Marcy Tilton's Newsletter for Everyday Creatives #2
Summer has finally arrived here in Southern Oregon and I have been sewing summer clothes to celebrate. I'm inventing t-shirts and skirts, plunging through my precious boxes of vintage/out of print Issey Miyake patterns for inspiration and starting points. The T-shirt is one of my favorite garments to make, though even accomplished sew-ists tell me they have a fear of working with knits. I will be teaching a t-shirt segment at the upcoming Design Outside the Lines retreat in Taos in mid-July. I'm including some t-shirt tips in this newsletter and have plans for an e-booklet on t-shirts in the future. The t-shirt info in this newsletter is just the tip of the iceberg!
I still have a good selection of knits for sale. All are $15/yard. Send a legal size SASE (2 stamps) and $5. for the current collection. I found a wonderful blue/white knit that looks like an ikat from a designer in SF, have 2 great black and white stripes, a lovely Copen blue microfiber and more.
Where Did You Get That T-Shirt?
Here are a few discoveries I've made with making from scratch and re-fashioning purchased T-shirts. Visit What's New on my website for photos. My goal is to keep it simple, but design the T-shirt so it looks as if you found it in an expensive little boutique in Florence, Paris, Santa Fe or Ashland Oregon, where I visited one of my favorite clothing stores, 250 Main and scoped out ideas for expensive ready to wear.
Patterns I am using are: Kwik Sew 2965, 2694 and old Miyake, Vogue 2437. I am also developing one of my home-made designs for a future (I hope) Vogue pattern.
This style is great for summer, has an easy fit, non-dorky cut-all in one short sleeve and works on many figures and shapes, is easy-peasy to make. Kwik Sew and Burda are my favorite choices for T-shirt patterns because they have the best fit. Kwik Sew uses 1/4" seam allowances which I find too narrow, so I change the pattern and use 1/2" seam allowances instead. This is quick and easy if you add the seam allowance using a rotary cutter with the guide arm attachment. The attachment is available from the Clotilde catalog if you cannot find it elsewhere.
In ALL cases I change the pattern, NEVER EVER usie the pattern straight out of the envelope.
I adapt my patterns to 1/2" seam allowances----much easier to handle than 5/8".
Tips for Fitting your Pattern
Start with your true body measurements to determine which size to use. If you are full busted, you will probably need to add a bust dart. Refer to my book Easy Guide to Sewing Tops and T-Shirts for instructions on adding a bust dart. The bust dart on a T-shirt is best in the armhole rather than in the side seam. It just looks better, trust me on this. This little book is rather plain and looking dated, but has great info and is available from Taunton press http://www.taunton.com and at bookstores and sewing stores.
TISSUE FIT THE PATTERN
do not skip this step!
Adjust the pattern so it is close to your size, so it is large enough to fit around your body. You will not be using patterns that rely on the stretch of the knit for fit (think leotard), but the stretch and drape of the knit make the fitting easier. Pin the pattern together along the seam line with seams pinned out from the body and try it on. Check for overall fit at bust, waist and hips. Check the neck width and shape---this is easy to change before you cut. Check shoulder placement and depth of the armhole. Check the shape and length. Make changes in the pattern before you cut. It is easy to make the neck width narrower or wider, to change a round neck to a V, or to adapt a pull-over style to a cardigan. The great thing about knits is that some of these changes can be made as you sew.
CONSTRUCTION: PLAN TO FIT AS YOU SEW
I do not use any special 'stretch' stitches. Use a 2.0 - 2.5 stitch length, and a straight stitch. Use a #12 Universal needle. Stretch/ball point needles are RARELY necessary and then only with the most dense power stretch knits. Use a good quality polyester thread. You do not need a serger, though it makes a nice finish sometimes. I NEVER use a serger for a primary seam. Knits do not ravel. There is nothing wrong with a simple, honest raw edge----in fact I am using raw edges on the outside of some of my newest t-shirts, just like expensive ready to wear.
