It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Na Hulu Ali'i

The full name is Royal Hawaiian Featherwork: Na Hulu Ali'i - it is one of the current exhibitions at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

I was in The City (that's San Francisco for you non-west coasters) this week, and decided, since it was a gorgeous day,  to enjoy some time in GG Park.   I checked on the exhibits at the de Young Museum (I admit it, I LOVE my smart phone!) and realized that the Feather Capes of the Hawaiian Royals were still there - I rushed my hiney right over, since this went on my wish list when I first heard of it!

I had seen a couple of the pieces at the Bishop during my time in Hawaii in the 70's, but this was a beautiful and inclusive, albeit still small exhibit, and very do-able in an hour or so.

So worth it!

This cape - an 'Ahu 'ula, is floor length.  
Although it LOOKS heavy, it probably weighs about 6 pounds.  
Only the Royals, and only men, were allowed to wear these.  From the 18th century.
(Note:  They did not display the capes on mannequins with shoulders because of the potential damage to the pressure points.  There's a good reason to have narrow shoulders, no?  

 Close-Up of the feathers:

 A non-traditional women's cape from the 30's or 40's, made of pheasant feathers.   
Wouldn't you wear this?   In a heart beat I would!!!   Just give me a place to go!

Lei hulu (feather lei). 
These were worn on the head or neck by women and girls.

Mahiole (feathered helmet).   This one was from the 18th century or earlier.  
All things considered, these are darn well preserved!

Those black feathers!!!   Drool...   
When this cape was new and fresh it must have been uber-stunning!

All of the pieces were enclosed in plexiglass.   Photography was allowed (no, I didn't need to be a surreptitious sneak!!!   Not that I'm above that [koff koff])

Next door was a small exhibit covering the preservation of feathers, and including a few later pieces.   If you go, be sure to check this room out too!

Aleutian parka - OMG I would SO wear this one in cold weather!   
Although I start shivering when it hits 55° these days...

A hat.
Yes, it's a hat.  
From New Guinea, and made of cassowary feathers.   
The smaller, more sedate lump behind it is also a hat, but I was so fascinated by this...umm...headpiece that I'm afraid I ignored the other one.

This is another hat.
I will say no more.

Afterwards I took the elevator up to the rooftop view area, which is one of SF's finest spots to know about!   You can get in to this section of the museum for free, and enjoy a fabulous 360° view of the City and beyond!

On the observation deck, looking South over the  Music Concourse, 
where many fantastic concerts are held.
The building with the grassy mounds on the roof is the Natural History Museum,
and you can see some of the UCSF Medical buildings behind that - buildings I've become all too familiar with lately!   (but I'm incredibly blessed to have those amazing doctors near me!)

The day was so clear and warm and beautiful, and the entire experience left me missing my years living in SF!   This was a thoroughly delightful reminder of just how beautiful this city really is - one of the best in the world, and right next door!

Note to Self:  Spend more time there.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Buttons and Baubles and Artists, Oh YES!

Before too much time has passed, I must say a word or two about one of my favorite events of the year, Artistry in Fashion.   Fiber Artists!  Jewelers!  Felters!  Clothing Designers & Makers! Speakers!  Fashion Shows!  Being Surrounded by Inspiration!

The event is held at Cañada College at the end of September each year as a fundraiser for the Fashion Department.  It's a wonderful day of visiting juried artist booths, watching fashion shows (one using goodies from the vendors, one with pieces shown by the featured speaker), and catching up with friends from all over.

The trouble with documenting everything with photos is that it takes away from the direct experience of all the eye candy!   So I rarely get many pics from the event...maybe next year!

Here are Dorothy, Ann, and Barbara V wearing outfits pulled together from various vendors, right after the fashion show.   This is a great way to showcase some of the pieces being sold by the artists - in fact, Ann bought the top and the felt necklaces she was wearing!   Doesn't she look great in them?  Don't miss the fun fascinator that Barbara V is wearing!
Dorothy Kaplan, Ann Smith, and Barbara V.  
Sadly, none of them are being active bloggers these days!

