Marcy Tilton's Newsletter for Everyday Creatives
Dear Designing and Sewing Friends,
As 2009 draws to a close, it is time to take stock, reflect and look ahead. The Creative within each of us loves to be appreciated, so ask first:
What have I accomplished that satisfies?
Next, wonder about:
What do I want to change, expand or explore? How can I take greater risks in my work? What are my blind spots, what is hidden in plain sight?
Creativity is a habit that requires nourishing and stepping out of the comfort zone in to the unknown, the wild, the ridiculous. Like the queen in Alice in Wonderland, try to conjure up 'six impossible things before breakfast.'
The etching shown here was a gift from the wonderful people in my recent Paris tour. It hangs in my studio, a fond reminder that my sewing machine can be a magical tool.
Sending my support for expanding your own creative self into unexplored territory and my best wishes for a surprising and satisfying ride!
Link to Subscribe or Un-Subscribe from this newsletter One of my goals for the new year is to double the number of subscribers to this newsletter. Word of mouth is the best way to spread the word. Please pass on this newsletter to a friend. It is FREE, and not limited only to those who sew.
For Mid January Delivery
NEW CD Virtual Workshop from Tilton Studios
Inventive Details from Paris Clothes: Infuse your sewing with French Chic.
All things hand made, or 'fait main' remain at the heart of French clothes. Contemporary Parisian designers are using home sewing techniques and ideas with innovation and flair. See the garments and then close-up details in Marcy‚Äôs virtual workshop CD illustrating Parisian-inspired techniques and ideas to incorporate into your own sewing and see how Marcy uses them in her own work and Vogue patterns.
Like being along with Marcy as she wanders the streets, shops and workrooms of Paris and then joining her in her studio. Includes nearly two hours of video demonstrations of the best details, techniques and inspirations Marcy brought back so you can adapt what you have seen into your own inventive sewing projects infusing them with French style. Make a virtual Paris trip yourself with Marcy's Best-of-the-Best links to blogs, books and more. See an extensive gallery of photos of garments that capture the spirit of contemporary Parisian style.
Video Segments Include: Refresh a favorite pattern with asymmetric piecing; Inventive fabric-strip appliques for super-simple surface interest; Holy Moley! Circular fabric inserts are easier than they look‚Ä¶ And check out that stitching: Ultimate Zippers: Exciting new separating zippers deserve a flawless presentation; Selective bindings and a clever pocket Wardrobe planning for lightweight travel.
This is the first in a series of well priced CDs from The Tilton Studios of Marcy and Katherine Tilton so we can share our most current design ideas, inspiration and techniques via affordable CD virtual workshops.
Something visceral, spiritual and magical happens when I hit the ground in Paris that compels me to return. I feel an ache when I leave and a frisson of excitement at the thought of returning. Katherine and I spent 3 weeks in Paris in November, 8 days with a marvelous group of women and 2 brave and fun husbands. We return in early January with another group to visit the Vionnet exhibit, explore Paris in winter, shop the sales and seek out fabric, buttons and notions.
Here are some photos to share.
As a designer and maker, I am delighted by looking at the innovations in design and construction in Paris clothes, in museums, window shopping and virtual shopping. When I come home to my Oregon studio, I am influenced by what I see in Paris.
Over the past year I have been developing a slideshow (Keynote/Power Point) presentation for teaching, called, 'Divine Details From Paris Clothes'. I am developing a CD on this topic with David Coffin and will be teaching this at upcoming retreats, workshops and at the Puyallup Sewing Expo.
Impeccable white collar from Chanel. I studied and studied this to try to figure out how it was sewn.
Faux Chanel from a posh Left Bank shop window. I LOVE this spin using safety pins and other silvery notions on a collarless black/navy jacket.
Spotted in the window of a tiny shop in the Marais....nothing in this district opens until at least 11, so we take an early morning walking tour to scope things out. Looks simple, but the burnished metallic surface would have been applied AFTER the garment was sewn.
Detail from the same jacket....you can see the shadow of the original black fabric. I have not figured out how this was done with such finesse. Shown here is a silver version for men.
Flowers are a theme in the Vionnet exhibit and, shown here, a magnificent embroidered dress from the Queen of the May exhibit. Flowers are another trend that are emerging from these two influences.
