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Newsletter #5

Topics in this Newsletter include:
Paris Report
Groom Bags Available from Marcy
2006 Wardrobe Upgrade workshop with Shermane Fouche in Santa Rosa / Bay Area
Winter Sewing & Creative Sparks
Marcy in Ann Arbor in January
Planning ahead for fun in 2006.

Portland to Paris
The month of November was full of inspiration, adventure and travel. I taught a one day workshop in Portland on Saturday, November 12 with to over 50 lively participants, sponsored by the PACC (Professional Association of Custom Clothiers) Topics were Copying Ready to Wear ---how to make a pattern from a finished garment and Surface Design. It was an energizing day and an inspiring group. The audience were a visual treat.....many wore clothes they made and designed, and it was such fun to be with so many creative, skilled, talented AND curious people.

On Sunday the 13th I flew to Paris for a 10 day vacation with my sister Nandini (aka Katherine Tilton), where we immersed ourselves in Paris living, walked miles every day exploring, eating, hanging out in cafes, being with friends and shopping. We stayed in a friend's apartment near the Opera, discovered the best nearby grocery is Monoprix, the Paris version of Fred Meyer (el-cheapo clothes, cosmetics etc) upstairs, food downstairs, fun to shop their clothes collection on the way to the groceries. Even the cheap clothes have a special something that makes me stop and examine the details, the fabric, the cut.

While the one world village has outposts in Paris, ---McDonalds and the Gap---which the French love, and I was saddened to note that the old fashioned bakery one the ground floor of our apartment building had morphed into a chain with pre-fab criossants, still this glorious city is full of unique shops and restaurants. One of my favorite Paris pastimes is walking and wandering in a district exploring, eating and discovering.

The clothes....yes, the french clothes are distinctly different from what I find in the US. Before I left, I'd been in a couple of California shops that feature French clothing. 101, in Healdsburg, CA, lovely and expensive, is filled with the creme de la creme of French fashion. At the September Design Outside the Lines retreat, some of us went into this shop and came back inspired and chock full of ideas to translate into our sewing. Rainsong, a shop in the small town of Mendocino had several lines of french clothes too. I found some of the same lines in the Paris stores---and discovered that the US retail prices are triple the retail prices in France, even factoring in the weak dollar.

Paris Fashion-Design
French clothes all seem to have a similar cut and fit, no matter what manufacturer---designed for the 'average' french figure, slim, narrow-ish sleeves, often fitted in the waist. When we found a store that looked promising, we stopped and often tried things on just to see and feel. I was delighted to find interesting clothes for everyday/casual wear, and saw many women wearing skirts in much the same way that we would wear jeans in the US.

The basic jacket vest or coat this winter is fitted down/padded nylon/microfiber, which I saw at all prices, usually in black, brown, grey. It was so cold, I bought both a vest and jacket, wore them everyday and continue to wear both here at home---my definition of an ideal garment is one that goes from city to country with equal ease. One of our first left bank discoveries was Animale. This interesting French line has many shops in Paris and a terrific website: You cannot access the current collection unless you are a wholesaler, but do cruise the past collections, noting the line drawings which show the details.

One of the things I love about Paris is the small shops that feature the work of just one designer......this can range from Animale (a large world-wide company) to small shops with the designer working out of the back room. Some of my favorites turned out to have Asian designers.

Rue Cherche Midi is one of my favorite Left Bank shopping streets, cheek by jowl cram packed with inspiring small shops and exquisite, sometimes oddball clothing. Here you'll find Lilith (an eclectic/odd/interesting French clothing line available in the US), Satellite, a jewelbox-gem shop where I find earrings: Ekjo, designed by a Korean woman, had the most gorgeous fabrics in clothes with an asian-classic-french flair, priced on the high end, pure eye candy and a fun website: The renowned baker Poilaine is on Rue Cherche Midi, it is a MUST to stop for a hand sized apple tart to munch in the street, loaf of bread or bag of sablee cookies. Interesting note: when Lionel Poilaine and his wife were killed in a plane crash a few years ago, his 20-something daughter took over the family business (women bakers are a rarity)......and she caused a small furor by adding a sprinkling of raw sugar to the top of the apple improvement in my estimation.

