Marcy Tilton's Newsletter for Everyday Creatives
Dear Sewing and Designing Friends,
Completion There is something deeply satisfying about making completions, and something vaguely disturbing about what is unfinished or unresolved that can disturb the creative flow. I like to keep a mix of projects in the works---some (like working on a new Vogue pattern), are long term and complicated, so I like to balance those out with items that are quick to make. This is often a t-shirt. Last week I sent off a completed pattern to Vogue. To celebrate, I whipped up the Paris T you see below, put together from cut up purchased souvenir t-shirts and scraps. When the é─˛Tattersé─˘ collection of knits arrived, I took a cue from the raggedy edges and experimented making my newest jacket pattern, V8653, which can be work upside down and inside out. All the seams are sewn wrong sides together, the fabric is fun and easy to work with and it flew together, check out the photos below.
Clearing After a lot of travel over the last fall and winter, spring brings some months ahead at home in the studio, and with it a universal urge to nest, clear out the old, generally freshen things up. This is the time of year I move out the cool weather fabrics and switch in spring and summer. Ruthless clearing is in the wind, viewing all the work and storage spaces as Manhattan real estate, I am craving open surfaces and the spacious look I found in chic (and small) French shops.
New Growth Resolved: to invent a fresh set of eyes in my basic wardrobe. Ié─˘m drawn to lighter colors, more color, fabrics that drift, and to skirts and shirts. Ivory, cream, khaki, taupe, spring browns always appeal this time of year. I want to build around this palate, but find myself also drawn to orange, green.....and blue. The challenge: to make new pieces that fit in with what is already working, but that have a different and satisfying flair and flavor....AND that will fit with my life, for I want to wear the items I make, and mix them with pieces already in the closet and things I buy.
Happy Spring Creating from my studio to yours!!
P.S.If you are in our area, we are having a retail afternoon at the ArtBarn on Saturday, May 22, noon-4.
10% discount (on all non-sale fabric) for all ASG members.
Word of mouth is the best way to spread the word, so we appreciate your passing it on to a friend, as well as your feedback and support.
Nearly 10% of the women in the United States sew either by machine or by hand....that is over 20 million!
Starting the newsletter with a song from a '40's movie that will make you laugh!
The Sewing Machine is a Girl's Best Friend...
New from Vogue Patterns
A Family Affair Katherine Tilton is now designing for Vogue Patterns too!
The April Vogue catalog features 3 new patterns from the Tilton sisters.
New from Katherine Tilton
Katherine has a chic and simple asymmetrical jacket that is easy to sew, shown on the pattern envelope in a plain fine striped gray denim and a silk screened coral stretch cotton.
Click on the line drawing to purchase the pattern.
Click on image to purchase all 4 large silk screens Katherine used in this jacket
New from Marcy Tilton
The Upside Down, Inside Out Jacket
The jacket that can be worn upside down.....AND can also be worn inside out. The entire jacket is constructed with WRONG sides together. Seams shown are bound, but could be serged or just raw edges to the outside.
Marcy used ponte knits, consider also these, remember the fabric MUST HAVE SOME STRETCH:
Double knits, Ponte, (wrong side will show), sweatshirting, french terry, wool jersey, fleece, sweater knits, knit mesh, tulle, stretch woven with good 4 way stretch
Click on the line drawing for a tutorial on construction details for the Upside Down Jacket
Click on image to purchase pattern
Upside Down and Inside Out
Using a 2 sided knit---here, a fabric no longer available.I literally whipped this very cool little cardigan up in an afternoon. On the pattern all the seams are bound, but I have been wanting to try the pattern using raw edges with the seams sewn to the outside---and using this as a design element. The fabric is perfect. It was fun and fast...and the color is denim friendly, part of my resolve to step out and use more blue. I find I like wearing both the short and long versions, which works best depends on the silhouette of the bottoms.
Like a hip version of a workshirt---soft, light, feels wonderful, and I am going to put together a little tank from the scraps.
Now all of us in the studio want to make our own version of this great jacket!
Long version, 'right side up', and 'right side' of fabric out.
Short, 'upside down' version, inside out.
Back of the long version, inside out.
Short version, 'upside down', with 'right side' of fabric out.
Short, 'upside down' version with right side of fabric out.
