Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Collection Plate

Some of you have written to say how much you miss the daily postings and I really appreciate hearing that however, considering that not nearly as much sewing is going on in the studio as in the past, I've decided to stay with once a week postings for now.... on Wednesdays.

Since moving, my life has a different flow. This is such an artistic community that there is always something to see and do and I'm enjoying the relationships I'm developing with other creative women. That takes time, as does walking in the park or along the lake. This summer, I'd like to get a bicycle.  And, I'm making time for new explorations.

This is not my bag. A friend took one of her acrylic paintings, cut it up, adhered it to a canvas bag, and then painted in the rest of the details. Isn't it gorgeous? Earlier this year, I taught her to knit and she's totally addicted. For her birthday I gave her some wool, a pattern magazine, and the canvas bag. I have more bags so in a few weeks we're going to get together for a play date and she'll teach me how to paint my own bag. What fun. It's another step in surface design.

The three or more process is working excellent. Although I'm not getting a lot done in terms of actual pieces produced, the ideas are endless and energizing. I'm going to tweak it a bit though or I'll have all tops or all bottoms and no coordinated outfits. I will rotate between fit, surface design, and added details but not necessarily with the same pattern. Fit can be a new pattern and the other two can be ones I've already fitted. I think that'll work better and eventually each pattern that I liked will get its moment.

In my last posting, I talked about exploring the crotch curve further. I used the drawing above - made with the flexible ruler to mimic my curve - to trace the line onto the pattern I used for the surface designed jeans and then I sewed it again out of muslin just to see. The crotch curve fit FABULOUS only the muslin was incredibly tight which is really strange since it fit with the denim and it was way too big with the stretch denim I used next. It just goes to show how much of an impact the fabric factor has.

Here's the side seam of the stretch denim jeans. First I stitched at 5/8" and then the width of the presser foot - six times - making the seam 2 1/2" wide. That removed an additional 7 1/2" of ease. Wow!

The first of the three quilts is about a third done. The long, straight rows of stitching are tedious but they are progressing and I like the results. Beside the sewing machine, I have a bowl to collect all the thread ends. I refer to it as the collection plate. By the time I finish the quilts, it should be full and I can use the ends to create thread lace. With the stretch jeans...

... I collected all the bits as well. The pile top left is the 1/8" that's shaved off by the serger when I edge finish a seam. The pile at right was made with the seam allowance cut off by the serger for the inseams and the crotch seam. I took the strips and twisted them and then zigzagged over the length to get the cording. The middle pile is of serged strips made with the wide seam allowance. I ran it through the serger, stitched the seam, cut if off, and then ran the width through again. There are fourteen 40" long sections. A few years ago, I used serged strips like that on a little girl's coat. Now I'd like to try using them on something for myself. This feels like "free" supplies, embellishments that would have been thrown away but can now be used from something unique and personal.

Today's posting is late because last night, when I would have written it, I was instead stiff and sore on the couch. I think even my fingertips ached and certainly parts of me are still screaming this morning. The picture above is of the house before I bought it. By the time I did, the garden was not nearly as pretty and the door with glass panel had been replaced with a plain one because it was damaged. As you can see, the steps go out at a forty-five degree angle from each end of the porch. It's rather odd so I...

... had my contractor square out the ends, replace some rotted boards, and add new steps off the front. I wanted him to do a whole lot more only the quote was way too high for my budget. Right now, I have more time than money so...

... I am doing as much as possible myself. On Monday, I took out the cement around the bottom of the tree and widened the dirt to make it look less crowded and then I rolled a whole bunch of the rocks from below the lilac bush to the front of the house... one at a time... like a child with a ball. The lilac bush will be given away and the lawn filled in. I also removed the bricks from the old stairwell and...

... stacked them in the carport. They remind me of the scraps from sewing. Even though they weren't what I wanted where I wanted it, they are completely usable. Right now, I'm cutting out some curved gardens that will be lined with large rocks and then I'll figure out the walkway. I need to make the work manageable by doing it a step at a time plus I'll need to find someone to haul away the mess. Not only do I have all the turf to get rid of but there was an illegal, not attached to the house, cracked and leaning, chimney that we had taken down before it fell on someone. That mess is along the side of the house where I want to extend the garden and create an opening for French doors into my studio... eventually.

