Friday, May 29, 2015

Whatever Is In The Fridge

My jewelry class was on Monday and then on Thursday and now it's this morning. I'm excited - to make jewelry and to see if I'm putting this down or picking it up. After Wednesday's bead and button workshop, I've had all kinds of ideas bubbling in my head only that's happened before so we'll see where this class takes me. Hopefully I'll have something progressive to share on Monday.

Like the other days, I went to the park to journal write and then I rented a bike and went for a long ride in the bike park. It was FABULOUS. Apparently it's true that you never forget how to ride. I got on, rode away, and came back an hour later a little sore an a lot exhilarated. I felt like that girl again. Too fun. I'm hoping to go again before I leave and I'm definitely thinking more seriously about buying a bike.

After my ride, I had ice-cream and then wandered some of the side streets checking out shops and galleries I hadn't visited before and then I came home, had lunch, and made beads and buttons. The ones above were wrapped after dipping in a milk-like mixture of white glue and water. They'll dry firm and be cut or drilled into useful beads.

I finished tucking in the ends on the twenty-nine knots. Sometimes a pin is needed to help the fabric hold its place until the glue dries. That's what you see above. Before tucking the ends in, they have to be trimmed to length and the bulk cut out of the middle. That leaves...

... little bits and pieces and me being me, I had to save those too. I can make thread lace with these that may be useful for a pendant. You never know. What I do know is that I seem to be needed to keep more and more and smaller and smaller scraps. I'm not sure if this is good or not.

Last night my friend Judy came for dinner. I made a mushroom chicken fettuccini with a side plate of raw vegetables and fruit - basically whatever was in the fridge. It turned out well but more importantly we had a great visit. It's fun to have made friends here in Ashland and to see them on my holiday.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - riding a bike

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tying Knots

Lithia Park here in Ashland is a busy place. Every morning there are walkers along the paths, people exercising on the grassy spaces, and children in the playground. Everyone is friendly and seems so happy to be out and about in the sunshine.

In contrast, the Starbucks is quite small and crowded with a few tables close together - not great - so yesterday, I took my coffee and journal to the park and wrote at a table alongside the creek. The area reminds me of a space about an hour from home where my family camped a lot during the summers. It's peaceful, calm, beautiful.

In the afternoon I had a fabric bead and button workshop. I picked up a shirt at the thrift store for $4.00 that had the most amazing buttons - totally worth more than $4.00. They're a heavy metal. The shirt they were attached to feels like raw silk but doesn't tear so it must be a blend of some kind. I cut it into equal strips and...

... spent the evening tying knots. These can be used either as buttons or beads. How wide and long the strip is and how thick the fabric is all contribute to the finished size of the knot.

Before you tuck the ends in, they look a lot like candy kisses. I ended up with twenty-nine in total as well as remnants that can be rolled into beads. I'm intending to do series work in the year ahead and there are many ways to work in series. One is to use the same starting point. I'm not sure how many pieces I can make from this one shirt but it'll be fun to explore.

There's a find line between crafty/tacky and some degree of sophistication. If I'm going to make jewelry, I want the primary ingredient to be fabric and I definitely do NOT want to make crafty/tacky pieces. Diane's necklace above has the kind of look I'm aiming for. It makes a (positive) statement and statement necklaces are my thing. 

Isn't this a fun fabric? I have no idea what I'll do with it but I had to have a yard when I saw it at the local store - across from the movie theater. After the workshop, I went to see the documentary Iris about Iris Apfel. Right up until the previews started, I was the only person in the theater and then two other women came in and the three of us watched it together. So strange. It's not a film that just anyone would enjoy but an interesting biography of one woman's life and her passion for fashion, fabric, accessories, and individuality and an encouragement to be our own unique selves.

Today, the plan is to journal in the park and then go for a bike ride. There's a company that rents bikes and a series of easy riding trails. I loved riding a bike when I was younger but haven't been on one in over twenty years. I've been thinking about getting a bike again and this seems like a great way to give it a try.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - encouraged about the potential of fabric jewelry, looking forward to the next class on Friday

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Near To Perfect

Yesterday didn't go quite as planned. I had a wonderful coaching session with Diane only she was just getting over a cold and by the end her voice needed rest so we postponed the jewelry class until Thursday.

She did show me some samples before I left and they provided a lot to think about while knitting on the porch at the B & B but before that I wandered around town looking for ideas and inspirations. I went to the hardware store which has a fabulous art section and bought some index cards to record processes that work for me and a sketchpad to record the inspirations I see. To take my work forward I need to be more alert to and diligent about recording ideas.

The pattern I'm knitting for the baby blanket is an alternating check. It has a rhythm that's easy to knit, more fun than garter stitch, and looks the same from both sides of the blanket. As long as I keep track of when to switch the pattern, I can keep right on thinking.

