One of my goals in the mentoring program is to handsew a larger scale piece, in a similar method to the way I created the skirt. Ultimately I'd like to sew an entire quilt by hand (and actually use it), but I'm starting with a -- more manageable -- table runner.
My original idea was to use blue-greens and greys, and with that in mind I feverishly dyed a stack of old t-shirts, with mixed results. Meanwhile, I happened to have a stack of miscellaneous bits of red and grey sitting on a chair in my studio. I walked past it for the twentieth time before I realized I could work with reds instead of blue-greens.
My first step was to sketch out my idea, then I cut swatches of my fabrics -- some hand-dyed, some old t-shirts, some new -- and stuck them onto my design board:
I'm attempting to balance the colors, the lettering styles, the texture -- all while keeping it simple (but not too simple) and allowing the poem itself to shine. I can see already that I may end up choosing to redo a section or two, as I won't really know how they all fit together until I'm pretty far along. Hopefully I'll have more complete photos to share in a few weeks!
Yesterday I heard the sad, sad news that one of my favorite shops has closed -- a shop I've done business with since 2005, a shop with some of the sweetest women around. On one hand I've got the immediate gloom of unpaid invoices. But on the other bigger hand, there's the end of another relationship. (When you work alone, a familiar voice is so very welcome.) And the next thing you know, I was focused on not just this one store, but on all the stores that have closed in the last year, and then I started thinking about change in general, which pretty much sent me to bed with a rather bleak outlook.
I woke up ready to take my own advice: one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, embrace change instead of resisting it. I've always got a lot of irons in the fire, and I intend to keep it that way. Yes, it's work. Yes, it's exhausting sometimes. Yes, the big picture can feel overwhelming. But my answer is still YES.
Remember the circles on last Friday's project? I used a strip of the same t-shirt and pile of green buttons to make this cuff. (It's not attached to the sweater.) In my attempt to wear something handmade everyday, this has already become a go-to staple.
Thank you for modeling this one for me in your gorgeous house, Jhna!
On Friday I spent two short hours at the American Craft Council show in St. Paul. It was every bit as inspiring as I'd hoped it would be. Having only that wee bit of time to spend, I thought I would focus on surface design & wearable art, but I ended up being drawn to the jewelry, tilework, and weaving (cleansing my palate, so to speak). Some of my favorite artists were:
I am more and more drawn to simplicity -- in line, economy, focus. My mentor and I were discussing it and we both supposed that may be because I am in such a full place in my life, and that simplicity in art gives me balance. Also, when you are checking out the sites above, you may want to make a note that my birthday is a mere 4-1/2 months away....
This is one of my first hand-stitched projects, completed in Fall of 2008. The bodice & sleeves are from a Textile Studio pattern, one with just a front, back, and raglan sleeve -- so easy to manipulate that I've probably made half a dozen garments based on that one pattern. I added the flared cuff and embellished them with circles cut out of an old t-shirt. I learned a good lesson about the weight of knits with this project, as the t-shirt I used was fairly lightweight and about 1/3 of the circles came off (partially or completely) in the wash. It won't take long to redo them, with deeper stitches, but for now it's getting nice & cozy in the mending pile.
Remember in January, when I shared that I had joined a mentoring program at the Textile Center? It occurs to me now, I haven't said much more about it. We've had a couple of large group meetings, I've been meeting one-on-one with my mentor, and the proteges have been teaching each other as well. At the end of last week, I got to spend two glorious days devoted to draping -- learning to use a dress form to create patterns in three dimensions (as opposed to flat patterning, which is what I've done my whole life).
I had a lot on my plate going into it, didn't really give it much thought other than that draping was something I should learn. I don't know that I ever thought it consciously, but I guess I assumed it would be a bit tedious. So I don't say those days were glorious lightly.
I learned how to fit a rectangular piece of muslin onto a dress form to create a bodice. I learned to take that muslin and make it into a paper pattern. I learned to drape from scratch, with only fabric and ideas in hand (whether the idea is a picture in your head or one torn from a magazine). I learned to use a dress form like a three-dimensional design wall. I learned why sleeve patterns are that particular shape. I learned the best way to make a pattern from an existing garment. I learned to pin a piece in-progress onto the form, stand back & make adjustments...or change my mind...or just admire. I learned that all of it was fun.
And more than that, a community was formed, if only for a couple of days, with other like-minded artists. Years ago, I visited the studio of our instructor, Anna Carlson, during an art crawl in St. Paul. I've often thought that was the first seed planted in my brain about wearable art. So it was a pleasure to meet her, and learn about the transitions in her own career. (After years in fashion design, she's working on an MFA in graphic design. Isn't that fabulous? I love stories of reinvention.)
Linda, another participant, commented that she has challenged herself to wear something every day that she has made herself -- whether a piece of jewelry, a scarf, or a garment -- as a means of being confident in her own self-expression. I kept dwelling on that idea all morning until I realized that I have been waiting to achieve a critical mass of handmade garments before I make them a part of my daily life. I was drawn to hand-stitching in the first place because everything about it seemed a perfect match for me -- comfortable, easy to care for, expressive, flattering, sustainable, portable, meditative. But I've also been stockpiling, building up a wardrobe, waiting for the day when my closet is full of my own handmade things and little else. Guess what? I don't really have to wait. I could start today.