I've been looking at different options for railings for the front porch and I think this version using rabbit wire might be what I go with. The wire is not too expensive, quite sturdy so it won't sag, see through to maintain the light and the view, and galvanized so it won't rust. It should work but first I need to strip and stain the deck.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - strength and mobility

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Fabulous Brain Workout

It's only been a couple of days so I'm probably far too optimistic hoping for full fledged spring and even so, yesterday I took my lunch and sat by the lake and watched the birds in the sanctuary and then I walked three kilometers to the end of the trail... and back. It started to rain about a third of the way back but that was fine. My raincoat has a hood!

One of the things I thought about was my conversation with my coach - Diane - last week. We talked about how guilty I've been feeling about the blissful general description of my current lifestyle and how a general description does not measure other concerns. Dumping your whole life story is just not something you do at the general level.

AND... because I moved here to be part of a creative community and to therefore more creative... I was feeling under incredible pressure to go into the studio and create - all day - every day - amazing things. That's not the plan. Although I know for a fact that God moved me here, I'm beginning to see that the resting, healing, and preparing stage of the land between is not over yet; it has changed how it looks and it has changed locations but it's not over yet.

Another thing Diane and I talked about was the push pull tension I feel between creative and entrepreneurial ideas.  On one level, I know that just because I know something doesn't mean I have to do anything with it and on another level, I have not shortage of business ideas only when I think about them there are some things I will never do again and some things I can hardly wait to do again... when the time is right. My question for our next session is what would it look like if I invited opportunity to come to me? That's a really interesting question. Sharing on the blog is part of the answer.

Typically, I keep my sewing contained to the studio only this piece needed to be somewhere else. It's one of three quilts that I batted earlier this week. It has been at least twelve years since I've made a bed size quilt. Two are twin size with a substantial drop and are for the guest room beds and one is queen size for our bedroom. All of them are whole cloth and will be stitched with lengthwise channel stitching spaced the width of the presser foot. That's relatively easy only I am not at all used to working with this amount of bulk anymore and unless I pace myself I could end up with very sore shoulder muscles so I set up on the dining room table with sunshine, the view of the pond, and a timer. I will stitch for thirty minutes, twice a day, until I'm done. That's about 2" each time. It's going to take a while.

The guest room quilts are a mottled, twill like, fabric that I bought in the bargain center in Calgary when I was visiting my daughter. I didn't think I had enough for both quilts so the last time I was there, I looked for more and found only one meter. That turned out to be all I needed. The seven meters I had were enough for the two quilts and the one meter will work for the binding. I'm stitching from the back since it's so much easier to see my lines on the lime green. The stitching is subtle. That's okay. It's the look I wanted even if it appears to be a lot more work than it's worth. Once they're on the bed, I think the stitching will show more.

When was the last time you did something for the first time
is one of those quotes that has really resonated with me. I read it several years ago in one of my studies and it's a question I often ask myself... just to make sure I'm not staying stuck in some rut. A few weeks ago, we had a double knitting demonstration at knitting group. I didn't intend to participate only it captured my imagination. I ended up going home and trying it.

With double knitting, there are two right sides showing the knit stitch that face outward and two wrong sides with pearl stitches that face inward. Crossing over the colors from one side to the other knits the work together otherwise it would be a pouch.

I already knit continental with my left hand so I had to learn how to hold the second yarn in my right hand and flick it over the needle... with the same tension as the left hand... which took quite a few samples and considerable time. When I finally felt confident enough I started working on my cream and grey piece and it's certainly knitting up a lot slower than any recent project. It's also a lot of fun. AND... I found this video that shows double knitting with both yarns in the left hand so now I need to try that too.

What I found interesting was how engaged I was with learning this new skill. When I tried polymer clay, it was ho hum and even though I tried to stay with it and push through with textile jewelry, it didn't capture my imagination like this knitting has. Is it because the other two were entirely new and this new style of knitting builds on previous skills or is it because fiber and knitting are my thing? That too is an interesting question.

