#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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#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!

 

 

 

 

#21 – Marianne Fons Says ‘Eat The Cheesecake’

I’m working on an article for ASG’s quarterly magazine Notions, so I can’t show you what I’m doing–yet.

Today I found this wonderful post on Marianne Fon’s blog, PaperGirl.   http://frame.bloglovin.com/?post=6069505639&blog=12698737&frame_type=none

I hope you enjoy it!

“A few years ago, a rule in our family changed. First, let me explain what rule I’m talking about.

Most families have a version of this rule. It could be called the “Do Not Touch That Pie Until After Dinner Or You Will Sorely Regret It, Now Get Out Of My Kitchen” rule. Other versions of the rule may include: “If You Eat One Cooky Off That Tray Before We Sit Down To Eat, So Help Me God”; “If You Have Any Sense In That Head Of Yours You’ll Step Away From the Fudge; “You Are About To Meet Your Maker If You So Much As Breathe On Those Scotcharoos”; or the simple-but-effective, “Getcher Mitts Off That Cake” rule.

Right? Right.

Well, a few years back, on either Thanksgiving or Christmas, at some time in the day that was not appropriate pie-eating time (e.g., 9 a.m. or 12:30 p.m.), I was in the kitchen trying to pick off a gooey, sugary, perfectly toasted pecan off the top of Mom’s famous pecan pie without being noticed — and I was failing spectacularly. But that day was remarkable, because there was a time when I would’ve gotten caught sneakin’ pie and gotten slapped with the ol’ “Getcher Mitts Off That Pie” rule. But on this day, the opposite happened.

“You know,” my mom said, “just have a piece of pie if you want it. It’s okay.”

A pecan that was halfway to my mouth fell onto my blouse and stuck there. My mother is not a sarcastic woman, nor does she tease her children or have fun at our expense. If she was saying I should “just have a piece of pie” if I wanted to, she was saying … that I should have a piece of pie. A piece of the pie she baked for a special occasion. The pie we were planning to eat after Thanksgiving dinner in like, six hours.

“Mom, are you serious? You’re joking.”

My mom shook her head and threw up her hands. “I mean, why not? Eat it! That’s what it’s for!”

“Yeah, but — ”

“You know,” Mom said, “I had a friend whose mother-in-law was a wonderful candymaker. She was great at making it. She’d make candies for the holidays every year and put it all out on doilies on these beautiful milk glass plates: caramels, toffees, fudge, brickle. Just gorgeous.

“When you came over to the house, you’d be drawn, as if by magnetic force, toward all the candies. But she’d see you get within 10 feet of it all and she’d say, “Nooooooo! That’s for later! Don’t eat it! Don’t you dare eat it!”

I nodded and eyed a ragged piece of crust on the side of the pie, begging to be broken off and eaten. I liked where this story was going.

“Child, you would back away from the candy plates,” Mom continued. “And then, of course, everyone would eat dinner. You’d eat the turkey and the dressing and the yams and the cranberry and the rolls and the butter and the ham.”

“And you’d drink the wine,” I said, and popped the crust into my mouth.

“Oh, this lady didn’t serve wine. But you get the idea. All that food, and then pie and ice cream! And then, once you had wiped up your piece of pumpkin pie or pecan pie and you had patted your mouth with your napkin, she’d come around with these heavy candy plates and practically force you to eat the candies. If you said, ‘No, no, I’ve had enough,’ she’d be offended. I ask you: Does this make any sense?”

“No, mother,” I said, “no, it does not.” It looked very possible that I was going to have pecan pie for breakfast in front of God and everybody.

“In my opinion, do it. Look, it’s the holidays. If you’re lucky, there’s all this beautiful food! Why save and save these things for some point in the future when everyone’s too full, anyway? We’re adults! No one cares if there’s a piece taken out of a pie when it’s time to eat it, do they? Do they really? If you’re hungry for it, eat it.”

“Yeah!” I said, already dislodging an entire sticky slice of what is truly my favorite food on the Earth. I had to do this before she changed her mind.

But my mother didn’t change her mind that day, nor any day thereafter. If there are Santa cookies in the kitchen or an apple pie cooling on the counter, this stuff is available for the snacking. Mom will say, “That’s what it’s for!” and we are all willing to oblige.

I obliged today, in fact, when I had cheesecake for lunch. Here’s hoping everyone had a sweet Christmas today or, at the very least, a good Monday. I love Mondays. More on that later.”

by Marianne Fons, http://frame.bloglovin.com/?post=6069505639&blog=12698737&frame_type=none

#12 – The Burgundy Top

The Burgundy Top

As you know from a previous post my friend and sleeve designer Eddi Phillips designed some clothes for me to wear while on The Book Tour. I am so lucky to know such a talented designer and have him design clothes just for me!

Eddi designed 10 outfits and we picked 6 of them to make; Eddi helped me chose the fabrics and trims for each outfit- or at least the general idea of fabrics and trims. This top included gathering fabric to one side seam, then layering lace and appliques on top of the gathered section.

