Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays to All!

I just got two wonderful books to review for you but my heart's not in it. I think my husband is dying. In 5 days he's shown barely any improvement. He was airlifted to critical care in a bigger hospital and despite technology and modern medicine, he shows signs of hidden infection and his body isn't working. I'm exhausted from taking care of the critters and then making the 3 hour round trip to see him. But I'd do anything if I knew it would help him. I tell you this in case he doesn't turn around and I'm too busy and too sad to write for you for a while. I'm on Facebook if you want to write to me. You can also get me at rosekcooke at aol dot com. Thank goodness the hospital has a lovely creche and beautifully decorated Christmas trees. I sit there every evening and so the season isn't passing me by entirely. Blessings of the season to you all! Rosalie

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Art Quilting Feeds Artwear

Two Inspiring DVDs by Barbara Olson and Barbara Shapel
The folks at Ninepatch Media sent me two DVDs. You might remember the article in the archives about how they make their dvds. I don't have time to sit long enough to watch them in their entirely now, so I thought I'd give them 5 minutes each. Yah, right! I had to remind myself to stop and turn them off because I was fascinated. First was Barbara Olson presents Jumpstart Your Creativity. My reaction to Barbara Olson, whose work has intimidated me so much over the years: so that's how she does it! That's not so hard! And it sure is a burst of freedom to work her way. Of course if you're like me you'll ponder each fabric that you apply and never get done. She's one of those people that has a special talent at combining prints and colors, and in designs that are truly art in any medium. But maybe I could pick fabrics with my eyes closed and just add them (only kidding). I can see doing this on the back of a coat or jacket and on the front too, then cutting it up the middle. This is definitely a chance to play and see what happens when you simplify her technique. Her DVD includes a PDF file of her Wild Child pattern so you can practice what she teaches. If you don't know who Barbara Olson is: Her work will knock your socks off!

The second DVD is Barbara Shapel presents The Art of Machine Quilting. She explains how she taught herself machine quilting over a period of 4 years. She didn't know all the rules--like don't cross a seam more than once. So she teaches what she's figured out. This is another person teaching us new creative ways to work. It's all inspiring and interesting. I have to spend more time with this Barbara too so that I can internalize her ideas and use them. Small point that becomes big for me was to watch Barbara prepare for quilting--how she slides the quilt under her arm and positions her body. Her work is striking too! Have a look at her gallery:

Go to to order your copies. There's nothing quite like highly creative women to get your juices flowing!

72 Ways Not to Stipple or Meander
Dijanne Cevaal writes a blog about her experiences, with dyeing and particularly with sewing and quilting her pieces You really should take the time to read her blog and look through the archives. Obviously she's travelled to exotic places that have brought special flavors to her work. I'm talking about the vases, the pomegranates, the colors, and themes that make me think of Morocco and Egypt and Syria. When you look closely, even on a computer screen, you'll see the fine quilting she does to enhance her fabric "pictures." Dijanne has put together two self-published books about her quilting designs: 72 Ways Not to Stipple or Meander and 72 More Ways Not to Stipple or Meander. You can also get them on CD which costs less. I got my copies the other night and had to look right away. I tend to quilt with any design that evolves as I move the fabric in the sewing machine. But Dijanne has given me some great ideas that stretch my horizons. Not only do I want to use some of these for quilting, knowing they will add a richness to my work, but also I can see that I could create new fabric for garments. Instead of painting on designs, I could stitch them on the surface. I'm quite intrigued by the effects. She also has a cd about working with Lutradur. That's next on my list. Dijanne is in the process, or has just moved to France for a year. So if you don't get an immediate response, be aware that she's in transit and in transition, but she did tell me she has prepared to fill orders for the CDs no matter where she is.

More Whiffs Glimmers & Left Ouevres
Another blog I read regularly is More Whiffs Glimmers & Left Ouevres written by Deb Lacativa. I get a kick out of her wit and the whimsical art she stitches by hand. Deb dyes fabric--any kind of fabric that comes her way. She experiments and that stimulates me to try things outside the box. But she stimulates me another way. Once in awhile I order scrap bags from Deb. It's a wonder how by holding the scraps someone else has dyed and cut, you learn something. I haven't sewn down my latest foray through her fabrics, but there were all kinds of bits and pieces that broke some of my barriers when I set them into my design. I'll show you when I get them stitched. I'm thinking of doing them by hand like Deb does.

Yvonne Porcella Lecture
As I mentioned before, I've become editor of the Textile Arts Council newsletter and as such I'm privy to their upcoming program. I don't want to steal their thunder but I do want you to know that Yvonne Porcella is going to lecture about the development of the art quilt. I suppose that means she likely won't be lugging her kimonos to display on that stage, but Yvonne makes fabulous wearable art so you can't help but learn by hearing about her work and that of others. The lecture starts at 10 am at the de Young Museum, Koret Auditorium, January 16 in San Francisco. As an added treat, look at her wearable art here:

Fiberarts Magazine
Today I got my copy of the annual Wearable Art issue of Fiberarts magazine I haven't even looked inside. As usual the cover is eye-popping.
I had always thought to applique little bits of fabric onto foundation fabric of a garment. In the same or a gradation of the foundation color, this looks so rich! I've done it once with many multi-colored squares. It was the project I was working on when we decided to move so now it's a UFO in a bag in the studio. What surprised me was that I used multi-colored thread, hand-stitched the squares and all that work sort of disappears. I have to do more stitching with floss or I have to whip it down with machine stitching. Soon. But it still won't look as elegant and rich as that cover photo.

Of course I had to look inside the magazine, even briefly. There are some surprises. There are still articles for what I call the museum crowd, but what's this?--a small competition for fibers--felting etc. Hmm, and then there's a purse with patchwork applique. That's unusual for this magazine. There were even how-to instructions on how to care for vintage clothing and how to do reverse applique. Now that is very different. So I went to the front and I see that Patricia Bolton who co-founded Quilting Arts magazine with her husband, is now Editorial Director of Fiberarts. I presume she at least influenced editorial decisions. I was going to drop my subscription to Fiberarts. Now I'll stick around to see what happens.

