Monday, January 29, 2007
Saturday, January 27, 2007
This discussion reminded me.....Since childhood, sewing, quilting and painting have been the ways, that I return to sitting in my heart in silence, total presence in the moment, listening to whatever might arise from within. The final product didn't matter as much to me as the process of working in silence, doing my best. When I would put on one of my jackets, I would notice an energy of love in it. It would feel like a hug. Wanting to know the truth about it, I would ask anyone who complimented me on my jacket, if they would like to try it on. If they said "Yes." I would watch and listen, to see their reaction. They would comment that "something in it felt so good" We are in the habit of looking and judging with the body's eyes. If you close your eyes and just lay your hand on something, listening, you may discover that you can feel the love with which something was made, the essence of the maker.
Written by Akshara on Artisan's Square
You can read more of the discussion here
You can read the article from The Smithsonian Magazine here that started the folder
I have to tell you I rarely venture into some folders on Artisan's Square...quilting being one of them because I just can't get to cutting up little pieces of fabric and putting them back together. This is not to say that it is not art and that others shouldn't do it, it's just not for me. I stumbled across the Gees Bend Folder and started to read because I have read articles about the Gees Bend Quilts before. The posts in the folder are very opinionated & emotional, but the words above made me break down and cry.
I want to say a few things about the discussion and these words...and I will try not to ramble. First, I am going to admit upfront that my perspective is from that of a Black woman which is totally dissimilar from other people living in America...it has to be because I have had different experiences...even everyday events occur differently for my family than they do for any other ethnic or non-ethnic family in America.
Second, it enrages me when others belittle art. And it infuriates me when we who create belittle our own creativity and doesn't recognize that it is a form of art! Even if you buy a kit for a quilt, a dress or an apron from Joann's and use the kit exactly as it was sold to you...you have still created something and it is still ART! I mean we call little children's drawings art. Why can't the thing that you have labored over and poured your heart and soul into be art, also!?!
Dictionary.com defines art as:
1. the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
2. the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings: a museum of art; an art collection.
3. a field, genre, or category of art: Dance is an art.
4. the fine arts collectively, often excluding architecture: art and architecture.
5. any field using the skills or techniques of art: advertising art; industrial art.
6. (in printed matter) illustrative or decorative material: Is there any art with the copy for this story?
7. the principles or methods governing any craft or branch of learning: the art of baking; the art of selling.
8. the craft or trade using these principles or methods.
9. skill in conducting any human activity: a master at the art of conversation.
10. a branch of learning or university study, esp. one of the fine arts or the humanities, as music, philosophy, or literature.
And third, I absolutely hate when people put down poor black people for whatever reason. Damn, we were poor and hated for so long that it is no wonder that we are amazed and filled with pride anytime there is some recognition for anything that we have achieved or accomplished. I didn't post to that folder because I didn't want to start anything but again the insensitivity of others is so demeaning. Maybe you don't think it is art. Maybe you don't think that the quilts of Gees Bend are anything special...maybe your grandma did make something like them...but and here is my great big but...these women prevailed when everything was against them. They loved, they laughed, they cared for their families when the world made it extremely hard for them to do so! And even legislated against them doing so. I am not saying that everything in that folder was negative - please do not walk away with that! I am just saying that once again maybe we should edit our thoughts before we post them before the entire internet world! God, I am starting to sound like the thought police! And I don't mean to!
Look my grandmother who taught me to sew made quilts for warmth for her family. They were "utility quilts" ~ made from the scraps of worn out clothing, pieces of fabric left over from items she had made and even old quilts that were worn out. She kept a basket full of these pieces and used them when it was time to make a new quilt. When she died my family rescued the few quilts that were left. My mother keeps them wrapped up in her linen closet treasuring what she has left of her mother. Those Gees Bend Quilts are treasures and art too. Because they represent a period of history in America. Because they represent the hopes and dreams of a people and mostly because they represent preserverance when everything directed at these women should have made them fail.