Long version, inside out. I bound the edge shown here using the selvedge, stitched and wrapped, and then tied a knot with the extra fabric left at the ends. The knot adds a bit of weight and I like the look.
New Handbag Pattern from Marcy
So fun and easy to make any of these fabric bucket bags. No hardware required! Some are plain, some fancy, some use silk screening and bits of trim. The flowers on the black and white menswear bag are purchased trim; I cut apart the flowers and sewed them by hand, combining with silk screening. All have interior pockets.
Click on image to purchase pattern
Purchase the Silk Screens
3 different bags, 3 sets of screens to make it easy for you to make your own version of these sweet fabric bags.
All silk screening instructions are included in the pattern!
Left to right, I've given them names:
Paris Bag Silk Screens: 8 small silk screens
Click on image to purchase
Click on image to purchase
Bon Mots 2 Large Silkscreens for Bag
Vogue 8662 Fleurs Bags
4 Small Silkscreens for Bag
click on image to purchase
ArtBarn Dream Team
Left to right, Shelley Heon, Katherine Tilton (her studio is in the ArtBarn), Jude Vawter, and Beth Peterson.
It takes a village.....
Thanks to your support, our business is growing, and so is the team that keeps things flowing.
Shelley heads up the shipping and silk screen production. She produces a line of jewelry and prayer/design flags and is a master gardener. See her new Paris flags for sale in Notions and Etcetera and below.
Katherine has her studio in the ArtBarn where she produces her own line of clothing and designs patterns for Vogue. She is also muse, design consultant and her practical magic is invaluable.
Jude Vawter, Brit, horse whisperer, dog trainer and general renaissance woman, lends her strong hand at sewing shows, is now assisting in the studio and has developed an indomitable passion for sewing. Here she is wearing the Folkwear Patterns Big Sky Riding Skirt (not easy or quick to make!). Jude lives on a 40 acre ranch with 20 horses.....she breeds/sells Akkel Tekke horses and does training for others.
Beth Peterson, book artist, basketmaker, master gardener and blithe spirit, is in the ArtBarn studio making silk screens and lending a welcome hand with orders and whatever needs doing in the moment. Beth lives on a magnificent 200 acre property, is a master gardener and walks (bikes sometimes) 1 mile out from her home and across the river to the car to drive the 2 miles down the road to come to the ArtBarn.
We laugh a lot! We have some delectable lunches. We count ourselves lucky to enjoy what we do.
Most of our shipping is sent via the US Postal Service, and whenever possible, your orders go out in flat rate boxes via priority mail. Patty drives the mail truck up the driveway to the ArtBarn every day around noon, a high point for the dogs who know she has a treat for them. A high point for us too, for out here in the country, we qualify for a rural pick up.
The website calculates the postage cost depending on the amount and numbers of items you order...and if this is incorrect, Shelley will issue you a refund, either with a check or via the Paypal system. Shipping costs have escalated in the past year with all shipping systems, and our base shipping cost has kept pace with the overall increases. But, if you have a question about your shipping cost, do contact us----and bear in mind that the final cost includes shipping AND handling, two separate costs.
If you are having a fabric emergency, we can arrange for your order to be sent via FEDEX. Call to make this arrangement and to cover the additional cost.
International orders are more. You can place your order as a Purchase Order, then we can cut & weigh and figure out the final costs and e-mail you the final total.
If you are a frequent shopper, we can, with your permission, keep your credit card info on file, and then you can place your order as a PO and we can send it out more quickly.
Some people don't like to use Paypal. You can place your order as a Purchase Order and then call us with your credit card info.
is a multi-tasking diva in the ArtBarn. She fills orders, helps with your questions, handles the shipping, cuts swatches, makes silk screens and rides herd on our canine mascots. If you call with a question, to place an order or give us your credit card number, chances are you will be talking with Shelley.
Shelley can guide you to matching colors or making a substitution if we are out of something.
Shelley's Paris Flags
There is such rampant Paris mood in the ArtBarn that Shelley was inspired to create a set of Paris-themed flags with French flair .
