Gathering inspiration, ideas, materials, tools, information; Gathering together with friends, new and old; and Making things beautiful, delicious, healthy, sustainable, and useful ~ Gather & Make.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Tunic ~

A couple of years ago I bought my first tunic. I don't ever remember having such a multi-tasking, useful piece of clothing. Extremely comfortable, the right tunic can also be rather flattering, and a magician at disguising all manner of maturing body blips. It can be worn alone as a dress, with leggings, jeans, shorts or a skirt, and layered up for winter wear. I was hooked. I began searching for the perfect tunic. I looked in stores; I looked in thrift shops; I looked online; I looked through sewing patterns; I looked at Pinterest; and of course I started a Pinterest board totally dedicated to Tunic ideas.

Last year, while participating in the Alabama Chanin workshop at the Edible Schoolyard (read that post here), I finally found exactly what I was looking for. Kristine Vejar, owner of A Verb for Keeping Warm, was wearing it, THE perfect tunic, made up in the Alabama Chanin way in their indigo organic cotton fabric. I felt a deep satisfactory sigh of relief, knowing that my search was successfully completed, and went posthaste to purchase the "Endless Summer Tunic" pattern at A Verb for Keeping Warm.

I happily brought it home, placed it lovingly in my sewing cubby, and there it sat, all ...year ...long. It was a very busy summer, but really, I wanted a tunic pattern with sleeves, and this one did not have sleeves. I had decided I would still make it up, and wear a t-shirt under it if I wanted sleeves. At that time I didn't know how to put sleeves into something sleeveless. I would never have attempted it.

Fast forward 14 months, and I am even more delighted that I purchased this pattern, because it was the ideal project to bring with me to my pattern and alterations class in Alabama. Diane helped me make a sleeve specifically for this tunic. We started with another sleeve, and measured the perimeter of the armhole of the tunic and the existing sleeve. The existing sleeve was a little small, so we just added on to make it the same measurement. There was some fussing with the directions. I did not put the fusible interfacing in the yoke. I did not put the pockets in. I did not hem the bottom, though I think I may go back and hem it to match the sleeve hem.

It was well worth the effort, because I really love the way this tunic has turned out. I felled the side seams, and left the front and back seam open. I may go back in and redo the front and back seam, because I like the extra stitching that the felling provides. I also put a little extra detail on the back of the yoke.

I know I will get a lot of use out of this tunic. I know I'll make more, and perhaps even sleeveless tunics as well. It's nice having such options.

Monday, June 8, 2015

As I sit here, my mind is still spinning from my amazing week in Alabama. I know it will take a while to digest all that I have learned. This past week I was in Florence at the Alabama Chanin Factory, taking their first Patterns and Alterations week-long workshop.

My journey began at what my friend Penny likes to call "O-dark-thirty". The only redeeming quality about leaving so early is the fact that I flew out of my friendly little local Redmond airport. How can people be so kind and smiling at that time in the morning? I don't know, but I have never found a sour soul working there. There are no cattle prod lines, usually only a few people, oftentimes a friend or neighbor, in front of you.  My husband was a dear and drove me; though if you decided to drive yourself parking is only $10 a day, with the seventh day free. It makes my trip always begin on the right foot, flying from this quaint hub.

My layover in Denver was long enough for breakfast. I was delighted to try Farm Fresh Eatery. It was the best airport food I've ever had.....oh, wait, tied with the sushi place in SFO. I was served a veggie omelet with carmelized onions made with free-range eggs, a slice of good seedy toast, and red potatoes with green onions. My meal was so satisfying and delicious, I easily didn't eat until dinner.

I arrived in Huntsville, Alabama, another convenient, small airport, early afternoon. I had just enough time to rent a car and drive straight to Tom Hendrix's Wall. I had visited there on a previous trip. The Wall is truly a magical spot. If you are unfamiliar with it, please read this article from the New York Times. It is a fascinating story.

It was early evening by the time I arrived at The Wall, and I was fortunate to enjoy the serenity of the property on my own. The sound was exactly as I remembered it; leaves rustling gently with the breeze and tiny birds sweetly calling out to one another. I wish I had this recorded to play every single morning, it is that soothing. Tom and his wife arrived just as I was about to depart. He was as vital and engaging as ever. Tom informed me that earlier in the day they had had over a hundred visitors.

