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!