#31 – Embellished Shirts

Hello everyone! I have been absent from the Blog-sphere for a while, but I’m back – finally! I had some minor health issues that have been resolved and my sewing has returned! Yippee!

In January (!) I created a series of embellished white shirts for an article in Notions, the magazine for American Sewing Guild. Here is the introduction for that article:

Embellishing Ready To Wear White Shirts

A well-fitted white shirt has been declared an essential item in today’s wardrobe. We have been told that we can dress up the white shirt by adding a suit jacket and look “professional” for any occasion. That’s all well and good, but why settle for a plain white shirt when you can embellish the shirt in a few hours to make a unique garment? By adding ribbon, lace, some cords or Seminole Patchwork you can create a beautiful shirt with original details.

I bought some white shirts from a local discount clothing store and embellished each with a different technique. Using fabrics and trims from my stash, I used a number of techniques to embellish each shirt differently. Inspiration is sure to strike after seeing these beautifully embellished white shirts.

 

a four strand brand sewn to the cuffs and collar of a RTW white shirt

Four Strand Braid RTW Shirt

 

Blue lace replaces the lower sleeve on a RTW white shirt. A lace flower is pinned to the collar

Lace Sleeves on a RTW Shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organza ribbon sewn to the sleeves and front placket of a RTW white shirt

Organza Ribbon on the Sleeves and Front Placket

 

 

 

Seminole Patchwork sewn to the cuffs and pocket of a RTW white shirt

Seminole Patchwork Cuffs and Pocket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will post the directions for one or two of the embellished shirts in a future post; I promise.

Since my sewing mojo has returned I created a new shirt that I hope will interest quilters: a Tumbling Blocks embellished shirt. I know several quilters who would like to show off their quilting skills, but you can’t exactly wear a quilt to work, can you? The Tumbling Blocks shirt uses a plain white shirt, with a set of blocks sewn onto one shoulder. Then several single blocks tumble down the front of the shirt, ready to join some mates at the bottom of the shirt.

 

Tumbling Blocks quilt pattern spread across a RTW white shirt

Tumbling Blocks on a Shirt

 

I think the Tumbling Blocks work well enough and are fun enough that I’m now playing with the Spool of Thread pattern. What do think? Do these variations on quilt work interest you?

 

 

 

SFD Distinguished Alumna Award

# 30 – Distinguished Alumna Award

Distinguished Alumna Award

On Friday, May 11, 2018 I was awarded the Distinguished Alumna Award by the School of Fashion Design in Boston, MA.

SFD Distinguished Alumna Award

SFD Distinguished Alumna Award

{For those who don’t know the School of Fashion Design in Boston it is a small school that only teaches Fashion Design and related classes: sewing construction, pattern making, draping, sketching, CAD for pattern making, Photoshop & Illustrator, fashion photography, couture details, 2 and 3-D design, fashion history, hand-bag design & construction, shoe design, and so on. All the classes are limited to 15 or so students, with most classes being much smaller. I love the student: teacher ratio; in every class the teacher has time to check in with every student making sure each student has understood and has successfully completed the lesson/homework assignment from the last class. Located in downtown Boston, it has day, evening and weekend classes.}  http://schooloffashiondesign.org/ 

I graduated from the School of Fashion Design (SFD) in 1998, with a Certificate in Clothing Construction and Pattern Making. (SFD only awards Certificates, not degrees.) I started teaching a Level 1 Construction class the following year.  By the time I took a leave of absence from SFD 10 years later, I had taught Construction and Pattern making levels 1 and 2, Construction levels 3 & 4, and Couture Details. I really love teaching, and I’m good at it, if I do say so myself. I love seeing how each student learns: some students need to read a book, some students need to see a demonstration and some students need to do the project themselves. Of course, we all learn best by using a combination of all 3 methods: reading, watching and doing.

My book, Creating Couture Embellishment, came from teaching the Couture Details class, with some bits and pieces from other classes thrown in, too.

As the Distinguished Alumna, I had two duties: helping to select the garments that would be in the annual Fashion Show and giving a graduation speech. The garment selection process is called “Judging”. As in “Is your dress ready for Judging?” “Oh, no. I still need to hem to my dress and add the hook & eye at the top of the zipper on my skirt!” I was one of six judges; all of us are professional fashion people. We were shown over 100 garments and we loved most of them!

