Mon, Feb 5 2018 05:45

If you joined my Sept. 30-Pocket Challenge on Instagram, and have a stash of them in your ‘Parts Dept’, you are ready to design something new! Lets dig into that parts dept. and start a new, spring garment with a winning pocket. 

                                       This pocket was the beginning of a spring shirt construction. 

3 elements that I repeated in the garment inspired by the pocket: 

                            1. Angles of the pocket shape
                            2. Big stitches with some contrasting thread
                            3. Combining striped fabrics.

A  Design File is a great way to spark new directions…maybe a fabric combo or colors that catch your eye and say ‘ awsome spring shirt here!’ In this case, starting with the collection of striped pieces in the pocket design, pointed the way to this shirt design below-

This new, striped shirt started with Katherine Tilton's Butterick Pattern #6325 My first pass at this pattern was in mens suiting, stenciled in plum and pewter with hand stitching. See that garment with pattern changes and ideas in my Nov. Blog.

This Inset Pocket is the perfect start for a garment. I love  combining linen, stenciled images and Kantha Cloth. For how-to- directions on how to make innovative pockets including an inset, see my Just Pockets pattern in paper and download versions. An inset pocket is also part of the Nuevo Shirt pattern (listed and linked below)

Need a pattern with a unique pockets? Here are some of my patterns with great pockets-

Time jump-start some great spring sewing? Time to make a pocket then building on it to explore your creativity and sewing. Enjoy the process, Diane

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Growth & Joy-

Tue, Jan 2 2018 04:22

  What will bring you Joy & Growth in the New Year? 

This is the question I am sitting with now. Such an expansive playground out there….waiting for us to be ready, step up and explore for ourselves!

In my life, nature has always provided revealing metaphor, spiritual lessons, totems and challenges. As 2018 came over the horizon, I set up this alter of ‘equine theme’ pieces that continue to unfold meaning in my life. Some are pieces I have made or drawn at pivotal intersections in my life. 
                    Is there a theme emerging in your life? …a guiding force out in front?

Growth in the New Year can start here- from this list...into your notebook and studio time.  

• What are the projects you want to shape your life this year?

• What are the materials, techniques and silhouettes you want to explore ?

• What are the new skills you want to add to your creative toolbox this year?

• What experiences do you want to have as this year unfolds?

A Daily Practice: Pencil in hand, I want to start my days with marks on paper...like breathing this is my most intimate process- just there, at the tips of my fingers, rolling onto paper.  Drawing influences the way I approach fabric, how I sew and what I think is possible there.
What personal, daily practice would you like to cultivate in your life?
                   ...maybe a studio practice to get you moving....on the way, something before fabric?  

These pieces, like windows into parts of my life, are welcoming me like old friends and inspiring new forms of expression. Inspiration comes from what we sense and what we are willing to take in. What are you longing for?.....and where will your creativity take you exploring next? 

See you in the Studio, Diane

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Mini-Winter Projects-

Mon, Nov 27 2017 05:11

In the middle of all the craziness the holidays can bring…I see mini-projects as small islands of time, just for me, in my studio. It's time to step away, reminisce, think about people I love and how I want my New Year to unfold. 

Need a gift idea? How about a holiday tea basket? Share your love of making with someone special. Whether you make a theme tea cozy or give a collection of fabrics and the pattern: add favorite teas, a new pot or mug, and other tea accessories for a truly unique gift. 

Now through December,  I’m offering a 3-pattern special of my accessory patterns to inspire some fun  mini projects. As I work needle into fabric, these are the collection of accessory patterns  I’ m playing with and design ideas for folding some mini-projects into your winter celebrating.

A tea cozy is a great table decoration and the perfect way to bring your favorite fabrics into the winter kitchen- 
Your combination of materials can have a very personal theme: Mine often involves sticks, canvas & vintage scraps!!!!

Ready to make a Pin Cushion?- These mini-sculptures feels like the perfect totems on my studio table…a visual reminder of change, growth and new direction for the New Year.
Give your tea cozy or pin cushions a personality with an accent topper: buttons, knotted fabric and found objects are perfect.

This combination of vintage fabrics, woven neckties are finished with vintage buttons, a bird charm and bow
Small Bags: Using favorite vintage pieces (or maybe a pockets you made for my 30-Day Pocket Challenge), a small bag is the ultimate accessory. Perfect for winter layered outfits, Customized with cool buttons, zippers or extra pockets- one will lead to the next...and they are always a popular gift!

It's all about the details....Express your design eye, be bold!

This is a treasured holiday bag my mom, Lois Ericson, made for me with some of her favorite materials and buttons.

ITS TIME! Get out those special pieces tucked away...this is the moment to create with them and share their stories with people you love.  CREATE, CELEBRATE & ENJOY YOUR TIME, Diane

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Color in Winter

Fri, Nov 10 2017 07:11
These stenciled suiting pieces, pinned on dressforms, show what the finished shirt will look like-
November in my Studio- 
Inspired by another incredible Design Outside the Lines Retreat here in Ashland with Canadian guest teacher Kathryn Brenne,  I'm enjoying some new design play in the studio this month.  I am exploring a new color combination with surface design on this striped suiting. There are a variety of ways to change up the design process...and one of them is to cut out a garment then print each piece as in the photo below. This is a easy way to see how the printing relates from one piece to another.