With the quilts I'm going way back to something I used to do. I don't want to quilt do as much as I want them done and since I have more time than money, quilting them myself is the only option. With the double knitting, I'm taking a skill I already have in a new direction that is different enough to teach new skills and to inspire new projects. I'm making a scarf and dancing in my head is the idea for a reversible sweater - child's size - just because I can.

Diane and I also talked about how the phrase you could sell that is a compliment. And it is. Even if I don't want to sell anything. I am glad to have reached the stage where I can follow up curious questions just because there is something there I want to know. Knowing is enough of a reason whether it's a new way of knitting and a new knitting project or whether it's...

... following up an idea sparked by an article I read about crotch curves that made me think about those wrinkles I don't like and why they might be there. I'd link to the article only the bookmark went missing when Windows decided to upgrade itself without my consent. SO ANNOYING.

The article had a diagram that compared the crotch curves of the different pattern brands. Naturally, I had to know what mine was so I used the flexible ruler to - again - determine my curve and then compared it to the diagrams. I have a short front curve, and a long back curve and what Pati Palmer refers to as a high/low crotch in her book Pants for Real People. Many big name sewers don't recognize the high/low crotch but if you have one, you do.

I'll make a video to show what I mean after I've tested a new muslin but just imagine that the crotch point and the waist remain stationary and you have a length of string equal to your front crotch curve and another equal to your back crotch curve. The string has to run from the front waist to the crotch point and then from the back waist to the crotch point. If the string is short, it'll take a more direct route and if it is long, it'll need to droop down. LOL - I droop down.

I have figured out a lot of alterations that are working fabulously for me because I've been willing to let go of a fixed idea and try a new one when I think it has potential. That's how I found out I'm short waisted and that I need a narrow chest and a narrow back adjustment versus a narrow shoulder adjustment and that's how I found out that I'm petite through the armhole and need to raise the underarm about an inch and that I don't need to move the bust point for that exact reason but I may need to do a full bust adjustment. EVEN IF...

... you think you know the answer, be willing to question it and to question "authority". Just because big names X, Y and Z say it's not true, perhaps it is true for you. It's a thought. A viable one. One recent pant discovery for me was that the top of the waistband needs to sit at my waist as opposed to the bottom of the waistband otherwise my rib-cage pushes the waistband over. My waist is like a string. Another discovery is that I don't actually have the tipped waist that I thought I had... for years. That often happens when a new adjustment corrects an "old" issue in a different way.

NOW, I am going to retest how much hip depth I've been taking out as well as a new shape for the crotch curve. With the article, my measurements, and my curve shape, I think I can come up with an even better answer that the one I've been using. That's exciting. I hope that you'll keep searching for better answers. To me, that's one of the great things about sewing. Not only is it highly entertaining with a bonus of clothing that fits, it's a fabulous brain workout.

It's been a week of calming awareness and of revisiting some previous skills, of taking some current skills further, and of re-evaluating others. This is good. In the dining room, I'm working on the quilts. In the studio, I'm working on the third pair of pant using piecing techniques, a bunting bag for my youngest grandson, and a refashioned sweater. In my curl-up chair, I'm working on the double knitting. And outside, I'm walking longer distances and starting on the yard work with the very-ugly-but-I'll-make-it-pretty front yard. Overall, things are getting done bit by bit while I am de-stressing and finding better balance. YES YES

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - new crotch curve information to explore for a better fit

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Surface Designed Jeans

WHAT a lot of fun it's been to paint these jeans. I feel like I've made a significant stride forward on my goal. In fact, I've been excited all week about the potential of the three or more process. Every morning when I went into my closet and put on a garment sewn from an already fitted pattern, I saw the potential to take that one to the next steps too. There are t-shirts and blouses and jackets dancing in my dreams. YES YES.

I did make an eighth - and final - video. I'd love some more feedback on the videos if anyone has anything additional to offer. I think they got a bit redundant with pants in eight parts and I also think it was a great beginning to adding more videos to the blog. If you have any tips to offer or suggestions for topics, I'd love to hear them along with any other tips for the blog. I think it's time for a make-over and freshening up.

