Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stolen Wearable Art

Meryl Ann Butler reminded me that her ensemble that I mentioned in the previous post was one that was stolen. Here's an image of The Dawn of Remembrance: Egyptian Mysteries Unveiled.

Meryl Ann goes on to say:
"It was in the Fairfield Fashion Show 1997-98 (Ensemble pieces designed and created by Meryl Ann Butler. Headpiece designed by Meryl Ann Butler and Wendy Bush Hackney, and created by Wendy. Staff designed and created by Wendy.) c. 1997
The ensemble was stolen from the trunk of my locked car in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, August 8, 2001. It is listed at Lost Quilt Come Home:
and on the LAPD Stolen Art website."

Wouldn't I love it if we could find it for Meryl Ann! Sharee Dawn Roberts who was lecturing in Europe, had all her magnificently freemotion-embroidered clothes in one trunk. It disappeared between venues. It's just heartbreaking! If you're not a believer, this is an example of the value of these incredible garments--somebody sure covets them.

In another reference to Meryl Ann and her book, please go to her website which I neglected to mention:

And yes, I'm still up to my eyeballs working on the jacket. For fun I thought I'd try the pattern without my usual adjustments, just to see how wrong I might be in always making changes. First thing to go will be the horizontal pocket line which falls right at the apex of my big diabetic belly. It was like a big arrow pointing. I'll either place the top of the pockets lower or eliminate them entirely. Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

"90-Minute Quilts" and more

Meryl Ann Butler was one of five Fairfield/Bernina show designers who co-wrote a book on wearable art. I was asked to edit the book and thus became very familiar with their design styles, their thought processes in working out garment design, and of course with their talents. The book still hasn't been published for reasons beyond our control, but I have the greatest admiration for these women. So I know about Meryl Ann's capabilities, her sense of whimsy, and her efforts to meet the standards of good art. I have also seen the original and interesting ensembles she's made since then--can't recall exact details at the moment but one was of something like an Egyptian princess--stunning and exquisite. Using these same talents, Meryl Ann has now published 90-Minute Quilts, a book of over 15 projects, most of them quilts but also bags and pillows etc., using the 9-patch. It's available in bookstores everywhere I've looked. What I like about the book are the clear instructions, clean layouts, and many diagrams, and of course the bright colors. Plus it's spiral-bound so you can keep it open by the machine as you sew.

Yes, it's a book for beginners who need some easy, fast ideas to get them started. However, I found that even a practiced quilt book editor needs a refresher course at times, and Mery Ann's book helped me get my new baby quilt made. The surprise is that Meryl Ann has included a little bit of wearable art--a luscious silk shawl made just as simply as the quilts.

She preceeds it with a velvet quilt that to me would also make a fantastic shawl. And before that we get a quilt project from Susan Deal, another Fairfield/Bernina designer, who has embroidered blocks. Now wait a minute, wouldn't that also make a great shawl--or even a jacket? This book shows you the basics. It's up to you to take what you learn and use it to make something that can end up on your back!

I'm still working on my jacket that has to be finished by Wednesday, so I will leave you with a peek at the "unpressed" baby quilt I made last summer and finished under Meryl Ann's tutelage. I didn't use the nine-patch, I was just trying to piece together images that would excite a baby. However, I most enjoyed the freemotion quilting I did at the end, making up a different design for every block. It's a bit loud for me and full of "baby" images, but now that I look at it from a distance, sure, I could have cut this up into a vest! I hope I'm giving you ideas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Focus Tips from Another Blog

Hi again, I just added to my list of blogs that I read. I follow Elizabeth Barton because she is so wise as well as talented. Recently Elizabeth made a list of what to do to stay focused. You mean someone of her caliber has the same problems as I do about not getting distracted by the cats or the minutia of life? I agree with her totally that this is how we can manage to get creative work done. My newest trick is to leave work out so that next time I walk by I can just pick up and go on--no preliminaries to slow me down. That's exactly why tonight I got the rest of my strips cut as I watched Charlie Rose. Have you heard Calvin Trillin talking about his epic poem. Deliciously funny! And tomorrow I'm ready to start sewing.