The Fashion Show was held a week later, and it was stunning.

Fashion Show program, front cover

Fashion Show program, front cover

Fashion Show program, back cover

Fashion Show program, back cover

Graduation was the following day. The six members of the graduating class listened to three speakers: Dr. Denise Hammon, the current head of the school. Denise, who is retiring, will be sorely missed. She kept tearing up during the ceremony as she said good bye to the graduating class and to the staff at SFD. I spoke next—the text of my speech is below. Olivia Spence, the recipient of the Isobel Sinesi Lifetime Achievement in Fashion Award, spoke next. Olivia told us of her experiences in Saudi Arabia in the late 1970’s as the co-designer of hundreds of outfits for the Saudi royal families’ wedding season. Each woman needed several outfits for each wedding ; there were many women and many weddings. Now, whenever Olivia is unsettled by an upcoming event or project, she tells herself, “If you can manage the royal Saudi wedding parties, you can mange anything!” It was a great speech and wonderful reminder that we can conquer just about anything we set our minds to. Finally the graduates were handed their Certificates and a rose. All in all the graduation ceremony lasted about an hour, just the right length if you ask me!

 

Graduation program, front cover

Graduation program, front cover

Graduation program

Graduation program

Here is my speech. I was quite nervous. I tried not to speak too quickly. I was so pleased when the audience laughed. I have added <laughs> where the audience laughed. Everyone liked my speech. Olivia and I agreed that if we had planned our speeches together we couldn’t have gotten them to compliment each other any better. Hooray!

Good Morning.                  I started to write a speech telling you about the 5 years I spent writing my book, Creating Couture Embellishment and about the 10 years before that, that I spent teaching at SFD and the 20 years before that, that I spent working in the theater. Several people said this would be interesting to you. Two pages into this reminiscence I was bored to tears. <laugh>

I thought about my SFD graduation day – well really all I remember about that day was that on my way up to the podium to receive my diploma from Mrs. Cushing I tripped. <laugh>

I thought about what would I like someone to tell me on graduation day.

Your work should be something that makes you happy.    

It is work so there will be times when it’s really, really hard: when you pin and baste the left sleeve into the right armhole, when rip out every seam you sew, and when press in creases where they don’t belong.     There will be times when you would rather not bother: when you would rather stay in bed and watch Netflix, or be outside in the sunshine. <laugh>     And then there will be times when everything goes right: when the zipper goes in on the first try, when the pockets match, left and right, and the piping goes right around the corner without bunching or pulling. Those are the times that make all the other hours worth struggling through.   And you can say,  “Yeess! I do know what I’m doing!”

Whatever it is that you do: give it your all.

The prime example of this is hemming a gown: the hem you know you should sew by hand, but you really want to sew it by machine because it’s a really full skirt, and it’s way down there on the ground and who’s going to look down there, because if people are looking down there, then your client isn’t very interesting is …  <laugh>  But you know you should sew it by hand because the rest of the garment is really great and to skimp here… This is when you have to step up and give it your all.  Put on some really good music, or an audio book and sew the hem by hand because you know it will be worth the trouble. When you’re done you’ll be able say, Yeesss! It was worth it!

Don’t worry that you don’t know everything.

It’s true, you will never know everything- that’s impossible. There’s always something new to learn- My sister is a Harley Davidson Motorcycle dealer in Wyoming. She taught me that Harley Davidson Motor Clothes have extra long sleeves. That’s so that when you’re riding your motorcycle with your arms outstretched, your sleeves will still cover your wrists. Yeess! You have learned something new today! <laugh>

However, you know a tremendous amount. For example, you know about pivoting a dart, adding seam allowance, sewing in a sleeve, a hundred ways to hem a dress.  You know how to design a line of clothes and how to present that line of clothes with hand drawn sketches and computer graphics.  You know the difference between cotton and silk, underlining versus interfacing, 2 way stretch versus 4 way stretch, woven versus braided elastic, wearing ease and something that’s just too big. And you know how to take-in that too big garment to make it fit.  You know how to drape a skirt, a blouse, a dress and a gown. You know how to thread a sewing machine in your sleep and how to model a garment on the runway. And it’s very clear that you know how to create a beautiful, original, custom made white dress for this graduation. So, Yeess! You do know a tremendous amount!

