If you are interested in signing up for her Postcard Machine Project, you can access this here:
Artists that inspire this artist:
If you are interesting in working in Antarctica, this is the link to do so:
If you are interested in signing up for her Postcard Machine Project, you can access this here:
Artists that inspire this artist:
If you are interesting in working in Antarctica, this is the link to do so:
When I first saw this pattern I wasn’t sure if I would like the fit. It isn’t close fitting, yet because I paid attention to how it fit through my shoulders, I keep getting compliments on how well it does fit. I had also been using quilting rulers with my quilts and thought that it would be a great jacket to use these on.
In November I started. Below are some tips on how I created mine.
I have been working on a lot of sewing projects these days. Since I am teaching garment construction classes I have been busy in the studio altering and creating these. One pattern that I have created a few times is Make It Perfect’s Shearwater Kaftan.
This pattern is a loose fitting top, but I wanted to fit it a little closer. I made a few alterations and I will mention these below. Many of my students created this top just fine according to their bust measurement. I just can’t help but constantly alter a pattern to better fit my specific body shape.
Alterations: -Forward shoulder adjustment about 1/2". -Took in some at the sides -Slight swayback adjustment -Lengthened sleeve slightly -Slimmed sleeve width -Length is between the short and the long
My first version I created using Art Gallery Fabrics Sprinkled Peonies Fresh by Maureen Cracknell. This is a great lightweight Voile. I work at Honey Run Quilters and got this fabric from the shop. Since the summers in California are going to be hot, the lightweight cotton Voile is a great fabric! Here are some photos that share my stitches and the accents to the top.
For the sleeve I used a french seam. The sleeve has a little tab and it is visible from the inside. This was great, but it was really difficult to finish the bottom. I tried a few different options, but I am not entirely happy with how these turned out. I created a facing similar to the neckline piece.
I kept the neckline simple. I created bias tape from the original fabric. I used the shorter of the neckline openings.
I serged the top seam. I pressed open and serged each side. On the sleeve I kept the seams toghether. I only serged once. I figured that this would give less bulk. Below are photos from my second version. I used a Double Cotton Gauze for this one.
This is a textile that is Andover Fabric’s Tapestry in Green- Hit Parade by Lizzy House. I believe that this fabric is no longer available. I also added a tie to the front and used the original long length.
One of my tips with working with double gauze is be careful cutting too close to the stitch. When I was working on the tabs for the sleeves I cut too close to it once. The stitch fell away. I remade it and made sure to leave at least a 1/4″ seam allowance before turning it. I will probably create this again and create a short sleeve. The double gauze is also cotton and will be great for summer tops!
This year has been a whirlwind of teaching! It has been such an incredible experience. As an Adjunct Professor I have been teaching both 2D Design and Basic Drawing courses. With the drawing course, it has been an incredible seeing how my students have been developing and building their drawing abilities. My 2D Design students have recently created amazing repeating patterns that are well crafted and really show what they have learned over the semester (Shapes, placement, repetition, color, craft, etc). It has been an incredible opportunity to share my love of what art can do or be in someone’s life.
When I am not in the classroom, I am usually sewing these days. Along with teaching at California State University, Chico, I have been giving garment construction classes at a local Quilt Shop, Honey Run Quilters. These ladies have been an incredible group to work with! I love having the contrast of the younger students wanting to start their careers and women who have had these and are ready for another challenge.
I also love that most of my sewing students are retired teachers and this gives a unique kinship with them. I have focused on creating garments that are made from patterns that they can sew. I am able to teach others how to construct these and give my own helpful hints. Below are some of the clothes that I have created. I will go into further posts with some helpful sewing tips.
I will also start a new newsletter that is full of sewing garment tips. On my future projects I will be sharing photos of what I do as part of the fitting process. For my garment classes, I focus on cutting, measuring and adjusting your patterns to achieve the perfect fit for your specific body shapes. I love this part of sewing and my goal is to have my students try this out with their own projects. As an artist, it is easier for me to experiment with different ways of constructing. It doesn’t scare me to try something that the pattern doesn’t show. Sewing garments connects me with women through history. This act of creating has a tradition and currently I am coming up with ways of bringing this into my artistic practice.
