When looking for a definition of Victor Frankenstein’s monster, I found this: In an unorthodox experiment, an obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses. I couldn’t think of a better way to start this blog!
As wearable artists, we too can become obsessed with assembling disparate parts, incongruous elements that turn our garments into something that brings life to our wardrobes. My sister, a rather new sewist, has become a master at fearlessly blending different pattern parts to make what suits her. She calls these “Franken Patterns”. Don’t we love that option? To leave sleeves off of a coat and make it a vest? Or to add sleeves? Change necklines? Add darts or pleats? Take off a collar or add two collars? Paint, dye, bleach or bead the fabric? And don’t even get me started on pockets! Plus we may even go digging in our graveyard of thrift store scraps to find the perfect details for our creations. Oh what a lucky lot are we!
I’ll start with a pattern I have used many times. Vogue P954. Sadly out of print. Added to that pattern is Sandra Betzina’s drawstring collar from Vogue 1515. Some fabrics that come my way are just asking for some scientific experimentation. This black rayon/tencil like fabric wanted to be bleached. Check my collection of bleach ideas on my Pinterest page. The coordinating rayon was a remnant from Fabrix in San Francisco.
My bleach of choice for this project.
Next up: Marcy Tilton’s Vogue 8934. I lengthened it by quite a bit. Long enough for a tall monster. I left the pleats out at the hemline. A different sleeve has been reset into the armhole. I was inspired by a coat made by Carol Lee Shanks who used tone on tone patches in a most elegant way. It’s very difficult to photograph black.
And now for the triple decker pockets. There are pockets in the side seams. And there are zippered pockets with leather pulls on top of the large deep patch pockets. Hiding places for snacks! Monsters get hungry.
Here’s another Marcy Tilton pattern, Vogue 9287. This pattern has a most unusual pocket. It’s not just a patch pocket. Fun to add this little gem to your repertoire of sewing tricks. I’ve been wanting to make a jacket from mixed men’s suiting and have been collecting them for awhile. I chose the collar, front band and pocket to add artwork. The circles are made from hand stamped silks (students from my classes will recognize the stamps), men’s ties and checkered taffeta all placed under black silk organza and top stitched in place. Although I can’t remember the brand of the round buttons, they came on a card and can be purchased at a fabric store. They weren’t anything special. The rectangle part came from a bin of odds and ends. I think from Fabrix. They fit! A monsterous surprise! A hardware store might turn up some unknowing parts for a button in your collection.
Last September Sandra Betzina was the guest speaker at Artistry in Fashion at Canada College. I was inspired to try one of her dresses. Vogue 1552. Be sure to make this in something drapey. I used a navy ponte knit.
This is probably the most complicated piece of jewelry I have ever made. But in the end, all the pieces are where I wanted them and hopefully it doesn’t look like a giant bolt through my chest! Thank you Victor Frankenstein for helping us all be bold in our desire to create.
And for those of you wanting to spend a few days in a peaceful setting indulging in creating art, the Artistic Alchemy website has the new retreat and class descriptions up and running. We already have quite a few sign ups! Be sure to secure your place as class sizes are limited.
And continue to carry on creatively!
The fall post of my sewing retreat promised photos of clothing created by some of the participants. As was mentioned, the tables are full of yardage and remnants coaxing those who are extremely clever to put them to use. Helen is one of those who has no fear. She bravely goes where no sewist has gone before and emerges as the queen of creativity. I should have a Pinterest board just titled “Helen”. She has repeatedly demonstrated how to recycle clothing in the most unique ways. Here are some of her delightful creations.
There is a love/fascination with deconstructed jeans over the last year. Helen and her daughter jump right in and make the most if it.
Its so much fun to have Helen and her two daughters with us. Below is a jacket that Alex is working on. It’s great to see the similarities and differences in their work.
It was Helen who introduced us to piecing thrift store t-shirts together. My sister, Patty, has made several but her latest is her “cocktail hour” t-shirt. After collecting an assortment of blingy shirts, she amazed us with this one. Perfect for happy hour.