This lovely Asian woman didn't speak English but she knew exactly what I wanted when I pointed to my camera and her skirt. This is my favourite style sewn from very narrow panels of alternating fabrics. I thought about how one fabric could be left plain and surface designed and then the sections alternated for a more subtle change and a chance to play with paint.

On Sunday, I spent the afternoon with my friend, Ute,and she taught me how to make a welt pocket. She's a VERY good teacher. My first ever example turned out near to perfect. Today, I'm going back to sew the actual pockets into my raincoat. Nerve wracking! I can do this.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - peaceful porches

Monday, May 25, 2015

From Finding To Finished

When I planned to drive down this weekend, I didn't realize it was a holiday in the United States. I left early enough to drive straight across the border and through Seattle but I hit traffic in Portland and it took an hour and a half from when I crossed the Oregon border to when the traffic was still congested but at least moving at speed. As I passed it, I gave the hotel I usually stay at a longing look. I could have been "home" but...

... I had more exciting things to do in Corvallis. On Saturday morning, I met with Gwen Spencer and we discussed how to develop ideas from finding to finished. It was reassuring to realize that I am on the right path.

Gwen and I have a similar body type and she totally understood my comments around something being overwhelming or too much or too much fabric. I was able to look at quite a few of her garments made over the last seven or eight years and to see the progression of work from more to less constrained. That resonated. I can see a similar progression in my own work and I realized that if I just keep playing and experimenting I will get where I'm going.

There are two things I need to work on. One is more exposure to creative garments and possibilities and the other is collecting little bits like the piece of leather that is down the back of Gwen's vest. She had a fabulous system for storing bits in containers by color that I'm going to copy. A system that works is really valuable.

When I curled up on the bed at my hotel in Corvallis to journal, I had a laugh. Apparently along with using black thread, there's a polka dot theme going on. My new pajamas were wonderful.

This morning, I'm meeting with Diane for a coaching session and this afternoon I'm taking a jewelry class. I need to either pick up and explore or put down and ignore jewelry. It's been just sitting there for too long. I'm looking forward to figuring that out.

This post is so late this morning because I had to figure out pictures. Howard wrote me instructions and walked me through how to use the picture software on my new netbook and of course it didn't work and late last night wasn't a good time. I figured out a method this morning and it'll work until I figure out a better one. Good and enough.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - safe travel, inspiration

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Limiting Experience

Along with all the sewing and workshop supplies and things to amuse me, my suitcase is packed and in the car. I'm viewing this trip as a limiting experience from a variety of ways, giving myself some boundaries. I packed as if for our cruise at the end of June taking seven tops, three cardigans, five pairs of pants, two skirts, a raincoat, three pairs of shoes, and jewelry which weighed 31.6 pounds.

Tat total doesn't include toiletries since I'm packing an overnight bag for my stay in Corvallis tonight. I'll weigh that bag separately this morning and see what the combined total is but whatever it is, I already know that my suitcase is under-big. It'd be hard to get those products in too. Luckily it's smaller than the allowable size so I can look for a larger one.

On this trip, I am taking two coaching sessions, three three-hour workshops, the Design Outside the Lines retreat, and two sewing days with a friend. That a lot of stuff. For the retreat, I packed one small carry-on and for the workshops, I allowed one large zip-lock bag each and for sewing with my friend the raincoat and supplies to finish and the dress pattern she wants to sew after trying on mine on last year. All of that fit into one shopping bag.

My intention for the retreat is to have a refashioning project in progress on the dress form and two other projects to work on while I'm thinking through the next steps. The pile above right is for the refashioning. It starts with a 3X men's shirt. The black eyelet is for Vogue 9112. I had the fabric in stash and decided on it when I saw a white eyelet version of the dress. The subtle stripe linen is for the top I showed yesterday, Butterick 6138. I packed...

... bright pink buttons and DMC pearl cotton for accenting that piece. I think. You never know what direction it'll go in. I also packed black buttons and all sorts of black embellishments. All of my projects can be sewn with black thread which made the serger and sewing threads easy. I did throw in a few other accent colors just in case things don't go pink.

These two pieces are striped linen yardage and a dark blue linen dress. They are for painting and stenciling practice. If I have time. There is obviously more than I need - variety but not a huge excess. This is good.

A few days ago my daughter emailed asking if I wanted a knitting project. I was just thinking about which one to pack so her request came at a great time. She would like a "Campbell's soup can label" red blanket for the nursery. I found a great match.

The knitting, my journal writing supplies, and my laptop are packed along with everything else. I'm looking forward to sitting on the front porch at my delightful B & B and just relaxting. I'm staying at the same place that I stayed last September. It's lovely, quiet and peaceful.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - YES YES - I stayed within my limits!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

No Provisions Provided

I thought the pattern I wanted to cut out yesterday morning was complete and ready to go. It wasn't. It was traced but not adjusted and has that ominous warning on the back - no provisions provided for above or below waist adjustments. That doesn't mean it can't be done. It means it's trickier than your usual lengthen-shorten line.

