Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rich Beautiful Exhibits Everywhere

No need to tell you I've been busy and still grieving unexpectedly when alone, so I just couldn't write. But so much is happening in fashion exhibits that I must send this brief note.

Something to See in Every Corner
Until June 5, Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave is on exhibit at the Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco. If you go to you will find several books by de Borchgrave and others. I have ordered the book Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave by Jill D'Alessandro and was hoping to review it for you. But it hasn't arrived yet. There is one review that indicates it's a good book.
Ms. D'Alessandro is curator of the exhibit and gave a lecture earlier this year to the Textile Arts Council. I've heard wonderful comments both about the work and about the exhibit. I hope to see it soon and will tell you all about it. Meanwhile, I found a blog that has photos for you:

Until July 4, Balenciaga and Spain is on exhibit at the de Young Museum, San Francisco. This exhibit is curated by Hamish Bowles, European editor-at-large of Vogue magazine, featuring nearly 120 haute couture garments, hats, and headdresses designed by Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895–1972).

I came upon a newspaper review with a few photos: This is another show not to be missed, even if I have to walk to get there!

An opening day symposium included speakers Hamish Bowles, Pamela Goblin, Miren Arzalluz, and Lourdes Font. I wasn't able to go, but all is not lost.
The conference was filmed for on-demand viewing. Pay $9.95 USD and you can watch the symposium for the duration of the de Young exhibition which ends on July 4. I watched the preview and wish I could have the whole thing on DVD! This is almost four hours of watching time but that's why you want to be able to go back again and again. Wonderful stuff!

Until June 19, Scaasi: American Couturier, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Until July 10, Yohji Yamamoto, Victoria & Albert Museum, London UK. A retrospective of this most innovative designer.

Until July 31, Origin and Heritage of Ainu Culture, Burke Museum of Natural History
and Culture, Seattle WA. I just love their clothing designs!

May 4 – July 31 Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. A grand retrospective for a brilliant talent lost too soon.

June 16 – Sept. 18 Bojagi and Beyond, an exhibition of traditional patchwork Korean wrapping cloths and contemporary interpretations. Museum of Craft and Folk Art, 15 Yerba Buena Lane, San Francisco. 415 227-4888

John Marshall Has A Blog!
John Marshall has decided to write a blog. He's doing what I like best in his classes, tells how he got to where he is now as an artist and shows us examples of his and others fine art. I mean, it took him six months to dye a piece of fabric for a jacket! It was six months before he could wash out the soy wax. Me, I'm lucky if I leave the fabric sitting overnight. And therein lies a huge difference in the end product. Have a look at John's blog. He makes me feel ok about writing my long ones!

More of the Eye Candy made by Priscilla Kibbee
I get so much pleasure from Priscilla's blog ( but also just as much from her friends' links. These two recorded recent events. At one Priscilla was helping/teaching one of her students, and the other records a recent Priscilla fashion show. Enjoy!

New Folkwear Patterns
I heard from Kate Matthews of Folkwear Patterns. They have two new patterns coming out. One is a hat that looks perfect for garden parties or summer weddings, or to wear embellished to a street festival. The middy blouse has a flared hemline and sailor collar and also seems ideal for wearable art--more later when I see the pattern.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Buy from Artists

John Marshall
I'm sorry I've been away so long. I'll fill you in as I go along in later updates, but for now I want to get this word out. John Marshall has been holding an online fabric sale. It's ending this week, so to get beautiful silk on bolts or in pieces, yukata, shawls, and on and on, please go to and click on the sale icon. John has instructions on how to order and pay. I'd show you what I'd bought, but I'm saving it for myself for Christmas. It's a ten yard bolt of narrow blue silk with an allover leaf pattern in white. Beautiful graphic.

Suzanne Silk (Perilman)
The other reason to hurry on my part, is that Suzanne Silk (Perilman) is having a trunk show and sale on December 11, 2010 at On the Vine in St. Helena, CA. 1234 Main St., St. Helena, CA 707-963-2209 Suzanne will have her signature kimono jackets, shawls and scarves on display and for sale. These are beautifully silk-screened and painted silk garments. Suzanne's work has appeared in many magazines and books, among them Fiberarts magazine.
She appears in a new book just out here: Textiles Now. Drusilla Cole. Laurence King Publishing, London, 2008. The book is available at as well. Briefly, the book features photos of the work of textile artists from all over the world. It displays some wearable art but that's not the central focus. Many, many of the techniques used in art pieces would be an exciting and interesting feature on a garment. Very inspiring. More later...check it out.

