Saturday, July 25, 2009

Details I Forgot to Consider

Planning HOW to Make This Next Artwear Vest
I knew I had to plan what I was making. I forgot to plan HOW I was making it.
I happened to catch sight of a book that I have turned to as a reference over the years. Embroidery with Beads by Angela Thompson was originally a B.T. Batsford Ltd. book, but in 1992 it was republished by Lacis, 3163 Adeline St, Berkeley, CA 94703. ISBN 0-916896-38-2 It is listed for sale (same price) both on Amazon, and at the Lacis website It's mostly a black and white book with drawings and photos detailed enough to teach me what I need to know. It feels a bit dated but these are the timeless basics. It moves from beading for theater, church, and fashion, through beaded quilting and smocking, and tambour beading. It's got general instructions across the spectrum of bead embroidery. Angela very quickly convinced me that I have to bead before I sew. Oops.

I had forgotten that beading, like embroidery and quilting, will pull up the fabric. I was thinking the fabric would be heavy enough to work it in my hands, but this book convinced me that I would have to use a frame. I need to do the beading first, then cut out the pieces of pattern. I'm in trouble--I'm a slow embroiderer. I'll start out, see how it goes, and look for a Plan B if need be. I already had planned to machine applique part of the design so maybe this will help tremendously.

When I'd met with Rachel Clark who is the curator/coordinator for the exhibit of artwear next December at Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove, CA, I realized she wanted garments that were more quilterly than what I had planned. I knew I wanted to do beading and embroidery. Then after talking to Rachel, I had to rethink this. I didn't want to mess with my final design, so I decided to piece the foundation as a nod to quiltmaking. I would piece the fabric then stitch away. Silly me. I didn't think about the details of how--after all, I've been doing embroidery for years, I was just going to jump in with needle, Sylamide thread, and beads. Sometimes we need a reminder, don't we? I'm so glad for reference books!

Finding Just the Right Fabric for that Vest
Black broadcloth would not do. I wanted textures to mix together since the foundation was all black. So I got online to and proceeded to spend a lot of time looking at black fabric. You can't see a thing except a black box but at least they have fabric descriptions that work if you know your fabrics. I ordered a cotton jacquard, a cotton pique, suiting, 100% linen, and a quilted cotton. Since I didn't want to pay high shipping costs, and they were having a sale, it seemed to take forever for the fabrics to arrive via "snail-mail." Of course I wanted it next day but I wouldn't pay for the service.

This is a quick photo of my choices right after I took them out of the drier--funny how the black fades in a photo taken in the sunlight. You can see the variations in color and texture. Across the bottom (L to R) that's the cotton pique, the cotton jacquard, and just peeking out, the suiting. Top row is a poly-rayon that has a weight I like, a linen blend, andd the brownish linen. That was a double-faced quilted cotton--nice texture and good color but heavier than what I wanted to cut up. The suiting looks like shiny polyester but has a good texture with lots of straight lines (now I'm clearer on what "suiting" can mean). The linen is a disappointment. First, it looks more like a very dark brown. That happens with black, you're getting different dyes going into these things and so there's a wide variety in the resulting black. On its own it's ok as a black, so I can use it for a wholecloth garment. But I was tempted to return it because it didn't look or feel like linen. I don't like doing a burn test because I never get it right, so I took a gamble and washed it (not returnable then) and yes, once washed, it definitely had more of the texture of linen, phew!

A Pattern Would be Helpful
I have been through my pattern stash and found two possibilities for this garment. I had a hard time steering away from patterns with a Japanese feel. I didn't realize just how partial I am to kimono jackets or anything approximating the kimono shape. I was about to take a chance on an old Vogue pattern I hadn't used before, but I suspect it too would come across as Japanese, as in Issey Miyake. I came across more photos of ethnic garments and that steered me into a more traditional pattern shape. I hope to have it drafted tomorrow.

