Monday, June 29, 2009

Wedding Gown

I'm making my daughters wedding gown. I'm very excited - also nervous and happy at the same time. I made my own wedding gown a long time ago; gowns were not nearly as involved back then. My daughter tried on gowns to see what she liked. She loved those that had lace over a heavier silk and lining -  so far, so did mine,  but then there was boning in the top,  2 horsehair slips and an underslip - not on mine.
    Jill and I went over to a well known and huge fabric store in NC, known for their bridal fabric. They had lots of rolls of lace but not enough of any one kind and not getting anymore in. A very helpful salesperson told us of a store in Asheville that carried bridal fabric. We had just come from Asheville, so back home we went to find - House of Fabrics. It's a small store with beautiful fabric. The bridal section was very small but again, everything luscious!  A tiny case held their imported lace and I thought no way will they have what we want. Lucille - the owner, pulled out lace, held it up and it was perfect. Our excitement was overwhelming. Alencon lace runs 72" wide with borders down each side. The other fabric in the picture is a heavy silk charmeuse which will probably be the underskirt.
It's a heavily corded lace but still very soft to use as a "whole cloth". Lucille gave us a small piece to bring home - to love, and love it we do.
There are no obvious seams in wedding gowns made with this lace. One of the ladies who works at House of Fabrics is an expert in wedding gown construction and will hold your hand throughout the process.  Guess where I'll be spending a lot of my time.
It will be a challenge and happy time for all, I'm sure!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Grove Park Sunsets

Last night we were celebrating our daughters engagement. We went to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC - one of our favorite places. As we were leaving, the sun had just gone down and what a beautiful sky. I've always loved silhouette images and think this may be the basis for one of my "digital imagery" pieces.  I love the color and shapes.

It was a great night and an added bonus to get these wonderful and unexpected photos.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Leftovers created in the studio can lead to some wonderful surprises. I've been dyeing silk scarves the last week or so and have used my supply of scarves. I have small amounts of many dye colors  - purples, blues, greens, hot pink etc. I don't want to throw them out. I found some silk broadcloth, one of my favorite silks; it has wonderful texture and body. I decided to randomly pour leftover dye over the surface, steam it like crazy and anxiously await to see what would happen - how bad could it be? I really like the fabric. I have no idea what I'll do with it or if I'll take it further and stamp or screen on top of it. I think the colors are yummy. Sometimes using so many colors can produce muddy results but today the dyeing Gods were with me. Below is a detail..

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dyeing Silk Scarves

I've been dyeing silk scarf blanks for the last week or so getting ready for the Southern Highland Craft Guild Fair in July. The fair is held twice a year - the third weekend of July and October at the Asheville Civic Center downtown Asheville, NC.  It's a wonderful event we all look forward to.
When I work with silk, I use an acid dye which gives beautiful color and can only be used on silk.

The second step is to discharge color using a nature themed stamp. The discharged areas are overdyed and then stamped with a textile paint using the same shape as the discharged one. It's a 4 step process - what you're seeing is only the first step, and my favorite part - the dyeing. I love seeing white silk turn into such vibrant colors.

I usually do 3 colors on a scarf or sometimes 2 if the 2 colors melt into a pretty third color.
I work with several kinds of silk including China, charmeuse, crepe du Chine, chiffon and a blended scarf of wool and silk. Each take the color a little differently which makes the process more fun. For example, because China silk is so thin, there is a lot of wicking of color giving all kinds of lines and interesting movement. It's fun to see the dye move throughout the fibers.

Hope you can make the show.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Small Studies - Coca Cola Building

I love working with digital images and printing on fabric. There's an old Coca Cola building in downtown Asheville, NC where I took many pictures and decided to do a small study using one of them. The windows are old, weather worn and surrounded by crumbly bricks - real interesting. This is the finished piece. To get it ready for printing, I manipulated the image in Photoshop, enhancing the color and contrast a bit.
I used a 300 count Egyptian cotton sheet. Sheets make wonderful printing material as the really high thread counts making the surface very fine for printing. The fabric was treated with Bubble Jet and printed on an Epson using DuraBrite inks which are both lightfast and colorfast. The Bubble Jet is watered down 3 to 1 (water to BJ) and only when using DuraBrite inks. If using without DuraBrite, use BJ full strength. I use Bubble Jet with DB inks as it does enhance the color. The fabric is "attached" to a piece of 110 lb. card stock using a fabric adhesive spray.
I then bind all edges with blue painters tape. This really protects the printer from getting lint and fuzz from the edge of the fabric as the ink cartidges run across the fabric - side to side and in contact with the fabric edge. It's time consuming but I get great results and I think it's easier on the printer. I also run a lint brush across the surface of the fabric for any unseen "fuzzies" that could come off in the printer. I use a lint brush whose cartridge is already "linty". This way it doesn't pull the fabric off of the card stock as a new, stickier tape would and it's still sticky enough to get excess lint. Can you tell from the brush below that I have a cat with black fur?
Here is the fabric print as it came out of the printer.
I removed the fabric print from the card stock and mounted it on a very low loft batting -  Thermore by Hobbs.
I machine quilted it and added some image transfers of Ivy for more dimension.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

