October 2008
Marcy Tilton's Newsletter for Everyday Creatives

Nandini, Vasco and I are celebrating this golden October fall season in our studios. Nandini is stitching up vests, jackets, scarves for her annual show in St. Paul. I sent off a new pattern to Vogue last week, and am celebrating by doing some purely recreational sewing for myself in preparation for Paris.

I'll be in Paris the month of November, but my able assistant, Shelley Heon will be in the studio, and can help you with phone orders, requests for swatches, questions, etc. Her e-mail is: shelley@marcytilton.com

There are no classes scheduled in the ArtBarn until January, so we have set it up as a retail fabric shop. If you are in the neighborhood and want to stop buy to shop, please e-mail or call Shelley to make an appointment.

The 2009 schedule of ArtBarn classes is now posted, and we will be making new additions in the upcoming months.

Last month, Nandini and I attended an international fabric show in Las Vegas, where we bought a collection of beautiful fabrics for the website.

This was my first experience as a wholesale fabric buyer, and yes, as you can imagine, it was BIG fun. Your response to our fabric collection has been so positive, that I decided to add more fabrics. I chose the kinds of fabrics that I would use for my own personal sewing, keeping in mind the kinds of fabrics and colors my customers tell me they are searching for. You'll find lots of new knits and many choices for pants and skirts that will drape, flatter and keep you warm and cozy. Jackets and vests are where I choose fabrics with interesting color, texture or pattern--these are the pieces that I build my wardrobe around.

As a creative entrepreneur, I deeply appreciate your business and your feedback. It is not always possible to respond to every e-mail, but I read each one, and always enjoy hearing your point of view. At this time of year for giving thanks, I am honored to be part of a vibrant creative community of fellow makers.


Vasco, 10 month old Jack Russell pup, the studio mascot, whose job is to remind us to take regular walks in the forest.

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San Francisco Fabric and Design Studio Tour
March 25, 26, 27: Wednesday through Friday

I'd like to invite you to come to San Francisco March 25-27, for a small group tour of Bay Area Design Studios, fabric stores and more. I'll co-conduct this tour with my sister, designer/fiber artist, Nandini (Katherine Tilton). Join us for 3 inspiring fun filled days of creative experiences, shopping, fine food and good company. The tour begins Wednesday, March 25 and ends Friday, March 27. We'll visit fabric stores, designer studios and a few carefully chosen shops and neighborhoods. Group size limited to 8-14.

The tour kicks off with a visit to the de Young Museum for the Yves St. Laurent show. This retrospective exhibition celebrating St. Laurent's extraordinary, career was organized by the Fondation Yves St. Laurent, and the de Young is its only U.S. stop on an international tour.

Each day we will have a different itinerary, visiting studios usually not open to drop-in visitors, shopping for fabric and exploring some of the unique resources and neighborhoods that make the Bay Area so intriguing for creative people. Marcy says, 'I find some of my best fabric treasures on these expeditions, the designers open up their studios and offer some of their choice fabrics for us.....great prices and I find unique fabrics, findings and one of a kind garments.'

At this time, we are still working out the details for this trip. If you are interested in coming, send an e-mail and we will keep you posted. Send e-mails to nandini@katherinetilton.com or marcy@marcytilton.com

Marcy's 2009 Schedule
  • February 8 - 12: Design Outside the Lines Santa Barbara
  • February 26 - March 1: Sewing Expo, Puyallup Washington Come see us in a new larger booth in the big building.
  • March 25-27: San Francisco Fabric and Studio Design Tour
  • April 18-19: Fresno Fiber Arts
  • May 2 ArtBarn Spring Open House and Tea Party
  • May 16-18: Wearable Art Connection, Los Angeles Area
  • June 1 - 5: Design Outside the Lines: Sisters, Oregon
  • September 25 - 29: Design Outside the Lines Taos
  • InnerParis Tour: Dates to be announced.