In the first video, I mentioned that I hadn't decided on the shape of the pockets yet. The pattern I used has angled pockets like view C above. I decided to make curved pockets like view B. The only difference is the shape of the opening. And the fit. The curve of B sits better over my hips than the angle of C. I'm too curvy for that line and the fabric ends up pushing out and trying to form a dart over my hip bone.

The tissue paper is the curved pocket pattern and the white tracing paper is the pocket lining of the angled pocket. At right, I've created a shape that blends the two.

I don't actually cut the front of the pants until I'm ready to attach the pocket. Above, I've pinned the pocket lining in place and below, I've cut away the unnecessary part. By using this method...

... I don't need a separate front piece for each pocket option. I can simply alter for the shape of my choice. I personally think it's really good to learn how to do these minor changes since it allows you to maximize the potential of a single pattern. I have seen people like many things about a pattern and then not buy it because of the shape of something as simple as the neckline when the shape could have been easily changed and the rest of the details maintained.

To fix the blotch, I placed a piece of tracing paper underneath and then used pins to prick the paper. When I held it up to the light, I could connect the pin pricks and draw the shape of the patch. Before adding the surface design that's shown in the video, I made sure I liked how the patch sat on top of the blotch and trimmed it where necessary.


In the video, I talk about possibly adding more paint underneath the patches to mimic the spread of the blotch. That ended up being the right answer. At left, the side seams are not sewn yet and at right, the pants are finished. I will get a picture of me wearing them but if today's post was actually going to get posted, this was as good as it was going to get.

The patch on the left hip isn't as visible from the front when I'm wearing the jeans as I wanted it to be and is very visible from the side. I may add a bit more paint to it down the line but for now, I'll wear them as is. I think the three patches all together create the balance I wanted.

In 2012, when I went to my first Design Outside the Lines retreat with Diane Ericson and Marcy Tilton, surface design was on the list of things I wanted to learn .. and again in 2013... and in 2014... and in 2015... and now... YES YES...  progress. This is good. I'm looking forward to trying another piece right after I try a pair of pants with added architectural details.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - surface designed jeans

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What A Machine Can't Do

It's mid morning Tuesday and I just wandered around the house tidying things up before writing this auto post and then heading into Kamloops for errands and a dinner date with my husband. I always prefer coming home to a clean space and being able to go right to the studio rather than getting side tracked by a mess I should have dealt with earlier. Besides... I'm really excited about the direction my jeans are going in... but... more of that in a minute.

When I was in Calgary my daughter - supported by my son-in-law - very kindly told me that I absolutely can not wear this top in public. Apparently, it is way too big for me and not at all flattering. Who knew. My son-in-law said and not the pants either... which were one of my favourite pairs... but I listened, retired the pants, and made some polka dot pajama pants to go with the top. LOL - pretty soon I'm going to have an entire pajama wardrobe.

As promised, here's a picture of the magic dress - Vogue 1410 - that I wore to the gallery opening Friday night. Black is almost impossible to photograph so I added the earlier version from last year. You can see how sleeves and a different fabric create an entirely different look. That's part of the three or more process  that I outlined in the previous - bonus Monday - posting. I love how we can evolve a pattern to the point that most people wouldn't even know that this garment and that garment came from the same source. Too fun.

When I get back into the studio, I'll finish the surface designed jeans. The main pieces are done, the pockets are in, and I'm almost ready to sew up the final seams. They're coming along great although, as you'll see in the above video, there's an "extra challenge". Ironically, I talk in the video about our marks and how unique they are in a way that a machine can't do. This is definitely a unique mark and...

... although I did find a remnant of the denim big enough to re-do the piece, it was after I'd already inserted the fly front and come up with several possibilities that I'd much rather explore over an easy answer. I'll learn a lot more that way.