You’re graduating from this “wicked hard”  program at the School of Fashion Design. Congratulations! you’re amazing!

After all of this we trooped off to a delicious Brunch at Post 360.

Brunch Invitation

Brunch Invitation

#29- Giveaways

#29 – Giveaways!

It’s snowing again here in New England! To alleviate the gloom I have three tidbits- the first: the Word of the Day from the gratefulnetwork.com

You are the sky.  Everything else is just weather. ~ Pema Chodro  

https://gratefulness.org/?utm_source=A%20Network%20for%20Grateful%20Living&utm_campaign=8a658a7a3c-WOTD_03_13_18&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c606570b82-8a658a7a3c-114256889&mc_cid=8a658a7a3c&mc_eid=164fa8ba63

The second tidbit is from Goodbye Valentino: Sarah is offering a giveaway of my book!

Creating Couture Embellishment Giveaway for All Readers!

Sarah Gunn, author of the Goodbye Valentino blog, is co-author of The Tunic Bible, with Julie Starr.  The Tunic Bible is a wonderful book about tunics: how to make them, including patterns for them and how to change up your tunic with different necklines, sleeves, cuffs, hems. I can’t wait to dive into The Tunic Bible.  At Amazon:   https://www.amazon.com/Tunic-Bible-Interchangeable-Ready-Wear/dp/1617453560/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520960118&sr=8-1&keywords=the+tunic+bible

 

Sarah Gunn

Sarah Gunn

I met Sarah in Ohio during the taping for It’s Sew Easy TV; Sarah couldn’t be nicer!  We had dinner together in Ohio, with Lynn Browne of Coats & Clark.  Lynn told us Coats & Clarks answers lots of questions about their threads and yarns.  The wildest question, so far, “Is there gluten in the thread and yarn?”  At first I thought this was silly, but as I thought about all the thread ends I put in my mouth to smooth the yarn before threading a needle I rethought my skepticism. If the thread and/or yarn are processed with a starch, it could be a wheat based starch…which could be troublesome.  Lynn said there was no gluten in the Coats & Clarks thread or yarn. Live and learn.

The third tidbit is from Paganoonoo: Michelle Paganini, whom I met in Ohio too.  Michelle is offering a giveaway of my book too!

Michelle Paganini's giveaway

http://michellepaganini.blogspot.com/2018/03/paganoonoo-give-away-fantastic-book-on.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ThriftedGiftedBoughtMade+%28Thrifted%2C+Gifted%2C+Bought%2C+Made%29

Michelle & Ellen in Ohio

Michelle specializes in up-cycling clothing. She sells patterns that create amazing garments from old fabric salvaged from clothing from the thrift store. I haven’t tried her patterns but her finished garments are beautiful, as you can see from the photo above.

A group of sewists taping at It's Sew Easy TV, 2018

A group of sewists taping at It’s Sew Easy TV, 2018  Sarah Gunn posted this photo in Goodbye Valentino, so she = me, in the center.

You can go to either (or both) blog posts to enter into the giveaways!

 

#28 – MOG dress in photos

#28 – Mother of the Groom Dress in Photos

Finally here are the photos of me in my Mother of the Groom Dress. I felt great in this dress; it was warm enough with the long sleeves, yet cool enough to dance with abandon later in the evening.  I love the streamers down the front; they moved of their accord and were a nice contrast to the fixed trim on the princess line. Just looking at these photos makes me feel happy; it was a great celebration of a wonderful occasion.

These photos were taken by Carl Heyerdahl  http://carlheyerdahlphotography.com/

Me in my MOG dress, teal silk with silver trim

Me in my MOG dress

 

Another view of MOG dress

Another view of MOG dress

In this photo you can see the trim going down the back princess line.

#27 – Another Wader

#27- Another Wader

For those of you who are not current in sewing lingo a “Wader” or wad-er, is a sewing project gone awry, so in frustration, the sewist balls up the offending project into a wad and throws into into a corner. This week I have 2 waders!!!

