armholes are finished and this morning, I'll work on the side seams. From the sample, I know that I can ease the bust dart in as opposed to stitching it. This is good.

There was a discussion on one of my chat groups recently about stay-stitching, is it important, and how is it done. YES - it is important. On a knit, I use 3/8" strips of fusible interfacing cut without stretch. After using the pattern piece as a template to make sure that the fabric is sitting on the pressing surface without distortion, I fuse the strips around the neck and armholes and across the back shoulder seam.

The interfacing holds the edges stable. When I pin the binding in place, I don't need to stretch it because I'm not trying to bring the neckline in; it's already the size I want it to be. Instead, I just pin and stitch the binding smoothly in place and then turn it over to the wrong side and stitch to hold it in place.

When I'm in Ashland in September, I am taking a creativity coaching session with Diane Ericson. To prep, she sent me a list of questions to answer before we get together so I've been looking through my inspiration files for illustrations of the kind of work I'm interested in doing. I love visual and tactile texture like in these pictures from Anthropologie. They're old so the garments are not likely to be available anymore. All three are "simple" t-shirts. The one above is Climbing Cowlneck - $58.00. Aren't the tucks fabulous?

This one is called Odds And Ends - $98.00. I always imagine that I can make something like this from my scraps but it never seems I have exactly - and enough of - what I need although mixing prints is fun too. For a monochromatic piece, I might need to buy "scraps" HOWEVER...

... once I have the collection, the new Vogue pattern - 1408 - would be perfect for figuring this out. It has enough seams and lines to have a lot of fun with.

With the Flutter Flutter t-shirt above - $98.00 - it suddenly hit me that I recognize that design. In fact, I have the pattern. It's...

... Vogue 8856 which was just put on clearance. How strange to never have connected those two before. Now I want to sew the top more than ever. I think it's gorgeous and graceful and elegant and interesting all at the same time.

This morning I'll sew for me and this afternoon will be very fun. My friend Rosemarie's son - twenty-six - asked her to make a banner of the logo of an on-line game he enjoys only that's not really something she knows how to do so the two of them are coming over and I'll show them both how to use fusible web, build the design, and stitch it to the background. Fun. I love to encourage creativity.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a coaching session

Within you is a limitless, unborn potential of creativity and substance... (T)he tragedy can become a blessing, the disadvantage can become an advantage, the failure can become an opportunity and the disappointment can become God's appointment. 

- Eric Butterworth

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

From One Wrap To Another

The weather was overcast yesterday which was just perfect for sitting on my friend Rosemarie's porch and knitting. I took along my current project and showed her my next one which is...

... this cropped cardigan is from the Fall 2005 edition of Vogue Knitting. There are a bunch of designs in that issue that I like. Apparently, things are cycling around already. This pattern uses a heavier yarn and features cables. My favourite knitting stitch is ribbing and after that cables. This has some of both.

The yarn is Patons Classic Wool Worsted. It's 100% wool. Seven balls of this yarn was less expensive than six balls of another 100% acrylic yarn. Hmm... that seems strange. Either way, I prefer to knit with natural yarns because of the way they block. They do; acrylic doesn't. Blocking with knitting is as important to me as pressing with sewing.

I took along the scarf-like shawl only it no longer looks like above. Instead, it has evolved from...

... one wrap to another. The stitch pattern is a combination of ribbing and eyelet. It was on a sweater in another old knitting magazine. I combined it with two seed stitches at the end of each row and am making a wrap something along the lines of...

... the Eyelet Wrap from Vogue Knitting's book Shawls & Wraps. The one above is 14" x 83". Mine will be 16" by whatever length it ends up being - definitely longer than 66" - hopefully somewhere around 86-104". The previous wrap tapered from a wide - twenty-four inch - end to a much narrower - about four inch - end over a distance of 66" which looked great but wasn't long enough to wrap nicely around the back and hang down the front like the illustration had shown. They must have scrunched it around the neck for that picture. I'll knit the design again later and add more length at the wide end before tapering. MEANWHILE... this one is a easy knit, and light, and pretty, and I think it'll work quite well.

I have an appointment this afternoon but should have some time to start the dress this morning. It's not going to take long once I get started so getting started is the main thing. Luckily, it's already cut out.

