A brief recap of my interview with Joanne Banko
On Monday, June 28, 2021 I was invited to guest-Zoom with Joanne Banko on her new channel, Sew… Let’s Talk! We had a wonderful conversation about sewing, my favorite sewing machine feet, a quick tour of some my sewing space storage and some of the samples I made for The Book (Creating Couture Embellishment). I could talk to Joanne for hours. She’s engaging, curious, well informed about sewing and sewing related topics and just plain Nice! You can find the recorded/YouTube version of our conversation here.
Joanne and I met in Cleveland OH during a taping of It’s Sew Easy, series 1500. Joanne was filmed after me, but was there for my filming to help set up the Brother sewing machine for the Sashiko technique. (You can see my post about that experience here.) Joanne and I both belong to Craft Industry Alliance, which you can find here, so we get to wave and briefly chat at the monthly Roundtable Zoom meetings.
So… the samples I showed to Joanne and her subscribers started with a simple sleeve with gathered ribbons adorning the hem and then black velvet sleeve with pink-gold trim couched down the length. (I’m not adding photos of the sleeves to this post as I hope you will watch the YouTube interview. The sleeves start at 26:44.) Next we talked about changing the hemline of a sleeve and adding trims to accent that change: the silver sleeve with dark green trim and the grey short sleeve with sequin trim. From there we looked at using both sides of a fabric: shiny & matte finishes on a piped sleeve and a jacquard weave with an added single feather. We also looked at using both sides of a trim. Using both sides of a fabric or a trim is easy because the colors always match. We always have long discussions about which colors “work together” in our house as we each see colors very differently.
From the website of Optical Masters of Denver CO comes this scientific description:
The vision process is the same for every person. However, color perception is different in some people. Color perception (or the colors you see) depends on if parts of your eyes are working correctly. We mentioned the retina of the eye and how it is a light-sensitive tissue that communicates with the brain. This thin layer of tissue houses millions of microscopic light-sensing nerve cells that we call rods and cones. These are the cells that send impulses to your brain, interpreting colors from light waves.
Rods and cones don’t work the same in every person. They may malfunction slightly, meaning your color perception is only a little off. However, severe forms of abnormal color perception are referred to as “color blindness”. This means that people with color blindness aren’t aware of specific color differences like the rest of the population is. You may see a stop sign as being bright red, while someone with red-green color blindness sees that stop sign as a hue of green. 8% of men and 0.5% of women have color blindness. In many cases, this trait is inherited by males from a mother who had genes for abnormal photo pigments. This will make the cone cells work differently in the eye than they should.
But I digress…then I showed two sleeves with beads: picot trim and beaded net fringe.
Next we talked about adding lace or trim to a garment and then cutting away the under or base fabric. -The add and subtract method is similar to Applique but with two more steps; after the lace or trim is appliqued,
- Cut away most of the base fabric.
- Sew down the raw edges of the base fabric so you have a peek-a-boo effect through the lace or trim.
Both of these samples were Bodices: the Lace Trim chapter opener and Crochet chapter opener (the Crochet chapter was cut when we ran out of space!)
Finally, I showed Something Seriously Elegant: the Hollyhock sleeve sewn in an ornate silk jacquard and organza and Something Seriously Fun: the Loose/Single Sequin sleeve sewn in cotton chicken fabric with “wings.”
I answered some of questions from the Chat and our hour was up. I think the final sleeves summed up our talk: serious, elegant and fun! Thank you so much Joanne!
I will be teaching some new classes, some on Zoom and some In Person! If you’re interested in any of these classes send me an email: Contact Me
October 2, 2021 10-12n with Atlanta ASG (American Sewing Guild) in Atlanta, GA:The Bodices from Creating Couture Embellishment
October 2, 2021 2-4 pm with Atlanta ASG (American Sewing Guild) in Atlanta, GA:Carnations & Leaves from Ribbon Flowers
October 30, 2021 9-12n with ASDP (Association of Sewing and Design Professionals) Conference in Boise ID: Writing About Sewing
February 8-9, 2022 with the NTGM (Needlework and Textile Guild of Michigan) on Zoom, 3 classes: Feathers, Chinese Knots and Channel Quilting (Boutis Provencal)
I am making KITS for some of the techniques in Creating Couture Embellishment. So far, I have great Reverse Applique Kit. The Reverse Applique Kit has 2 new design to try: one in paper and one if fabric. The kit has all the materials you will need to complete the designs and more detailed instructions and photos than shown in The Book. Still churning about in brain is a Carnation Kit and more…
Coming soon: a blog post about the Reverse Applique Kit and directions on how to get one!