NC Arboretum

You never know what you'll run into when you go to the NC Arboretum in Asheville, NC. I was in the main building standing off to the side when I heard this big HELLO. I jumped as I didn't know where it came from, sounded close by. It turned out to be a beautiful parrot named "Sunny", he was a personality guy.
We have a huge garden and lots of Black Widow spiders which my son assures me are very non-agressive. I've never encountered one this big. What a great sculpture at the arboretum.
I know they have an hourglass on their stomach - but a heart on their back?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Waechters Fine Fabrics Reopening Celebration

For those of you in the Asheville, NC area or passing through, it's worth a trip to Waechters in Biltmore Village. Waechters recently closed their doors on Charlotte Street and moved over to Biltmore Village with more space, a bigger classroom and more room for luscious fabric. Waechters is a high end "gourmet" fabric store, featuring lots of natural fibers and beautiful blends. On our trips to Asheville (when we lived in Atlanta), we always had to stop. It's always a treat, so take a peak.
A huge assortment of patterns from independent pattern companies fill one whole section.
And this is my favorite part - just about every pattern has a sample made so you can try it on! I can't tell you how often I've purchased a pattern because it looks great on the envelope cover but on me - a bummer!  It's nice to be able to try it on first.

Lots of beautiful "non-card" buttons and
cottons for quilts.

If you're in the area, stop by - you'll be happy you did.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Art of Mary Ray

Waechters had been a landmark in Asheville for as long as I can remember. Years ago our annual visits to Asheville would always include a stop at Waechters Fine Fabrics,  and fine fabrics they do have, lots of natural fiber, silks, linens, cottons, rayons and unique blends. They also have wonderful buttons, patterns, lace and the nicest people to help you put it all together. They've always been on Charlotte Street in downtown Asheville, but recently moved to Biltmore Village where they had their big re-opening celebration this past weekend. Mary Ray, a friend, very talented fiber artist and contributing editor to Threads magazine was the visiting guest artist for the day. She presented 2 trunk shows which were not only inspiring and "knock your socks off" beautiful but also very informative. Here are some of the wonderful clothes presented along with some interesting facts.
Mary buys fabric she loves, often with no purpose in mind. For this particular jacket, she didn't have enough of the wool crepe to complete the look. Because of her love of green, she often has lots of green fabric in her stash and found another fabric in the same green so she could mix the 2 for an even better effect. You can see the 2 fabrics on the sleeves. I thought this was a great idea. So often we think we have to use the same fabric throughout the one garment, but how clever to mix it up like this.
This next garment, Mary pieced fabrics together to make an interesting patchwork effect. She wasn't interested in doing any 1 particular quilt pattern, but just piecing fabrics for a more interesting look. She seldom uses blue but chose the bluish-grey fabric as a nice contrast to the earthtones in the patchwork. What a great way to use up scraps of silks and other dress goods.
Mary will use a batting on occasion if it helps the "drape" of a garment. She likes to use a lightweight wool batting. I've done lots of clothing also and love Thermore which is super thin. I sometimes use it in quilts when I want a very flat look, but for clothing, I agree with Mary - the thinner the better. This next jacket uses a batting and it really helped the jacket to hang better.

This piece was done for the Fairfield Fashion show sponsored by Fairfield Batting Company and headed up by Donna Wilder. Many garments in this show were wild in color.  Mary did her own thing and chose a more conservative path, that of gray AND it won Peoples Choice! It was a beautiful combination of tucks, pleats and lots of other fabric manipulation techniques.
Mary gets her inspiration from all places. I loved this little fabric bag and even more so when I saw the inspiration for it - a clipping from a magazine for a bread product. The kernals and salt reminded Mary of beads which she added to the surface.
Mary says she has this wonderful plant outside her door that blooms with red leaves and curly edges - what a great interpretation in this bag!

It was a lovely presentation and I learned so much - more tomorrow on the store itself, so stay tuned.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cherry Winks Revisited

I started a small piece a while back using fabric I had printed in a workshop. I named it Cherry Winks. I made a screen of my grandmother's recipe for Cherry Winks (cookies) which I used on the fabric. The piece was almost finished but needed something else, so it stayed on my design wall for a while, getting my attention every time I entered the room. Well, Cherry Winks is a round cookie so I thought maybe some round shapes would work. This is the original piece before the circles.
I found my package of "Perfect Circles" - circle templates designed by Karen Kay Buckley
and they do make perfect circles. I also found some silk organza I had dyed and the color was perfect. It is transparent so the background showed through. Using an opaque fabric would add another strong design element to the surface and it was busy enough.
I backed the organza with fusible web and started cutting circles.

The letter J - upside down in block below is an old block from type set letters I picked up at a stamp show.
Some of the circles are so close to the background, they are barely visible but the look I wanted.
The smaller ones down here mimic the shape of the circle discharge on the rust pieces.
Here is the finished piece.