Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Links from Recent Posts

Now that I've learned how to turn text into clickable links, I am repeating them for you and adding a few extras:

In the last note, I neglected to give you Pam Allen's website which is a must-visit if you want to get a feel for her quilted collages.

Pamela Allen's DVD is distributed by Martingale & Company, but is created by Nine Patch Media which also offers Pamela's Embellishment Kit (includes some of what she uses in the DVD)

Lois Ericson's site:

Kenneth D. King's class in Tacoma, WA:

Teena Hughes' resource list and galleries:

Lu Peters' resource list:

Joy-Lily's resource list:

Indygo Junction patterns (and now grommets):

Sandra Ericson's website:

Islander Sewing patterns and books:

Quilters of South Carolina wearable art bras:

Saf-T-Pockets patterns (and tour in Puyallup):

Designer Koos van den Aker:


Monday, February 23, 2009

Think Like artist Pamela Allen

Over the years I have watched my share of tv sewing/quilting/crafts shows, loved them, taped them, and still have them. Now, more and more teachers and companies are creating DVDs. For someone like me who can no longer access Nancy Zeiman, or Pokey Bolton's Quilting Arts show on tv, the DVDs fill that gap. The first one I want to tell you about is Pamela Allen presents Think Like an Artist. I'm crazy for Pamela's quilted collage work--it's got such a personal style and is so colorful that I can spot it in an instant. And so who but an artist of her caliber would be best to talk to me about thinking like an artist. I suspect I was expecting a lecture on all the basic elements that need to go into something called art. A formal design class perhaps? What you get is charming, unassuming Pamela being her open, friendly self as she builds a work of art and tells us what she's thinking. I love hearing about someone's design process. I can relate when she keeps touching her fabrics and her stitching. Aren't we all tactile like that? I have to laugh when she doesn't know much about fabric because it obviously doesn't matter to her process what quality she's using. By the time she gets to describing her embellishments, I'm ready to go out the door to the five and dime and see what I can find to sew or glue to my own work! Her discussion of tools is invaluable. I was nervous about getting a dremel to drill holes, but no more. This 2 hour DVD complete with outtakes, is distributed by Martingale & Co. online and likely at many quilt shops.

OK, so what does this wonderful, inspiring DVD have to do with wearable art? My thinking is that you can create a panel for the back or a shoulder, you can make a yoke, patch pockets, little fancy elements--there are endless possibilities with the techniques you see here. Now I realize that Pamela uses polyester batting--don't do that all over in a garment unless you really want that puffy overstuffed look--but it can work in small elements like little rectangles or circles or whatever. If you want to quilt it as solidly as Pamela does, remember it will make the piece stiff. Again, consider where you can incorporate a stiff piece in your garment. Pamela also doesn't expect her pieces to be touched much, let alone worn or washed. We have to stitch everything down or make the piece removable for when you wash your garment. Then there are those of us who never wash our wearable art, just wear it gently, air it out, and protect it from dirt and wear and tear--they can add whatever they want. I'm envisioning making a rectangle with a still life or some such, then cutting it up into pieces to be appliqued onto a jacket. It will have color and texture and be interesting to see. I also envisioned making a large rectangular portrait, using flannel instead of batting, quilting just enough to keep some drape, then cutting out neck and front opening, and sewing it into a kimono. Large design elements can become just texture and interesting lines when you use them in clothing. Don't hold me to this, I don't know when I'll have time to try it. But do let me know if you try it yourself and we can post a photo here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

News and Resources

First the News:

*Sad to say, Lois Ericson has decided to retire. She sent out a note that included the following:
"We are currently offering a close-out special for all our subscribers and friends for the next two weeks. All patterns and books will be $3.00 each, plus postage on all sales. E-mail Kris at ( for any questions. For direct orders use our website as well as to see available products. The sale starts Feb.16th, the final date will be March 6th. Don't miss out on this great sale."

Go to: where you can also view the gallery to see how the patterns look made up and on a real body. I've put in my order, wanted to fill in the gaps in my collection of Lois' patterns. My favorite part is the creative hints on the instruction sheets.

*Fashion designer, professor of haute couture at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and author, Kenneth D. King, will demonstrate and teach his couture techniques from his book, Cool Couture.
Kenneth D. King presents "Cool Tricks" at Bates Technical College,
1101 South Yakima Ave. Tacoma, WA 98405 on Saturday, April 25, 2009,
9 am—4 pm, $85.
Register by April 1, 2009 -call 253-680-7500 or

Now to the Resources:

Teena Hughes, in Australia, has compiled a resource list for surface design, fiber arts, wearable art--you name it. I still haven't been through all of it. The very helpful list (of links) is in the first url. The second two show her painted silks and wearable art which both inspire and cheer me up with their bright colors.

Lu Peters has also spent major time compiling a list of resources for fiberart, quilting, and wearable art. You'll find booklists and events. Look too for photos of Lu's wearable art. I keep them around as inspiration. Even though some events are old, I find it useful to have names and links so you can search on Google and see what's happening now. Go to:

Joy-Lily taught me how to do Arashi shibori. That was a memorable class and one that has served me well. Joy-Lily also keeps up a resource list called the FMC fiber art news. She has put up a website but every couple of months she also sends out an email reminding us of upcoming events. I list her here because even though she's focused on the San Francisco area, she does list "requests for entries" and shows around the country. Contact her and get on the list to hear about some of what's happening.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Artisan Jacket My Way

In recent years, any garment I made had a goal--it was for wearing to PIQF (Pacific International Quilt Festival) or to the International Quilt Festival in Houston. But no matter how early I started, I always lost a lot of time dithering over the fabrics, the pattern, and the fit, and then having to rush to finish. I'm going to show you what I rushed to make last year. I was taking my time drafting the moulage, wanting a perfect sloper. But that's when my husband spent a week on life support and all the complications that followed. When I got back to sewing, I decided it was time to go directly to an easy pattern.