Our group is honored to have such a thoughtful, contemplative sewist as Gwen. She leaves her sewing machine behind and brings handwork for us to drool over. She has mastered hand stitched embellishments on scarves and shawls, a staple in her wardrobe.
Some painted polka dots, some cut out, layered with another fabric and hand stitched. It’s beautiful and drapes wonderfully. Oh such patience!
JM started this piece when we arrived. It was a smallish piece of hand stencilled fabric that she was hand stitching onto a jacket. Oh how I wish I’d taken another photo at the end of our week. It was just so clever and yet so simple, something that I strive for in my work.
Annie came to us with just the basic sewing skills. She knocked our socks off this year with this stinking cute, adorable tunic top. Then she revealed that she has been taking sewing lessons! I think she could teach us a thing or two.Such nice work, Annie. And here she is modeling Janet’s purchased green crinkly vest. We loved the wonkyness of this with its asymmetry and tucks. A huge thanks to Jenny who worked to get this pattern copied while at the retreat. Although I made it from similar fabric when I got home, it’s that green color that really gives this vest it’s personality. The pattern is available from Jenny. It’s called Janet’s Green Vest!I hope this post leaves you with some inspiration for the new year. Do you have some creative goals? Have you thought about how you will achieve them? Will you teach a new technique to an eager student? Will you finally take that class or retreat you’ve been putting off? Whatever it is, I hope it’s realized in a way that brings you joy and and a sense of accomplishment.
Having just returned from what is now my semi annual sewing retreat with my tribe of like minded sewists, my mind is full of new ideas and my cabinets have a whole boat load of new fabric in them. Because we have so much fun, share so many wonderful garments and jewelry creations, and infuse each other with fresh ideas, another retreat was added last March. Yay!!!!!!!! Twice a year now!
Although it’s only been seven months since our last retreat, the racks and tables were as full as ever. Here’s just one of the things we look forward to: everyone is invited to bring fabric and/or garments to give away or sell. On Sunday night after check in, we “shop” the garment racks and put our name on the tags of items we would like to buy. If more than one person has their name on the tag, a drawing is held the next night. After dinner, we all gather in the large sewing room in eager anticipation and then applaud the winners good fortune. Here are some of the racks of clothes. Shoes, belts, scarves, etc. also are offered.
And yes, Terry got the Kantha cloth coat she is admiring. It’s reversible! And it looks adorable on her.
The “freebie” table includes all manner of fabric. Scraps, patterns, yardage, patterns, decorator samples, patterns, vintage linens, patterns, old clothing, patterns, a huge container of old buttons, patterns, and then there were some more patterns! One participant moved this year and decided to thin out her collection of patterns. It was divine! Thanks Sharon!
That little corded basket was part of the gift exchange this year and it worked perfectly for gathering a stash of buttons.
Since there is no copyright on clothing, we spend quite a bit of time tracing off garments. What we can’t accomplish on our own, lovely Jenny makes the patterns for us (and anyone else who wants them). These are some of the ones I considered ordering from the box. It probably represents about a quarter of what’s available. And after last week, there will be about five more coming. Thank you Jenny.
Thanks to Janet, this was another year to enjoy her offbeat jewelry making. She uses everything from rubber bands to fabric covered wire to hair ties.
These are fabric covered wire balls/flowers. They can be manipulated into whatever shape you’d like.
Aren’t these the cutest lime green rubber bands?
Who doesn’t like a black and white mix of patterns?
Lisa brought some huge rusty pipes along with some smaller rusted items, a big spray bottle with vinegar and some plastic tarps so we could try our hand at rust dying. No tetanus shots required. It was so simple and because it was quite warm, we got quick results. Terry’s shirt is a good example. Does her husband know that he “donated” that?
Isn’t that yoke awesome?
It’s really appreciated when ones who have taken classes during the year share the results of what they’ve learned. Although eco dying has been featured before, I thought this was such a beautiful example and Lisa used the best part of it in this knit t-shirt.