The Pattern=Butterick 6325, a Katherine Tilton Shirt pattern. Katherine has some delicious designs and fabric combinations with this pattern in her current blog you'll want to see! Love this pattern, and know it will be a good basic shape combined with my suiting fabric.
In the beginning of creating something new...everything is possible. Editing is a way our design eye matures. Lots of things can work. Choose what speaks to you...what feels right....what you love.
 The small piece of stitched, plum color Kantha cloth in this photos influenced the accent paint color mixed to print with. 
Pattern design changes for this Garment: 1. Changing buttons for a zipper 2. The center front closing was angled to a diagonal, off-center line. 3. Refolding the hem angles in the front. 4. Refolding to reshape sleeve ends 5. Used the collar piece upside down and on the bias, attaching other edge to the neck edge. 6. Adding plum color fabric facing pieces to hem edges.

Design Accent Zippers- Nothing is safe from a passionate stenciler!!! The Lumiere Fabric Paints by Jacquard, are  beautiful metallics which were used to stencil these zippers for future projects. Stencils were used on the 3 zippers on the right. The zipper on the left (originally a dark blue) was simply rubbed with a light amount of paint to bring out the texture of the tape with a lighter metallic color. My plum-color zipper highlights the new diagonal line of the shirt front.

Printing Notes- The garment pattern was cut out and each piece printed with metallic Pewter paint using my Picket Fence Stencil. Printing with parts of the stencil gives different designs like the collections of lines that look like a weave texture. The plum color angles and sawtooth edges were printed with edges cut out of file folders. Once you get into printing, you'll want to cut a collection of basic shapes to use with other stencils- they will expand your printing options.
The fabric for each sleeve was folded in a different way before the sleeves were cut out-
Folding Fabric- I love the folded shapes on the front and back of the original shirt design. I took that same concept to changing the sleeves by folding and pleating each one differently BEFORE I cut out the sleeves. To start this process, you want to cut a piece of fabric 2-5" longer than your sleeve pattern and 2-3" wider. To add pleats, mostly to the length, determines the need for more length before  folding and cut out the final sleeve. Pin the folds in place, then use the pattern piece to cut out.

Adding the Magic 3rd Element- 3 is a magic number.....and adding a 3rd element can strengthen your design. So whether it is another color, hand-stitching, piping or an accent fabric- go for it.
On this garment...I can feel some hand-stitching might just be the thing to give it the finish.

Back to work....I'm looking forward to sharing the finished shirt next month!
Enjoy your winter creative time, Diane

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Mon, Oct 16 2017 03:50

Short pieces of round elastic are zig-zagged onto the silk as surface design and a simple tie closure

New Pattern Release: The French-Fold Shrug, is an elegant shape based on a double fold and 2 easy cuts. Used in bookbinding, my version of the french-fold offers 2 length options. The hemlines and the angle of the second folds create unique silhouette shapes. 

FABRICS for Shrugs- 

Double-sided fabrics, ponte knits, ethnic fabrics like Kantha Cloth or pieced vintage fabrics with  embroidered pieces would make a great French-Fold Shrug. Wear it with a scarf, or a cozy collar band can be added as an accent on a soft wool shrug. Your fabrics can suggest the direction you take your first shrug design. Gayle Ortiz created this long version above, in a textured brown woven. A single layer using the raw edges are a playful, casual finish. The front edges create a lapel as they fold back.  

Japanese Fabrics are perfect for this summer, cotton version-

This long version of the French-Fold Shrug was 'constructed' primarily with fusible tricot.

New Construction with fusibles- This knit version was an easy quick sew using a black tricot fusible doing double-duty as a stablizer, 2 seams and facings. As a facing, the fusible tricot gives a clean flat finish to this knit. 

The fusible was used on the inside to finish the sleeve ends, the fronts edges and hold the lower flaps in place.

Adding a fusible facing is easy: #1 Sew right sides together along the edge. #2 Turn to inside and press to hold in place. 

At the neck edge, the fusible can be used to re-enforce the corners.
Interesting selvedges on some fabrics can be the perfect accent. For this shrug design, the selvedges are used along the hem edges and the outside edges on a band added to the neck edge. 

Sleeve Ends- This garment can be a 3/4 length sleeve, or a longer wrist finish- Your fabric width can determine the sleeve length, or bands or cuffs can be added. On this shrug, The shaped cuff shown was added to finish the sleeve end and give a fold-back detail. 

This shaped cuff was added to the sleeve end-
Folding  flaps back in the same direction creates a slit on the side-

This Indigo & White piece was detailed with ties, subtle stamped images and handstitching-

The back detail can be an unexpected accent- a treat for the eye as you exit

Adding pleats, tucks or folds to shrug back- The weight and drape of the fabric may determine whether the back needs to be drawn in. Let the fabric suggest the direction for finishing the shape of back: Soft pleats? Angled stitched asymmetrical folds? Inverted tucks? 

Sharing the garments from this new French-Fold Shrug pattern remind me that an inviting silhouette is an ever expanding canvas for more ways to design and wear beautiful fabric! Enjoy Creating, Diane

Intrigued by the concept of folding in your sewing? 
These are my other patterns designed around folding: The Creative Companion- (A studio vest with multiple folded pockets) The Nuevo Shirt (with a folded, asymmetrical front) and The River Tunic. 
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Wed, Aug 30 2017 11:25

….A Design Exercise to jump-start your Fall Sewing= 

                         Dianes  30-Day Pocket Challenge-


Some Guidelines for Design Building & Pocket Play-

• Get your Just Pockets Pattern- in paper or the download version
• Set a time limit so it's an exercise…and not your whole day. I set my design clock for a pocket at 1 hour. In order to create that crisp starting and stopping time, get out materials and tools the night before...what about setting the timer on your phone? 
• Set up a space for your pocket design time= Give yourself a blank slate. Set up a designated area in your workspace: Include favorite tools, pocket pattern pieces cut out. Images of cool ideas for your bulletin board, a basket of interfacing, adhesive fuse, trims, zippers. cords, buttons etc. 
•Journal your process- Just afew minutes at the end of your pocket session, just may catch those fleeting new aspects of how you work that can be repeated and will grow your work. 
• Another Design Tool: Create a set of windows to use in designing your pockets.You will never want to be without them!!! Here is an easy way to make and use them.