I was talking with a friend on the phone the other day about making her own clothing. I called it, “Garment Construction.” She didn’t know what I meant by “Garment Construction.” I laughed and explained how creating your own clothes is broken down into different parts and actions that come together to create the perfect fitting garment for your specific body. It isn’t just “sewing.”
When I first followed a pattern, I did it blindly and followed the directions to a T. (Shirt shown here) The shirt pulled across my shoulders, the sleeves were too short, the back was tight against my shoulders, etc. I thought that was how you did it. It wasn’t till I got more comfortable with the whole sewing process that I ventured out of what the pattern told me and how I could change things to make them fit perfectly. Lets say that it has taken me years to perfect and learn from each project. That is what I love about sewing though.
I love how you can alter a pattern to fit you and then reuse it to create another project. Alterations can be made to add a new element or style. You can change the color or print and it is really up to you! You are the one deciding what to wear. It is an incredibly liberating feeling! To also tell someone that you sewed something yourself is awesome. Also, the more times you create something, the easier and faster you get.
When beginning your projects it is important to think about what you want to wear. Do you want a nice jacket that you wear all of the time? Do you want a cute dress to wear to a party? How much effort is worth the time you put into a project. I loooove jackets and so I tend to make a lot of these.
Forward Shoulder Adjustment: I slope my shoulders forward and this effects my posture. This means that my shoulders are not in a straight line but more bent. This means that a straight shoulder seam doesn’t work. I have to angle out my seam to make up for this. This really helps the jacket to fall properly.
Pointy Shoulder Blades: I have protruding shoulder blades in my back and this means that shirts can pull across tightly. When fitting my muslin, I create a slit at this point and allow the fabric to get more ease.
Sway Back: Lets just say that I have a rounded lower back and a rounded but. This means that after making the shoulder and upper back adjustments I do this. There is usually a gather of fabric that happens in my lower back. I can gather this together for the adjustment.
Front: I wait to do the front till the back is finished. I then cut and alter based off of what looks like it falls best. I may make adjustments around my belly. At this point, I probably have to adjust my side seams as well. You just draw out what would be your new side seam.
Sleeves: I will measure the sleeve against my own length. I sometimes may add length. I usually will change the placement of the sleeve since I adjust the seam for the shoulder.
Measure Body: Chest, Waist, Hip (Arm or Leg if there are sleeves or pants)
Copy Pattern that best fits chest measurement and adjust to were the pattern matches your size. Copy the original pattern onto banner paper that can be cut up.
Cut out Muslin pieces that are needed for fit (At this point I don’t cut cuffs or neckline, pockets or Facings) I just cut the basic shapes: Front, Back and sleeves. Basically I just cut what will be needed for fitting. Do Stay Stich the seam around the neckline though. This will keep the shape better.
I sew together these pieces using a basting stitch. I know that now I am sewing, ripping, sewing, pinning, taping, marking, cutting, moving, etc. It can be a laborious process but worth it! If you are taking the time to make something from scratch, you will feel even more excited about it when it fits you just right! If I am sewing a jacket, I will sew the front and back together first and fit this. I will wait to add the sleeves once this is set.
Once I get the fabric to the point of fitting (I created a dress form of my own body shape to help with this), I take out a marker. I make notes of where seams are sewn. I then take apart each seam. If there are a lot of pins, I will bring the section over to my sewing machine and stitch it into place.
I then take each piece and iron it. this flattens it into a piece that I can use. This isn’t necessarily the way that I have learned, but over the years this has really worked for me. (So far this does not work for jeans. I am still working on getting this right!) If there are a few adjustments I just go back to the original pattern and work with that. It is best to keep things simple whenever possible. I tend to really want something to fit perfectly though and this means working it till it is just right.
