Saturday, April 25, 2009

One Idea (No, Two) for Art Wear/Wearable Art

Fortunately, I don't have to resize photos for the blog--I can take them straight from the camera to the blog. That is happy news, eliminating several steps I used to make. I'm tired of looking at that photo of the house on fire so I'm putting up some quick photos of art wear I've made.

I just took this vest out of the drier.
Yes, it could use a good ironing, but I'm in a hurry to get to bed and this will move that smoky photograph toward the archives. If it looks similar to my earlier jacket, it should. These are more of the cotton batik scraps from Thai Silks. The vest is a compilation of favorite patterns and the hem is whacked at different lengths and angles just for the fun of it. I think it would have looked better if I had been more extreme. This way it looks more like I didn't know how to keep the hem straight.

I had the most fun with using different colored threads from Superior Threads ( to stitch around each scrap. Up close they're interesting. From a distance they don't show up. There's a lesson for next time! So now I'm thinking it's time for more embellishment. I've worn it several times and after washing, some of the strips ravelled away from the stitching. I don't mind telling you that I did a very quick fix. It's duplicated in several places so that it can look truly intentional. I have to do more of the same--five places doesn't look like a design choice.

Remember how I was looking for fabrics to go with my purple/brown African print? I'm still working on it but here's my latest attempt. I love the trims from India I found at a discount store in San Francisco. You must see Jack Brockette's stunning work. The quilting, the ideas, the pojagi jackets, the quilts and wallhangings are wonderful. I'm so glad he gave us some closeups. Of course I wish for text to tell us some of what's happening before our eyes. Are those silk screens at times? The color combinations in the pojagi pieces draw me in--especially the brown, gold, orange one. And I can tell you that Jack dyes the fabrics so he's created those colors. Did you knit that one striped piece Jack? Thank you for the list of artists for inspiration. Sue Benner is a new favorite of mine. Go have yourself a treat--check out Jack's site.

I guess that fire scared the folks who run our community because they sent out two letters recently. The last one gave me two weeks to cut the wild grasses that are our landscape. Normally we wait until they turn brown (golden) but now we have to cut them before they even finish growing and setting seeds. This is an early photo taken a few weeks ago before the heat wave, when everything sprang up overnight. This is part of the side and back yard.I understand being wary of California wildfires but this feels a bit extreme. Don't the deer need some of this while they're giving birth and raising fawns? Nevertheless I'm tired and sore from climbing our slopes with the weed trimmer. I'll have to do some every day to get through the whole thing in two weeks.

Dexter will be happy. He hates wading through the tall grasses. That's the name of the stray I told you about some time ago. Turns out he belongs to the little boy down the street. I only found out on Wednesday. Meanwhile I had started to think of this cat as my own because no one claimed him. I thought he was a girl after all, named him Teenaleena, and we had a regular schedule. He came for supper at 8 and immediately ran downstairs to his bed in the garage where he massaged the softness and told me to turn out the light. So for one night they kept him in and I missed the cat but was glad to know he was at home with his owners. Since then he's been back for supper and bed two nights in a row. I think I'm the part owner--besides, I think I'm the only one who combs his beautiful long fur. Now if only my cats could appreciate him.
Till next time, Rosalie

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This is Only a Test

I've been struggling with this new printer/scanner. So far it hasn't scanned or copied anything though it's supposed to have the capability. I've finally analyzed the problem, sort of. It can't see the paper or the image, almost as though something is covering that part of the equipment. Second, this new printer no longer has the HP software that allowed me to prepare photos for the blog. It was so quick and handy and now all I can do is make photographs for scrapbooks! Now I can call support since I know better what I'm talking about. However, I want to see what the blog software can do for me so that's why this test.

What about the photo? Last Saturday a house burned down above our house. I stood on the deck with camera and binoculars and watched the flames eat relentlessly. First went the porch, I could see the railing turn to ash, I could hear the crackling, watched the smoke change colors, and heard small explosions. I thought it was various kitchen appliances, but no, the owner had weapons stashed inside.

Sunday I drove up the hill for a look. There's nothing left but burned remnants of a home. Now it's just a garbage dump.

So not much dyeing or sewing done in this house. I did dye silk with left over easter egg dyes. I put the packages into the microwave a couple of times, but the dye liquid still had color, even though I didn't have enough and it all soaked into the fabric immediately. I decided to let it sit overnight. Life got in the way, so the packages have sat outside overnight, got microwaved again, then left out in the sunshine for two days. Maybe tomorrow I'll unwrap them again. I might overdye with Koolaid. Last week I forgot to include the photos of the new Jacquard Indigo Dyes kit, so here is one that shows what you can do with it.