Wandering in the Marais, we found an intriguing small shop with the Japanese-French designer sewing away in the back room---no fancy website here, but the strong presence of a creative woman who was happy to share her interesing and original work. Setsuko, 17 rue Ste Croix el la Bretonnerie, Paris 75004. More wandering in the Marais, we found two Issey Miyake stores, and on the far side of the Marais, running an errand, we happened upon the rue de Charonne, and found several great shops; Isabel Marant--exquisite/expensive/eclectic/ethnic, 16 rue de Charonne and Deca, 8 rue de Charonne, this is a french line with several Paris shops and a good website:

Over on the Right Bank, the galerie Vivienne is an exquisite 'passage', a covered shopping mall, one of a number all over town that were created around the turn of the century to allow women of means to shop and stop for tea while wearing their delicate fabric shoes and long dresses---the streets were filthy and wet. Galerie Vivienne is an architectural delight with 2 great clothing stores (Nathalie Garcon and Catherine Vernoux) , a cool resale shop (la marelle), great eyeglass store (Traction) and more. Nathalie Garcon is a marvelous clothing store, beautiful displays, rich appealing colors and inspiring and expensive clothes AND a good website to boot:

Clothing/Fashion Details:
THE color of the season is burnt pumpkin, we went to a dinner party and all the French women there were wearing something in this color. Other colors: blues of all hues (and big news for spring too), browns, acid green, black as always. Recurring themes: double collars, tucks and darts on the outside, serged and raw edges, felted wool, down/padded coats, jackets, vests. Ruffled scarves everywhere and at all prices in jewel and accent colors. Innovative patch pockets that somehow do not add weight to the body (must be connected to the French scarf tying gene!!!). Surplice wrap tops, jackets, sweaters, t-shirts. Stretch woven fabrics. Tunics. Skirts and more skirts. Skirts with ruffles, tiers, godets---LOTS of godets, small and large on tops and bottoms. And a lot of REALLY overdone skirts with all of the above plus more fabric flowers, ribbons, lace) The french phrase for overdone/over the top/too much is de trop, and there is a LOT of the 'de trop' effect in the Paris clothes this season.

SHERMANE FOUCHE PRESENTATION in Rohnert Park, December 28, morning and evening
My American friend Shermane Fouche, who has lived in Paris for 8 years, studied at the Chambre Syndicale (the French school that trains designers, patternmakers, and workers for couture houses and the fashion industry), shopped with us, guiding us to her favorite off the beaten-path bargain haunts AND guiding us/me into a refreshed personal style---pulling items off the racks, with a firm, 'try this on, honey'. Didn't take long to see the flattering effects of more fitted sleek clothes. I'd protest, 'that is too small', Shermane would respond, 'try this on, honey' and she was right. I came home with a few great pieces of clothing and a shift in the way I want to look, and in what I want to make. Shermane who is blessed with a great sense of practical style, a good eye, and great feedback, is doing a presentation on style, and refreshing your wardrobe in the SF Bay area during the holidays. I sent a separate e-mail yesterday and encourage those in the area to come. There will be a new shipment of Groom bags and Shermane's collection of shawls and accessories available for sale.

Contact Shermane's sister Candace to register:

TIME: Wednesday December 28,2005
1st class:  10am-1pm
2nd class:  6pm-9pm

ADDRESS: City of Rohnert Park Community Center 5401 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park California

PRICE: $40 pre-registered/$45 at the door

PLEASE MAKE CHECKS TO : Candace Birchfield 
                                    63 Varda Street
                                    Rohnert Park, California

CASH OR CHECKS ONLY are accepted for all sales of accessories and class fee.



Thanks to a travelling companion I discovered the Groom microfiber backpack handbags in on Rue Chereche Midi in Paris nearly 10 years ago and have been carrying them ever since. I own 2 small and one large of the backpack bags. Practical for everyday, this lightweight beautiful design is essential for travel. The company has been producing the microfiber backpack handbags for 20 years. It is a Parisian classic---especially noteworthy in a fashion period where handbags tend toward being elaborate, fussy and overdone. I hand carried a suitcase full back from Paris, and have another shipment coming in next week.