Sassy Feet for the Holidays
Then for something a little different. Destiny Carter & Margot Silk Forest of Sassy Feet have painted a boot for Christmas: T'was the Night Before Christmas Boot which you can see at the Jacquard Products website complete with instructions.

My next update is written, I just have to resize photos. I'll be back as soon as I can. Remember the kitten I found last year and had to return to its owner? He's come back to me, weepy eyes and all. I am so happy to get Sammy back but until the rest of the cat pack accepts him, I spend a lot of time herding cats. Until next time, Rosalie

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dressing Beautifully, Creatively, for Ourselves!

My Sewing for the Family Wedding
For my niece's wedding I really stepped out of the box! Some time back, I showed you the results of the class I took with Julian Roberts. So many people encouraged me to wear that dress for the wedding, that I just had to make it again.

In an attempt to control where two fabrics would appear together, I sewed the pieces together differently and totally outwitted myself. I still wasn't familiar with the twists that come with the first cuts, and so I ended up with all one fabric in front, and all the other fabric in back. Oops! Meanwhile I was struggling to finish the wedding presents and mom's wedding outfit. So I hung the dress on my dressform and studied it from afar as I worked on other things.

I just wasn't ready for more surprises—I knew the look I wanted, so I abandoned Julian's technique at the last minute, after the first set of holes.

I loved the draping back which reminded me of 1800's fashion. I had tucked in the pointed center which had made it look like something from Issey Miyake. I made a lining that was much shorter than the dress. then I stitched the hem of the dress to that lining. This created an asymmetrical hem that wasn't planned but happened because I didn't stitch the entire hem evenly to the entire lining. I was sewing at the eleventh hour so this had to be quick and dirty. It also created a balloon hem which I rather liked. Voila, a gown for the wedding.
Watching the reactions of people to the real thing, it has more going for it than I thought. Those who don't like or aren't used to the avant garde, don't like this dress. But I've discovered that most people are taken by it.
I'm not going to show you the dress with me in it. I looked like a windblown floral barrel after racing for three hours to get to this wedding. Apologies for photographing without pressing the dress again. My dog Paloma loves the feel of the rayon challis and likes to sleep on it. But mainly you'll see how I combined two fabrics.

Mom's Ensemble
I had made mom a silk ensemble.
She had a hand-painted silk charmeuse blouse I customized to what she wanted. I used a Connie Crawford blouse pattern (Butterick patterns) and as usual it fit perfectly right out of the package, just like it always does for me too. The skirt was purple silk noil, long, narrow, one seam and gathered at the top. The "blender" was a hand-dyed silk chiffon scarf where the dye had been treated with salt (gives a texture to the dye). The scarf was emerald green with royal blue spots. The blouse underneath echoed those colors but also had some orange and purple added. I just walked into Thai Silks, saw the chiffon on the sale rack and built the rest of the fabrics around it.

Pacific International Quilt Festival this Weekend
I hope I get to see many of you at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara. I plan to be there Friday and maybe Saturday (birds will be at home alone so I'll need to dash off). First I photograph the wearable art exhibits. I still owe you the photos from last year, taken just before life fell apart. Then I take turns shopping and looking at quilt exhibits. I must visit Cherrywood Fabrics. I edited the Sweet Clover Canyon quilt pattern, Marmalade & Jam, last fall, and the Cherrywood version should be on display at this show. John Marshall will be in the Bohemian Element booth. He's bringing gold and metallic threads from Japan—I have to see these! If you go to you can see their list of vendors and exhibits. Kayla Kennington will be appearing in the fashion show Friday night and to me she's likely to be the star of the show, next to host, Karen Boutte, who always steals the show. Afterwards we usually retire to the bar in the hotel and discuss wearable art for awhile, so come on by and join us.

Rose of Sharon Blocks and Sharon Pederson
Sharon Pederson will be teaching quilt classes at PIQF. She has just compiled a book and DVD based on winning blocks in the Rose of Sharon EQ6 Block Challenge and these are also an exhibit at the show. With so many roses in these blocks, I was planning to select ideas to applique on various jackets. But in fact, now that I've skimmed the CD, I'm enchanted! Remember the Polish jacket I was making before my husband died? I had drawn my own design and was going to applique the back. Lo and behold, the very idea was very similar to one of the winning blocks in this quilt. The design and Sharon's great instructions on how to do applique with freezer paper or fusibles has just saved me from reinventing the wheel! Go here to order, or look for it at PIQF!

