Marcy Tilton's Newsletter for Everyday Creatives
|Graffiti on a wall in the Marais district of Paris. |
Jazz: uniquely American music, adored by the French, is characterized by vitality, freedom, complex rhythms, improv and collaboration. The dictionary adds: spirit, to add liveliness, vigor, or interest, to embellish. All good things relating to the creative & design process too.
On this Sunday morning in April, I am in the studio, listening to jazz, happily stepping into the unknown, two new patterns being invented. When we sew, we make something out of nothing. A few scraps of paper, some flat cloth, a bit of thread, and out of that emerges a three-dimensional garment that fits the human form.
|What Would Nandini Do?|
|When I want a design feedback or a fitting consult, I go to my sister, Nandini for advise. We collaborate back and forth---my studio is in the house, her studio is a 2 minute walk out in the ArtBarn.
Describing herself as, '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.
|I passed on a couple of questions I received recently via e-mail for Nandini to answer. Here are the questions. Click on the link to Nandini's website for her replies. I'm enclosing a photo with my revisions to the Kwik Sew surplice wrap t. |
|What Would Nandini Do? Click to see her replies. Questions below.|
|2 Sewing Questions
I just made a t-shirt out of cotton/lycra fabric. This is a pattern I have made tons of time. The shirt turned out way too small. I have never used the cotton/lycra fabric before, but based on Marcy's T-shirt CD, I thought I'd give it a try. Why did it turn out too small? Should I be going up a size when I sew on this type of fabric?
One other question: I have made the Kwik Sew pattern 2694 and would like to raise the neckline. How do I do that? Do I raise both sides or only one? Thanks for any information you can shed.
|This photo shows Marcy's working pattern. The black line at neck and hem are the original pattern cutting line. The red XXX areas show where I have added. To raise the neck: taper from 0 at the neck, to +2" at side seam. To make an asymmetrical hem, taper from 0 on one side, adding 1 1/2" at the other. I added the red dart at the armhole. Green darts at front waist are another option I sometimes use to make a more fitted front. The back remains the same. I adapt the Kwik Sew 1/4" seam allowances to 1/2".|
|What IS it about that pant?
What is it about 8397 Vogue pants that you love so much? Anyone who loves Paris as much as you must have a reason- because they hold very little appeal to me from the pictures. They appear short and balloon like.
I am 55 years old and have my share of hip fluff and weight issues and I usually use my favorite Loes Hinse pant pattern but am looking to try something new.
I am not ruling out the possibility of returning to Paris soon so I might even need a wardrobe.
Thanks for your time
|For photography purposes, the black pant in the center looks like the front panel shaping has been attached to a thread to show the shape. When worn, it drapes in a very flattering, subtle and interesting way. I've tested in in different fabrics, ranging from a very soft microfiber knit to a heavy polyester double knit. Both options worked, For your first pair, choose a drapey stable knit or stretch woven. If you use a stretch woven, cut the pant with 1" side seams and fit the side seams to your figure---the extra fabric is needed with a stretch woven.|
Shelley Heon is Marcy's valued assistant. Shelley handles silk-screen production, website and mail order and all the myriad details essential to keeping the office and design studio running smoothly. Shelley is not only a master gardener, but an artist who makes jewelry featuring semi-precious stones and produces a line of prayer flags. Shelley is offering B&B accommodations in her charming home for ArtBarn workshop participants who need a place to stay.
|Join Marcy & Nandini in Paris in November|
|Label from a '40's vintage black cocktail dress viewed at a presentation at Paris' premier vintage couture shop. The dress was a couture confection of silk tulle that could be easily worn today.|
|Explore the City of Light with a designer-maker's perspective with Marcy and her sister Nandini (Katherine Tilton) and a small group of kindred spirits.
Highlights include visiting the just opened Sonia Rykiel exhibition at the Musee de la Textile et de la Mode (Textile and Fashion Museum at the Louvre), where the shows are over the top. Last year we viewed a Christian La Croix retrospective that was completely mesmerizing. The designer combined his own garments with vintage pieces from the museum's collection. It is one thing to see a photo or video of a garment, another to see it at close range and witness the maker's hand and get a sense of the skill, passion and talent that are involved in making each piece. Two years ago, we viewed Balenciaga truly one of the great artist-sculptors in the couture heritage. We'll also visit the exquisite intimate museum at Fondation Yves St. Laurent ....and more!!
|We'll explore a different part of town each day. Paris is a walking city, and after a few days you will begin to get the feel for getting around. Of course (bien sur), we'll shop for fabric, and one day we head up to the Montmartre district, also known as Amelie's Paris and explore the fabric stores around Marche St. Pierre where the streets are lined with fabric stores large and small and you can find fabulous fabrics at every price. We'll also visit other fabric stores and 'merceries' all over town. Parisians still sew, and every neighborhood has its own fabric, button and yarn resources, some very luxe and others humble and down to earth.