I had a little adventure today. I had to deliver proof of my mom's marriage to Social Security. They wanted the original document which was handwritten and stamped officially 65 years ago. It's yellowed and fragile since this was written on war-time paper in Poland, so I hand-carried it instead of mailing it in. I finished my errand in a heavy downpour and decided my reward would be a visit to a quilt shop. Only I don't really know Napa that well yet. Long story short, my usual sense of direction failed me and somehow I wasn't landing at that mall. I was stopped at a light when I decided to give up, looked to my right and what do I see but Hancocks! At a time like this, any fabric shop will do. It was fate. They had a batik from India in the colors I'd been looking for. A year ago I had bought an African batik that is purple with areas resisted to brown. The large spots are overwhelming for my short body so I've been looking for something else to balance the "weight" of the print. Here it was, the answer to my needs! Don't you just love that kind of serendipity!

Well, now I've scanned it in for you--and it still isn't right, the bright light of the scanner shows me how the color is different, too pink. What do you think? I'm thinking a third fabric, maybe piping, will help. Maybe I'll have to do some surface design directly on the spots. Both the work and the idea will take time. Overdying is another idea. I've added a shred of a yellow/brown/green and it seems to deflect from these two and go off in a whole new direction. Yes, this is usually how it goes for me--that's why it can take me five years to finish a wearable art-style jacket!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Adjusting Pattern for wearable art clothing

I've changed my mind. I found some silvery/violet doupioni that looks like it will work with my Australian cottons. It means I have to leave out the lovely bright yellow piece but I'll build something around it that will use more vibrant colors. I've been looking at some of Rachel Clark's clothes and I think her vest pattern would be ideal for this fabric. More on all this later when I round up more photos and facts.

In the meantime, I have made the first cuts in the foundation fabric, and I have looked at the pattern. Yes, it's the usual rectangular shape that does not follow the curves of my body. I can deal with that, I just add bust darts (which play havoc with pieced fabric), and change the slope of the shoulders. (My shoulders are very sloped--I carried tons of books back and forth to high school--at least that's where I was told to put the blame.) The bust darts allow the fabric to hang down straight in front. Changing the shoulder slope usually prevents the back from "pooching" out at the hem.

Elsewhere, I heard that if you have dropped shoulders in a garment, with the seam falling near the bust, that to the eye it exaggerates the width of the bust line. What I've been doing is removing as much as 4 inches of the drop. I can't draw just a straight line, the armhole becomes an inverted V shape. If I curve the line, then I have to draw a curve onto the top of the sleeve. It's my biggest hassle in adjusting patterns now, to the point that I'm tempted to make this one with the big shoulder drop and see just what it does. I hate a lot of excess fabric flopping around either over my shoulder or under it. I welcome your comments. Please write to me at the address that appears on Google.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Priscilla Kibbee, Bernina designer and traveller

Last night I was looking for a piece of silk doupioni I'd bought a few years ago. I don't think I've mentioned the status of my stash. I packed everything in plastic bins when we moved. That includes fabric, books, notions, office notes, you name it. The books were the first to be unpacked and line the long wall of my studio. I have a little sewing area surrounded by cat comforts, and finally set up a cutting table this summer, but all else is bins stacked as high as I can reach. That's why I've been sewing from the stash as much as possible. No, I still didn't find the dupioni, but what I opened had the backpack and dyeing supplies I'd bought on my last trip to Houston. I dug deep and at the bottom found some forgotten rolls of film. They were gems that I'll share with you as time goes on.

I first met Priscilla Kibbee online, then we met in Houston and became roomies. Many delightful hours I have spent with Priscilla who has unlimited energy, a droll sense of humor, and a delightful dry wit. In time she entered the Fairfield and Bernina fashion shows and produced mesmerizing, stunning wearable art ensembles. She draws on the cultures she visits in her distant travels. Because of Priscilla, I've been introduced to ikats, embroideries, and silks from Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Because of her I have molas from Panama, and embroidered blouses from Guatemala. She knows Nepal well and has travelled to both India and Turkey. So to read Priscilla's blog is sometimes to be an armchair traveller to exotic places with fantastic sights. In between her journeys she gives workshops on making pieced wearable art. She photographs the pieces as they go up on the design wall, and she shows us the students wearing their creations. I study proportions, balance, color, and harmony in their designs, and that informs my own work. I find this blog both inspiring and informative. Check it out yourself at:

But back to that bin from 2006--the photos included my closeups of Priscilla's Bernina garment that year. When I looked at my photos, I sensed the influence of India, even though I knew these were Kaffe Fassett fabrics, Seminole patchwork, strips of floral beadwork from China I think, and gold trim and sequins from heavens knows where. How did I get these closeups? Karey Bresenhan and her staff at the International Quilt Festival, in addition to the Bernina runway show with the kleig lights (sparkle, sparkle, sparkle!), provided informal modelling on the exhibit floor. To me it's a brilliant concept. The garments don't get to sparkle as much without the lights, but we get to see up close what the designers have done. Also, some designers would give a half hour presentation and answered questions. We got to put our noses close and see the details. So those are the photos I have here: Priscilla giving her presentation complete with samples of her fabrics and trims, the cocoon coat, the dress underneath, and the muff. I hope my photo of the muff is clear online, because it gives the best view of how much work Priscilla puts into every seam and stitch of these garments. For more details about this and her other work, also go to

As you see, I still haven't figured out how to move the photos. Obviously I have to go into html and fix that but I've been nervous to try. Another time. Meanwhile, if you want to reach me, I've added a note to the end of my profile. I think it's funny, but at least it's one way to get the information.

Wearable art for the new year

No matter how well I plan, time always runs short. I accepted a challenge to make a garment from fabrics from the M&S company. These are from Australian aboriginal designers which have always caught my eye but I didn't particularly like the colors. This batch had much more color so I was eager to begin. I mentioned earlier how I had placed an order with a store in Fort Bragg. I discovered I didn't have enough so drove to a store an hour away, Shelley's Quilted Treasures in Kelseyville, and she had exactly what I needed to round out the stash. So did I start right in with cutting? No. That deadline of Dec 31 is rushing at me!

I think this blog is another form of procrastination, darn it! Actually it took time to think about what technique I wanted to use. This fabric is special and brighter than I normally wear, so that means I want to limit what ends up emphasizing the front of me. Be as it may, I'm going to share with you the pattern I've chosen. More information about the pattern will follow later--right now I'm waiting for permissions. The jacket or vest I'm about to make is the Tombo, but I'm showing you both new patterns from The Mulberry Leaf.

I won't be able to share photos of the jacket in progress or finished until I know if it will be published or not. Normally if a photo is being published the publishers have first rights to the image. But at least I can show you the fabrics I've chosen and then maybe I will finally cut into them this afternoon. It's snowing and raining outside, so except for looking at whiteness on the far slopes, I have no need to be outside and distracted much.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Yves St. Laurent video lecture

Hi, I'm still hunched over my sewing machine, making "quick gifts" for sale. The sale is on Sunday and I have to wonder if anyone will show up, in the meantime, I'm almost ready. But while I sew, interesting things are going on around me. The one event I've been waiting for is the display of fashions from Yves St. Laurent at the De Young museum in San Francisco. It has begun and with all my intense personal stuff going on, I missed rejoining the Textile Arts Council and getting in on the various lectures and docent tours they usual schedule for these events. However, today I got a reminder from the museum and lo and behold, they have made videos of some lectures and so we're in luck! I haven't had time to watch the whole thing yet, it takes 1 hour and 35 minutes, but what a nice way to catch up on an important lecture and slide presentation. Go here to see it:

I've also been delving into finding ethnic fabrics. M&S fabrics have some new collections of Australian aboriginal designs. I used to be less than interested because the colors didn't appeal to me. But now they've discovered the rainbow and pastels and I'm excited to try some of them. If you search M&S fabrics on Google you'll eventually find the one that has a store locator for your state.

An exciting shop that's over the mountains from me in Fort Bragg CA, is Fabric & Art ( You'll find fabric from the world as well as fabric art supplies--and good service both online and by phone. In that same small coastal town you'll find Ananse ( from whom I've bought African fabrics and wonderful handmade baskets. Both websites are worth a look. I have to get myself over those mountains and have a look-see at those shops! cheers, Rosalie

Friday, November 28, 2008

Kanji book, wearable art, and p. 56 game

The Page 56 Game.
I found this on another blog and immediately forgot the blog's name--I'll list it next time I visit.

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note to your wall (huh? I don't know what she means.)
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Well heck, I'm at the computer and on the floor is A Graceful Farewell, Putting Your Affairs in Order by Maggie Watson. I've been meaning to get to it ever since I talked my folks into doing just that. Thank goodness I pressured them, obviously my intuition was right. Anyhow my sentence isn't too scintillating: Who manages the rental?

So how about the second-closest book? I've had this one sitting here waiting for me to review it for quite some time. I was so excited when I found it: Designing with Kanji, Japanese Character Motifs for Surface, Skin, and Spirit by Shugo Oketani & Leza Lowitz. The fifth sentence comes from their Kanji facts on that page: Women spent their time perfecting their skills in their native language and as a result produced great works of literature like The Tale of Genji. This sentence appears on a page that shows the ideogram for "self." (Apparently the men of the period were busy learning a new language written in kanji so they didn't get around to great lit.)