Lorraine Torrence Pattern
I must talk about Lorraine Torrence's Grainline Gear pattern that I described here some time back, the Noren Ensemble #1522.
I went to her booth in Long Beach and saw the pattern made up. What I didn't know was the meaning of Noren which is the curtain over the door when you go to a Japanese restaurant. What I had missed entirely is that the back on the coat or jacket hangs loose like that curtain. In the drawing I thought it was a line across the hips that wasn't too flattering. But indeed, this is an overlay with a very interesting effect. I liked it much better once I saw the real thing. Lorraine will be at PIQF this coming weekend, so come see the coat for yourself.

I also hadn't yet told you about her book of pamphlets about various embellishments. For example, how to enhance your garment with your choice of button or buttons. These pamphlets are also the basis of Lorraine's new DVD. There's something special about having the designer explain what she's doing. Even if you've heard it or read it before, there's a subtle added layer of information that comes from watching her. I will review these further another time, but please make sure you stop by her booth and see what I'm talking about. I also bought her wool felt for creating appliques on felted pieces. She has a sample garment and instructions.

Advanced Fashion from Advanced Style Videos
It's been an incredible morning online. Much creativity is blooming everywhere and people are sharing sources through Facebook. Today I first discovered Tzimora Salamon. There is no quick and easy way to describe Tzimora or her friend Debra and others. I will give you the url to go see for yourself. Tzimora explains so well how to "dress." She wears ethnic clothing that I covet. But it's also how she puts it all together—she's amazing—she says it's like doing a painting. When you finish watching the video of Tzimora, watch those of Debra and others which should be listed next to the video. I had a kick out of watching Debra shopping at a second-hand store.

Advanced Style Blog
I then read through the blog Advanced Style. It's a blog with great photos and more videos. I think you will love these as much as I do. You will also see the connection to wearable art. We need this sense of style, of having a certain panache, and of showing confidence, to wear some of the things we make. And also, seeing what Ilona Royce Smithkin and others wear will show you that you can be a work of art just with how you put together colors. These are senior citizens dressed beautifully.

Are You Dressing Creatively?
These seniors have just given me a whole new mindset about dressing. Somewhere in those pages I read that people seem to dress better as they age. Well, here I am heading toward that side of life. I look at my Vogue patterns and wonder where I would wear these things, to my trips to Wal-mart and Safeway? And then it dawned on me that I should be dressing for myself, not for the people around me. Yes, I can wear Lynn Mizono's coat to grocery shopping. I would feel that much more confident if I finally made that Issey Miyake jacket and just wore it anywhere. Somehow becoming a widow has freed me in my fashion restrictions. My husband was conservative in dress (though not in thought) and if I wore an asymmetrical hem he would bend over and wonder aloud if he should help me trim my hem so it was even all around. I find it strange, but apparently some restrictive bonds have been cut because I am being more adventurous in what I'm making and wearing these days. It's a happy result! Till next time, Rosalie

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wearable Art at the IQA Conference in Long Beach, 2010

First, sad notes:
Fred Bloebaum
Remember Fred Bloebaum and La Fred patterns?

Nick Coman sent word that designer Fred Bloebaum passed away on September 4, 2010. She'd been battling insidious cancer and, if anything, this brings an end to her suffering. But we will miss her spark among us. I always picture her as I knew her before she became La Fred. We met at The Sewing Workshop long ago where eventually she was teaching classes before starting the pattern company. The Sewing Workshop would have an Open House with fashion displays and sales on fabrics and buttons and such. We regulars were enticed to come by and see what was new and exciting. Fred was always there with her short, sleek dark red hair and sparkle. I know there was a sale of everything in Fred's business so I can't tell you if you would receive any response to her website if you wanted to buy a pattern, but I think you might like to see the gallery.

I have received word that family and friends are invited to celebrate her life on Friday, Sept 17, 1 pm at Plymouth United Church of Christ, 424 Monte Vista Avenue, Oakland, CA. Per Fred's request, please wear your favorite colors. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Project Open Hand 730 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA and Sutter VNA Hospice, 1900 Powell St, Emeryville CA.