Yes, I am emotional about the subject. And yes, I will defend my people with every breathe in my body. I am proud to be a black woman living in America. I am proud of the things my people have accomplished in a nation where at every turn we were bullied, lynched, legislated against, hated for the color of our skin, and in some places even now still hated for those reasons. But we have preserved, we have accomplished, we have contributed and continue to do so! And I will speak out about it. Don't wanna read it ~ move on! Cause today I am having my say!
But mostly I want all of us to think about the words of Akshara:
If you close your eyes and lay your hands on something, listening you may discover that you can feel the love with which something was made, the essence of the maker...
Feel the love, people! That's all I am asking....
Thursday, January 25, 2007
This Tamotsu Pattern ~ Vogue 2770:
Misses'/Misses' Petite jacket, Top, Skirt and Pants - lined jacket has princess seams, front buttonhole and button, front darts and two piece sleeves. Lined top has princess seams, concealed buttonhole and button closures and contrast bind. Mid-knee lined skirt has front slit (not!), darts, back zipper and shaped waistband 1/2" below normal waistline. Topstitching detail at center front and waistband. Unlined pants have fly zipper, sice vents and shaped waistband 1/2" below normal waistline with topstitching detail.
I bought this pattern for the jacket and the top. Two really cute elements that I can work with. The skirt and the pants are a no-go with the waistband on both starting 1/2" below the normal waistline?!!!! Who are they kidding ~ in this plus size body that means fat hanging loose and free in the breeze - I don't think so! Click on the hyperlink to see the back of the jacket! With all those seams there are a lot of fitting opportunities - where I can give the jacket the appearance of being closely fitted without it actually being so. I think this pattern will work for three of the four seasons - since I am sticking with alot of my already sewn summer gear!
This Wardrobe Pattern - Vogue 2939:
Misses' Jacket, Skirt, Dress, Shirt and Pants ~ semi-fitted, lined jacket has darts, pleats in front, princess seams in back, long sleeves with pleats, shoulder pads, fabric loop and button closure. Shirt and dress have darts, notched collar, two-piece long sleeves with slit (ooohhhlalala!), topstitching and snap closures. Semi-fitting straight skirt, below mid-knee has front princess seams, back pleats and side zipper. Straight pants have darts, faced waist and mock fly closure.
I like this pattern for the blouse, the dress and the skirt. I am not sure that the jacket would work for me...those folds in the front at the abdomen sort of say...."looky looky she has a big fat stomach!" Nah, not the look I am going for! However, I do like the seaming detail on the back of this jacket so I might work with those folds, maybe I can just tape them close and make a muslin up and see how that works...but it is really the blouse/dress that has me smiling. I already know what fabric I want to use for both pieces! They will be spring/summer/fall additions, since I just can't manage a dress when the temps are 30 degrees or less. I love the details on the skirt, princess seams in the front, pleats in the back - you can get them coming and going! These three pieces can be workhorses in my new Corporate Chic wardrobe!
And finally this "Five Easy Pieces" pattern ~ Vogue 8137:
Misses'/Misses' Petite Jacket, Top, Dress, Skirt and Pants ~ lined long sleeve jacket has patch pockets (I don't think so!) topstitching and optional purchased belt. Unlined sleeveless top and dress have topstitched neckline and princess seams. Top has separating zipper ~ whyyy? Straight skirt and pants have back zipper closings. Skirt has back slit.
I am a dress girl! Have been since well probably since my mama first put me in one. I love how dresses make me feel like a woman so I probably have way more dress patterns than I will ever sew! But I just loved the seasonlessness of this dress & jacket combo - in linen it's great for corporate meetings in spring and summer...just take the jacket off when I hit the street. In fall made up in a nice wool doubleknit it will be classy & elegant and allow me to look pulled together with minimal effort which is necessary at 5:30 in the morning!