Slav European Art Books
I've been paging through the eBay site of Slav European Art Books. I've mentioned Jan's bookstore before. I have gotten to page 17 twice and by that time my eyes give out. I need to be able to see the rest of his pages because there are such riches there. It's like going to a library to do research, only few libraries have this wealth of information about costumes and embroideries in one place, I'm pretty sure. I've been stopping only at embroidery books and mostly only Polish ones--not Greece, Turkey, China, Japan, India, and barely Russia or the various countries of the former USSR. He provides sample photos/pages from these books and when you look at so many, you can't help but get a sense of the cultures. Imagine when everyone made and wore a national costume complete with traditional embellishments and adornments. I can't help noticing what's the same and what's different. I wonder why some of the countries are heavy on using cross-stitch, and others have many more designs heavily filled in with satin stitch. Things to find out. I suggest you spend some time at for some rich cultural lessons or at his store on e-Bay. You're going to want some of these books!

J Hittle Wholesale Sewing Supplies
I've discovered a discount place for notions: J Hittle Wholesale Sewing Supplies No doubt there are others but this is what I found readily. I get an email every week listing what is discounted for the week. Sometimes I find things I didn't know existed. Other times I find what is no longer in local stores--like large black hooks to close my vest. Sometimes you have to buy in quantity, but as long as I'm paying shipping, I'd just as soon get a lifetime supply of something practical. This time I found Mesh Transfer Canvas from Clover. I finally tried the old copying trick where you trace a design onto netting, lay the net on the fabric and trace with chalk, thus transferring the design. It's a little rough though it works if details aren't fine. This sheet of plastic with lots of tiny holes looks to be more stable than the net. I'll try it out soon.

Top Down Sweaters
Someone asked me about top-down knitting and I pulled out a book I'd gotten from That Patchwork Place Top Down Sweaters, Knit to Fit from Top to Bottom. Doreen L. Marquart. Martingale & Co, 20205 144th Ave. NE Woodinville, WA 98072-8478. ISBN 978-1-56477-697-6 The patterns in this book are basic and practical. A couple have the wow factor for me. When and if I finally sit down to knit, it has to be a challenge--I hate knitting miles of plain "fabric." I especially like puzzle patterns, and there are at least a couple of them in this book. I'd like to try them via crochet too, The book incudes a capelet, variations on pullovers with textured designs appearing toward the waist, vests, sweaters, and my favorite, a modular jacket in garter stitch. Knitting techniques and assembly instructions start the book. The more I look at it, the more I'm tempted to try something there. Till next time, enjoy the season! Rosalie

Monday, November 23, 2009

Goodbye to Emma Allebes

Emma Allebes, Artist and Bernina Fashion Designer
Our dear Emma Allebes, an unforgettable Fairfield and Bernina fashion show designer, died of leukemia on October 6, 2009. So much of my stuff is still packed away, but I found a photo album and there was Emma. I think this might have been taken in the year 2000 at the wonderful quilt show we used to have in Marin county. Emma had requested that flowers at her service be tied with black and white checked ribbons. It's serendipity that I have her photo in those checks!

I always remember her NY taxi cab outfit, and the pearly queen (like they have in England). I hope she enjoyed sewing on buttons! She and I met at the party after a Bernina show, both of us feeling a bit shy and out of place, so we spent much of the evening talking and from then on delighted in running into each other. I won't go on, you can read wonderful things about Emma at What a wonderful idea for her daughter Shenna to put up the blog so her wide circle of friends and family could come together in thought.

Here is the jacket that won Emma a red ribbon that year in Marin. Her work was impeccable. Look at the variety of techniques she put into a cohesive whole. At first you just see the intricate, traditional piecing but it is combined in such a variety of sizes and blocks and fabric variations, that it does not look very traditional. It doesn't look bulky or bumpy, and then you see the manipulations with various prairie points and beads.

Always lovely work! I will try to post more photos of her work as I collect them.

More of My Ethnic Embroidery
I stopped working on my vest. Between cats and a new job and the caretaking life, I just didn't have the time or energy to work on the vest for Rachel Clark's exhibit. I had done all that research and all that planning and drawing, but I didn't have chunks of time to work on it. At first it was the sciatica that brought me down. It was too painful to stand at the cutting table, all summer long. I didn't cut anything this year while the sun was shining outside. But I did go to physical therapy and now the pain is gone and the energy is back but I'm out of time. Still, I keep plugging away, hoping to finish something, exhibit or not. My plans have evolved to where I'm no longer thinking in terms of the traditional Polish beaded little vest with peplum. This is good, it just took time to come out.

For now, here's a photo of my embroidery over waste canvas and the end result. Getting the canvas was hard enough. Then I didn't want to take the time to baste it down (time being of the essence) so you see I pinned it down to the hooped fabric. I'm stitching on black silk noil. The thread is DMC 5 Pearl Cotton, and I'm using 8.5 threads to the inch waste canvas.

All this worked just fine though I think a finer thread would have been even better. What didn't work well was my mind. The chart wasn't totally clear and I made mistakes. Next time I will chart on graph paper. That way I'll know when a square refers to a cross stitch and when it means to make an open square. Live and learn.

The Holidays are Coming
In the spirit of the holiday season being upon us, I thought I wouldn't so much do in-depth reviews as let you know what has excited me out there.

The Knitter's Handbook
has been out for a number of years but I think well worth mentioning. It is a small book that you can tuck into your purse or knitting bag for quick reference. There are clear little drawings and short explanations. There are things here I didn't even know I need to know. Just a helpful little book when you can't get to your big reference books. I received it from the people who put out Knitter's Magazine. The Knitter's Handbook, XRX Books, Inc., PO Box 1525 Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 2005. ISBN 1-893762-21-1. www.knittinguniverse

Now why have I been thinking about knitting when I haven't been able to knit or crochet in years (worked at it too hard and hurt my hands)? It all started with spring photos of little lambs being bottle-fed and twins in the field with their mothers. I was hooked on this blog about a farm. Soon I discovered that I've known about Kristen for years. This week I gifted myself with Color by Kristen. It arrived yesterday and oh my, am I glad! It practically forces me to start knitting again.