I ALWAYS begin by:
1. Staystitch the neck edge, front and back to stabilize it and keep it from stretching as you sew and fit.
2. Stabilize the shoulder using fusible tricot. Fuse a 1" strip of fusible tricot to the back shoulder seam. I use So-Sheer for this, but the important thing is to cut the non-stretchy direction of the fusible so it will stabilize the shoulder seam and keep it from stretching.
3. Sew front shoulder to back. Press both seams to the back and topstitch, sewing from the right side. Topstitching keeps the seam smooth and flat. OPTIONAL: You can grade the seams to eliminate bulk and you can serge the edge once pressed and before you topstitch.
Now the fun begins...........Once the neck edge and shoulder seams are stabilized you can try on the t-shirt and design the next steps. Pin the side seams along the seamline, seams out and try your t-shirt on. Check the neck shape and width. Each knit is different and you may want to make adjustments like re-cutting the front or back or drawing the neck in with binding. Check the shoulder with. If it is too wide, trim away as needed. Check the fit and shape and make adjustments. I often 'shape' the side seam, curving in at the waist and out at bust and hip to follow the curves of my figure. TIP: finish the neck edge before sewing the side seam.
Neck Edge Possibilities
Finish the neck edge with:
Self or contrast wrap around binding using cross grain knit. I used to be very finicky about measuring, now I work with the fabric itself, I cut the binding width so I can sew, wrap and then trim before stitching in the ditch. The binding must be smaller than the neck edge so it will prevent stretching. Use your fabric as a guide, then sew the binding to the neck edge using an even tension, stitching with the binding on top, start/finish at the back neck edge. Use 1/2" seam and trim to an even width, then press, wrap and stitch in the ditch. I use my tailor's ham when pressing and wrapping the binding.
Use a woven bias binding to finish the neck edge.
Use a single layer cross grain knit 'binding' leaving the the edge raw instead of wrapping it around.
Turn and stitch the neck edge. Use the staystitching as a guide, press the neck edge under 1/2" and topstitch. Use a single needle, (straight stitch or zig-zag) or use a double needle with wooly nylon in the bobbin. Or hand stitch using a running stitch and perle cotton or embroidery thread.
Leave the edge raw.
Invent your own options!
Sew the sleeve BEFORE you sew the side seams Stitch the sleeves working with the garment on top. Most of us learned to set a sleeve with the sleeve on top, but this is so much easier---it is working with the 'give' of the knit, so the ease just disappears. You need only 3 pins, one at each end and one at the shoulder seam, positioned on the seam so you can pull them out as you sew. Press the seam flat as sewn, then, working on a ham or the end of the ironing board, press the seams toward the cap of the sleeve and touch up from the right side. Don't trim the seam, the 1/2" width 'supports' the cap of the sleeve. You can serge the two seams together, keeping the shaping you pressed in, serging right along the edge to maintain the seam width. Press again. If you do not have a serger, it is fine to leave the raw seam.
SIDE SEAMS: THE FINAL FITTING
Once the neck and shoulder are right, pin the side seams in place, with pins right on the stitching line, wrong sides together, seams to the outside. Try on. Adjust the fit to your figure, adding shaping at bust, waist, hip as needed. This can be an on and off process to fine tune the shaping and a bit tricky with all those pins. Just do it! I mark the placement of the pins with chalk, remove the pins and smooth out the stitching line using a curve stick or french curve and match up the shaping on both sides, drawing in the final stitching line with a fine line chalk marker. Stitch, try on to check, adjust if needed and press. If you have a serger, serge the seams together in a narrow 3/8" seam. If you do not have a serger, stitch a second line of straight stitching 1/4" from the first and trim close to the stitching.
I now sew nearly all my t-shirt hems by machine. Use a double needle. I like the 4.0mm #12/80 size. Use wooly nylon in the bobbin. I use black for dark colors, beige for light. Press under your hem using a 1-2" width. If your knit is slippery, use a spray adhesive like 505 spray to hold the hem in place. Topstitch using the double needle and a 2.5mm stitch length. This works like a charm, the knit does not stretch. Press to finish.
