Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Inspiring Holiday

I just returned from a winter holiday in Paris and Florence.  I always forget how inspiring these cities are...in every way.  I come home with tons of ideas for new things to make at the bakery/rosticceria, ways to redecorate the house and garden, and best of all, new clothes!




There's still nowhere like Paris.  It didn't disappoint.  Our first trip was to study baking back in 1980--gads, that seems like ancient times.  We traveled to France thereafter every year for about 20 years.  It's been so long since Joe and I were in Paris together.  We had a blast.  We rented a lovely apartment, Grand Marnier, from a company called Paris Perfect.  I highly recommend this company.  They are professional, friendly, helpful and have the most beautiful places to stay!

We walked until our feet screamed, drank wine for lunch AND dinner (something we NEVER do at home), bought a museum pass so visited more museums than usual, and ate everything we could lay our hands on.

I, of course, shopped as much as I could squeeze in, considering I was traveling with a man.  But it was enough.  I managed all three Noriem stores where I found two tops (see below) and Manuelle Guibal, where I found a Sophie Digard scarf I couldn't say no to (also see below).  And I found a great new pair of glasses at my favorite eyewear shop, Les Opticiens du Bac.  


On to Florence where we met friends for a two week stay in an ancient palazzo.  Gorgeous but chilly!  We managed though and had a great time with them.  They love food as much as we do and they both like to shop!  Bonus!!

We pretty much did the same things in Florence we'd done in Paris, just a few less museums.  Joe hit every studio he could find; Dante, Michelangelo and others I can't remember because I was off shopping with our friends!

Breaking News!!!--I found a new Noriem store in Florence.  I just stumbled on it.  It's not on their website nor is it on the map.  It's so beautiful, possibly the most beautiful one I've visited.  Of course I found a vest (see below).  

I'm not sure if I was lucky or unlucky that it was winter and most of the clothes were wool.  I'm allergic to wool, sort of.  I can wear it if I have lots of protective garb underneath but California weather is never that cold so I just don't buy it.  Hence, I only found a few things to buy...good or bad, you decide.  But, oh, those wool garments were gorgeous.

I did a couple of things on this trip I've never done before.  I decided that since I was going in winter my clothes would not be so important since they would be covered up most of the time with a coat.  So, 1. I bought myself a great coat, and 2. I only brought 4 remade cashmere sweaters (see below) and two pair of pants to wear.  I brought 7 scarves though, and they helped make me feel I was changing outfits.  This plan worked out well.  I didn't focus on clothes so much and I think it was good.  
The coat I chose is huge.  And I use that term only because I can't think of a better word to describe how big it is.  It's a Rundholz I bought at Mio in San Francisco.  It has two HUGE pockets that I used as a purse.  I hate wearing purses in cities and winter clothes don't lend themselves to fanny packs.   It worked so well!  I only had my phone with my credit cards in a little attached case and a small cloth bag with lipstick and other essentials.  But I had room for an umbrella, hat and gloves when I needed them.  I looked like a squirrel who was packing it away for winter but what the h___.  I'm going to use this method again. 

I did need to modify the pockets before I left and I'm so glad I did.  I sewed in two smaller polartec pockets inside the huge ones so my hands would have somewhere to rest and stay warm.  I couldn't even reach the bottoms of the big pockets without pulling up the coat from the bottom!


So now on to what I made to wear.  I apologize for the ratty photos, the winter light in the bunkhouse isn't so great for photography.  This is a black cashmere I made from three previously worn sweaters. Simple design, different weaves for accent, asymmetrical hem.


A slightly better photo of the back.  Hand stitched patch on upper back







This one of multiple grey, previously worn cashmeres.  Slim line with fun peplums at either side.


The collar was hand stitched on with an exposed seam at the shoulder.


This one was fun to make and wear and super comfy.  Several grey, previously worn cashmeres with mostly exposed seams.  It's hard to tell but both sides are different.  One has an open flounce (shown below) and the other side has a little design shaping.


This is the side with the open flounce.




A pretty straightforward design using many scraps from previously used red cashmeres.  


A bit of an assymetrical hem.




Apologies to Sophie Degard, the color of this scarf is SO much better in person.


One of the Noriem tunics.


Another Noriem tunic.  Love this one.


And the Noriem vest purchased at the new store in Florence.

So there you are.  I'll post a few more times on different aspects of the trip as I get back into my life.  But for now, my fondest wishes for a healthy and fulfilling 2018 to all.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Classes and Retreats

Yes, I can't get enough of them.  For me, sewing with my friends is the best relaxation I can find.  AND, I get something done.  All good.