So this is what came in the mail...my youngest daughter has taken to calling these things, patterns, fabric swatches, magazines ~ just about anything related to sewing: "Fabric Porn!" She says that I get this look on my face that is almost like rapture. So she will say, "What fabric porn came today!" Children...you had to teach them to talk 'cause you got tired of trying to intrepret the different cries but sometimes....
Anyway, sewing dreams arrived today so I am off to gaze at them lovingly, to plan and to dream. Did anything good come in the mail for you today?
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
While reading the article I thought about all the different types of creative blogs there are in the blogsphere. I have been to so many of them in the last couple of days because of the "Tag Your It!" game. Reading about what is closest to all of these women's hearts - their craft, their art, their passion - and also reading just enough personal details to flesh the individual out even more has been enlightening.
There is something else in Anna Quindlen's article that really touched me. It was used to describe how family members felt about loved ones lost in the Twin Towers....
"Wouldn't all of us love to have a journal, a memoir, a letter from those we have loved and lost? Shouldn't all of us leave a bit of that behind."
So all these bits that we write in our blogs, pictures we take, links to photo sites, etc. can someday become treasured memories for our family and friends. It gave me pause...but it also
encouraged me...we are all writing living memoirs about the things that we are so passionate about! I plan to keep writing, to keep sharing and to keep adding to this "living testimony!"
I hope you will stay around for the journey....
Saturday, January 20, 2007
- 1. Planning is key
- 2. Assemble all of the key ingredients before you start - then all you have to do is sew!
- 3. Must use TNT patterns
I am in awe of people who use a new pattern for each garment ~ never or rarely revisiting a pattern! To me it is amazing that they take the time to fit each pattern and then put it away.
Of course I am the exact opposite. I "love" the journey of working with a pattern and making it mine. I love exploring the possibilities of a pattern. How fabric affects the drape of the garment and its final outcome. How by adding or subtracting seams you can change the silhoutte and look of the garment. I love working with a pattern until I understand it inside and out....And then there is the laziness factor...yes, I will cop to that! It just seems that after I have gone to the trouble of altering a pattern that I should get as much use out of it as I possibly can.
To me it's like a cook...most cooks don't make a meal or a dish just once. No, they prepare it again and again, adding ingredients...subtracting ingredients essentially making the dish their own. And a great cook or chef usually becomes known for a certain style of cooking or particular type of dish. How about a woodworker? Doesn't he or she use different types of wood (i.e. fabrics) but ends up preferring to use one type over another and then making several pieces (patterns) from it again and again? Truly, there are only so many ways to interpret and build a table and chairs!
This is how I feel about a pattern. A new adventure awaits me when I pull those pieces from the envelope. And as I make it again and again an intimacy develops. I KNOW what the pattern can be and I want to experience all of the versions I can before I come to the end of the journey.
The photos are of my latest TNT pattern obsession - The Sewing Workshop Mission Tank. I have made this tank about 10-15 times. I have included pictures throughout the post where the fabric is key, where I have lined it, I have used it as part of an evening ensemble and pieced the silk duppioni, I added seams to the front and back and my latest rendition where I just embellished it. It looks different every time and that is why I like working with TNT patterns...it allows me to design something and then just sew!
If you have not taken this journey, why not try it? Why not take the next pattern and dream? If you open your mind to the possibilities, the boredom factor will disappear! Maybe as you work with it a couple of times, you will experience the same joy that I have experienced. We sewists are always looking for a challenge so I am issuing one. Take a pattern that you have used once and then make it at least four more times. Change it up by using different fabric, try some trim or embellishment, add or subtract some seams...but most importantly enjoy the journey! You just might learn something new about yourself and your sewing and in the process develop your own set of TNT patterns!
Thursday, January 18, 2007
|Your Birthdate: May 30|
You have the type of personality that people either love or hate.
You're opinionated, dramatic, intense, and very outspoken.