I bought this book thinking it would help me translate the text we find on so many fabrics. I haven't had any luck understanding what's there, but so far the best use of this book is in making your own stamps or silk screens depicting what you want to say in kanji. And that is no small value--imagine it on your next piece of wearable art--down the front band, on the upper back, covering the yoke in overlapping designs/different sizes, etc. etc. I'm delighted to have found this book! The publisher, located in Berkeley, has a website: I've scanned in the cover of this book for you. I'm still chicken to play with the html and move the photo but will experiment soon. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Looking at the positive side

Chessie likes to help me cut fabric and redraft patterns. Muffin hasn't discovered sewing yet, she's too busy climbing oak trees and kissing deer.

Why do I get into these things? I committed to make things for a local Christmas bazaar and then to sell them. I want to make things for fun and for the pure pleasure of working with colors, working with fabric, and trying out all kinds of techniques. But this is business, I'm making things to sell. I'm new here, I don't know the customers and am guessing based on who I saw last year. I popped into the show and noticed only retirees milling around. That's not a cross-section of who lives in this community, but I know the advertising didn't reach the others. Then I heard from others in shows on both coasts. So far no one is selling. It's not even that people walk around and look and don't buy. Now they're not even coming to the event. So mom is preparing me for disappointment.

I say even if my show is no better than the others, all is not lost. First, I'm spending a lot of time at the sewing machine getting downright comfy with it and with my new studio. Second, my skills are improving once again. The tote bags I made first came out "loving hands at home" quality, but so far the aprons are looking pretty good. I have fleece baby jackets on tap, Christmas stockings from last year, and then any time left over is for fun with little purses. That's what I've wanted to do all along but I was trying to be practical. So now comes the age-old question, "how much do I charge?" Last time I checked the formula was something like twice the cost of materials, what you want to charge for your time, and then what you think the market will bear. People here keep telling me people are willing to pay only "Walmart prices." Stay tuned! I checked prices online for starters...

Bird note: It took a week of intensive TLC but my little boy Stashi is back to being his old self. Thank goodness for helpful hints online--they told me birds with concussions can't handle the light so I kept him quiet and in the dark and a week later he seems back to normal. He's not singing quite as much as he used to but I'll give him time.

If word hasn't gotten to you yet, the Bernina fashion show is no more. They will put on one more show in Chicago but not in Long Beach. Karey Bresenhan is promising to find another showcase for wearable art, and for that I'm grateful. She's come through for us time and time again so I'm looking forward to hearing what's next. Bye till next time.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kenneth King's new book

Hi again, I thought I would share this note with you. Kenneth King wrote to say he has a new book out Cool Couture, Construction Secrets for Runway Style that can be ordered from Much as I like to support local bookstores, I too am now dependent on mail order for reading material. I see that Amazon has the book available today so here's the link—copy it and paste it into your browser, removing the double-spacing between lines since I can't get rid of it (note that they have preview pages set up so you can get a good look):

Why am I including this sales pitch in my blog? Because so much of my inspiration, attempts at high standards in sewing, and even learning how to overcome fears has come from watching and listening to Kenneth over the years. He is an excellent teacher whose books and cds are like having him by your side. His voice is in my ear as I go beyond the instructions in a pattern. I wish you the same.

As a special offer: if you email Kenneth proof of purchase from, he’ll email you a PDF lesson on a slanted welt pocket with flap, one he developed after they went to press. This lesson will reference other pages in the book, and serve as a little token of his appreciation for your purchase of the book. (Kenneth's website is'll find a connection to his email at that site.)

Also, there will be a book signing at the Fashion Institute of Technology Bookstore, 27th Street and 7th Ave, NY, NY, Wednesday December 3, 5-7pm. He hopes to see you there!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

introduction, what happened to Art You Wear

The error code is fixed, hooray! Life moves on, and so I am finally getting back to what I couldn't publish in October--my original introduction:

Hello everyone!
I'm finally able to dip my toe in the pond again and start writing about all things wearable art and sometimes about me. I stopped publishing my paper newsletter, Art You Wear, some years back when my husband's illness became overwhelming. He's still here with me, though we had another episode with life support early this summer. If I've learned anything over these last years, it's that trauma comes and goes and you just pick up the pieces and go on again. So this last time, I bounced back much faster and have more faith in my own strength.

