Mary Boalt

The color I sew the most is black. Dark black, pitch black, light black, pastel black, faded black, off black and very dark gray. My “stash” includes drawers of black fabric. Textured, smooth, mesh, woven, stretch, embellished and unadorned.

It’s the perfect color. It goes with everything. It’s slimming. It’s sophisticated and elegant. It’s timeless. You can spill coffee on it and no one will notice. It makes dressing easy for the lazy person. As I heard it said, “I’ll stop wearing black when they invent something darker.”

Having just unpacked from my New York trip, I thought I’d share what goes into my suitcase along with a few pair of black pants, a little black dress and maybe a black skirt. And of course, black shoes. Flats, sandals, heels, and comfortable walking shoes… get the picture.


My friend, Helen Papke is to be credited with the idea for this knit top. It is made from thrift shop t shirts printed with logos and then pieced together.  Butterick 6287 was used to help break up the pieces into a manageable arrangement. Black and white trim was placed over some seam lines.


This is a knit top with mesh sleeves. It is a Katherine Tilton pattern. Vogue 8817. The little white dots are snap tape sewn across the top seam and around one wrist. This pattern is flattering on everyone I know who’s sewn it. Below it is a sleeveless version with side pockets. Butterick 5925.


This is the same pattern, Vogue 8817. Marcy Tilton sells packages of coordinating knits.  Go to


This will cheer up any black overload. It’s a knit from Joann Fabrics. This is another Katherine Tilton pattern. Butterick 5925. I used the view that features a twisted collar. It’s a really nice detail to change things up a bit.


This little knit top was inspired by Gwen Spencer while taking a class from her. The pattern is Marcy Tilton’s Vogue 9161. The pattern shows it made up in all one fabric. Thanks to Gwen and one of Marcy’s great combo packages available at the class, this pattern was divided up and pieced together.


This is a crazy little number that just screamed my name. It’s the Artist in Motion pattern from Cutting Lines Designs. I love the raggedy fabric.  Would the fact that I bought it around Halloween time change your opinion of it? It was probably intended as “mummy wear”. It’s super light weight and is attached to a sheer black mesh. Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley has knit bias tape in several colors including red. Perfect for this knit.


This polyester brocade type fabric was found at Joann. The group of women that I sew with self draft (knock off) ready to wear garments. Can I admit that in print? Katherine Tilton has since come out with a similar pattern. It is Butterick 6064 but is sadly out of print. The collar on my version stands up like a lizards neck. I call it an “Elizardbethan” collar.


A few neck pieces also get thrown into the suitcase. This one is made from Japanese fabric covered cording also found at Stonemountain and Daughter.


Oh the things one can do with men’s ties. This one is stuffed, tied into sections and hand beaded. The colors pop against that black background.


Sandra, Heidi and I have been playing around with inner tube jewelry. My friend Janet Spear has been kind enough to share with us her experience in making these. What fun!  Paint it, cut it, punch it, bead it and string it. I see more of these in my future. The one on the right has been strung onto black and white striped elastic cording along with dark red beads. I hope you click on these for an up close view.

So is black boring? Not at all. Black is definitely the perfect backdrop for art wear be it clothing, jewelry or scarves. And it makes it easy to build a travel wardrobe. I roll my clothes. Do you?


14 thoughts on “Black

    • Thank you, Marilyn. I shall assume you are a garment sewer also. I do not make quilts so many of my posts will be about clothing. Thanks for your input.

    • I’m so glad this blog resonated with you! As much as I try to break into other colors, I just keep coming back to black.

  1. Please offer classes or a retreat for the up-cycled neckwear! I want to make one of each!!
    Love them!

    • I hope you enjoyed the blog. I always wonder how many garment sewers are following this site. Marcy and Katherine’s patterns are always interesting to change up a bit.

  2. Fabulous post, Mary! You have such a way with fabric, and your wearables are both adventuresome and refined. I can hardly wait to see what comes out of your workshop at Zephyr. Won’t be long now . . . .

    • Awe thanks Terry. I couldn’t do what I do without the inspiration of Hauties. I hope you’re enjoying retirement and look forward to seeing you in October.

    • Hi Nicole! Glad you got to read a blog or two. Sorry all the pictures are missing. We got a notice that we had used most of our space so I decided I would clean out my pictures. You know how I like to clean…..I erased all my photos!😩

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