#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?
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.
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.
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 Cut: Terry 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
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
#17- Lace Presentation at the Boston ASG meeting
On Saturday, November 4th, I spoke to about 35 members of the Boston chapter of the American Sewing Guild about Lace and Lace Trim. I had made a Power Point presentation based on the Lace and Lace Trim chapters in Creating Couture Embellishment- my first ever Power Point presentation. I think the presentation was OK, not great, as I was nervous; I know I rushed through the information at the beginning too quickly. I think the middle and end were better, as I slowed down, but I think I relied on information from the book too much and the topic didn’t catch fire in everyone’s imaginations. Afterwards I overheard someone say, “Well, she certainly knows her subject…” Damning with faint praise.
Because I was nervous, I forgot to take photos at the event–again. I recreated the display and photographed it in my workroom so you can see what I brought for Show and Tell.
Top row: a new shirt with Lace Appliques going over the shoulder, the Lace bodice, and the Lace Trim bodice from Creating Couture Embellishment.
Bottom row: Sleeves: metallic lace with beads and feathers, lace in a plain seam, lace applique, lace motif, lace around a curve, lace mitered at the corner, lace eyelet insertion, adding lace to beading and lace beading from Creating Couture Embellishment.
I started the talk by explaining the structure of lace; I definitely went through this bit too quickly. Then as I talked about how to sew with lace, I passed around some of the flat samples made for the book. Later the bodices and sleeves pictured above were passed around the room too.
Since most of the women in this group are not interested in making an entire garment out of lace, I wanted to show these ASG members that they could easily add a little lace to an existing garment, creating something striking and unique. One of lace’s endearing qualities is that it doesn’t ravel, making it ideal to use for appliques. One of lace’s drawbacks is that the net background that lace is woven onto can be very delicate and can rip, which is why a used wedding gown often has rips near the hem where the train of the gown has caught on something. Often the rips can be mended using a narrow zigzag stitch. But the delicate net background also folds down to nothing, so you can bunch up the net or push the net under the more solid motifs, when appliqueing lace.
I bought 2 shirts at a local discount store: a blue and white striped shirt and a plain blue shirt. The blue and white shirt is a casual shirt. I wanted to maintain the that easy going feeling, but make the shirt unique; I added some cream colored Alençon lace on one shoulder.
Piecing lace for an applique like this is a bit like working a jigsaw puzzle; you move the motifs around until the pieces fit together nicely.
On this shirt I started the lace coming out of the chest pocket and continuing over the shoulder. On the shirt’s back I pieced a fleur de lis and two large flowers to the lace that came from the front. Once I had the motifs pinned in place I trimmed away the net fabric and the extra bits until I had a single layer of lace motifs.
Alençon lace is good to use as an applique because the heavy cordonette that outlines the motifs provide solid outline edges to sew to the garment. The appliques can be sewn to the garment by hand or by machine; in this case I used a narrow zigzag stitch to sew the pieces of lace to the shirt. I also used some tear-away interfacing on the wrong side of the shirt to prevent tunneling by the zigzag stitch.
For a more formal look you could use some blue lace, but I love the way the cream Alençon lace makes this shirt “a little bit country”.
The other shirt I embellished is a blue button down shirt. I wanted the embellishments on this shirt to be more formal and subtle, so the shirt could be worn under a jacket to an office.
This size M shirt doesn’t show very well on my size 4 inflate-able (!) form; she’s listing to the back a bit. The inflate-able forms are wonderful for traveling Show and Tells.
