Sunday, 15 May 2016

Me-Made-May 2016

I, Kathryn of Blackbird Pie, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May 2016. I endeavor to wear as much me-made / refashioned clothing as possible (at least 3 items a week) for the duration of May 2016. I will also try to make at least one me-made/refashioned item by the end of May.

Me-Made-May is an awesome challenge to encourage people that make and refashion clothing to wear it more often! I admit that I have many me-made items that hang in my closet, and don't get worn enough. It could be because I have a lot of clothing (too much? Nah...) but also because I tend to wear some things over and over again. So I would like to wear more of my own creations/refashions more often. Ideally I would wear something almost each day, but I think I have a serious lack of me-made tops. And so maybe that is a situation I would like to remedy!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Star Wars Dress... Episode IV

Dunh, dunh, dunh dunh dunh duuuuuuunh, dunh...etc

If I had mad tech skills I could be writing up a whole scrolling message about planning this dress or something, but since I do not possess such skills, I will instead attempt to regale you with my wit... or distract you with lots of pictures!

I have been hanging on to these vintage Star Wars bedsheets for a very long time, wondering what to do with them. I always wanted a skirt, but the thought of cutting into this sheet was a bit terrifying. And then last Spring I was a bit mopey and to snap myself out of it I decided to adopt an attitude of seizing the moment and just going for it (in life in general). (Please note - I am not making light of depression and suggesting that people can snap themselves out of it, I was not in that place, or if I was, it was temporary and extremely minor. More like a bit sad). And yes, I realize that making a dress is not a big risk to take or anything, but seriously, cutting into vintage Star Wars bedsheets... it can be a little intimidating. If I screwed up, I would be ruining a lot of fabric! The fear of failure looms large. And these sheets are pricey on ebay! (I was lucky to score mine at thrift stores for cheap!) And so I measured a lot more than twice, and cut once!

I settled on a pattern that I modified a lot - the Blue Ginger Doll Odette dress. I changed it to a v-neck front and v-neck back as well, and narrowed the shoulder straps. I also altered the armscye and the darts. I basically used it as a starting point for developing my own bodice sloper, although after some wearing I realize I need to alter the bust darts again - they are way too high!

After I made the bodice using a print on white sheet, I auditioned it with various sheets for the skirt (yes, I have several Star Wars bedsheets...nerd alert! Nerd alert!)

White bodice with light blue sheet for skirt?

White bodice with dark blue sheet for skirt?

White bodice with light blue Empire Strikes Back sheet for skirt?
I was leaning towards the Empire Strikes Back for the skirt, so that it could be a two-episode dress, but based on friend feedback, I eventually went with the dark blue, and thus I have an all Episode IV dress.

The skirt is a basic rectangle that I gathered at the waist. It has a zipper in the back. Both the bodice and the skirt are lined, and it has very deep pockets!!!

I finished it just in time to hit up an annual street yard sale last May, and it was so fun to wear! I got a lot of comments on it!

It's fun to wear and I have a sequel dress in mind!  Now, when will they release fabric or bedsheets for The Force Awakens? 

Wearable Art Show - The Match Up!

Okay, okay, I know, lots of posts about the Wearable Art Show, but it's the major thing happening in my life right now, so that's the way it is!

Last week I was the day I got paired with a local business!

I was excited and a little nervous for the pairing up.  Actually, I am a little bit nervous about the whole thing really. I mean, I am super excited to be chosen and to be participating, but putting something on a runway is a bit nerve-wracking! It's like people are seeing into my brain, and I don't want them to find it unappealing. It's a messy place up there, my brain, (aren't they all?) and all of us are choosey about what we share with others when it comes to our creations. I want to share my ideas, my creations, (my talent? my creativity?) but I want people to like it. I am not sure this feeling ever goes away... I also feel a bit like a phony, like I don't belong here. I have moments of confidence as well - I know I am creative and talented and that I have good ideas (although it feels weird to admit that to others).