In post #24  http://creatingembellishment.com/2018/02/07/24-sitting-by-the-river-on-a-snowy-day/  I wrote about the brown floral top  I was trying to make.  On Monday my friend Martha came over to visit.  While she was here I put on the brown floral top.  She re-pinned the side seams and fiddled and diddled with it but ultimately we concluded this top is a WADER. Ugh.

I got into a fix with the brown floral top because I trying to make the burgundy top, but longer and with more ease for the side gathering.

OK, maybe the solution to the too-short burgundy top was to add a lengthening layer, coming from underneath.  to the burgundy top. I had resisted this idea as I thought the top had enough going on, but Martha was the third person to suggest this solution… I found some top extra fabric I had squirreled away, plenty of fabric for a circular flounce!  Circular Flounces are front and center in my mind as I demonstrated them for It’s Sew Easy TV in Ohio, 2 weeks ago.

Circular flounce on the table, ready for pressing

Circular flounce, ready for pressing

 

I cut out four circles: two flounces to get enough length to go around my hips, two flounces to be the lining and make everything pretty.

Four circles made into onr long flounce

Four circles made into one long flounce

 

I sewed the circles together to make one long, lined circular flounce.  And then I pinned the flounce to the hem of my too short burgundy top….

Burgundy top with circular flounce

Burgundy top with circular flounce

Ignore that this photo is over exposed so that the color is wrong.  I like the flounce under the beaded part, but the rest of the flounce makes me think of the dancing rhinocerous (or are they hippos?) in Fantasia!  Not a good reference when you’re looking in the mirror.  Another WADER!

At least the flounce is only pinned in; I don’t need to get out the seam ripper.  As soon as the pins are removed, this flounce will be joining the brown floral top in the wader corner!

I hope you’re have more success with your sewing projects than me!  Happy Sewing!

 

 

 

#26 London part 2

London  part 2

Part 2 of our London trip included viewing Queen Victoria’s and Princess Diana’s dresses in Kensington Palace  in London. On the way to Kensington Palace we walked through Hyde Park. The sun was out, there were primroses in the planter boxes, wild parakeets in the trees and snow drops under the bushes just outside Kensington Palace.  At home in Massachusetts 5-8″ of snow was predicted.

Snow Drops

Snow Drops

Inside Kensington Palace we saw some of the rooms Queen Victoria lived in as a child. As we are watching Victoria on PBS and The Crown on Netflix, seeing these rooms in person was fascinating. The rooms are much smaller than one would think from the television shows. Several of the rooms in the Queen Victoria part of the museum were closed for renovations. This is the only photo I took in this section of the museum– one of Queen Victoria’s gowns.

Queen Victoria's gown

Queen Victoria’s gown

The contrast of the delicate white lace gown with the heavy red and gold over-robe and the thick gold rope belt tied in a loop knot is striking.

Lastly, we went to see a temporary exhibit of some of Princess Diana’s dress.

Shirred silk chiffon with beads and sequins

Shirred silk chiffon with beads and sequins

This gown, designed by Gina Fratini for Hartnell in 1991, was inspired by saris. Princess Diana wore the gown in Rio de Janieiro, Brazil. I was intrigue by the mix of beads and sequins at the top of the bodice.

 

Pastel sequin dress

Pastel sequin dress

 

 

 

Close up of sequins

Close up of sequins

This dress, designed by Katherine Walker, was worn on the same trip to Brazil in 1991. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a close up photo of the sequins.

 

Gold Falcon Dress

Gold Falcon Dress

This dress was near the end of the exhibit; it was designed by Katherine Walker and worn by Princess Diana during a visit to Saudi Arabia in 1986. I love the way the gold falcons start on the right shoulder, cross the front of the gown, continue around to back at the waist, and then cascade down the back, slightly left of center, all the way down onto the train. The falcons, made of padding and gold sequins, are different sizes and shapes accentuating the sense of flight.