Sketch showing a long sleeve blouse with lace and applique on one side

Lace & Applique Top

 

There were 2 stumbling blocks in my iteration of this design: the lace addition just added bulk to my non-existent waist and the applique didn’t work the way I envisioned it. I didn’t take pictures of the top with the lace and applique, but the basic top with the gathered fabric had a great deal of appeal to me. Hmmm…

Burgundy top front pinned to dress form with a few rows of gathering stitches on the right

Shirring idea

 

I decided to shirr the entire half circle area and add beads. Can you see it?

Close up of the shirred and beaded part on the wrong side

The wrong side

This is the wrong side of the top, showing the shirring and the bead work. The shirring was sewn by machine; the rows are ½” apart. You read about this in detail in Creating Couture Embellishments, page 95.

 

I sewed the beads on with FireLine™ Smoke, size B, with the thread doubled. I suppose I could have used size D, single thread, but I had the size B on my work table already. I knotted the thread after each bead so if one bead got pulled off the rest would stay on. After all the beads in place I covered the shirred area with fusible interfacing to protect the knots of the shirring and beading, and covered the interfacing with a layer of lining to keep the entire garment slippery.

The top on the dress form sowing the shirred and beaded section

Shirred and beaded

Here is the garment finished except for the hem.

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

Burgundy Blouse

The finished top on me. Jess McDougall of Salem, MA took this photo of me.

I think the next iteration of this top will have more rows of shirring and be 3″ longer.  And there will be more iterations of this top!

Have you got other wader saves?            Please share!

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#8- On not writing

Instead of writing about sewing for this blog I find I am collecting other writers’ thoughts about interruptions while one is writing! Today’s gem is from the poet Mary Oliver.

Mary Oliver: The Artist’s Task

It is a silver morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone. Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

But just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses itself, splashing, into the pond of meditation. And what does it have to say? That you must phone the dentist, that you are out of mustard, that your uncle Stanley’s birthday is two weeks hence. You react, of course. Then you return to your work, only to find that the imps of idea have fled back into the mist.

Here is a link to the Wikipedia page about Mary Oliver:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Oliver

Ms. Oliver’s poetry is sublime; it speaks to whatever your point of view is at the moment.  I find many of her poems speak of Nature’s clothing.  Haha!  There are two snippets of her poems on the Wikipedia page if you have never read any of Mary Oliver’s poetry and there are full versions of selected poems on the internet.  I’m sure you’ll find her work says something unique to you.

#7- If I am a sewing machine…

If I’m a sewing machine, what are you?

While floating in the swimming pool with Alice (of the re-fashioned Kimono) and my cousin Abby (donor of the Kimono) we were talking about our extended family. Abby was describing people for Alice in Abby’s unique way.

Juki sewing machine

 

One of Alice’s 2nd cousins was described as, “ felted wool sweater and hard cover book.”

2 hard cover books on a table

 

A distant cousin was described as “organic herbs and felted wool hat.”

Sage with some bug eaten holes.

Alice and I thought this method of describing people was very funny, accurate and hard to do. We tried to describe other members of our large extended family using Abby’s object driven descriptions and ran into problems. How many adjectives can be used to describe the object? Does the order of objects matter?

As we floated in the pool, I decided I was sewing machine: lots of potential for doing all kinds of stitches, but I need to be plugged in and turned On. To translate that: I can sew, I can write, I can organize, etc. but I have trouble getting started. Most of the time the jolt of energy from my morning coffee gets me going, but sometimes even the coffee doesn’t work; I get plugged in but the switch isn’t turned On. I’ll find myself reading all three newspapers on the breakfast table and think longingly about the novel I’m reading, instead of the challenging sewing on my worktable. I know that if I can get to my workroom and get started on the current project I will become totally absorbed in the work.

Once I get turned On I have trouble stopping- the Off switch is elusive. I will be totally and happily absorbed in my work and the hours will fly by – until my husband (or my grumbling stomach) reminds me it’s time to eat. My reply, “Yes, thanks for the reminder, I’ll be there in 5 minutes” and mean that. Somehow the 5 minutes turns into 30 minutes and by then I’m totally out of energy. Luckily, my husband knows this about me and compensates for my totally absorbed state/tardiness. So hitting the Off switch is as hard as hitting the On switch for me.

What about you? Are you an elevator? Moving from one floor/task to another as the people around you demand your attention? A tractor plowing through your tasks? Or maybe a weed whacker: capable of cutting through the weeds to expose the hidden flowers?

 

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#6- A Book Signing Party

We had a Book Signing Party!

Cat Burkey, Jane Levin, Ellen Miller, Tracy Aiguier, Martha Palaza, Eddi Phillips and Roseanna Ansaldi seated around a table, all holding copies of Creating Couture Embellishment.

Everyone has a copy of Creating Couture Embellishment!

from left to right: Catherine Burkey, Jane Levin, Ellen Miller, Tracy Aiguier,  Martha Palaza,  Eddi Phillips, Roseanna Ansaldi.