It's always a treat to see Margy, who drove up for the event (people do come from far and wide to attend AIF - it really is worth it!)
Margy, looking as elegant as ever, Me, trying to avoid the sun,
and Shams (note the fabulous necklace!)
As much as I would love to support ALL of the artists there by coming home with their amazing goodies, I was pretty frugal.   I love love love these earrings, by Eccentric Designs!  In fact, they were such a perfect match for what I was wearing that my ears donned them on the spot!
The artist, Winnie, creates most of her pieces from what she called "garbage" - discarded and found objects, married together with such a beautifully creative eye that her work has an appeal to many different tastes!  Shams, Margy, and I all bought pieces from her!

My other purchase was buttons.   Every year I simply MUST browse the Button Booth - I'm an admitted button addict, especially if it's vintage!   I bought this string of buttons (already assembled), with the immediate image of making a necklace from them.    Somehow.

There was so much inspiration from the vendors and visitors at AIF, including shams and the necklace she wore in the above pic, that I wanted to get started on my vision before it faded.

I really had no idea how to pull it off, but had to start somewhere...
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I added a few other vintage buttons from my stash, laid them on some fleece & sewed them on (utilizing the orange wire that they were strung on), fused that on to a piece of leather, then wound some leather cord around & through the piece.

It took several days of liking what was happening, then not liking it, sleeping on it to wait for some new inspiration about how to fix what wasn't working....

In the end, I'm happy with my fun new necklace!
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And it works with quite a few of my clothes!   I seem to be getting back in to an orange/gold phase again...
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Do you make your own jewelry?   Silversmithing & related activities are beyond me, and beading (although I've done a lot of it) can end looking more crafty than arty in the hands of someone like me, but there really are a lot of options out there to make some unique and not-that-hard pieces!   I've done some paper weaving beads, which were lots of fun!  They're not that hard, but a bit too complex to try describing on paper - I think that learning this technique is really an in-person thing)
This is two necklaces worn together.
This was a ridiculously time-consuming piece, made years ago,
and honestly, I can't remember the last time I wore it!   It may be time to pass it on...
Your Basic Beading.   I actually do still wear these at times.   I think I've given away everything else I ever beaded.   (Except my pendulums!   But those are still used...)  My beading days, I think, are probably pretty much over.
So why can't I re-home my boxes of beads and tools???   
Yes.   Why, indeed?   Do all of you creative and crafty type people hang on to your tools and treasures from projects you were obsessed with at one time or another?    I can get rid of so many other no-longer-used bits and baubles of my life, but not my creative tools!   Do I need an intervention?   How about you?  Do you hang on to those odd crafty bits because you're sure you'll get involved with them again...someday?   Or do you move on?    (I even help other people with their clutter - but don't you dare touch my 4-strand yarn winder or my paper-making screens!!!!)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pippi Longstocking, Marcy Tilton, and Me

So I know I'm missing the leggings, but still - aren't we just quite the little trio?   I seriously want to make some striped leggings and wear this with my Trippen boots!

I fell head over heels in love with this pattern, Marcy Tilton's V9108  - not in small part because of the stunning graphic on the front panel!  But of course one can't just copy everything about a pattern now, can one?   Even though, when I saw that fabric in person (shams made a GAWjuss shirt from it!), I wished I had it!   Wishful thinking only, since I'm sewing almost entirely from stash these days (and I really can't complain about the size of my stash! - thank the heavens for my greed foresight when I was still working and had an income lol!)

Wanting to make this, and choosing the fabrics, turned out not to be as easy as fabric mixing usually is for me.   Something about the layout & proportions of everything really presented a challenge for me.   I wasn't the only one!   My friend Ann (who, sadly, hasn't been blogging for ages - even longer than I) and I had a brainstorming session to help each other piece together our options.