So the pairing... I felt like I was on a blind date, nervous, excited, and nothing to do but accept who ever I got! Unlike online dating though, I feel that I can do wonderful things with this match, no matter which business it is! So ends the dating comparisons...

I am paired with..... (drumroll)... The Night Kitchen! Initial thoughts - cardboard and shiny things - yay!!!

The back of my car - cardboard and all sorts of shiny goodies in the garbage bag!

Shiny happy metal things after being washed!

I met the owner and was shown where the recycling is, and then I let the ideas percolate. The model is up on stage for the length of a song (my choice) and so the song is playing a large part in shaping my ideas. I Now have and idea for something that I hope will turn out well. I really want to wow people, like blow them away, but I think I put too much pressure on myself... a few people have pointed this out to me, and it's actually very helpful that they do that. I really do put too much pressure on myself, and at the same time I undervalue my skills and talent. I think I just need to do my best and have faith it will turn out! I also have post-show drinks to look forward to :)

Overall, what are my main hopes for this challenge? Well, to challenge myself, to grow as an artist and designer, and to have fun. I can't deny that I also hope for a little exposure! And also to not cut myself on the metal too much!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Wearable Art Show - the 2015 Creation

The Wearable Art Show is coming up soon, and this year I have been chosen to be a Runway Challenger! That means that myself and five other artists will each be paired with a local business and challenged to create a piece of wearable art using only items from that business. Last year I was a participant in the Open Call portion of the show, where anybody could choose to participate by making a piece of wearable art from anything, and get a model to wear it down the runway. Although most people chose to work with recyclables, I chose fabric since that's my thing, but I consider it wearable art since it is more of a show piece than something one would actually wear.

I wanted to do a sky-earth thing, but not in a mother godessy way (although it may come across as such). I made the top first, starting with a fitted bodice using a blue fabric... I think that's the only new fabric I used in this whole thing. Then I made strips of old green coloured bed sheets and then pieced them below the sky. I didn't want a harsh line of transition between the two, so I took long strips of bedsheets and braided them together and stitched them to the bodice in a sashing kind of way. Some braids are tight and some are loose, more noticeable up close.

The skirt is the dirt or the earth. I pieced it with old wool yardage and corduroy from large pieces, old pants, and also tweed from old coats. I love texture, so I also stitched it so that it tucked up and under in some places, just like how the earth is bumpy and uneven. I made braids of the wools and cords as well here. In between the grassy lower bodice and brown earth, I draped braids I made by combining green bedsheets and brown wool and cord.

The cloudy shoulder topper is something I needle felted. Despite several stabbing instances, it turned out fine!

And coming out from the bodice are little felled wool sweater birds that I attached to wire, so they are "flying" out from the piece. I think from far away they are not noticeable, but I needed to add that detail!

I truly enjoyed making this piece so much! I would love to display it somewhere but my house is so tiny and I would not be happy to see it gathering dust as it hangs up here (since I am lacking in the dusting department). So it hangs protected in my closet. Maybe I need to do some more fibre art and eventually have a show and I can display this piece with it?

Wearable Art Show Call for Artists!

Back in February, I took part in a publicity event to put out a call for artists to participate in the Wearable Art Show because this year I was chosen to be a Runway Challenger!!!  The Wearable Art Show has two main portions: an open call portion, where anybody can create a piece of wearable art from anything, and put in on a model down the runway; and the runway challenge, where six artists are each paired with a local business and they have to create wearable art using items from that business.