I continued on my voyage, enjoying the farmlands and lush vegetation, the occasional kitschy sign. I felt a big grin when I correctly remembered exactly where the Fame Recording building was. I feel an affinity for this place, almost akin to a second home. I arrived at the Marriott Mussel Shoals just in time, as a huge thunder storm began to let loose.  I was happy to call the Marriott home for the week. It is clean, comfortable, has great service, and a pretty view of the river from my balcony. Truth be told, there was little sleep for me. I was just too excited for my workshop to begin.

Monday morning couldn't come fast enough, and I practically floated to the Factory. I first noticed a group of ladies forming in the Cafe area. It was First Mondays @ The Factory. Seeing this group of women made me so happy. They were all gathering together to stitch and share and catch up with each others happenings. I've been wanting to implement a stitching circle here in Bend, and seeing these ladies gives me further incentive to make it happen.

Upon entering the workshop area, there were hugs, smiling faces, and jovial greetings all around for old friends and new. I wasn't sure what to expect for a week of patterns and alterations. I just knew these were areas I knew little about. We all sat down and penned our visions of what we wanted from the coming week. Our hopes, desires, and expectations were all now written down in an organized, concrete plan instead of buzzing around willy-nilly in our brains. What a brilliant way to begin.

I may not have known what to expect in regard to patterns and alterations, but I did know how wonderful the food was at The Factory. I arrived with great expectations in the gastronomy arena and was not disappointed! Every part of every day was a treat; fresh roasted Factory coffee with organic cream, tea (hot, plain or sweet), crushed ice for beverages, breakfast to die for, and lunches to tantalize the tastebuds and satisfy the soul. The use of organic, local ingredients and the expert preparation of meals brought everything to the peak of perfection. Check out their daily menu for a sample of their fare. Natalie's son, Zach, is an amazing chef. He not only brought us wonderful meals, but prepared afternoon sweets and snacks that fed our bodies and nourished our working minds.

Fresh squeezed orange juice, cheesy grits, potato pancakes, and picture framed eggs. 

The week whizzed by all too quickly for my liking. Oh, we had sufficient time for all of our lessons and learning; but I could have stayed for a month and still not wanted to leave! The Factory is filled with art and inspiration every which way you turn: The Alabama Chanin team exudes Southern hospitality with their kind, helpful attention.

We took our measurements and created our slopers. These are customized patterns, specific to your own body measurements. From these master patterns, or slopers, we were taught a myriad of ways to alter and change things up to our liking. We could narrow down to a pencil skirt or flair out to a full-on circle skirt and everything in between. I learned to make and set sleeves, change up necklines, add and subtract length and width in varying ways to create a variety of silhouettes. I could feel myself become comfortable with patterns and alterations where I never had been before.

I learned what changes I should make when using a non Alabama Chanin pattern, yet still utilizing cotton jersey and the Alabama Chanin hand stitching methods. I also made a pattern from scratch of a favorite t-shirt that I did not have a pattern for.

Waistband details of the Marcy Tilton patterned pants made in the Alabama Chanin style. 

Diane has a wealth of knowledge, with 50 years of sewing experience. She is generous, patient, kind, and easy to follow. She was a wonder to work with. I don't know where else you could have gotten so much information in such a relatively short period of time. Amazingly, I feel all the knowledge has sunk in and comfortably available, that's just how excellent an instructor Diane is.

We gathered together with Natalie throughout the days and learned the history of the company, and Natalie went over the physics of sewing and tips and tricks. Even though I've been to previous workshops, I learn something new every time.

This workshop was filled with invaluable information. I feel so grateful that I was able to attend. I feel inspired just from having been at the Factory and by all the women that I met at the workshop. Each and every participant had their own take on what they wanted and needed, and they all brought something new and exciting to the table. I can't wait to see pictures of their finished projects over the next weeks and months.

I'll leave you with a few images of samples made from their New Leaves stencil and others. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gifty Bling ~ I have been in a blingy mood lately, making all kinds of fun sparklies for relatives, friends, and I couldn't help but make a few things for myself.