Gold Falcon gown, front

 

Gold Falcon gown, back

Much has been already written about Princess Diana, the People’s Princess.  For me she represented a person who developed a style, which we would now call a brand, which could be adapted by regular people like me.  I grew up in the 60’s and early 70’s when to think about clothes and how one looked was considered shallow; we were supposed to be concerned with ending the Vietnam War, the future of our planet when it was being destroyed by DDT,  and other “serious” issues.  Clothing, make up and self presentation was not only unimportant but thinking about them was egotistic and vainglorious.  Fancy clothes, anything other than blue jeans,  were a “Costume” which didn’t reflect the “real you”.  This notion was further reinforced by my life in the theatre, where I  made costumes for a living. Somehow Princess Diana managed to marry her personal appearance in fancy clothes with political actions, like meeting AIDS patients while wearing a beautiful dress. While I didn’t need a beaded gown or even a tailored suit, I could analyze Princess Diana’s stylish appearance, her gracious ways and apply them to my life: to my wardrobe, my house and my interactions with others. Trite as it might be, she was a role model for me.  Her clothes were, and are, an access point into the courteous, smiling and accepting person that was (the public) Princess Diana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#25- London!

#25- London!
I am in London, England with my husband for a week! We are staying at the Rembrandt Hotel,    www.sarova-rembrandthotel.com  across the street from the Victoria and Albert Museum   https://www.vam.ac.uk/.   We bought a membership to the V&A, which allows us access to the museum and the special exhibits as often as we like. We’ve been 3 times since we arrived 4 days ago.

Kate & Ellen smiling

Kate & Ellen

On our first day in London we met Kate of Fabricated   http://fabrickated.com/ . Kate is charming, generous and fascinating to talk to. Kate told us about her day job and we compared notes about difficulties of buying a home, apartment/condo/coop in a large city like London or Boston without parental help or a 7-figure salary. We also talked about Kate’s book project, and I think we talked about blogging and making clothes but jet-lag fog has obscured that part of my memory. It was lovely to meet Kate in person; she’s extraordinary.

After a cup of tea and piece of cake Kate, my husband and I wandered through the jewelry exhibit while trying to find the William Morris textiles. That’s the thing about a large museum like the V&A: on the way to one exhibit you pass through another exhibit that’s fascinating!

necklace made of buttons & gold wire

Button Necklace

Here’s a photo of a necklace made by Rowena Gough in 1999, of mother of pearl button and gold wire. I love this! I want to know what kind of gold wire is strong enough to support all of those buttons.  Any ideas?

My husband and I saw the Balenciaga exhibit, also at the V&A, which was beautiful. I took some photos in this exhibit- technical sewing things that caught my eye.

Hem with pleated support

Hem with pleated support

Here is a photo of the train of a long gown, which is supported by a heavily pleated underskirt or maybe a pleated facing.

Feathers & Beads on a gown

Feathers & Beads

This photo of a feathered and beaded dress is supposed to show that the feathers are beaded and the dress itself is beaded. It makes sense to bead both the feathers and dress under the feathers in scattered patterns: lots of varying sparkles from the many layers, which move differently in the room’s air currents.

We have also been to Kensington Palace, where I took some photos of Queen Victoria’s and Princess Diana’s dresses but they will have to wait for the next post—coming soon.

 

 

#24-Sitting by the river on a snowy day…

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Sitting by the river on a snowy day…which doesn’t quite match Robert Frost’s poem Stopping By The Woods on a Snowy Evening.  As a child growing up in New England I had to memorize this poem.  Was it just children from New England who all learned this poem by heart, or did all U.S. children learn it? You can find the poem at the link below. It’s a lovely simple poem, but of course it has all kinds of deeper meanings.

http://<div id=’rg_embed_link_1875′ class=’rg_embed_link’ data-song-id=’1875′>Read <a href=’https://genius.com/Robert-frost-stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening-annotated’>“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost</a> on Genius</div> <script crossorigin src=’//genius.com/songs/1875/embed.js’></script>

snow falling on the river

A Snowy Day

 

I have been working on another version of the Burgundy blouse, seen below, as photographed by Jess McDougall.

The burgundy blouse with shirring and gold tone pearls on me.

