Monday, July 18, 2016

Dogged determination

Creativity is not orderly sometimes and I thrive on balance and order.  While I am creative in some pursuits, there are other activities in which I am a faithful follower.  I want to know where I am going, though I am flexible in how I get there.  

I've learned to honor my need for order, having healed from a tumultuous childhood.  There are times when the world, and MY world, are so challenging that the best use of my creativity is re-organizing my undies.  Recent world events have knocked me down, and I am doing what I need to do to stay focused on my own personal work.  That means reading light fiction, avoiding TV news, and paying special attention to those around me.  It also means spending more time with my husband and our animals as their love is so uncomplicated. 

I have 3 new shirts in my closet now.  Each of these shirts is from the same pattern, and each is slightly different in fit and details.  Sewing them was supremely satisfying at this time-I knew what to expect and could make small decisions on cuff design or button placement.  I established a small bit of order into my world by staying with this pattern, using dogged determination.

The pattern is Sewing Workshop's  Cortona shirt, which you first saw here.  I made it in a cute B/W cotton, and love it even while it is a bit big.  
 Version #2 followed in a quilting cotton-pretty color and a little heavy for an Arizona summer.  This shirt was cut smaller. I added a petite adjustment to the length and left off the plackets on the sleeves.  This is a riding shirt and needs to be loose.  
 
Version #3 is the same shirt in a taupe check seersucker.  What a wonderful fabric for 100 plus days.  I love this shirt, especially now that I reduced the shoulders and armscye to a size equivalent to xs in the pattern.  I actually forgot to do the alteration before cutting, so had to drape it on me and baste the sleeves in.  Then I removed them and adjusted the stitching line.  I know-very poor fitting technique!  Here it is:
This is the Cortona with plain cuffs, pleats in the back rather than gathers, and an added button band in the back.  I was feeling a little too much beige going on so ... added this bit of detail.

I am still needing to alter the back pattern piece so stay tuned for version #4!  In the meantime, I'll enjoy wearing this cool shirt both with flowing pants, and with breeches and boots.  




In other news, my dog Griff is a handful.  Handful of love, handful of fun, handful of natural beauty.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

graphic photos and safety gear

Hi Readers,

It has been awhile, hasn't it?  I have been working on my shirtmaking skills, as well as the usual mix of dog walking, horse training, reading, and fiddling with the house.  Oh, and various problems coming my way as I also am active on my HOA Board.  Life is good.

So, shirtmaking.  There is something so satisfying about working with a fine woven and building a shirt to your exact specifications.  I have used 2 patterns recently, both from Sewing Workshop.   They are the Siena and Cortona.  


The first is the Siena shirt.  I made it using some scraps in my stash, knowing at some level that the style was Just Not Right for me.  After a lot of analysis, I think it has to do with the vertical seams which form part of the sleeve.  These same quasi-princess seams are also on the Quincy jacket and I had the same problem with them.  The lines hit too far toward my shoulder, throwing the balance of the shirt off.  I could alter every piece, but why?  There are too many other patterns to try.

Onto the Cortona shirt.  This is a more traditional shirt, but with some wonderful features.  The collar and band are cut as one, the cuffs are narrow and perfectly flattering, the slight peplum is a feminine touch, and the darts are really pretty.  
I was so taken with Martha's Cortona that I copied her and used a B/W print as did she.  BTW, her blog Now Sewing is always a feast for the eyes.  Here is Martha's Cortona-


Onto more B/W graphic prints.  I got a new phone recently, an LG V10 and it is great.  But my cell phone case for riding is too small for this oversized phone.  So, I used some wonderful home dec fabric which my friend Janet gave me.  (Janet is a highly creative fiber artist and her website is gorgeous!  janetwindsor.com )

The graphic fabric is perfect for handbags and accessories (thanks so much Janet!).  My case has fusible batting, D rings for attaching to a strap or to the saddle, and 2 pockets.  The pockets are for my ID, and another for Carmex.  I'm pretty chuffed about this little case, and plan to make a few more as I now know adding velcro has to be done when everything is flat :-)  



Griff is settling in and is a wonderful companion when he isn't gnawing on my hands, feet or nose.  He also is learning that his nickname is NO since he hears it so often.  He is a lizard killer extraordinaire, which make me incredibly sad and pissed off when he gets one.  It is too late at that point-I have missed my chance to control the situation.  He is on a leash in the backyard most of the time now, to even the playing field.  We love him, and are happy to have an affectionate, tolerant dog sharing our space.  

Finally, here we are with the "kids" at Wendy and Albert's wedding.  Wendy is in red and in the center, with Albert to the right directly above me.  Katie is Albert's sister and is sitting next to me with her husband.  These young adults are our hope for the future-all hard working, very smart, very caring, very successful in their lives.  I couldn't be more pleased to count myself as part of these families.