In fact, it took me a couple hours to make the adjustments since almost every piece is cut individually and there is an upper, middle, lower, left and right, front and back. I needed to take out an inch of length in three different locations as well as narrow the front and back shoulder widths and raise the underarm points. Sometimes, I think it takes me longer to prep the pattern than it does to sew the garment.

The pattern is Butterick 6138, one of Katherine Tilton's designs that has strong similarities to another of her designs, Butterick 6101 which was also on my to sew list so I made some more matchy-matchy pajamas.

I really like the way the hemline is done and the fit of the bodice and flare of the lower garment but I felt there was too much happening on my hips with the two pockets so I cut and stitched them out. The smoother look works a lot better for me and made me believe that the second pattern - Butterick 6138 - had potential. It's cut out and in the suitcase ready to take to the retreat with me.

This is the hemline detail I like. On the upper section, the hem is pressed up and then the lower section is sewn to it and stitched with a "flange-like" piece showing. This is a detail I can see myself using on some refashioning designs.

These images are of the left and right sides after I cut out the pockets. The look is a lot smoother with way less fabric - more hip friendly.

I started packing last night. This morning I have an appointment and then I'll finish, put everything in the car, and be off in the morning. I'll auto-post some images of what I'm taking and then post again next week from Ashland.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - one more sleep

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pant Epiphany

A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger van Oech is all about being more creative by thinking differently. Among the many things he suggests doing are asking what if, looking for the second right answer, and viewing the situation from a backward perspective. Often times while reading, I'd wonder how can I apply this to sewing? and the answer was rarely obvious and yet all of those questions were part of my recent pant epiphany.

I've talked about the importance of our vertical measurements and how the placement of the curves on the pattern need to match the placement of the curves on our body. I have a high underarm point, a short center back and center front length, and a shallow hip depth. It varies pattern to pattern but typically I've been raising the underarm by an inch and shortening the CB and CF lengths by 7/8" but I hadn't given as much thought to my hip depth. I think I've been working my way down the body.

Sometimes - when I come to a better answer - I wonder if I should go back and erase some of the postings about my fitting journey and yet perhaps my round about path will help someone else to get there as well. In the past with pants, I've lowered center front for a tipped waist and I've lengthened the back crotch length for a dropped derriere and I've squared the front and back crotch curves to match my shape and of all of those adjustments only one was correct - squaring.

BUT... what I find... and what's so wonderful... is that when I pay attention to the vertical measurements and how they interact with the horizontal ones, I eventually get to the right answer. Yesterday, I sewed the best pair of pants I have ever worn in my entire life... unless my ruffly little baby pantaloons fit better... but I doubt it.

A few weeks ago, I realized that I needed to remove more front crotch length from center front all the way across to the side seam without tapering. At first, I thought it was an inch and then I tried two inches and then I decided that the top of the waistband should be at my waist as opposed to the bottom and that meant removing three inches on most patterns.

Along with the front crotch length, I removed an inch from the back crotch length for the waistband but after that, I was tapering to the side seam meaning that while the front crotch length was shortened by three inches - two for the hip depth and one for the waistband - the back crotch length was only shortened by one inch for the waistband.

I started to get puckers at waistband over the hips which looked like too much fabric and at the same time, I kept pulling up on the back crotch to eliminate the wrinkles and thinking that meant the crotch curve had to go lower. I'd lower it and the wrinkles wouldn't disappear so it wasn't working even though it seemed the answer.

That led me to wonder, what if I went the other way, what if I shortened the back crotch length? I pinned a tuck - tapered to the side seam because the front had already been lowered - and it worked ! ! ! ! !

One of my favourite pant patterns is Burda 8157. It already had an inch taken out so I removed another two inches and shaped the crotch curve accordingly and then I sewed it as is with no fitting and...

... it's the best pair of pants ever... even with those wrinkles... that I've been pouring over Pants For Real People to diagnose. Before when I've sewn this pattern there has been enough hip ease however, with raising the crotch depth so much, the hip is now quite tight. That may be the cause of those wrinkles in the back or it may be because of high back hips requiring a "bump up" along the waist. I absolutely have to figure it out. I'm just programmed that way. It'll tickle at me until I do. This morning should help. I'm wearing the pants to journal and since the fabric is a very light denim, they will stretch out providing more ease. What happens with the wrinkles then will be a clue.

And then, of course, I wanted to fix all of my pants only I didn't want to take the waistband off every pair and not every pair needed the same identical fix however, most needed the back crotch depth shortened somewhere in the range of 1 3/4" - 2 1/2". With a few pairs, I made a fish eye dart that was widest at center back tapering out to midway to the side seam. On the...