And some people can't get enough of you - they're totally addicted.
Others, well, they wish you were a little more reserved.
Let's see five things that I have not already divulged on my blog....
- I am the firstborn in my family carrying with it all the hopes, dreams and pitfalls of being the firstborn. I have a brother and sister who are supremely confident and sometimes at family gatherings I am glad that I am the firstborn. It is something that neither of them can boast about!
- I have a beautiful first soprano voice. I have sung in concert choirs, opera ensembles, church choirs and in my younger days did a little community theatre. My youngest use to ask me to sing "Oklahoma!" for her friends because none of them could believe that I could hold the high notes that long.
- I am secretly (well secretly no more!) addicted to Joan Rivers Classic Collections Jewelry. I have not yet quite attained the status of QVC junkie ~ though I am not sure the UPS man thought that around Christmas time! Hey easy-pay is a wonderous thing and I never had to leave the house! But I digress...Joan Rivers Jewelry just does it for me. I especially love the interchangeable pieces and when she was doing pearls seriously, I was breathless, breathless I tell you watching the shows. I own enough of this that on any given day, I could have accessorized an outfit with at least one piece of my Joan Rivers Jewelry!
- With my second child I was pregnant with twins...however, I lost one and carried one to full term....and boy is she a handful all by herself...can't imagine if there had been two of her!
- I frequently change the lyrics of songs to things I like better. Drives my kids crazy. Jay Z has this song with the hook that goes, "Show me what you got pretty lady!" and I sing it, "SEW me what you got pretty lady...go on and sew something, sew something!" LOL! Makes my kids absolutely nuts!
And since we are daisy chaining, here is a picture of my pincushion too!
Back to regularly scheduling sewing chat tomorrow! TGIF!!!!
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Now flow with me here ~ I need to list these pieces...
- Brown poly blend unlined jacket - that matches SWAP pieces from last year!
- Silk paisley Sewing Workshop Mission Tank - TNT pattern - I love the versatility of this piece.
- SW Mission Tank in white sandwashed silk w/battenburg insert - see there it is again!
- Black lined wool crepe pants made from another TNT pattern
- Black/white/gray sweaterknit jacket with black lace trim - egads! yet another TNT pattern!
- "Cashmere Dreams" this is a collection of garments that I have made and am still working on from a wool/cashmere blend that I bought way too many yards of from FM last year.
Do you realize that if I stopped sewing right now that I would have more pieces than there are weeks in the month! Yippee! So if you will please pardon this brief interruption for braggidicco, I will get back to serious sewing chatting soon! Just need a minute to bask in my accomplishments! *smile*
Maybe my next post should be, "The Joy of Sewing a TNT Pattern!"
Monday, January 15, 2007
Here is a picture of all three pieces together:
The reason that I am calling the jacket, my version of a St. John's Jacket, is that it is made from a sweater knit using Vogue Pattern 2285. I think this is an out-of-print pattern now but I used a modified version of it last summer for the eyelet Coldwater Creek knock-off jacket. However, since this is a knit the pieces had to be sewn together using bigger seams which were serged off after fitting to have a neater inside appearance. I also used fur hooks on the inside of the jacket as closures where the original had no closures.
Finally there is the trim....last year I wanted to knock off a Dolce & Gabbana black & white plaid skirt with a huge lace/ribbon/pearl trim detail at the hem of the skirt. I didn't get around to making the skirt and this year the embellishment looked dated to me. Problem was that I had already spent time combining the elements to make the lace/ribbon/pearl trim - what to do? I cut it apart and used it on the jacket.
This is a close-up of the final trim application. More shots can be seen in my Yahoo photo album. But believe me there was much trial and tribulation to get to this point. The center of the lace without the pearls was finally added to the front of the jacket because it wasn't as gaudy as the trim with the pearls. And due to my new corporate environment - it would have just been too over the top. I think even this trim is pushing it but...hey, I just got to be me! There is also a lace trim on the sleeves which was the edge of the original lace trim.