There are still spaces available. Come with a friend, bring your spouse, or come alone. This is an opportunity to experience Paris in the company of a group of kindred spirits, with all the arrangements made, time to wander, sit in a cafe and watch the world pass by, be in the presence of art treasures and take in the beauty of architecture, design, fashion and cuisine. All this and fabric shopping too!
We are moving our mail order and silk screen production out to a new office in the ArtBarn, and to celebrate are offering some spring specials.
|Silk Screen Specials
Put together your choice of any 2 or 3 small or medium silk screens from our collection and save.
2 small silk screens: $20
3 small silk screens: $29
2 medium silk screens: $28
3 medium silk screens: $39
|Silk Screen Specials|
All 4 Marcy's and Nandini's CDs are grouped together on one page, to purchase singly or in any combination. Save postage when you purchase more than one.
Here is a note from a woman who purchased, Where Did You Get That Jacket?
| "I'm a tremendous fan of Marcy Tilton's DVD's and this new one is no exeption. It's so jam-packed, I hardly know where to begin! First there are separate video segments -- on flat measuring and pin-fitting the pattern - w hints abt how to do it alone. Other videos include making perfect mitres,bias collars, a new method of quilting garments using threads in the bobbin, perfect patch pockets, -- all are short cuts that Marcy has come up with herself. Along the way, she debunks many of the "rules" of sewing.
There's also a written discussion of all of the above and more, plus a shorter pdf. that you can print and keep near your machine. Both of these include sources for everything she discusses, including her favorite fabric stores around the country. There's a gallery of Marcy's jackets, vest, and coats and even a few from Paris -- where she goes every year and gets a lot of her creative inspiration.
The real wonderfulness" of these videos for me is that it is like taking a workshop w Marcy, but even better. It's all there on the disk for you to watch over and over again. And since she's talking all the time while she's cutting, pressing and sewing, little things just pop out of her like tips abt straight machine sewing that I've never heard in 30 yrs of sewing! Marcy has studied w master tailors, but at this time in her life, she's more into unstructured jackets. No pad stitching or super high sleeve caps here:-)
If you like being creative w your sewing, you'll enjoy watching and listening to a true textile artist explain her creative process and it's "how-tos"."
|Click to purchase CDs singly or in any combination|
Check out our small new group of European fabrics. Beautiful quality from Belgium and Italy, limited quantities.
|Current Book Recommendations
Reading is an integral part of my life and creative process. I usually have multiple projects going on in the studio and am reading several books at once. Our local library tragically closed over a year ago, so I am carefully buying books. Your recommendations are appreciated. Here are a few of mine.
|Elinor Morlock sent me photos of her exquisite rendition of Vogue 7746 using hand embroidery. |
|Design Outside the Lines Retreats with Marcy Tilton and Diane Ericson
Diane radiates an energy and enthusiasm for the creative process thaté─˘s hard to top. "Trailblazing new creative frontiers is at the heart of my life's work. I feel a fluid connection between designing, writing and making, that comes full circle when I teach. My passion for sharing my ongoing discoveries is the ultimate celebration." An inspired artist, Diane is the owner/designer of ReVisions sewing patterns and stencils, writes for Threads and is a creativity coach, teaching nationally.
|Diane Ericson's inspiring website|
|Design Outside the Lines logistics and registration info|
|June 2-6, 2008
Five Pines Lodge, Sisters, Oregon
|This brand new lodge and conference center is in Sisters, Oregon, home of the famous Quilt festival. The conference center was built with quilters in mind as Sisters hosts many classes and workshops throughout the year. This big airy well lit room has a big stone fireplace and plenty of space to set up a working studio.
Design focus at this retreat is on making garments: on bringing new inspiration into your work & exploring the creative aspects of creating with fabrics and fibers, including surface design and inventive techniques.
Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico
|Mabel Dodge Luhan house is an historic adobe home and intimate conference center, a short walk from Taos' central plaza. Built in 1918 by Mabel Dodge Luhan, it has attracted great artists such as Georgia O'Keefe and D. H. Lawrence.
Design Outside the Lines takes a different perspective for this retreat, using the natural beauty of the environment and the inspiration of generations of southwest artists and artisans. We will bring less, work smaller, fine tune details and experiment with drawing, hand work and collage. Design focus is on bringing new inspiration into your work using collaboration and the inspiration of the environment: includes surface design, inventive techniques and exploring the creative aspects of making garments.
|Heading Off Trouble
My newest pattern release, a trio if t-shirts, Vogue 8497, has been a best seller. I'm thrilled. But I have been getting feedback from sew-ists about problems with knits. Every knit fabric is different. Even the cotton-lycra fabrics featured on my site, which come from the same supplier, vary in weight according to the color. So part of the knit sewing experience is in adjusting your sewing and fitting techniques to the fabric of the current moment.