Bonnie Leman
We also lost Bonnie Leman, the founder of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. She was one of the major sparks behind the resurgence of quiltmaking in the US. Her magazine continues in other hands, but she's the one who persevered with it for so many years at her kitchen table and brought the old skills to the fore.

I'm catching up on weeks of notes. This one started at the end of July, 2010:
IQA, Long Beach
I'm back from the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, rejuvenated, happy to have been with friends, and also very happy that I went to David Taylor's lecture and to Saturday Sampler. David Taylor is a quilter with a style all his own. This has nothing to do with wearable art except that he kept talking about how his quilting has gotten more and more dense. I thought that was a good concept for quilted clothing. The more quilting, the stiffer the fabric, but on the other hand, I like the look of a garment that has complex quilting. In other words the quilting becomes more texture than design. You just have to allow for the stiffness through the garment shape you choose, and/or judicious placement of quilted areas. You don't have to quilt from edge to edge.

Glennis Dolce
As for Saturday Sampler, that's where I met Glennis Dolce whose comments I've been reading on Facebook. It's always good to hear the thoughts and frustrations of an artist and to know she's having the same problems you are, so that's why the Facebook comments are so interesting. Glennis calls herself the Shibori Girl because she does a lot of shibori dyeing. Go to her blog to see a video of her booth in Long Beach and what she has for sale. She pleats up silk pieces and dyes them, then sells them as ribbons and the basic components of soft flowers you can wear, among other ideas (in the photo Glennis is wearing her flowers on her shoulder). I sat in on her lecture at the Saturday Sampler to see how she creates her flowers. They're pretty and soft and many of you would likely want to try this. She also had pieces of her indigo-dyed fabrics which interested me most.

Jude Hill
A big draw for me in that booth was to see up-close the quilted collages made by Jude Hill. I'm one of Jude's fans because I love hand embroidery and especially the way she uses it—I study her work on Facebook—but she also has a website and a "what if" blog. This blog is so inspiring to me because it reminds me to try little things. It doesn't have to be a huge experiment, I can do some little work on a corner of a jacket, try a little paint, use a different stitch, and voila, it will get noticed. I have a store-bought denim jacket that I never wear because it needs embellishment. But I didn't want it to look like what everyone else makes with little bits of lace and charms and yo-yos, or appliques, that sort of thing. Since I admire Jude's collages so much, I thought that's what I'll put on my denim jacket. I'll use the packet of Glennis Dolce's indigo pieces which are cut and ready for me to test my layout and embroidery skills.

Saturday Sampler
A few more words about Saturday Sampler. If you're not familiar with this event, a number of teachers are set up with mini classrooms around a big room. You move from one teacher to the next as they give a short lecture. I love to go to these because you can get up close to some very famous teachers with wonderful techniques. You get a taste of their lecture style, you get a view of that person's personality, and usually you can buy their book or products. This time I met Esterita Austin. I wasn't a fan of her rocks quilts and was surprised when friends told me how much they enjoyed her classes. Well, five minutes with Esterita and I'm a convert! She's funny, she's innovative, and she knows what she's doing with all kinds of techniques. There were several others I will tell you about another time.

I Shopped, No Books, etc.
Did I shop at the show? You bet, I really helped the economy because I haven't been to an IQA show in four years, but it was different. So many favorite vendors were missing—Treadleart books is always my most important stop and they weren't there. The only garment patterns booths were those of Lorraine Torrence and Saf-T-Pockets. Not that I'm complaining, those are two special companies, but in the land of southern California where there's a large wearable arts group, why weren't there more vendors with garment patterns and more products that would be of interest to them. I have no doubt with the economy, many vendors couldn't afford to pay to go and also risk losing more if the customers weren't there. But I'm wishing it weren't so.

What I Missed
Why wasn't the Wearable Art Connection represented? Why wasn't there an exhibit of the fabulous clothes they have? I know Justine Limpus Parish was busy with a sale at the Palos Verdes art gallery. But she's one of many designers who live in the area. So on that level I was really disappointed. I took photos of the only garments I found in the exhibits. I know Judy Mullen made the kitty-cat jacket, but I'm sorry, I didn't record the names of the other artists. If you know who they are, please send me a comment so I can give them credit. The pieced jacket was part of an exhibit of pineapple block quilts.