Flowers made from metallic fabric encrusting a court train in the Queen of the May exhibit.
Scarf with fabric flowers spotted in a shop on Rue Cherche Midi, one of my favorite shopping and eating streets. EXPENSIVE!!
In the window at LaCoste, a shirt made entirely from their signature little embroidered alligator!
In the Marais, we visited a shop and studio operated by a husband and wife design team, who make handbags using recycled men's suits and '80's motorcycle jackets. Here is one of the bags combining pieced wool and leather.
We sought out 'Sartorialist' people in the street, and these two cool dudes were emerging from the terminally hip Ric Owens shop in the Palais Royale----they were too wrapped up in conversation to stop them, but here is a quick impression from behind.
An obliging model spotted during a photo shoot in the Place Vendome. Very French spin on a classic look: Polo coat, white shirt, jeans paired with shoes and bag of the moment. Everyone in this shoot was having fun with each other and with the passers-by.
Sleeve detail from a '40's vintage gown shown at an exhibit of the extravagant court trousseau from the last queen of Italy. Known as the Queen of the May, she was queen for only a month (May, 1946), then Italy became a republic, so the clothes were barely worn---they had been tucked away and only recently discovered. This exhibit paralleled the time and the level of quality of the garments in the Vionnet exhibition, and the garments seemed to have been sewn by angels, but were, in fact, commissioned by the King and done in collaboration with the finest 'hands' in Italy and France. The show was called, Marie Josee, the Queen of the May
Stella McCartney: Interesting take-off on the classic French sailor's striped T, (which Chanel also adapted for her own use). The sleeve has a similar feel to the vintage dress shown above. I predict that we will see designers using influences from the Queen of the May and Vionnet exhibitions in the future.
Take a cue from the French and plan ahead for fun. It is a French New Year tradition to fill in the new yearly planner with vacation dates first.
Join Marcy and Katherine Tilton for a full week in Paris in November 2010.
Full registration information will be posted on the website around mid February, but you can call or e-mail now to hold your place. E-mail Marcy to be put on her Paris e-mail list if you are interested in coming. firstname.lastname@example.org
Of all the fashion designers in the past 100 years, only a handful are artists in the true sense of the word---and Madeleine Vionnet would certainly be in the top 3.
She was one of the primary movers and shakers during the transition from layers of uncomfortable clothes and corsets that distorted a woman's figure to a time of fluid garments and comfort. She invented, actally RE-INVENTED the way clothing was conceived, designed, cut and sewn.
When she died, she left the bulk of her garments and records of her business to the Musee de la Textile et de la Mode (Museum of Textiles and Fashion) at the Louvre. This is the first and largest exhibition of her work ever and it is breathtaking, thought provoking and inspiring.
The following 3 brief videos give a taste of being at this show. If you want to know more about Vionnet and the bias cut, do indulge in the two books that are linked below.
For me, the work of Madeleine Vionnet is a lifetime study
Recommended Books on Vionnet
Take A Petite Video Tour of the Madeleine Vionnet Exhibition
Link to Vionnet Video Click on the link to see this video on the first large retrospective exhibition of Madeleine Vionnet at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, with thoughts from designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Yohji Yamamoto and Hubert de Givenchy.
Little Gifts French pins are perfect for little gifts for friends or yourself. I use mine to fasten sweaters & jackets I've purchased and sewn (V8559 & V8430). I brought back this little grouping from Paris.
Hot off the presses, V8582 adapted to a basic T---I cut this version a bit longer than the orange one. I love this new T....the fabric is smooth so it will layer easily, it is a perfect weight for right now and the fabric is stable so it is easy to piece.
THE 'go-to' items I always travel with are a black T, black pants and little black vest. Must be basic, but NOT boring, which means some interesting detail, shape or texture. I want my black pieces to layer together so the textures must work too. I replicated the orange pieced T-shirt shown below in our Parisian Black Microfiber knit. This is the perfect knit fabric for piecing as it does not roll.
Basic BLACK continued.....
V8559 as a vest in our Oomph black mesh. The circle dots have a velvety texture which adds weight and texture (and a bit of warmth). Edged it in a double layer of our Petite Dot Black Mesh. I made the same style in double layer brown tulle and have loved it so much I wanted to make a black version. This is super fast, fun and easy sewing, it went together in an afternoon.