When sewing t-shirts I work quickly and carefully. I do not skimp on pressing and use a tailors ham and sleeve board to press as I go. I trim and shape using my rotary cutter like an extension of my hands. Pressing is as important as sewing. Practice is essential.....but after a few projects you will see that working with knits is easy and fun and very forgiving of mistakes.......and you will wear these garments in
all aspects of your life. Wash on gentle or hand wash and air dry. I NEVER put my hand made t-shirts in the drier---it will age them prematurely.
Re-Fashioning is a buzz word of the moment.......meaning taking a ready-made garment and personalizing or de-constructing it or somehow altering it. I've been putting together a collection of re-fashioned t-shirts for myself, my friends and for sale. Look for the collection soon on my website. I start by collecting a grouping of t-shirts that have a good cut, color, use quality fabric etc. Favorite sources are TJ MAXX, Nordstrom Rack, various outlet stores. If you are in the Bay Area, I always check out the Royal Robbins outlet store on Gilman in Berkeley. I silk screen the dark colors first with dye discharge, press, launder, air dry, then silk screen on additional layers of images and colors. Most commercial t-shirts are too long, so I shorten (hem using the double needle technique described above). Plain old ribbed necks are boring so I often change the neck, cutting with the rotary cutter to make a raw edge or adding bits of fabric or ribbon or.................. Voila! an out of the ordinary t-shirt with character.
Cover a piece of cardboard or mat board with plastic and slip inside the t-shirt while painting to prevent the paint or discharge paste from bleeding through.
San Francisco Design Tour Report
Upcoming Fall Tour October 19 - 22
In May, Diane Ericson and I lead a group of 15 enthusiastic fellow sewing/fiber artists on a 4 day tour of San Francisco Design studios and fabric stores. We started with a visit to the Palace of the Legion of Honor to see the wearable art show: Fashion/Anti-Fashion. If you are in SF between now and October 30, do not miss it, and halfway through the show, in August, the displays will change so it is worthwhile to go for a second look. There is a beautiful catalog available too. We visited designer studios and fabric stores large and small in San Francisco and the East Bay, ate great food, stayed in a small downtown hotel and were chauffered in luxury vans and busses. We had such a great time that we are planning a similar but different tour this fall. Information follows.
San Francisco Design Tour
October 19 - 22, 2005
with Diane Ericson and Marcy Tilton
Organized by Marcy Tilton and Diane Ericson, the dynamic duo will make arrangements for 3 inspiring fun filled days of creative experiences, shopping, fine food and good company. We'll have an inside look at a major museum wearable art show, visit the incredible onc-a-year designer sale at Canada College, explore Bay area fabric stores and designer studios, uncovering sources for fabrics, supplies, art, design & inspiration. We will begin Wednesday, October 19 at 3 pm and end Saturday October 22 around 3. If you are coming in from out of town, plan to arrive on Wednesday before noon, check into the Mosser Hotel, and check out on Saturday. The Mosser is conveniently located on 54 Fourth Street, a close walk to Union Square and many shops. You have an option to come in early or stay late at the same group rate: $142.50/day single or double, tax included. Single rooms have a queen bed, double have 2 twins.
Each day we will have a different itinerary, travelling in a luxurious motor van, visit studios usually not open to drop-in visitors and explore some of the unique resources and neighborhoods that make the Bay Area so intriguing for creative people.
Cost: $695. includes all tours, transportation, museum fee, and 3 dinners. Eating well is part of the SF experience and we will pick dinner spots with good food and atmosphere.
Hotel accomodations, breakfast, lunch and wine/drinks not included. We have made arrangements for lodging at the Mosser Hotel, a small downtown European style hotel. We will make the group reservations with the hotel, but each person is responsible for paying her own bill. The Mosser has been recently renovated with contemporary SF design flair, go to http://www.themosser.com to view rooms etc..
‚Ä¢ If you are a local/commuter, you 'll meet us at the hotel each morning and we'd drop you off there (or in route home) at the end of the day.
‚Ä¢ If you want to share a double room and need to find a roommate, let us know when you register and she try to facilitate that.