Click on image to purchase
New Fabrics You'll find more fabrics than ever. Fabrics are posted chronologically as they arrive in the New Fabrics ....so bookmark this link and check back regularly. Once posted in the New Fabrics category, they are also posted in Knits, Wovens and Pant Fabrics. I did a big fabric buy before the Puyallup show where we sold out of some fabric before they every hit the website. Luckily I was able to re-order most of these and they are now posted for you to check out. AND, more recently, Katherine and I attended a wholesale International Fabric show where we bought twice what we had planned, so....there is a large grouping coming later this spring, do keep returning to see what has arrived. This new grouping includes some beauties coming from Europe and Asia.
SALE Fabrics As new fabrics arrive, we place others in the Sale Fabrics category, you might want to bookmark this too! I love a good bargain as much as anyone, and these fabrics tend to sell out quickly.
Remnants . I always haunt the remnant bins in fabric stores....so we are creating a virtual remnant basket for you to peruse. Mostly from our bolt ends, but occasionally from my stash or if I find a smallish piece that is just too good to pass up, we will pass it on to you.
Kits Making it simple for you, we...Marcy, Katherine and Shelley, here in the studio....are putting together a grouping of T-Shirt Kits that provide an assortment of hand picked materials so you can put together a t-shirt and have the necessary bits and pieces that Marcy has hand selected...the kind of thing she would use in her own garments. Enough fabric is included for up to large sizes. Suggestions for use in the descriptions of each kit, but no specific instructions, how you use the fabrics is up to you. Stop back often as we make up new kits when the creative urge strikes....and we'd love to hear from you about what you'd like to find.
Paris Earrings On the last day in Paris I found a little shop in the Marais with wonderful jewelry made in the back by a young designer. No two pieces exactly alike, but all have the same well designed feminine flair. I picked up just a dozen pair to sell, only one of each style, do take a look....here are a couple of examples. View them all at Notions & Etcetera.
Sandra Betzina and I have been friends and sewing friends for over 30 years. I've learned that when Sandra talks, I pay attention. Sandra ALWAYS has cutting edge projects, practical-magic information...and fabulous clothes. Sandra is a teacher's teacher. Generous and kind, with a wicked sense of humor to boot. She and I have collaborated on a fashion show at the Puyallup sewing expo, where we shmooze and catch up.
Let me tell you a bit about Sandra's internet WebTV sewing show with Ron Collins, a Canadian sewing expert. I've been listening/watching to the DVDs from Season 1 while I sew in the studio and I am loving it, learning new ideas, pattern suggestions and techniques.
The concept is this, you subscribe for a year, which gives you a new show every other week (for less than $3 per show), access to ALL the WebTV Show Archives (40+ shows), AND, The More Power Sewing ebook (a $20 value) FREE! All this as well as Thank You gifts, special discounts and giveaways.
If Sandra comes to your area to teach, drop everything and go. If you can't get to a Sandra class, (and even if you do), DO check out her WebTV Power Sewing show....this is a new concept in learning, short information packed bites that you can watch again and again.
Marcy says: 5 stars, do click on the banner above and see for yourself!
On my last day in Paris, I hit the souvenir shops on the rue de Rivoli and picked out a few t-shirts for a future project (at the time unknown). Then I added another from a thrift shop with the Mona Lisa on it.
Cutting out the parts with the images, I played around with scraps of stripes and meshes and voila, this is the result. When combining a thin knit with thicker ones I either used the thin knit double or layered a sheer mesh on top (both helped make the knit more stable and easy to
It was really fun.
The pattern is a prototype for a future Vogue pattern.
Took one day...and I really like the result!!!
The studio table was a mess, heaped with bits and pieces. Most of the time I had no idea where I would go next. Sometimes I wanted to throw up my hands in despair and weep, other times there were AHA!! moments of working things out. (and keep reminding myself that it was just 4 t-shirts from tacky Paris souvenir shops and one 99 cent one from a thrift store and a few scraps).
I pulled out all the stops and experimented with different ways of sewing things together. Used some lapped seams, sewed others to the outside, stitching with a double needle and bound the hem edges.
I layered a fine black point d'esprit tulle over the eiffel tower t-shirt to soften the cheap-o fabric and plastic-y printing. It worked, and I will try this again on other knits to alter color and add texture. Was suprisingly easy to handle the 2 layers. I used our Moon Shadow knit at the neck--the selvedge edge to the outside. Added a bit of ribbon with a fleur de lys at the V.