Burgundy Blouse

 

I added to the length of the blouse and a bit more to the gathered section on the side.  Did I take the time to true the side seam after adding more fullness? No.  The side seam was already ugly in the Burgundy Blouse version, and adding more fullness her made this seam even worse.  I was hoping to just wing it and cut off whatever doesn’t fit.  Haha!  Another good idea ruined by the facts.

Front view of brown floral top

Front view

I like the fullness going from the left waist area  to right bust area.  But there’s extra fabric at the arm hole on the left and the rest of the top hangs badly.

 

Side view of brown floral top

Side view

The front is much longer than the back. Also it’s very lumpy at the waist– on both sides- which makes me think that might be the machine basting stitch I used to sew this together.  I wanted to baste it together to see if I could skip the side zipper.  I don’t have an answer for that question as the whole thing looks so awful I decided to put the garment aside for another day.  Argh!  Is it a redeemable wadder?  or forever a UFO?

Only time will tell.

 

 

 

 

#23- Going to Ohio & England!

I’m going to Ohio & England!

Hello!  It’s been ages since I wrote a post and I bet you thought I had just given up posting.  Nope, just super busy!   I’ve preparing to go to Ohio to tape two 10 minute segments for It’s Sew Easy!  A sewing program broadcast on PBS. http://www.itsseweasytv.com/

I will be explaining Sashiko and Circular Flounces.  You would think that after writing about these 2 techniques it wouldn’t take long to prepare for the segments. But to squeeze all the information into a 10 minute talk meant making a full sample for each step, as opposed to the book, where I had to make 1 perfect sample and take a photo , then move to the next step on the same perfect sample and take the next photo.  Live and Learn! The taping in Cleveland, Ohio will be February 9th. I will be in Cleveland for most of Feb. 8th with little to do, so any suggestions for fun things to see/do are welcome.

On February 12th, my husband and I are going to London U.K .for a week!  WooHoo!  While we are there I will be talking at Ray Stitch on February 14th, 6:30-8:30 pm!  This will be my official book launch in the U.K.!  I will be explaining some combination of:   Sashiko, Circular Flounce, Bias and Embellishing RTW shirts.

https://raystitch.co.uk/sewing-classes-london/creating-couture-embellishment-with-ellen-miller

My husband and I don’t have many plans for our week in the U.K. so  suggestions are very welcome.  Of course the V&A Museum and the British Museum are on our list , but any other suggestions?

Last but least, I have not forgotten that I still haven’t posted photos of the Mother of the  Groom dress!  I will have some down time in Ohio, so I hope to post those photos next week.

 

#22 – Terry Gross interviewed

Hi everyone!  I just came across a long interview with Terry Gross from Fresh Air! on NPR.  I love listening to Fresh Air! Even if you have never heard any of Terry Gross’s interviews on Fresh Air!  this is a really interesting piece. The interview was with David Marchese and posted on The CutTerry Gross, A Conversation

Her is the link to the full interview, which is very long. https://www.thecut.com/2018/01/terry-gross-in-conversation.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%2520Cut-%2520January%252010%252C%25202018&utm_term=Subscription%2520List%2520-%2520The%2520Cut%2520%25281%2520Year%2529

Terry Gross of Fresh Air!

Terry Gross of Fresh Air!

Fresh Air’s Terri Gross began producing and hosting Fresh Air in 1975, shortly after being asked by former WBFO program director David Karpoff to come work with him at WHYY in Philadelphia. The show became nationally syndicated by NPR in 1985, and now reaches in the neighborhood of 5 million listeners every week. To date, Gross has conducted more than 13,000 interviews.  

For more than 40 years, you’ve been in very unusual position of asking very intimate questions about the work and lives of people you don’t really know. What has doing that over and over and over again taught you about yourself?
That’s hard. I’m not exactly sure I can enumerate what I’ve learned. It’s like you’re slowly being changed every day by doing this job. I have learned, though, that everybody is insecure and everybody is troubled. Even incredibly talented people have deep insecurities. Maybe this is perverse, but I find that idea comforting. It helps me cope with my own stuff.

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I’m probably just revealing my own neuroses here, but it sure seems that when people are presented with two pieces of information — one negative and one positive — the negative one almost always gets a lot more attention.
That’s exactly my problem..