Thanks for the all the feedback on the videos. I'm glad they were so well received and I'd definitely like to do more of them to share my projects and process. Deciding on the three is more way of working has given me some guidelines to work within without creating a prison and I'm feeling quite energized about where this is going to go. YES YES

The cotton sweater that I'm refashioning goes fabulously with the jeans. I definitely want to get that done asap and wear them together. And maybe sew a top to go with too.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - feeling energized

Monday, March 7, 2016

Three Or More

After writing last week's post, I was frustrated. And that's okay. Frustration can be a really great motivating factor. One of the things about blogging is that you will - eventually - hear yourself saying the same things over and over and that can be good or it can be annoying. So annoying that you have to do something about it. I felt like I was all talk, no action and that too was feeling repetitive. I've said I felt all talk and no action before. So... this time... I asked myself that other great question: how am I going to do what I say I want to do?

That's why there's a bonus posting this week. I have an answer and I'm really excited about the plan. I'm calling it Three or More. When I find a pattern that I really love, I will sew it three or more times once for fit, once to include surface design elements, and once to include architectural elements and added details.

Sewing the three versions certainly doesn't have to be consecutively but for now, I will sew them consecutively otherwise I might find myself always fitting  and never moving on to the other two. It's a way to avoid avoidance. Not every pattern will get sewn three times. I'll only take forward the patterns that have potential because if I don't like it once, I'm not going to like it three times either. That's unnecessary pressure and wouldn't accomplish my goals.

I'm starting with jeans. Last week, I sewed another pair of out of print Burda 8157 trousers in denim. This less clingy style looks much better on my figure than traditional jean styles. I've sewn it before out of stretch denim. This time I sewed it using non-stretch denim that I have enough yardage of to make another pair so that...

... I could fit the first pair and surface design the second pair with confidence before sewing those pieces together. When it comes to surface design,  I'm barely beyond beginner but I really want to learn and the only way to learn is to do.

I thought you might like to share the process so I made a series of videos - five so far - detailing the decisions I made. Things did not go where I thought they were going but I'm really happy with the results. I've finished the sample and two steps on the front and back pieces. Today, I'm painting.

There will be at least one more video to show the finished jeans. Let me know what you think of the videos. I've been giving a lot of thought to my blog, why I write it, and what I want it to be about. I want it to support and encourage you in your creativity. I want it to be inspirational. And, I want to share what I know and what I'm working on.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a de-stuttering plan

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Only Is A Slippery Slope

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one DEFINITELY commits oneself, then providence moves too. - W. H. Murray

The quote above is one of my favorites so when it came up in a study recently I could easily have skimmed over the text. Instead, the word definitely jumped out at me as in providence won't move if I'm sitting on the fence. I have to be all in. Of course, I had to think about that especially because one of the things I really enjoy is pondering a good question. It's true. It's only been when I'm totally committed that things have really clicked together and that feels almost like magic. It's so energetic. I love it. I want more... which means I need to be definitely committed more often.

You are the boss of your schedule. It's your responsibility to keep command of your calendar - and you must - in order to simplify your life. Your calendar is the primary tool for helping you become who you want to be. A simplified life begins with well invested hours each day. You can harness the true power of your calendar by filling in each square holistically, creating room for both the outward activities and inner priorities of your life. - Simplify: ten practices to unclutter your soul - Bill Hybels

One of the things I've been thinking about is what I do each day. I just started studying Bill Hybel's book Simplify. It's about burnout, feelings of isolation and exhaustion, and feeling overwhelmed and overscheduled and about how to create a life of greater energy, clearer purpose, and richer relationships.

Compared to most people, my schedule is relatively wide open so I'm coming at the book from an unusual perspective and yet it's similar because while too much negative pressure can be debilitating, not enough positive pressure can be equally so. Two of the questions near the beginning of the book are what are the replenishing people, dynamics, activities, and engagements that predictably fill you up when you've gotten low in the tank? and what things work uniquely for you?

One of the things that works for me is creativity. Recently, I watched a review of Twyla Tharp's book The Creative Habit.  At the top of her list of the six habits that will improve your creativity is rituals. For me, creativity is the daily ritual that fills my tank. It started in my teens and with very few exceptions, I have done something creative each day. My most effective ritual is the morning hour when I get up, grab a cup of coffee, head to the studio in my pajamas, and work for an hour uninterrupted. That hour sets the right tone for the day. When I don't have it, I notice my tank is running low which...