The striped side panel is 2 layers of our Licorice Stick knit cut on the crossgrain. Using a double layer stabilized the lightweight fabric and worked better with the double layer on the other side. Again, this was not hard to handle, I did machine baste along the side and neck edges, but not at the hem until I was ready to finish that edge---just in case the fabric shifted a bit. The mona lisa peeking out at the sleeve was a 99 cent thrift store t-shirt.
The back was a souvenir T-shirt I cut apart, but did not want to use just that piece for the back, so I added strips of stripe at random, then cut out the pattern piece. Binding the edge came at the end of the project...not planned in advance, but it worked.
The sleeves were each cut from t-shirt fronts. Cuffs are a double layer so can be worn long or rolled up. The serged seam edge is covered with a scrap of contrasting stripe. Front edges are bound and at the last minute I made a side slit.
What Would Nandini Do? Miss-Understood or Usable Fusible
The ever curious Shelley (friend and Marcyé─˘s assistant) is eager for more sewing information and always asking questions. Lately they have been about fusibles and how they can be used to simplify the construction of t-shirts. She thought she understood but this morning she discovered that all fusibles are not equal.
What fusibles have in common is their fusibility. The ability to hold two pieces of fabric together. But not all fusibles are the same.
First there is fusible web - a thin layer of plastic dots or web that will melt under the ironé─˘s heat to bond/fuse two fabrics together. Fusible web comes in many forms and several weights. Most of the time, and always with knits, I use the lightest weight fusible web I can find. Fusible web can be found in various widths in tape like rolls, pre-packaged pieces or larger width rolls like yardage. Some webs (like Steam-a-Seam) have a thin paper backing which allows me to iron the web in place accurately or apply the web on a larger piece of fabric to cut for an applique. Other webs (like Stitch Witchery) are free-standing. I cut 1/8é─¨ wide strips and frequently fuse hems in place before I stitch them down. This keeps knits - especially the thin and rolling ones - from slipping and sliding while providing a bit of stabilizing for the stitches.
Fusible interfacing is another story. A great story to be sure but fusible interfacings are not the same as fusible web. Interfacing is applied to give more stability and/or structure to a fabric. Fusible interfacing simplifies things by allowing us to iron the interfacing onto the fabric rather than sewing it. How you might ask? Fusible interfacing consists of a fabric base (woven, knit or webbed) with those little dots or web of plastic conveniently applied to one side.
Fusible interfacings come in many weights and widths to be used in multitudes of applications. Heavy-weight fusible interfacings work well in purses where you want lots of structure and stability on the bottom and sides. I like the lightweight flexibility of fusible tricot for knits and lightweight wovens. I use 3/8é─¨ strips of lightweight fusible tricot interfacing to stabilize the shoulders in my t-shirts. A great way to use up the scraps from my larger projects.
Join Marcy and Katherine exploring the City of Light in a small intimate group.
Each tour has a different flavor, depending on the group and the time of year. The focus of the tours is aimed at creative women who enjoy making and who enjoy the company of kindred creative spirits. The groups are small, 8-14. We plan the timing of the tours to coincide with exhibits at the Musee de la Textile et de la Mode (Museum of Textiles and Fashion) at the Louvre. Past exhibitions include Balenciaga, Christian La Croix, Sonia Rykiel and Madeleine Vionnet.
Each day we visit a different part of Paris, and by the end of the trip, people are familiar enough with the city that they are able to navigate on their own. We go up to Montmartre to the fabric district, for a walking tour, where Marcy will show you her favorite fabric and button shops. We explore the Left Bank, famous for fashion in small winding streets. Wander the Marais, visiting a small chic shop and peek into the atelier just steps down the street. We visit small specialty boutiques and take a peek into designer studios. We wander the covered passages where there are magical small shops----including clothing, one of the best resale shops in Paris, accessories, art supplies, discount designer clothing, books and chic Parisian eyeglasses....one of the traditions on the tours is to shop together in Marcyé─˘s favorite shop for eyeglasses. We visit the posh couture fabric shops as well as finding inexpensive treasures in the é─˛couponé─˘ (remnant) shops. We visit the mercerie/notion shops for ribbon, buttons, trim, and hatmaking supplies.