Over the seven years of creating the book I had many collaborators, many with more than one job.  Anne Townley was my editor at Laurence King Publishing, although “editor”. Amy Ozay designed the spectacular bodices shown at the start of each chapter. Very early on Anne and Amy insisted, rightly, that each chapter have a consistent color theme running through it, and thus elevated the tone of the entire book. Neither Amy nor Anne could attend the book signing party and we missed them!

Martha Palaza helped with the pattern making: creating the basic pattern and muslin for Faith, our mannequin for the bodices.  Martha also stepped into the breach whenever my pattern making skills faltered and gently set me on the right course.  Roseanna Ansaldi helped me master pleats, tucks and spiral flounces.  Roseanna and I tried many fabrics for the sample for these chapters (linen, plain cotton, striped cotton, cotton polyester blends) before settling on a fine wool, notable for it’s ability to hold a crease. Jane Levin created all of the line drawings in the book, working until each drawing showed a precise moment in the sewing process with utmost clarity.   Eddi Phillips designed nearly all of the amazing sleeves featured in the circles at the top of each technique.  Eddi also helped choose the appropriate fabrics and trims for each sleeve, ensuring the sleeves were couture quality. Catherine Burkey designed some of the more picturesque sleeves, and worked with me day after day until all the sleeves were perfectly sewn, creating a comprehensive library of the techniques. Tracy Aiguier photographed all the bodices and sleeves, leaving me speechless with the beauty of the photographs. I could not have “written” this book without their invaluable help.

Laurence King Publishing spent two years “editing” Creating Couture Embellishments: book design, layout, color correction of my photos, copy editing and text-photo matching, checking the colors of the “actions” lines in Pleats, Tucks and so forth. All the work by Laurence King Publishing transformed my Word documents into a beautiful book. But it had been two years since many of us had gotten together, and some of the collaborators had never met each other. The release of Creating Couture Embellishments was the perfect reason to have a party together.

My husband and I made Swiss Chard Spanakopita and a big salad. We had wine, beer & ice tea. For dessert we had cake & ice cream.  In between the main course and dessert my fellow artisans and I sat at one table to sign books. You would think that our spouses/partners would cheer us on as we signed books—you would be wrong! They ignored us and carried on with own conversations that had nothing to do with fashion. Luckily, my niece Alice (of Kimono blog fame) was suitable impressed by all of us and took pictures to commemorate the occasion. We tried to stretch dessert so we could talk for hours but we had to disband about 10 pm as everyone had a long drive home and work the next morning. It was a wonderful party to celebrate a unique event: Signing Creating Couture Embellishments!

 

 

 

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#5- About Me

#5  About Me

I am a sewist*, an author, a teacher, a mother of 2 grown children, and wife.

Ellen in a pink muslin

I am sewist:

Long sleeves on a table, from Creating Couture Embellishments

Long sleeves on a table, from Creating Couture Embellishments

I love to make to clothes. I love taking a piece of flat paper or muslin and creating a pattern, cutting out the garment pieces in a luscious fabric, pining the pieces together, sewing and pressing the seams to form a three-dimensional thing that slides over the body giving voice to wearer’s inner vision of herself (mine or a client’s). Creating clothes is slow, meticulous work but oh- the final product- it speaks of me: the love and care put in to it and it speaks of the wearer: bold or soft spoken, brightly colored or muted tones, bejeweled or plain- if it accurately represents the wearer- she will stand tall and feel confident: an equal to anyone in the room.

I am an author:

photo of book

It took seven years to “write” and edit Creating Couture Embellishments ; it will be in bookstores in July, 2017! Creating Couture Embellishments is a 400-page, abundantly illustrated, how-to book with 3 sections–basic tools and techniques, fabric manipulation, and embellishments and trimmings— 23 chapters covering 174 techniques including quilting, ruffles and flounces, passementerie, beads and sequins. The “writing” included making the samples, photographing the samples and writing the text to accompany the photographs of the samples.

I am a teacher:

Couture Detail notebook, filled with handouts from Ellen’s class

photo of binder

I love to teach pattern making and sewing. I am fascinated by how students learn: some need to read a textbook, some need to see a demonstration, some need to do the project themselves. The moment when an idea or concept suddenly makes sense to a student – the aha! moment – is joyous. It might be a small moment: a button needs a shank so it stands above thicknesses of the cloth around the buttonhole, or it might big a moment: clothing alterations are like draping but on a real person. When a student understands the lesson- that’s the reward for a teacher.

I am a Mother and Wife:

My two children are very private people, as opposed to me, I will answer just about any question and I have no modesty. My children are amazingly smart- like their dad they attended an Ivy League School, and are able write coherently about Enya and Chemistry in the same paragraph. My beloved husband of 30+ years has spent the last 40+ years managing professional theaters. As he might tell you, like many former boy scouts he is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. And a little silly sometimes.

*Sewist is the newest term for someone who loves to sew, as sewer can be confused with someone who loves to sew or the waste-water handler. I’m not crazy about sewist but it’s better than sewer.

 

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