This is just so beautiful. It looks 3D.
A huge thanks to Gayle who took a marbling class from a “Master Marbler”. Who knew there was such a thing. She said that after following the teachers old world technique, she broke out her own esthetic. I love this. The colors, the large print, the garment, the asymmetry. It just looks like the person wearing it is having way more fun than I am.
In my next blog I will share with you some of the wonderfully creative garments that were made while we were there, some made straight from the scrap table! Stay tuned for Part Two in my next blog.
Such a clever idea for a fabric container. Nice work, Victoria. Couldn’t you just see a few of these in your creative space?
Wishing you all fresh sources of inspiration whether it be rust, wire or rubber bands. Carry on and create!
…has zipped on by. And what an awesome, inspirational time we all had. Some participants dove into their fabric stashes and completed garments. Others went out of their comfort zones and tried a new medium to express their artistic voice, whether polymer or paint. And still others expanded their education in the ever fascinating world of color. In the end, we all came away with some new talents, knowledge, garments or way of expressing ourselves. Isn’t that what we love about the creative process? And we meet the most interesting people too!
My students are especially brave. Many have not played with paint since grammar school. This is an opportunity to engage with new toys like stencils, stamps, screen prints and Gelli plates. These women continue to amaze me with their abundance of ideas. Let me introduce you to them and show you some of their work.
Here’s Kari, a returning student who’s extremely helpful and creative, and Beachy Pat discussing design ideas. Everyone is so generous in bouncing ideas around. Beachy Pat was one of our brave souls jumping right in and putting paint to canvas.
This is Pat number two! She is an amazing seamstress with a great design eye. She’s the most pleasant person to meet and to have in class.
Terry really took advantage of all the tools in the toy box. She can screen print like a pro! And she went to work right away, not wasting any time.
Gracie and Victoria were both “noses to the grindstone” and turned out some beautiful pieces. Gracie had some home dec projects in mind. And you could see a quilters hand in Victoria’s designs.
This is Patty a few weeks later showing off some of the finishing touches on one of her three canvasses.
And this is my hard working sister, Patty, who helps me out by washing all the stamps, stencils and screens for the students. She also helps me set up and tear down. I don’t know what I’d do without her. Last year she completed the steam-a-seam project. This year she was able to complete a canvas.
…in desert colors where she now lives.
After only a few days these very ambitious women made all these canvasses.
We all had such a good time getting to know each other, watch one another’s creative abilities blossom and applaud their successes. What a great group of supportive women! We hope this inspires you to join us next year at beautiful, peaceful Zephyr Point, the place where creative breakthroughs are achieved.
by Mary Boalt
The four of us are down to the wire getting ready for the retreat at Zephyr Point. Paint purchased. Check. Polymer clay. Check. Patterns packed. Check. Fabric folded. Check. Printouts printed. Check. Sewing machines oiled. Check. August has proven to be a month of list making and crossing items off, online ordering and packing up, getting kits ready and buying supplies. We certainly want our students to have the very best experience in the most beautiful location.
Despite being busy with that, my sweet husband drove us to San Francisco so I could attend the American Craft Counsil show at Fort Mason. I’ve wanted to go for years and I wasn’t disappointed. Neither was he since there was an “educational whiskey tasting opportunity” for bored husbands. The building was full of high quality vendors that I’ve only seen advertised in upscale craft magazines. To meet the artists and see their work up close was inspiring to say the least. Beautiful, amazing, head scratching techniques punctuated by comical and thought provoking works of art. I highly recommend it and would love to attend again next August. And if the whiskey “educators” are still there, I think Tom would be on board too.
Photos from every booth would have been nice but that is frowned upon and I didn’t want to ruin a beautiful day with that restraining order stuff. So the best I can do is to share business postcards and websites. These were some of my favorites.
As you can tell, I loved the raincoats made by Mau. I’m a sucker for anything with text on it. Painted, printed, stenciled or silk screened. I love it. And this was all done on Tyvek!