In the end, I cut up an old pareu (rayon) I've had for years (that's the printed panel), and combined it with the stripe and the black (both knits), and ran a lovely ribbon on both sides of the panel for balance and a smooth  transition.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The construction is just unusual enough that I felt it warranted a slapped-together muslin, and I'm REALLY glad I did this!   I somehow missed a rather crucial fitting bit - the fact that there are straps added on to the shoulders that connect the front and back.   I couldn't figure out why my top was SO much shorter than the pattern pic, until I finally found the extra pattern pieces.   And with the way it's constructed, it just isn't possible to fit as you go - it all finally comes together in the end.

Unfortunately given my absence from blogland and the fact that I didn't take pics or make notes along the way, I have no memory at all of whatever fitting changes I made!   I'm sure I made a small (I nearly always do with Marcy patterns), and I used my TNT for the t-shirt, adjusting the neckline to match the jumper's.

Oh yes, the t-shirt!    People who don't know the pattern usually think this is a one-piece, but it's actually a jumper with a t-shirt underneath.  (what do you Aussies and Brits call an American jumper?   In spite of my British Mum and some Britishisms that stuck with me, I'll never be able to refer to a sweater as a jumper...)

In the end, this outfit has been getting a LOT of rotation in the wardrobe!   Maybe not the most flattering of outfits, but super comfy and versatile - I've worn it with and without the t-shirt, depending on weather, and once I get my Pippi Longstocking leggings made, it will transition nicely into cooler weather too!

And the pockets!   LOVE the big pockets!

Yes, it is indeed shorter in the back than in the front.   (reverse mullet?)   A bit odd, and if I made it again, I think I would even out the hem.

All in all, I love this pattern!   Comfy to wear, great pockets, multi-seasonal, super fun options with color blocking... Marcy has done it again!

Note the newly painted front door?   AND new porch stain as well!   Big Big BIG thanks to my fabulously generous friends who put hours and hours of work into making this happen while I wasn't feeling up to much of anything!    I did do the door myself this month, after I started getting some pep back, but the whole project never would have been started if it weren't for some old friends (and old friends are best!!)  who showed up with tools and time and muscles and got it all started.    And it was a LOT of work!!!

Here's to more pep in our lives, fun sewing projects, and red front doors!

P.S.  I'm adding this edit because I just had a grammar discussion with some friends.   I thought  about titling this post "Pippi Longstocking, Marcy Tilton, and I", but I ended up opting for the "Me" instead of the proper grammar - because I thought it sounded a bit on the pretentious side.   Isn't that a little sad?  Was I just being silly, and most of my readers would actually notice the error?  What would you do?  

Monday, October 12, 2015

A year??? It's been A YEAR???

:::Peeks out from under the covers to see if anyone still remembers me:::

A year of blogging absence - I suppose a bit of an explanation is in order.

I have been sewing - a bit, not as much as I would like - but mostly I've been resting, sleeping, talking to doctors, and healing after the shock of some health news sent me on a life-shifting journey.

The Story:  35 years ago - back in the dark ages - I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C (then called non-A non-B, since it was still such a new discovery).   There was no cure, until some years later when a horrible combination of shots and drugs was offered, which killed some people, made others miserable, and cured a small percentage.   Since I was firmly ensconced in "alternative" healing methods and healthy life practices by then, I didn't give the pharmaceutical option a second thought!

Fast forward to January of last year.  I was feeling flat out sick, and nothing I was trying helped.   I finally sought Western medical help, and after being poked and prodded and interviewed and scanned by numerous docs, I was given the news that I would be needing a liver transplant.

Time for research, research, research!!!   Find people who've been there, done that.  Scour the web.   Find support groups.   (There are, by the way, a LOT of support groups for people with HepC - it now kills more people annually than AIDS does, but there ARE cures please, get tested!!!)  The good news is that, right around the same time I started feeling so sick, the new drugs with a hugely successful cure rate were starting to be approved!   More (good news!) about that to come...

Meanwhile, exhaustion forced me into early retirement and the finances dwindled, but my fabulous friends, along with years of spiritual practices and various healing modalities gave me everything I needed to maintain an Attitude of Gratitude.   That gratefulness, and the joy of being alive (admittedly with an occasional relapse into the land of "I can't TAKE it anymore!!  Stop the world and just let me OFF!!!"),  keeps me going and lets me know everything will, indeed, be fine.  Better than fine!

