Monday, November 17, 2014

Notes from a Fabric Whisperer

As a blogger, I'm always on the lookout for other blogs that might interest me. So when Martha of Now Sewing asked if I'd like to participate in a blog hop, I said yes. If you trace back through this particular branch of the blog hop, you'll find several talented fiber artists. Their work is inspiring!

Martha is an accomplished sewist who makes meticulously constructed garments. She has a bit of a funky style streak, and we often make similar garment styles. Tilton sister patterns are as much a part of her sewing as mine. What I admire most in her creative work is her Sashiko stitching, which she uses to embellish garments, quilts and wall hangings. Martha has inspired me to practice hand sewing and to incorporate it into garment construction. Be sure to visit her blog, if you're not already a regular.

Now, for a bit about me.

What am I working on? 
Today I cut a top out of these two fabrics, using a Katherine Tilton pattern. (I'm not going to disclose which pattern just yet. You'll have to wait!)

These cottons are double cloth, so I had four sides to choose from. The challenge was to use all four sides without any of them looking predominant. I think I did a pretty good job of including each of them in the top. Look for finished garment photos in a future post.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
I consider myself a garment maker. My work is distinguished by my use of asymmetry, unusual hemlines, and unique silhouettes. The addition of printed images, either silk screened or stenciled, separates me from most other sewists.

Why do I create what I do? 
Fabric and garment sewing have been part of my life for over 45 years. Knitting came later, but quickly fit in. I'm happiest when fiber of some sort is flowing through my hands.
I added printing with stencils and silk screens to my creative work as a means of making unusual garments that make a statement. I've grown to love the painting process, and look forward to it as a time of play. Recently, I'm enjoying some simple freehand painting, adding a distressed look to the fabric. Here is a piece of linen I painted back in July:

How does my creative process work?
I don't have a very structured method for creating new things. I usually don't know what it is I'll be making next. 
When choosing a new project, I often spend a couple of hours sorting through my fabrics or yarn, listening to what they say they want to be. That may sound wacky, like some sort of fabric whisperer, but experience has taught me I can't force a fabric to be something it wasn't designed for. Every fabric in my resource center has characteristics that lend it better to one particular use than another. The process of determining what type of garment to make with which fabric or yarn is critical to a successful finished garment. Once I have a good idea of what I'm making, I think about design details and whether or not to embellish the garment with paint or hand stitching.
Printing happens only if a garment is a good canvas for it. Sometimes the fabrication does not lend itself well to being printed. Sometimes printing is not going to enhance a style. Also, wearing printed items is fun and playful, but an entire wardrobe of paint embellished garments would be very silly!

With that, I'm going to hand the baton over to Louisa, of Damselfly's Delights. Louisa inspires me with her energy to pursue several different but intertwined creative endeavors. She sews, she knits, she spins, she dyes fabric and yarn, and she grows the plants she dyes with! I'm sure I'm missing another one or two of her creative skills. So get on over to her blog to learn about this multi-talented person!


  1. It was great to learn more about you and your process.

  2. So fun to learn more about you and your work, Dixie! And now it's my turn. Gulp. Thanks for asking me! My post will be up on Monday, Nov 24.

  3. Thanks, Dixie. I'm so glad you said yes. And now I have a new blog to follow - Louisa's. This post is really lovely. And I love the mystery, the whiperings.