Featured in Marcy's popular Threads travel article, the Groom backpack bag is now available through Marcy in microfiber and leather as well as other Groom styles. I have a selection on hand and can take special orders, so watch this site for new colors as they arrive. These bags are not distributed in the US at this time. Contact Marcy directly for wholesale information or if you would like to host a sale in your area.

I toss my microfiber backpacks in the washing machine (gentle) and air-dry.

The leather bags are supple and elegant, a long term wardrobe investment----you'll pass them down to your daughter or granddaughter.


Winter Sewing and Design

My gift to you----a simple and lovely scarf inspired by the pleated, ruffled scarves I found in Paris. Photo and recipe for making:

Newly completed: See my newly completed raincoat and wool felted vest using the 'tender' wool I sold this fall.


Marcy is coming to Michigan to teach for the Ann Arbor Fiber Arts Guild January 7 - 10, 2006

Small Group Hands-on Workshops, Saturday, Sunday and Monday:
Saturday, January 7:
Copying Ready to Wear

Sunday, January 8:
Surface Design 101

Monday, January 10:
Deliberately Different Casual Jacket
Wardrobe Artistry

Tuesday Evening, open to the public:
Lecture: The Everyday Creative's Closet


Department of Inspiration: I am reading a GREAT book on art, life and creativity: The Accidental Masterpiece; on the art of life and vice versa by Michael Kimmelman

Department of Fun: In the December 5 New Yorker column Talk of the Town, is an essay on Corduroy (YES!!!).....titled: TEXTURE DEPT: WALING that had me howling with delight. Track it down. 4 stars.

Take a cue from the French, who start the New Year with their brand new datebooks, and the first dates they fill in are vacations. Consider a creativity-sewing-fiber art vacation this year with a Design Outside the Lines or Design & Sew Retreat which I co-conduct with Diane Ericson.

Call or check my website for full information. Send me an e-mail with your snail mail address if you would like paper copy of the retreat brochures.

Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Wishing each of you a joyous, peaceful and creative holiday season and 2006

Newsletter #6
Marcy Tilton's #6 Newsletter for Everyday Creatives

Topics in this Newsletter include:
Marcy's new CD-rom, On the Surface is now available
New Groom Bags
Ruthless Compassion Critique
Books in my studio
A Few Great Patterns

On The Surface - CD
by Marcy Tilton and David Coffin

After nearly a year in the works, my CD-ROM on surface design is finished and ready to sell, and I am thrilled with the results.¬† Done in collaboration with David Coffin...he did all the photography, videos,¬†techno-wizardry, formatting and organizing.¬† It feels like we are on the edge of the future, for this is a virtual workshop‚Δξbetter than a book‚Δξmore photos, really cool audio and video, and very visually appealing.¬† It covers everything I know/have learned about surface design.¬† For those of you who have listened to my lecture-demos, taken one of my workshops (or wanted to), it is like being right next to me in the studio, explaining the process including tips for heading off trouble.¬† The CD puts it all into an easy-to use and understand package that you can watch and rewatch as often as you like. ¬† ¬†

There are video demos on Silk Screening, Dye Discharge, Painting Fusible Web, Metallic Foil, Stamping and Application Tips.....over an hour in all, each segment runs about 10 minutes  There are narrated slide shows on 6 different topics showing garments and different projects explaining how they are done.  Handouts on each topic can be printed out, along with sources for finding all the tools, supplies and books, each with a clickable link to the relevant website. 

For a preview go to:
click on the download for a preview peek.

To order go to:
Cost:  $40 plus $6 shipping & handling.

 You can purchase it on the site using Paypal.  You can also reserve a copy via e-mail, simply send me an e-mail at:, to reserve your copy, include your snail mail address and pop a check in the mail and when your check arrives I'll send you a copy.

  Sorry, no credit cards. Marcy Tilton, PO Box 2161, Cave Junction, OR  97523. 

