When pigs fly and other paranormal activity…

snowWhat an odd week.  Thursday night I drove my daughter to the community college, which was west from where I live about 20 miles.  We were as I’m sure you’ve heard, having an early in the season nor’ easter.  It was windy, rainy, cold, and just plain miserable, but the further west I drove, the colder the temperatures got, and when I got near the college, I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was snowing!  Hard!  The snow was coming down in thick wet flakes, and sticking all over the greenery, and the oddest thing, the leaves are still turning and so they are all still on the trees, so the picture of huge clumps of wet snow piled on the leaves still on the tree was something out of the twilight zone.  Even made the front page of the papers.  It was hard to get a good shot, the car was moving and it was dusk.

Then, an even odder paranormal experience happened yesterday.  My 19 year old son was so desperate for money, he agreed to help me clean the house.  That’s right, he and one of his friends, joined me for a housecleaning party.  This was probably one of the most unusual occurrences, I’m teaching them how to clean windows without streaking, scrub toilets, clean stove burners, dust, vacuum, etc.  It was actually fun and they did a pretty good job.  My toilet has never been so shiny.

So off my son went, with $25. in his pocket, promising to come back and do the upstairs with me, which of course he didn’t, but paranormal things don’t happen on a repeating basis, so I buttonscan only have this one memory of the day my son actually housecleaned.

I’ve been working on the vest I started last week, from the old alpaca and wool throw I made in the 1980’s.  And I’m working on my next article for SS&D, but I haven’t been at the loom or sewing machine in awhile and I was starting to hear the call.  More like a megaphone shout, but I heeded the templatescall and decided to start on the vest.  I wanted to do some extreme details, partly to use it as a teaching piece, and partly because I wanted this vest for me.  I had three smallish buttons that I thought would look good with the fabric, and tried them on an existing muslin sample of the same vest style, so I could get a sense of placement and proportion.  I also thought I’d like the vest shorter than my original pattern called for.

Then I made a template for the triangular bound buttonholes.   The band on the front of this vest, which is the same as the one for the jacket pattern I use in classes, is pretty narrow.  I’ve wanted to try to see if I could do this type of buttonhole in this tight of a space, and I’m still not completely sure how this will all work, but I decided to plow ahead anyway, because not knowing how I’m going to do something has never stopped me before.

testThen I made a test buttonhole from the actual fabric.  The buttonhole came out too big, so I scaled it down some more, and then stitched the grid on the band piece and jumped in head first.stitching It was difficult to work so small and cramped, and more than once I had to take out the tiniest of little stitches.  And I spent all morning working on these three little buttonholes and their window backs.  But I’m happy with the results and can’t wait to see them on the finished garment.


Meanwhile, I needed to piece the armbands, since I had to use tiny scraps to create them.pieced_band My original intent was to make bias tubes to cover the butted joints, like I do on my other pieced things, but I didn’t want the contrasting line to compete with the gorgeous triple_cordingbuttonholes.  So I played around, with my seriously tiny bits of scrap, and came up with this solution, I had a good size wool yarn that matched the fabric well, threaded three ends through myjoin cording foot on my Janome 6600, and did a triple step zig-zag to couch the three ends over the butted joints.  I should mention I fused all the little pieces together onto a fusible knit backing first.  This worked well to make a flat invisible join on a lofty fabric. I duplicated the couching on the other band, even though it was cut from one straight piece of fabric, just to be consistent.

Then, I went and got my hair cut.  🙂

The Fashion Show

What a great day!  We concluded the three day workshop in Garment Construction Techniques, with a seminar in Closures, starting the morning with Bound Buttonholes, and then moving into Triangular Bound Buttonholes.  When the students took a break to sample, I saw some really lovely triangular buttonholes coming from their sewing machines. We went on to discuss many ways to close a garment.  Lots of ideas, some simple, some fun, no more excuses for outerwear with no closure!