                 •  Ready   Set    Go   

Okay,  I got so excited just writing about it...I spent 40 minutes making this first one below.

I love the idea of it and want to do more...but for now, I 'm prepping for tomorrow's pocket session. 

Pocket #1 of the 30-Day Pocket Challenge. 

The beauty of making JUST POCKETS is they can be the STARTS for new, fall sewing projects!
Get your pattern in hand and join in our creative challenge. This pattern is an updated, re-issue of the original Just Pockets Pattern I co-created with my Mom, Lois Ericson. I know she would love the additions and new look of the pattern! For more about the pattern, scroll down to the last blog below.
                                                                    •  •  •  •  •  •
Aren’t you getting excited just thinking about this new design play?!?!? Clear your work table & bulletin board, get out those fun bits you know you want to use… and go for it!!!!!   I will be posting my pocket-a-day designs on my Instagram Page. Definitely a good way to hold myself to it! 

                                             See you in the studio!                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Diane

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Mon, Aug 7 2017 10:58

I designed and published the the original version of the Just Pockets Pattern  in collaboration with my mom, Lois Ericson. We enjoyed lots of pattern projects together, and her joy and creativity still inspires me today.  A source for distinct sewing details & design ideas,  Just Pockets is an innovative way to explore your sewing style and fabrics.  It includes pattern pieces, step-by-step directions and applications for 60 pocket designs, including patch, hanging, inset, inseam pockets and more.
AUGUST, being (un-officially) Pocket Month, it's the perfect time to launch into fall sewing.......                                                                POCKETS FIRST!
Just Pocket Pattern, is available in paper or as a download with the link in my Aug. Newsletter.*
*Sign up now for Diane's Newsletter and you'll get a special offer in your link for this Pattern.
Welt Pockets in 2 different style garments-

Building your Design Skills.................. 1 pocket at a time

The process of exploring and expanding the possibilities inside of our sewing experience is dear to my heart. Something as direct as a pocket can actually unfold in many directions. It's time to think about a pocket in 3 ways. #1 The size & shape of the pocket. #2 The location: which influences size, function & placement.  #3 The style of the pocket: (patch, inset, inseam etc). 

Here is a Design Exercise that will expand your thinking and explore this concept: Use your favorite pocket pattern shape and make the same shape pocket in 3 different styles....in other words, how would you adjust your construction if your favorite pocket (say a heart shape) is going to be an inset pocket, a free-hanging pocket in addition to a basic patch pocket!! Yeah...that's what I'm taking about!?! Interesting eh?  
A good start will be to check into your 'Parts Department' for samples & starts that just might become awsome pockets!

Just changing the sequence you construct in can grow your work. I suggest you make 5-10 of the most awsome pockets ever to start: pull out the stops and use your best fabrics & trims, add collage, printed and embroidered fabrics, hardware and handstitching. The 2nd step is: to decide what garments would be the perfect showcase for your design collection (.... are we allowed to have this much fun)?!
Facings can tuck in and just finish an edge...or they can flip to the outside and add more design to your pocket. 

Pockets can change the silhouette of your garment in addition to being functional. Consider changing the direction of the grainline too: Stripes in different directions add interest and bias can add soft, shaped fullness.
Hanging Pockets can be any shape, and what about making them detachable?...like buttoning on under a hidden flap...or a visible separating metal zipper?

Even a basic patch pocket is more interesting stacked up...then each layer can be a pocket. 
Inset Pockets are one of my favorites. They give a slightly more dimensional look since they are embedded in the surface of your fabric. They have a front and back and maybe a flap, all basted together into one,  before  insetting it as a unit. These pieces were printed with some of my stencil designs. Sewing shaped edges on flaps & pockets first, creates more interest in your design.

     =So this is the month to start your fall sewing projects DETAILS FIRST= 

Just Pockets may be the perfect accessory pattern to enhance your next sewing projects! 
The Just Pocket Pattern is available in paper or as a download with a link in my Aug. Newsletter. 
Sign up now and get our special offer & link, or your copy in our store in the coming week! 

Explore this functional garment detail as a creative design feature & build your sewing toolbox!  

                               See you in the Studio. Now go play!  Diane

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Summer Play: Birds are Everywhere!

Mon, Jul 17 2017 04:25

From the Jay who joins us for summer breakfasts in our gazebo...to this one above, hatched in my studio: Birds are always an inspiration.....and maybe for you too.  They have been folded into my patterns, fabric designs and stencils over the years, and here are some of my favorites that might inspire some playful summer designing for you.
Ravens- Something magical about these birds. Just in New Mexico, for a Design Outside the Lines Retreat in Taos, Ravens are part of the landscape and inspiring imagery there.

The 2 sizes of Raven Stencil Designs is offered as part of the Feathered Friends Stencil Collection along with The Deco Bird and the Walking Rail. Scroll down to the March 15th blog to some printed fabrics using this stencil collection. In the coming months, my new website will launch with a new stenciling video I'm excited to share. We're looking forward to seeing your version of the Raven Bag Pattern....so please share!
The Deco Bird Stencil was used to  print a summer, linen piece and a medallion stitched onto a green straw bag.
The Wing n' A Prayer design is a combination of stenciling layered with drawing using the 3 sizes of Jacquard Fabric Pens. You may see parts of my stencil designs you own used in various ways to create this print.

Wing & A Prayer Fabric
bird panels in linen/canvas are back in the store! They are the perfect addition to a summer tunic, bag or easy wall panel project. The 3 variations are Pewter, Rust & Blue.

