I’m Teaching at the ASDP Conference

It’s Official!  I’m teaching at the ASDP Conference!   I emailed a proposal for a class, which has been accepted and I’ve been put on the schedule.

Friday afternoon, October 18, 2019 in Milwaukee WI.  Here’s the class description:

Tempted by all the lush ribbons in the stores but not sure which makes the best flowers?  Wondering how to make a beautiful Dior Rose? Come spend an afternoon with Ellen W. Miller, author of Creating Couture Embellishment to learn all about making flowers and ribbon trims to suit today’s fashions. Using different kinds of ribbon and fabrics we will make lots of flowers: Peonies, Pansies, Geraniums, Foxgloves, Dior Roses, Poinsettias, with leaves and stems to round out our bouquets. Lest you think that’s all the ribbons are good for, we’ll make some Shark’s Teeth trim, a glorious Butterfly Bow and other ribbon trims. This class will spark lots of creative ideas for adding contemporary flowers, bows and ribbons to future projects.

If you are interested in signing up for the class here is a link to the ASDP Conference site.

ASDP Conference Schedule

ASDP Conference Schedule

 

I hope to see you there!

Inexperience and It’s Sew Easy TV

#35 – It’s Sew Easy TV 1505

In March 2018 I went to Cleveland to video-tape a 10 minute segment for It’s Sew Easy TV. Before I went I wrote about my preparations: Going to Ohio & England!

This was way out of my comfort zone; I was a professional stagehand, backstage, for many years. I think of myself as a support person, not the onstage, out-front person. I had never been video-taped but the producers of It’s Sew Easy TV assured me it was just like teaching. I’m comfortable teaching, so this should be different but fun. OK…

The rest of this post is about that experience, most of which was really difficult. Most of the problems were due to my inexperience and few miscommunications with the producers of It’s Sew Easy TV. Also, I want to emphasize how much I admire the people who do this really well- like Joanne Banko and Angela Wolf of It’s Sew Easy TV.

At home I prepared my 10 minute speech and my samples. I practiced at home in front of my cousin and my husband, until they could recite my lines. Then I packed my large suitcase filled with clothes and samples and flew off to gray, sleet flecked Cleveland.

The It’s Sew Easy TV offices and studio is in an industrial park: gloomy and unwelcoming. I opened the door to the offices and was greeted with big smiles by Sarah Gunn, Cheryl Sledoba and JoAnne Banko! Michelle Paganini was video-taping her segments. I spent a lovely afternoon getting to know these lovely sewists. Wicked Cool!

Problem #1: I am not a morning person. I was scheduled to video-tape first thing the next day. I had to be at the studio at 7:30 am for Make-Up. I got up extra early to drink lots coffee before heading for the studio. OK…

Problem #2: After make-up, I went into the studio to set up my samples. That’s when I was asked what was I going to sew during the demonstration? Why…. Nothing! I had all my samples pre-sewn as I didn’t think there would be time to get used to sewing on a new sewing machine before the video taping. Since Bernina is a big sponsor of It’s Sew Easy TV, everyone must sew something on the their machine during their segment. OK…

Problem #3: There was no tele-prompter and when I started to “recite” my script, I was told it too rote. Improvise more. OK…

Problem #4: When I teach I spend a lot of time looking at my students and gauging their reactions to see if they comprehend what I’m saying. When video-taping you are supposed to look at the camera: not the camera man who’s behind and slightly above the camera, the camera. And did you know cameras don’t show any sign of comprehension when you tech them something? OK…

Problem #5: It is really really hard to demonstrate a sewing technique with your hands, explain what you’re doing and look at the camera; don’t look at your hands or at the sample. When I teach I look down at the sample and my hands, look up at the students and make sure they are following along with me, look down at the sample- you get the idea. When you are video-taping a How-To segment, you must look at the camera, not at your hands. OK…

Problem #6: A very small amount of time was allotted for the video-taping of my segment. No stopping or redoing if I left something out or misspoke, both of which I did. Keep talking, even when you forget what you were supposed to say. When I started to cough during the taping I was told to keep going; I finally stopped when I was coughing so much I couldn’t speak. The tape was backed up to where I started to cough and we went on from there. I expected a second recording would be made and the two versions would be spliced together to get a good version. I didn’t know there would be no second recording until we were “through” the segment. OK…

Problem # 7: In an effort to streamline my presentation I simplified my presentation. In fact, I simplified it so much it’s completely incomprehensible! OOPS…

Solution to problems #1-6: If I am ever recorded again I will rehearse with a professional director recording until I am comfortable with the results on the tape, be recorded while teaching a class with students present. Combining both of these solutions would probably be the best: rehearse a ton and have students present.

To anyone who tried to follow my directions for Sashiko from It’s Sew Easy TV the directions in my book, Creating Couture Embellishment, are very clear and good. I will post the direction in my next blog post; this blog post is plenty long!

A second technique was recorded immediately after Sashiko: Flounces. I don’t know when It’s Sew Easy TV will be airing this segment. I haven’t seen it. I hope it’s better than the Sashiko segment.

Have you had an experience like this? Something you thought would be fabulous, but turned out to be awful?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which way should I go?