When nothing was working in previous years, I went off to Houston to get away and find objectivity. There's nothing like gazing at fabulous Bernina fashion show garments and fantastic quilts to get your mind off your troubles. (Note that you can see the 2008 garments and quilts at on the ruby red slippers.) By the end of that week I had analyzed what had to be done. For my husband's health, and maybe my sanity, we needed to move to clean air. He had to take early retirement and I had to find something near my aging parents. Craigslist saved the day! It took a few months but I found us a home in a gated community with a lake, emergency personnel at hand, hospitals nearby, and a studio for me. It's farther north from San Francisco and quite rural but I can still get to the museum fashion shows, quilt shows, and even Thai Silks on occasion.

We're on the side of a "foothill," and as I sit at my sewing machine, I can see deer resting in the shade of the oak trees. We and the cats love it here! Old Chessie takes his time climbing up from the neighboring house but has never looked so fit. Muffin loves climbing the trees and kisses with the fawns in spring. With all the stairs inside the house, and everything on a steep slope outside, I'm somewhat more fit too. That's a hooray! I'm including photos of the house, taken last spring after a rain; the view of the lake from our deck and kitchen window; and the same view at sunset when the air was full of smoke from the local wildfires. This view does wonders for the spirit every day! More later, Rosalie (Sorry, I don't yet know how to place the photos correctly. Have to study up on html again!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just bits of this and that tonight. My heart is still sore, especially since one of my birds got spooked and flew into a window. I knew I had to put the sheer curtains back! He didn't die immediately and I hope that is the good news because he certainly went into shock and is still unsteady on his legs. I'm letting him sleep, and sleep alone tonight, and we'll see what the morning brings. I fed him some baby bird formula, wish I still had baby food on hand. I used to keep it around when the birds were sickly but lately they seemed to be doing so well that I got careless. Sigh. This showed me just how delicate my emotional being is right now so I have to protect myself a bit more. I have to allow that I'm still grieving over dad.

What's on my immediate agenda is making things for a local crafts fair. This is a depressed area and everyone has warned me that people won't pay for anything expensive. Does that mean the ladies I see in silk don't come to these bazaars perhaps? The advertising has been poor at best but when I said something, it looked like I was rocking the boat vehemently. I'll see what I can do in future--right now I have my hands full.

If you haven't seen them already, do check out the magazines offering gift ideas for this winter. Two of my favorites are from Quilting Arts and from Martha Stewart. One of my favorite "new" magazines is Quilts and More. Jill Abeloe Mead is one of the editors and published Rag Merchant wearable art patterns for years. Maybe she still does, I haven't checked, but I sense her style on these pages--at least I always find something of interest, some whimsy, that is also applicable to making wearable art.

I lucked out in my move because just an hour away I have a master fashion professional giving classes. More about Sandy Ericson soon. She was pointing out in class how with this economy, we are going to go back to some of the old ways of doing things. I remember when I had a good navy blue gabardine shift and five different detachable white collars so that I could change the look every day. We will all be wearing fewer clothes more often. We will have to make do and be more clever with what we have on hand. The ideas in those gift magazines also imply that more of us will be making handmade presents now. But I wonder. I'm just not finding the fabrics, at least not the bolt ends that I used to depend on for interesting pieces. I know I'm sewing from my stash much more now. Only then those gifts don't look as "fresh" as the ones in ice cream colors in the magazines. You know, when I bought my fabrics, Amy Butler probably didn't have an inkling that she'd be designing textiles and making turquoise and brown popular again!

Monday, November 3, 2008

not this week

I've been back checking on the blog, trying to post, and nada. My nephew works for Google so a search for a sympathetic engineer has begun. Then my dad died. He was almost 92, just passed the 65th anniversary with mom, and I had made arrangements for a physical this week. But he fell over before that and so I met him in the hospital. "Give me my pants!" "No pop, the doctor wants you in for one more night." And so I looked at him and then left, not wanting to argue. He choked on breakfast in the morning and they called me just as I woke up. So if by any chance the system accepts this post, know that I will be back after the memorial service. If not, I will start again, maybe with another service. This feels like two weeks too late!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Note from Rosalie

I've been trying my darndest to post messages and photos for several days but there's an error code in my way. I'm sending this to see if there's been any correction made that's not visible to me. We're working on the problem, I'll be with you as soon as I can.

Saturday, October 25, 2008