Because I am computer challenged I am posting a two part blog-post. Part I was the previous post, Workshops with Needlework & Textile Guild of Michigan (NTGM). Part II is this post, which explains the previous post!
I am teaching three workshops for the NTGM on February 8 & 9, 2022, via Zoom. NTGM has a few open spaces for in the workshops, so you are invited to join us! There are information and sign-up sheets in the Part I post.
Feathers will be taught on the afternoon of February 8th.
Chinese Knots will be taught on the morning of February 9th.
Corded Quilting/ Boutis Provencal will be taught on the afternoon of February 9th.
You can email me questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about NTGM, go to their FaceBook page here.
I hope you can join us! Ellen
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,
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!
Hi! Once again I’m a day late and maybe a dollar short but….
At 7 pm EDT on June 28, 2021 I will be talking with Joanne Banko on her series: Sew Tell Me…I am very excited about the show; we are going to talk about sewing, some of the samples from Creating Couture Embellishment, maintaining your sewing mojo and lots more. I hope you’ll join us on Zoom live here:
The recorded interview can be found here.
I have another article in Threads magazine! Woo Hoo! This article is about Needle Felting: applying wool roving and/or wool batts to a wool fabric with a special barbed needle.
Here is a photo of the jacket I made to showcase Needle Felting, on the index page of Threads, issue #212. (I forgot to take photos of the jacket when it was completed!) The white wool is from Gorgeous Fabrics /gorgeousfabrics.com. The jacket pattern is from Fit for Art Patterns https://fitforartpatterns.com/. The wool roving and batts are from Big Sky Fibers Arts https://store.bigskyfiberarts.com/.
Needle Felting is a wonderful technique that was supposed to have a chapter in Creating Couture Embellishment. The chapter was cut because I exceeded the 400 page maximum and Needle Felting was deemed “too crafty.” In retrospect, I think my samples were not elegant enough to adequately represent needle felting. Thank you Threads! for letting me make new a Needle Felting sample to accompany this article. I think “crafty” does not apply to this jacket!
The editors at Threads are wonderful editors; they took my over-long article and cut it down to fit into six pages with out losing the basic information needed to explain the technique. Being a good editor requires being able to see the big picture and being able to trim away all the extra bits & bob to get to the heart of the story. This is not something I can do. I get so excited about all the bits & bobs that I try every variation to see what how they all work. In the end, I know what works well and what doesn’t work but I’ve got twice the material that’s needed. I guess that’s why I’m a writer, not an Editor, with a capitol E. Good thing I’m associated with great Editors.
So now- to get back on topic- Needle Felting… I’ve assumed that you have access to Threads magazine and/or know something about Needle Felting, so I am not going though the basics of Needle Felting. Instead I will explain some of my designing process.
Pictured above is the basic shell of the Tabula Rasa jacket from Fit for Art patterns, partially sewn together and draped on my dress form. I placed Blue Painter’s Tape on the jacket to mark the waistline and the same horizontal line on the sleeves. Having a horizontal guideline across all parts of the jacket facilitated the designing of the needle felting.
If this design were for me I would have kept the jacket on the dress form for most of the designing phase. However, Threads uses models that wear size 8-10 and I wear a size 12-14. I was afraid that keeping the jacket on my dress form for too long would stretch out the wool along the neckline and sleeve heads; those areas were susceptible to stretching as the cut edges have varying grain lines. Additionally, in my studio, photographing in-progress garments is easier on a flat surface than on the dress form.
This photo shows the jacket laid flat. Threads cropped out the background for the article; you get to see the unedited version of this photo. The side panels were sewn to the front panels and are at “the bottom” of the photo. Eventually the side panels will be sewn to the back panels. The sleeves extend out to the sides, with the underarm seams un-sewn.
Knowing the article was going to be in the Fall issue of Threads I ordered wool roving and batts in autumnal colors: maroon, dark red, medium red, pumpkin orange, yellow gold.
