It’s all good…

I can’t let yesterday get too far away without acknowledging the milestone.  2/22/2002.  A day in infamy.  The day of my breast cancer diagnosis.  Changed my life forever and not necessarily in a bad way.  There were many good things to come out of that dark year, and it has been many years now since I went through it.  I’m sure now, if I had to go through it again, that the treatment would be completely different, but I survived.  And I not only survived, I lived.  Another 13 years.  It was with a bit of trepidation on Friday when I went for my routine colonoscopy, so close to the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, but when I woke up from anesthesia, it was so incredible to hear, “Everything is fine”.  Same last month with my mammography and sonogram.  There is always that lurking idea in the back of your mind that all is not OK with the world.

It has been a roller coaster ride these last 13 years.  I’ve grown so much, in age and in wisdom.  I’ve reached so many more students, in so many more venues.  I’ve started this blog, which is now more than 6 years old.  Technology has changed so much, and today I did my first webinar for Weaving Today, part of a five part series on Garment Construction for Handweavers.  I heard it went well, but the real feedback has yet to come in.  If you weren’t available today for the live post, the recording will be available for download shortly.

My kids are all grown up now, they were young when I went through cancer, and I’m thrilled for the extra years to watch their journey.  I have so much to be grateful for, and they are pretty cool decent people.

I start my heavy duty spring travel on Friday, crossing my fingers that there are no travel/weather issues.  I’m heading to North Carolina where there is a spitting chance it is a touch warmer than the 0 degrees we have had here for the last month.  Wish me luck!

And the latest issue of Threads Magazine has just hit the newstand.  In it is my four page article on Staystitching, an old school sewing step that I still think is pretty critical but mostly lost on the newer generation of garment makers.  Check it out!



Stay tuned!


Nothing like a professional photo…

I’m staying indoors as much as possible.  It is pretty damn cold out there.  I know it is winter, and this is NJ, but -2 degrees?  That’s pushing it.  At least we don’t have continuing two foot snowstorms like Boston.  I can push an inch or two of snow around with a shovel.  We do have a snow blower, and I do have a husband who loves his toy, but he flies to Sweden tonight, and I’m hoping the next weather incident is mild and shovelable… (My spell-check just freaked out.  Get over it…)  I don’t do power tools.

So I spent the day Saturday ripping my studio apart, finding all kinds of lovely colored dust bunnies in places that the vacuum doesn’t reach.  I do this a couple times a year so I can do a formal photo shoot, of all works worthy of a formal photo shoot, for portfolio purposes, updating my website gallery, and of course, applying to exhibits.  It’s that time again!

I went through my closet for the pieces I knew had to be photographed and I found a couple of minor works I’d forgotten to photograph the last time around. Like this jacket from 2012.  I had created it from handwoven fabric from Jerri Shankler, part of a Potpourri exchange from my weaving guild.  We all put yarn in brown bags and swap and the recipient weaves something for the owner of the yarn.  It was all great fun and Jerri wove me this lovely crackle weave fabric  from my yarn and I used it to make a jacket for a Sew News Article back in 2013.  The trim is linen.  It is a Vogue Pattern. #2919


And then this one, which I made last year from a commercial fabric.  I needed an additional garment that featured inkle woven trim, since I teach this a lot, especially to non weavers.  And I needed a jacket for illustrating how to bag a lining in my “Behind the Front Lines” lecture I did last summer for the ASG conference.  I’m into killing as many birds as I can with one stone. (Really we need to come up with a better metaphor, those poor birds…)  The trim is inkle woven with a supplemental weft.  The pattern for the jacket is from Burda Style Magazine.  December/2013


And I decided to include one of my knitted garments that I’m real proud of.  This is the handspun I did from the leftovers of this felted jacket.  I remember spinning it during the Academy Awards last year.  It is a really modified C2Knits pattern, I know it looks nothing like the original, but I’m proud of how I incorporated Angora/Silk yarn from my stash, and made the few skeins of handspun I had last. I had about 8″ of handspun left when I was finished the sweater. To support the heavy metal buttons, I wove my own grosgrain for the underside of the button area on an inkle loom from the leftover angora/silk.


The mohair warp coat I made at the end of last year from my handwoven fabric, with some 20 hours of hand blanket stitch and crocheted edging, photographed better than I thought it would.  The joy of the color gradation on this coat is really subtle.  Most miss it at first.  I’ve already worn this coat to death, it is great for layering in sub zero temps.  It is a McCall’s pattern. #7057


And finally, the big shirt.  This is so colorful and so pretty and I’m so happy with it.  I’m patiently awaiting spring when I can start really wearing it, not mushed under 20 layers of clothing.  Unless it gets into an exhibit.  Then I won’t really be able to wear it until fall.  The pattern is a vintage 1980’s oversized shirt pattern from Burda. (Heavily modified) #6381


A productive weekend, and my studio is back together, and the photo equipment, lights, backdrop, etc. all returned to their closet.  My husband installed some lovely bright LED strip lighting under some of the cabinets in my sewing and ironing areas, and I’m happy about that.  You can’t ever have too much task lighting. And now we are getting close to the count down, when I start traveling, and I am tying up loose ends, getting ready for my first installment of the five part webinar series for Weaving Today, (next Monday 1pm EST).  I have lots to do in the next couple of weeks.

Stay tuned…


Sewing Up A Storm…

We’ve had steady weather incidents in the last week or so, nothing cumulative like up in New England, but enough to make everyone cranky and me very very grateful I work from home and that other than an appointment here and there, I don’t have to deal with miserable road conditions, and winter traffic.

I’m a crazy person at the computer building presentations for my upcoming webinars, which is all wonderful, but sitting at the computer for hours makes me hurt all over and makes my eyes sort of crossed and blurry.  So I need frequent breaks.

I always return to my oldest and dearest most trusted and reliable friend, my sewing machine, when I need to clear my head.

When last we left off, I was about to cut up my beloved handdyed and handwoven yardage I’ve been sitting on for a couple of years now.  I had done the muslin, and actually made the garment from a rayon ombré jacquard that I bought in NYC a couple years ago.  I got feedback from my guild members on the length.


And so, I laid out the pattern, and took the shears to my fabric, and worked like a crazy person and finished up this tunic in just a couple of days.  I wore it Sunday to teach a beginning weaving class.  I’ll do a more formal photo shoot over the weekend since I have an exhibition application due next week.


I can’t tell you how much this piece makes me smile.  I have so many jackets and coats that are handwoven, and plenty of hand knit sweaters.  I have a few handwoven summer dresses, and a few sleeveless tops.  Tunics are coming back into fashion in a huge way, and they are long overdue.  This is a perfect kind of silhouette for handwoven fabric, and I can even tolerate the dropped shoulder, though I modified the shoulder on this pattern so it didn’t drop so much…

Meanwhile, I did teach a Beginning Weaving Class with my trusty little Structo’s on Sunday, the weather incident predicted for the weekend held off until Sunday night, and I drove the hour or so down to Princeton, NJ and taught at a wonderful art center in West Windsor.  I had five students and now there are five new weavers!  Everyone seemed to enjoy the day, and they want me back for more.  Always good to hear.


And so I jumped into preparing for part two of my upcoming Garment Construction for Handweavers Webinar, all about fitting the body.  Which sounds all very technical and dry, but no matter how gorgeous your handwoven fabric is, if the garment doesn’t fit you, it will never look good.  And fitting real women’s bodies in 2015 using a size chart from the 1960’s is a hilarious adventure into futility. I’ll let you know when the link is available for Part two, meanwhile, I’m told that sign ups are coming in already for my Part one, see the previous blog post, and Interweave Press/Weaving Today hasn’t even started on their marketing blitz yet.

Meanwhile, I have this ongoing frustration with Vogue patterns.  You may recall some major issues with a pattern I recently used, for a jacket I made for an upcoming article for Sew News.  I blogged about it here.  I did contact Vogue, and though they weren’t interested in reading the blog post, which they told me bluntly, I had to outline in a few words what the problem was, and so I told them as best I could in a few words and they said they’d look into it.

I finally heard back from them, and their version of what went wrong was so far from what the problem was, and their fix was so ridiculous and would only set up a whole new series of unfortunate events (they claim the numbers on two of the pattern pieces were switched, they aren’t I can assure you) that I had to really think whether I wanted to continue using Vogue for all my pattern needs, as much as I love the fit and the styling and the engineering.  The quality is going downhill fast.

When I was looking for patterns for a jacket for the Sew News Article, I spent a lot of time on the website.  It is a really extensive gathering of most of the pattern companies, both major and independent, that sell in the US, and you know, there are a lot of pattern companies I haven’t worked with, or haven’t worked with in a long time.  Time to try hanging with a new bunch of friends?

My last garment was from the free download from the Marfy website, and I adore the styling and fit.  The no directions thing has me a bit hesitant, though I can usually figure it out, and the fact that buying a real Marfy pattern is ordering it from Italy, and getting a one size hand cut pattern, that well, I’m not one size.  No one is.  I love multi-sized patterns because the guess work is done.  There are multiple sizes to pick from for a multiple sized body. (Yes, I do know how to grade, but that doesn’t make me happy…)

I’ve sewn with a lot of Burda patterns over the years.  Burda is German.  And I have to say, there is a lot to be said for German engineering.  Although I work pretty much from their monthly magazine, which contains all the patterns for that issue in the middle in a hugely confusing road map of shapes and colors, all without seam allowances, I’m use to them now, and really really like the end results, 95 percent of the time.  And I’ve never found an error.


Anyway, I came across a couple of patterns I liked on the site.  One was a Burda knit surplice top, and the other was a Neue Mode Vest. Both patterns had a download option.  Which made it cheaper, and no shipping, and I have a good printer and plenty of ink, so I decided one night a couple months ago, to download them and see what happens.


I took a break from all that presentation stuff Monday, and pulled out the 37 pages for the Burda knit top, and pulled from my shelf a lovely sweater knit I bought a couple years ago at Mood in NYC.  It was annoying to have to piece all the pages together, but once I trimmed the right side and bottom edge of all the pages, they fit together nicely.


I traced off the pattern pieces, in the combo size I needed, and unlike the magazine, these patterns have seam allowances built in, and there is a little chart that shows the finished dimensions for each size in the bust and hip area.  A huge deal when trying to figure out ease.


The directions were minimal, but at least they were there.  There is an interesting construction sequence, and I couldn’t really do a test garment because test garments don’t work well in knits, since each knit stretches differently.  I just dove in and crossed my fingers.


And I’m smiling even more.  I love this top, I’ll wear it all winter, I’m sure, and I’m very very happy with the fit and the result.


I think there will be a lot more downloads in my future… Stay tuned…


Lift off!

Woo Hoo!  We have a link!

The first part of my five part live Webinar series on Garment Construction for Handweavers is now available for registration!  The first installment will air February 23, 2015 at 1pm EST.  If you are a participant in the live webinar, you will get to ask questions at the end.  All questions will be answered, if not during the webinar, then during the 48 hour time frame afterwards, and then they will be packaged with the download when available.  All participants of the live webinar get a copy of the download.  Those that miss the presentation can purchase the download later when it becomes available.


Garment Construction Part 1: Handwoven Yardage and Sewing Tips

with Daryl Lancaster

Live Web Seminar

Join Daryl Lancaster as she discusses the first steps to garment construction. Live web seminar starts at 1pm EST on Feb. 23rd, 2015.
Cutting into handwoven cloth is one of the most distressing hurdles for most weavers to overcome. Yet, for garments that flatter the body, this is a critical part of the process of garment construction. And of course, how much yardage, how wide to weave, how to sett that yardage and ultimately what to make from that yardage are all questions that every weave interested in creating wearable garments has asked themselves.
In this five part series, Daryl will guide you through the entire process, from deciding what to weave, selecting the pattern, learning how to fit the pattern for the best results, and finally how to construct garments that flatter, maintain stability in the cloth and pay homage to the creative process. Daryl has spent a lifetime making garments. She became a handweaver in the 1970’s and has passionately combined the two, to create award winning garments from her handwoven fabric.
What you’ll learn:

  • Explore sources of inspiration for garments
  • Learn what size handwoven yardage works best for garments
  • Explore sett and sampling and finishing for handwoven yardage
  • Learn how to make handwoven fabric behave
  • Learn how to cut handwoven fabric and how to best transfer markings
Who should attend:

  • Handweavers who would like to create handwoven yardage.
  • Handweavers who would like to create garments from their yardage
  • Garment makers who would like to work with handwoven fabric
  • Sewers (or sewists) who would like to better understand the garment construction process
  • Handweavers and garment makers who want their garments to become more polished and professional looking.
Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the event as well as any handouts referenced during the presentation. You do not have to attend the live event to get the recording of the presentation or the handouts. In all Weaving Today web seminars, no question goes unanswered. Attendees have the ability to chat with the instructor during the live event and ask questions. You will receive a copy of the web seminar presentation in an email that goes out one week after the live event. The answers to questions not covered in the live presentation will be included in this email as well.


What a week it has been.  This time last week I was doing the countdown, fearing I’d have jury duty, and glad I had written my article for Sew News, and cleared my calendar.

Just in case…

And I was keeping an eye on the ever increasing historic blizzard warnings…

Just in case…

Monday, while the blizzard warnings grew dire and ominous, and all the milk and bread disappeared off the shelves of the local grocery store, my inbox began to fill with emails from Interweave Press, publishers of Handwoven Magazine (I was their features editor for about 6 years back in the early 2000’s) and the powers that be that produce their webinars.  I have been in loose discussion with them for awhile, nothing concrete, but as the blizzard loomed (pun intended) the emails began to come in ernst.  Coincidence?

Monday night I got the final text that said all Jurors were excused for Tuesday January 27th.  I went to bed knowing I’d have a lovely three weeks to work on things I wanted to work on, get some new work out of the studio, and take a more relaxed approach to my pending seven weeks of travel.

And the universe had other ideas…

So while most people had a snow day on Tuesday from the historic blizzard that completely skirted northern NJ and NYC, (we got about 4 inches of fine blowing powder), I was in heavy discussions with Interweave Press, and Weaving Today and by the time Tuesday finished, I was scheduled to write two articles for a fall publication of Handwoven, due sometime around mid year, and a five part Webinar series, on Garment Construction for Handweavers.  OMG!  (Note the date, January 27th)

The first installment of this mostly monthly series of Webinars (working around my crazy travel schedule), is scheduled to air February 23rd.  Of this year.  That would be a little over three weeks away…  The contracts, marketing outlines, promo images and an instructor questionaire were all due 21 days before the airing and the presentation (50 minutes plue Q&A) due two weeks before.  That meant that everything but the actual presentation was due in the next 48 hours?  OMG!

Needless to say, I instantly forgot dreams of an easier February, and dove in head first on Wednesday filling out said contracts and marketing outlines, asking a million questions, and beginning the long process of repackaging that which I know better than probably anybody on the planet, how to take glorious handwoven fabric and turn it into something to make your soul sing!  And your body to look pretty great too!  I’ve been making handwoven clothing since the late 1970’s.  I have a lot to say on the subject.  Note, none of this would have been possible had I not cleared my calendar for possible jury duty…

So the first installment airs live on Monday February 23, 2015 at 1pm EST.  The cost is $19.99, and you’ll get to ask questions at the end, and then get the download.  If you miss the live performance, you’ll be able to download the episode after it is packaged.  I’ll have more details once the links have gone up for the first installment, which covers weaving yardage for garments and tips for handling handwoven yardage.

Tuesday night, while the media went into damage control mode for predicting a historic storm that “frizzled”, (fizzled blizzard), I did what any self respecting fiber artist would do in the middle of a winter non event, I made a sleeveless silk blouse.  Summer is only a few months away.  And I’m going to be teaching in North Carolina in only a few short weeks.  It won’t be summer, but hey, I can dream…

Last September I had drafted and tested a free Marfy download from their website (Marfy is an Italian pattern company), a lovely skirt, sleeveless blouse and jacket pattern.  I hadn’t used Marfy patterns before, mostly because when you buy an actual pattern from them, you only get one size, hand cut, with minimal markings and NO directions.  Since I am like most, a combination of sizes, I really rely on the grading schematic of a multi size pattern.  It makes life a lot easier.  But the downloads came in multi sizes, just had to trace my combination of sizes and add seam allowances, and then I sat on the patterns until a few weeks ago when I actually made up the skirt (Marfy 0757) from a wool/tencel blend.  Gorgeous fabric, underlined with vintage Sibonne.  I finished the handwork this week.

This is basically all I had to work with, there were no directions, just this vague photo.


And so the silk charmeuse blouse (Marfy 1913), from a remnant I bought at the now defunct Waechter’s Silk Shop in Asheville (I’m still in mourning) was cut out, with dust to spare there was so little fabric, and I put together this lovely blouse with an elastic hem Tuesday night while the media were all in a tizzy over the fizzled blizzard and everyone in town had more bread and milk than they knew what to do with. The blouse is shown with the wool/tencel skirt mentioned above.


I spent all of Thursday and Friday hunkered down at the computer putting together part one of my Garment Construction Part 1 Webinar, to the point where I was stiff and bleary eyed, and seriously craving doing anything to get me away from the computer.  Friday night I decided to sew something, anything, because when I get bogged down in the how-to tutorials, all I want to do is actually make something.  This happens when I teach for long periods, I just want to dive in and sew something, and so I revisited an old favorite I’d been mulling over for awhile.


I want to make up this fabric.  It is all handdyed and handwoven, with a supplemental warp, and I finally decided that it would work well as a simple tunic.  Tunics are hot right now in all the fashion magazines, so 1970’s, a silhouette I haven’t worked with in awhile.  In the 1980’s during my craft fair days, I made this tunic, loosely based on a very old Burda pattern, the cover and instructions in English are long gone, but I had the patterns I had drafted and modified, and I reworked the size and length, and made up a muslin.  This is the original tunic…


I tweaked the size further, made a few more alterations, and grabbed the first fabric off the shelf that said, “tunic”, a rayon ombré jacquard, and a companion silk jacquard remnant from Thai Silks in black, and set out to make up the tunic as a test before cutting into my handwoven.


I mostly like it.

But I’m thinking it is too long.  I tucked up the shirttail hem about four inches and I like the proportions better.  This is why we do dry runs in other fabric first before cutting into our precious handwoven fabric, Oops!  That’s a spoiler from Part 2 of my Garment Construction Webinar…


Incidentally there is a forecast of 5-10 inches of snow tonight.  The media are all oddly quiet…   Stay tuned…