Visual artist Shannon Taylor puts the finishing touches on model Ashton Swinnerton during the launch of the Open Call for Wearable Art presented by Public Energy as three artists are challenged to make instant wearable art in just 30 minutes for Public Energy's sixth annual Wearable Art Show on Wednesday February 17, 2016 at Market Hall Performing Arts Centre in Peterborough, Ont. The launch showed off the kind of creativity that is in store for the Wearable Art Show coming in May. Two of the artists, Kathryn and Sarah, will be featured in this year's Wearable Art Show, while the third artist Shannon is a veteran of past shows. The art show will also have five special components, the open call for wearable art, Strutt's Central wearable art for youth, live art creations, the silent auction and the runway challenge. The event takes place at Market Hall on Saturday, May 14 starting at 8 p.m.. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $30 for table seats up close to the runway. Clifford Skarstedt/Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network
Photo credit to Clifford Skarstedt of the Peterborough Examiner
That's me on the left. At the event, we had half an hour to make an outfit using a bunch of random papers, old pamphlets and brochures, and a variety of other things. Half an hour is not very long, but it was a lot of fun! Local media came out and you can check out the coverage here and here.

Today is the draw to pair me and the other artists up with our local businesses. I am excited for the challenge! We have one month to come up with something amazing, and then the show is May 14. Last year I participated in the open call portion, post to follow soon. This year as a challenger, it's not a simple walk down the runway, myself and the model have to choreograph a performance of sorts, to last about 3 minutes... that's a long time! I also would not even dare to suggest that I am actually a choreographer, but we need to come up with a routine or something. My initial thoughts are to tell a story visually. I am excited but a bit nervous about the whole thing... More to come.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Winter Dress

Here's another piece from the Fall Fashion Show. I really enjoyed making this one. I don't think I have many progress shots, but I do plan on making another one, so this time maybe I will remember to take more!

And the back:

This is another mixed-fabric piece. Wool top in the front, and jersey in the back. Wool tweed skirt, and new white cotton for the underskirt. I really enjoyed making this one!  It sold to a lovely woman I see every year at some craft shows I do in Kingston and I hope she is enjoying it! I admit that I likely would have kept this one for myself as well if teal was my colour. Happy sewing everybody!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Sassy Romper

This one is another Fall Fashion Show piece and another piece of my wardrobe in heavy rotation. I lurve it! (lurve being the word we use around here when it is more than love!)

It began a long time ago, in a galaxy exactly like this a skirt

Cute and like many vintage skirts, has a tiny waist!
I bought this wool beauty many years ago and did not know what to do with it. I love the colour and stripes but even if I adjusted the waist to make it fit, I couldn't see myself wearing it. And so I held onto it for years until I found the perfect project (much like a lot of my stash is waiting around for the right project).

And thus the romper came into my imagination...

Skirt + old sweatshirt
It's hard to tell from this picture but the skirt is a maroon colour, not unlike the sweatshirt. But I had an idea, and so the cutting began.

I'm not used to taking any progress shots, so I'm lucky I did even this many!  I basically cut away from the top of the skirt. Then I put it on and while in front of the mirror, I made modifications to the cuts. These cuts would be where I would add the sweatshirt fabric. I often pinned the cut skirt to my t-shirt so I could get a good idea of where the hem would fall and how it would look. 

Those brown things are the pockets - the interior that would soon be matched to the other pocket halves, then turned to the inside of the garment.

Contemplating  my garden, and how I can get someone to maintain it for me.

That large button on the front is for looks and it's a vintage one from my stash. It's still pinned on. Have you ever heard the expression, "The cobbler's children have no shoes"? That's what's going on here. I sew things and finish them when they are for sale or for gifts, but for me it's safety pins until it's been years and I decide it's potentially embarrassing to still have it pinned on. Shhh... don't tell. I love it anyway!

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Gwen Stephani Would Want One...

Huh? Explanation - I have a friend who has seen a lot of my makes and apparently commented to another friend that I am cool like Gwen Stefani.... when this other friend relayed this info to me, I laughed. I mean, that's quite a compliment to have one's coolness compared to the coolness of Gwen Stefani, but I laughed because I don't see it. I am Sooooooo not that cool! If asked who I think I am like, it would be Liz Lemon. Actually, I have had a few people tell me I remind them of Liz Lemon, which I also take as a huge compliment because I like Liz Lemon. A lot. We share an affinity for night cheese. But back to Gwen Stefani... I made these hoodies right before a street festival in which I had a booth (the Hootenanny on Hunter Street) and I needed to make tags for them. So after the fabric content and before the washing instructions I wrote that Gwen Stefani would want one, and obviously I would know what she would want because we share a coolness level, right? Exactly.