ArtBarn 2009 Schedule
OCTOBER 15 - JANUARY 12: The ArtBarn is transformed into a small retail store with fabrics, silk screens and all the treasures on our website. If you are in the area and want to come by to shop, give an advance call and we'll arrange to be here to greet you. 541-592-2969.
Link to 2009 ArtBarn Workshops

Fabric & Pattern Options
While I LOVE the process of making clothes, I also want to make pieces that work together and that I will love to wear. The designing-making begins with paring the right fabric with the right pattern (silhouette/shape/style) for me. This fall, I have been thinking about what I want to wear, what I want to make, and where to start.

Here in the newsletter are some suggestions for putting together patterns and fabrics for your fall sewing, complete with links to the patterns and fabrics.


Coat Jacket Vest
Pivotal pieces that tie a wardrobe together.

Link to Where Did You Get That Jacket? Marcy's Virtual Workshop CD

Simple elegance, made by Nandini. Black cashmere vest stitched with wool thread (Lana by Madera). For heavy threads like this, use a top-stitching needle (the eye of the needle is larger) with a sharp point.

Vogue 8538
Link to 8538
HeartFelt Coat
Link to HeartFelt Coat
Unconventional use of an unconventional fabric.
Grigio is an Italian velveteen which is printed on the back side. Nandini added extra punch, emphasizing the print with silk screening.

Vogue 8430
Link to V8430
Vogue 1060
Link to V1060

Twin Set Flair
Vogue 1058
Link to V1058

I choose pant fabrics carefully. Here is a grouping of pattern and fabric pant possibilities.

Vogue 8499 in Black Butter: going to Paris with me soon!
This is a 'secret weapon fabric'. Matte black. Beefy stretch knit that will be warm, comfortable and chic, as well as slimming---an unbeatable combo!

Recommended for the Claude Montana jacket, opposite as an updated everyday jacket, but would also use this fabric for pants or skirt. No raveling, so seam finish is necessary. A pleasure to work with, it visually slims and feels delicious.
Vogue 2973
Link to Vogue 2973

Vogue 8499
Link to V8499

Hot off the presses, just finished last night. I make a fresh black and/or brown t-shirt each fall. Here is my 2009 version in our
Chestnut rayon-lycra double knit . Complete instructions for changing the pattern are posted in The T-Shirt Gallery.

Pair any of the knit fabrics with the patterns in the column at the right.
Link to Where Did You Get That T-Shirt? Marcy's Virtual Workshop CD
Vogue 1049
Link to V1049
Vogue 8497
Link to V8497
Vogue 2980
Link to V2980
Vogue 8151
Link to V8151
Vogue 8536
Link to V8536
Vogue 8323
Link to V8323

Pant Possibilities
Pair the pant patterns with the suggested fabrics in the column on the right.

Vogue 2913
Link V2913
Vogue 2948
Link to V2948
Vogue 2973
Link to V2973
vogue 1034
Link to V1034
Vogue 8397
Link to V8397
Vogue 8499
Link to V8499
V 8499 in stretch Venetian denim.

Fitting Matters
Lets face it. Fitting gives most sewers fits. Not only is it a direct look at the curves and dimensions of the body, but it takes knowledge and skill to execute. When I teach classes, people always have fitting questions and issues. Fitting is often the issue that drives sewers away from sewing (oftentimes into quilting or crafting). I have had many students tell me that when they learned to sew (in an earlier and slimmer time in life), fitting was not an issue, but once it became an issue, they just gave up.

What to do? Some people come to a class and want the teacher to fit them and tell them just what to do so they can go home and é─˛get to the sewing---the fun parté─˘. As a teacher, I am much more inclined to show the slow but sure way to becoming more skilled at fitting. Becoming empowered with fitting knowledge and understanding so the very act of fitting not only makes sense, but is as interesting and é─˛funé─˘ and creative as the putting together of a garment with needle and thread. Sort of in the spirit of,é─˛...give a woman a loaf of bread and she is fed for a day, show her how to bake bread and she is fed and feeds for a lifetimeé─˘.

