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Newsletter #9 June 2006

Marcy Tiltoné─˘s Newsletter for Everyday Creatives
#9 June 2006

Topics in this newsletter:
Summer Events with Marcy:

Summer Sewing: Love of Linen

Non-Dorky short sleeved tops

Upcoming Pattern

List of 100 (well, 30) Things I wish I had known when I learned to sew

Summer Travel

Silk Screen Tech Tid-Bits


Elements of Style Weekend with Marcy and Shermane Fouche
August 19 and 20th in Rohnert Park, CA (near Santa Rosa)
Shermane is coming again from Paris. She and Marcy join forces for a lively weekend of design and style in Rohnert Park. Shermane's class in December was such a success you won't want to miss this occasion. You are invited to participate in the workshops and shop our eclectic 'store' of goodies---items from Paris, Marcy's silk screens, accessories and much more.
For more details and registration:
On The Surface
4 day Hands-On Surface Design Workshop
Four full days of experimentation and play in the setting of a small museum---a dream come true! Join me if you can.
August 8-11, Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, CA
for more details and information:
San Diego American Sewing Guild
Saturday: Morning; Everyday Creative's Closet Trunk Show and Seminar,
Afternoon: Contemporary Bias and $200 T-Shirt
Sunday; Surface Design hands-on workshop
September 9 & 10
for more details and information
Summer sewing is my favorite, probably because I first learned to sew the spring I was 15 and can remember the pale yellow linen skirt that was one of the first things I made. I used to haunt Frank Murphy's, a small exclusive clothing shop in St. Paul, looking at clothes that were way beyond my budget, and when I learned to sew that spring in the late '50's it opened up a world of possibilities. I had a summer job downtown, and if I was quick, I could sprint up to Murphy's, look around, then hit the fabric department at Dayton's and be back at work in under an hour. One yard for a skirt, one zipper, some seam binding and thread, and back home that evening I could whip out a skirt to wear the next day. Cost, about $5 tops, and that would be for the Moygashel linen, creamy-smooth and easy and gratifying for a beginner to sew. Never mind that the inside of my garments in those days looked like a hair shirt.....I was sewing so fast that it was a bother to clip off the threads.

Some things never change. I still love linen, love to sew it, love the feel of linen on a hot day. I'm sewing a little linen summer shirt right now, and have a stack of linen fabrics in the 'possibilities' pile. The current linen project is made from white satin stripe Armani linen sheets---original price $375 still on the package. I paid $19.95 for a king size fitted sheet. With a pair of these bargains, I ended up with a set of queen size sheets and enough left over for a shirt. But if I tell myself I am saving money by making clothes, I am fooling myself!

Moygashel was (maybe still IS) a trade name for Irish linen of fine quality that had a special finish to prevent wrinkling. Today, natural wrinkled linen is a fashion summer standard. I've learned to pre-shrink linen, tossing it in the washer and drier, remove when still damp, then press. It does not need to be perfectly pressed, but flat enough to cut accurately. The garment never goes in the drier again---the linen loves to be wet and damp, but does not like the hot dry air in the drier. Once the garment is constructed, it will be pressed, of course, but then it is up to you to decide if you want to maintain this upkeep. My trick is this. I wash on delicate in the machine, which leaves the moisture in the garment......should be quite wet. Put on a hanger and, smooth out the seams and edges and air dry. That's it, no pressing and lovely, organic over-all wrinkles.
Non-dorky Short Sleeve Shirts and Tops
I'm still snoop shopping in fabulous clothing stores with interesting clothes. In Ashland, my favorite store is 250 Main. If I didn't sew I would want to dress in this store. On my last visit I noticed lots of fresh little white shirts in linen and cotton, from designers like Blanque, Cynthia Ashby and Llilith.

I've been looking for patterns for short airy linen sleeve shirts with the same panache and style that I find at 250 Main......a non-dorky alternative to a camp shirt.

Three patterns are on my design table: from Sandra Betzina: Vogue 7281'7281'&page=1

and Vogue 7717.'7717'&page=1

I've made the 3/4 sleeve version of 7717, and really like it, am imagining am visioning my own adaptation of these in washed linen, to wear with a tank underneath.

Another favorite short sleeve shirt is Diane Ericson's Tori Shirt. This classic is oversized---great if you want a flowing look, but it is easy to bring it down to scale buy using a smaller size, and you can nip in the waist with the back belt detail. This is a fabulous shirt, a true classic. Take a look at the following link, and check out Diane's beautiful re-vamped website, lots of inspiration here!
Upcoming Pattern

I recently had the great pleasure to sit in on class sessions with both Nancy Shriber and John Marshall at the Design & Sew retreat in the Portland area last month. Nancy is an expert on sashiko, and John is an expert on Japanese textile, clothing and surface design. It was a deeply inspiring weekend. John spoke of what an education it is to take apart an old kimono. how you get a peek into the construction and the mind of the kimono maker (not all kimonos are made in exactly the same way). He taught a 2 day workshop on making Japanese inspired clothing, and often referred to the difference between the 'eastern' way of sewing and the 'western' way. I just happened to be taking apart a vintage kimono during the retreat, and when I went into the studio to make a vest---which is a prototype/sample for an upcoming Vogue pattern---I was influenced by John's teaching and by what I observed as the kimono came apart.

A kimono is sewn entirely by hand, so I used as much more hand sewing. They do not press with an iron as we do, preferring the soft look of finger pressing, so I adapted my pressing techniques. It was a very satisfying exercise in changing the way I work, in recognizing automatic ways of doing things and taking a different path.