When you read Kristen's blog (go back through the archives) you learn how she travelled the world and collected ethnic textiles. You should see the socks she picked up in Greece! These textiles inform her work and this book really shows it off. Wait until you see the kimono shaped jacket! This is Fair Isle knitting and she promises to teach us an easy way to do it. I won't spoil the effect. It's colorful, it looks intricate, it definitely looks ethnic, and I love it. The rest of the book is a mix of mittens, tea cozies, children's and adults' sweaters and slippers, scarves and pillows. It's all bright and happy, just my cup of tea! Colors by Kristen, How to Design Your Own Beautiful Knits by Kristen Nicholas. Sixth&Spring Books, 233 Spring St., New York, NY 10013.2009. ISBN 978-1-933027-83-8. If you want an autographed copy, go to Kristen's blog to place your order. She and the farm would appreciate it.

I have much more to tell you about but Lolalee still wakes me up too early and I'm tired. I'm the new part-time editor of the newsletter for the Textile Arts Council at the de Young museum in San Francisco. It fits so well with my own interests! I'm also editing a quilt pattern for a first time designer, so my time is full. I'll leave you tonight with the latest photo of our 3 month-old kitten, and how fall looks in Hidden Valley Lake.

It rained last week so the grasses have started to grow even as the leaves are falling down. Till we meet again, Rosalie

Monday, November 9, 2009

Artwear-related Sales and Great Viewing

Quality Fabric Sale!
Tonight I'm doing a bit of artwear catch-up. First, a fabulous fabric sale. The online store is closing and what's left is 75% off. I was too late for the silk dupioni and many other fine fabrics, but I left you some of what's left and there's plenty in colorways that don't appeal to me. I'm considering going back for the cotton baptiste. They're going to send what's left to jobbers so hurry and give your stash a Christmas present.

Kayla Kennington, Bernina designer extraordinaire
Kayla Kennington was at PIQF so we had a chance to chat. She's had a lot going on in her life so she hasn't had time or energy to put up a photo of her latest pattern. But here it is, the Kwan Yin Kimono, #511. I brought it home, had a good look, and can't wait to sew it up. The drawing isn't very clear but it's another of her Modular Design Garments--a type of kimono that ties at the side. Gussets help create that floating points look at the sides. It's more of Kayla's signature style which is to use rectangles of fabric and combine them with little thread tacks (and sometimes beads) to create garments. I'm not explaining this as beautifully as it looks, but if you read Threads magazine, you would have read about the technique ages ago, also her fabric collage technique that creates new fabric yardage from silk scraps. (I tried it and it isn't as easy as it looks!) Kayla had to stop dyeing her fabrics because she was having a reaction to the dyes. Now she has found metal-free acid dyes that don't harm her--Greener Shades. I bought a batch because I'm always aware of the need for safety in using dyes. I especially don't use them anywhere near my cats or birds. These are for animal and other protein fibers and nylon so I won't be using them on my cottons. You can order the pattern and dyes directly from her. Go to her website to get an eyeful!

High Fiber Under Five
The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles is running its annual fundraiser, High Fiber Under Five, an invitational benefit art sale, November 3-8. This is your one chance to see and acquire amazing works from some of fiber arts' luminaries. Go to their site to see the details and to see the wearable art by Carol Lee Shanks, Caryne Finlay Mount, and Latifa Medjdoub. Carol Lee always surprises me with her designs. I've been to her Open Studio and she gets mobbed. What looks "different" on the hanger is quite lovely on the body. I always remember her white clothes so was surprised to see these indigo pieces. And as for Caryne, I was there when she created those pieces for a one-woman show. Mostly Caryne works with old kimono which she reworks into intriguing coats. But for that show Caryne created the "kimono" shapes from scratch. The multi-colored patchwork coat she first hand-dyed the fabrics. The white one she crocheted. She worked like a fiend, using all the techniques many of us know and barely use. I wonder if I can find my photos from that exhibit--packed away somewhere. In any case, here's your chance to buy one of these creations for yourself.

Holly Badgley
Yet another sale--Art Reception, Vintage and Ethnic Textile Show & Sale at Sync Salon, 170 Columbus Ave at Pacific, San Francisco. Monday November 16, 5 to 9 pm. RSVP 415-397-1078 or This is a regular art event. I don't know all the participants but I do know Holly Badgley. Fabulous handpainted coats and jackets. I hadn't seen her in a few years and my reaction to what's online is that it's better than ever!

Coco Chanel
Last month I went to a one-woman show about Coco Chanel. I had no idea what to expect, but because I knew mom is a big fan of Chanel, I took her for a night out. She was enthralled! And I was so enchanted by what Annette Baldwin can do on stage, that I want to see it again. Annette Baldwin is a historical actress which means she researches characters she wants to portray, writes the play, and then takes it on the road herself. With nothing more than a simple stage setting of chair and table, she gives us a sense of who the person was. We hear Chanel's opinions and about her attitudes, both about life and her fashion ideas. All this from a woman dressed in a Chanel suit. Then Baldwin presents slides from that life, specifically the clothes Chanel designed. Finally, Baldwin has slides to demonstrate the effect Coco Chanel has had on fashion through the years. We all wear Chanel now. I really liked that final part--and then there was a Q & A session that was also very informative. Annette Baldwin works via her company, Moments in Time. She knows fashion because she worked for Lord & Taylor for many years. I can't remember for sure, but I think she said she used to go to Fashion Week and such, so she was highly immersed in fashion. I recommend her production to wearable art groups, to fashion groups like the ASG, and to fashion departments in schools. She would do well on a large stage also, but I want you to know that this would be suitable for a presentation at a meeting.