The tour begins on Wednesday afternoon with a visit to Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum with a docent guided tour of the just opened wearable art show called Artwear: Fashion and Anti-fashion. Other stops include, some of the Bay Area‚Äôs great fabric stores, an inside visit to the studios of garment and accessory designers to meet the owners (sometimes we get a lesson), have a chance to see and buy their work. We conclude with the much awaited, once a year designer sale at Canada College in Redwood City, on the peninsula, south of San Francisco.
If you want to book a space, call/e-mail and send $100 deposit made out to Marcy Tilton to hold your place. Cancellation policy: now to 30 days prior, $50, less than 30 days, no refund. Full payment is due by September 15. Sorry, no credit cards. Mailing address is: PO Box 2161, Cave Junction, OR 97523.
Questions??? Please contact Marcy via e-mail at: email@example.com or at 541-592-2969 or Diane at: firstname.lastname@example.org 831-922-4157
I want to stay in the hotel______
single_______double________(indicate roommate preference)____________
Surface Design Conference Report
I attended the Surface Design Conference in Kansas City as a participant and as a vendor. It was a fabulous experience; inspiring people, exhibits, and presentations combine with the opportunity to meet other fiber artists from all over the world. The conference opened with breakfast where we sat with others who live in our region. It was exciting to meet people who are doing different things but share the same passions. There were large group presentations, artists showing slides and talking about their work, nitty gritty demos, fiber art in all the KC galleries, awesome shopping at the members trunk show and in the vendor area and an over the top totally magical fashion show. I discovered new friends, connected with old friends, picked up new materials, books and ideas galore.
Vendors included John Marshall, an American textile artist working with Japanese classic techniques---his work could qualify him as a 'national treasure' of both the US and Japan where he studied. His booth was like stepping into a Kyoto textile shop, and he is as charming as his work is beautiful. http://www.johnmarshall.to/
Habu Textiles had their entire line of incredible yarns on display......linen spun with stainless steel, bamboo (soft as cashmere), paper (very Issey Miyake). http://www.habutextiles.com/
I attended a demo by Jane Dunnenwold on Laminating Paper and Metal (gold/silver leaf) to fabric, another demo on freezer paper applique by quilt artist Julia Pfaff who gets very sophisticated results with this humble material. I purchased Jane Dunenwold's CD Paper and Metal Leaf Lamination which shows the process step by step and is worth the $22 cost. Available on her website: http://www.complexcloth.com
The next conference is in 2007. It is always in Kansas City, something I understand now that I've attended. The Kansas City Art Institute is the perfect site and is close to hotels and to the Plaza area, and the conference organizers are teach at the KCAI. I plan to return in 2007. Do check out their website and consider joining. Their journal is beautiful and it will put you in a very special and inspiring community. http://www.surfacedesign.org
Shopping Diva Tote
$25 includes shipping
Super light weight, super strong nylon crinkle tote bag. When I left mine in a NYC cab and mourned the loss, I realized what a great thing this is. Tie it in a knot, slip it in your handbag, take it to the market, the fabric store, for gathering smooth stones and shells on the beach, your lunch.......on that April day in New York I had tucked in my raincoat and guide book (and I am still bummed about it!). Measures 16" x 18". Available in black, red, lime green and orchid. Call or e-mail to order, send me a check and I'll pop it in the mail.
Silk Screen Kits
view kits on my website at:
click on Silk Screens
I have put together 3 silk screen kits with different themes. Each versatile assortment includes 8 screens with related designs and scale. Current themes are: Eclectic Geometry, Asian Flair and Techno-romantic. Look for new kits in the future.
Each Kit contains:
2 large (8 x 10.5)
3 medium( 5 x 8)
3 small (4 x 5)
If bought separately: $88.50. Each set is designed to work together with the bonus that all three sets harmonize with each other. Order via PayPal on my website or call or e-mail me if you want to send a check.