I've had a wonderful fall.  First I attended a two day marbling class at Center for the Book in San Francisco.  It was given by a professional and very talented instructor by the name of Pietro Accardi.

The first day we learned to marble on paper.  The second day, and this is what I came for folks, we learned to marble on cloth.  Yikes what a fun class.  I'm kinda hooked although I can't see myself making and wearing a lot of garments from marbled fabric.  But I love the color and design so much.

 Here's the start of a piece.  Paint is squeezed onto a gelatinous surface in multiple circles.

Then it is manipulated several times to make one of the multitude of designs.

This is one of the more traditional designs, ready for the cloth to be placed on top.

And then there are my designs.  If you try to teach me anything you'll be sorry because I never want to do exactly what is being taught.  It's hard wired into my psyche I guess.  

I love these big voluptuous designs.

One of the great things about this class is that you are able to produce so many pieces!  There's color and pattern everywhere...it's intoxicating.

I recommend this class to anyone, so fun and achievable.  I've done a bit at home, too (see results below).  I made bias tape out of one fabric piece and like it very much.  It's going to be good for gifts and to wrap around flowers I give from the garden.

Several weeks later I attended an annual sewing retreat in San Juan Bautista.  Great fun with 20 of my sewing pals.  I look forward to it every year.

I made this sweatshirt from a thrift store white cotton men's sweatshirt that I marbled.  It actually worked!  I had to cut it up first to fit it into the marbling tray, then sew it back together to fit me.

 Then it was on to Ashland to Design Outside The Lines with the amazing Diane Ericson. I'm always astounded by her abilities to create new shapes.  She's a combination of engineer and artist...a good combo indeed!

 Halloween hit while we were there.  Geez, I thought Santa Cruz went all out for Halloween but Ashland puts us to shame.  The parade lasted about an hour!  Here are three lovelies having a whooping good time.


Several of us got our hair cut by the talented Crystal.  Here's Sham's getting shorn...so cute!

And here she is showing everyone her new do.

And then it was back to work!

Kathryn Brenne was the other teacher for the week.  Such a wonderful teacher and so talented.  Her garments are all couture quality and she's fascinating to watch and learn from.

DOL is so worth attending.  If you've been thinking about it you shouldn't wait, just do it!  And If you've never heard of it check it out!

And last but not least, I just got home from a day of sewing with my local pals.  We had a class from local artist, Diane Ritch.  A very talented woman who works in all kinds of different art forms.  

Today she was showing us how she makes her darling little needle cases.  She brought the inside parts, including a bevy of needles, to tuck in when we finished.  Here are mine sitting atop my new little darling...a pale green Singer Featherweight I got at a yard sale.  

This was her maiden (for me) voyage and she did very well.  This is going to be my travel machine from now on for simple projects.

Here's part of the crew setting up.  Diane is second from the right.

Here are the fabrics I brought to work with.

And here are our finished cases...minus Anne's who had to leave early.  Mine are the two at the bottom left and center.  The red one is home dec fabric I stenciled years ago.

The inside "leaves" are made of beautiful thick felt or felted sweaters.

Good times!


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Cabrillo Gallery Exhibit


I want to tell everyone that is within earshot and who has a love for textile art to high-tail it Cabrillo College for the current show at the Cabrillo Gallery.  Cabrillo College is located on the Central Coast of California in Aptos, a hop, skip and a jump from my Capitola home.  I'm so lucky to have this college near me for a lot of reason.

One is this gallery, another is the many fiber/textile classes they offer in their Extension Classes.  Be sure to check those out, too.

This show is curated by Beverly Rayner, it's a knock out!  There are so many jaw dropping pieces I can't pick just one or two.  I don't know how she did it but she found so many fiber artists of superior quality.

The show is super fun, try not to miss it!



New Threads: Unraveling traditions in fiber
Opening this Saturday, September 30, 5:00–6:30 pm

October 2–October 27, 2017 
Please join us for the opening reception of New Threads: Unraveling traditions in fiber. Admission is free and the gallery is accessible to all. Parking is available on the street and in paid lots during the week and is free on weekends.
The possibilities in the use of fiber as an art medium have exploded in recent years. More and more artists are harnessing the materials and craft of textiles that have been handed down through countless generations to explore new forms and communicate utterly contemporary issues and ideas.
The artists in this exhibition reinterpret conventional approaches to the use of fiber in surprising, inventive, expansive, or subversive ways. Imagine a short film made from woven images; shredded currency stitched together into a brocade pattern; a grouping of bees, each in a tiny custom crocheted wrap; a sculpture that is half horse hair, half shadow; a drawing rendered in wool on paper; cowboys constructed from lace; or embroidery mapping the drift of toxic radiation from a nuclear reactor meltdown. Things aren't like they used to be!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What I Did With My Summer Vacation