No Competitions?
There is something else. Strictly on the level of quilt exhibits, we (meaning various people I talked to) felt the lack of a superior quality. The SAQA exhibit was worth seeing for the great variety of ideas and techniques. But the entire IQA show as a whole fell flat, there was little to excite and stimulate. Nothing stood out for me and so said the others. I thought maybe I was feeling some ennui. This was my first big show since my husband died, the drive itself was a big event, and I wasn't yet geared to creative interests. But I don't think it was just me. Something was missing from making this a fabulous show and someone thought it was the competitive aspect. No one was striving to win first place, and likely these shows weren't juried, so we got interesting pieces but nothing spectacular.

Saturday Runway Show
I was thrilled to find that they had arranged a one hour runway show for Saturday afternoon in Long Beach. It turned out to be lackadaisical or maybe the word is lackluster. When the person running the show proudly explained that she had embellished her long vest with Steam-a-seam® gold tape which she had ironed in a long line around the openings, what could I do but groan? This they present as an example of wearable art? She then brought out another person who works in the background at the show, explained that she doesn't sew either, but had crafted a jacket from scraps. I didn't get a close look. I'm sorry, but beginning sewing doesn't come close to a competition-winning work of wearable art. The amount of work involved is far and away beyond what a beginner could conceive of and I wouldn't want anyone to have the impression that a bit of embellishment is all it takes.

Fortunately there was a small nod to the competition of Stitch-in-Time, and several women displayed their work. I think these entrants came from the Stitch-in-Time show held in Houston last fall but I don't really know—I was held up at the front of the hall and was a couple of minutes late so missed introductions. They paraded up and down the aisles so I got photos though not names. (Please send me the names if you know them.)

This fashion show was over in 35 minutes. I think they were gearing this for quilters who don't make clothes, trying to encourage them to try it. I heard one older lady say, "That was interesting." It was, briefly, as you can see in these photos. But it was just a start; just a bit of representation of wearable art. Not really enough to get fingers tingling and juices flowing, and making people rush to their machines.

By All Means Plan to go to Long Beach!
All that said, would I encourage you to go to the show in Long Beach? Yes, because it's still very new and evolving. I was told they will no longer put on the fashion show based on the Stitch-in-Time show from Houston—so this was just a lame finish. It wasn't clear if they would have any wearable art displays next year. I imagine the cost of insurance for these garments continues to be prohibitive and people don't show enough interest. But I do think we could find willing local designers who would share their work—at least I'm wishing it were so. The wearable art group in Los Angeles is heady with skilled garment artists. Let's give them an exhibit or even a fashion show. If they can do it for local art galleries, why not for the IQA show? That would give us something really worth seeing!

If you have any new ideas for something to replace the Bernina shows in Houston (maybe on a limited budget), and what might work in Long Beach, please let me know. I can put you in touch with the people who want to hear it. By the way, I also took photos of passersby who were wearing something interesting.

I did find interesting things to buy in Long Beach. I'm going to stop here now. My next update is half written and I will describe the products I found plus maybe more about what I've been doing all summer (sewing!). Stand by! Rosalie

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Love Serendipity—the fortuitous discoveries!

Today I went to photograph my dress so I could show you details up close. I stopped to take a picture of my bird Dolly and then the camera went silent. The battery had run out and I hadn't noticed. Why serendipity? Because usually my batteries would die in the middle of my photographing the Fairfield or Bernina fashion shows! I'm about to travel and might have left with a dead battery! It's charging as I speak.

Happy 90th Mama!
I was photographing a lot lately. Mom turned 90 and I threw her a birthday party. So instead of the dress, here's mom! That's neighbor Trinity with her. Mom was Queen for the day, and Trinity was princess of July Fourth.
Trinity and her brothers decorated the pink foam tiaras using glitter glue, crystals, buttons, fussy-cut fabric flowers, and beads. The sparkle was wonderful! Then someone chose not to bring the birthday cake after all, so I proved my love of color with the strawberry pizza I'd made (recipe on Google) and fortunately I'd found birthday candles on toothpicks. Came out great! Best, happiest, unposed picture I've ever taken of mom.

The store sign was made in secret by her next door neighbor Mike who is so sensitive to her needs. Now just come visit her store at 1610 Cedar St. in Calistoga to make her even happier. She gives knitting and crochet lessons too.