First up are a trio of earrings for Mother's Day.

Amazonite, apatite, and moonstone on sterling and aluminum. 

Tourmaline (don't you love all the colors?) and sterling.

Green garnet and gold vermiel. 

With lots of birthdays coming up, I was into using sterling and Karen Hilltribe silver, leather, and some pearls.

This leather wrap can be worn as a bracelet or single/double/ or triple strand necklace. The leather was a bit too bright and shiny for me, so I used some sandpaper to distress it. I started with 60" of leather, and with all the knots and 21 pearls, the final necklace is 41". 

Ancient Roman glass, pearls, sterling and leather.

I was beyond ecstatic to find another cache of this amazing ancient Roman glass. Each piece is unique, the patina luminescent, rustic, gorgeous. 

Trio of necklaces in tarnished sterling, gold, pearls, moonstone, and raw diamonds.

The top necklace is really a longer necklace, 38",  wrapped twice.  

This second necklace is 21" long. I've strung pearls and gold, and used a pendant that I had made many years ago using PMC in a reverse mold that I had made from an impression of a button. It feels good to finally have it made up into a wearable piece of jewelry. 

The bottom 30" necklace is rosary style, each tiny pearl or stone is linked together. I love mixing gold and silver together, especially using tarnished and bright silver. In this necklace I've linked different colored cultured pearls, moonstone, a few gold vermiel hex beads, and silver together. The longer necklaces could also be wrapped multiple times to form bracelets. 

I've put my pliers, wire, and stones away for a while, until I feel inspired to go on my next blingy binge. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Introducing - Jackie O ~

I was recently in Jackson Hole for a girls' trip. Amidst the skiing and eating, and biking and eating, and hot tubing and eating, and just hanging out and eating, we did get a wee bit of poking around and shopping in. We mostly hit the "op" shops or thrift stores, but we did meander past a boutique that happened to be selling some mannequins, the same type of mannequin that I had been wistfully dreaming of purchasing online. Lucky me, for they were less than half the price, just the right size, in tip-top shape, and yes, we did have room in the car to bring her home. So I purchased her, strapped her in the back seat next to me, and we became best buddies on the 12-hour drive home. Since she hailed from Jackson Hole, we appropriately named her Jackie O.

When weather and lighting permit, I will bring Jackie O outside and snap a few pics of her attired in my newest projects.

This is the fitted dress in ochre.  I used the Angie's Fall stencil, brown paint, maroon thread, in negative reverse applique. I wasn't sure which color thread I wanted to use, so I stitched up a little sample to see what I liked best.

I felt the burgundy gave me a little color pop without looking too busy.

Here is the same fitted short dress pattern, also in Angie's Fall stencil, reverse applique, tan paint, gray thread. I used the organic cotton that I indigo dyed last summer (read about it here) for the bottom layer, and Alabama Chanin hand-dyed indigo organic cotton on top.

The paint was so subtle that I had a really difficult time seeing it when working the pattern. Note for next time, use a darker shade of tan!

Here's the same dress with the indigo skirt I made here. I like the extra layer in the cooler weather, and it looks pretty too. I paired this outfit with my brown cowboy boots and brown leather moto jacket. The A. Chanin wrap cardi in black with my black wedges will look nice as the weather warms; and white flip flops with no skirt in the summer.

Close up of skirt/dress layering.

Here's a few pictures of Jackson Hole, breathtakingly beautiful. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hygge and knitting group ~

For the past year now I have had a standing date once a week with an interesting, genuine, kind, and funny group of women. Serendipity brought us together, and I am most humbly grateful that they have generously welcomed me into their fold. They are "The knitting Group", and I am doubly grateful, because really, I do not knit. Oh, I can have a go at it. My lips will purse and my brow will furrow, and all conversation around me slips into an abyss as I concentrate on the chicken scratch markings in front of me, and I try to translate it into a wrap or knit or turn. Is the rabbit jumping into the hole? Or do I fling the yarn behind and around?  When I really put my mind to it (and nothing else), I can knit a square or two, or perhaps a hat or felted slipper. But really, I do not knit. These ladies see my distress and thankfully do not mind that I veer from the knitting path and bring something to stitch or crochet or at times, nothing at all. When I do join in and knit, there is always generous and welcomed advice and a helping hand from any one of these talented knitters.

