Sunday, October 25, 2015

Working on Pillows

I've been busy working on making pillows or pillow covers to put in my Etsy shop.  Not as easy as it sounds!  I've made pillows before, but have never been really satisfied with the way they turned out.  So I've really been studying how to do this professionally. I have a few books on the subject, and I've saved magazine articles and clippings for years, but couldn't quite work out some of the problems. YouTube has been a life-saver -- I've found several amazing tutorials for free!  Even Craftsy and Instructables have free tutorials.

So while I don't have any photos of the current projects yet, here's a pillow I made for a friend with an amazing batik she found in Mexico.

The form is 18 or 20". I had the batik for ages, but didn't get it made -- I knew I had just the right fabric to go with it, but it took forever to find it!  It's a natural color raw silk suiting from a skirt I made long ago. It might be tussah. I believe I lined it with muslin to make it sturdy.  The back has an envelope closing, with 2 large tortoiseshell buttons; it actually closes with very large snaps as I do not love buttonholes.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Hand-dyed Silk

Wanted to share some pictures of some of the hand-dyed silks I've done.  These are all lengths of white kimono silk I dyed using various shibori techniques, mostly with acid dyes from Dharma. As they're all just odd lengths, I'm not sure what to do with them, maybe make pieced scarves.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


This is a yukata stencil (katagami) from Kasuri Dyeworks. It's very large, about 4 ft long. 
This is a Perry Ellis Vogue pattern I've had for years (possibly decades) I always wanted to make it in some linen that's also been in the stash quite a while.
 In one of Diane Ricks' classes, the project was to print on fabric with resist and thickened dye, and then make a shirt out of it.  I don't have pictures, but this is how it goes. You lay down your fabric on a sheet of plastic, put your stencil on top of that, a blank silk screen on top of that and then squeegee Cleanline resist (or whatever you're using) through the screen and the stencil. Repeat the procedure until the design is the way you want it. It helps to sketch out placement before hand. I cut my yardage into 3 pieces: front, back, and a piece for the sleeves and collar. There was very little waste.

 The fabric has to dry thoroughly before the next step. You can use the time to mix your dye. We used Procion, I think I mixed Navy blue and Better Black. The thickener is sodium alginate. Don't forget to add the soda ash! You can soak your fabric in soda ash solution beforehand and let it dry, or add it to your dye mix directly. Then lay out your thoroughly dry fabric and start painting on the dye over and around the resisted areas. I used a big foam brush 
just brushing it back and forth, up and down. 
Once it's painted to your satisfaction, you lay another big sheet of plastic on top, and roll the whole thing up. Stick it in big plastic bag and let it cure over night. 48 hours is even better if you can wait!
Then you wash it out, dry it, and cut out your garment.
I didn't have enough yardage to make the very wide facings, so used some cotton kimono lining I dyed with the same dye. (detail above)
 I found a nice nautilus shell button and used it to accent the patch pocket. And that's my shirt!

All the products--dyes, resist, soda ash, etc.--came from Dharma Trading. I do wish I had thought to take a photo of the finished yardage.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Kenneth King had an article in Threads magazine issue 161 called
The idea is that you can make multiple shells for your dress form to use if you sew for other people. Great idea, but I used it to customize the Uniquely You form I've had for some time.  Sadly, we are no longer the same size. 
I used the same techniques as for Henri (see below) with the addition of a lot of fusible fleece and fusible batting. The cover is a smooth chintz -- it still needs a lot of work --I may make her one with a zipper.  Emma is very shy and embarrassed about her size, so I could only get a couple of photos.  She nearly disappears against the white background ...


Saturday, September 19, 2015


My old website has been completely overhauled. I'm not selling anything from the site any more, it's strictly informational and has lots of photos of work I've done in the past, many using Japanese textiles. The bibliography has been updated and expanded and includes movies now. 
Check it out:  Oh Noh! Kimonos!

Process of Making the Tote bag

I used a Joann's tote bag as a model, about 14 x 18 x 6". I lined the chambray fabric from the apron with a thin layer of fleece, which gives it a nice hand. 

The lining is a piece of vintage cotton, the bottom re-inforced with Timtex. I added a large zippered pocket, on one side, a smaller pocket on the other, and a gathered pocket for a water bottle.

 One side has the original apron pocket:

The other side has one pocket made from the top of the apron, with a small square pocket on top of that.

The straps are made from the apron ties. 
And it's done!

Friday, September 18, 2015


I wasn't going to write about the tote yet, but I forgot to take a photo before I cut up the apron.  The only one I could find online required me to download it RIGHT NOW. So here it is.