October 31, 2007

tricks 'n' treats

Thanks everyone for sweet comments on my latest dress. I'm working on another one, so unless I get derailed you can expect more soon!

flickr favs, 10-30-07

I always find it interesting and oftentimes revealing to look at my Flickr favorites and recognize the common strains of inspiration. Right now, I'm being inspired by: soft, filtered light, the natural world of leaves, flowers, butterflies and moths, muted autumnal colors (duh), and simple cotton dresses (double duh). Other inspirations:
  • The layered looks of flour clothing's fall/winter collection. Honestly, I want to dress this way. I especially love her incorporation of vintage fabrics, several of which look like they could have come from my grandmother's attic!
  • Spreading a little serendipity. Although I honestly hope none of them read "Your romantic life will soon take a turn for the better." I've received that one WAY too often lately (and been disappointed). (via)
  • I love many things about Martha's work, but I especially love the way she records her processes and inspirations. Looking at these images challenges me to be more bold, to get my ideas down in pen and ink (or needle and thread!).
  • Mmm. Autumn seems the perfect season for soups, and this butternut squash recipe has definitely made it to the "must-try" list.
How about you? What are your current strains of inspiration (visual or otherwise)?

October 30, 2007

the Limberlost dress

Have you ever read the novel A Girl of the Limberlost? Written by Gene Stratton Porter at the turn of the century, it tells the tale of Elnora Comstock, a girl who lives and collects moths at the edge of Indiana's Limberlost Swamp. Longing to educate herself and yet emotionally estranged from her mother, Elnora portrays with a more mature range of emotions than other heroines she might be compared to, giving her tale a haunting and bittersweet tone.

I don't know what it is about it - the old-fashioned drama of the long bishop sleeves, the pale green color reminiscent of the Luna moths that Elnora collects, or merely the nature-lust that this time of year so easily excites in me - but I've named my latest dress the Limberlost dress in honor of the book.

the Limberlost dress

Actually, the pattern is one of 4 vintage maternity patterns which I've inherited from my mother. I'd already been eying this pattern when Jenny posted about being inspired by her mom's maternity patterns. And after seeing the Lyell fall '07 collection, I knew it had to be made. Although the pattern is 3 sizes too small for me, the extra fullness in the body meant it required only a little altering through the sleeve and bust area. All the seams are finished with either French seams or bias trim. I don't care if volume is going out, I absolutely love this dress! (More photos here.)

In other news, I find myself with very little time to enjoy the beautiful fall that is emerging around me. I made up my mind some time ago to settle with temporary employment for the next year, while I try to make my way into the world of theatre and costuming. So in the meantime I've been giving private sewing lessons, and I have just finally been approved to substitute teach. I've also been coming up with some new designs of my cabled bags, toying with the idea of offering them for sale. Whatever comes of it, you'll be sure to hear of it here!

autumn: a still life

This last shot embodies the best of autumn for me - dappled sunlight, brilliant color, and a good book. What does your perfect autumn day look like?

October 28, 2007


Le sister and I went this weekend to see the film Bella. Wow.

The title is perfectly apt - it's the most beautiful film I've seen in the theatre in a long, long time. The filming, the music, the pacing - everything worked together as a simple celebration of the beauty of ordinary life. Never too heavy-handed, never sappy nor harsh, simply real and beautiful. I heartily recommend! It's a limited release film, so if you're able be sure to see it soon!

(I also I finished one dress, started a new one and took pictures of the one I finished this weekend. I'll be posting soon!)

October 24, 2007

one stitch at a time

the bad and the ugly

Note to self (and all who would profit by it - the lesson transfers to other skills): If you're using fusible interfacing on a neckband and it looks like this, do not pass go, do not collect $200. But most importantly, DO NOT SEW THE BAND TO THE GARMENT. Do not think that it doesn't matter, you can work around it, you won't notice it. Doing such will only lead to wasted work and eventual frustration. On the other hand, do not start cutting out a new neckabnd or interfacing immediately once you have realized your error. Doing such will result in slipshod, anxty work and eventual self-destruction.