This was a first foray into Frankensteining such obviously different fabrics into a top.

Example 1 - purse made from cord, wool tweed, and vintage linens

I mix fabrics all the time in purses but this was a little intimidating. especially using some fabrics that stretch and some that don't, and could possibly shrink!

Let me introduce my best friend

I love this thing!  It lets me sew different fabrics together like a dream!

So anyway, I have been making these hoodies. The top one is a prototype and the one I wear. But I have since sold a few, including this guy:

It's my design, but it was easy to do, if not a bit time consuming. I have a basic pull-over jersey pattern I made that I based this off of. I started by making the front panel with wool tweed fabrics, and pieced around it. After making a few I realized that I should make a pattern that would be easier to re-create. I also want to host a few sewing friends for a sew-a-long and I realized that my non-pattern method would not be easy to follow. I may head in the pattern-making direction, but not sure. I do love creating, and tire of making the exact same things over and over.... If anyone reading this wants more details, just let me know! I'd be happy to share tips and techniques! 

Thursday, 7 January 2016

So Apparently I Have a Fall/Winter Collection...

Sewing is fun! Wheeeeee!!!
This past fall I was asked to participate in the local University's Fashion show - not as a model (hahahaha!) but as a designer. I was pretty excited, I mean, I know I can sew, and I know I can make wearable clothing that holds together, but I always have a problem calling myself a designer. Maybe because I am mostly self-taught? I don't know. Anyway, they asked and I said yes! The only problem is that I make clothing pieces one-at-a-time and often with no exact size in mind, and when I go to craft shows it is often with one piece of that design in that size. Now I was going to have to make clothing to fit the models with not much advance notice. Also, I strive to have a day-time job as well (although in this fall there was Work Unrest and I am not working much which actually worked well for this fashion show, if not for my bank account).

I laugh in the face of minimal work!

The unofficial title of my collection is 15 Days. That's the amount of time I had to work on the outfits after I got the measurements and got a few Very Important Job Interviews out of the way (I did get one of the jobs - yay me!)

I whipped up one skirt right away, and I pulled two hoodies/jackets from my existing stuff so I had three half outfits - did I mention I needed to provide a minimum of ten outfits?  I didn't? 10 outfits. 10. That's a lot, but I do love a challenge!

Yes, that is kale in the front pocket. No, the Kale was not in the fashion show outfit.
I quickly realized that dresses were the way to go.  So I started a new idea that was continuing with a new favourite of mine - mixing wool and jersey. I know, sounds odd, and most people don't like mixing different fabrics like that, but I love texture and I love wool and the stretchiness of jersey, and so here we are! Notice the hoodies above - love them!

The dress - near completion
So this dress was built!  I painstakingly made it symmetrical. I love symmetry. I mean, I don't sit down and say, "Let's make this thing symmetrical" but it just happens. But symmetry takes time, especially when you are not using a pattern and your method involves laying everything down, cutting pieces, laying them out, and eyeballing it each. and. every. time! Although I love the look, I admit to recognizing the need to bring asymmetry into my life a bit more. New Year's Resolution #1 I think!

Progress shot

This dress will also be featured in Trent University Fashion Show's magazine they are putting out. I am not sure when that is happening, but I think that's pretty cool!

I *was* going to put all the clothes from the fashion show in my etsy shop, but as I was making this beauty I knew I was going to keep it. I need to advertise my skillz, yo!

I want to post about other pieces I made, but I will do separate posts, maybe some tutorials?  I haven't done a tutorial before. Surely this old dog can learn some new tricks, along with continuing to call you Shirley :)