Thursday, March 15, 2018

Copying RTW

Writing this, I'm sitting at a Starbucks in Eugene, Oregon where I'm visiting a friend for several days. This morning, while she had appointments, I went for a walk around her older, established neigbourhood where not only does every home look different but they have developed in organic and individual ways over time. This is a creative community so there were all sorts of She-Sheds and Studios poking out from houses or sitting in the yard. So fun to see. AND...

... spring flowers. I left home at -7C with three feet of snow in the low areas and far more in the piles. Before I arrived at my hotel the first night, it was +17C and quite a lovely difference. Right now, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and fluffy clouds are floating by. Perhaps by the time I get back home, that will be my "new" reality. I hope so. I'm ready to get to work on finishing tasks around the house and the yard.


One of the studio tasks I wanted to finish before leaving was copying several ready-to-wear garments to create patterns. If I can cut it apart, I typically will use half a garment to make a pattern and half to refer to for the sewing structure. With this Eileen Fisher skirt, I didn't want to cut it apart and so pin pricked a pattern by placing it smoothly over tracing paper and outlining the edges with pins.

Then I go around and make a mark by each pin indicating where the corners are. Later, when I connect these marks, this is the stitching line. Seam and hem allowances will need to be added.

If  a section is rounded like the bottom hem band, I sometimes have to walk along the piece smoothing and pinning in one direction while unpinning the opposite one. The most important thing is to smooth the garment out completely.

Pay attention to how the garment is constructed. In this case, the only difference between center front and center back and the side fronts and the side backs was the height of the waistband. The bottom curves are identical which means that when I smooth out the lines and add seam allowances, I can do the information once and then transfer it.

I also pay attention to the fabric used so that I can copy the hand and drape of the original. This skirt would be not nearly as wonderful in a much stiffer or a much looser fabric.

Change what doesn't work for you. In this case, there is a side zipper and I am much too curvy for that. I prefer a center back zipper. I'm also unlikely to add the button flap and button as they are more decorative than necessary.

I highlighted these marks in felt pen so they'd be easier for you to see. They are the seam line marks made near the pins. I use a French Curve to connect the dots smoothly and again to add a seam allowance or hem. Be sure to write on the pattern the information you need to know. With the skirt above, it's too big for me and I'll need to narrow the pieces as well as add some length because it hits at a less than flattering place on my leg. With the pants below, they fit well in a stretch denim but would be too tight in a woven one.

This is a more complicated pattern. The back of the outer leg wraps around to the front and there is a little dart at one side extending from the end of a cuff seam as well as a longer dart on the opposite side matching up with the same seam. It'll make for a very interesting back pattern shape once I finish developing it.

With the darts, it was important to record both the length and the width of the dart although, it is equally important to adjust these lengths to match your body. The long darts extending down from the waistband need to end above the knee.


I copied this pattern before wearing the jeans because they were brand new and hadn't been stretched out in any way. Now, I'll wear them and see how the crotch seam feels and performs and if I like it better than a pattern I've already developed, I'll copy it however, if I only like it as much as - or less than - one I've already developed, I'll use that one and transfer the already developed information from a different pattern.

These Vogue 8499 pants have center front and center back seam that I can replace with the darts while taking the modifications I already made to the pattern to successfully fit them and start there. There's no point in re-inventing the wheel. These are the denim trousers with the orange top stitching that I showed in a previous post. It's a bit hard on my notebook to do all the hyperlinking so I'll let you research that if you need to. I'm looking forward to sewing my own version of the - consignment store - pants.

I think tomorrow my friend and I will be working in her studio on creating fabric beads. I printed out some instructions before leaving home and have brought a basket of supplies to begin working with. It's a pre-start to 52 Weeks of Jewelry that I want to begin when I get home. Right now, I'm debating the best way to organize that project and I think it may be to set the goal of one piece a week and to explore one medium a month. Right now, I have fabric, wire, and resin in mind as well as combinations of two or of all three. It'll be a good start and - bonus - I can watch for starting points as souveniers of my holiday.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - safe travel and sunshine

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Lean In To The Experience

This week started out rather interesting with my youngest son having emergency surgery to remove his appendix. Since he lives out of town, I made a day trip to Kamloops to hug him and "count his fingers and toes" like a mother does, no matter how old your children are. And I shopped, picking up a few things for my trip that I couldn't buy here... which was a nice bonus. Now I won't need to shop along the way. With the exchange rate, I'm attempting to take as much as possible with me.

A key component of the workshop is working on a dress form. Only the Millicent closest to my current size will be coming with me. I cross over sizes in both patterns and dressforms with one better for my upper body measurements and one better for my lower body measurements. Both Millicents just got a new cover sewn from a silky grey knit. The previous cover was black which didn't work well for sewing black garments and it didn't cover the neck leaving the manufacturer's blue covering to interfere with my garments. I like this better.

Along with working on a dressform, we will be re-purposing garments. I've packed two XXL men's shirts, two skirts, and a pair of pants, all purchased at the thrift store, AND...