The Ashland Vest Pattern was used for this vest piece. I combined a Blue bird panel with indigo linen and a rolled stripe knit as 'piping' for accent in the seams.  Combining printed images with solids into successful garments is a good workout and will continue to build your design eye. Look for unusual things to bring into your sewing...a small embroidered piece, maybe a bold hand painted. The focal piece can inspire the fabric combo too. Part of my design criteria is to build garments that can be worn casually, with jeans, or dressed up for a trip to the theater. These garments and starts have that feel.
See more about the Dragonfly Pattern Here

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Print a Summer Re-Make-

Sat, Jun 17 2017 03:29

It is a busy month and this Design Board, with a Map Theme, in my studio is inspiring projects and surface design ideas to share at up coming Design Outside the Lines Retreat in Taos, New Mexico. Preparing for the retreat always gets my creative juices flowing. My creative playtime dances from textile details, garment construction, re-making and surface design.

A Summer Jacket- Updating this linen jacket turned it into one of my summer favorites.
#1= Change the Buttons! Good idea to choose buttons after you print or add fabric collage. This garment started out all white with white plastic buttons. I added shell buttons, tied on with a cord, and the topstitched button loops became a focal detail accented with metallic fabric paint.
The bold, irregular printing technique was inspired by the textured, fabric surface.
The highlight stencil in this blog is my Brush Alphabet: See more printing ideas for getting great results with this stencil design below. The stencils that were combined with the The Brush Alphabet, to create the various printed areas on this jacket are: Jakarta, Off the Wall and Wrought Iron Fence .

Design Placement with Stenciling- Printing is a great way to create focal areas in your design. Printing with white and lite grey on light color fabrics can add an unexpected appeal! Back of the neck, sleeve cuffs, pockets and down center front are some favorite areas for adding details.
Often times sleeve ends are ignored. Just adding a fold, slit, stitched pleat, another tie and afew of the stencil images changed that.

Hem Edges-  An asymmetric hem adds lots to the look of a garment. To do this, I added a facing then cut a new edge around the pocket, so it hangs below the new hemline. Opening the sides and leaving slits or adding tucks through the hem edge adds movement and a more interesting  line.
What are they gonna see when you walk away?....give em a nice detail up at your neckline to look at!
The blue design, is the square above was printed using the Pottery Shard Stencil...another favorite!
Off the Wall, Eucalyptus, Borders and Cactus Floral stencils were also used in the black canvas design.
Starting with a textured fabric design can add alot to your printing. The Brush Alphabet stencil was printed, in several colors, more along one edge to create a subtle border effect.

My Design Challenge to You: Choose a favorite stencil or 2 and spend a summer afternoon printing on some airy, summer fabrics. Magic happens when you least expect it for sure........

Growing your Design Eye Exercise:
So much of creating new design direction takes putting new elements and shapes together: Working on architectural/map ideas: Wire, metal clips, knitted copper wire and drawing on canvas are a start in this combo on the left.

What inspires you?  

Be open and trust your sense of combination. Pull your own combination together, pin it up on your design wall, look for whats new and explore the ideas that show up for you!           Diane

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A Window to Design & Color Blocking

Fri, May 19 2017 01:26

"Combining favorite fabrics, techniques and surface design  makes each summer sewing project a highlight experience" Diane

Designing a summer Taos Skirt-

Retreats in New Mexico inspire my summer sewing. A cool and breezy silhouette, The Taos Skirt Pattern is the perfect garment to create as you explore and grow your creativity. Here are my favorite ways to inspire new results with any garment you make. 
1. Create & use a design file. Time to organize all those pictures you save into a useable collection. I use card stock and glue single images or collages of images that feel related.

2.  Design Windows: Using a sheet of cardstock, cut out and use a silhouette of the Taos Skirt (or any pattern) as a window over a collection of images or fabrics to generate new design ideas. See the design cards above used in the designs in the following photos. Any pattern piece (or garment silhouette) can be cut as a window and will give an unexpected view every time...welcome to magic! 
3. Make Fabric First: This always gives a vibrant, fresh look to a garment. In this combination of blues below...the simple torn edge in the design window reminds me how much I like irregular hem edges...so I am repeating that in this blue Taos skirt piece.

Fabrics can be high contrast (which exaggerates seamlines) or variations in one color with  textures, prints, lights and darks as in this blue panel on the way to becoming a skirt.

Openings between some of the pieces and a shaped edge at the bottom will create more interest.
The piecing can be simple: just 1-3 pieces, maybe with a border band, like this linen skirt with a vintage jacquard white tablecloth. 

4. Starting with Printed Fabric -
Color Blocking is perfect for exploring combinations of favorite prints and solids. Consider working with on a dressform....it brings your combination into focus as a garment right away. 
Each fabric print can suggest specific images or a theme to repeat in the stenciling.
Transition Stenciling: Did you ever think of surface design as a transition tool? I do.
Stenciling has amazing potential to create or highlight the transition for one fabric to the next.
It can be used to blur a line or define an edge. Lets explore some ideas you’ll want to try.

We all have colors we’re drawn too. I recommend a color wheel to build your color mixing confidence. Start with your go-to color. Mixing Jacquard metallics and matte fabric paints can create more interest in transition stenciling. Neutrals can be added to soften for lighter pastels or darken a color. In order to dull a color, just add some of the color opposite on the color wheel: like a bit of blue in orange or red into green. It's not the same as adding black, and keeps the color vibrant.

Color blocking is often a combo of bold solids…but what if your pieced fabric design includes prints or stripes? See how fabric paints and your stencil collection can impact and build on your design. In the printed fabrics above, the Picket Fence & Bug Stencil Collection stencils were used.
This combination above of a printed linen Scandinavian design with the solid, was  transitioned by adding surface design with some favorite stencils: Garden Stencil CollectionGarden Vines, Intagliato, Big Hopper and Kenya.
Raven Stencil-

I'm inspired....maybe some sewing on the deck today!? Diane

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Capitola Pants #319: Now a Re-Issued Download!