Initially, I was thinking of an ombre pattern, going from dark around the neck to lightest at the hem. That iteration was so far from what I imagined that I didn’t even take any pictures.
Then I played with blocks of wool batt. This was not what I had imagined either.
I tried adding some twisted roving between the batt squares. The twisted roving didn’t help.
Back to the drawing board… I remembered this photo of Water Lilies from Pinterest.
That led me to a William Morris coloring book (ISBN 978-1-62686-882-3), which led to me to a Victorian wallpaper book (ISBN 978-0-486-46135-9) and this design.
I simplified the design to create this stencil. The stencil separates into 2 parts: a negative stencil, where the design elements are empty spaces and a positive stencil, where the design elements are solid forms.
The stencil cut into 2 parts: negative and positive pieces.
I placed the positive stencil pieces on the jacket. Once I was pleased with the design I took a photo of the jacket so I knew where everything went.
I had to try some techniques and color combinations on a wool scrap before I started.
Starting: the stencil crosses the horizontal guideline.
A completed flower, with a glimpse of the blue tape on the right.
This photograph shows the jacket nearly all felted. Of course, as I worked on the needle felting, the design changed. The vines on the lower left front of the jacket were shortened (on the bottom right in the photo.) A vine was added to the right side panel and more flower buds were added to the back.
I added fusible interfacing to the whole jacket. Initially, I intended to add fusible interfacing only to the main parts of the jacket, but the interfacing changed the color of the wool just slightly so I added the fusible interfacing to the whole jacket. The fusible interfacing added support for the jacket and locked the felted wool to the jacket a little bit more. Then I sewed the jacket together. The entire jacket was lined for comfort; I find wool very itchy.
I didn’t put the jacket on my dress form when it was completed because I was afraid of stretching it, so I only looked at the jacket from the front and then from the back. In retrospect, I wished I had felted more on the back. The back has a lovely light, curvilinear vine pattern, much like a Western shirt. The front has the same curvilinear vine but accented with the heavy Victorian flowers. A few more vines trailing down the back, with a Victorian flower or two would balance the jacket’s design better. Oh, the things we see after some time away from a project!
Aren’t they amazing?
Would This Be A Help?
I found this photo on FaceBook and laughed so hard!
Would this be a help or a “Mind your own business ” moment for you?
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!
PLEASE JOIN US IF YOU ARE IN THE BALTIMORE AREA ON JANUARY 9, 2019!
I WILL HAVE COPIES OF CREATING COUTURE EMBELLISHMENT TO SELL .
I’M HAPPY TO AUTOGRAPH YOUR COPY.
Nine Favorite Small Tools I Use All The Time
With the Holidays fast approaching I thought a list of my Ten Favorite Small Tools would be fun. These tools are listed in no particular order.
I use large washers from the Hardware Store to hold my fabrics and patterns in place on my work table. The size of the washer does not matter, but the weight of each washer is important; look for stainless steel or steel, zinc washers are too light. Washers come in many sizes from Grainger.com or special ordered from your local hardware store. The large washers are 3/4″ washers; washers are measured by the size of the inner hole ( to fit around a 3/4″ bolt.) The smaller washers are 1/2″ washers. On the far right is a small washer that was spray-painted white to disappear in photos. I like 3/4″ washers as I can easily grab a stack with my fingers to distribute or gather up. You can buy washers singly or in boxes of 20 for $43.41, plus $12. shipping, from Grainger or another hardware distributer.
Keep a small magnet near your sewing machine and/or cutting table. When you tip over your box of pins a magnet will make picking up the pins much easier.
A sharp seam ripper makes the annoying job of ripping out a seam much easier.
The small seam ripper is an inexpensive version like this one from Gold Star Tools. I have these inexpensive seam rippers in multiple locations in my work room.