Marcy Tilton November Newsletter
Go to Marcy Tilton's website and look for her November newsletter (listed on left side). Marcy talks about her long list of Vogue patterns and recommends fabrics you might use for each one. These are the fabulous, quality fabrics that she sells on her site. She also talks about how she has embellished or enhanced her versions of her own patterns. Interesting reading and lots of wearable art ideas--I have to come back when I can spend the time. I bought her most recent pattern and hope the stretch fabric I have will take stencils. I don't want a shiny all black jacket, but an all-over handmade print would be fun.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Vogue Patterns for Artwear

Vogue Patterns is selling their newest patterns online for $5.99 for two days. (If you miss this one, you'll get another chance soon.) Now that they've turned to new and avant garde designers, I'm paying closer attention to what works for wearable art. The sale is just today and tomorrow at Here's what caught my eye, not in any special order:

Vogue 1142: Issey Miyake top and pants. The top is loose and pleated, perfect for summer or evening and would be further enhanced if you use hand-dyed or hand-painted fabric, stencilled it, added some beads or crystals at the neck, or even added embroidery to the fabric. It could be overkill to do more to this pattern but if you want to enter a wearable art competition, close to overkill is the name of the game.

Vogue 1146: Koos van den Akker coat. As is his style, he has broken up the interior of a simple pattern with circles and lines. The basic coat has a high yoke. Those of us who like patchwork or applique get guidance on placement of pieces. I have yet to make one of his garments, but I will because they do speak to me. I know if I don't buy the pattern, I'll wish later that I had it so that went into the cart.

Vogue 1135: Chado Ralph Rucci. It could be that you need a lithe body to wear this black asymmetrical dress, but maybe the details will allow for much. It's made from fabric with four-way stretch. The big deal is the horizontal shaped tucks sewn in all the way down the dress. I didn't buy the pattern but am so tempted just because I'd love to try it. This is the kind of dress that's a winner on its own but would be great for under a show-stopping coat or jacket.

Vogue 1144: Chado Ralph Rucci jacket and pants. Yes, from the front it looks like a mix of Chanel jacket/Mao jacket/military jacket. It has a high collar and four patch pockets. The big deal for me is that both the front and back are padded with batting. So first, if you like to make clothing with batting, here's a stylish pattern that is very different from the usual quilted clothing. Second, he makes this in silk doupioni. I figure the purpose of the batting is to keep some stiffness in the body which protects the perfectly smooth sheen of the doupioni. I doubt he was thinking bulk or warmth. Then he has lovely curved seams in the back. I just had to see what was going on here. The collar and sleeve bands are channel-quilted. I was also interested in the pants. They're narrow with a seam front and back. In front the seam opens in a curved line over the foot. Years ago I learned that the best fitting pants had seams front and back. Too much detail here for surface design unless you work within the design. BTW he also adds hand-picked stitching around the pockets, etc.

Vogue 8626 and Vogue 8616: Vogue now has patterns that offer A,B,C, and D cups. I went for the princess seam coat because it's one of those perfect designs for timeless fashion. I can do anything I want to the fabric, add any textures, and they won't be lost in the coat. It has a pleated back but I can eliminate that if surface design demands it. I want the princess seam for 4 cup sizes so I don't have to mess with adjustments much. Then I also picked the t-shirt with a very high neck. It's different, yet harking back to high necked tops I wore in winter. I'm curious how they size this close-fitting shirt for a D cup.

Vogue 7975: Vogue also offers a Chanel-style jacket. Once I adjust the princess seams on the coat pattern, I'll expect to apply them to this jacket which comes only in B cup, and have a pattern ready to go for when I need something ultra-creative. I'm thinking of printing up some of my own fabric with dyes, stencils, and beads then sewing up a simple jacket like this one. Wait till you see my photos of Sylvia Polk's entry at PIQF. If she can do it, I can certainly try!

Vogue 1145: Lynn Mizono's pattern for a coat which is likely based on a circle. That's what she used to do and I loved it. They show only one way to wear it in the pattern graphic, but the photo shows a more exciting version. I remember she said her customers always taught her new ways to wear her designs. As to her other patterns, I bought them months ago--I wouldn't miss them for the world.

Vogue 8620: This is yet another jacket from Marcy Tilton. I like the shape of it, especially from the side view. Not sure what happens when I try to adjust the bust line. I figure I'll be lowering the high waist line. But what's special is this is the pattern where Marcy gets to teach how to do silk screen printing. Just as I was having to stop publishing my newsletter, Marcy was feeling out the idea of creating her own silk screens (excellent idea!). She has a lovely collection now--go see them at You will see the screens she uses on this pattern.

I'll be back here soon, just need to get photos found and organized. cheers, Rosalie

Friday, October 16, 2009

Shows to See (and Shop)

"Signatures" Fashion Show and Champagne Luncheon will be held on Sunday, November 8, 2009, 12:30pm - 3:00pm, at the Palos Verdes Art Center, in Palos Verdes, CA (in the Los Angeles area). (postcard design by Justine Limpus Parish)
Justine Limpus Parish will be showing her Fall/Holiday Collection among 22 artists in this group show. Featured are elegant and unusual wearables from clothing, accessory, and jewelry designers. Special performance by swing and ballroom dancers will be part of the show which also includes a runway fashion show and designer boutique. Tickets: $35 - advanced purchase required
charge by phone - call PVAC 310-541-2479 Ext 302
I've seen photos from past shows as well as knowing several of the artists involved. This is quality, upscale wearable art! Hope you can go!

This is the weekend of both the International Quilt Festival in Houston and the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara. Both have photos and lists of winners online so check their websites until you find it all. Houston is I didn't check but heard that they already are showing winning quilts and wearables. The wearables would be from the IQF show since the Bernina show is no more. I also wish they could show the garments from the luncheon where people like you and me are willing to show their work. Often this is how people progress to making Fairfield/Bernina garments--no telling what will replace that quality of show and garments. I like to watch the Houston videos of the shows. Not like being there but at least you have some sense of what you're missing.

PIQF in Santa Clara had last year's winning wearables up today, and will eventually show this year's winners. I had a bronchitis and diabetic setback today so didn't leave the house, but plan to be there tomorrow, photographing as much as possible. Stay tuned for my take on it. I'll be missing Karen Boutte's fashion show where she rounds up various locals who make wearable art. I always like to go to see what people are making in the area but these days I have to be home earlier. If you're there and take pictures, or even if you could just tell me about it, I would really appreciate it so I can share the evening with everyone. You can find me on Facebook if you don't find my email address via the blog.