International Quilt Festival, Long Beach, CA
I have so much to tell you. I have ordered my tickets and hotel room to go to the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, CA on July 22. I went to Houston for ten years but I'm not ready to plunge into the big show yet, especially when the Bernina fashion show is no more. I also have to admit that I don't relish getting on a plane. I'm going to attempt the trip by car. Anyone here in N. California who would like to make the trip with me? I have a room with two beds reserved, so I'm ready to go. I've already heard from friends who will be there so for me it will be like going back to who I was before my husband died. I'll be at the Westin hotel if you're coming too though you can likely find me at the show. Did you know that the Chicago version of the show has been moved to Cincinnati, OH? For details, go to

Designing with Julian Roberts
Two weeks ago I took a class with Julian Roberts. Do you remember me mentioning him last year? He's the English designer/professor/rebellious person who has designed a new way of sewing clothes.
These are clothes that look something like Issey Miyake, Commes des Garcons, and Rei Kawakubo styles. I knew from the get-go that this wasn't anything I would wear, but I went because I'd been craving to be among people who know what a seam allowance is. Leslie Gelber and Diane Ericson were in class among many others I've gotten to know over the years. Julianne, for example, won a Threads competition in the last year—see more information below.

We listened to the introduction to this one technique—he has others described in his new book, School of Subtraction Cutting, available for $60 at the Center for Pattern Design: I haven't seen it yet but expect to get it. He also has patterns available—he shows you how he has created specific dresses. I got a kick out of Julian because he's a slim, slight "chap" with an intense energy, very kinetic, and dresses like the "rockers" did back when I was in England as the Beatles were becoming famous—very pointy shoes, slim pants, close-fitting shirt. He creates videos, does graphics, builds websites and then puts out fashion lines and teaches us his techniques. The whole time he's teaching, he has one of his fashion videos running in the background. Wouldn't that be distracting? Not to him, he's of that age where they're used to all the technology and noise. If anything, it made us focus on him that much more.

In an hour or two he had cut and sewn a beautiful gown. After lunch we got to do the same. Look around online to get glimpses of his work and tours (old website) (new website, available only 10 am to 8 pm on Wednesday no matter where you are in the world!) A search on Google brings up more blog comments and photos. He also had samples hanging on the wall which I photographed for you but couldn't get past the sewing machine. Here are two of his dresses:

I had bought a piece of cotton gauze at Walmart, figuring it wouldn't be much to lose and maybe it was something I could give mom. I had picked something heavier as the second material. But as I was about to leave the house, I saw the putty-colored lining fabric I've had lying around for years, to snip off as needed. I regularly will buy something like that for quick experiments or as an interlining. I complicated the process by having one piece longer than the other. In the end, that circumstance added interest to the garment. I don't want to give the technique away though. As a demonstration, in about two hours Julian cut and sewed up a new dress from what looked like two pieces of cotton, one red, one white.

OK, so here he is using his circle technique. Nothing too complicated—you start with your own tanktop pattern then sew edges of two holes together and continue in this way. In the end you have to figure out where's the path for your body to enter the garment. Julian had to help me with mine because I had something like the floating buttresses holding up Chartres cathedral inside my dress. There's just a lot of twists and turns that you don't see on the outside. I put it on and I felt like a million bucks. There are torn holes in the lining fabric, the design features start too low and show off the worst of my body, but I felt like a princess. When I looked at all of us in our gowns, I felt like we were in the wild, wild west—the gowns women wore in saloons, or something contemporary from Japan. Certainly they have the feel of something out of the 1800's and yet are totally avant garde. I just fished mine out and put it on the dress form and the top looks like flapper twenties, but that's because my design started too low and I didn't sew in bust darts. I also want more happening in back so I have to figure out how to do it. These photos aren't flattering—I had put all the excess fabric on my shoulder trying to cover up that I was still wearing my t-shirt. So it looks like I'm wearing a sari. In future I'll show you how it looks with the excess removed.

With the help of Julian's assistant, girlfriend, and fellow artist (a lovely girl), I got photos of the group of students. One of my favorite dresses is from two pieces of red cotton. See what you think. I'm sorry, I lost my record of names so have to go back and get them again. In the meantime, look at the "rose" on this red dress. My other favorite was this slim dress made from Japanese fabrics.

Julian's desire was for us to catch the experimentation bug and to move out of our comfort zone—not just in this classroom but after we left it. Certainly his technique forces you to leave all rules of structured garment sewing behind. He sure got to me! One of my classmates insisted that I should wear the dress to my niece's wedding at the end of August. I've decided to make another one and see how it looks and feels. I'll be trying some "what ifs". I've bought a black and pink floral challis and a rayon with much smaller flowers. I thought the two worked off each other somewhat well—I doubt I could find a black rayon easily these days. I'll know better how I feel about that once I photograph them together. So here goes. Now I'll have to go out and buy new shoes—running shoes and clogs just don't go with the dress! I'll tell you one thing, this process makes me turn my back on working with patterns simply because I don't have to work with anything but my own sloper. There are no fitting issues below the bust.