In late June I was lucky enough to attend Dorothy Caldwell's Mark Making class at Shakerag Workshops in Sewanee, Tennessee.  I met three of my sewing buddies, Sharon, Sarah and Holly for a time of pure bliss.
Shakerag is a summer arts program at a private high school on the campus of the University of the South.  Attendees live in the dorms, eat in the dining hall and take classes all day for an entire week.  
Just being in Tennessee was magical.  The folks there are friendly...with a capital "F".  So warm and welcoming.  The campus is gorgeous, the meals were insanely wonderful.  In fact, I am bringing their two head chefs to my bakery/restaurant in July of next year to cook for our customers, they will love their southern food.  Every meal was better than the last.  Hush puppies, stewed greens, lots of vegetables right from local gardens, meats from local pastures, we couldn't have asked for better food.
And Dorothy's class was a meaningful experience.  Her term Mark Making refers to the shapes we make with our hands, whether using a brush, a pen/pencil or a needle and thread.




Dorothy explaining one of the many techniques we used to create pages for books we assembled later in the week. 

One of our assignments hanging to dry.  Each of our assignments, after completed, was hung together with the other classmate's and together they were very powerful.  This one used our fingertips.

This assignment used brushes on bamboo poles with the paper on the ground.  Using our whole bodies we made shapes with India Ink.  So fun and surprising.

Our brush-poles and tootsies.

We burned holes in paper with incense and smudged paper with soot from candles.

The inimitable Claire Reisham, the founder of Shakerag Workshops giving us instructions for the day to come.  She is one powerful woman.  Her energy and spirit sets the tone for the week.

The gorgeous dining hall.  A pleasure to dine in.

Our first finished assignment,  little bound books made from scraps of paper.

After our week (and believe me we didn't want to leave! Were all signed up for next year already!) the four of us piled in the car and headed to Alabama for a day in Florence to visit the Alabama Chanin Factory.  On the way we needed to find somewhere to have breakfast.  We were traveling the Nachez Trace.  Holly found us a true southern breakfast in a little town along the way.  
It was Father's Day Sunday.  It was a traditional southern cafeteria-style buffet with every imaginable thing on the groaning table.  So good!!

And finally we got to the Factory.  First ,we sat down for another meal.  It's lucky for me I travel with women who like to eat as much as I do.   Everything was delicious, but the biscuits that Natalie Chanin's son created were out of this world.  We asked her if we could come back for one of her sewing classes and learn how to make the biscuits, too.  She said yes!
Above is a shirt that I fell in love with.  We really enjoyed our day there.  Bought lots of fabric and had patterns made for us that would be shipped.  I've got three scarves in the works.

I wasn't home for a week when Joe and I took off for three weeks in Montreal and Nova Scotia.  While in Montreal we caught the Gaultier wedding dress retrospective, 'Love Is Love", at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Much like the show I saw twice in San Francisco, it had talking mannequins.  Loved the whole experience.

One thing I didn't find in Montreal was a clothing shop.  No inspiring clothing anywhere...maybe I just missed it.  Can't imagine they don't have style there.  But I did see this cool vintage sewing machine that had been sprayed silver.  It was in the window of a clothing designer upstairs.

We fell in love with Nova Scotia.  We put 2,100 miles on the Jeep.  NS is worth visiting.  The people are super friendly, the shellfish is everywhere and utterly fresh and delicious.  The landscape is fascinating with little fishing villages tucked into deep coves everywhere.  We really had fun. 
Here you see the cottage of the famous Nova Scotia artist, Maude Lewis.  The whole cottage has been transported to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia museum in Halifax.
I'd visited once before and wanted to show Joe.  Little did I know that Maude has had a comeback and is very popular right now.  There's a wonderful movie out right now called Maudie.  If you haven't seen it I recommend you do.  She was extraordinary, very inspiring.
We also visited two other replicas of her home in various parts of NS.  And the museum has a large show right now with dozens of her works loaned by a collector.

Ok, enough of where I've been.  I've not been sewing much, as you can imagine, but did manage to make this shirt.  Designed by Katherine Tilton, B6459 is a fun shirt to make.  Here I used three scrap fabrics to see how the pattern fit.  I really didn't expect I'd like the mix of fabrics but I do.  The body is fabric leftover from another garment I made, the light blue is some quilting cotton I got at the Expo in Puyallup cuz I loved the octopi, and the sleeves/collar are Indian hand blocked cotton I got at MAIWA while there for a class.

