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!
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.
ASDP Conference Cover
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.
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.
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…
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 made an apron and a hat for auctions at the School of Fashion Design to benefit the Scholarship Fund.
Soutache trim around the collar
I wrote an article for Threads Magazine, issue # 202, April/May 2019 about Soutache trimming on a wool jacket
LinkedIn Learning Logo
I indulged in Procrasti-learning, as in: I can’t write blog posts until I learn PhotoShop.
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!
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?
I am a sewist*, an author, a teacher, a mother of 2 grown children, and wife.
Ellen in a pink muslin
I am sewist:
Long sleeves on a table, from Creating Couture Embellishments
I love to make to clothes. I love taking a piece of flat paper or muslin and creating a pattern, cutting out the garment pieces in a luscious fabric, pining the pieces together, sewing and pressing the seams to form a three-dimensional thing that slides over the body giving voice to wearer’s inner vision of herself (mine or a client’s). Creating clothes is slow, meticulous work but oh- the final product- it speaks of me: the love and care put in to it and it speaks of the wearer: bold or soft spoken, brightly colored or muted tones, bejeweled or plain- if it accurately represents the wearer- she will stand tall and feel confident: an equal to anyone in the room.
I am an author:
photo of book
It took seven years to “write” and edit Creating Couture Embellishments ; it will be in bookstores in July, 2017! Creating Couture Embellishments is a 400-page, abundantly illustrated, how-to book with 3 sections–basic tools and techniques, fabric manipulation, and embellishments and trimmings— 23 chapters covering 174 techniques including quilting, ruffles and flounces, passementerie, beads and sequins. The “writing” included making the samples, photographing the samples and writing the text to accompany the photographs of the samples.
I am a teacher:
Couture Detail notebook, filled with handouts from Ellen’s class
photo of binder
I love to teach pattern making and sewing. I am fascinated by how students learn: some need to read a textbook, some need to see a demonstration, some need to do the project themselves. The moment when an idea or concept suddenly makes sense to a student – the aha! moment – is joyous. It might be a small moment: a button needs a shank so it stands above thicknesses of the cloth around the buttonhole, or it might big a moment: clothing alterations are like draping but on a real person. When a student understands the lesson- that’s the reward for a teacher.
I am a Mother and Wife:
My two children are very private people, as opposed to me, I will answer just about any question and I have no modesty. My children are amazingly smart- like their dad they attended an Ivy League School, and are able write coherently about Enya and Chemistry in the same paragraph. My beloved husband of 30+ years has spent the last 40+ years managing professional theaters. As he might tell you, like many former boy scouts he is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. And a little silly sometimes.
*Sewist is the newest term for someone who loves to sew, as sewer can be confused with someone who loves to sew or the waste-water handler. I’m not crazy about sewist but it’s better than sewer.