So if somebody said to you,  is my favorite thing to listen to,” and then said, “Well, yesterday’s show wasn’t the best.”
Stop right there. I would totally dismiss the “favorite thing to listen to” part. I’d think that was just their way of cushioning the blow that yesterday’s show was terrible. They’d just come up with a false opening to be nice about how bad yesterday’s show was.

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What’s the function? (of an interview)I like to quote John Updike on this. In his memoir, Self-Consciousness, which I really love, he said he wanted to use his life as “a specimen life, representative in its odd uniqueness of all the oddly unique lives in this world.” That’s kind of how I see interviews. When you’re talking to an artist, you can get insight into the sensibility that created his or her art and into the life that shaped that sensibility. I love making those connections. I think we all feel very alone. I don’t mean that we don’t have friends or lovers but that deep at our core we all have loneliness.

And want connection. 
Yeah, we want connection and sometimes when you’re talking to an interviewer who you trust, you can speak in a way that’s different than the way you talk to friends. You can reveal more. Not always, but sometimes.

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So what need did Fresh Air fill in your life? Why did you want it so badly?
When I was in high school I wanted to write. And when I got to college, I still wanted to write but I was discouraged really quickly because, well, I had two freshman English teachers, and one of them thought that something I wrote was really great. He said something like, “This is the kind of language that can shatter.” My heart swelled. I was so excited. But then my other teacher said, “Okay, for your assignment, just write something and bring it in.” And I thought, Write what? I don’t have stories that just come to me. So I went up to this teacher after class and I said, “I don’t know what to write about.” He looked at me kind of smirky and said, “Write a love story.” I thought, That’s about the last thing I’d write. He’s just saying that because he thinks women should write love stories. He’s not the type who’d be reading love stories probably. It was so dismissive. I was discouraged really easily, I guess. But, also, I just didn’t think I was good enough to be writer. I didn’t feel desperate enough to pursue writing, but I desperately wanted to pursue something that I could be passionate about and when I stumbled into public radio, I found that thing.

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How does your work spill over into your personal life? And I mean more from a psychical rather than practical perspective. How does having deep conversations day after day affect you? 
Okay, one of the things I’ve learned how to do on the air is make people stop talking. Some people can go on for seven minutes without a breath. At some point, you have to interrupt them and explain, “This is radio. We need to take breaks. We have to have, say, two-minute answers, or else we’re only going to be able to ask about three questions.”

I just asked about how your work spills into your personal life and you gave an answer that was only about your work. 
Oh! I’m not going to make the case that I’m a great interviewee! I wasn’t intentionally avoiding the question. I was just going on a tangent.

Maybe you were unconsciously avoiding it. 
No, no. I’m happy to address the subject. What I was saying actually connects to your connection. In real life, you’ll run into someone on the street and say, “Hi, how are you?” and seven minutes later they’re still telling you. So I’ve gotten practice with asking people in a nice way to stop talking. Some people act like they’re a late-night radio host alone in the studio and they’re rapping out loud to an audience that has no ability to talk back. I don’t want to be in that audience. I want people to talk with me, not to me.

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Ellen: I love the emotion that comes through in this interview:

“…everybody is insecure and everybody is troubled. Even incredibly talented people have deep insecurities.”

“I would totally dismiss the “favorite thing to listen to” part. I’d think that was just their way of cushioning the blow that yesterday’s show was terrible.”

“I desperately wanted to pursue something that I could be passionate about and when I stumbled into public radio, I found that thing.”

“I want people to talk with me, not to me.”

Here is the link to the interview again:    https://www.thecut.com/2018/01/terry-gross-in-conversation.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%2520Cut-%2520January%252010%252C%25202018&utm_term=Subscription%2520List%2520-%2520The%2520Cut%2520%25281%2520Year%2529

I did not get permission to copy the interview, or to post these excerpts…

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Ellen:  I am busy writing a script for 2 presentations for It’s Sew Easy on PBS TV.  I hope my scripts show passionate I am about sewing, and teaching other people how to make glorious clothes.  I hope my script feels like I am talking to the viewer, not at them. And finally, I hope my insecurities at being taped for video don’t come through!