...join me in November!!
"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.
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 return to my Oregon studio, I am influenced by what I see in Paris."
It's Travel Time Spring is such a great time to travel, and the mystique of April in Paris often brings me questions about what to do and where to go in Paris.
I can't reveal most of the sources for my ParisTilton tours, but thought it would be fun to share a few ideas and opinions on Paris if you are headed there over the spring/summer. For more Paris info, including 5 info packed videos on sewing Paris inspired clothes and packing for a Paris trip, check out the Paris Inspiration CD which has gotten rave reviews.
The Eiffel Tower I am a bit dotty about the Eiffel Tower. No matter how many times I go there, I love to return. But the lines can be daunting, and sometimes I just turn around and give up. It is not easy to get to...in a part of town that does not have many other attractions.
SO.... Go early or late. Check the opening time (these things have a way of changing in France...) Last time I went, it opened at 9:30, so we arrived around 9, were 3rd in line and had a great time chatting with the other early bird tourists. Pay the price and go all the way to the top, it takes longer and costs more, but what a view.
Nighttime visits are fun too, but it can get cold and windy, prepare for that.
We were in and out in about an hour plus.
From the Eiffel Tower, it is a 10 minute walk across the river to the Mona Bismark Foundation , which is worth visiting just to see the house, an impeccable mansion right on the river with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
Mona Bismark Foundation Presents
The Art of the Button
June 4 through August 14, 2010 The Mona Bismarck Foundationé─˘s Paris Cultural Center will present for the first time ever a major international exhibition devoted entirely to the button as an art form.
Drawing from his treasure trove of over 5,000 buttons, renowned fibu-lanomist (collector of buttons), Loic Allio, will recount three milleniums of art history through the button.
Colette Not to be missed is a wander around the Palais Royale where Colette, the famous writer lived, but a short walk away, down the Rue St. Honore is the iconic Parisian fashion-style-design boutique, also called Colette. Bypass the oddly American but for the French, terminally hip, men's sport-team wear on the first floor (tho you may be distracted by the books), and head upstairs for a gaze upon the latest in chic (and sometimes strange) ready to wear which is displayed on free standing mannikins.
Sewists....touching is frowned upon, but you can get close and scrutinize for an up-close mini sewing-design lesson in the concepts and techniques being used by the hottest international designers.
I don't always LIKE the clothes, but these looks are put together by some of the best stylists in Paris. Take the time to really check things out.
Finding a bathroom in Paris can be challenging. Colette has a very nice (co-ed) one in the basement where there is also a little restaurant where the people watching is world class.
Where to Stay in Paris I can recommend 2 hotels I love. The Horset Opera is on the Right Bank, Au Manoir St Germain is on the left bank. Both Best Western (not at all like in the US, a well kept secret in Paris). Both family owned, run by 2 brothers, the family has 2 other hotels too, one run by the mother, the other by the sister. To view details just follow the links on the website. I like these hotels for many reasons, the first being the level of service by the staff. Also: because of the location, close to main metro lines and restaurants, easy walking and central location. Both hotels feature a full continental breakfast included in the price of the room. The Horset has a full bar area where you can get simple meals like quiche and a salad. I've checked out many other choices, costing more and less....these are mid-range in cost, but 4 star quality. Rooms are small, but that is normal in old Paris.
If you book a room, tell them Madame Tilton sent you!!
Taxi Dagobert The ultimate way to arrive or depart Paris is to arrange for Dagobert to pick you up. French colleagues gave me his name and number as if they were sharing an inner circle secret. Dagobert is a treasure, he is self employed, loves life and has a great sense of humor. You can arrange for pick-up in town too. I send him an e-mail with my flight # and the terminal of arrival (you must check with the airline for this important info).
Tools for Travel Perfect combo: The Baggalini tote for carry-on, and the Eagle Creek Tarmac 25" to check (great quality, strong wheels and weighs only 10#), packed using the Eagle Creek packing units. Keeps it simple and organized. I pack/re-pack as I go.
For a slightly larger carry-on, but still within international carry-on regulations, I recommend the Tarmac 20".