Soon after I joined the group it was decided that we would have a square swap. We would all use the same yarn, a bulky, soft, ecru, wool, reminiscent of the traditional Irish fisherman's sweater. Each of our individual squares would be a design of our choosing. We would make nine of them. Then we would exchange our squares, bind them together, and each have a small lap throw of our very own. I must admit I was skeptical that I could participate in this lovely affair. My heart was in a bit of a panic thinking about knitting squares, squares that HAD to be a certain size, and squares that would eventually reside in the homes of these fabulous knitters. But they reassured me, offering their guidance and advice when needed.

I'm so glad I rose to this challenge, because during this year of knitting our squares, we have laughed and cried; discussed the funny vagaries of our aging bodies; contemplated the meaning of life; exchanged recipes and repairman phone numbers; mostly we have laughed. You know that deep down belly laugh? That's the kind of laugh I'm talking about. There is always some interesting fact or hilarious story that just seems to pop up during our afternoons. We are a multi-generational group, but our commonality defies a number in years. I do not feel an age difference, just true camaraderie.

A couple of weeks ago we gathered together for the exchanging of the squares ~ Ta-da! A tea party was planned for this auspicious occasion by our most gracious host. Hygge - "In essence,hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people."  Our host has a special knack for creating a warm, cozy atmosphere, pure hygge, and her tea party did not disappoint.

I learned to knit a little bit better; how to block a square; and how to sew my squares together: But more importantly, I've been given the gift of friendship with all these women, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Alabama Chanin class at Art & Soul~

Happy dance, huge smile, swell of gratitude, these are just a smidgeon of emotions pinging around after Sundays' wonderful class. It always amazes me how quickly a room full of women can come together and share and laugh. Glenny at Art & Soul Retreats does such an excellent job of facilitating the perfect environment for any creative type to gather and enjoy. Thank you, Glenny.

We spent the day exploring all things Alabama Chanin, from the basics to the elaborate in hand stitching. Everyone came away with a solid understanding of how they can make their own heirloom pieces. I was promised photos of completed projects; and I can't wait to see them! I only wish I had more time to spend with each and every one of these talented ladies, to get to know them better.

A special thank you to Kristina for her lovely picture memorabilia that she sent to me after the class. It's the perfect reminder of a wonderful day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Art & Soul meet and greet~

Sunday was a happy whirlwind of a day. I drove the three and a half hours to Portland. What a beautiful drive: over snowy mountain passes; long forested expansive views; picturesque river weaving its way to and fro along the road. The sun playing hide and seek would light up the water to that pale, icy, Alpine blue, sparkling diamonds along the surface, then disappear and plunge it into inky, mysterious darkness. The drop in elevation exchanges pine trees and craggy mountains for ferns and lichen covered trees. Miniature waterfalls explode suddenly from the sides of the cliffs. Every twist and turn brings a new vantage point and awe inspiring scene. Lucky me, the roads were clear and I could do nothing but enjoy the drive and drink it all in.

I arrived at the Sheraton a little early, and was warmly welcomed by Marie. I set up next to Susan Schenk who makes amazing paper collages. Her student samples from her pet collage class showed the striking resemblance of their pet portraits! Susan was so cheerful, and took me under her wing as a new instructor, introducing me around and making me feel right at home.

The time flew by as ladies asked questions and perused my sample books. Many had no idea what Alabama Chanin was, and it was a treat to introduce many to a whole new medium of making. Others had already been captivated and were Alabama Chanin enthusiasts, to say the least! I was thrilled to see one woman wearing her Alabama Chanin coat she made from the Craftsy class. It was gorgeous! She did an excellent job and wore it beautifully.

I brought mini-samplers and supplies for a demo, and about a dozen of us gathered together and began to sew. There was as much talking and laughter as there was stitching! I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and truly hope that my new friends will take up the needle and thread and make their own Alabama Chanin projects.

All too soon the evening ended, and I had to say au revoir until next weekend, when I have my Hand Stitching and Embellishing class on Sunday. I am so excited and looking forward to another wonderful day of camaraderie, teaching, and making.