Shirt of My Own Design! (almost)

Black-muslin_Front One of my goals for this year is to alter or make my patterns to suit what I really want. Last year I made a cotton shirt from McCalls 6436 that was fairly successful in appearance, but had some fit problems that were mildly annoying when moving or sitting. The body simply didn’t have the flow and ease I desired for a wearable shirt. I’ll be honest, I could just wear knits every day, but there are so many incredible woven textiles in the market that I wanted to solve this problem.

I recently saw a photo of back of the Zelida blouse by Lafayette148 ($398 for a white blouse?!) and fell in love with the flow of the back pleats and yoke. The McCalls blouse didn’t have a yoke, but that seemed easy enough and off I went into alteration mode. This blouse took several weeks to make since in the end I made significant changes to every single pattern piece! I can honestly (and legally) call this my own design.

I added the yoke and pleats to the back and changed the hem profile. It’s now longer in the front and curved in the back. The front and back pieces also required shape modifications resulting from the added pleats and hem.Black-muslin_Back

I changed the collar to a one piece with a different shape so it could sit up at the neck.Black muslin_Neck embroidery

I changed all of the darts to better fit my body and reduced the shoulder width for fit.

I removed the traditional front placket and designed an interfacing instead so I could inset a trim detail. The red boxes are the stitches to hold the snaps.Black muslin_Detail

I removed the cuff and redesigned the sleeve hem.Black-muslin_5

I added besom pockets to the front to hold my phone and glasses.Black-muslin_Pocket

It should have just been a muslin with all of these changes. However the lovely stretch cotton fabric was very forgivable and the shirt began to shape up. Since it was wearable I decided to experiment with some added details like the grosgrain ribbon trim and a small appliqué embroidery element on the collar.

Black muslin_Neck embroideryI can think of several changes that would be fun additions, but for now I think I have a new TNT!

Around the World Blog Hop

I was delighted when my sewing friend and fellow blogger Myrna Giesbrecht invited me to follow her on the Around the World Blog Hop. As Myrna explained on her entry, we officially met in the lobby of the Ashland Springs Hotel while attending the Spring DOL. While there was immediate recognition, it took a few seconds to realize that we knew each other solely through our blogs! The same day, my husband and I stopped into a restaurant for lunch and the same thing happened with Gayle Ortiz. I have invited Gayle to follow me next week on the 15th. Both women have wonderful blogs documenting their creativity. In addition, both inspired me to start my blog a little over a year ago before I had met them in person.

The Around the World Blog Hop suggests answering four questions.

#1. What am I working on?

This weekend I finished a mask for the annual fundraiser of the Fort Collins Museum of Art . While I can’t show you the 2015 mask until it gets mounted in the show next March, my art website has a page of masks covering the last 10 years.

yardsticks-webLater today I’m starting an alternative Christmas tree project made of vintage yardsticks that I have been collecting all year. I hope to show it in next week’s blog.

lake-placid-sweaterI’m almost finished with the Lake Placid sweater. Of course that’s not the real name, but if you follow my blog you will know that I usually name my project after the most horrible movie my husband picked while knitting. Do you remember the movie? It’s about a mega-gigantic alligator that has found it’s way to Lake Placid New York. Betty White is feeding it cows, and it crashes a helicopter before they catch it. There is no way I could be making this up!

more-fabricWe drove to Dallas to celebrate Joan’s (Husband’s mom) 90th birthday. Some of you will notice that she follows my blog and often writes clever comments. She is a delight! While on the road trip, I bought tons of new fabric at a great independent Dallas area store Fabrique Fashion Fabrics. Then I bought even more in Santa Fe, NM at Santa Fe Fabrics, so I know I will be sewing something in the next few days.

I also have a few Christmas gifts in the works that I can’t show until they are given to friends. Whew! I love having projects going!

#2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

While I don’t work solely in one genre, there is a universal aesthetic that comes through in my work. My background as an architect appears throughout my work. Math, technology, nature and color all inform my design process. However, I also like to throw in the surprise of something unexpected. This is when I throw process to the wind and try to add a bit of spontaneity to the work.

#3. Why do I create what I do?

I think we all have that one thing that guarantees that we will be happier when we pursue it. My husband is always happier after watching a movie. Yes, a man-eating alligator movie actually cheers him up! If I feel the blues, or pulled in too many directions, I just need to go to my studio. Just looking at my fabric stash or planning a project puts me in a great mood. Creative pursuits define who I am. Wearing or seeing someone else wear a piece that I made gives me much joy.

#4. How does my creating process work?

I’m well trained with 8 years of architecture school and 3 years of art school, so I follow a fairly conventional process.

First, define the problem. Something like I want an alternative Christmas tree.

Second, define the parameters. Where is it going? Does it need to fold up for storage? Is there a specific size or shape needed?

Third, research influences and ideas. This tree is a good form for inspiration.onetwotree-600x400-600x400This one gave me the idea of using yardsticks.IMG_0717I love the Internet! While I did not find a tree that was exactly what I am making, the internet provided the inspiration to go in my direction.

Forth, design the project. Somewhere in the previous 3 stages the idea will gel and materials gathering starts. In the case of this tree it took several months to gather that many yardsticks.

Fifth, make it, but be flexible if an idea does not work exactly as planned.

Sounds easy and methodical, but of course there are moments of both frustration and pure inspiration.

