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!
Would you like a Bookplate?
I was looking back at some comments (just a little procrastinating…) and found several people had wondered about getting a bookplate for their copy of Creating Couture Embellishment (CCE).
A Bookplate is an autographed label you can put into your copy of CCE.
I can personalize the bookplate (add your name, a meme, etc.) if you tell me something about yourself or mention a technique you particularly love.
To get a bookplate email me your name, snail-mail address and any details you think I should know.
Email me at: email@example.com
Happy New Year!
Hello everyone! It’s been a beautiful summer here in New England. I spent most of the summer working on outside projects. After so many months of being inside, hiding from the winter weather, it was glorious to get outside and move rocks, plant flowers and swim in a Maine lake. I need to find ways to get outside in the winter, to keep moving and not turn into a slug. A new experience need is needed. Any suggestions?
In August, I went to Taunton Press to tape a podcast for Threads Magazine, which will be available in November. This was a new experience for me. Sarah McFarland, Jeannine Clegg, Carol Fresia and I sat around a table and talked about sewing for 45 minutes; it was such fun! I adore these women and could have talked to them for days. They are knowledgeable, open and generous. After the podcast taping Sarah and I discussed a couple of ideas for magazine articles I might write for Threads. Woo-hoo! I love writing articles about sewing!
A Teaser: My next article for Threads involves Chinese Knots and this lovely herringbone wool. The wool is from Emma One Sock Fabrics. https://www.emmaonesock.com/fabrics
In October I am going to Milwaukee, WI for the annual ASDP Conference. (Association of Design and Sewing Professionals). I love this conference; it’s whole conference filled with people who sew clothing professionally. https://www.sewingprofessionals.com/ If this might interest you there are still places in many of the classes, including mine.
I will be teaching a class called An Afternoon of Rose Petals, Sharks’ Teeth and Butterfly Bows on Friday afternoon, October 18th. I am hoping this class will feel like a mini tea party, minus the tea part, with lessons about Ribbons and some of the cool things you can do with them.
It’s interesting how different it it teaching a one meeting workshop class versus a semester of classes. As a teacher you have to be one your toes all the time in both situations. When you have a semester you can learn about each student and how they learn, you can re-phrase your directions in the next lessons to suit the students learning styles, re-visit a point a student made last class, correct a place you may have misspoken last class. When you have a workshop you don’t have those opportunities: there’s the 3 hour session and then you’re done. The student who speaks up gets lots of attention and the quiet student gets less attention. The quiet student may not want the attention; she may want to just soak up everything she can and process things on her own time. But often the quiet student has some really interesting observations that can take the class in a different direction- a place you wanted to get to, too. The vocal student is a wonderful asset to a class too; she asks questions that can make it apparent that my directions were clear as mud or steer the class off on a tangent that is often a place you wanted to go—eventually. The vocal and quiet student are both valuable. In the workshop setting I have to be more alert to the subtle clues that everyone is confused by those clear as mud directions, or that I’ve said the same thing already and it’s time to move forward or really, it’s just time for a break; no one should sit for 3 hours without a break. After teaching in the semester formatfor 10 years, I’m learning to teach in the workshop format. The thing that no one tells you is that teaching is a constant learning experience.
Any advice from other workshop teachers?
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
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…
I wrote an article for ASG Notions Magazine, vol. XXII, no. 4, Fall 2017 about Embellishing Ready to Wear shirts.
I made an apron and a hat for auctions at the School of Fashion Design to benefit the Scholarship Fund.
I wrote an article for Threads Magazine, issue # 202, April/May 2019 about Soutache trimming on a wool jacket
I indulged in Procrasti-learning, as in: I can’t write blog posts until I learn PhotoShop.
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!
I’m even thinking about writing another book- something I swore I would never do. (Cue James Bond and Never Say Never Again).
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?
#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
The second tidbit is from Goodbye Valentino: Sarah is offering a giveaway of my book!
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
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 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.
You can go to either (or both) blog posts to enter into the giveaways!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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>
I have been working on another version of the Burgundy blouse, seen below, as photographed by Jess McDougall.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”