Where to begin? If you have access to a class, take a class. Take more than one class. Be curious, VERY curious about not only your fitting issues, but notice other people in the class and how their fitting problems and solutions are solved. When I opened The Sewing Workshop, Sandra Betzina agreed to teach the fitting classes---but only for a time. She was more skilled and experienced that I was, so I would be her assistant in class, taking notes, helping where I could, watching and absorbing. I still have a pang of sympathy for the first 100 students I taught, because I was on a learning curve. The more I taught, the better I got at fitting. And I learned to love the process, so fitting is a creative act, always interesting because I am continue to learn.

Read books on fit and alteration as if they were compelling novels. There are many different approaches to fit, and you will want to find the information that works for you. Fast Fit, Sandra Betzinaé─˘s book on fitting is a good place to start. Fitting & Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach is an excellent and complete guide to fitting and one of the main fitting books I use as a reference. At one point I took a course on the Sew-Fit method, a radical departure from the traditional fitting I had been using. The Sew-Fit Manual is another excellent fitting guide: a 4 pound, 532 page book/tome based on the pivot and slide method of pattern adjusting and includes loads of illustrations, solutions for difficult to fit figures and miniatures of patterns for practicing adjustments.

Practice. Practice. Practice.
Experiment. Experiment. Experiment.

Be willing to learn by trial and error. Find a fitting buddy and work together. Play around without any attachment to the outcome. Do something every day that expands your fitting universe. Make muslins. Learn to tissue fit. Go for the goal of having the knowing in your fingers and seeing with curiosity.

Start with where you are, what you know and what works, then branch out from there.

What Would Nandini Do?
Getting My Jeans To Fit

Link to Nandini's Website

I confess, I am a jeans girl. I have always loved wearing blue jeans. To me they are a simple practical everyday uniform. And though I love designing, altering, making, adorning and wearing unusual clothing, when it comes to what I wear day after day, in the studio and around town, to the post office and the grocery store, ité─˘s jeans. With a t-shirt in summer and a warm fleecy something in winter, ité─˘s always jeans. Ié─˘ve even managed to purchase wonderful pair that I dress up for wearing in é─˛the cityé─˘, whatever city that might be...

The last é─˛favoriteé─˘ pair I had ended up in shreds (well I actually still have them). Knees worn to slits; inseam dissolved to threads; zipper held up by elastic. (Almost embarrassing to put the words down...) Every time I was in a store that carried jeans I tried some on. But as you have all probably experienced, nothing fit quite right - at any price. Didné─˘t seem to matter how expensive they were I couldné─˘t find a pair to replace the é─˛favoriteé─˘.

Finally one day I experienced victory - I came out of the dressing room, looked in the mirror and saw a distinct possibility. I called Marcy out of her dressing room and she concurred. The only problem was the waistline. Seems even my zaftig form left a large gap at the waist. A belt is not a possibility I consider when wearing jeans what with those ghastly huge loops adding enough bulk...

The new jeans sat around for awhile, waiting for some waisted inspiration, which did finally arrive. Ié─˘ve used this technique on several pairs successfully now and even Marcy is a convert. It involves that necessary notion that leaps from childhood to becoming a é─˛femme d'un ?óge certainé─˘ -- elastic. Of course it goes without saying (although I am saying it) that the denim has to have some stretch built into it.

First remove those pesky gargantuan belt loops. On this particular pair I had to pick them out of the waistband seam and then sew that back up.
Next, on the inside of the waistband, 1é─¨ in from the side seams (toward the center back), on both sides, carefully make a vertical slit in the inside layer of the band. These slits can be slightly smaller than the width of the elastic you are inserting (I use 1é─¨ waistband elastic so the slits are about 3/4é─¨).
Cut the elastic 3-4é─¨ less than the width of your back waist.
Thread the elastic from one slit to the other through the back of the waistband.
Pin in place on both ends.
Try on the pants and if necessary trim away some elastic if the pants are still too loose or cut a larger piece if they feel too tight.
Using a zig-zag stitch, sew the elastic into the waistband, through all layers, closing the slit and sewing that shut at the same time.