I really loved this group!  There was a huge range of skill levels in the class, some felt like they were beginners, and others were very skilled, needing some inspiration, there was even an experienced educator looking for ways to teach these kinds of techniques.  I hope all got something from the class, and I’m looking forward to the weekend seminars.

After I packed up and brought my two 70 pound suitcases over to the dorm room, I went over to the fashion show rehearsal.  I wasn’t actually participating in this show, but I wanted to preview the garments back stage, as I will be the judge.

As it turns out, because of the scheduling, I will have to actually judge the fashion show garments after the fashion show takes place. So I requested the privilege of actually judging the fashion show garments during the fashion show.

OK, so here is the problem.  This is a pet peeve of mine.  I have judged many many fashion shows over the years, and judging a fashion show, usually means, sitting in a room, with the garments,   each one laid out in front of me, like a dead carcass on the table.  See, I am looking at a piece of fabric, more often than not handwoven, sewn into a garment, laying on the table in front of me.  I have nothing to judge the garment on but technique, suitability of weave structure, and originality of design.  That isn’t really the problem, the problem is, I’m only seeing a very small piece of what this garment is about.  A garment is designed to be worn, to be viewed on a body.  A real body.  A post menopausal female, with  graying hair, and a wonderful outlook on life. I never get to see that part of the equation, who the garment was designed for, how does it fit them, does it wear them, or do they proudly wear it?  Later, after judging, I get to view the real fashion show, and 40% of the time, I want to change my comments and my judging scores, because I find that the pieces come alive when they are filled out with the person whose hands created them.  I love when the maker wears their own garment.

So tonight, I had a chair, and a clipboard, and a list of the garments at my disposal, and I felt like Nina Garcia on Project Runway, judging the work as it came down the runway.  Wow.  I cannot say how this experience has changed the way I judge a garment.  I did get to preview the garments backstage before the show, but the garments came alive as they walked across the stage, and down the runway, I was really really blown away by some of the garments that just looked like nothing on the hangers.

I couldn’t actually take pictures of the pieces, I was too busy scribbling notes!  After the fashion show, dessert was served, and then, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Michigan League of Handweavers, a vintage garment retrospective fashion show took place.  This was so much fun.  I laughed and squealed in delight, as I recognized fashion looks from the early years of handwoven clothing.  I have been weaving clothing since the 1970’s, and this represented a history I really remember.  I did manage to snap a few shots, the first model out wore, what else, but a 1950’s handwoven apron!

vintage_3Of course every weaver remembers the horse blanket reversible poncho from handspun yarns.  And then came the 60’s cotton shift, this one had cutouts in the waist area, it even had the fringe at the hem!  And then who hasn’t made a leno skirt and shawl!  I loved the orange color of this set.

Millie Danielson, a long time member of MLH, moderated this retrospective of vintage works, and some of the pieces were actually hers.

vintage_2This very vintage ensemble of Millie’s featuring yellow hotpants, brought the house down.  The commercial decorator fringe really completed the outfit!  All that was missing were the white go-go boots!

vintage_1Millie also created this outrageous coat, woven with warp remnants tied into the structure with Ghiordes knots.  I don’t know what year she wove it, but it was a pretty impressive piece.  And the model carried the whole look off effortlessly!

The finale of the retrospective show, featured none other than our own fashion icon, Anita Mayer, who wore Ann Flora’s  contemporary felted coat and hat.anita_annflora It was a stunning piece, and she looked fabulous in it.

I of course, wore my now infamous Frosted Florals dress.  Not only did I get to sign a few autographs on page 81 of the current issue of Threads Magazine where it appeared in the Readers’ Closet pages, but the latest issue of Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot has just come out on the newstands, and there were a number of copies floating around, with my new article on the Convergence Challenge project.  I’ve gotten some very kind emails so far, telling me what a wonderful piece Loretta and I created.   I got to autograph a number of those issues as well.  My friend Robyn Spady has two articles in that issue, and since she was teaching across the hall from me, there was a lot of autographing going on!

So, tomorrow I do the final judging for the show, and I will write all my comments and choose the winners.  Stay tuned…