Studio Toolbox: 10 Tools I Can't Do Without
My old Sussman Iron (I recommend the Rowenta irons shown below if you are looking for a new iron)
Bernina Artista 630
Rotary cutter with guide arm
Clover silver fine line chalk marker*
48 x 2" metal ruler (found at Home Depot type stores)
Professional pattern drafting tools: French curve and hip curve, C-thru ruler, right angle ruler* (on order, coming soon)
Cool Links I LOVE the resources and inspiration that crops up on the internet. Here are a few current discoveries and old favorites. Please share yours with me and I will pass them on.
On The Street - Fashion Week in Paris with Bill Cunningham I am a great fan of Bill Cunningham.....he is a longtime fashion writer for the
New York Times who now has a weekly slideshow where he usually rides around Manhattan on his bicycle snapping photos related to style and fashion. This link is in Paris during Fashion Week and he has some very interesting shots and observations, including one of Colette, owner/founder of the fashion forward (not to be missed on your next Paris trip),boutique on Rue St. Honore. There is a major trend revealed in this slideshow, for it shows REAL women in fashion and how they are interpreting their own clothes. Notice the simplicity, pared down use of color and silhouettes. I loved it!
Male Pattern Boldness I first discovered Peter Lappin via Pattern Review, and loved following his sewing adventures----he has a wicked sense of humor, clever presentation and he has a passion for creativity. Don't miss his new blog. Love a guy who sews and shares his secret life....I sent a fan letter and want to meet him when I go to NYC!
Sewn Clothes Blog This blogger, an attorney from Connecticut, and a new sewist has made the following pledge. I admire this courage of creative conviction and am enjoying her progress and process. She says: "As of September 1, 2009, I am sewing all of my own clothes for one year. I am a *very* beginning sewer; I began sewing apparel only a few months ago, and have no formal training. I hope to improve my sewing skills dramatically, save money, learn from and perhaps inspire others, and produce a fun, unique wardrobe in a year!"
Soul Noir Blog Great name for a blog. Being an opinionated sewist, I appreciate others with strong opinions and really enjoy the postings on this blog---don't miss her tight little essay on black.
Center for Pattern Design Sandra Ericson has created a treasure trove website, newsletter, books, tools and classes on pattern design. If you don't get her quarterly newsletter, click on this link and sign up for it. This is a WONDERFUL resource if you love to sew, design, vintage....4 stars, Marcy says check it out!
Joanne Rossman Many years ago, before the 'wearable art' movement was a concept, I was living in Marin County, and seeing the most exquisite garments made by Joanne Rossman. It inspired me to start on my own journey. Now living in Boston, Joanne has one of those charming and personal shops I delight in discovering. Do take a moment and see for yourself one woman's refined and fun aesthetic. If I am ever in Boston, I want to go to Joanne's shop.
Wearable Art Blog The very term, 'wearable art' has become so distorted and watered down, I hate to use it unless it has real meaning, and I DO recommend this blog. This blogger is a collector with an eye for good, innovative and emerging designers. She says, "The Wearable Art Blog is dedicated to building appreciation of the most talented jewelry and fashion designers specializing in handmade design from the U.S. and around the globe."
Bonkuk Koo Scrutinize the photos in this blog. First the lines are plotted and stitched on the fabric, then pieces cut to fit in, then....well, see for yourself. Quilters will understand, but the concept is so unique it took me a moment to wrap my mind around what this amazing designer is doing.
Rodarte RODARTE If you have not heard of this line of clothing designed by two 30-something sisters from Pasadena, DO check out their website, blog and take a close look at not only the clothing, but the fabrics. These two young women have become the darlings of the fashion world. They have dressed Cate Blanchett, Reese Witherspoon, Kristen Dunst and Michelle Obabma. Even the rather stern Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue has given them the strong thumbs up!! ....and they design a line for Target that gets snapped up by women on a budget.
A photographer's love letter to her late mother, whose five year struggle with Alzheimer's and passion for couture clothing inspired this poignant and moving photo essay which sparkles with the memories of her mother's glamorous and fashionable life.
Inside the Studio of Narcisso Rodrigues
Recently the winner of the coveted Cooper Hewitt Design Aware for Fashion, here is a peek at the designer at work in his studio.
Sewing Machine Song....silly and funny, Betty Hutton in a '40's musical sings about her sewing machine, don't miss it!