Voila! Jeans that actually fit! This technique can be used on any pant or skirt that has a waistband. And like our waistline does every day, our jeans now can expand with it.

Shows the finished waistband from the inside---it is virtually invisible on the outside when worn.

New Silk Screens
There is something very appealing about using text and words in surface design. I call this new series 'bon mots', French for 'good words'. Send me your favorite words or phrases---maybe they will become a silk screen one day!

Click to view all silk screen designs
Link to On The Surface Marcy's Virtual Workshop CD
Laugh Until You are In Stitches-Version 1
Blanc Noir (Black White)- Small only
La Vie en Rose - Small only
Cherish -
White Writing
Happily Ever After - Small only
Merci Beaucoup - Small only

Send Sewing Supplies to Peace Corps Classes in St. Kitts
Click to enlarge

Hello from St. Kitts

First, a big thank you to Marcy for allowing me to add my request to her newsletter. She and I both know how generous and kind sewers are, and she suggested I make my plea for help in her newsletter.

My name is ReAnn Scott. Many of you might remember my partner, Carol Neumann and me when we owned Stitches, Great Fiber Getaways. Carol retired, we sold the business and two years later my dear husband of 30 years passed away. I moved to the mountains and then the seashore of North Carolina looking for something to fill the two voids that I now had in my life é─ý my husband and my work. After a year of filling out pounds of paperwork and taking a million medical tests, I was accepted into the Peace Corps at the ripe, young age of 62. Then I won the é─˛location lotteryé─˘ and am stationed on St. Kitts/Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean.

I learned right away, though stunningly beautiful with fantastic weather, these islands are between 60-70 years behind modern times. They are still considered 3rd world countries. You would be appalled at the poverty, the school systems, the domestic violence, the percentage of teen pregnancies, and the corrupt government. I was sent here to work for the next 2 years with the small business community, teaching business practices, marketing, PR, entrepreneurship é─ýthings I learned as a small business owner.

Though my work at the Department of Gender Affairs, Womané─˘s Skills Division, I started teaching sewing to a group of 15-20 island women. They are so excited and very talented. They manage to create some wonderful garments and home decorations with just the bare minimum of supplies. They share one box of not-very sharp pins, they have no access at all to patterns, the thread that is available on the island is pathetic and doné─˘t even ask about the fabric é─ý yuck! Their machines are still treadle ran and the one serger at the Center is one of the first every made. And no, it doesné─˘té─˘ work.

So now we get to my request. If you could find it in your hearts - and sewing rooms - patterns, fabrics, notions, thread, scissors, anything you feel you could spare, it would be so very much appreciated and put to immediate good use. The ladies range from very small to very large (2X). They dress very professionally for work é─ýsuites, blouses, dress pants and dresses. Going to church is like attending a é─˛fancy dress-up partyé─˘ with beautiful hats adoring bodies clothed in their best polyester outfits. And when there is a banquet or special event é─ý out come the floor-length poly formals. With temps hovering constantly in the mid-to-high 80é─˘s, with a humidity index to match, just imagine how uncomfortable polyester must be? I brought nothing but cotton clothing with me, and still come home drenched at the end of the day.

Ladies, anything you can send will be cherished and I promise to take lots of pictures and post them on my blog
http://reanninstkitts.blogspot.com so you all can see the results of your generosity. Send packages to the address listed below and I thank you in advance for your consideration and kind response of my request:

ReAnn Scott
U. S. Peace Corps
P.O. Box 246 é─ý College Housing Project
St. Christopher (St. Kitts) WI (There are no zip codes in the Caribbean)


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