Here you can see how the two pieces layer together.
Shelley combined our Dusty Plum fleece with V8582, lengthening it into a dress, eliminating the side drape and making one side longer. It is cozy and smashing, and now we can't wait to try the same style in other fabrics.
In Praise of Gray
Black will always be with us, brown continues to have a powerful color magnetism, but GRAY is the strong neutral right now. From the big houses like Chanel to humble but stylish Monoprix and Target, step into any clothing or lingerie department and you will see a sea of gray. It hit me shopping for lingerie in Paris----and at first, the idea of gray lingerie seemed a bit odd, but this week I was in a local Target store and I saw a similar gray story. Gray is practical....it goes with almost every other color, including brown and black, and makes a foil for reds, oranges, pinks and blues.
Look for a gray that complements your coloring---there are warm toned grays and cool toned grays. If your skin is warm toned (if you tan in the sun), look for the warm grays. If your coloring is cool toned, (your skin burns in the sun), seek out cool toned grays.
GRAY in our fabric collection
In my wardrobe, I sewed 2 pair of gray pants this season: gray stretch woven and gray stretch denim, (these are prototypes for upcoming patterns---sorry, I cannot show until the patterns are released).
This is my third pair of gray stretch denim pants, I used V8561 and V8499 for the other two pair.
My primary travel cool weather coat is gray, so I sewed a gray top using V8252 in the tunic length.
Consider adding a gray piece or two to your wardrobe---sew it right now and wear into spring.
Dinner in Paris tunic using our Norma Kamali grey microfiber knit.
I wanted something I could wear all day, yet have a special feeling for evening. I used strips of self fabric sewn onto the cut out pattern pieces. This was inspired by a Paris T-shirt, and happened as one of those sewing happy accidents. After I cut the front, I noticed a faint darker line in the fabric---oh, dear.... I made a few tests to see how sewing strips onto the cut out pieces would work. I loved it---made the garment more interesting. Here is the final result.
The 'how-to-do-it' will appear in my upcoming CD, to be released in early 2010, in time for the Puyallup Sewing Expo.
Seeing RED In winter, I crave something RED. Depending on your personal coloring, your red might be a cool clear Chanel-lipstick red, or a tomato-soup red, or purple (the hot color in Paris right now), or even a paled down version of red, such as pink or mauve.
I made 2 tops for this season in my personal red, a warm orange. See the two tops below as well as a selection of our red into orange into purple fabrics for the season.
Make a top or jacket or coat in YOUR personal best red and wear it right now from the holidays right into spring.
Inspired by knit tops I've seen in Paris,(and as part of my Paris travel wardrobe), I started with V8582, adapted it to a basic t master pattern, then drew in the piecing lines, and grain lines, and cut, adding seam allowances on the pieced edges, then sewed it together using a lapped seam.
More detailed how to info will be shown in my upcoming new CD: Inspiration Paris! Divine Details from Paris Clothes, to be released early 2010, but I wanted to show the results....this is one of my favorite cool weather tops.
Front and back and left and right sleeves are pieced differently. Yes, this is slow sewing, but the process and results are very satisfying.
Vogue 8618 Wool double knit purchased in Taos. I love working with double knits, so simple to handle and they make a great blank canvas for something interesting to happen----in truth, double knits can be a bit boring and flat on their own. I played around with my scraps: double needles and cutting round inserts. The final result evolved after the pieces were cut.
....and there was one error that evolved into a design improvement. I had barely enough fabric, so cut the collar on the lengthwise grain---it is a knit, should be fine.....but this collar really requires the greatest stretch to go around, and the neck ended up being too snug. So, I ripped it out and had to piece it from scraps, using the selvedge as an exposed seam. Much better!!
A note on sewing this neckline:
1. The left and right sides of the garment are intentionally asymmetrical.
2. The collar is a rectangle, make sure the crosswise grain goes around the neck.
3. Both sides of the fabric will show----if your fabric has a bad back side, you might want to line the collar, but this will make it thicker.