... it's been doing since I moved to this new house. I'm not getting my hour every day. Some days but not every day. At first, I was busy moving in and renovating and then, at the beginning of October, I had that fall down the stairs and I'm still in recovery mode. I was at the doctor's last week and one of two things will happen. Either it's going to be a long, slow, and tedious natural recovery (as in years) or I'm going to have surgery and then it'll be a long, slow, and tedious surgically aided recovery (still in years). That being the case, I'm determined to get back to my morning hour every day. I need that energy.

Very rarely will I knit during the morning hour; mostly I sew. My preferred way of working is to organize tasks ahead of time for the next morning so they are ready when I get up. That means I have to know what I want to do. In a recent posting Carolyn asked how do you decide what to sew? With a new job, a different clothing culture, and significant weight loss, she is struggling to develop a new way of sewing that is equally satisfying and engaging. With a new location, a different clothing culture, and just enough weight loss to make my clothes baggy, I'm in a not-quite-the-same-but-similar situation so I've been pondering that question a lot and especially because it ties in well with the Simplify questions.

While I sew because I want to and not because I have to from the perspective of  being dressed, presentable, and able to afford to buy clothes, I also sew because I have to as in I breath in fabric and being creative with fabric is what I do. It uniquely works for me.


If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I'm more than a bit fanatical about fit. When I saw the simple rectangular shape of this knitted blue vest, my mind went crazy with its creative potential except... a rectangle does not fit well over a curved form. There is always that weird lump at the back of the neck, the sloping armholes, and the dragged shoulders. Poor fit is not me. I could try out all of the ideas swirly around in my head but if I did, I wouldn't wear them so...

... I'm better off knowing who I am and being more realistic and changing shapes. When Caroline was visiting, she made a muslin of Katherine's out of print Vogue 8777... which she didn't like... and thought looked way better on me... so she left the pattern and the muslin... and it's perfect for incorporating all those ideas. It - or a similar cardigan - is equally a blank canvas to the simple rectangle.

The number of patterns we could endlessly develop are endless although for me there are some core ones I want to develop so they fit well and then I can re-design them in new ways. They include a t-shirt like my favourite Vogue 8691 above, a blouse, a pant pattern, and a skirt. Fitted, tested, and sewn over and over, these patterns are tried & true. A cardigan is a t-shirt with a front opening. A dress is a top plus a skirt or a lengthened top. Jeans are pants sewn from denim. Once you have those core patterns, the possibilities truly are endless. To me, this is the place to start. I'm reworking my core patterns to be slightly smaller. Usually this is a vertical tuck so it's not too difficult.

Core patterns are good and then we need to play. I have a girl's coat pattern that I love to sew over and over because it's not my size, because there are no expectations, and because I can experiment with new techniques, try thing I'll never wear, and do the frilly girly thing. Above is Kathy's daughter wearing the dress I made for her from a recycled man's shirt and a pair of woman's trousers. She's just big enough now to wear it and how fun to see her twirl.

Paint by number is not my thing. I can only do so much repeating of the pattern and then I need to challenge the edges. Refashioning is a fabulous way to push creative boundaries, especially in my new community where every garment at the thrift store is only $1.25. Only is a slippery slope, seductive with possibility. I've had to reign myself in and make sure that I don't accumulate too many possibilities. This grey sweater is sitting on the mannequin waiting while I answer the question of what does it want to be - a top or a cardigan.

What I love about refashioning is the not knowing and the total involvement in the process. With these pieces, I can only think ahead one step at a time and have no idea where the piece is going and even when I think I do, that doesn't always work. I bought two purple sweaters with the same yarn and weave from the same designer and un-ravelled one to knit it into the other with. Knitting into sewn garments is one of the goals I'm working on and I'm learning that some types of fabric and yarn work better than others. You can see in the image of the sweater with the hand-knit piece over top how the electronic knitting machines massively condensed the yarn. The machine knit piece and the hand-knit yarn don't look at all alike at this point. I didn't have a yarn or a fabric that went with the purple so this piece is currently immersed in a black dye bath partly to see what happens and partly because I've made a commitment to only buy if it is absolutely necessary. I didn't have fabric. I did have black dye and fabric that goes with black. This is not only good for my finances but great for exploring what if.