Add Color to Our Lives
Since I was at home today on a rainy day when I wished I could be out shopping, I spent a bit of time daydreaming at the computer and found things of interest to us. There is a source out of Sag Harbor NY for Marimekko fabric and Unikko bedding etc. Check out the Textile Arts website: I love the tablecloths and the bedding fabrics and am tempted to get them for yardage. Oops, until I saw the price. Oh well. Maybe I can ask for a Christmas present of a yard of fabric ($42/yd). Love those huge blue and red flowers!

WOW in New Zealand
The 21st Montana World of WearableArt (WOW) Awards were announced on Friday, Sept. 25. They had 165 garments entered this year. The Supreme Montana WOW Award went to David Walker of Juneau, Alaska for his 17th Century ball gown "Lady Of The Wood." The piece is made entirely of mahogany and lacewood with 52 strips of maple and cedar veneer for the hooped skirt. The wig is made out of wood shavings. Walker is a carpenter who has been creating Wearable Art for ten years. I'm looking forward to learning more about him.

I Found WOW Photos!
I found photos, titled One Weird and Wearable Festival! David Walker's piece is among the 31 photos. Some of these designs are really worthy of note as garments. I loved some of the effects and styles. I look forward to finding more photos and getting some details.

As long as you're looking at this slide show from Australia, look at the menu below it to find photos from the Paris runways. If you haven't seen McQueen's egg-shaped 10" heels, here's your chance. Dangerous to walk in but certainly eye-catching.

Lolalee aka Lucy-fur
As you see, Lolalee is right there with mom even when falling asleep. She's resting on a new book which is sitting on top of my box of new Jacquard Indigo dyes. Smart kitty! And yes, she does have tortoiseshell attitude! I tried to catch her when she droops in sleep but I caught her drifting off--close enough without tormenting her.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Of Artwear and Cats Too

Book Review of Silk Unraveled
When my sweet cockatiel Moe is flopping around having a seizure, and when the new kitten Sammy shows symptoms of a fatal virus, I need to sit down and look at photos with intense color, to kind of match my intense feelings. Just such a book is Silk Unraveled, Experiments in Tearing, Fusing, Layering & Stitching by Lorna Moffat. Dragon Theads Ltd., 490 Tucker Drive, Worthington, OH 43085. ISBN#978-099641201-0-5 The cover drew me in and the photos inside made me sing. Somewhere I read a review of this book that said something like, "There's nothing new here--I've seen all this before." I too had a sense of deja vu but you have to look deeper. What you've seen before, particularly in British craft books, could be this author's work. Do I recommend this book? I do, for the color and for the encouragement to experiment with silk--as in don't treat it like a precious fabric. Does it have fresh, new ideas? Well, they were fresh and new techniques some years back, but I like being reminded that I haven't even tried them all. The projects here use torn silk, fused silk, reverse applique, and layered silk. Will this work for wearable art? Of course, almost every idea whether for pillows or quilts can be adapted one way or another. But in fact, Lorna presents an idea for a kimono design, and a reverse applique vest. I do like her designs which I will adapt by using smaller sizes. Although she shows us photos of ethnic designs that she found in her travels and that inspired her, these are her interpretations.

There are many ways to create new fabrics and textures using scraps. I can see elements of the Spirals & Flowers Throw as a jacket. Stunning in fact. I really like some of her designs--they're included for us to trace. I'm torn about the recommendation. If you don't like loose threads and raw edge applique, you might wonder why I like this book. Yes, that torn or raw-edge technique looks sloppy (especially for silk) although it's also part of a style that was and is still popular. I like most of the designs and wouldn't waste my silk threads--in other words I'm inclined to do applique that will protect the edges. I dislike satin stitching so maybe I'd go to turning under edges or using my favorite machine small-blanket stitch. It gives a different look but could be a preferable one--this is where you experiment and make it your own. I consider this book inspiring and offering designs for when I draw a blank. As to the instructions, Lorna uses some British terms most of us are used to (gilet for a type of vest). This isn't a book for beginners because it doesn't teach the basics, but anyone who wants to experiment could manage well enough with what's here. Great up-close photos, bright colors, rich variety of exotic designs, and encouragement to try all kinds of silks--that's what I like about this book!

Continued Sampling of Last Bernina Show Garments
Debi Kuennen-Baker, Bernina Designer
In my last post somehow I missed that I had a photo of the back of Debi Kuennen-Baker's jacket in my files. See my last post for views of the front. What Debi "asks" is do we have to have a dull, almost invisible undercollar on a big fabulous collar? Obviously Debi doesn't think so. I find her choice to be startling, but it does make you take notice and think. She also raises the issue of matching sleeves. I hadn't noticed the difference from the front. That makes this jacket even more unusual and interesting. I like how the rose embroidery on the back is somehow slimming and blends the print into the plain black. Meryl Ann Butler took and sent these photos from the Bernina Show at the Quilt Festival in Long Beach--please review my last post for details.

Sharon Sawa, Bernina Designer
This very basic shape is Sharon Sawa's coat. Pieced from black and white fabrics, she appliqued colorful floral designs with variegated thread satin stitched edges. To me it looks like Sharon used all-over freemotion quilting in a sawtooth motion.
I wish I had the official notes that came with these garments since I don't have immediate access to these designers. The tunic underneath looks like a drapey rayon. There is variegated thread trim alongside the zipper and a few beads at the top and bottom of the inset waistband. I think matching beads are placed on the neck binding as well. The print looks too big for short-me, but I'd like to make and wear something similar, with proportionally-sized appliques for my stature. Sorry, I don't have a back view. I was just thinking that if the appliques were much smaller, they wouldn't balance as well against the busy black and white background. They have to be larger to stand out and be proportionally sized. It goes back to Sandra Ericson's talk about proportions which roughly said means you want to think in thirds. These appliques should be a third larger than the largest print in black and white and I think they are. Just testing my own thoughts out on you. Do you agree with this theory?