Here is a picture of the tank by itself.
The sueded sandwashed silk was purchased from Fabric Mart last year. I think it was the last piece that they had and boy am I glad that I bought three yards of this. The tank took 1.25 yards and I embellished it with a battenburg lace insert that I got from Daytona Trimmings. I also added three pearl beads to it to give the lace insert a little punch. I am using the remaining piece of this fabric for one of the four dresses I have to make for the Dress SWAP. Here is a detailed picture of the battenburg lace insert:
The pants are made from black wool crepe also purchased from Fabric Mart - I think I buy 10 yards at the beginning of every fall season now...in my quest to own five pair of black lined pants for winter - never seem to get them made every year...up to three pair this year with this new pair! Maybe this year will be the year that I make the five pair!
The name of my SWAP is "Corporate Chic!" (Thanks again Mardel!) It is clothing made to wear in my new corporate environment. It probably should be called Corporate Embellishment Chic since I think almost every piece in my plan has some type of embellishment, trim or interesting buttons added to it - well except for the pants! Again, this is part of my need to be "me" in my new environment.
More pics can can be seen in my Yahoo album - Corporate Chic! I promise I will add pictures of me in the outfit later, I just want to get a pair of pants completed for another outfit (not SWAP related) to wear to work this week!
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
On January 8, 2006 I made my first blog entry. I remember feeling a little nervous but I was looking for a place where I could just ramble on about what I was sewing, my love of fabric, and how much sewing factors into my life.
Along the way I shared some of my triumphs - making my daughter's prom dress, creating a couple of SWAPs...and my disappointments - my other daughter's refusal to wear the pants outfit I made her...*sigh* and the one hit wonder dress. I have even discussed some of the finer points of sewing - like quality sewing, my love of binding and my overexuberance at a good fabric sale! *LOL*
But mostly what has made this year so memorable and remarkable is the number of people who read and commented on my blog. I read every comment and tried to respond to any questions asked. I so appreciate the time that everyone takes out of their busy lives to stop by and see what I have made or what is making me speak out today! I know that one of the truest blessings of this forum is when someone takes time out of their day to agree or disagree with something that I have written about or to give a compliment on a garment/outfit or pair of shoes *smile* that I have posted a picture of....I think that was a "dangling" something!
So thank you for sharing your thoughts, sharing your time and stopping by to stop and read awhile. It means more to me than you will ever know! Hopefully 2007 will bring even more amazing sewing adventures!
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Dress made from a taupish brown tropical wool from Fabric Mart. I added a lining to the dress and the interesting part of this dress to me is the ribbon trim. A shot of the ribbon trim on the back of the dress:
A straight dress with an interesting dart detailing at the neckline and a good basic for layering underneath jackets and sweaters. I made a matching cardigan from my Burda TNT pattern using the black rayon knit from Metro Textiles purchased during fabric shopping with Ann (Gorgeous Things) and Barbara (Cat Fur Studio). Please excuse the shoe boxes in the photos. I brought them home from my old job and haven't gotten them all moved to my new job yet!
The dress by itself. I probably will make this dress again because it is a great foundational piece.
TNT Jacket and Skirt
This the suit that I interviewed in. It was made from a wool glen plaid purchased at Fikret Fabrics in the NYC garment district for an amazing price of $5 per yard. The jacket is a TNT blouse pattern that I have used as a jacket before and the skirt is TNT also. Both pieces are lined and even though it was a great interview outfit...it is not a favorite.
To view close-ups of sewing details, check out my photo album at Yahoo.com.
And of course, I must leave you with a picture of a great pair of shoes....
Friday, January 05, 2007
So my new dilemmia becomes, "What do I do with the remaining scraps?" Now if there is a yard or more left that's easy...just refold and re-label and back into the fabric closet it goes to wait for another garment opportunity. But it's those 1/4 yard pieces or really long and narrow two yard pieces that cause me the most anguish.