You will need the most current versions of Adobe Reader and Apple QuickTime (at least 7.05 for Reader and 7 for QuickTime);  you need BOTH of these FREE programs to access the disc contents.    

Here is what people are saying about it:

I've been playing with your CD-ROM today, and all I can say is FABULOUS!!!!!!  It is really great, very clear and compresensive...I love it!
I look forward to many messy, creative days.
New Groom Bags
A second shipment of Groom bags has arrived from Paris, with more colors and a new style. The Timothee is a larger version of the popular Origami bag. Both are microfiber with 3 pleated outside pockets and inner pockets for cell phone and other essentials. The Origami has become my everyday run-around bag. When I travel or go to the city where I am out and about all day, I slip the Origami into the microfiber backpack. When flying, I keep the Origami bag tucked under a jacket or sweater, where it holds all my valuables and reading glasses.

Great bag colors for spring are taupe and linden. See new colors and styles at;

Available through Marcy, these bags are no longer distributed the US, and only one shop carries them, 250 Main in Ashland, Oregon. Otherwise you have to go to Paris to buy one.

How to grow my work? It takes a brave soul to ask for feedback about her/his work, yet this is one of the best ways to step into new growth.

These guidelines are adapted from a fine art critique template, I have made the design principles applicable to garments, quilts and fiber art works. Use these guidelines to get a sense of your own strengths and weaknesses. If something seems unclear or hard to grasp, that is probably a good area to focus on.

Overall design integrity:
There is a sense of 360 degree balance all around, the piece/garment flows from front to back and works in the from a distance as well as up close. There is a pleasing and cohesive simplicity---the eye is not distracted by fussy elements or unneccessary details.

Finely crafted or made.
One can sense the presence of finely crafted work in the construction. The construction and design are integrated but not overworked and the piece is aesthetically pleasing.

Color sensitivity.
Shows a fine eye for an individual and sophisticated use of color with an understanding of color principles.

Creative interest
There is a recognisable sense of the artistic and creative elements used in the piece. As viewer, I become aware of the creative intellegence of the artist/maker. I have a shift in my inner feelings with a sene of a creative mind at work.

Overall design.
The artist understands how the eye is led by the design and I have a sense of the creator leading me ‚Δςin‚Δτ.

The hand of the maker.
There is a feeling of the energy and hand made quality unique to the maker/designer.

The work has a style and panache that evokes an ‚ΔςAHA‚Δτ or a smile or a big YES. I sense the presence of a passionate and sensitive creator.

Professional touch.
The artist/designer knows when to stop, the piece is not overworked or overdone. There is a sense of direct confidence in the piece.

Surface design integrity.
Up close and personal, the surface is intriguing and a joy to examine. At arm‚Δτs length and from across the room, the surface keeps the same facination and integrity.

Heart of the Artist
Something remains of the heart and mind of the maker---not pretty, cute or kitschy but a thoughtful metaphor that touches the viewer as well as the creator.

The piece is different from what I have seen before, or if it is similar, there is something distinctive or unusual that gives it character.

Technical challenge
The artist/designer challenges her own skills and abilities and the piece is not something that just anybody could do. The piece uses above average skills or uses average skills in a risky and successful manner

The artist has incorporated elements from the above list that makes me sit up, take notice and feel a big YES.
Design Outside the Lines and Design and Sew Retreats

Diane Ericson and I have been co-conducting Design Outside the Lines retreats all over the country for 7 years. Our upcoming retreat in Santa Barbara is nearly full, but there are still spaces in Taos in June and September and in Sonoma county in late October. These events have proven to be a powerful catalyst in developing creative 'muscles' for the participants (and for myself too). If you are ready to play full out, to grow your work, to be in a supportive design community and to take your fiber arts/surface design/sewing skills to a new level, please join us!