Folkwear News for Autumn
Kate Mathews ( sent out Folkwear News for Autumn. In case you're not yet a subscriber, I'm including her list of exhibits to see now, with a few added comments from me so that you won't miss some other good stuff. The news from Kate about Folkwear Pattens ( is that they're developing a new pattern for a hat from the early 20th century (something like what Diane Keaton wore early in the film Reds). Its companion pattern: #268 Metropolitan Suit, a walking suit with military styling to the jacket and a sailor look to the blouse; the high-waisted skirt is mid-calf with a partial overskirt. Kate also added a suggestion: the pattern #148 Black Forest Smock from last month doesn't say to stitch down the small pleats at center front and back neckline, but they like the way it looked!

Events to See or Websites Worth Visiting (courtesy of Kate Matthews,
# Dress Codes: Clothing as Metaphor, featuring 36 artists, including Louise Bourgeois and Nick Cave, who use the idea and form of clothing to explore social and global issues in their work. Katonah Museum of Art, near historic Bedford, 44 miles north of Manhattan, through October 4.

# The Perfect Fit–Shoes Tell Stories, an exhibition that looks at how shoes can tell stories, addressing topics such as gender, history, sexuality, race, class, and culture. Fuller Craft Museum, in Brockton, Massachusetts (once known as the shoe capital of the world), through January 3, 2010. See also Chunghie Lee: My Cup Overflows through Oct.18, 2009 Chunghie Lee is known for her pojagi, wrapping cloths used also in quilts and clothing. Note the upcoming exhibit and workshop with Nancy Crow.

# Coat Couture: Inspiration to Creation, featuring Ruth Funk's contemporary wearable art and the global textiles that inspired her, including African mud cloth, Chinese embroidery, Panamanian molas, and Asian ikats. Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, in Melbourne, Florida, through December 12. See also the collection gallery. Three items but beautiful.

# Fashion in Bloom, an exhibition of garments that feature flower motifs from the museum's Fashion Arts Collection. Among the designers represented are Norman Norell, Callot Soeurs, and Givenchy. Indianapolis Museum of Art, through January 31, 2010. An online tour of the exhibition gives a 360-degree view of the installation. Go to Textile and Fashion Arts to see a small gallery.

# Contemporary Japanese Fashion shows the radically inventive designs of Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo, and Yohji Yamamoto in this exhibit of 1970s and 1980s garments from the collection of Mary Baskett, an art dealer who has collected and worn Japanese high fashion since the 1960s. Through April 11, 2010 at The Textile Museum in Washington, DC. There's a lot to see here--this show is under "upcoming exhibitions" but look around at the rest. There's a symposium about the evolution of Japanese clothing on October 16-18. See too Fabrics of Feathers and Steel: the Innovation of Nuno. I was fascinated in an exhibit years ago, by what these folks think up as "fabric." There is much of interest coming up!

# Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156-1868, including weapons, equestrian equipment, banners, surcoats, and accessories such as fans and batons. October 21 through January 10, 2010. Also, Tibetan Arms and Armor from the permanent collection, including decorated armor and equestrian equipment from Tibet and related areas of Mongolia and China, dating from 8th to 20th century. Through fall of 2010. Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

# Gazette du Bon Ton was an early 20th century periodical that brought couturiers and painters together to promote the fashions of the time. This exhibit positions actual garments from the museum's collection with its illustrated page from the Gazette, such as a sumptuous Paul Poiret coat with a Georges Lepape drawing. Through May 30, 2010. Visit the web site to see detailed views of the exhibited items. Also, Michael Kors Designs from the Wendy Zuckerwise Ritter Collection, celebrating the designer's 30th year in the fashion industry, through November 2. Kent State University Museum, Kent, Ohio. See also the exhibit of The Art of the Embroiderer. Fabulous! The exhibit is over but they have detail photos here worth studying.

# Calder Jewelry, featuring jewelry created by sculptor and mobile-maker Alexander Calder (1898-1976) that demonstrates the artist's love of abstraction. Includes necklaces, bracelets, brooches, earrings, and tiaras that were worn by friends, family, and 20th-century cultural icons. San Diego Museum of Art, through January 3, 2010. Check out the Dragon Robes of China's Last Dynasty. The quizzes are fun.

# Aisle Style: 150 Years of Wedding Fashion features the bride and her dress, as well as accessories, men's garments, trousseau treasures, and photographs. The show also explores wedding traditions, from orange blossoms and blue garters to the magnificent white gown. Visit the web site to see photos of the amazing array of wedding fashions. The Charleston Museum, Charleston, SC, October 16, 2009 through September 6, 2010. Great slideshow!

# High Style: Betsy Bloomingdale and Haute Couture, exhibit of high-fashion garments by Bloomingdale's favorite designers that she donated to the museum over 30 years. Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Los Angeles, through December 13. I of course welcome any additional information about Project Runway--you'll find it here.

# The Heights of Fashion: Platform Shoes Then and Now, a look at platform footwear styles from the 1930s to the present. On the web site is a slide show of 14 images from the exhibit that will definitely take you back in time. Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte , NC through May 30, 2011.

# Madeleine Vionnet: Puriste de la Mode, a retrospective celebration of the important early 20th century French designer who revolutionized women's fashion through elegant draping and use of the bias cut. Musee de la Mode and du Textile, rue de Rivoli in Paris, France, through January 31. Note in my earlier post that Sandra Ericson is going and offering to explain the show.

Crocheted Elf Slippers
I haven't been saying much about knitting and crochet even though I've been paying attention. I am so grateful to Interweave Press for the really fresh design ideas in their magazines. I also like Knitters and the Fons & Porter Knitting magazine, and of course the quality in Vogue Knitting. At first, when knitting hit it big again, all I could find were tired, recycled patterns. Books I hadn't seen in years were back on the stands. Some of them are still there, and some of the magazines are putting out the same old tired ideas. But Interweave and even Knitters caught my eye pretty quickly. I have lots of books to review on the subject, but not today. Instead I want to mention the pattern I found on Facebook. It's for crocheted slippers unlike any I've seen. These I've got to make!
The designer is from Chile, but provides some instruction in English and presents the pattern in chart form (universal language) so we can all try them.