... an assortment of notions, embellishments, and fabric scraps that go with. I've deliberately kept the colour palette tight limiting it to light to darker grey tones. Since taking this picture, I've eliminated some of the items because I know from past experience that limitations will make it easier for me to work through the assignments. Too many options can be just as difficult to deal with as not enough and I have come to really enjoy the freedom of boundaries.

Diane suggested that we come with not only the garments to be re-purposed but with some fabric made from fabric as a starting point. This is something she has demonstrated in previous workshops but not something I've been able to fully embrace in the way that I was interpreting it... which seemed silly... since my background in quilting and textile art is all about piecing fabric from fabric... SO...

... when I thought it, I realized that part of my struggle was that while I really like the samples she shows, they are not consistent with how I dress and the way I put things together. The more I take workshops, the more I realize that I'm not there to do X, Y, and Z exactly like the instructor. I am there for the inspiration and to then take that inspiration and adapt it to a way that works for me. Which I did.

I have a lot of a black/grey striped fabric so I decided to piece it together starting with scraps from a previous project. Instead of attempting to create one big piece of fabric, I'll create elements like the curved pouch-looking piece as well as some flat yardage type ones. These can be added together if needed as the project develops on the dressform.

I signed up for this workshop in November and decided at that time that I was going to fully lean in to the experience which for me included the outfit project, creating one complete garment for each day, as well as the prep work of packing and making fabric from fabric, as well as creating an inspirational journal. As when I make a collage, I limited myself to twelve each inspirational photos of dresses, jewelry, outfits, pants, skirts, cardigans, and tops and only included photos of items I would actually wear which made me really think about what was included.

On the cover, I put a cartoon that my daughter sent me a few years ago -  she always wears black but she has a colorful mind - as well as a quote cut from a magazine - Letting go obviously has several meanings. Letting go of the past; letting go of grief. But surely the most resistant is letting go of fixed ideas, keeping our minds open to a future we can't see. I have learned to be less rigid about what I think I want from a workshop and more open to how the experience unfolds.

Along with a limiting colour palette, I've also been limiting space to one small suitcase plus the dressform plus the box for the extension table and a folding table, cutting mat, extension cords, and tracing paper. The basket is bead making supplies for the four days I'm spending at my friend's in Eugene. All that's left to pack are paper templates of my crotch, armhole, sleeve cap, and neckline curves, one or two T & T patterns and some colour in the form of buttons, piping, and thread. OH... and the sewing machine and serger.

The workshop doesn't start until the 18th, I'm leaving on Monday and taking a different route than I've traveled before. I'm looking forward to that. I've loaded some pictures into a draft posting to finish for next week. I'm not sure what will happen the week after but hopefully I'll be able to fill you in on how things are going at the workshop and post some pictures from the trip - LOL - outfits even.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - hospitals and healthcare

Friday, March 2, 2018

A Mini Trunk Show

Yesterday morning, two friends came over on their way to work, sat on the couch, and participated in a mini trunk show of all the garments and accessories made for my trip. I wore one outfit and then used the dressforms to display the other pieces like an exhibit. FUN - and great to get feedback on all the work.


After stitching the orange cording halfway around the bracelet, I decided it was too intense and took away from the rest of the work so I removed it and instead zigzag stitched with orange over a blue cording and then wrapped that around the bracelet. It was just enough to merge the edges with the inside and bring the piece together. I'm really pleased with it.

The bracelet is the jewelry piece for the turquoise vest and t-shirt and hand painted pants outfit. As I described in the last posting, I evolved the collar forward into a mandarin collar and then didn't like that and starting playing with ideas for another one - the third - and final - variation.  I'm not going to bore you with all the details or I'd be writing forever but it I will say it's always worth the work to attempt to move something you don't like forward into something you do. Even if it doesn't succeed, you weren't going to wear it anyway and the fabric can still become something even more again. I'll be using these remnants for jewelry.

Looking for inspiration online, I was most attracted to vests with a more open neckline rather than one that buttons closed or feels constraining so I opted for a traditional V-neck and...

... edited the collar once again taking off the second version and reshaping and refinishing the neckline. I used self-made bias to finish the edge and then vintage buttons that I've had in stash for quite a long time. That's one of the reasons why I washed the chalk marks out first before sewing on the buttons. I'm not sure if they are actually machine washable.

This is the vest to date. I may add a few more details later on but for now I'm pleased with how it has evolved and how it looks with the t-shirt and the pants. This is also the outfit with the orange shoes and it's a fun one to wear.

After my guests left, I tried on all the outfits to determine what undergarments were necessary and any adjustments, put what I could with the garments, and made a list of the things that need to be finished. There's not much left to do.


