Thursday, January 29, 2009

Planning Wearable Art

It's time for a new jacket! I am so excited about the success of the last one and the headiness of trying new techniques, that I'm just burning to start the next one. I've laid out a bunch of fabrics on the ironing board. It looks like purple/red is next. I was thinking I'd get more of that batik from Wal-mart but not so, ALL the batiks were gone. Gosh, I'm just going to have to look for something else. I was looking at what was available in a silk doupioni online. Horrors! One place was advertising doupioni but when you read the blurb, it was 80% polyester, 20% silk. No wonder it was discounted! And not all that much.

I don't just jump in, I do a lot of thinking, looking through books for ideas, sifting through patterns, waiting for the aha moment. That got me to thinking about the process for the last jacket and the links surprised me. In the fall I was thinking I'd make tote bags for the bazaar. I did make some tote bags, but first I had to design MY tote bag since all the commercial patterns warn you about selling copies of theirs. I cut out various patterns to see what size suited me, then I read through any number of books. I've carried tote bags since I was walking--that was my security blanket I think, and people still refer to me as the bag lady. So I have a nice library of books about tote bags, particularly the ones that offer wonderful surface design techniques we can use in clothing. One of the latest was Fabulous Fat-Quarter Bags with M'Liss Rae Hawley (
The book is full of photos and one-page galleries for each of her ten styles of bags. Not only do you get straightforward instructions on how to make these easy bags, but also you get tips and lots of ideas for embellishment, and handle how-tos. I flipped through the book in the store, saw something I wanted to try and brought home the book. Oops, that was just a photo of a possible technique, it wasn't part of the instructions. The instructions are for the basic bag and variations on handles which I appreciate. But now what? Fortunately I knew where to look.

Ram Kim is a long time Fairfield and Bernina fashion designer. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area so I've seen countless of her designs. My all-time favorite was when she started to do delicate fabric manipulations. That's what this technique was! As luck would have it, I had bought her book but hadn't had time to review it. Wow, it is all there in Folded Fabric Elegance by Rami Kim ( To make this a project book, Rami presents wallhangings, pillows, totes and bags, but what's important are the instructions for the fabric manipulations. You've probably seen the smocking and continuous prairie points before. The Korean Chopkey designs are familiar as origami shapes. The detailed instructions combining drawings and photographs are excellent--clearly demonstrating every step visually as well as in text. After the manipulations, you get projects using these, and you also get photos of Rami's various garments. Rami's next book is due out soon and I can't wait to see it! See

To end this note, yes indeed, studying tote bags brought me to fabric manipulations from Rami Kim. I knew instantly that this is what I needed to add something special to my jacket. It was so plain and blah at first. I used the continuous prairie points flattened out which is what Rami does. Here's a picture of my first samples. I'm thinking for the upcoming jacket, I'm going to jump in feet first and quilt the fabric. I love doing freemotion quilting (fme) and creating my own designs as I go, but I'm far from perfect. Maybe at the end of this I'll be much better. The last jacket taught me that I also very much enjoy piecing my own fabric. So here goes...!

No comments: