Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Garden Path - Introduction - Part IV


As most of you know, all of my artwork is original. This means that for every project, I draw all the artwork myself. This is makes my project unique and original to me, and helps avoid copyright issues. Since there will be many types of flowers for this project - 8 different ones, I think - I've been busy drawing flowers and making templates this week.

I usually begin projects with the quilting, but since I'm waiting on threads to arrive, I've decided to get a start on the all the applique by getting the artwork finished and templates made this week.

Here are some samples of the flowers and leaves:

These flowers will be rendered in hand applique in silk and wood burning tool cutouts in synthetics. This is why I needed both silks and synthetics in matching and coordinating colors. Because of this, I need to make two types of templates, both freezer paper and metal. Not all the flowers will be made the same way, some using one technique or the other and some both. Add to that, I need to make leaf templates for each flower, both in freezer paper and metal. Is that confusing enough? Thought so, that's why I made a spread sheet, and then marked off the boxes as I completed each flower's templates so that I made sure I had them all.

You can see in the photo above that I still need to do something about the roses. Not to worry, I save all my artwork, so I've pulled out the rose templates from American Beauty. I'll pick the appropriate size from all the reduced photocopies and trace off new freezer paper templates and make both leaf templates. It also looks like I need another grid for the threads, beads and sequins to keep them organized, too.

The flowers for this project will be quite an undertaking and really the focal point of the whole piece. I usually start my applique too late into the project and then have to really make it point to stay on track (yes, I have a daily goals spreadsheet) to keep the project on course. Maybe that won't happen this time.

Parting Shot: The Back. This is the back to the Mano del Uruguay Sweater. I am really pleased with the sweater so far. The yarn color is beautiful and the pattern so far has worked up nicely. The pattern is in the spring 2009 issue of Interweave Knits magazine, the Millefiori Cardigan. I took this with me on my trip last week and was able to knit the back from start up through the armhole shaping and into the upper back by the time I returned home. I finished this piece last night.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Garden Path - Introduction - Part III

Color Selection Fun!

Picking out the colors for a project is not limited to the fabric. There are many threads, beads, sequins to be considered too. For the moment, this is one of the things that I can do while I'm waiting for my fabric and thread orders to arrive. I really can't do too much until I get the fabric and can start making samples. I know the fabric is on the way, I got an email confirming that. Most likely it will arrive while I'm gone, but will be waiting for me when I get back!

While at MQX last weekend, I went to the Superior Threads booth to see what threads they had available. I think I've found some good matches for the light yellow background for the quilting I have planned for that. I also purchased color cards for Glitter, Metallic and Brytes thread lines. The color cards have actual samples and for me are extremely useful as most of my supplies are ordered via the internet. Glitter, of course, is my favorite Superior Thread. Every project has some Glitter in it, I'm guessing this one will have quite a few Glitter colors. There were no Glitter threads at the MQX show that I was able to find, but I am hoping there will be some at AQS. I've bought that type of thread there in the past. I also talked to Bob the owner of Superior Threads and he said that the Brytes line of threads would not be at the AQS show.

No project of mine would be complete without thousands (literally!) of glittery beads and sequins! I pulled out most of the beads and sequins today, looking for matches to the swatches. I still have one tray of beads to sort through. I probably won't use every color that I've pulled out, but knowing what I have will help if I need to order more colors. You can see that I do not have many green beads, but plenty of green sequins.

Each color will still need to be carefully evaluated to see whether it will be suitable for this project, but that is part of the planning and design process.

I still have some artwork to finish and some templates to make, but that will probably have to wait until next week. Tomorrow I will be busy finishing the Paducah dress (just need to attach the skirt and finish the handwork) and packing, cleaning, shopping, etc for the trip to Paducah. I am hoping to start the aqua sweater on the trip. I know we can take knitting needles on planes according to the TSA. I have a huge collection of metals ones, but should I seek out bamboo needles just in case I get any grief from TSA? Let me know if you have had any airport/knitting experiences.

Parting Shot: The Lob-stah Man. Yes, those are lobsters. My husband saw this fabric in clearance yesterday in Jo-ann's and wanted a shirt made from it like the Cat Man shirt. Not something I would have picked, so I sewed it up quickly today just to move it out of the studio.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Garden Path - Introduction - Part II

Color Selection

Color selection for me is a very important process. The colors of the garment set the mood and are a big part of the overall look and message that the garment is trying to convey. Take for example, in Bluebird of Happiness the beige, gold and blue convey elegance; Midnight Garden's blues and silvers convey images of leaves and flowers under the moonlight; Forget Me Knot's lavender portrays youth and innocence.

Usually when I have an idea for a garment, I see a fuzzy view of the whole thing - generally the overall shape and main colors and some embellishments. I don't always see all the fine details of the artwork or beading; those come when I sit down with a pencil, at the sewing machine or with beads and needle. For Garden Path, I saw a light yellow back ground to showcase flowers in clear, bright colors. This garment was conceived in the dead of winter, so there's no surprise that I dreamed up something with a bursts of brilliant flowers! I was craving color and this is what I came up. You can see some of the initial silk selections below - not all of these made the final cut.