It was my good fortune to run into some extremely creative friends, Shams and Margy. But not so lucky to have a social media person from ACC ask me to pose with them. I was so underdressed in comparison…I cropped out my cropped pants and black and white converse tennis shoes! Oy! It’s been a while since I’ve “been down off the hill”.
If you aren’t familiar with these artists, you can follow them on their blogs. Shams writes Communing with Fabric and Margy writes A Fool 4 Fabric. Taking a class from Shams and seeing her trunk show was jaw droppingly good. She is a technical wizard. And Margy has exquisite taste in packing a travel wardrobe. I have learned a lot from her and used her ideas for a couple trips to Europe. Another favorite blogger of mine is Gayle Ortiz of Gayleygirl.blogspot.com. Gayle has the willingness to learn any textile technique and then turn it into beautiful creative garments we would all want to wear. We would love to know who your favorite bloggers are.
Please excuse the lightweight blog this month. Must get back to checking things off the list, crossing the i’s and dotting the t’s! We look forward to seeing about 40 of you in just a few days. And don’t forget to bring your scissors for sharpening! Tuesday is scissor sharpening day. Also, one student, Patty Blesso, who hails from Orangevale is looking for a ride buddy. Leave all the driving to Patty B. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
We will be posting pictures of our classes over the next month so that none of you will feel left out. In the meantime………
Carry on creatively!
Bulging at the seams, I decided to have one of those ” I’m-never-going-to-have-another-garage-sale” garage sale. This time I focused on my sewing room, fabric stash and racks of wearable art that wasn’t being worn. It was time to move on.
As most sewists would agree, we can become emotionally tied to our stashes. When thinking that a fellow artist will appreciate the potential in your pieces, it’s easier to part with it. But when “Mr. Helmet” arrives, it’s another story. A garage sale story.
Mr. Helmet showed up shortly before closing. He made his appearance by parking his old beat up van up on the street above our house and running through the bushes down to our driveway, setting the dog off barking. He was wearing a bicycle helmet, although driving a van with no bicycle attached, a midriff baring fishing vest with no shirt underneath, and some shorts. With his eyes rapidly darting from one item to another, he became fixed on a stack of fabrics. Not knowing their content he asked what they were. “Silk”, I coldly replied. And the next, “Silk”, again. These were 3-4 yards pieces each already reasonably priced. Off he went over to the barely used trampoline. Wanting to set the trampoline free from my possession, I agreed to let him use my phone to ask another party for further instructions. Suddenly my husband and fellow garage salers were on red alert. Receiving the “What were you thinking?” look from all of them, we stood there anxiously waiting for him to finish and return my phone, now needing to be disinfected. And as any good garage sale shopper does, he asked me for a lower price. I mulled it over and gave him a price. Asking that I call him sometime that night or next day, I decided the negotiations with Mr. Helmet had to come to an end. “No, we’ll be done at 2:00 and then our sale will be over.” At this point he said he might be back. Not wanting the unappreciative silk fondler to have possession of my stash, I scooped it up and put it back in the house. It was mine once again! And we never heard from Mr. Helmet after that. Only at a garage sale does one have these experiences. I’ll spare you the long version of the gentleman who provided about twenty minutes of comic relief when he told us that his wife made him wear baggy clothes because of his “man boobs”. His words, not mine. I loved him! It was a fun and successful sale and I’m never having another garage sale……until the next one.
Here’s one item I said goodbye to. It was a man’s large pullover cashmere sweater that I cut up, cut down, and added vintage kimono silk pieces to the front, back and neckline. A very appreciative woman purchased it. I’m so happy she has it.
Now for some more pictures from last year’s Zephyr students. They all did magnificent work turning their paintings into bags and wallhangings.
Here is a before and after story.
This spring a former student purchased one of my canvasses when Artistic Alchemy had a booth at the quilt show. I loved what she did with it.
A huge thanks to all who sent pictures to share their work with you. I am always so impressed and pleased to see what others make.
And another big thanks to all my fellow creators for supporting my garage sale. Oh by the way, I have some silk left!