The larger seam ripper was a gift from a cousin. It is double headed, with a large ripper on one end and a smaller ripper on the other end. I use this tool if I have a long seam to rip out as the large, ridged handle is comfortable and easy to hold for that annoying, mis-sewn seam. I have seen rippers like this one at craft fairs and small sewing/quilting stores.
I keep these by my sewing machine for clipping threads. The upper snips are inexpensive and efficient, but can’t be sharpened.
The lower snips are heavier and can be sharpened when needed. I keep these snips by my sewing machine and on my worktable; they are great for cutting notches.
There are lots of different fabric markers on the market. I have lots of fabric markers in my workroom, but these are the two I reach for most often.
The Chaco Chalk Maker leaves a fine line that can be brushed away. In the photo is my blue Chaco chalk Marker; they also come in white.
https://www.wawak.com/Cutting-Measuring/Marking-Chalk-Pens/Chalk/clover-chaco-liner-marker-white/?sku=CK4 at $5.81 Little bottles of ground chalk for refills in a 2-pack cost $3.44.
Frixon Pens are the newest version of “disappearing ink” pens. The ink in Frixon pens is heat sensitive; the heat of an iron (140°) makes the ink “disappear”. The ink does vanish from view, but will reappear if exposed to extreme cold: 14°. I recommend the “Fine” point at 07. I find the Extra Fine at 05 is too fine.
https://www.amazon.com/Pilot-FriXion-Erasable-3-Pack-31578/dp/B004JXHTDK/ref=pd_cp_229_2/143-5975381-7412206?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B004JXHTDK&pd_rd_r=9cc92d31-dabc-463d-865e-00f7a66a128a&pd_rd_w=zqHkG&pd_rd_wg=hl2No&pf_rd_p=0e5324e1-c848-4872-bbd5-5be6baedf80e&pf_rd_r=41K6MQM2CECJR619W5GY&psc=1&refRID=41K6MQM2CECJR619W5GY for a 3 pack at $5.79.
Hole Maker and Pattern Notcher
The Screw Hole Maker is perfect for making a hole in your pattern to mark dart tips, button placement, the break point of the jacket lapel, etc. With changeable bits, you can make a small hole, a medium hole or a large hole; the large holes are large enough to sew Tailor’s Tack through.
A pattern notcher eliminates the fussy cutting of the triangle notches the major pattern makers use. Instead of cutting out 3 triangles, squeeze the pattern notcher once (or three times side by side) and get a cut into the pattern’s seam allowance. When cutting out your garment in fabric make quick snip into the seam allowance to mark the notch.
Pattern notchers are available at Gold Star tools, Wawak and other sewing tool suppliers.
Both of these needles help finish a seam. On the top, an Easy Thread needle, which threads from the top, is perfect for hiding thread ends.
On the bottom, a double eyed needle has an eye on each end. Thread the ends of a serger chain into one of the eyes. Slide the other end of the needle back through the serger seam and bury the thread chain ends to prevent the chain from raveling.
Easy Thread needles are available at Gold Star tools, Wawak and other sewing tool suppliers.
https://www.goldstartool.com/selfthreading-needles-10-pc.htm at $3.99 for a 10 pack
The Double ended needles are harder to find. I found them at Sewing Machine Plus online:
I hope you have found a new tool put on your Holiday Wish List or buy for yourself. I’m sure you have other tools you love that aren’t listed here. Please share!
NB: all of the links to the shopping sources are provided by me, without any sponorship from the vendors. I have received good customer service from GoldStar, Wawak and SewingMachings Plus. Please let me know if the links don’t work!
Long ago, in June 2019, I promised to post instructions for Sashiko. Six months later I am finally posting the instructions. I took the instruction and photos directly from Creating Couture Embellishment, which means the text is quite small; I’m sorry.
In Step 1 of the text below it says to “see box, right” to learn about adjusting the tension of the bobbin case but those instructions have been moved to the bottom of this post. Enjoy!