More later, I have stories piled up for you!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter just isn't Easter without decorated eggs in our house. My Tata (Dad) used to be most creative then--he'd paint little lambs with crosses and all kinds of beautiful Polish designs. Of course, as a creative little girl, I had to join him with my own designs. Then in recent years he couldn't get into it anymore, he couldn't hold his hand steady, and so I dyed or painted for all of us. (I find it interesting that now that it was time to decorate eggs, I miss him more than I have up till now. Christmas we were still somewhat dazed and in shock, but now I MISS him smiling over my eggs!)

It's not like I have the leisure time anymore to spend a day drawing and painting eggs, so I buy kits and dunk the eggs. This time the little kit I got had a white wax crayon in it. The instructions said to dye the eggs, let them cool, and then decorate. Huh? I knew better. So you see here the first layer of resisted eggs. I should have made more designs and overdyed again and again, making them really complex and more like pisanky. But I was on to learning how to use the breadmaker, so this is all we get this year. I'll have to remember for next year.

An article in a magazine reminded me about dyeing with Koolaid--yes, the packaged mixture for flavored drinks. I became even more interested when I found out this dye works only on protein fibers, that means silk and wool. Now I remember that some years ago I learned about dyeing roving and wool yarn spun for knitting and crochet. I just hadn't realized I could use it on silk. I have lots of scraps of white silk that are beautiful but not speaking to my sweatshirt lifestyle. I bought them when I was still thinking of going to work in white blouses. Now I need colors. Here I am out in the country, and I can buy packets of Koolaid in any of the stores! Wow, this is serendipity. Then one of the articles online suggested that if the Koolaid isn't quite the right color, that we can add some food coloring or, Easter egg dyes! Do you get the connection now? No, I didn't dump out the Easter egg dyes--they're under plastic wrap. I was going to dip some silk pieces in them today and show you tonight, but I got tangled up fixing my printer. So next time I will show you the effects.

I'm going to go with the plastic wrap and microwave heating method. I have a microwave that is no longer used for food so I'll drag it out and test this idea. Exciting! I also went out and got a food scale because you have to know the weight of your fabric to know how much dye you'll need. Don't yet know how pricey this will get--or should I be ordering silk dyes online. But the idea of quickly and easily dyeing up a fabric, sprinkling it to get different mottled colors, and sewing up an easy garment appeals to me. I'm including here three websites with clear instructions. Do check out all three. I found each one clarifies some point better than the others.

Instructions for Dyeing Protein Fibers (wool, silk):

Indigo Dye Kit from Jacquard Products
Then to add to all my dyeing excitement, I got this ad from Rupert, Gibbon, and Spider Inc., home of Jacquard products: "Bring ancient craft to contemporary fashion with our new INDIGO DYE KIT. We are thrilled and delighted to introduce this new addition to our popular fabric dyeing kit line. The unique characteristics of indigo dyeing make it easy to create wonderful resist pattern on fabric. This kit brings the ancient art of indigo dyeing to the home dyer in a user friendly formulation. Your vat will keep up to several weeks and dye more than 15 yards or 5 pounds of fabric or 15 shirts."

Below, I bring you news of an Indigo dyeing workshop in northern Michigan. I know there's at least one being held in Sebastopol, CA. Let me know if you know of more. Dyeing with indigo is different so I would like to take a class to learn the tricks. Meanwhile, do go see what else is happening at Jacquard headquarters:

Links from the folks at Jacquard! Go here to see colors. Check out the various coated fabrics. Ah, my favorite--fabrics for dyeing, not just silks. Introduces fabric pens and a t-shirt decorating contest. Eight prizes per week include Super Mega Sets of art materials.
©2009 Rupert, Gibbon & Spider, Inc. manufacturers of Jacquard Products. Jacquard is a registered trademark of Rupert, Gibbon & Spider, Inc. 800.442.0455 | P.O. Box 425 | 1147 Healdsburg Ave | Healdsburg CA 95448

Rupert, Gibbon & Spider Inc. are very supportive of artists. The following are a potpourri for you to enjoy:
Lucy Puls: sculptures made with inkjet printed fabrics--design inspiration

Sioban Silks: gorgeous handpainted silk scarves by Siobhan Elder.

