Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Day Of Slow Sewing With Katherine

To me, winter is the perfect time to get a lot done in the studio so I don't mind the changing of the seasons except for that - seemingly - one weekend a winter when we get snow overload. Last year, on "the" snow weekend, a friend was visiting and she ended up taking another four days to get home between interruptions and cancellations. She's coming tomorrow so hopefully that won't happen again this year although I've borrowed Howard's all wheel drive vehicle just in case.

When I woke up Saturday morning, it was lightly snowing and then it came down heavier and heavier as the day went on. It snowed all day Saturday, all night, all day Sunday, all night, and then warmed up on Monday and started melting and freezing alternately. Two perfect studio days was fabulous. Icy road and sidewalks not so much.

This is the view from my studio window underneath the porch. Howard and I plan to build roofs over our front and back porches so that as we age, we don't have to shovel the snow off them. The snow is heavy. Shoveling is a lot of work and not for the ancient old ones we plan to be. I have two neighbours with snow blowers who have decided to do the driveways around them so thankfully they took care of mine over the weekend along with the heavy snow berm from the plow. I'm very grateful... especially since...


... that left me lots of time in the studio. On Friday, I laid out all the parts and pieces of the outfit project and determined what was staying, what was going, and what still needed to be sewn. In the picture above left, the purple dress, the black pants, and the print skirt (shown in the picture above right) were still fabric. I cut the patterns out in the morning and sewed the garments together over the next three days. Normally, I wouldn't cut out more than one garment at a time but I knew for sure these would work which has been interesting learning with this project. What works. What doesn't. Sometimes it's more a feeling than anything else.

I'll show individual pictures of each outfit in another post but missing from the wardrobe picture above is the black t-shirt in this image. This is a classic Myrna outfit with a black t-shirt, a printed lower garment, and a statement necklace. The skirt is Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8499 which is one of my most worn and favourite styles. The t-shirt is a self drafted mixing up the parts and pieces of two other favourites. The shoes, which you can't see very well, have a Victorian button-up overtone and the necklace-to-be is the knit pieces I showed in an earlier post. It's isn't complete. The strands are there just to see how it'll look with the t-shirt. The shoes will be painted the same lime. .

One of the things I've learned - or reconfirmed - yet still again - is my comfort spot with clothing. I like medium to dark tones. I like one accent piece. I like a solid coloured upper garment and a printed lower garment. I love Love LOVE a statement necklace. I like comfortable but interesting shoes and just the right number of pieces to be balanced. I was trying to add a topper to every garment and that doesn't work with every combination - just some - and - of course - the right topper.

Another thing I learned is to not buy or make the accessories first. I bought a pair of handpainted shoes in December that just arrived and no longer go with any of these outfits and I struggled to make the knot necklace fit in after eliminating the gold/turquoise/purple outfit that it was perfect with. And since I made it twice, I was determined it would fit. I'm glad I waited on the purses because now I can match them up better.

I'm looking forward to making this knit necklace. It's vastly different from anything I've made before and I'm excited to see how it looks when I add the beaded details. I took this picture of The Nuremberg Combo for my  friend Alex because I purchased the printed skirt fabric while shopping with her in Nuremberg. I thik she went into shock when she realized I was actually going to buy it.

Howard and I were in Nurenberg in July 2015 as part of our cruise. He went off on an optional World War II tour and Alex and I went shopping. She'd driven down from three hours north to spend the day with me. It was our first in-person meeting and we had a blast together, have stayed in touch since, and are hoping to get together again this summer. I really appreciate how the Internet connects us with those who love what we love.

I have one and a half garments left to sew. I've cut out Katherine Tilton's Butterick 5891 vest in a turquoise raw silk to go with the hand painted pants and turquoise t-shirt. It's also a souvenir fabric bought the last time I went to Sew Expo. I've sewn this vest before in a black linen and it gets worn ALL THE TIME, in fact, it gets worn so often that the black is severely faded and needs over-dyeing or I need to sew another black one. It's flattering and goes with everything.

The half garment is the other half of Katherine's Butterick 6325 in this grey print. I added a plain grey button band and cut the collar from the same fabric. It's ready to sew in. Once that's done, I'll debate the sleeves and the peplum. Right now, it looks like a chunk on my hip instead of an interesting element.

I've sewn this pattern before (in blue) and the peplum looked better tone-on-tone. Looking at the pattern photo, it appears to move further toward center back/front than the instructions indicate. I'll play with the positioning and may create a layered peplum by adding a smaller one of the print fabric so there is less solid grey showing. First the collar, then the peplum, then debate if any grey is needed on the sleeves, then add buttons and it's done. And then the vest. And then I'm done all the garments and ready for the jewelry, handbags, and shoes. I also have two pairs of pajamas cut out ready and I'd like to sew a coat which looks doable at this point since I'm not leaving until the second week of March. I'm stopping at a friend's house for four days on the way to Ashland so I can also sew those there.

I spent a day of slow sewing with Katherine yesterday while working on the top and will spend another today finishing it. Several of Katherine's patterns are favourites. What I like about both the vest and this top is that the pieces are cut individually, layered on top of each other, with tucks and turns and hems that need to be neatly turned and pressed. These patterns are not sew-by-number and take a degree of accuracy. I really enjoy measuring and turning and pressing the hems neat and crisp, and the seams, and arranging the parts just so. I find it soothing, a great play day, as opposed to fast-food-ish-sewing. I'm not a huge fan of the make it tonight, wear it tomorrow type of sewing. I prefer to be in the moment.

Of the many designers, I purchase more patterns designed by Sandra Betzina, Marcy Tilton, and Katherine Tilton than any other. I rarely sew Sandra's patterns since they are designed more for her body type than mine. What I like are her design details which are transferable and are also what attracted me to her work the first time I heard her speak in the 80s.

The skirt shown earlier, as well as a pant and a t-shirt pattern designed by Marcy are sewn-many-times-over favourites along with two shirts of Katherine's and her Vogue 8691 t-shirt that is by and far my most sewn pattern. The outfit project has shown me that it would be oh so easy to get in a rut and stay there but it's also shown me where to push the edges comfortably. I have more than a few patterns by Marcy and Katherine that I haven't even tried yet but I know they have great potential to also be favourites and that's fun.

Talk soon - Myrna

- snow blowers


  1. Your outfits will be fabulous! I, too, have many of the Tilton patterns. My favorite is B5891 - the jacket - as I've never sewn the vest. I need to give this a try. I love how you've found your style: solid top, print bottom and statement necklace. As a fellow sewist this realization is so helpful in executing successful outfits. Using this formula you are able to make many garments that appear different by use of fabrics and unique embellishments. Aren't we lucky we sew? Karen

    1. Thank you. I haven't sewn the jacket version of B5891 yet. Jackets aren't something I'm drawn to but perhaps in a soft fabric. LOL - it's good to have found my style but do you notice how often I wander away from it and then come back. That's rather amusing to me. You're right - the formula (should) makes it easier. I am SO LUCKY that I sew. I can't imagine not sewing. YES YES.

  2. Talk about snow! You made some great pieces and I know you had a marvelous time too.

    1. And there's a snow warning for the area and it's starting to come down again. Should be an interesting drive to the airport tomorrow - 1 1/2 hours away. THANKS - I did have a great time. It'll be nice to have all the garments finished and switch to playing with the accessories. They've been tickling and dancing and demanding their time.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.