Now I bring the fabric back to the banner paper and create a new pattern piece. Each piece needs to fall flat or it will not work. If I am not sure about it, I will create another muslin and then adjust slightly if needed. I create the facings patterns to match these shapes now. The photo to the left shows the difference in the pattern compared to the original. I like to keep the original pattern in case I go way to far into the fitting tweaking. (Sometimes you have to start again)
Now, I have the pattern. I use this to cut out my final fabric. I now sew the garment in the order that the pattern says. At this point the sewing is the fastest part!
Once you wear garments that fit you right, you see how nice being able to do this yourself is! Being able to adjust a fitted garment for body type is flattering and incredibly satisfying.
Vogue Sewing: This is the newer version of my book. Mine is older yet has had so many helpful pages about fitting.
Fit For Real People: One of my favorite books about fitting! Get this one for sure!
Built By Wendy Dresses: This was the first book that made me think about how I can change a pattern to fit what I wanted.
The Colette Sewing Handbook: I lived in Portland, Oregon at the time of this book being released and attended the book launch! Love her style with the patterns!
I am going to be creating some more garments and sharing my process on here. If you have any questions about my process, feel free to comment or send me an email. I love to see what other people are working on as well!
One of the goals for when I was a high school art teacher was for the students to be proud of their work. There is so much stress to get a good grade, have others like you, and deal with becoming an adult. Having an art show is a great way of focusing your energy on something exciting. I wanted to give my students this opportunity. At the end of the school year, I planned an art show for the students that took place at my friend Silas Hagerty’s movie theater in Kezar Falls. It is a space that he has been lovingly restoring and I thought that it would be the perfect place for an art show! If you are an artist, student or teacher, here are a few tips from the show.
1- Curating work: Collect artwork from students as the year goes along. Create excitement about having a certain piece in the show. I saw a lot of smiles on students faces when I asked them to bring something in for the show. I didn’t have it as a requirement. I wanted the student to feel free to be part of it and not feel like an obligation. (Featured Breana-Fish, Troy-Tiger, Karie- Rooster & Eagle, Sam- Animation & Cat).
2- Find a location: Find a space that has a large amount of room. A local town hall, fire station or restaurant may work. Having a show outside of the school can influence other folks in the town to attend. If they don’t have a student at the school, they may not attend it. This can be a community building show.
3- Hanging Work: Think about how the work can be hung. Most places do no like it when holes are added to walls. Think about other ways of hanging work: bringing in some boards, hanging on curtains, using artist masking tape, using binder clips, etc.
4- Hanging Show- Having students help install the show gives them confidence about what else they can do. Once you see how to set things up, it may inspire interest in creating work for more shows. Here, Jackie’s smile really shows how proud she is of the work that she has created and was a great help installing. Thanks also to Megan and a few of my friends who helped install as well. (Thanks Christina and Rebecca!)
5. Excitement for the show: Encourage students to create work for the show. As an artist, scheduling a show is a way of actually getting work done. If I have a deadline, I am way more productive. Haley created this amazing piece to be in the show. Any moment she could find she worked on it. It was great to see her dedication to the piece.
6. Opening: Share with the local paper, Facebook page, and create posters that can be hung about the show. Contact local businesses to see if they are donate food or drinks for the opening. Our local grocery store, Call’s Shop’n Save graciously donated some soda water for the event.
7. Special Thanks! Below is Mr. Mayer (my partner and was the Digital Arts teacher) and Mrs. Shields (she is the art teacher whom I substitute taught for). Silas Hagerty (owner of the Kezar Falls Theater) and Don Isaacs (school board). Thanks everyone for your influence, your enthusiasm, and dedication to the students. It was such an incredible experience for me and I hope that it was influential for the students as well.
If you have any questions just send me email. I loved having shows and it would be great to help you with yours!
It was just a few days ago that I had my last day of teaching art at Sacopee Valley High School. The school needed a long term art sub. Since I lived in the area and was an artist with an MFA I decided to take the position. Really this was my first full time teaching job. I taught a course prior to this at the Maine College of Art in their Pre-College program. In my mind, this gave me some experience working with this age group, but really it was just a drop in the bucket. Learning how to manage the classroom while doing it, was one of the biggest challenges for me. Making sure I kept all of the students in the classroom, keeping them focused on their projects and not fighting with each other was a constant battle. A teacher is always on guard and has to be ready for any situation.