Vortical by Phoenix Bess: Knit these beautiful and cozy socks in the project found at

Three Pines Studio: these folks have a long lineup of workshops including one featuring the brand new Indigo Dye Kit. This is in northern Michigan, beautiful country, parallel to where I spent summer vacations in Ontario. Worth a trip just to be there, creating art while there must be heaven.
Workshop: 1-2-3-Indigo Blue With Pre-Reduced Indigo August 2, 6-8 pm August 3 & 4, 8 am-4 pm Workshop Fee: $225 (includes all workshop materials, continental breakfast & lunch) Instruction on making the indigo dye process accessible and easy for home, studio and classroom using the new “pre-reduced indigo” from Jacquard products. An intensive workshop designed for fiber artists and teachers. Indigo dyeing is an amazing natural dye that develops shades of blue once the fiber is exposed to the air.

Bernina News
Visit frequently to check for invitations to BERNINA Instructional Webinar Events. I just found out about these and want to try one. Let me know if you've watched one of these.

BERNINA Fashion Show - Rendezvous
The latest BERNINA Fashion Show, Rendezvous, premiered in fall 2008 at the International Quilt Market in Houston, TX. The show featured the works of 48 talented designers who were invited to create one-of-a-kind garments. As usual Bernina showcased these outfits in their magazine Through The Needle #28. We're told to go to our Bernina dealer to buy a copy. My experience is that either the magazines haven't arrived or they've been sold out. Fortunately we can either subscribe to the magazine or buy back issues on DVD. However, I also registered with the Bernina online newsletter--they recently sent out access to a pdf file of the 2008 Bernina fashion show. Be still my heart, I get to see it all after all! You don't get the swish and sparkle and movement that you see on stage, but this is better than not seeing these at all.

This show was the final Bernina fashion show. It will be shown again in Chicago next week and then that's it. In 2009 there will not be a glossy fashion runway show of wearable art in Houston etc. Meanwhile Karey Bresenhan, co-founder and director of Quilts Inc. is looking for ideas on how to replace it. To register for the newsletter, write to:

Quilts Inc. also has News:
Judy Murrah, formerly the Vice President of Education in charge of all classes and educational offerings at the shows, has been promoted to Vice President of Education and Administration. She will now additionally oversee and coordinate most of the day-to-day workings in the Quilts, Inc. office, including human resources. Congratulations to Judy! Judy wrote several books on making traditionally-pieced jackets. Look for her name at to see the whole set. I think they had a big influence on wearable art for several years in the late 1990s--what she explained is still viable.

Ruth Moya, formerly Show Operations Manager, is now Show Manager. She will assume all responsibilities overseeing all activity on the show floor at the Festivals and Markets, from set-up to take-down. She will also be the main point of contact for exhibitors in all matters on site. Kudos to Ruth! I remember when she first worked with the Bernina fashion show designers. I was judging and Ruth was having to babysit while I was sifting through the clothes. She's been through the mill and I think will make an excellent Show Manager.

Santa Rosa ASG Sewing Retreat July (10-13) We have instruction/help on Saturday/Sunday which is always nice if trying to get paper patterns fitted. Come with friends to spend a weekend sewing, relaxing, swimming, or walking on the grounds. Price includes campus parking permit, 9 meals, studio apt. room, & sewing area. Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park. Arrive after 1 pm on Friday; go home after lunch on Monday. Shared room is $290 per member; private room is $340 per member, (non-ASG members, pay an additional $40 for 1 yr. membership) Questions? email Barbara Cohn ( Payable to: ASG -Santa Rosa 1300 Commerce St. 'B', Petaluma, CA 94954

Last time I told you about the Yves St. Laurent catalog but couldn't find a source. Priscilla Kibbee found the book is available at for $31.50. I put the information in the comments area immediately. Please do look to comments in my blog, for just this reason. If you haven't seen it yet, please do visit Priscilla's website

Carole Parker forwarded information from Darcy Fowkes about a wearable art fashion event in San Francisco being held Friday, April 17. For more information:
For clips of last year's show click on the Jan 8 video at

I spoke briefly on Facebook with Annette Randell, owner of Artemisia in Taos, NM. I wasn't aware of her business, but do check it out. She sews for her own store as well as carrying the work of top artwear designers. Lots of photos of wonderful wearables here:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Art I Wear Has a Slow Start