The outfit I wore was the one that I was the least confident with - as a test - because I don't want to spend a day of my holiday in an uncomfortable outfit. Good thing. By the time I had even finished putting on my make-up, I'd taken the shirt off. I kept pulling it down and adjusting it and wasn't at all comfortable. Instead of assuming I'd need to sew something else, I first tried it with the linen top I'd rejected earlier and because the sweater - worn open - has a similar neckline, it worked and the colours are all pulled together nicely in the shoes and with the topstitching on the denim trousers.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - using a lot of souvenier items in these outfits and enjoying the memories

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

My Mostly Ugly Bracelet

Two weeks today and I will at my friend Sheri's house in Eugene, Oregon, already working away in her studio. This reality was especially comforting yesterday as I stared out the window at yet still another period of thick snow flurries. I spent two hours on Monday shoveling knee deep snow off the back patio and I am more than done with winter. I think I've said that before. Each time you read it, read it with more emphasis because I AM SO DONE WITH WINTER and really looking forward to my holiday.

After shoveling, I started on the final jewelry piece for The Outfit Project. I wanted a piece that was primarily orange with accents of copper, blue, and turquoise and decided on a bracelet starting with this wooden one I found at the thrift store - 3 for $5.00 - way less expensive than blanks.

I didn't know what to do or how to do what I hoped to do so rather than sit around feeling paralyzed by that fact, I made a decision to just start. I measured the bracelet and then cut interfacing and batting to that width and length and layered those with a strip of the orange fabric. They I played with different beads to see how they looked against the background and right away, felt the work was too flat. I wanted something much more dimensional so I used the sewing machine to make thread scribbles on the orange background and then glued it to the wooden form. Starting is the most important thing and then do one step, and then the next, and then the next, and just keep going until the piece says it's finished. If it's a masterpiece, that's a bonus. Finished is really good. The journey of learning is really amazing.

After gluing, I did a bunch of things without taking pictures. I've been finding it difficult lately to document every step because my brain is in create mode and not document mode. SO here's what happened. I took fifteen 1" wide strips of the orange fabric and tied knots in each one leaving the ends. AND THEN... I used copper paint to touch up the high points of the knots and I thought they looked ugly. AND THEN... I spaced the knots around the bracelet and stitched them in place with the ends hanging out wildly and I thought it looked ugly.

AND THEN... I used orange, turquoise, and pink thread to zigzag over orange cording and blue cording and thought they had potential. AND THEN... I twisted the cords in and out of the knots and tacked them in place and I thought it looked ugly. AND THEN... I twisted and turned the orange ends and tacked them down to the base fabric creating a topography of sorts and I thought it looked ugly. AND THEN... I sewed large orange and blue beads in place and I thought they looked like ugly blobs on an orange background. AND THEN... I wrapped twisted copper wire through the center and around the bracelet and thought it was finally achieving some degree of interest and sophistication. AND THEN... I sewed smaller blue and copper beads in place and thought it was starting to look interesting but need more contrast.

About this time, I thought about how when I create a knitted or sewn garment that I don't like, I just take it apart and make it into something else and I wondered how I'd do that with a bracelet but decided it was actually rather easy - I'd just use a chop saw to cut it in sections and go from there. And so I confidently carried on with my mostly ugly bracelet.

I decided it needed more depth and contrast and that weaving more of the zigzagged orange cord in and around the beads could work for that. About this time, a friend who is also an artist phoned and we discussed it and I drove over to her house and we discussed it some more while both looking at the bracelet and then I came home and worked on it some more. And this is the stage I'm at this morning. There are at least four more stages until the piece is finished, possibly more depending on what comes up, so hopefully I'll be able to show it in Friday's post because after that, I'll prepping for the workshop and starting to pack.

Because I don't want to pack, unpack, and then re-pack my workshop supplies in order to sew at Sheri's studio, we've decided to work on fabric beads. To prep for that, I've been Pintrest-ing and printing out inspiration images and instructions. When I decide to explore a subject, I tend to dive in deep which may be why it can take a while to get going on something I want to do. It can be all talk, no action, for a while because I know that when I go there, I'm going all the way.

While jewelry has been ticking for a long time, it was the wire weaving workshop I took in January 2017 that finally gave me the confidence to move in this direction. It seemed to flip a switch. Last year, I took several on-line wire working classes and made samples as well as pieces of my own. For The Outfit Project, I've made a jewelry piece for each outfit trying different techniques and my mind is bubbling with ideas to explore. It helps that I am seeing more clearly the role of creativity in jewelry as well as the role of jewelry - and in particular statement necklaces - in my fashion personality.

The Outfit Project highlighted - once again - my uniform. Clean lines, architectural interest, prints on the bottom, a relatively plain upper garment, and a statement necklace. I've been sharing with a few friends my ah ha around not wearing even a simple collar and instead wearing huge necklaces. They're shaking their heads in that so Myrna way but they can see why it works. And I did it again. The turquoise vest is hanging up to dry after I washed all the chalk marks out and then I'll add the buttons and then I'll post the finished project... with it's fourth neckline finish... no collar... after I tried three different collars.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the ability to stay with ugly until it begins to shift