Sun, Apr 23 2017 05:46

 Based on a great-fitting European cut, this relaxed, crop pant with several variations for an elastic waist has comfort written all over it! A multi-sized pattern, The Capitola Pant Pattern is available in a down-load or  paper version. With easy color coded sizing, the pattern includes  3 hem options and more ideas for expressing your own design direction. View A has angled flaps inserted into short seams that taper to the hemline. View B has a soft pleat in the leg with a hem band detail. The View C pant leg is tapering with ties and tucks. 
The pattern instructions are formatted in a comb bound, 8 1/2"x11" booklet for easy use.

Your Fabric Combo-

If Capitola Pants are part of your spring and summer sewing, they are great in a wide variety of fabrics. As a lightweight layer in rayons and drapey silks or in firmer fabrics such as linens, denims or spandex blends, the hem details are the place for trims, buttons or other accents. Create a more unique look by piecing fabrics first, then cutting your pants out.  

Recycled denim collaged together for unique pant legs and hem in progress-

So what does it take to get a comfortable pair of pants? 

Knowing your EASE numbers can make a real difference. To get that, measure your favorite pants, across the stomach:____ hips:______  the lengths:______ and ankle circumference:____ Your measurements can easily be compared across the pant pattern piece as you adjust for a drapey pair, a more fitted pair in a spandex blend or a crinkled taffeta version.  The Capitola Pattern contains all the prep info. for using these measurements and getting a comfortable fit.  *I make a sketch and add my garment measurements each time I make a pair. Noting the type of fabric used and the how fitted or loose they are makes it fast & easy to create future pairs.

Construction tips are included in the pattern, things like directional sewing and adjusting the fullness around the waist in the finishing stages will make for a more successful  garment.
Working flat, on this one pattern piece, makes it easy to see your design come together as you add pockets, tucks, hand stitching and hem treatments before sewing the pants together. 
What's next for you? A pieced, hem detailing or a pleated, stenciled pair(Crickets n'Leaves stencil)? Ties can be skinny strings, elastic or fabric cords-

Design Play

  One of my favorite parts of sewing, is how to make it more personal. Design ideas and ways to play are included in the pattern. JoAnn Manzone, indigo-dyed the shawl above and added pockets and some hand-stitching to her striped pair at the top of the blog. Remember, a sewing project is a canvas for your favorite fabrics and  detailing. Time to start playing now and share your Capitola Pant designs with us in our Facebook albums.
                                                                                                                     Enjoy the process!!  Diane

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Wed, Mar 15 2017 04:14
Feather Friends: A Stencil Collection
We are all anxious for spring!….it's coming on that unexpected, warm breeze and the budding at the tips of bare branches- Birds are busy chatting and snatching up nesting sites. 
Striped linen printed with Feathered Friends Collection-
My favorite stencils with bird images are now offered as a collection-
Here is some design play with the Feathered Friends Stencil Collection
Stenciled birds on a linen ReMake shirt: each with a bit of 'nesting' material ready for spring-

The Raven Stencil was used for all 3 designs above...isn't it amazing how versatile stencils are?!
Switch up colors & fabrics for fresh designs=This is a good way to inspire new results with any stencils you have.
Cut a paper mask to block off parts of the stencil before printing-

Mask off- parts of a stencil to print specific elements. 
Layering-  2 stencils gives new images.
Explore using stencil parts- instead of complete images to build your own look.
This design was created by layering the Deco Bird Stencil underneath the Walking Rail Stencil-
These indigo feather/wing shapes were printed on linen using a section of the Raven Stencil-

Designing Yardage-
 Printing with a collection of stencils really expands your design possibilities. Working with a commercial print or stripe can be a great way to get ideas for working into what you see there. Another technique is folding fabric first, then printing over the folds to get some fresh images to start with. Next, open the fabric and continue printing to complete the design.

Printing on top of folded fabric with the Deco Bird Stencil-
The metallic border elements and the blue lines are from the Walking Rail Stencil-

 Bias trim & covered cording printed with the Feathered Friends Stencil Collection-
Printing Your Own Trim- Printed fabrics, cut into trim or used for covered cording makes your design more personal.  Cutting trim pieces first, then printing your design in a border strip can give a new twist to your image too. 

The front of my stenciled raven linen shirt-

Printing ReMake Garments- Black, plastic curtain eyelets (from the drapery dept. in the fabric store) were used for the closures on the front and sleeve details of this linen shirt. The print fabrics, collaged into tabs, are looped through and closed with a large snap. It's great fun to come up with inventive ways for using ordinary products like this!!! What's waiting in your stash?

So many great combinations for these stencil images...I am just scratching the surface...printed bias collars in my next blog!

Enjoy YOUR spring designing,  Diane

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Let's Stencil Suiting-

Sun, Jan 29 2017 06:06

In between seasons? Want a project with a fresh spin? This might be the prefect time to explore your stash of suiting and your printing design eye. 
Stenciling & Suiting are a beautiful marriage in this garment. Yours could be a shirt, jacket or a vest. The key is using  a pattern with lots of pieces. For this project, each pattern piece was stenciled with a different combination of stencil designs: Bamboo Forest,  Jakarta,  Deco Bird and  Off the Wall. My fabric is a lightweight suiting blend in a medium grey. NOTE:  A medium tone fabric lets both light and dark colors show. 

THE PROCESS- Cut out your garment pieces and set aside.