For the background color, I wanted something soft that would contrast with the flowers. I chose yellow because it is a happy color and it reminds me of sunshine. I chose the paler shade to contrast with the flowers, not compete with them. This color also needs to be a bit calmer than the flower colors so that the eye has a place to rest, to find a bit of peacefulness among everything else that is going on in the garment. That of course, is about artistic balance - you find it in paintings and music, wearable art is no different in that respect, it is just a different medium of expression.

The flowers themselves are bright, clear colors as are the leaves. Bright pinks and purples and white will be show cased, along with various clear greens. I did have three green silks already in my collection, but when I looked at them with the other colors I had chosen, they didn't work. They were too muddy, too olive, too something. They are lovely greens, just not right for this project - one of them was used for Waiting for Spring and one was used for BOH - great for those projects, not for this one.

Here is another shot of color selection, after we went synthetics shopping. I'll need synthetics for this project, too, so we took the swatches and went shopping at Martin's. Here you can see all the fabrics from my collection and the ones we bought with the final selections taking place of both fabrics. Needless to say, this process took several days. I had to wait for sunshine because it really is hard to match colors under artificial lighting and I wanted to see what the colors looked like in real sunlight.

Another thing I take into consideration when selecting colors is how the colors will look when viewed from a distance and under various lighting conditions. Much of my artwork will be view from behind ropes or on a runway from a distance or in a big exposition hall. I always have to ask, is there enough contrast between elements? How would I react to these colors if I was seeing them for the first time?

Finally, after all these considerations, I also chose the color I love. Reality is, I don't want to spend the next four to six months of my life working with a color I don't love. I think that in a way, that emotion would be carried into the making of the garment and I wouldn't do my best work. There is no point in making something you don't love.

My silks are ordered and should be here next week. Today after my lecture I'll buy thread and show you that next week, along with any pictures I take today at the show.

Parting Shot: Vintage Beaded Sweater. I finally bought a vintage beaded sweater! I found one at my local antique gallery for a really, really good price. This sweater is in excellent condition; it looks like it has barely been worn. There are no loose beads, it has all the buttons, the lining is intact and not shredding anywhere. There is a little staining under the arms on the lining, but that is to be expected if it was worn a few times. The peachy/pink, I do have to admit, is not quite my color, but I didn't want a cream or black beaded sweater as there are plenty of those to be found. I'm hoping to find a red one in my size one of these days. I suppose I'll have to hunting for a sweater clip, too some time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Garden Path - Introduction - Part I

If you've been waiting for me to start another vintage art ensemble, your wait is over! My new project will be called Garden Path. Garden Path (or GP, also my father's initials) will have three pieces: a jacket, skirt and blouse. It will include flowers of many kinds and colors, and of course, lots and lots of beads and sequins!

The jacket will be from Butterick 6069, a short swing coat. Originally I had planned to call this project Garden Swing, but as it developed the swing portion seemed to be a bit obscure unless you know vintage fashion.

The blouse will be from Advance 5422. This ensemble was originally designed by Helen Rose for Jane Powell in MGM's Nancy Goes to Rio, which came out in 1949 or 1950. While I love the skirt, stylistically, it can stand on its own without my embellishment help, so it is too much for this project.

I do not have the skirt pattern yet, but suffice it to say, I will be picking it up off eBay this week or next. It will be the typical straight wrap skirt of the 1950's, with the wrap in the front.

As far as colors, I've chosen Daffodil (a pale yellow) for the main color and Victorian Violet (a blue-purple) for accent, both dupioni silks from the Silk Baron. The sample set was perfect for picking out all the colors. I was able to match the colors I had in mind quickly. Of course, as you probably already know, each color (thread, bead, motif, etc for that matter) is purposely picked for these projects and there has already been a lot of planning involved. There will be other colors for the flowers, which have already been chosen, ordered and otherwise purchased.

I will be buying thread this weekend at MQX from Superior Threads. Bob and Heather Purcell will be there with their booth and products, so I'll be able to bring my samples and pick out the threads. If I don't get the right thing, I'll see them again the following week at AQS at get the right ones then.

I will have to warn you that this project will have a pretty slow start. I have two major shows on back to back weekends; this weekend is MQX and next weekend is AQS in Paducah, KY. I will be flying to St. Louis, MO next week and then driving to KY, so I won't be able to work on it much next week. In addition to that, my children will be on Spring Break, so I have a few other things planned.

Be patient and stayed tuned!

As a side note, I had issue with the hat for Fun With Dots, which I will explain tomorrow.

Parting Shost: Purse. I got my purse for Fun With Dots today - the one most of you really liked. It is an awesome purse - patent leather (my favorite!) and very clean. The blue trim can actually come off in case you want to use the purse without the trim. It makes me wonder if the purse came with other colors of trim to change. It even still has the little clear change purse attached with a chain. I was concerned this would not arrive in time and finally got in touch the Etsy seller, who personally called me. We had a very nice chat, and wouldn't you know it, 15 minutes after we hung up, the mailman came with the purse! Go check out her other vintage items on Etsy: The Church Of Vintage.