More information is available at:

For nearly 20 years Design & Sew was a creative fiber arts retreat conducted by Lois and Diane Ericson and I had the privilege of teaching several times at this event. This year Diane has invited me to co-produce Design & Sew with her, and Lois will be a special guest presenter. This retreat, held over Mother's Day weekend in Canby Oregon (Portland area), will feature hands on workshops with John Marshall, Nancy Shriber, Diane Ericson and Marcy Tilton. It promises to be a lively and inspiring time with such a group of teachers to play with and learn from. Participants will select a two day and a one day workshop with the teacher of their choice and there is always plenty of cross fertilization among the workshops, teachers and participants.

For more info;

The new year bring a fresh resolve to keep tuning up my design skills and sensitivity. Here are a few books I am reading, using and enjoying.

Design! A Lively Guide to Design Basics for Artists and Craftspeople
by Steven Aimone - Lark Books The ultimate design and color course in a book with gorgeous photos of contemporary craft and fine art.

What You Wear Can Change Your Life by Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine. The 'What Not to Wear' duo have put together a funny and wise book with good humored photos of themselves illustrating the good, the bad and the just plain ugly. Examples range from wardrobe basics, color, accessories and shape. Even my non-fashion women friends loved this book.

Home Rules by Nate Berkus. Author Nate Berkus has become the home dec darling of the Oprah show and magazine, and for good reason. He has good solid ideas that could be translated to your wardrobe and clothing designs as readily as to the home.

Just a few great patterns

I've been culling through my fabric stash, moving out the winter dark woolies and moving in lighter colors and textures. As I go through my patterns, deciding which few to focus on for the upcoming season, I thought you'd be interested in this short-list batch of favorites. Of course I LOVE my own patterns I've designed for Vogue and keep making renditions of them for each season, but here are some others that I have loved in my own wardrobe over the past year.

Diane ERicson's Santa Cruz jacket. I now have 3 versions, 2 vests and a jacket in this pattern. Check out the most current version in Threads March 2006 issue. It was the pattern I chose to illustrate my article on Tissue Fitting. What I LOVE about this pattern is how it slims and flatters the body. While teaching in Ann Arbor recently I put my vests and jackets on a variety of women----many of them were hiding under boxy too-big and too-long jackets made in stiff or thick (quilted) fabrics that added weight and were not kind to the figure. The Santa Cruz jacket looked great on every one who tried it on. You can see how I altered the pattern to fit me in the Threads article. I think this pattern deserves to be a basic for almost all figure types, just adjust the depth of the armhole, the length and the shape of the hem. My hips are curvy, so I change the rounded side hem to an angle.
See it at:

The other universally flattering garment is a surplice wrap top. My preference is for a knit, and the pattern I keep using again and again is Kwik Sew 2694. I tweak and change it around........come to one of my upcoming presentations or a Design Outside the Lines retreat to get the full how-to story. I could (and just might) write a book on the discoveries I am making on sewing fabulous t-shirts.

Sandra Betzina's new t-shirt pattern looks like a winner: there is a wrap top version and a simple basic t., Vogue 8151
See it at:'sandra%20betzina%20patterns'&page=1

Sandra Betzina pant, Vogue 7940. This pattern looks like 'nothing' in the envelope, but trust me, it is a great design, slim lined, but not too skinny, no bulk at the waist but fully functioning pockets and a one piece pocket lining that you can make out of a stretchy fabric so it flattens out the tummy. Brilliant!!! Check it out:'sandra%20betzina%20patterns'&page=4
Planning ahead for fun. The French have a tradition at the beginning of the new year. The very first thing they put in new calendars and agendas is their vacation dates. Mark the weekend of August 18-19. Shermane Fouche will be returning to Rohnert Park in northern California for an all day workshop on Saturday August 18, and I am planning a workshop on Sunday August 19. more details to be revealed soon, but you might want to block out those dates and plan to be in the area at that time. Rohnert Park is aboug 25 miles north of San Francisco. Shermane's workshop in December had rave reviews, you won't want to miss this one.
Marcy's Newsletter info and update

I have posted back issues of this newsletter on my website, and will cull the list down as the space fills up. I welcome your feedback, ideas and suggestions for future newsletters.

Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to your friends. To register to receive it, sign up at:

wishing you a cozy and creative mid-winter from my studio to yours,
Marcy Tilton

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