Yesterday, I tried on a shrug at the store that was made from lace with a 3/4" sleeve. It would have looked gorgeous with the dress if it had fit me properly. One size was too tight in the arms and the next one up was too wide across the shoulders. At least I know I like the look. Burda 7118 either view A with shortened to three quarter length sleeves or view B would work well in a light fabric for summer and something heavier for fall.

I bought the beige chair for knitting thinking it would be perfect to place in a corner with a lamp and just curl up in only it's not an easy chair to curl up in because it's wide but not deep. Yesterday, the new neighbour was over and when she saw the chair, she LOVED it so I sold it to her for what I paid for it at Habitat. SO... sorry... no painting tutorial on this chair but wonderful to get my money back. Next time - LOL - I'll take my knitting and sit a while and see what I think.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the ability to start over

The defining characteristic of artisan bread is that the ingredients are simple and pure - pure in their essence - and everything goes in the direction of simplicity. For bread to be considered artisan, it must be hand crafted. Artisan bread comes from a process and environment that reflect imagination and intimacy. The human spirit, as it moves toward spiritual health, knows intrinsically that the artisan process is better for the soul than any process that moves toward mass production. 
- Erwin Raphael McManus, The Artisan Soul

Monday, August 18, 2014

Comparing Muslins

This post - hopefully - illustrates that just because you have enough fabric to go around doesn't mean you have enough fabric in the correct place. Unfortunately, the two muslins were sewn from the same fabric so they look very similar. The first two pictures are of muslin one and the second two pictures are of muslin two. We're comparing muslins.

With the bodice, the back shoulder width was equal to mine but the front shoulder width was much wider. That extra fabric was between the bust points. In the picture above, I've pinned the extra amount into a tuck at center front and ended up cutting off 3/4" along the fold or 1 1/4" in total from between bust points.

On the pattern envelope, you can see the gaping at center front on the modeled image. See how the points of the skirt swing forward. The seam that forms those points is the side seam which means that as the skirt points swing forward, they pull the back tighter placing most of the hip ease to the front of the garment. If your back hip is wider than your front hip like mine is, and depending on how tight the muslin is pulling, you might consider a larger pattern size for the back hip.

It's hard too see in this picture with the tuck pinned but the bust is pulling up. See how the swing of the points comes from my underarm? Even though I eliminated the excess at center front, I still needed a full bust adjustment to give the extra length and width where I needed it below the bust point. That would settle the garment back down where it was intended to be and eliminate some of that swing. In the picture above you can see the back tucks that are sewn to the outside.

This is the second muslin. The gaping has been eliminated and I'm holding the tuck forward to the front where it will sit. The bodice looks much better. I removed 2 1/2" in length and there is still a 3/4" hem to be turned so I think the length should be fine in the front. In the back (below) it still looks quite long. Luckily, I can make a deeper hem though so I'm not too worried about that.

In this side view, the skirt points are still swinging forward but not nearly as much due to the full bust adjustment. Less swing also lessened the pull across the back hip. In this image, the back tucks aren't sewn. I disliked the way they stuck out. On the "real" dress, I'll sew a traditional dart to the inside that will be smooth and less visible. Smooth to me is much better than sticky-outy.

I want a cheerful dress so I went with the purple and black stripe knit. Because of the stretch factor, this may require some minor adjustments to the side seam at the bodice level for less ease but everything else should work well. I'll baste that seam first and see what I think. I may even be able to ease in the dart instead of stitching it. I'll try a sample first.

With the muslins, I didn't like the way the front tucks were sewn but for different reasons than the back tucks. There are two tucks to the outside with a button hole placed below them. I'm not sure why the button hole wasn't in the tucks. The dress on the pattern envelope uses cord with a decorative cord stopper to pull the tucks toward each other but not touching. I'm not likely to be able to purchase something decorative locally so I'm debating other options... perhaps two buttons... or a tie or...

Today is quite busy. Hopefully there will be time to start sewing this evening. The pieces are cut out and ready to go and there are only two seams so that does make things faster.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - learning through muslins

I refuse to worry about anything. I have complete confidence that the God who is always with me is able and willing to direct everything I do, to lead me into the pathway of peace and happiness. 
- Ernest Holmes