Above all, Gratitude.  And laughter.  And lightheartedness.   And not taking any of this toooo seriously.  And friends and supporters.   And silliness.  Did I mention laughter?  That's the one thing that can always lift me when I start to choose a dark path (and those paths are there...along with the choice to take it, or not!)

It hasn't been easy writing this post - or rather, finding the time and energy and courage to write it. I'm just pounding it out right now, so that I can re-enter this fabulous blogging world and finally get some sewing posts up!    And writing this wasn't even CLOSE to being as challenging as agreeing to set up this:

I was fairly quiet about all of this for some time, except for all of my fabulous friends.   Agreeing to the You Caring fundraiser, then having the word spread through social media and blogs (thank you shams!)  showed me, once again,  that learning how to ask for help as well as being willing to receive it is a blessing of community that there are no words for!    More tears.   Of gratitude.

About those miracle drugs mentioned above - I was able to take them for a 12 week period, and after 35 long years,  my body is now cleared of the HepC virus!!!!   This is incredible - such great news, and such a shift, that I still haven't fully absorbed it!

This means I've been starting to feel better and have more energy, which means I'm playing the catch-up game with all of the neglected aspects of my life, including sewing and blogging!

Thanks to everyone for reading through this non-sewing post - I've so missed you all!   I have a number of projects to post about - taking photos has seemed like way too much effort for some time, but I'm ready for it now, so look out blogging world, I'M BACK!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mini Wardrobe Challenge with No Rules! (My kinda challenge...)

On a bit of an inspired whim, one of my local  sewing groups decided to do a mini-wardrobe challenge.  After some discussion about what rules to set, whether to have a "winner" & prizes, etc., we ended up deciding to hold a make-however-many-pieces-you-want-and-set-your-own-goals-and-we'll-just-support-each-other sort of event, because that's the kind of group we are.  :-)  My kind of contest!

I entered one Pattern Review mini-wardrobe contest a few years ago, and really appreciated it for a number of reasons:

  • It helped settle my mind in a work-together wardrobe mode, as opposed to a closet full of orphans. 
  • It was a stretch for me on several fronts, and I do appreciate stretching exercises.
  • The time pressure of having a finish date was a good experience - although I don't relish deadlines, I do tend to do well under pressure, and I proved that I could rise to the occasion on the sewing front if need be.  (it is not, however, something that appeals to me on a regular basis)
So, with a vague goal in mind, I set about figuring out what I wanted to do.   It actually ended up being easier than I thought it might be!

My Wardrobe Planning Process

The State of My Mind in the Beginning Steps of Planning:

We had a supportive planning meeting, and the goals and reasons that people were doing their wardrobes were as varied and individual as the members of the group (and we are a delightfully motley crew!)   Some wanted a specific travel wardrobe, some focused on expanding themselves out of their usual color-comfort zone,  some wanted more work clothes, some wanted a good-fitting pair of trousers as a start.

  • I need a new pair of jeans.   I've made 2, which are both still serviceable (one fairly, one barely), but since jeans are probably my single most-worn clothing item, I'm definitely due for another pair!  So that became my jump-off point, and once I made the decision, I didn't waver from it.
  • I also need more tops that actually go with jeans.  I know, I know, virtually anything can go with jeans, but sometimes I just want a nice blouse or shirt that actually matches my jeans, and my closet just never seems to produce just what I'm looking for.  Tons of T-shirts I have, but not much else.
  • The SF Bay Area is Jacket Central.   You simply cannot have too many jackets if you live here, and my only navy blue jacket is old, funky, and made by someone else.   My local charity gets that one.
  • Expanding on the navy goes-with-jeans concept, I've added a skirt and a sweater to the plan

I'm also planning on sewing entirely from stash (unless I need something to round out a piece).  Or (as has already happened),  I find myself short of some fabric I bought well over a year ago.  And Oh lucky me - they STILL HAD IT!!!!      (thank you Piedmont Fabrics!)

The state of my mind had cleared up somewhat at this point:
(Biggify to see my brain at work a little more clearly)
You will notice some carefully selected (i.e., somewhat random) silk ties
scattered about - the thought is to maybe use some of them
as embellishments here and there....we'll see.....

The REALLY cool bit, at least in my mind, is that 4 of the 6 fabrics I'm using were pieces that I've just not had a clue what to do with, mainly because they were "too special to cut", so I was terrified to do anything at all - you know the syndrome ... right?    I've already cut out 2 of those fabrics, and the Center for Patter Design Spiral blouse is all done except for the buttons and buttonholes, so I think I'm doing well!

I'm on a roll with the sewing now, thanks to finally finished the jumper project, and having the wonderful support of my fellow seamsters, so you should be hearing more from me in the coming weeks and months :)

How about you and your planning/sewing process?   Do you sew well under the pressure of a deadline, or would you rather meander at your leisure?  And does your sewing process match how you navigate the other aspects of your life?   (these are the sort of musings that sometimes keep me awake at night...)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Self-Drafted Wrap-Top Form-Fitted Jumper with Palazzo Pants (aka: Do Not Try This at Home)

I admit that I'm a decidedly selfish seamstress for the most part, with the occasional project for others thrown in the mix, because, well, as a sewist, that's what's happens.   Right?  The most fun I have (usually) is making something for my darling niece Laurel.   It helps that she's a huge fan of everything I make, and that she's super fun to collaborate with, with her own developing sense of style and willingness to step outside the box.   And a shapely young body to boot.

For her 24th birthday and a going-away present (Nepal for 6+ months!), I wanted to make her something she could travel with....and the collaboration began.

She decided she wanted a jumper.   No problem, says I.   With palazzo pants.   Can easily be done, I says.  And a wrap top. Umm....OK.  Tight.  Very tight (show off said shapely, curvy body, after all).   Knit wrap top, silky palazzo pants, body-hugging jumper.

Did I mention the tiny waist and the curvy hips that said jumper must fit over while donning? darling Laurel, some of the requests you may be granted, but not all at once.

Off I go searching for a pattern to use as a jumping off point.   There is no such pattern to be found (at least in my search).   I wonder why?   Undaunted, I carry on with a T. Gunn "make it work!" attitude.  I used an existing wrap-front knit dress of hers and a complete set of measurements, found the fabric, grabbed my scissors, and the adventure began.

This was step one:   a combination of all of the fabrics used:

I blogged the process that I used to create the 4-strand braid Here.

I have spared you all, dear readers, with the journey that I took creating the finished look.   You may thank me for that, because who wants to commiserate with angst?   The fact that she lives a couple of hundred miles away and we had a total of 3 fittings (plus one more, and then just one more, and then one final one before the final final final fitting).

There was a point towards the end when I realized that, if it didn't fit at all, it could magically turn the jumper into a pair of awesome palazzo pants, and I did start breathing more easily, knowing there was a simple save out there, just in case...  But we all survived!

Since there were so many fits and starts, taking progress pictures really wasn't even an option without writing a book, and as you may have noticed, just getting a simple blog post written on a regular basis just ain't happening lately, so I'll just jump ahead to the final pictures:

The braided belt, the bamboo knit top, the knit under-belt thingy, 
and the palazzo pants from a ploy silky:

Ready to Travel the World!:

And/or dance the night away....

...looking comfy and chic....

Ready to stand on the mountain top and teach, and learn, 
and experience the glories of the world!

The Designer and the Recipient:

The Designer, the Recipient, and the Bug:

The final result was not constructed with perfection, but it fits, it's comfy, it should travel well, it can be dressed up or down, and best of all, Laurel loves it!   So was it all worth it in the end?

You betcha!

Farewell my darling Laurel - wear it in good health and with a smile on your face, and return home from your adventures safely and filled with great stories!   And maybe I'll see you next year in Kathmandu......