4. I sew the collar on in segments, not in one continuous stitching.
5. Once you work out the sewing on the collar, the garment is nearly done.
6. The sleeves are narrow, so adjust depending on the stretch of the your fabric.
Puyallup Sewing Expo
February 23-28, 2010 Come see us in the Showplex and shop for fabrics, silk screens, CDs, Paris buttons and more. We'll have a new collection of fabric especially for this show. Katherine and Marcy will be on hand to meet and teach and help with your fabric purchases.
Katherine Tilton will teach Thursday and Saturday at 3:30: The Arty T
Made from scratch or purchased T's are a sewist's ideal blank canvas. Let Katherine help you see the possibilities in humble T with a designer's eye. Katherine comes with a glod mine of info on how to incorporate easy sewing and surface design techniques. IN addition to a gallery of Arty T-Shirts, you will see up close how-to's including: slashing, insets, innovative edges, combining 2 T's to make on, along with adding the punch of paint, foil and discharge. Your DIY arty T will look as if you found it in an expensive little boutique in Florence or Paris.
FREE Marcy and Sandra Betzina Fashion Show:
Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 1:30 Inspired Closets: Marcy and Sandra Take Vogue Outside the Box ( and into their own hands)!
Popular Vogue pattern designers, Sandra Betzina & Marcy Tilton are longtime sewing friends who love to sew and share their enthusiasm and discoveries. Marcy and Sandra will show original garments from their Vogue designs, ensembles from their personal wardrobes and from pieces developed especially for this lively and idea packed fashion show. You‚Äôll be treated to an inspiring and amusing collection of tips, techniques, treats and tales from two of the premier mavens of the sewing world. Don‚Äôt miss this extraordinary opportunity to hear Sandra and Marcy trade quips and tricks of the trade, and to see the latest creations from their design studios and personal closets so you can go home and tweak their patterns and turn them into your own.
Marcy will teach:
Thursday and Saturday at 10: 30, Friday at 4:30
Inventive Details from Paris Clothes: Infuse your sewing with French Chic All things hand made, or fait main remain at the heart of French clothes. Contemporary Parisian designers are using home sewing techniques and ideas with innovation & flair. See the garments and then close-up details in Marcy‚Äôs slide presentation illustrating Parisian-inspired techniques and ideas to incorporate into your own sewing and how Marcy uses them in her own work and Vogue patterns. Learn the nuances of figure-flattering cut. Understand why certain fabrics are workhorses in a Paris collection. ¬†Like being along with Marcy as she wanders the streets and shops of Paris and then joining her in her studio as she gives you the advice you need to adapt what you have seen into your own inventive sewing projects and infusing them with French style.
what would nandini do?
Answers and musings from Katherine Tilton's alter-ego, nandini, on any and all subjects of her choosing.
A highly unqualified expert on practically everything, nandini will answer questions using the wisdom of the ages imbued with the practicality of Heloise, the experience of Dear Abby, the irreverance of Rob Brezney and the wit of Dorothy Parker.
This question comes via Marcy.
Please email your questions to: email@example.com
Don't have a heart attack
I love your cardiac stitch, but I sure can't find anything close to that on my Bernina 730. What machine do you use?
Love your creativity....
Dear Roslyn, Thank YOU, Roylynn because I never knew that stitch even had a name! I've used it many times, especially on the exposed seams on the vests I make. I have a Bernina 1130 and I can tell you that the stitch isn't on my machine either.
Well it is and it isn't.
The cardiac stitch isn't an embroidery or patterned stitch. And you can do it on any machine that has a reverse stitch option. You create the cardiac stitch yourself by using a straight stitch and simply going backwards and forwards while moving the fabric gently to one side.
After many clunky starts I found an easy rhythm that works for me. I am usually doing the cardiac stitch over an exposed seam so that is what I'm going to describe.
Stitch the seam and press open. Place the seam under the pressure foot, angling off to the right. Make a forward stitch about 3/4", then pulling the fabric gently towards the left, stitch about 1/2" - 3/4" in reverse, continue stitching forwards and backwards in varying lengths while gently pulling the fabric to the left. You will find your own rhythm and soon find you've cardiac stitched down the whole seam! Voila, you are done.
Part of you may wish that you could just flip a switch and the stitch would do itself but I find the variations made by doing it by hand keep the cardiac stitch more interesting visually. And the rhythm is quite meditative when there are lots of seams to do...