This pattern has lots of details that are fun to put together and looks really good on.  I recommend this pattern!!

That's all folks, more when I can get back to the workroom.  Enjoy the halcyon days of late summer.  I sure am!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Off The Grid Vest

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been working on Heidi Emmett's Off The Grid Vest.  In the beginning I was nervous because I'm not a quilter.  After the first hour or so I just went with my gut and forged ahead.

My sewing style isn't one that lends itself to perfection.  I'm incapable of sewing straight, I love raw edges and I don't care when everything isn't quite perfect. 

It's the overall look I go for.  The feel of a garment.  And to be honest, I change my style so often that I wear a piece of clothing for 1-5 years, tire of it and sell it at a garage sale.  It makes no difference if I've spent days or hours on it, when I'm done-I'm done.  My style changes yearly and so do my clothes.


All that said, I loved working on this vest.  It has so many things going for it.  Simple lines mean you can focus on the fabrics which I love.  I used Moda Grunge cotton for the base fabric.  It's black with washes of pinky grey.  

I've had a huge stash of vintage kimono scraps since our trip to Japan about 10 years ago.  Although I've been using them in projects for years I still have lots.   So I decided this was a good project for that.  The pattern calls for quilting cottons and the main fibers in my kimono collection are silk and rayon...much less stable.

Although Heidi recommends using Terial Magic, a kind of starch that quilters use, it still didn't provide all of the sturdiness I needed for this project.  But I forged ahead with a somewhat wonky result.  But I like it anyway!

I think this style qualifies as a tabard, right?  The sides are held together with just one button.  One of the reasons I wanted to make this vest is that I tried it on at a retreat in April and it's VERY flattering. In fact, it was flattering on every single woman who tried it on.

I had a devil of a time figuring out what binding to use.  I wanted something that would remind me of a light summer suit that I would see on a businessman in Tokyo.  A tiny grey on darker grey pattern that read solid from far away.  Understated but elegant.  Couldn't find it.  Finally I went with a purple quilting cotton that has a tiny pattern.  But I wasn't happy so I picked up another couple of fat quarters at The Stitching Post in Sisters, Oregon.  One of them I incorporated into the blocks but I didn't think either would work on the bias trim.

Luckily, I also picked up a bottle of Jacquard Pewter Dye-Na-Flow.  It's kind of like India Ink for clothing.  I thought if I knocked back the purple it might blend in so I painted that on the bias strips.  It came out very uneven but when I folded them in half and laid them under the garment edges to audition the color it worked. 

I found two 30's deco buttons in my stash that felt right...finally had buttons that actually worked on a garment.  Somehow, with hundreds of buttons in my collection none seem to be right!

This vest is a very dramatic look.  I can't wait to wear it.  Joe says I look like a warrior!



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Wedding Outfit

I haven't been to a wedding in years.  I guess I just don't have enough young people in my life. My goddaughter Laurel is getting married in a couple of weeks and I wanted something new for the occasion.

It's an outdoor wedding here on the Central Coast of California so it could be warm, it could be foggy or it could be just downright cold.  Here's what I came up with.

I bought some gorgeous linen from Carol Lee Shanks at DOL Ashland a month ago.  This Style Arc Jema Panel Dress seemed like a pattern that would be easy to wear but has some cool lines that make it a bit more interesting.  Of course you can't see them here...bad photo...but the lines remind me of a Mondrian painting.  It's really a long tunic so I'll wear grey capri length leggings.
Simple and understated, fade into the background garment so I don't look like I'm trying to compete with the bride...not that I could at 68!

But then, it was a little too understated...so I found this gorgeous cotton lace I bought from Marcy Tilton about 87 billion years ago.  It's been fermenting.  I take it out every now and then and dream.  I thought a kimono shaped duster over the grey linen might dress it up just enough.

And now I'm on the hunt for the perfect necklace.

These might do.


I'm just back from a dreamy four days in Tumalo, Oregon with a pack of wonderful quilters.  I'm not a quilter but was inspired by Heidi Emmett's Off The Grid Vest pattern.  I met Heidi at a recent retreat (yes, I'm a retreat addict) and loved her.
I decided to try the vest using my kimono scraps.  I worked on it in Tumalo and have it ready to bind the edges.  Here are the first few pieces up on the design board.

Some of the cuts for the long rectangle pieces that float here and there on the vest.

This is what it takes for me to be a quilter.  Two fingers of Bullet Rye Whiskey.

Heaven.  Thank you Eloise and Victoria for making this happen!