Tissue fitting is the place to catch the wrong length or to correct the neck shape, size, placement. After tissue fitting to get things right, or as close to right as possible, I do a lot of fitting as I sew, and with knits, I stabilize areas likely to stretch as I go (shoulder seam with fusible tricot, neck edge with staystitching---complete how-tos on my T-Shirt CD). Then, I fit as I sew - this is the way to eliminate unhappy surprises, to catch glitches as they come up. Every fabric is different and I do this on every t-shirt in spite of the fact that I have made it dozens of times.
|Just say 'NO' to cotton and cotton-poly interlock
In my classes and on my CD, I tell folks that there is one knit fabric I NEVER use... and that is a cotton or cotton/poly interlock. Unfortunately, this is available in lots of fabric stores, comes in appealing colors and is cheap. Don't be fooled, don't take it home. I'm a pretty good sew-ist and this is one fabric that consistently makes my work look bad. The problem, is twofold:
1 - No lycra
2 - The super short fibers used to make the yarn for this fabric cause stretching with poor recovery and it will pill over time. Lycra is the secret ingredient to knits (and wovens too). It gives not only stretch, but drape and recovery.
|Tips for Neck Bindings
Getting the neck binding right on knit tops.....a hot button issue for many sew-ists. Here are some tips I use in my own sewing. There is no formula or magic bullet technique for applying a neck binding. If the pattern includes a neck binding piece, I prefer to make my own and tailor it to the finished neckline and gear the construction technique to the fabric---and most importantly to integrate it all with the design of the T-shirt. The neck is a focal point. The old Stretch and Sew wraparound binding is a fallback technique used by many sew-ists including myself, but why not go for something more interesting, simpler and more like current fine ready to wear?
|Neck detail from T-shirt in rayon-lycra jersey using single layer strips of self fabric as surface design and a single layer of self fabric as a neck edge. I had to pfutz around and experiment to get it 'right' (not too loose, not too tight, so the knit rolls in a good way).|
It is CRUCIAL to
1. Staystitch the neck edge - keeps it from stretching as you try on the T and as you stitch on the binding. Some knits will still stretch, but this controls it
2. Try on the t after the shoulder seams have been sewn. Pin the side seams in place, pins on the stitching line, enough pins so they will hold the shape of the garment.
3. Check out the shape and size of the neck. If it is too small, trim a small and even amount around the neck. You can also just trim at the front edge. Keep trying on after trimming. A little goes a long way. If the neck is too big, you can draw it in with the binding, but this is an art, not a science.
|The neck edge is finished with a raw edge strip of the self fabric. All topstitching uses a contrasting color.
4 secrets for the neck edge;
1) Staystitch 1/2 in from neck edge, which keeps it from stretching and acts as a stitching guide.
2) Cut the band 1 inch wide and trim after stitching
3) Sew with the band on top, stretching slightly as you sew, so the topstitching falls on top of or next to the staystitching
4) Using a rotary cutter, trim band to an even width after sewing, and trim garment edge slightly smaller than the band.
|The neck is bound with cotton mesh, folded in half lengthwise, and the edge is left raw (it won't ravel). The raw edge of the mesh fabric binding is lapped and zig-zagged to the neck edge, stretching with an even tension all around the neck edge, using the staystitching as a guideline....fast and easy. The mesh ribbon hides the binding seam. |
The secret lies in your own two hands, in the way you handle each piece of fabric. I play around with my scraps as I sew. I collect bits of contrast knits, mesh, stretch lace, tulle, bias woven, elastic and consider them as neck finish options.
The neck frames the face and is a focal point of your T-shirt, so take the time to develop a repertoire of finishes to use. Mine often come from mistakes or from observing ready to wear and inventing my own version of what I see.
If you want a flat neckline, the binding needs to be smaller than the neck measurement, it is necessary to develop a feeling for the tension (stretching) required when sewing on the neck edge. The binding can be narrow or wide, folded or single layer, crossgrain or lengthwise grain. It is worth playing around to get the look and finish you want.
I cut the binding width precisely with a rotary cutter, then adjust the length as I sew. Rather than sewing the binding in a circle, I sew it on flat and make the join a design element, positioning it off center in the front or back.
In factory construction (even very expensive T's), one shoulder seam is left open, the neck finish applied, then the open shoulder seam sewn last.
Try all the options and keep open and curious about how to be not only a better technical sew-ist, but a better designer!
|ArtBarn Officially Open
The ArtBarn is officially open and ready for design play and workshops. We add new classes regularly.
Marcy's intensives in July and August offer you the opportunity to work on projects of your own choice as well as a rare chance to studio-test upcoming Vogue patterns.
Silk Screen Workshop May 14 with Marcy
The T-Transformed Workshop May 15 with Nandini
Your $200 T-Shirt Workshop May 16 with Marcy
Studio Days Weekend with Nandini and Marcy, May 17 & 18
Copying Ready to Wear JUne 19 with Marcy
Tricks of the Trade, June 20 with Nandini
Painting on Fusible Web June 21 with Marcy
Studio Days Retreat with Marcy: July 8-12 and August 4-8
spirit House July 19 with Beth Peterson
Illuminated Journals August 2 with Beth Petersn
|First guests arriving all the way from Klamath Falls!|
|Diane Lea does some early shopping.|
|Joss making his original fairies---the first batch sold out!|
|Shelley's office and school store|
|copyright Marcy Tilton April 2008