Around the World Blog Hop Next week

Please make sure to check out Gayle’s blog: She is an inspiration to me and many other sewists, and is one busy woman. She owns a bakery and rosticceria/café that opened in 1978. Locals have told me that this is not simply a bakery, but a destination not to be missed! In addition, she’s on her town planning commission, so I have no idea how she manages to sew. Like many of us, she learned to sew as a young girl and has only started again in the last 10 years when she travelled to New Zealand and learned a sweater reconstruction technique from a very creative gal. She sews art clothing and everyday clothing occasionally for sale but mostly for herself.

Ventana Vest by Diane Ericson

Diane-Ericson-Vest_2I promise this will be my last vest for at least the month of November, because you never know when the vest urge will hit!

This is an exciting vest that I have been waiting to blog about. When I went to the Design Outside the Lines retreat in September, Diane Ericson let us all test her upcoming Ventana Vest. It’s now out and available for purchase so I can show you both of our examples!

My BSF and I started right in cutting and sewing. This vest is very clever. The tucks give it shape and there is a clever folded in pocket. Typical of Diane’s patterns you can follow it exactly or make changes to make it your own. This is a photo of the vest made by my BSF Debra.


I left mine all funky and floppy. To add a little splash of color and pattern, I appliquéd a cotton woven with a stencil by Miles Frode combined with one of my own stencils.

Diane-Ericson-Vest_4Debra tailored her vest by closing the seam next to the pocket and taking in the sides. She also played around with the tucks in the back by elongating some of them. Ventana-Vest-Debra_1Her mother bought a new scarf that matches perfectly. I think Debra talked Honey into giving the scarf to her.


Here is photo of my back. You’ll notice that Debra also cut her collar a bit shorter to stand up at the neck. I love her changes and will incorporate some of then to my next version. You can see why I can’t promise no more vests!


2T Vest #2

I published the 2T Vest #1 knowing I had more than enough materials to make at least one more vest. Well here it is!2T2-Front-Model1I like this one even more than the first, but wear both constantly. The vest is so simple to make without a pattern, by using a couple of Goodwill knit shirts and a little left over black knit. The altered neckline in this version flatters using various fabric scraps.2T2-Neck-Stencil-detail The front hem has a diagonal cut. The piece removed added to the back continues the diagonal theme.2T2-Back-Hem-DetailI just filled in with a hem/ruffle made up from one of the purchased shirts. I didn’t have enough of the existing curly serged hem so I just made some extra to match. The stencil mimics the print and ties the three fabrics together.2T2-Pocket-DetailIt’s warm, washable and has a pocket making this vest perfect for hanging around the house or running errands. Love it!2T2-Back-Neck-Detail

Special Occasion Tee Shirt

I’m still catching up after the holidays (aren’t we all?). In November my BSF (Best Sewing Friend) Debra and I got together to dye fabric. A stretch rayon and silk velvet from Dharma Trading was our main focus for the dying session. Shown below is the effect we obtained using low immersion method of dying with fiber reactive dyes. Imagine this velvet started out white!

Holiday-Tie-Dye-FabricWe both wanted a comfy, but dressy tee to wear to holiday events. Pattern Vogue 8962 was the perfect answer for me. Debra used Vogue 8952 and her top was equally beautiful. I’m hoping to do a photo shoot of her clothes soon, since sew together so often.Holiday-Top-Front2-copyThe only change was a small ruffle added to the bottom adding a little flare and a bit more length.The tee is stretchy and comfortable, but still a little dressy. I wore it on multiple special occasions, and will still be able to wear it any time this winter.Holiday-Top-Back_2 The contrasting yoke was intentional, but yes, I did have a cutting snafu and had to piece the darker velvet!

2T Vest #1

I had to name this vest #1 since I love it so much I have already made a second one. I’ll photograph that one and put it on a later post. The idea started with a vest on Diane Ericson’s blog.  My BSF (Best Sewing Friend) Debra and I started with a trip to Goodwill. Goodwill HaulWe met there and spent a half hour picking out men’s and women’s knit tops that color coordinated. Her stash was black, grey and blue. Size doesn’t matter, in fact the larger the top the more fabric you get. I spent about $24 and will be able to make at least 3 tops from this pile.

The next day we met and started to chop and sew. This vest is made from the two tops from the lower right. 2T Vest #1We tried them on before sewing any side seams and made adjustments like darts if needed. The whole idea for this garment is to wear it over a turtleneck, so the fit is easy. The original collar is from the man’s shirt so you get a zippered neck without any effort! The black pockets and back detail consist of some black knit from my stash embellished with scraps from the women’s shirt. A little hand stitching and a sewn on “necklace” finished it off. Women’s clothes so rarely have usable pockets making this an awesome practical top for everyday wear.2T Vest #1 Details2T Vest Back Neck

Everyday Tee #1 with a GDO (Good Design Opportunity)

Eucalyptus Tee1I want to make some winter T-shirts that are fun, but functional. They need to be washable, and easy care plus I hope to have pockets on most if not all of them. This is my first T in the series. I used Katherine Tilton’s Butterick pattern B5925. This is the first T-shirt I have ever made, but the pattern was easy to follow. I used 4 different knits and stenciled the front. I may add more stencilling later. The neck didn’t come out flat due to the lack of stretch in the knit I used for the binding.Wendy Portrait2 I call these little mishaps GDO’s (Good Design Opportunities) since they force me to rethink a problem and come up with a creative solution. I keep getting compliments on the keyhole neckline so the solution works well.