I added 2 rows of a lightweight, polyester edging trim to the collar. The trim is placed with the footsides next to each other so the decorative headside edges are visible. (The footside of a trim is the sturdier edge of the trim, designed to be sewn to fabric. The headside is the decorative edge of the trim.) Because this a demonstration garment the footside edges of the trim are spaced 1/16” apart from one another so that you can tell it’s two rows of trim, sewn to the garment with line of straight stitches through the footsides. If I were making this for a client I might butt the two rows of trim together and sew them to the collar with a single line of zigzag stitches catching both pieces of trim. Part of the stitching method decision requires thinking about the look of the under collar: do you want two rows of straight stitches or one row of zigzag stitches on the under collar? Of course you could sew the trim on by hand catching only the upper collar with your stitches.
On each sleeve I added a strip of allover black lace. To insert the lace I unpicked the shoulder seams and the cuff seams part way. Next I cut a slot along the straight grain of the sleeve. Then I added a strip of lace to fill the slot, sewing the two fabrics together length-wise, with a ¼” seam. I tucked the ends of the lace into the shoulder and cuff and re-sewed those seams shut. Finally I topstitched the long seams to keep the seam allowances from showing and from raveling. The lace strips aren’t visible if you are wearing a jacket, so you could wear this shirt to a business meeting. Take off your jacket and you’re ready for a more casual setting.
I’m really pleased with lace additions to blue shirt: it changes up the shirt from one of thousands to one of a kind.
#15- Book Launch Party
Thursday was a very busy: from 10 am – 1:30 pm I was in Salem, MA with Jess McDougall getting professional Head Shots (photographs.) From 3 pm – 8 pm I was at the School of Fashion of Design preparing for, enjoying and then dismantling, the Creating Couture Embellishment Book Launch Party. It was terrific but a long day.
The School of Fashion Design www.schooloffashiondesign.org is where I learned about Couture Embellishments and later taught a course about Couture Embellishments; it seemed right to have the book launch party at the school. Dr. Denise Hammon and Jennifer LeClerc arranged everything: Evite, mannequins for displaying the bodices, snacks, bartender and wine… What more could I ask for?
I drove to The School of Fashion Design (SFD) directly from my photo shoot( see post #14) with Jess McDougall www.jessmcdougallcreative.com still wearing my hair and make up as done by Shannon Rouvel www.shannonrouvel.com. (Clever me to have booked the dates on the same day!) I got a parking space in front of the school, which was a blessing as I had a lot to carry in: bodices and skirts, sleeves filled with new muslin arms, a clothes steamer, a box of books, a large poster of the book’s cover, a bag of assorted junk and dress-up clothes for me.
I dressed the 6 mannequins in bodices and skirts, laid out the sleeves filled with their new muslin arms, put up my 24” x 36” poster of the book’s cover. I used the steamer to un-wrinkled the bodices and skirts, which have been in storage for quite a while. Jennifer LeClerc had already set up table with lots copies of Creating Couture Embellishment, waiting to sold and signed. Ready, set…
GO: by 5:15 pm there was a line of people waiting to buy Creating Couture Embellishment!
There were some alumni, some current faculty, some current students and some good friends – all standing in line to buy my book and get it signed! WooHoo!
My friend Martha used my Square™ to sell the books while I signed them.
At 6:15 pm Dr. Denise Hammon, the director of SFD, and I sat down for a Q & A session.
We had a good time: Denise asking questions and me answering. I explained the pitfalls of making and photographing embellishment samples, how the samples came to be the colors they are, why “writing” Creating Couture Embellishment took so long. If you want to hear the naswers to these questions you’ll have to come to an event. (See Master Classes on the bar at the top of the page.)
After the Q & A there was time to mingle and be photographed. Jay Calderin took the pictures seen here. Jay is a teacher at SFD, a designer, an author, a photographer and more…. calderin3.com . Thank you Jay!
Ellen & Denise: the beauty shot.
Jane Conway-Caspe, Board member at SFD, with Dr. Denise Hammon.
I’m sorry there are no pictures of the mannequins dressed in their couture embellished finery. Note to self: take photos of the mannequins and sleeves or whatever at future events.
By 7 pm it was time to undress the mannequins and pack up back into the car. To cap off this long day there was family was waiting to take me out for dinner. A great ending to a great day!