Just when I thought I wouldn’t be teaching anymore, I was asked to teach a class at the ASDP Conference in October.  So much for my understanding of The Way I Am Supposed to Go.   “What?” you ask, “No teaching?  How did you get there?”  Let me explain…

Since Creating Couture Embellishment was published in August 2017

My book, Creating Couture Embellishment sitting on my work table.
Creating Couture Embellishment aka CCE

 

I have applied to various conferences and conventions to teach. For one reason or another, all of my proposals were rejected.  To make this more insulting, many conference/convention organizers never wrote to say, “Thanks but no, thanks.”  I thought about teaching in small fabric stores and studios around the country, but that has a whole bunch of other problems, the most serious of which is that I don’t have a big mailing list of students who want to take a class with me. So despite the fact that:  I have taught at a post college level for more than 10 years before writing CCE,   I love to pass on the sewing and pattern-making knowledge, and I am a very good teacher (I really am), I thought the universe was telling me, “No teaching, go another way.”

I found another way to go…

A cuff with Braided Bias strips pinned to it

Cuff with Braided Bias strips pinned

I wrote an article for ASG Notions Magazine, vol. XXII, no. 4, Fall 2017 about Embellishing Ready to Wear shirts.

Boston University's Seal

Boston University’s Seal

I wrote to various alumni magazines touting CCE.

 

Fleece hat prototype with lots of ribbons pinned to it

SFD hat prototype

I made an apron and a hat for auctions at the School of Fashion Design to benefit the Scholarship Fund.

Navy blue soutache trim sewn to yellow-gold wool in a braided pattern.

Soutache trim around the collar

I wrote an article for Threads Magazine, issue # 202, April/May 2019 about Soutache trimming on a wool jacket

 

Logo of LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning Logo

I indulged in Procrasti-learning, as in: I can’t write blog posts until I learn PhotoShop.

Bixby International logo

Bixby International logo

I made a dress for Rubbish to Runway auction to benefit Long Way Home out of industrial discards of poly-urethane fabric.  Reminder to self:  get the photos of this dress from the photographer!

 An open book

I’m even thinking about writing another book- something I swore I would never do. (Cue James Bond and Never Say Never Again).

ASDP logo

ASDP logo

 

 

 

 

And then ASDP came calling- or rather emailing. To paraphrase their email: since the number of conference registrants is very large, they need more classes. Would I be willing to teach- but not what I had proposed earlier.   OK… Truthfully, having seen the class list I understand that my proposed classes duplicated what other teachers also proposed. We quickly settled on a class topic, which I am calling “An Afternoon of Rose Petals, Sharks’ Teeth and Butterfly Bows.” The class will make some flowers out of ribbon and fabric, some folded ribbon trims and some plain & fancy bows. I am very excited about this class; it should be really fun.

 

Maybe the universe does want me to teach. Or maybe this is a one-off opportunity. Either way, I will keep writing, which doesn’t come easily to me, as it’s a solitary, isolating activity. According to Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies, I am an Obliger: good when I have outside imposed deadlines, not so good with my own personal deadlines. You can attest to this, as there has been an eight-month gap in Blog Posts.   I would promise to do better, but I don’t make promises I may not keep.

How do you keep on yourself on track? And how do you manage commitments to yourself?

Threads Gift Guide, 2018

#33 – Threads Gift Guide

November’s Threads Magazine features their annual Gift & Goodies Guide – For the stitchers in your life.

Cover of Threads magazine, novemeber 2018, featuring their annual gift guide

Cover of Novemeber 2108 Threads

Creating Couture Embellishment is among the 16 fabulous items they selected this year. “I’m chuffed!” as the English say. Or as New Englanders say, “I’m wicked pleased!”

one of four books picked for the gift guide is Creating Couture Embellishment

Threads recommendation of Creating Couture Embellishment

Need I say more?

Ellen with a gleam in her eye

Wicked Cool!

Rhode Island Sewing Network

On November 6, 2018 I will be presenting a Power Point Presentation to the Rhode Island Sewing Network about my Embellishing Ready To Wear Shirts.  I am excited to meet this group of sewists from Southern New England. Below is the article about me that appeared in their monthly newsletter announcing my talk.

 

Tumbling Blocks quilt pattern spread across a RTW white shirt

Tumbling Blocks on a Shirt

November Meeting Program

November 6th, 2018

We are very excited to welcome Ellen Miller to the RISN in November. She loves to sew elegant clothing, from the simple to the ornate. She is an accomplished professional couture seamstress and experienced college-level teacher of fashion construction. Ellen’s book, Creating Couture Embellishments, was published by Laurence King Publishing, London, in late 2017. Through her company, Ellen Miller, Seamstress, established in 1983, Ms. Miller has created and altered custom garments for hundreds of sophisticated clients. She served for a decade on the faculty of the School of Fashion Design on Newbury Street in Boston, teaching a variety of construction, pattern-making, and couture techniques. In both her professional and teaching work, Ellen uses her craftsmanship and design sense to realize the designer’s concepts, treating each design as a challenge to create a wearable work of art, and in the classroom, to enable all her students to realize their designs. The personal summary: I love to sew clothes. I love taking a piece of flat paper or muslin and creating a pattern, cutting out the garment pieces in 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 wearers inner vision of herself. 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, feel confident, equal to anyone in the room.

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

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

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!

 

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.

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!