What to do in such a situation: Stop. Do only enough tidying up of the workspace to make it neat when you return to it. Leave the workspace. Savor your favorite movie. A good night's rest is highly recommended.

The next morning, DO NOT avoid or ignore the project, thinking it will go away. If you do, it will, and you'll never finish. Re-assess the situation and, in a calm and deliberate manner, do what it takes to fix it. If this means using up all your back-up material on a new collar, do so. Take the problem (and the decisions) one stitch at a time. Trust me, it's worth it.

Sigh. What I have to go through to remind myself of this. In happier news, just look at what I found at the library's used book sale last week! The best part about it? I already own vol. 1!

the good

P.S. I don't know if anyone who reads this is from S. Cal, but I'm sure many have friends and family (myself included) that have been affected by the fires. Drop a line here if you do: you're in my prayers!

October 20, 2007

links to brighten life

It's been a while since I've posted a good youtube video, so I thought y'all would enjoy this. This one's pretty hard not to smile at:

October 16, 2007

let's fly, let's fly away

weather-wise, it's such a lovely day . . .

Weather-wise it's such a lovely day
You just say the words and we'll beat the birds
Down to Acapulco Bay

Sorry it took me a while to post this project, I didn't want to spoil the surprise and had to wait for delivery to its recipient. ;) Meet the "Come Fly with Me" tote.

The whole project was inspired by and designed the green feathered fabric, a scrap that was found during a purging session at the theatre. Immediately I knew I wanted to make something from it, and for whom: my dearest friend H, who graduated with me and started grad school this fall (in arts administration). H was an incredible support to me, encouraging me to pursue costuming, and I wanted to give her something that not only represented but manifested some of that.

once I get you up there, where the air is rarified . . .

Some details on construction: For the bird I used this reverse applique technique, with slight modifications (basically, adding several layers of interfacing to accommodate the differences between tote bag and t-shirt!). Before this, the brown fabric was free motion machine embroidered (the "cloud" texture) and then interfaced, so that neither the fabric nor the stitching would fray when the applique was cut. Did I mention adding interfacing? :D

The bag also includes a zippered pocket in the lining, which I love! And using Lisa's tutorial, it was super easy to make. I should have gotten better pictures of it; it adds so much to the finished bag. (The lining is also made from recycled sheets - lightweight but sturdy!)

It seems cliche sometimes even to feel it, but saying goodbye is a difficult thing. I knew I would miss a lot, leaving college and the friends I had made, but one of the hardest things I anticipated was the shift of creative atmosphere. Friendships like H's built up a fertile and supportive environment for creativity. We cannot, however, dwell on stolen moments. The much better alternative is to take those memories and friendships with us, giving flight to even greater creative journeys.

Come fly with me, let's take off in the blue . . .

let's take off in the blue . . .

October 10, 2007

ode to an elm

not now -

I've always found it rather interesting that, as an artist, one is regularly called upon to renounce and reduce what one loves most, the subject and media of one's art. A collagist must literally cut his papers and collected items to arrange a new item of beauty. An author must reduce his word count for that which he keeps to deliver force. A photographer must eliminate items from his composition. An aroborist must prune in order for a tree to flower and produce to its utmost.

the letting go -

In recent weeks, we have had to cut down one of our trees. The lovely, ginormous, multi-trunked elm tree that graced the view outside my window, specifically. Now, I'm not a tree-hugger, per se. Still, I'm a lot like my dad, a landscaper/arborist whose love for trees is insane. (Family vacations are regularly occupied with him taking pictures of trees, with the rest of us posed underneath for scale.) And really, what artist can help but love the beautiful textures of natural wood, the cragged roughness of its bark, the swirling vortexes of its grain?

against itself - itself to justify -

Yet even with his crazy love for trees, he knows what they need. So when our lovely, ginormous, multi-trunked elm tree succumbed to Dutch elm disease, he did what needed to be done, no turning back.