I can't believe how long it's been since I sat down at the sewing machine. I was so eager to get started on the next jacket once I'd finished the one for the book. At that point Valentine's Day was coming up so I cut hearts while watching tv, arranged them on a large sweatshirt, then realized with so much stitching (quilting) that jacket was going to shrink and not fit. I'll have to make insets and gussets. Lost interest immediately, and went on to plan B. I was at Joanns, checking out one of their fabric sales. I found a fabric that was the wrong color for me but the print was exactly what I wanted for yet another sweatshirt jacket--I wanted something with movement and that's in this fabric. I figured I'd do something to adjust the color around my face. It wasn't until I got home that I realized this print was supposed to be something I didn't have to follow, to keep the quilting simple. But no, I'd picked a Japanese floral fabric, one that called for more complicated quilting (around the flowers instead of just straight rows). I took the sweatshirt apart, glued the fabric to the sweatshirt--and there it sits, mocking me! It's more work than I wanted to do. I finally picked it up today and went looking for DMC threads to do a bit of hand embroidery on it. Now it's a project like this that paralyzes me. It's not that complicated, just looks labor intensive so it stops me in my tracks--plus it feels doomed for failure. But the fact that I put my hands on the fabric today is a positive step. I bought the threads from mom so she'll be after me to get it done! Besides, who says I have to stitch around the flowers? I can do a series of waves. To be continued...

Meanwhile I'm planning my Polish vest and the ideas change day by day. At first I nixed appliques, but now I was thinking of Mark Lipinski's fabric line called Krakow and am wondering if I could replace some beading with applique--just to see how it works and make it go more quickly.

And in the very back of my mind is the garment I was planning before Christmas and before I started the one with Australian fabrics. I have a book sitting on my sewing table. It is there for a reason. I pick it up and flip through it whenever it catches my eye. That's the idea. I know what shape I want to work with, so now it's time to consider techniques.

Calistoga Yarns
My mother owns Calistoga Yarns. She used to be Adela's Yarns on Castro St. in San Francisco and in Calistoga until she sold the business. She found out she couldn't retire and so started another yarn store in her studio. She still carries imported yarns and textured and hand-painted yarns. She just found two types of sari silks that she likes and voila, I have my first technique gelling. (If you want to visit mom, please write and I'll share the address and phone number.)

A Book:Skinny Quilts & Table Runners
I've spent time flipping through the book: Skinny Quilts & Table Runners from today's top designers. Edited by Eleanor Levie. Martingale & Co., 2008. ISBN: 978-1-56477-730-0. First this is a book of ideas. The title says table runners and the book suggests wall hangings, but I immediately saw jackets and vests. We get ideas and techniques from Yvonne Porcella (who has made fabulous wearable art for years), Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy, Jane Sassaman, and Laura Wasilowski among fifteen designers and projects. Right now I'm pondering over Carol Taylor's pieced runner with couched yarn. That's the photo on the cover. I don't have to couch all over the entire jacket but I won't decide until the piecing is done. The sari silk from mom suggests the colors and in this very moment I've thought of some of the fabric I should use. Hmm, I'm getting excited about this now. I need to draw the idea to see where it's headed. (As to the book, as with every good quilting book, each of the projects has detailed instructions, clear drawings, interesting designs that will stimulate me for a long time, and quiltmaking basics.)

Blog and Website from Kristin Nichols
I read a blog by Kristin Nichols who gives us wonderful photos from her farm. Right now we get to see adorable lambs (especially the triplets) and ewes and the Crazy Chicken, and to hear their stories. Only this week the sap stopped running, but last week we saw the scenes of maple sugar time. Boy does that bring back memories from when I was growing up in Fruitland, Ontario. Every spring the teachers taught us about maple sugar. All these pastoral scenes are delightful but hmm, the blog lists "getting stitched?" What is this--why is there a list of Kristin Knits topics in this blog? Check it out. I haven't yet gotten one of her knitting or embroidery books, but that's coming up. I am very familiar with the yarn company she worked for, Classic Elite, and have admired her patterns through the years since I buy the very magazines which contain her work--very classy, beautiful and intricate knit designs. I love her style. Now I know why--she explains that she is "especially inspired by ethnic textiles." Check out her sweater patterns and look at what she has done with their farmhouse. This isn't grandma's farmhouse anymore! At least not the one I used to visit in Ontario. Check out both her blog and her website too:
You might get motivated the way I did today!