Sewing Progress

Before and After on the green top.

Earlier this year I posted “Sewing with your Eyes”, where I talked about wearable art and a workshop that I took with Freda Fairchild on designing your own clothes.  The workshop was a liberating experience for me as most of what I have sewn is flat (quilts).  I’ve also made lots of hats and purses, but sewing a garment is a completely different animal in my book.  Freda armed us with some tricks and tips and I carved some time out this summer to experiment and apply her teachings.  I made and altered patterns from some of my favorite, well-worn clothing and was quite pleased with the results.

The mannequin is a lot smaller than I am and I didn’t iron for the photos….  Sorry about that!  But, I just wanted to document my progress.  My goal is to reach a place where I understand how a paper pattern translates on to a body or how draped fabric can be manipulated to a desired look.  I would like to feel comfortable enough to play with form and use it as a new option for surface design.  I love making hats and bags when I can, but would enjoy having the skill to make garments, whether wearable or not.

So, this is how far I’ve gotten so far.  The green top above has been a staple for years and it’s about ready to bite the dust.  It also works well as a vest, so I’d like to make a couple more of them.  The fabric is extra special: ovedyed and hand-woven in Guatemala.  When I had my shop in Chicago, one of my vendors had a whole pile of skirts made from this stuff that were so tiny that they never sold.  She gave them to me as cutters and I have been lugging them around for years.  Finally!  I’ve cut up the skirts and can use the fabric in other things.

The white shift also has been worn to a threadbare existence.  It fits me perfectly and is so comfortable that I wanted to make variations that I could wear in the summer.  I have a lot of great shirting that I can use.  The bottom had pleats and I couldn’t figure out how to place them evenly, plus I was pressed for time, so I just winged it with a common ruffle.  I was more interested in capturing the shape as it flares out slightly from the bust.

The original dress on the left is an old MarketPlace: Handwork of India dress, another favorite.  Although I have worn it a lot over the years, there were some design elements that I wanted to change.  The dress is a wrap around and the top tie lands right on the breast which I never liked.  I was able to change the neckline and move the tie down further and was patted myself on the back for making such a structural change.  I also wanted it shorter.  I hand-stitched a lot of it with red yarn which you can’t see well in the photo, but it looks great!  This is a nice pattern to use up smaller pieces with fabric as it has the narrow panels.

That’s it!  It will be fun to continue to experiment and push my new skills ever further.  Stay tuned!



5 responses to “Sewing Progress”

  1. Sonya says:

    Such fantastic results! I’m so excited to see other people making the steps towards garment-making. Beautiful!!

  2. meta says:

    You’ve been busy! you’ve quite a collection of clothes, by now, I guess. I do like your hats as well!

  3. Linda Moran says:

    I’ll be following your progress on translating patterns – I really want to get back in to sewing clothes, but I’ve let body image issues get in the way.

    • Rayela says:

      Well, I do have some fun clothes, Meta. I used to dress up when I had my gallery in Chicago, but now that I am just home, working on the computer, I’m pretty much of a bum, t-shirts and jeans. I gained 30 lbs in the last couple of years (menopause!) and even though I’ve biked everywhere this summer, not one of them has come off. So, I finally bought some basics in larger sizes and hope that I can still lose this weight. Meanwhile, if I can sew some things that fit, I will both learn and have some new things! 🙂 And, Linda, you looked just fine when I met you and even if we don’t like how we look, that doesn’t mean that we can’t have some fun, too!

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