old elm

Now not even the stump remains.

dad's bootsRenunciation—is a piercing Virtue—
The letting go
A Presence—for an Expectation—
Not now—
The putting out of Eyes—
Just Sunrise—
Lest Day—
Day's Great Progenitor—

Renunciation—is the Choosing
Against itself—
Itself to justify
Unto itself—
When larger function—
Make that appear—
Smaller—that Covered Vision—Here—

~Emily Dickinson, #782

October 9, 2007

too cool not to mention

Okay, I realize I just posted some inspirational links, but I just got word of this one. Some college friends of mine formed the theatre company that made Apartment Therapy's new video, Got Color? And I'm not just posting because they're my friends (although I rather enjoy seeing them as Smurfs). The joyful, fun-loving nature of the music, movement, and expression of this film so wonderfully reflects what color does for design, I feel. While nuetrals are great for sophistication, nothing is as joyful as color.

So, do you Got Color?

(XOXO, gals!)

home again, home again, jiggety-jig

Phew! What a whirlwind weekend! It was very fun, however, with the exception of breaking my heels on the dance floor of the wedding reception. Seeing people and places I haven't seen in 10-15 years definitely made up for it.

And when I got home, I was greeted with the news that I had won a giveaway from the lovely Elegant Musings! I'm simply ecstatic. I'm a huge fan of Casey's work, and I've been inspired by her enthusiasm as her business takes wing. And speaking of inspiration . . .

flickr favs, 10-9-07

October 5, 2007

good for a yarn or two

spiral cloche made recently, inspired by

yummy cables from fall catalogues

Ttfn. I'm off for a weekend road trip with the fam. I go equipped however with yarn, knitting needles, and a few good books. It's anyone's guess what may come of it . . .

P.S. Doesn't this stress-free tear-sheet swap sound terrific? Rats - just missed the deadline! Hopefully there'll be another soon, though. Found via

October 4, 2007

playing catch up: the Neponset jacket

Remember the photoshoot I did late in the summer at and around my family farm? And how I talked about it influencing my work?

item and inspiration

Nope, didn't think so. Obviously, I have some catching up to do.

Meet the Neponset jacket. It's named after Neponset, IL: a half-way village, half-way between Kewanee and Sheffield.

I drafted the pattern myself on graph paper, then made a muslin, then tweaked and drafted some more. I think if I were to make more of these, I would want to tweak it just a tad more - the bodice shape still doesn't seem quite right to me.

Actually, the pattern was one I had been working on prior to my visit to Kewanee, influenced by other cropped jackets I'd seen this summer. After that trip, however, I was thinking more and more about parallel lines, contouring and vanishing points. Thus, as the project continued, it came to be less about the shape than about the texture and finishing - the parallel weave of twill, the neck binding, the flat-felled seams. (Which is also, most likely, why the shape still needs to be tweaked!)

The fabric is, long story short, from a scrap stash given me by a librarian. I love everything about this twill - its color, its drape, its strong grain and its flannel-like softness - and I've searched endlessly and in vain in attempts to match it (begone from my sight, ye bolts of stiff polyester khaki!). If anyone has any leads, let me know!

You may have noticed I've fastened it with safety pins. Which doesn't work so well. Finding the Perfect Finishing (TM) seems always to be an issue with me, yet so critical to design! The devil's in the details. I'll have to marry a button-maker, I suppose - or design from existing notions!

tag, you're it!

A parting shot to show off the neck binding and the super-cool labels made from Amanda's tutorial. Felicitous, you ask? Oh, it's just a dream . . .

October 1, 2007

little did you know . . .

That I'm a superhero! I save friends, family and acquaintances from the dangers of fashion faux-pas and faddish trends (like chino-cut pants) and teach them to combining textures (like tweed and corduroy). Mild-mannered Kelly is nothing but a ruse.

don't be fooled by my mild-mannered exterior . . .

Oh my. The goofy end to a goofy weekend. Which, as you can see, involved cameras. So expect more goofiness soon.