Eclectic Geometry Set includes:
2 Large Screens:
1) Three African Suns, 2) Kenya
3 Medium Screens:
1) Spot-E-O, 2) Off Kilter Stripes, 3) Great Grid
3 Small Screens:
1) Herringbone 2) Striped Circle & Square, 3) Japanese Ikat
Asian Flair Set includes:
2 Large Screens:
1)Clouds & Waves, 2) Sutra
3 Medium Screens:
1) True Love-Trust Love, 2) Wave Border, 3) Brush Stroke
3 Small Screens:
1) Knot, 2) Four Peace, 3) Small Dragonfly
Techno-Romantic Set includes:
2 Large Screens:
1) Chinese Flora, 2) Techno-Romantic
3 Medium Screens:
1) Kyoto Leaves, 2) Old French Letter, 3) Phoenix
3 Small Screens:
1) Baroque Spiral 2) Stripey Moth & Dotty Butterfly 3) Now Now Now
Fabric Shopping Alert!!!
Textile Connection in Grants Pass, Oregon
If you find yourself in Southwest Oregon, there is a great small fabric store in Grants Pass that is not to be missed. Textile Connection is located on A Street, between 6th and 7th (the main streets leading in and out of 'downtown' GP). Located in a small house, you will find a treasure trove of fabrics not available elsewhere. The owners are textile lovers and travel to Asia, collecting fabrics for the store, buying a bolt here and there, antique textiles, handwoven and hand embellished--- wonderful shibori from India, soft sophisticated cottons from Japan, ikats from Bali, batiks, silks, handwoven and hand dyed hemp, African brocade and an assortment of sari fabrics, vintage sarongs and more. I take all my sewing/designing visitors there, so if you are driving up or down I-5 it is worth a stop.
Some Great DVDs
Within and Without
Two wonderful DVDs have grabbed my attention, thanks to Trudi Carter who discovered them. One is called Within and Without, with artist Keith Lo Bue, a magical peek into his Sydney Studio as he brings you step-by-step through the spontaneous creation of a neck piece made from found materials. A wondrous journal of the creative process with a stunning musical score. Two thumbs up, I now own this and could watch it again and again. Available for $49. from the artist on his equally fabulous website: http://www,loebue-art.com
In Women's Work, the film-maker focuses on a group of northern California art quilt makers and takes us on a tour of their studios, their process and their lives and the role of their work as individuals and as a supportive group. I loved this visual trip into fascinating studio spaces, hearing different approaches to working, art, livelihood and folding it all together with contemporary life. The quilts are fabulous, refined, and marvelous, but it is seeing the spontaneous processes that I loved the best.....watching the artist grab a piece of cloth and tear or cut it in roughed out shapes, working on the floor, and clearly loving it all. I was so impressed that I am now selling the video through Grateful Threads Productions, the company I share with Diane Ericson. $35 including shipping. Call or e-mail me to order.
Diane and I have just set the following dates for 2006 Design Outside the Lines retreats. We are full for the upcoming Taos retreat, but there are still a few spaces left for the IONS Sonoma Retreat in September.
Design Outside the Lines
Creativity * Design * Fiber Art * Sewing Retreats
with Diane Ericson & Marcy Tilton
Ignite your imagination. Get away from it all in the company of
Grow your work at Design Outside the Lines, a sewing and fiber
experience presented by Diane Ericson and Marcy Tilton.
This 4-day hands on studio workshop is a journey in discovery and creating.
Through formal and informal classes and time to 'play' in the studio,
you'll expand your perspectives on design, sewing, surface design and
Each location provides a unique experience with different themes as the source of inspiration for each retreat.
La Casa de Maria
February 27-March 2, 2006
Santa Barbara, CA
Mabel Dodge Luhan House
June 19 - 23. 2006
September 27 - October 1, 2006
Taos, New Mexico
Institute of Noetic Sciences Center (IONS)
September 25 - 29, 2005
October 27 - November 1, 2006
Includes 4-day workshop,lodging (double occupancy), most meals $300 deposit holds your place.
Complete workshop info and registration is available on-line.:
www.revisions-ericson.com and www.marcytilton.com
Call or e-mail for more information
Marcy: email@example.com 541-592-2969
Diane: firstname.lastname@example.org 831-722-4157
Wishing you the joy of creating everyday,