Show Schedule Reminder
I'm having a hard time getting to any shows this year. My husband isn't sure he can handle all the care and feeding of the pets in this house. I'm trying to convince him I could go to PIQF for one long day. We'll see. It's the 6 hours of driving there and back that kills me and my back. I hope you don't have obstacles and can go to any of these shows (and then please let me know what you saw and did so I can live vicariously through your experiences!). I do so miss going to Houston and some of the Sewing Expos. How else can you see what's new and what everyone is doing?

International Quilt Festival
Oct 14-18, 2009, Houston, TX

Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF)
Oct 14-18, 2009, Santa Clara, CA

AQS Quilt Show
October 28-31, 2009, Des Moines, IA

Original Sewing and Quilt Expo
November 5-7, 2009, Minneapolis, MN

Original Sewing and Quilt Expo
November 12-14, 2009, Schaumburg, IL

There must be others--please let me know so I can advertise them.

Why I Haven't Posted
I'm sorry I haven't written in so long, but time has really flown recently. First there was the wait for Mediacom to fix our internet connection. Two weeks and two visits later we had a new modem. Meanwhile I started physical therapy three times a week for whatever the problem is with my sciatic nerve. It's been a summer of pain and I can't lean over the cutting table. Then I met this little guy on my way to pick up the mail.
No one in houses nearby claimed he was theirs. First we fed him, next day off to the vet, and so started our three weeks of Sam Cooke on the run in the house. If I sat at the computer he chewed on my toes or licked my chin. If he wasn't asleep, I was babysitting and medicating. Eventually I took him outside on a leash. Some people stopped by the side of our road saying they thought I have their cat. Well, as a matter of fact I did, but the vet had said he'd been neglected. Long story short, two little girls had hiked over to get their kitty back so what could I do but hand him over--and drive them home but with admonishments to their mom that he needed much more healthcare. I even offered to help. I was worried about him. But once he was gone, I finally had time again to look around online and it looks to me like he has FIP which is fatal (a virus involving peritonitis). Broke my heart!! Meanwhile I was picking away at getting this post written.

Waste Canvas
Since I was so busy with Sammy and couldn't get any fabric cutting or embroidery or sewing done, I took the time to look around for waste canvas online. Amazon advertises it as something they bring in from Joanns. But if you go to the Joann's online catalog, they don't carry waste canvas. Then I found the Create for Less site: They sent me an email the same day saying they had shipped my order, and it was here in two days! I was impressed. I also ordered from their long list of clearance books. Check it out. I got great service at an excellent price.

Jane Sassaman Artwear
See what Jane Sassaman is doing with her fabric designs. I call this wearable art because it's interesting how she combines fabric patterns.

How to Fix a Broken Heart
Finally, here's Lolalee. I picked her out of a grocery cart in the heat last Friday evening. The little girls trying to give away the cats had sprayed them with water to keep them cool. Uh oh! First I said no, I'm too vulnerable, still hurting after losing Sammy. "Oh, ok, I'll just pick up one." Uh huh, I was done! My husband wasn't pleased. Lolalee went to the vet today, seems healthy, is only 6 weeks old (and was both unweaned and not potty trained!) and is a tortoiseshell. Some people feel that this type of cat has a personality all their own--feisty, hot-tempered, and possessive of their human. Well, the last bit has shown up. How does she trust me so much so soon? Every evening so far when I sit for the 10 pm news, this little being climbs up my legs, makes herself at home on my chest and takes a nap. Adorable! And she's learned to pose already!

Project Runway
I just thought of something. Tonight was yet another episode of Project Runway on tv and I don't really care who wins. It's not in a negative sense, it's just that I like the work most of them are doing and wish they could all win. Of course they will, one way or another. I get the sense that most of them land opportunities to grow. We're not having quite the histrionics and name-calling and drama queens and I'm fine with that. I would like to see more sewing, how they manage to get those details done and so fast (invisible help?) but all in all I'm enjoying the show. How about you? Thanks for reading, Rosalie

Monday, August 24, 2009

Two Bernina Garments and More of My Vest Plans

Sampling of Last Bernina Show Garments
Bernina designer Meryl Ann Butler went to the International Quilt Show in Long Beach as Press, and on Sunday, as things were winding down, she took photos of the Bernina show garments on display for that day. She has offered us several of her photographs. I will spread them out across several blogs so as not to defeat older computers. It's exciting to see up close what we missed!

Debi Kuennen-Baker, Bernina Show Designer
The first coat is by Debi Kuennen-Baker. I'm a fan, have been gaga for many of her Fairfield and Bernina garments. She usually goes for the dramatic. This year's version is as bold as ever! Even though it "drowns out" the beautiful machine embroidered floral and scrollwork on the hips and lower sleeves, they're mostly over a black fabric so they don't disappear altogether.

I think the embroidery "lightens" the coat, modifying some of the hard edges of the graphic design. The collar is a collage of fabrics, ribbons, beads, and possibly fibrous Angelina. I do recognize the Sherrill Kahn fabrics and color combinations. I see crystals flashing from the area of the roses. The machine embroidered roses combine pink, purple, orange and yellow--very rich and beautiful. The body of the coat is quilted in multi-colored thread in a kind of swirl and flames pattern. This is a lady who likes pattern upon pattern! With all this going on, our eyes get a rest with the black and white binding around the collar. The black zigzag in the body is pretty busy because of the quilting and emboidery moving over it so that's why you don't get a rest there. I love that dramatic collar. Stunning coat! Can you make out the closures? They echo the black and white.