... right side it is barely visible and I won't be wearing a shirt tucked in with any of these pants so it's all good. This morning I am cutting out some patterns to take along to the Design Outside the Lines Retreat and tomorrow I'll be backing up the sewing room so it'll be a few weeks before I can experiment with this learning some more but I know I'm onto a good solution. YES YES. My best pants ever.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - progressive learning, simpler solutions

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

More Matchy-Matchy Pajamas

Yesterday, I went through my closet and gathered everything up that might have been worn even once and washed it all. I wanted to make sure that everything in my closet was clean before I left on my holiday. Since I hang almost all of my clothes to dry rather than use the dryer, there's laundry hanging all over the house - on the railing, the towel bars, over the bathtub, across the backs of the dining room chairs, everywhere. Too funny.

For our cruise, I wanted some light weight, easy to dry, pajamas. I also wanted to test a few t-shirt patterns so I made another set of matchy-matchy pajamas with a wearable muslin as the top.

It's Butterick 5925 - one of Katherine Tilton's designs.  The first time, I tried the twisted collar in a contrasting white with black dots only I found the collar too chunky and since I needed to cut a larger size, I changed it the next time. I also left off the twist on the pockets.

My size is between sizes so I went down one only it was going to be way too tight so I re-cut the sides from the sleeves and the sleeves from the front and back and cut out a new front and back in a larger size. That worked.

With both the pants and top in this fabric, it's a lot of dots but the pajamas are very comfortable and should work great for our trip. I liked the simplicity of this top's design and although there's a fair amount of hip ease, I think it could be fun to play with. I'll try it again.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a weeded garden and a clean fridge

Monday, May 18, 2015

Patterns To Play With

Saturday morning - at 6:30 - I went for breakfast with Barb and then took her to the bus, came home and then went for coffee with Howard and took him to the airport, went to journal, came home, and walked the dog - all before noon. Saturday is normally my sleep-in day. Obviously it wasn't so...

... I decided to sleep in on Sunday only my boys arranged to take me for breakfast to celebrate my birthday since I won't be in town on the day. I went to journal first and then met them at the restaurant at 9:00, came home, walked the dog, and worked in the studio for the rest of the day. This morning, the blog is set to auto post and I am - hopefully - still asleep. It's the only possible sleep-in day this week as I'll be spending the rest running errands, organizing to go, and packing.

I leave bright and early Friday morning and will stay overnight in Corvallis - about two hours south of Portland. I've arranged a coaching session with Gwen Spencer for Saturday morning. Gwen has a wonderful artistic sense and is fabulous at interpreting patterns in all sorts of unique and exciting ways. I want to know more about how she does that and how I can too.

This is an incredibly busy year but when it - finally - settles down in the fall, my intention is to focus on developing my design skills through refashioning and through series work. This week, I've been looking at patterns to play with. I want them to be sufficiently interesting to allow for all sorts of ideas and not so intricate already that they are constraining. I've decided to pick a few to start with and see what happens. I can adjust as I go along. 

Vogue 8691 is the pattern I've worked with the most often so far. There's something about its shape that resonates with me so I chose Butterick 5786 above and Butterick 6136 below for their similarities of a fitted bodice and flared hip. I also chose...

... the woven blouse pattern for its simplicity. There are all sorts of directions I can take it in without being constrained by the existing design lines although I'm not sure that's entirely good. More design lines might be good for me with their own challenges but I don't know and I need to start somewhere.

Vogue 9057 is a simple, basic t-shirt without darts or easing at the side seam. It's a good starting point for all sorts of designs along with being the type of garment I wear frequently. I chose it for that reason and..

... Indygo Junction's Modern Silhouette Vest for the exact opposite reason. I almost never wear a vest and yet this design has the potential to go in many directions including blouse or jacket. I've chosen to develop my creative skills with upper garments and keep the lower garments more simple, like resting places, or palette cleansers.


I've been struggling to figure out which jacket pattern to work with. Right now the choices are between Butterick 5891 above and Butterick 6177 below. With both I am....

... concerned about the amount of fabric through the waist so they may get tested and taken forward or tested and dropped. It depends. I'm trying to stretch myself in a new direction and away from my typical styling - like Vogue 8346 - but not stretch too far that I can't get anything done. I know I like shape.

This is where my thinking is starting. My goal is to find six or so patterns that interest me enough to make a half a dozen or more versions incorporating new learning and possibilities. I feel like I've taken in a lot of information in over the past few years with the design workshops and coaching sessions and now it's time to take that learning forward especially as my fitting skills and technical skills have the rust shaken off them are are back at the point where I can focus on the creative details. I've really enjoyed returning to fashion sewing. I'm glad I made that decision.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - quiet spaces, sleeping in