I wanted to try the Artisan Jacket from Indygo Junction.

I found a drapey fabric in my stash, maybe a rayon/acrylic blend. I cut the jacket with few adjustments, eliminated the back yoke to save time, and basted the pieces together. I loved the fit and the look!

OK, time to cut the fashion fabric. I had found a crisper cotton, but didn't have enough for the band down the front and around the bottom. Time was running out, I didn't like my options. What to do? Back to the sample which was already sewn up. All I had to do was make the bands. I have a large stash of sample squares from Thai (Exotic) Silks ( These were Indonesian Batik cottons. The squares echoed the black and gray squares in the fabric. The colors of the batiks were grayed which suited more than my usual primary colors.

The Artisan Jacket lower band is a single layer, it's not like the usual folded band, but I made an extra-wide black cotton folded band and stitched the blocks onto that. This is quick raw-edge stitching, using a zig-zag stitch--rough but especially useful because the samples varied in size.

I've already put the jacket in the wash once and it survived very well--needed only a bit of thread trimming. However, because the bands are three layers of fabric thick, they're a bit too heavy for the body fabric. I'm considering adding a lining now to give more support. I wore the jacket, I thought it was adequate, but now I've got it on my dressform and think it needs more. I'm going to have to audition the embellishments. I have some mat African beads in all those colors. A row stitched all around the band might pull the colors together more. Gold coins? Black beads? I don't know yet, it's still a work in progress.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Proportion and Fashion Design

Have you read this month's issue of Threads magazine? It's a good one, meaty stuff for those who want to sew well and aspire to ever better skills.

I enjoyed hearing from Claire Shaeffer on what denotes haute couture vs lesser techniques. Can't imagine taking the time, but I suppose it would be good to make a garment by hand just once. Or at least to handpick a zipper and perhaps handstitch buttonholes. I could do that.

In the same issue is an article I mentioned earlier, Sandra Ericson explaining the basics of Proportion. I heard the same things in a lecture from her last spring. It opens so many doors in design--what works, why something else doesn't work. It's not just about the length of your jacket as compared to your height, it's also about the design sizes within the jacket and even within those separate designs. You can go a long way just paying attention to the natural and mathematical components of proportion. I've said a mouthful. Just read the article, take your time and study it. If you search for proportion on Google you will find more explanatory photos though not necessarily of fashion. My favorite part of the class was studying fashion photos in magazines and seeing how designers were paying attention (or not) and how it worked.

Here's a peek at what I did as part of homework in Sandra's class. My husband traced my body on white paper. He angled the pencil so I had to add the pounds that were really there but he got the head, neck and shoulders right. I keep it taped to the wall next to my dressform and at my level. I didn't know just how short I am! I also have no illusions about my body shape. What you can't see is that we also did my side view which I have to take into account also when planning garments. So based on the proportions lecture, I measured off my head length down my body. Now I just study that drawing to decide on proportions best for me. I've only really just begun, there is so much to discover. Do get the tools that Sandra talks about--they save having to do a lot of math. Somehow every new tool leads to more new things.

I suggest that you explore Sandra's website also ( and consider joining the center (in recent years I've discovered her newsletters to be absolute treats to read, from funny to factual). Then, be sure to check out the list of workshops and classes she offers. I recommend them highly. Those were enjoyable days where we worked hard and learned a great deal, going home with notebooks and heads stuffed with ideas, and excited about the potential of what we'd learned.

Finally, read her events page where she talks about designer Julian Roberts. Note the url at the bottom of the page and go there prepared to spend an hour watching videos. This gets a little tricky. Julian has loaded his site with so many edgy graphics and photos that it's slow to load and also can be hard to follow. Go to the menu on the left and click on the Professional Lecture and Cutting Demo Video. I watched the cutting demonstration and was blown away. He explains carefully so we can immediately go out and try this ourselves. It's experimental, innovative--I gotta try it in colors!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Double Green Shopping Bag

Janet Pray of Islander Sewing Systems sent the following:

Islander Sewing Systems announces our brand new pattern the "Double Green Shopping Bag". Now until February 15, the pattern is only $6.95 with free shipping. The website will say $4.95 shipping and we will delete the shipping on your order. For more information or to order please click on the link below and enjoy!

I'm still feverish but can say check out their products. I had a good experience with the pants DVD that was put together by Margaret Islander, Janet Pray's aunt. I don't know if it is still the same--come to think of it, what I was using was a video. Let me know if you get it and like it. The shopping bag looks like a good size, and there are usually techniques to inform sewing wearable art. I've ordered mine, will let you know more later. In the meantime, remember that there's a deadline of Feb. 15 for this deal.

Bras as wearable art in South Carolina

Cheryl Trostrud-White forwarded the following to me:
Members of Quilters of South Carolina have created one-of-a-kind bras for Breast Cancer Awareness. The exhibit consists of 49 original works of art which are unique, entertaining, humorous, and beautiful--to make the public aware of breast cancer, to memorialize those lost to the disease, and to honor survivors. Go to:

I'm under the weather, hope it's a 24 hour virus or some such and then will be back with more news.