Because I can…

Because you can is not a reason to do something.  I’ve used this adage in many applications in my life.  I told my surgeon after my mastectomy many many years ago, that because you could reconstruct a breast is not necessarily a reason to do so.  I was done with surgeries and wanted to get back to what I loved and the people I loved.  She didn’t agree or understand, but she is a surgeon.  I am a creative person.  My missing breast didn’t matter to me.

I used this same adage, “Because you can is not a reason”, when I gave a lecture following a fashion show at a regional conference, after I had given out the awards.  They asked me to say a few words, and I found I returned to my favorite saying, because in any creative endeavor, there is the tendency to throw everything you have at it and not then carefully edit what really doesn’t have a point or place in the work.  Because you can cover something with goo-gaws, handmade or not, might not be in the best interest of the piece.  I heard this sentiment reiterated many years ago in a workshop I took with Nick Cave, the famous performance artist from Chicago, well known for his sound suits.  In the workshop, where we had to deconstruct a man’s three piece suit and recreate it into something else, he would say over and over, “Why did you put that there?”  And you had to know why.  Because you could, because it was in your box of embellishments, because it was there laying on the table, those were not reasons.  

Same thing in critiques when I went to art school.  Because I like fiber rather than painting wasn’t a reason for working in a particular medium, if the content could have been voiced just as effectively in paint or photography, why spend the 8 months doing all this in tapestry?  You may argue, but there is some validity to this, and I’ve used it thoughtfully throughout my career and my life.  I’m even using this motto while I slowly redo my house, room by room.  Just because I have a box with 37 framed family photos doesn’t mean they all need to be displayed.  Sometimes less is more.

So there is a point to this.  Really…

I have been largely in hiding the last few weeks, working hard on a six page article for Threads Magazine for one of the fall issues.  I won’t go into too much detail, you’ll have to wait for the publication, but the basic point of the article is to talk about the guts of what goes into a tailored jacket.  I haven’t done rigid traditional tailoring in many many years, so this has been a great exercise, even though my poor hands and fingers are a mess from the hours of hand sewing/pad stitching/basting, etc.

Although I tailor (pun intended) my life around the adage “Because I can” is not a reason, “Because I want to see if I can” is a very very good reason.  

The issue here is a felted undercollar.  The underneath part of the collar in a traditionally tailored jacket is often made of felt, which has no grain, and does not fray. Being of wool it can have tremendous shaping abilities. Seam allowances can be removed, the undercollar handstitched down, and there is much less bulk.  Because the editorial decision was made to tailor the sample jacket, half will be completely finished and half will be deconstructed to show the “guts”, in an off white wool, I had to purchase the “guts” in the lightest and most inconspicuous materials.  That wasn’t a problem for the silk organza, the hymo hair canvas, the cotton tape, and the flannel interlining.  But the felt for the undercollar was a problem.  I could only get white white, and it was a 12″ square, and it was too small and too white for the jacket and the three pieces necessary for the undercollar.

Vogue8333 FeltedCollar3

I kept thinking, you know, if I had some natural colored Merino…

I had this vague recollection of being given a small bag of white Merino, which isn’t really white of course, and I dove into my cabinet with all the spinning/felting supplies.  That was an adventure and a cabinet that needs a major cleanout.  But I’m on deadline.  It will have to wait…

I did find, buried in the back, a small bag of natural Merino wool, from Spinner’s Hill.  So I wanted to see if I could felt a rectangle of fabric suitable for an undercollar.  

I kept the layers thin, and started the felting process in a large plexiglass tray I rescued from an artwork that needed to go away.


Once felted, (even Merino takes a long time and a lot of muscle, I am not a fan of the felting process…) I had a pretty nice chunk to work with.  The color was perfect.

FeltedCollar4 FeltedCollar5

I found a spool of Piper’s Silk in my lace making supplies box, and lacking any other silk thread in the house, I went ahead and used that and did all my pad stitching and shaping of the undercollar pieces with the silk.  The undercollar is stitched on completely by hand.  I’m pretty darn pleased with myself.  Because I wanted to see if I could, and turns out I definitely could, I got something way better than what was available to me for this particular purpose.

FeltedCollar6 FeltedCollar7 FeltedCollar8

So I’m adjusting the motto a bit, “Because you can is not a reason, unless the reason is to see if you can, then by all means go for it!”

Back to endless hand sewing…

Comments (10)

MelissaMarch 18th, 2017 at 6:34 pm

Self-suffiency: Very satisfying. Nicely done!

Looking forward to reading the article!

SharoleneMarch 18th, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Thank you Daryl. Your posts are always illuminating and inspiring.

Nina RuitMarch 18th, 2017 at 7:38 pm

Beautiful! Glad you were willing to give it a try.

leilani bennettMarch 18th, 2017 at 7:43 pm

Yes, very inspiring and words to remember. thank you for posting.

Amy MMarch 18th, 2017 at 8:07 pm

“Not a fan of the felting process”, you say? Not even when you do it with a friend, in your bathing suit, on the floor of the shower? 🙂 An experience never to be forgotten, and never to be repeated, thank goodness. But you have to admit it was fun.

Linda HealeyMarch 19th, 2017 at 7:31 am

Excellent post and reasoning. Not the least because you had the skill to envision it working and to know that it was right when you were done. Love it —

NanetteMarch 19th, 2017 at 8:36 am

So glad to be getting your input again. You sound good, and this particular post really pertinent as I start to play with ALM’s video on embellishment. Quote from this will go on a card above the table!

elizaduckieMarch 19th, 2017 at 9:42 am

Such an interesting post. I enjoyed following along, and your wise adage.

Just a thought: Addi has recently released a helpmate to those of us whose impediments, whether they be time or arthritis, etc., that get in the way of the desire to felt. Not sure it would aid large projects, I don’t have a lot of experience felting. I have no affiliation either to the linked Etsy shop, picked at random from some listed on Google, nor to the makers. “The Addi Quick Hobby Felting Machine” tool’s needle is said to move at 2,500 punches a minute.

Christina GranatierMarch 19th, 2017 at 9:50 am

You are always so inspirational. Making your own felt. Wow. There is another option out there. Ultrasuede light. Use it in tailored riding jackets. Doesn’t fray has some stretch and comes in a multitude of colors. Just in case you don’t have time to felt next time around. Can’t wait to read your article in Threads.

AlitaMay 25th, 2017 at 12:36 am

True we can..

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