See the result at;

This pattern will be the godet jacket and vest pictured. It looks great on almost everybody. Available as a pattern Spring 2007.
I ran into Margaret Islander at the computer store this week. I learned so many tips about sewing when I took her Industrial Short Cuts class some years ago---that I wish I had learned to sew using her methods in the first place. She is one of the treasures in the sewing industry, and I appreciate her gentle and practical approach to learning. Margaret came to the home sewing industry as an expert from the clothing industry and shared and blended techniques. She changed the way I sew---see in the list below just a few of the things I learned from her.

I've started a list----am aiming for 100, but am sharing the incomplete list with you here. I add to it every time I sew.

30-some things I wish Ié─˘d known about sewing when I started

Cut interfacing to wrap around a fold. Cut it wider than the seam allowance so it makes a clean soft fold rather than a sharp edge.
Always interface behind a zipper or a pocket with thin fusible knit cut in the stable direction
Use flat elastic as a facing on skirts and pants
How to fit a garment in process
How to mark the fitting lines during the constructions process and make both sides the same
How to use the french curve and hip curve
How to sew with few pins- thank you Margaret Islander
how to sew without pins - thank you Margaret Islander
How to fit pants without going crazy or getting depressed about my bum
How easy it is to sew knits
which fabrics are a guarantee for success
which fabrics are a guarantee for failure
Cutting sheer and unstable with paper - thank you Margaret Islander
Simple clean way to line a vest to the edge
Cutting using a rotary cutter as an extension of my hands
Cutting with a rotary cutter adding seam allowances and hems
Inventing my own seam and hem widths and keeping it cvonstant in all my work: using 1/2 inch seam allowances
Tissue fitting as a starting point for pattern and construction.
Picking patterns that work with my body, then making them better and using the same pattern over and over
Foolproof way to mark and sew darts - thanks to Sandra Betzina
On pants and skirts: fitting the back darts to my body and eliminating front darts if a tummy - thanks to Sandra Betzina
How to do staystitch/easestitch plus and where to use it.
Setting a sleeve with the body on top, rather than the sleeve as all the patterns show (and when NOT to do this)
How to use staystitch plus to ease in a sleeve fullness
The big difference it makes to press open enclosed seams before turning
How to use a clapper & ham, when and why
the miracle of 505 spray
the miracle of Totally Stable
The difference it makes to use a jeans/sharp/microtec needle with wovens.
How to train myself to sew in a straight line
Using a magnetic seam guide is not just for sissies or beginners

I travel a lot, and am always curious to learn more. Last week I attended a packing/travel seminar presented by Anne McAlpin, who is a travel expert and author. She had a great tip I'll pass on. In addition to making photocopies of your passport and credit cards etc., carry a photo of the person you are traveling with, so if you are separated, it would be easier to find them. I thought it would be a good idea if traveling with a pet too. Airlines keep downsizing luggage weight. Soon international travel will have a 50 pound limit too. The maximum size for carry-on luggage is getting smaller, and some airlines have a weight limit on that too, so check before you go.

The Groom microfiber bags, with their simple French chic design, not only look fabulous, but they hold a lot, are light and perfect for summer travel adventures. I've not found any other 'travel' bag that even comes close in design or function. When flying, I carry the large backpack bag with the smaller Capucine bag to hold travel documents etc, then pop the smaller bag into the backpack to board the plane (and be within the one-carry-on, one personal bag rule).

Magazines aimed at travel, like Travel Smith are a great source of wardrobing ideas for those who sew. I find their clothes a bit mundane, but the concepts are fun to consider.

A year ago at the Surface Design Converence, Jane Dunnewold gave a tip for padding your work surface that I've just put into my studio and it is making my silk screening efforts so much better.. She suggested using acrylic craft felt to pad the work surface when doing surface design. This stuff is great,, the paint can't hurt it, and it has just the right amount of padding. A great well single layer, but I'd double it for very light fabrics. Buy enough to cover your work surface in a neutral color.

Summer White
Pearl white paint. Lumiere pearl white to be precise.. This month I'm using pearl white paint a lot..... with a grouping of the asian floral silk screens to make an overall pattern on natural and pale summer colors. Just pearl white paint. It is lovely. I'm using large and medium screens to get a quick coverage and an overall impressionistic effect. You could do yardage. Today I pre-cut a t-shir and lined up the front and back and sleeves (working on the acrylic craft felt) I have a rough idea of the finished effect. Starting with the back and sleeves, I position the screens at an angle and distribute the patterns and shapes so the design is harmonious. If you want to place a screen over a wet area, place a piece of paper over it to prevent the paint from getting on the back of the new screen. The acrylic felt has 'tooth'---the texture keeps the fabric flat as I work..

My favorite summer batch of screens is: Kyoto Garden Border, Asian Lily, Empress Tree Peony, Lotus, Chinese Flora and Angelic Insects in the large size and Dahlia and Floating Peony in the small size. I use the large size screens first, then fill in with the mid-size, then fill in any blank spots with the dragonfly and butterfly images.
See the screens I've been using at:

Another way I'm using pearl white is to mix it liberally with other colors, even copper and gold. Sometimes I mix on a palate other times I mix directly on the screen, placing a bead of a color and a larger bead of pearl white. It is interesting to load up the sponge brush up with pearl white, then make a strike across a screen on top of another color. Loading the brush means to pour out a puddle of paint and work the paint into the brush until it is absorbed, then repeat until the brush holds a good amount of paint. I like the look of adding pearl white to a color at the end of a run too, when there is just a bit of another color on a screen----adds a pale shadowy layer to the top of a design. If the pearl white is too cool a tone, add a few drops of gold to warm it up. And always test, test, test....tho some of my best results come from experiments and mistakes, often at the very end of the day.

In the turn-of-the-century Tiffany glass studio, they would mix all the like glass colors together at the end of the day, and referred to these unmatchable and beautiful shades as 'end of the day colors.'

Wishing you all the pleasures of long June days,

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