Janet Lasher, Bernina Show Designer
Meryl Ann also took photos of Janet Lasher's two piece gown. I don't have information about the materials used. I'm hoping to get that directly from Janet, but in the meantime we can admire her beading. When Janet and I were members of the same guild, Janet was just finding her way. We sampled various techniques and I see now from her blog (see my list of favorite blogs) that she has really moved ahead with beading as well as dyeing and silk screening. When she was in charge of the challenge one year, she gave each person a teacup of red, white, and yellow seed and bugle beads. I still have mine, maybe will get to use them up one day. It was an interesting challenge because it was so different from the usual wearable art group challenge of having to make interesting piecing using ugly fabrics. I didn't think of Janet's look except that she goes for the greens and oranges. But when I look back at her Bernina show garments, I realize that she always does "pretty" as you can see in this bustier. At first I thought she'd covered the bustier in running stitches, but after looking at three different closeups, I think those are bugle beads covering the whole bustier and then larger beads for the flowers. Lots of work and I like the texture she created!

See Janet Lasher's Etsy page:§ion_id=&page=4

Meryl Ann Butler as Author
Meryl Ann Butler writes columns for As Press she reported what she saw at the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach in an article, "Quantum Quilting: Gramma's Craft Goes Galactic." You'll find it at The article contains many photos of quilts and wearable art, well worth a visit. Meryl Ann is author of the bestseller, 90-Minute Quilts: 15+ Projects You Can Stitch in an Afternoon To buy the book, go to her Facebook album to see more, and get a special deal--$10 off!

Polish Embroidery Books
I received my embroidery books that I mentioned last time. The images are breath-taking and right now I can't do them justice in the blog--you have to go to the website to see inside. The books photographed here are what I'm sighing over now. These are collections of traditional embroidery from various regions of Poland, as documented by researchers at museums. I'm keeping this simple because I haven't read them yet. They're entirely in Polish and I read like a grade-schooler having to sound out all the long words. None of these are how-to books so it's a matter of analyzing each photo or drawing and making your own charts. However, just last night I found a how-to book within the Eastern European Art store's collection so I'm about to order it--when our rural system comes back up so I can get back online. (It's been having hiccups lately. Priscilla Kibbee can write to me from Kathmandu to tell me about her travels and shopping, but I can't always stay on to read what she has to say! Priscilla's blog is listed among my favorite blogs on this site.)

Getting an Image Onto Fabric
I could say right up front, just trace it onto net then trace through the net onto fabric. That's pretty straight-forward. But I have to get the illustration out of the book first and resize it. I've decided that for the beaded (or embroidered) goddess for my vest, I would select graph paper that most closely matches the sizes of my seed beads or cross stitches so that I can tell how large this will be if I include every detail. If I had the right photocopy machine with an enlarger and capable of taking heavy plastic, I would photocopy the graph onto plastic "overhead sheets," then lay the sheet over the book's enlarged picture and fill in the graph with a felt-tip pen. That would become my embroidery template. In my case, I first have to scan in the photo in order to enlarge it a bit. That printout can be placed under a photocopy of the graph paper, and I will be doing the design marking over a light table or holding everything up to a window.

I will then trace the image onto net (or veiling) with a Sharpie pen. I can lay the net down on the fashion fabric and use chalk to trace the lines onto the fabric. The lines will probably rub off so I'll be able to lay the net down and trace again any number of times. That's the theory. I hope to be doing this tomorrow, take photographs, and let you know how I did.

I believe I'm not breaking copyright laws because I'm not reprinting in another publication, nor am I making the garment for financial gain. I'm also using old traditional designs that belong to the ages, not someone's personal designs. This has turned into quite an adventure. The books not only provide me with garment shapes and embroidery, beading, and lace designs, but also ideas for closures and finishings. Richness beyond words. I mentioned the seller in my last blog but I'll repeat the url again because the owner tells me she's getting some fantastic books that have never made it to the US before:

Shepherdess Bride Wears Artwear
For those who might have missed this as it made the rounds online, this is the English bride who is a shepherdess and raises an ancient rare breed of sheep, the Lincoln Longwool. She had her wedding gown made from the wool of her favorite sheep, Olivia, with the skirt a flowing mass of curly locks. I especially like the photo of the bride with Olivia. The groom's weskit was also woven from this wool.

Center for Pattern Design
If you are not on the mailing list for the Center for Pattern Design, I'm sharing Sandra Ericson's latest message about Pattern Design 2009 Conference in San Francisco, October 2-4, 2009. "This event will be the first time ever that pattern people will have come together from all corners of the field to talk to each other, get great ideas and share a community spirit. Pattern designers often work alone, unidentified, and yet their genius creates our most personal environment.

'We are meeting in a beautiful historic hotel and have a wonderful roster of speakers and events! Gail Gondek, pattern designer for many of the best in NY; Julian Roberts, Subtraction Cutter Extraordinaire; Josh Jakus, brain behind the Um bags, and many other interesting and very talented speakers will be there. In addition you will receive a FREE avatar of your body. This is TC2's introduction to their avatar engine, new to the garment industry."

* Conference Brochure:

* For Registration, cost, maps, all info:

Vionnet Visit
Meet Sandra Ericson in Paris for a Tour of the Vionnet, Puriste de la Mode Exhibit. This event is complimentary for CFPD members! Sandra will be in Paris soaking up the exhibit for a week from October 20 to 27 and would be delighted to schedule an entire afternoon at the museum exhibit with all the details gathered from her 35 years of Vionnet collecting, cutting and constructing. If interested, write to her via her website above. Limited to 20 due to logistics. No trip planning involved, just the museum part.

Draping for Design Classes
Sandra Ericson is also giving more Draping for Design classes--the next level is coming in the spring. "For those in business, the new copying law coming soon will make draping your own designs ever more important, to avoid legal repercussions."

Pattern Archives
CoPA, the Commercial Pattern Archive at the University of Rhode Island (RISD) is an archive of over 46,000 records and 72,000 images from 1868 to 2000 of commercial patterns--so many brands, you'll be amazed--that help researchers and designers date or recreate fashion. It is vintage nirvana! They published a CD set for $350 and now it is all online for a price. (Editor's Note: This link didn't work for me but for something so special it would be worth our while to search for the correct site.)

Thanks for reading. Till next time, Rosalie