 Play on the scraps to explore some printing ideas: Print some of the colors, combinations and images you are thinking about. The color combination for this jacket was inspired by the magazine images included in this photo. Consider printing different presentations of your images: An overall background design, a border design, some heavily printed areas and some lightly printed areas. 
Another way of looking at your design approach is whether you are working in an organic or more geometric way. 

Once you have some samples you want to duplicate, spread out the garment pieces and set up to print. The sample printing can be cut in to pieces and pinned on the garment pieces to actually see how a placement would look.  Light applications of paint make for successful layering. 
Suggestion: Start printing the back pieces first. A good place to experiment, this can build design confidence before printing the fronts. 
Pinning the fabrics on a dressform gives a feel for how the design is coming, and where you might want to continue printing.
These cloud-like edges were created with the Intagliato Stencil.

A printed edge on a 2-part sleeve.
Printing the BACK first can give a good feel for how the images and colors are combining and how you want to work on the front.

A  piece with the Jakarta Stencil is being 'auditioned' as a potential piping for the front edge. This is an exciting way to build a design!

The buttons, or other closures used on the FRONT can influence your printed design. Notice how the front edge on this garment has more printing where the buttons will be placed.  Looks like it is time to sew it up next!
Enjoy your next printing project & studio time!!! Diane
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Red Threads-

Thu, Dec 8 2016 06:55
I can see why red became part of the holiday season....it's that pop of color we need as the landscape dulls that just seems to sparks everything. Lets talk RED Fabric in this blog: How to create fresh combinations and a texturing technique for making your fabric combo more eye-catching!
                                                                         • • • • •
Here are 3 red pieces in my wardrobe: 2 vests & a cowl scarf: Each with ideas for a winter sewing project or color combo.
#1 What's Your Combo? 
Spending more time selecting the materials you really want to use...and how you combine them with will change your work. This scarf piece combines a devore' burn-out silk, a jaquard woven blend and a vintage velvet piece that is almost thread-bare in spots. The aging velvet is the pivotal piece for me. This scarf is made from a pieced 18"x 42" rectangle, sewn into a tube, then connecting the ends. For more dimension, a twist can be added before connecting the ends.
A unique fabric combo makes your scarf unique
Considering the characteristics of each fabric piece can suggest a design direction in your project. The fabric piecing with crossed strips is just enough detail on the scarf....a vintage pin would be beautiful finish.
Ventana Vest in Melton Wool
#2 Melton Wool Vest- This lovely wool was enhanced by a trip through the washer and dryer first. It gave the wool a slightly more hand-made look and just holding it, warm, right out of the dryer... construction ideas began to come. I used my Ventana Vest Pattern and decided to leave all the edges raw and lap the seams with black topstitching.

For this garment, the triple stitch was used for a heavier look. A topstitched piece is a great way to explore some of the stitches on our machines. Extra pieces were added along the neck and front edge in that same style. If raw edges make you nervous....but you want to give it a try, a tip is to give the edges a trim every once in a while to freshen it up. Notice I used a pair of pinking shears for some of the edges too. The edges can get a bit frayed, and you get to decide how much raw edge you want. This works well on some fabrics, so you may want to trim and see how it works for your fabrics. The advantage to this raw edge approach is that you can re-cut an irregular hem or change the shape on the collar with a swipe of the scissors!
Contrasting machine stitching and raw edges are the repeating elements in this vest
#3 Textured Layering: Wool on Polar Fleece-
This vest was made from the Walkabout Vest Pattern. The pattern design, by Australian Felter, Polly Stirling, includes a set of regular size pattern pieces, AND a set of 50% enlarged pattern pieces with Polly's felting directions for making your own felted pieces! Very fun!!
My layered version is wool jersey on polar fleece. It's perfect for those of you with a wool issue...who love wool and want to use it for outer-layer winter garment.
 A Walkabout Pattern Studio Vest 
Steps for Creating the Layered Fabric:
1. Cut the vest in the polar fleece (my dark piece) leaving extra down the front (to cut a shaped edge later), and a second vest from wool jersey (my red knit).
2. Pin the two layers together and stitch lines up and down on the fabric. An irregular approach looks best when the wool jersey stretches. Accent thread color and stitches will add to your results.
3. Steam the wool jersey and allow to stretch. Remember Polar Fleece is a synthetic and will melt. The iron does not have to sit on the fabric for this to work...so keep the steam moving over the top of the jersey. You can also steam through a pressing cloth. After a first pass, take a pair of scissors to the wool jersey: slashing and cutting away shapes that enhance the surface. Some of my print fabrics were added to the cutouts.

4. Steam again as needed using a pressing cloth.
5. When fabric is cool, Add other accent fabrics and trims.
6. If the polar fleece is wider at the front edge, it can be cut to influence the design of your vest.
7. Continue with construction and consider overlapping seams for more interest too.
Cut a shaped edge in the polar fleece to complete the look

More is not always better....But DOING MORE with your favorite fabrics might just add the creative edge you are looking for. Enjoy your winter fabric stash!! Diane
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Designing YOUR Cacicedo-

Sat, Nov 12 2016 07:36
The Cacicedo Coat Pattern is a beautiful, creative pattern design by artist Jean Cacicedo. I enjoyed collaborating with Jean to produce her pattern and it continues to inspire new design direction for me. This new version is a Shrug! Here is how the concept was applied to this pattern.
I used the front and back parts of the pattern indicated above. Those basic shapes can shaped in a variety of way: A. More flair can be added by curving the sides or front edges. Next are the hem edges: B. The hem edge can be shaped, angled or curved to be more flattering. Once a hem shape
is determined, the hem can be folded up or a separate pattern piece stitched on and folded up.
After piecing fabrics for the sleeves, they are pressed then trimmed to fit the pattern piece.
The sleeves on this shrug are made from several knit garments. The unusual knit with the feather design is soft, so a strip of (black) fusible knit was used to add structure to the wrist end before a facing was added. The hem edge, under the arm in the dark grey, was folded up to finish before attaching the sleeve.
GARMENT BODY-  A medium weight, black knit jersey was used for the front and back. Varying the hemline on the front, back and sleeve pieces adds interest to the design.
Uneven hem lengths add interest to this design. 
I am still debating on a closure. This kind of garment is always the perfect place to showcase a favorite pin. Here is how my design thinking is going so far. I love the feather design on the fabric and cut several out (adding a small seam allowance). A lining was cut from fusible, black interfacing for each shape. If you do this, remember to sew it with right sides together, so when it turns  right side out, the fusible side is inside when pressed flat. Strips of rolled stripe tee shirt knit could be ties.