They worked on the usual high school art projects (learning perspective, drawing with a grid, printmaking techniques, etc.) As someone who loves to sew, I wanted to introduce this to some of the students as well (Home Economics is no longer offered). I wanted to show them how their art can have a positive influence in their community. So, I planned two things that were not already planned out. One class sewed a quilt together and I also created an Art Show for them at a local theater (Part two blog post coming soon).
1. The Quilt:
Personally, I have been sewing for seven years. I first started with garment construction for myself and then creating bags that I could sell. I went to school for painting, but there has been something about constructing with fabric that has really won me over. That being said, quilting wasn’t necessarily my thing. The hours involved cutting the same shape and following a pattern really didn’t interest me.
One of my classes was for the “Advanced Art” students. It was open for them to choose their own projects. One student learned that I sewed garments and wanted to make a skirt. Of course I was thrilled. We started the process of adjusting a pattern to fit, creating a muslin and I tried to explain to her how to sew it. I really needed a machine in the classroom. I came across a new Brother Sewing machine at a yard sale and bought it for $12. I was so excited for just this! I was able to then directly show her how to sew the skirt together.
So, at this point I had a sewing machine in the classroom. I had one class where a group of girls would combine two tables together and complain about things. It reminded me of a “bitch and stitch.” The looked like quilters sitting around a quilt hand stitching something together (All individual projects at this point).
This gave me an idea. There was a bag of fabric in the classroom and I remember liking the look of the Gee’s Bend Quilts. Their quilts were creating using clothing and scraps and not necessarily using a pattern. So, right before the start of spring break, I presented these students with a plastic bag of fabric and a slide show about the quilts. They
didn’t seem interested, but I knew that it was something that could really mean something to them later in life.
This spring break started with attending an Estate Sale. My sister loves them and shared with me that there was one in my town. There was a photo of large thread stand and I knew there would be more sewing material along with this. I ended up getting an incredible amount of tools, fabric, sewing books, thread, and another sewing machine.(Some purchased and some donated by the company for the students) My friend Patty who owns the Quilt shop in town donated her amazing scrap fabric from her sewing projects and another local Paul donated one of his unused sewing machines and even more fabric. I got another machine from a local thrift store. By the end of spring break, I had two carloads of fabric, four sewing machines, a small library and a thrill of being able to share this with the students.
One class I had the students set up a corner of the room, choose fabrics for the quilt and it all began. Oh, yeah, with all of this I also had to learn how to quilt before I taught them…They say that you teach what you want to learn. So, my friend Patty gave me some tips, I looked over my books, watched videos and realized that maybe quilting is for me as well. I love painting, but sewing has had a watch over me for years. Being able to combine colors, draw with thread by “free motion quilting” made so much sense for me.
The students worked on this and their individual projects. We still sewed pieces together in the crazy quilt style and then I sewed it together with traditional borders. Most of them had never threaded a needle, worked with fabric or even ironed. These are things that I feel everyone should have some experience with. It also gives them a possible skill when looking for work. They all used a sewing machine and may not be as scared to try it out later in life.
The last day of working on the quilt I had them combine the tables together and everyone hand stitched the binding edge together. Of course many of them complained about it and I laughed and shared that they inspired it. The class gave this quilt to a teacher in the school that is always making things for other people. She was thrilled to get it and made sure to hug each of the students. This meant that they were able to see how coming together to create this for someone else can really be powerful. Since the sewing machines were set up, other students were interested in creating projects. Here, one student created an amazing quilt of flags. She looked at photos of flags and came up with each piece
without a pattern. Excellent job Michala! A bunch of students also created pillows! It was a quick way of sewing something together and having the satisfaction of a great finished project!
I really enjoyed teaching with these students! Some days were a challenge, but overall I am very happy that I took the position! It was because Zoe wanted to make this skirt that the students got to learn how to sew and that one table of sassy girls brought quilting into my own life.