Friday, June 3, 2016

beginnings and endings

I have been considering dropping some of my online presence, not because of anything negative, but because I have found myself really engaged in training, reading, and sewing.  I gave myself some time to see what felt right, and found some surprising things:

PatternReview no longer fills my need to talk sewing.  It is so large now and I am disenchanted with the censorship.  I understand why, but miss the vital conversations which were so interesting. I stop in each day and spend perhaps 15 minutes now.

Facebook has some value to me as I can use it to quickly scan the major political headlines and check in with some private groups to see what others are doing with sewing, art or horses.  I cut my time there by 75%. 

My blog goes quiet from time to time, and this recent hiatus allowed me to reconnect with my writer's voice.  For me, my blog is not about my accomplishments, but about my life.  Sewing, art, horses, dogs, politics, cooking, friends, family, books and movies all add to the mix here.  

Let me introduce a new member of my family:
                             Griffin (AKA Griff)

Griff is 1 year 2 months old and is from the Pima Co. Animal Shelter.  He is probably boxer/pit bull-2 breeds known for being good family dogs and quite tenacious.  I have had terriers for years so the obsessive tenacity (lizard!) is familiar.  Griff is 50 lbs right now and I expect him to gain maybe 10 more as he fills out.  He is super quiet:

and is very interested in people and people's stuff:

He is one of those special dogs who are sweet as pie, and love all people and other dogs.  In that, he is a perfect match for big Nick, who is also sweet as pie.

Griff has helped Ross and I manage our sadness in losing little Nick.  Little Nick was slowly giving up parts of his life and when he stopped wanting to walk, we knew it was time.  He was with us for 14 years and is now resting without pain.

I will always hold you in my heart little Nick.  

Saturday, April 2, 2016

small art-big ideas

I went to Taos, New Mexico a few weeks back and attended a 1 week art retreat titled "A Case of Curiosities.".  The workshop was taught jointly by Roxanne Evans Stout and Seth Apter.  I have known Roxanne for years and was thrilled to take a class from her.  Meeting and working with Seth was frosting on this very sweet cake!  Here are their sites: rivergardenstudio
           The Altered Page

Above is the courtyard of the beautiful adobe studio at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House..  My room was off to the left and I could go back and forth easily, working late most nights in my pjs.  
The workshop focused on mixed media pieces, all of which were included in our bare and empty boxes.
We used lots of found objects such as sticks, feathers, bone-as well as paint, fabric and wire.  I tried to be open to what might come from my hands and let my work evolve over the 6 days.  The photo above is probably day 1.  
Playing with objects and letting something happen (nothing did on this meditative assemblage).

The week was an incredible stretch for me as I am most happy with a ruler, some fabric, and a pattern.  I love straight lines.  Intersecting lines are magic to me.  The geometry of clothing construction intrigues me and I found myself missing that while I painted, and sanded, glued and gessoed.  

I am the keeper of the family memories, and I chose to use some of the family photos.  This is part of my family from Bisbee, AZ. and was taken in 1917.  What to do with ephemera which brings both sadness and connection?

My art progressed as the week went on, and I came back over and over to certain pieces to add detail.  I used more and more photos, and moved away from straight lines.  As I worked, I learned that the small compartments could contain some feelings or thoughts in safety.

I would sometimes retreat to my room to meditate on these lovely straight lines on the ceiling.



These became a small collection of memory cards with messages from many of the other artists.  They stay in one of the little compartments.

I'll share more in a few days.  Ideas, shapes, and colors are percolating inside and I am working them into some clothing right now.  I want to come back to my Taos case of curiosity and play a bit more with some of the elements.  Afterwards, I'll be able to show you some more of what I made.  

As in all creative adventures, it takes effort to construct a narrative.  

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The power of repetition

How many of you make a pattern, and then even though your garment was fabulous, that pattern sits ignored while you go on to the next new pattern?

Me too.

In my quest to be more mindful in my craft and life, I have asked myself to use a pattern more than once.  Not just to improve it, but to use it.  Again and again.  

An example is the Quincy:

#1 version:


#2 version (actually just an alteration):


#3 version:
I added 3 inches to the length and included a tie instead of a zipper.  3/4 sleeves and sewed an xs-small. 


Two Quincy jackets in my spring and summer wardrobe which will be perfect for layering in AC or the hot sun.  I am not done yet because these jackets were made with second choice fabric.  In fact, the 3rd version is made from pillowcase linens and cottons I had cut and stored for a project!  I had to piece the fabric for the collar. 

Spending the time necessary to analyze the pattern, get feedback on the fit, try a simple alteration to the sleeves, and revisit the pattern again has benefits far beyond 2 light jackets.  I learned about the pattern draft for the sleeve and underarm, and why it may have been used; I learned again why certain silhouettes are flattering or not on me; I learned about color and what works together; I used what was available and thus was invited to be creative.  

I am currently making this shell (My Hearts A'Flutter) from Cutting Line Designs.  I'm enjoying the process and I know I will be making more of these as the weather warms up.  

I am interested to know how many of those reading use a pattern multiple times, and if you find it freeing to do so.  As we say in the classroom, talk amongst yourselves...

Mary