Julian Roberts did show us how to work with sleeves and pants. Leslie Gelber had brought in a dress she made after last year's class. It was completely out of net and stunning. My photos didn't do it justice. This time she made pants out of a stiff fabric so they weren't quite wearable, but we got the idea of what's involved. It really brought us back to basic shapes of clothing. A tank dress, harem pants, and other shapes you will find in the book, Cut My Cote, or among ethnic Folkwear patterns. Now I want to stop talking and get to my cutting table and sewing machine. I have to sew up placemats but might just get started on the gown first.

I'm busy adjusting my "sari" and that is Julianne on the right. I think she'd taken the class before so this time she made a skirt. Most attractive on her.

That is Linda who makes buttons on the left. The person next to her with a black and silver item is Leslie Gelber with her pants.

And then there's me. Oh drat, I forgot to resize the photo showing our backs. You'd see how the back of my dress is all blah lining but with interesting seaming. Another time.

Sew Boat Retreat 2010
Mary Lou Rankin of Park Bench Patterns has set up a Sewing retreat in San Diego for September 16-19. She knows she's thought this up very late but she's thrilled to get a deal on rooms in a four star hotel. She and her partner, Judy Stinton, will be the teachers. If you've been to Mary Lou's booth at various shows, you know what a wonderful eye she has for combining fabrics and colors. Her designs are distinctive, soft and loose-fitting. You will be staying at the Loews Coronado Resort & Marina located on the Silver Strand Beach in Coronado across the bay from downtown San Diego. Classes will be held in their spacious conference rooms. In addition you will enjoy continental breakfasts daily aboard a private houseboat anchored at the marina. You will also enjoy a field trip to Old Town for a Mexican lunch and shopping for fabric and embellishments. Reservations must be made by August 15th. For more details, go to Judy Stinton: email:
Mary Lou Rankin: email: phone: 619-269-9808

Custom-made Enamel Buttons from Linda Lingren
I asked Linda about her jewelry and whether she made buttons. Oh yes. The backs are finished in a different pattern from the front. These are part of the hydrangea series. She has a studio at the Art Explosion in the Mission area of San Francisco. If you'd like to contact Linda, please write to me in comments and I'll forward the message. Linda was in Julian's class—she's on the far left in the first group photo.

What's to See Online

The Dressmaker’s Art: Highlights From the Bruce Museum’s Costume Collection,” Bruce Museum, 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, through Sept. 5. Information: or (203) 869-0376. See article:

I can hardly believe this but thought you'd like to see the continuing outrageous ideas in shoes in Japan:

More eye candy from past centuries. This is an upcoming show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700–1915, doesn’t open till October 2:

Go to Julianne Batkin Bramson's website to be reminded of the gown that won her top prize at Threads magazine. (She designs patterns again, so do have a look.) Note she will be a featured teacher at the American Sewing Expo in Novi and is appearing at the American Sewing Guild National Conference in Georgia.

New Japanese Fashion Designers:

The Sewing Workshop has decided to try printing patterns in Plus sizes 1X-5X. They're starting with the Valencia Pants. 1-800-466-1599

California Fiber Artists is exhibiting at the Chico Art Center opening Satuday, July 31, 2010—August 22, 2010. Chico Art Center, 450 Orange Street, Suite 6, Chico CA 95928 Open daily 10-4pm
Reception: Saturday, July 31, 7-9pm Gallery: 530/891-5945

On the Road with Austin & Santino
It’s going to one chic road trip according to TV News from People magazine, "Two of Project Runway‘s most memorable contestants—Austin Scarlett and Santino Rice—are heading to a small town near you for a new show on Lifetime". The show starts July 29 after Project Runway‘s season 8 premiere. It will follow the duo as they 'travel to and immerse themselves in the culture of small towns across America to create new, dream-come-true looks for special women in unique situations'. In the 14-episode series, Austin and Santino will face differences in opinion and demanding clients." Hope the focus stays on the designing and sewing and not the sturm und drung.

Till next time, keep sewing and embellishing—and stop to say hi in Long Beach! Rosalie