I  smile and think of Jean as I (and many others) use the checkerboard, black & white stripe edge detail that has always been one of the signature elements on her clothing designs.
                                                                                                   Thanks Jean...for everything!!! Diane

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Designing a Fall River Tunic-

Sat, Oct 8 2016 11:24

Once you have a favorite pattern, making multiples can open new design directions. I am exploring  design directions with my new River Tunic Pattern. It is a great basic silhouette (also available as a download) has lots of potential for fall and winter garments. Here are design notes for a woven and knit version.
Expressing your Fall Colors- 

3 is a magic number in combining fabrics in a garment. In varying amounts, 3 contrasting fabrics gives enough variety for creating trims and details.  My combination of linen combined with a canvas stripe and some  canvas drop cloth (printed with my Pottery Shard Stencil) has a homespun, New Mexico feel.
It's all in the Details- Here are the design ideas included in this Taos inspired Tunic. 1. After cutting a sleeveless version, 5 1/2" were cut off across the top edge.
Overlapped armhole edge-
2. 4 1/2" wide x 10" shoulder straps, bound edges on square neck opening and overlapped armhole edges finish the top of the tunic. 3. The straps can be applied straight or at a slight angle for a more sloped shoulder.
 A playful oversized pocket closed with a large, painted zipper: I loved the challenge of making this zippered pocket idea a reality! It's a reminder of how important it is to lead with imagination (instead of relying on what we know)...because that experience of 'bringing our skills'  to a new idea is pivotal for growth.
Finished oversized drop-pocket detail-

         Collage fabric bands are the perfect weight and finish the hem edge of this River Tunic.
Pleated over and stitched asymmetric neckline-
Making a Knit Version- The River Tunic is beautiful in this knit print (from MarcyTilton.com). Love, Love the feel!
1. Cut 4-6" wider than needed, left width to pleat over the and hand stitch with embroidery floss as in the sketch. Extra width in the yardage lengthened the sleeves to 3/4 length. More fabric can be added to lengthen just the sleeves too.
Folded Sleeve detail and trimmed side

2. The sleeve ends are pleated over and stitched. Finished with a fusible knit interfacing on the inside first, the edge is cut then folded over for hand stitching. The raw edge is used as the finish for this garment.

3. Once the garment length is chosen, the width of the lower part of the tunic can be adjusted by trimming fabric off the sides as shown in photo and sketch above. This removes some of the weight and length the sides will drop.

                ....More River Tunics are in my designing future for sure!
                                                                                                   Enjoy Your Fall Sewing, Diane

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FALL LAYERS: Vests & Shrugs

Tue, Sep 27 2016 11:22

My fall wardrobe feels like part 'hanging onto bits of summer' and part 'adding fall colored layers' to welcome the cooler mornings here in Oregon.  Time to pull out your favorite fabrics and celebrate some new combinations!

Vests & Shrugs-
As I swap out my closet, I am always grateful for my Vest Collection which can carry me through any season. Here are 3 of my favorites: The canvas one, with the orange zipper, is a favorite remake piece (it used to be a skirt), a double-sided cozy knit one (made from my Ventana Pattern) and a vintage Borro cloth vest that layers over a linen shirt or a turtleneck. Take a look at your favorite jacket patterns and think 'shrug'....most jacket designs can be shortened to create a shrug version. 

What's Your Criteria? Simplifying your project list to a vest or shrug makes it do-able. It is all about the fabrics!!! So choose a favorite pattern, a FABRICS that screams to be your next project and lets go! Fall colors can inspire us in new ways: Check out a color wheel for ideas on accent colors (usually across the color wheel from the ones you always wear). In smaller quantities, those accent colors can add unexpected pop to your outfit. Remember, inspiration is everywhere...you might head to your on-line inspirations or the paint chip isle in the hardware store for more color combinations & design brochures. It is always good to be building our design vision and exploring new ways to express it.

In this fall project above, the plum colored ribbon of woven labyrinth designs, from Renaissance Ribbon, was the inspiration for the sewing shapes. The double-sided linen, combined with some rust color embroidery thread rounds out this color combination.
Elements on my fall design board: I'm thinking the leather closure will influence a wrap front jacket.
Accent Closures & Jewelry- Part of my fall wardrobe thinking is: How can my clothes frame a new closure idea and my combine with scarves and favorite seasonal jewelry pieces? This is an aspect of design that can influence how we sew. Maybe a new pin will be the focal point for your new shrug.
Enjoy your fall sewing, Diane

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Falling into New Mexico-

Fri, Sep 2 2016 05:48

I am inspired by this beautiful part of the country all year....and in these weeks leading up to another retreat in the Mabel Dodge Luhan studio there, I spend time bringing my favorite pieces together.
.......................The explorer in me is anticipating what new treasures are waiting for me there.
• weathered wood • clear colors • Aspens turning • raw silk • sun-bleached linens • wrapped feathers •

Images reminiscent of the new and old in my New Mexico palette.