In Other News:
ArtFest Fort Myers accepting entries for the 10th annual downtown Fort Myers outdoor juried fine art festival. This juried art show features the work of 200 artists. All artwork exhibited must be created solely by the displaying artists. Entries are accepted in 16 categories: Ceramics, Digital, Drawing, Fiber, Glass, Jewelry, Metal, Mixed Media 2-D, Mixed Media 3-D, Painting-Watercolor, Painting-Oil/Acrylic, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, WEARABLE and Wood.

Artists are selected to participate through a jury rating of artistic conception, originality and workmanship. Cash prizes totaling $5,000 will be awarded at the festival. Apply online by e-mailing, or visit the Web site at The application deadline is Sept. 16.

Artwear By Christen
Christen began her career in Wearable Art in 1986. Her work has been shown in galleries and fashion shows throughout the world. Her blog shows many beaded pieces that you might enjoy and lists the classes she teaches.

Quilt Festival in Long Beach
The International Quilt Festival/Long Beach is taking place at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA. The festival began with a special preview night on July 23 from 5pm to 9pm. Friday and Saturday hours are from 10am to 7pm, and Sunday, 10am to 3pm. General admission is $10, students and seniors are $8, and children age 10 and under are free with adult. The Bernina Fashion Show will not be the stage show, but they will have a daily exhibit where you can have a good close look at the fashions. Expect some 450 vendors--my favorites are books, fabric, patterns, and unusual notions. Did I mention fabric? This is where you can find the rare and unusual. You can also enroll in some classes when you get there. Wish I were going!

Last year was the first year for The International Quilt Festival/Long Beach. I heard that the businesses of Long Beach didn't know what hit them. Many were taken unawares with the sheer volume of people. You can be sure they're ready for the onslaught this year. This show follows the show in Houston and in Chicago. My understanding is that each show has a bit of it's own local flavor and the lucky ones are those who travel around to all three!

Samurai Exhibit in San Francisco
News from Carole Parker of PenWAG: The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco has a Samurai exhibit through September 20th. This is the *only* U.S. stop for this exhibit. I attended a large Asian exhibit some years ago in Oakland where the first part of the show included several variations of Samurai warrior garments. Absolutely fascinating how beautifully they were made with fine stitching and narrow binding. Just as interesting was that their closures we now often duplicate in artwear. I'm going to have to get to this exhibit!

The Clothing Show in Toronto (Sept. 25-27)
Come to the Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto. For over 30 years, The Clothing Show has hosted a show & sale for local designers and artisans exhibiting the hottest new designs and vintage treasures. Runway shows will be happening throughout the weekend; plus a large gallery displaying work by local up-and-coming artists. Shop from over 300 booths of unique handmade clothing & accessories, antique to contemporary design jewellery, shoes, home accessories, vintage records, etc.
Fri, Sept. 25: 3-9pm, Sat, Sept. 26: 11am-9pm, Sun, Sept. 27: 11am-7pm Tickets: $8 advance, $10 at the door. for advance tickets and information. For vendor inquiries, please call 416.516.9859 or email – We’d love to hear from you!

Fabric Shopping?Fridays are Farmer's Market time for me. In Clearlake we have wonderful live bands entertaining us on the shores of Clear Lake as we visit among the produce and jars of jam and salsa. Two farmers are my favorites--one brings tree fruit and the other the best tomatoes and cucumbers. I live on these all summer long. Now a new vendor brings in whole grain bread. Yum!! I like to sit and talk to Rose about her sheep and other critters while she spins her yarns. Last week Trina joined us. Here are photos of Trina's natural dyes on silk, indigo on cotton, and also local clay on cotton. Would you be interested in buying yardage?

By next time I should have Trina's blog before me to share with you. Please let me know if you want me to show more like this. I think her silk dyed with grasses or pennies is delicate and interesting (not shown here). The pink silk at the end is a composted piece. It's hard to find natural dyers. Also Trina is into recycle and reuse. I bet she'd dye/overdye your fabrics or garments for you. Contact me in comments please. Till next time, Rosalie

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