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

Monday, August 10, 2009

Still in the Design Stage, Slow as Molasses

Researching Traditional, Ethnic Embroidery Designs
I've been doing research on traditional, Polish and Eastern European embroidery designs like never before. Today I got a book from that deals with the goddess figures of Eastern Europe. (Goddess Embroideries of Eastern Europe. Mary B. Kelly. Studiobooks, Box 23, McLean, NY 13102. 1989. ISBN #0-929 021-24-X) Symbolism and meanings never even crossed my mind before. This is an anthropological study, research and an analysis. I flipped through the book quickly, look forward to reading it properly, because I was enjoying the explanations of the origins of these designs, their meanings, and how designs change from realistic to abstract. But right now I just wanted designs that would help me. This is not an embroidery how-to book, but rather a discussion of the cultural elements in embroidery. Illustrations in the book are black and white etchings--just enough to give us a general idea of the original.

I immediately found a paper cutout of a Polish goddess. Two things are wonderful here. For those who don't know, I'm often referred to as a bird mom because of my long years of keeping my cockatiels happy and alive. One of these Polish goddess figures has a bird on her head and one in each hand. What could be more appropriate? Added to that I had a gap in my design for the back--I just hadn't figured out what to have at lower back. My problem is solved! I will place some form of the goddess there (with birds)!

Another book that deals with goddess figures is Embroidered Textiles by Sheila Paine. Thames & Hudson, Ltd, NY. 1990 & 2008. ISBN 978-0-500-51394-1. This is a big full-color book with many photos of examples. I can't really review it until I spend more time reading it. It does include discussions of not only goddesses but also symbols of various religions incorporated into embroidery. This book is beautiful, and I wanted it just for the photo on the cover. Many of the photos are large and clear enough that you could copy the embroidery, but this is not an embroidery how-to book.

What's Real?
So many topics, so little time. These days I've been focused on two things, feeding the souls in my care and getting to solid work on my vest. The feedings have increased. There were no finches coming around, then one day there were three. Now there are 30+ and the food disappears in nanoseconds. But what we get in return is the air between the trees full of flitting and singing gray-green finches. Meanwhile I went to the table next to the finch feeder and cut out my vest pattern in butcher paper. Now I've drawn the embroidery pattern and like it. It's not totally like so many of the Polish Krakow-region vests. I used elements of the designs I've seen but added my own style to the elements.

I have two concerns. One is that at first I was seeing mostly factory-made, contemporary versions of the women's vest. Embroidery has been replaced by rows of rick-rack. Then I see a lot of sequins and/or large gemstone beads. I'm not convinced these are correct. So I've decided to use seed beads, bugle beads, and some sequins plus hand embroidery. The second concern is that so many of these vests show off a hodge-podge of sparkly beads, without a real sense of design. Is that primitive Polish art, is it poorly made factory work, or is that what was common? I have also seen very organized designs, so what's real?

Fabulous Site for Books and Photos
I have just ordered three books of Polish embroidery. When they arrive I'll tell you all about them. I found them on eBay where the vendor (SLAVART) has put up wonderful photos from the books. This way you can see for yourself some of what I'm looking at. I can't seem to find an easy way to give you access to the eBay site so I'll give you the vendor's website--she deals in books, art, dolls, and costumes from many nations:

Only now I have a new problem of sorts. I mentioned to my mom having drawn my design and being quite pleased with it. She said sternly, "I have to see this, to make sure it isn't Americanized." Heck, I thought it was "Rosalieized"--I had drawn images of roses my way. I don't want to use the normal daisies. I might just have to not show her my design until it's sewn and beaded!! Tomorrow I hope to find a very large frame at the Michaels store where I've seen them in the past. My biggest embroidery frame is 17" square and I need something 24 inches wide and almost as long. I was going to cut out the center of a piece of foamcore, strengthen the frame with duct tape, and sew the edges of the fabric to the frame. But I sense that would be very cheap and unstable. So let's see what I find. I can always come back to the idea. I can also go to a hardware store and buy plywood strips. I need something that can hold the weight of the beads as I work! (I did indeed find stretcher bars at Michaels. The largest was 22" square. That will have to do and will most likely be adequate. After all, I have to get my arms around behind it. A bigger problem was finding thumb tacks to attach the background fabric to the frame. Push pins seem to be more popular now. Thank goodness for hardware stores--they had plain, inexpensive, well-made thumb tacks!)

Discovering Recycling with FabMo
Meanwhile, I have also been investigating recycling fabric. Apparently home decor designers keep sample books, have samples for clients to take home, and at the end of some season, they just throw these away. If you go to you will see how a kind couple are making an effort to keep these out of the landfills. With the help of volunteers and organizations that offer up space, they sort fabrics, wallpapers, trims, and so on. They set up appointments in order to prevent a huge crowded rush, and anyone wanting to create with these materials is invited in to choose at will and for FREE! I had not been before because it's at least a 6 hour drive for me. But I just had to see for myself. Tables are covered with stacks of samples of all sizes. There's not too much yardage but many pieces to sew together. They don't put everything out at once so that people coming in on the last day will have as much interesting variety as those who arrive the moment the doors open.

The concept works! Especially in these recessionary times, artists can use the boost. In October they will have a reception to show off a gallery of work. Judy's dolls will be there as well as Jan's purses and tote bags. Their young granddaughter made a collage that is very creative. I picked out mostly silks and linens and mostly in three color schemes. I found a piece of Polish linen in navy blue and built up a collection of burgundies and navy blues around it. For Trinity I picked out yellow cottons for her dolls. My other colors were brown/black and then a minty green and beige. I envision simple pieced kimono jackets. I understand that someone in Kansas City has already asked for information on starting the same project there. Heck, I'd like to start it nearby myself. I guess the first thing to do is to find the interior decorators. That likely won't be a problem in the wine country. When I took the ethnic embroidery class, I found people who would be interested in scraps. Today I found out my model, Janet, could use them for Christmas gifts (wrap wine bottles) and the receptionist at my physical therapy clinic is interested also. I think this should lead somewhere!

Edenwool--A Felting Star
In my travels around Facebook, I found a link to a fabulous Canadian artwear artist. Check out her work at

Feeling Sorry for Myself
I know I will soon forget so I'll mention this here and now so you'll know where my time has gone. My husband has felt sorry to have to push his chores onto me. He can't get around well and so I do the taking out of garbage and running to the store and whatever requires climbing up and down the stairs. The upshot is that now I have arthritis in my hip and find it painful to move around. So he thought he would do me a favor and help clean up my computer files. He went after the bookmarks. What he didn't know was that that overflow was where I would park sites I was going to mention in the blog. He eliminated duplications and put everything into alphabetical order. I barely paid attention to the names of blogs I'd set aside. I've now spent hours trying to reconstruct the list. Some of these will just have to wait until I come across them again. Today he went after the fridge. I closed my eyes and didn't watch! Till later, Rosalie