Design inspiration is everywhere. Making a design board with favorite objects and images can
 inspire new work. It can be a combination of images, ideas for color combinations, maybe a pattern you want to make and buttons and trims you are ready to use.

On Choosing Materials= I am satisfied spending more time choosing combinations of materials for  projects. Not all fabric is worth our time anymore.....once we admit that, letting go is easier and the special pieces rise to the top. 
.......................The explorer in me is anticipating what new treasures are waiting there.
Mine your fabric stash with new eyes and infuse your Fall sewing with a new color combination.  

Keep your hand in the game= Create small things that make you happy=a pincushion, maybe parts, a woven panel, a new pin or maybe a bird.

 • What is ready to be made...
•  What is calling you?   Diane

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Summer Night Inspirations: BLACK & WHITE

Sun, Aug 14 2016 05:08
ORGANZA SCARF- A gossamar scarf is a perfect accent on any summer outfit. This black and white organza one does the trick. This printed fabric just needed some hand stitching to give finish to my quick, raw-edge design. Jacquard Fabric Pens are perfect for drawing your own scribble design on organza and they come in a set of 3 sizes. The less you do, the more important all the elements are to a design. The threads I used for hand stitching, although subtle,  have a bit of sheen and contrast with the matte finish fabric surface.


They say there are fewer places all the time to see a truly dark sky. Warm summer nights get us out to enjoy the magic of our night skies. 

It was just such a night that inspired this new journal cover in black and white canvas highlighted with Miles Frode's Star Chart Stencil Design.
There are 2 sizes of journal covers in my Creative Companion Pattern

Journal covers  are great in canvas, with or without a zipper compartment for your pencil stash,  for travel or an evening in the backyard with the stars....how can you be without one?

This one, in white and black canvas, was stenciled with the Star Chart Stencil in silver, Jacquard Fabric paint on the outside and black on the inside. An accent trim was topstitched on the surface and a length sewn in the center for a bookmark. A small set of wood colored pencils and papers may be perfect as you wait for the moon.
What will you carry in your new journal cover?


Making transition fabric-
Starting is just that....there doesn't need to be a project in mind to enjoy the process of starting.
Making fabric can be very satisfying-whether you spend several days...or 15 minutes.
Create your own new fabric of mixed textures & weights-


As the last months of summer unfold here in Oregon, my simple summer wardrobe and projects will carry me into fall and deeper, richer colors.....and more River Tunics!

I hope you are enjoying your summer/fall sewing too, Diane

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The River Tunic-

Sat, Jul 23 2016 10:47
I knew when I couldn't stop making and wearing these....I had to share it with you! You can download it in my online store, or order up a hardcopy to arrive on your doorstep. Either way, I am looking forward to hearing about The River Tunics you make.
Some of the best things we create start from what's around us and a function we need to satisfy. This design started with the realization that, although I love the fabrics...I only wear 1/2 of the scarves in my collection. Scarves seem to be like socks in winter...often times an impulsive buy. Surveying my scarf collection recently, I thought about wearing some of those light-weight fabrics as a garment. Shrugs have happened... but I loved the idea of a tunic that could just be a longer, summer layer.
Check your scarf stash for one to transform into a River Tunic-
It starts with a simple length (scarf or fabric) that gets folded in 2 directions then cut.
So here are some of the ones I have made. I do enjoy tweeking the design and adding details as I go.
Look for the next batch of tunics in future blogs.

Sheer Japanese Cottons are a beautiful choice for the River Tunic. This one from marcytilton.com

Opening this River Tunic down the back, leaves a slit for airflow and a vintage button at the top. I added some single layer strips of sheer mesh at the neck and sleeve ends. Folding the front edge gave the neck edge an asymmetrical line.

hand stitching on the sleeve edges
There can never be to much hand stitching! I like the way the contrasting embroidery thread ties in with the design.
Successful simple garment shapes are ALL ABOUT THE FABRIC & THE SILHOUETTE.
Imagine your new version: Linens and cottons or knits, organzas and sheers....the fabrics you are called to work with define your garment style.
How much Ease do you want? One of the ways to ensure a successful fit is to determine the amount of ease (at the hips and bust) you want for comfort. Measuring the clothes you wear can give a range of ease to work with.
An overall concept to keep in mind when considering volume in garments is: The taller/larger person can wear more fabric (and not look swallowed up). The more petite you are, less fabric is usually more to scale. 

Design Play that will change each tunic you create:
• Cut the hem in an asymmetrical shape.
• Make the armholes deeper and shaped.
• Use hand-printed and accent fabrics for bindings & trim.  
• Create a different neckline or add a collar piece.
• Make a piece of fabric first, then cut out your tunic
• Add patch pockets in contrasting or embroidered fabrics    (vintage tea towels are great for this!)
• Pleat the fabric first, then cut out the tunic
Create your own style by making a collaged piece of fabric for The River Tunic 
Accent bindings and pocket fabric is one of the ideas shared in the pattern instructions. The closeup below is the grey sleeveless tunic version on the pattern cover shown at the top of this blog. Adding bold, contrasting fabric gives it a nice edge.
hand-printed fabric used for binding and pockets-

A neck edge shaped by folding then hand stitched with embroidery floss-
Shaped Neck Edge Tucks & Folds- Cutting a slightly wider neck opening gives the option to add a variety of folds across the shoulder and garment front for design.

WINTER LAYERING Versions- I know I will be sharing some lightweight washed wool versions of this tunic as I create my winter wardrobe. Washed wool, slightly crinkled has a casual appeal and will fit well with leggings and boots this fall.

This green and grey dot version is getting lots of wear....it's the perfect summer dressing with my sheer textured leggings and cropped pants.

Enjoy your summer sewing!  Diane

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