I know that I should throw them out but just as my hand is hovering over the garbage can, something makes me pull it back! I start imaging all the possibilities ~ piecing them together to make a funky *fill in the blank* piece that will make everyone ooohhh and aaahhh! Or an interesting piece of piping or embellishment, shoulder pad covers, applique...the possibilities seem endless. So I draw my hand back and leave the scraps in a heap at the bottom of my cutting table to be dealt with later.
Now you would think that I would use the tightest cutting layout possible to avoid these situations. But noooooo, why would I do that when I have yards and yards of fabric, and I can use the extra to make sure the grain is straight, that the plaids match or the pattern repeats are just the way that I want them! Not at any point when I am cutting out the garment do I consider what am I going to do with the scraps!!!
So at the end of making a garment, I am left facing the scraps....yet again. What do you do? How do you handle excess scraps? Do you store them or do you toss them? If you save them, how much do you save? And what do you do with them later? Or are you one of *those* people who only purchase enough fabric to make the garment?
Are you scrap happy?
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
I was wearing this.....
And it is as bland as I can get! I finished the jacket and tank top yesterday but for some reason could not get the pictures to download. So another day and another try....
The jacket is a shortened version of Vogue 7944. This is the description of the jacket from the pattern envelope:
Misses/Misses' Petite Jackets and Pants, unlined, long sleeve jacket has topstitched collar and front opening edges. View B has slits at sides.
Size Range: 10-24 (I, of course, used a size 24).
I purchased this pattern just for the jacket. My original intent was to make a lining pattern for the jacket but this weekend I wanted something tailored but quick for my first version. So this version is unlined. I flat measured the pattern pieces before cutting them out. I also double checked the dart palcement and the bust points. I am finding that if I do that everytime, I have a greater success with the finished garment ~ making my first version a very wearable muslin.
There were several things that I really liked about the pattern while I was making it...the front facings are not really large and floppy and there is no back facing. You clip and turn the collar piece under and handstitch it. This a very clean look in the back of the jacket and will make lining the next version very easy. I did have to make my usual adjustments to the shoulder seam. I also changed the sleeve from being a one part sleeve to a two part sleeve with a seam down the center and topstitched it. After I made this change, I realize that I do this alot to jacket sleeves not only for better fit but also because it gives the sleeve a slimmer appearance. Another trick that I use for my sleeves is that I try to cut them on the bias (when fabric allows) to give them a little extra stretch/give across my bodacious biceps.
I used 2.25 yards of a brown poly blend that was left over from last year's SWAP. The skirt and pants were made during that SWAP but work perfectly with this jacket. Wallah ~ two new suit looks for the new corporate atmosphere.
This is a very basic jacket pattern that I will make several more times in slightly different incarnations. I can see it with more seaming detail in the back and possibly a small back belt. Changing the length will also change the feel of the jacket and I am even thinking of trying it in a medium weight stable knit with a matching straight skirt sort of like a St. John's suit.
The shell is from the Sewing Workshop Mission Tank top.
I have made this top several times (about 10-20) and have altered the pattern so much that it fits perfectly now no matter what type of fabric I lay it on. It glides perfectly over my breasts without any puckering in the armholes, it lays flat over my abdomen without any pulling and with or without side slits at the hemline it rests perfectly over my hips. It has a great neckline to showcase jewelry and shows just enough fabric when a jacket is buttoned. I have made it in a knit fabric, linen, silk and a wool/cashmere blend. It just works! And that is why it is a staple in my wardrobe. I have even included a version in a sandwashed silk for my next SWAP.
So here is item #1 and #2 from my 2007 sewing! I promise more corporate clothing to come and none of it will be bland! *LOL*
And here is a picture of my shoes! Anne Klein gotta love 'em!