I'm debating an insert in the back of the purple sweater like the one shown earlier. I thought refashioning this holey beige sweater and combining the two pieces might work. The purple sweater is 100% cotton. This beige one feels like it has some cotton and some acrylic in it. I threw it into the dye bath as well and - ironically - it's looking a purple-ish color right now that just possibly could have been fine with the original purple. Too funny. I'll see when the dye is set and rinsed but wouldn't you know.

I'm sorry these pictures are so dark. The dress at left is Vogue 1410 which I refer to as the magic dress because I've seen women of all sizes and shapes try it on and it looked fabulous on everyone. I've sewn it twice before and this version is a black knit with flocked rectangles. I plan to wear the dress to a gallery opening this weekend so hopefully I can get a better picture then.

Sewing a tested pattern is very satisfying. I can pat the work and enjoy the process and experiment with the results. Equally satisfying is testing a new pattern. The dress at right is out of print Vogue 7795. Although I loved the pattern, I didn't like the results on me partly because the knit I chose is too heavy for the dress and partly because of the seam around the hip. It's not flattering on me. And that's wonderful. Because now I'll cut it apart, make it into something else, and it'll lead to a whole new journey. Mistakes have become a wonderful thing. Who knew that one day instead of crumpling up my yucky pieces and throwing them in the garbage, I'd be thrilled that they didn't work out so I could make something new... with mystery... and not knowing. YES YES

Copying RTW can also be fun. All three of these dresses could be developed from that same "magic dress". The first is simply a floral fabric and a band around the bottom, the second could be done with surface design work, and the third uses contrast color at the hem to add a subtle detail. I love architecture and subtle details and learning more about surface design is on my goal list. All three of these are inspiring, doable and wearable. Even with casual clothing, I can find designers to inspire and that's always fun because I end up with unique and creative casual clothing.

Goals are an important part of my studio, a part that has been missing since I stopped writing and teaching in 2010. Six years is long enough to be less focused when focused is the way I work best. I've been thinking about that reality along with Carolyn's question of how to decide what to sew. In general, that's an easy question - sew something, anything - and I think that's partly the solution to answering the question. Just start and see where it goes because starting is the hardest part. HOWEVER... when I look at being the boss of my own calendar, I'm reminded how much I enjoying both new learning and exploring a topic deeply.

While I was at my daughter's, I watched several videos on wire weaving and then bought Timeless Wire Weaving: the Complete Course. When I realized that reflective and open elements were missing from the textile jewelry I was working on, I thought that wire weaving might be a solution but as I explored the topic more, I realized that the solution was to give up on including textiles and to explore jewelry from a completely different angle without that pressure. Not only was it taking time and energy away from my other fabric goals, I've spent several years on it and I'm not getting where I want to go. It's time to set a new direction - wire weaving and painted beads. We'll see what happens with that. MEANWHILE...

... I want to sew clothes that fit, flatter, and are fun. I want to sew a slightly smaller wardrobe that isn't baggy on me starting with some funky pants that - for now - will hide my hip injury. I want to explore refashioning and grow my skills at developing unique creative one-of-a kind clothing that I'll wear. I want a more eccentric wardrobe in keeping with the new clothing culture I find myself in. I want to continue to develop core T & T patterns and then explore the boundary of pushing and piecing those shapes to the point where the fact that they are exactly the same pattern is unrecognizable. I want to develop my surface design skills further to incorporate dyeing and painting fabric as an integrated skill. I want to incorporate more architectural details into my developing T & T patterns. I want to sew more bags. I want to explore a new direction in jewelry. I want to develop a "workshop" for the joy of digging into a subject deeply.

What do you want to do?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - really good questions