Cool Links One of my personal small delights is the discovery of blogs, musings and personal creativity that are blossoming on the internet. Here are a few of my personal current favorites. I have a passion for cooking, so this month there are more than a few that are food related.....but all creative passions are connected, so I hope you enjoy these as much as I do! MT
The SartorialistSelected as one of Time magazines top 100 Design Influences, the Sartorialist is a guy who travels the world and takes photos of well dressed people wherever he goes. Always fun!
Link to Pro-Chem's Blog December 21st posting shows a discharge printed black cotton from JoAnne's done in the Pro-Chem Lab using Marcy Tilton screens with Jacquard Discharge paste. Check it out for the simple overall pattern created with a few silk screens and masking tape.
Material Girls Material Girls is a blog done in collaboration by 3 Twin Cities women with a passion for sewing and sharing. They share this passion via teaching and organizing get-togethers and show and tell meetings. One of the three, Kristen Henak, (who has a wicked sense of humor), was in Paris with our group and would sit in the Hotel bar in the evening and post blogs from her i-phone. Check out her Paris tales and more at this very fun and informative site.
Sewing Tutorials Brilliant service for all who sew, a great service for the sewing community. This blog is not a blog in the usual way, it has no journal or regular new posts. It only has links to sewing tutorials. This is a good starting point for information.
Dash and Bella Phyllis Grant is a stay at home mom who is a trained chef with a passion for cooking. Phyllis lives, cooks, and photographs in Berkeley, CA with her son Dash (age 2), her daughter Bella (age 6), her husband and her crazy dog Wylie Tibor Chomsky Chewbacca. Her cooking and photos are awesome, I love her culinary approach and am awed by the fact that her kids are involved in the process and are budding gourmands. ....and I learn from her, including an introduction to Jamie Oliver, love that.
Pastry Paris Graphic artist Susan Hochbaum, newly divorced and middle aged, sold her suburban home and came to Paris with a new beau to live for a year. This ode to Paris is visually delicious and captures the spirit of the pastry artists and the city of light to the music of Django Rhinehart. Love it!!
Bouchons Bouchon means cork in French. Bouchons are like the best brownies you ever tasted. The combo of the very best chocolate, lots of the very best butter and baking in small molds make for a memorable chocolate dessert. After my first taste, I had to find the molds, gather the chocolate and begin. They freeze well and are mildly addictive, and would make a marvelous holiday gift. If you Google in 'Bouchons" you will find the internet is chock full of cooks who experiment with different kinds of chocolate (Valhrona vs Scharffenberger). I'm including the basic recipe which originated with Thomas Keller of the French Laundry Restaurant in Napa.
With thanks to Mary Koons who came to visit and brought Bouchons got me hooked.
Chocolate Bouchons Recipe Bouchon Bakery uses 2-ounce fleximolds and serves smaller bouchons. 3-ounce (2-inch to 2-1/2-inch diameter) timbale molds or silicon muffin molds can be used for larger cakes. The silicon molds are available from Williams-Sonoma for around $30 each. I found 'Brownie-Pop' molds at Jo-Anne Fabrics for $10 apiece that work great. I also want to try Bouchons using Madeleine molds.
Recipe Makes 12 servings of the smaller bouchons or 16 brownies using muffin molds.
Butter and flour for the timbale molds
3-1/2 ounces (3/4 cup) all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1-1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
24 tablespoons (12 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and slightly warm
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, such as Valrhona Equatoriale (55%) chopped into pieces the size of chocolate chips
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 12 timbale molds. Set aside.
2) Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in another large bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until very pale in color. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then 1/3 of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can be refrigerated for up to a day.)
3) Put the timbale molds on a baking sheet. Place the batter in a pastry bag without a tip, or with a large plain tip, and fill each mold about 2/3 full. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (30 to 32 minutes for the muffin pans). When the tops look shiny and set (like a brownie), test one cake with a wooden skewer or toothpick. It should come out clean but not dry (there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate). Transfer the bouchons to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the timbale molds and let the bouchons cool upside down in the molds; then lift off the molds. (The bouchons are best eaten the day they are baked.)
4) To serve: Invert the bouchons and dust them with confectioners‚Äô sugar. Serve with ice cream if desired.