Red Threads-

Thu, Dec 8 2016 06:55
I can see why red became part of the holiday'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 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 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 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 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

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's the perfect summer dressing with my sheer textured leggings and cropped pants.

Enjoy your summer sewing!  Diane

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Mon, Jun 13 2016 10:13

My new article, Curves & Angles: Designing with Art Fabrics, is in the current issue of the Vogue Pattern Magazine (June/July '16).  I am intrigued and constantly exploring new, creative ways to approach garment sewing.
June/July 2016 issue
Changing the sequence of construction can be key to having a new experience and that premise infuses my current design work. 1 pattern, 2 ways, is the focus of this article. In it, I explore how to create more dimension in the garment silhouette using Katherine Tilton's Butterick Pattern #6138.
 Miles fabrics are playful & exuberant with lots of bold strokes and details- perfect for different parts of the garment.
•  •  •  •  •
Working with 2 pieces with hand painted fabric by artist Miles Frode,  the inspiration for garment began with the flavor of each painted fabric: One with more curved designs and one with more angled shapes. I often write about collaboration and I want to encourage that experience for you. It is always a delight to share the creative adventure with my son, Miles!
The back of the tunic
CURVES-Starting into a project that with a challenge in mind keeps me attentive to the process. I like the workout... reaching for the feeling of being tapping into a deeper reservoir and not just sliding along the surface. This project gave me that experience.
The necklines on both garments were designed  to reflect favorite areas in the painted fabrics.
I enjoyed combining this painted linen with more solid white linen and 2 commercial fabrics with dots.

• • • • •

ANGLES- For this version, everything from selecting fabrics to changing the pattern pieces started with this first piece of hand-painted cotton/linen fabric.
What compliments a great piece of art fabric?

Each of the shaped pattern pieces were copied then angles added at the original curved edges-For more details, see the Vogue article.
Accent, basting thread is used to make reference lines like center front, shoulder lines etc.
The original curves and darts in the pattern pieces were changed to angles.
The printed shapes on the side became part of the pocket design.
Painting and drawn fabric by Miles Frode,  Dress by Diane
Design is an action verb...there is always something new around the corner to explore!
Enjoy the process, Diane
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Spring Color: PINK

Tue, May 3 2016 07:12
           Diana Vreeland said "Pink is the navy blue of India!"
WHO can resist the full glory of this pink!?!?!?!? Inspiration is everywhere in Ashland…especially Lithia Park where I just took this shot of blooming rhododendrons. 
As I roll out my favorite spring materials….Pink is a part of the collection. Consider some shade or tint of pink as a part of your spring color combination.

Stenciling is a great way to explore spring color combinations. This sleeveless rayon dress, with shell buttons is enhanced by a bit of iridescent white fabric paint printed with the Wrought Iron Stencil. With delicate shapes in the this stencil design, it gives the feel of lace.
Spring Silk Dress-
My stencil designs begin with images I have drawn. The Wrought Iron Stencil Design (in 2 sizes) was inspired by this fencing around a Victorian home in the historic district here in Ashland. 
I detailed this linen shirt with the versatile Wrought Iron Stencil, some tucks and new buttons.
Textile artist, Marta Marthas used her vintage linens in pink & white for a hand-stitched version of the Ashland Vest Pattern.
Marta sewed her linens together then brushed her new fabric with Silver & Pewter Jacquard Paints. 
Overlapping all the seams gives this garment a fluid shape as it moves...beautiful details & stitching Marta.

This project started with a linen skirt with great lines...and a pink silk organza for the sleeves.
A full bias, skirt in linen...transformed into a fluid spring shirt. 
The original skirt & sleeve fabric-
Taking advantage of the beautiful seaming in skirt, and the texture of the organza worked well in this project. I 'checked in' with a shirt pattern for the armholes and sleeve shapes.

sleeves in organza-
To hold the wrinkles in the organza, I added some lightweight strips of fusible interfacing  across the sleeve head. The hem is a raw edge. 
A Magnolia Tree ready to pop with pink & white buds.

More shapes and beautiful color combinations are unfolding everyday....time for another walk!

                                         Enjoy your Spring Sewing, Diane

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Getting at New Work-

Tue, Mar 8 2016 05:07

We ALL  have one of these……lets call it ‘The Parts Department’.  Sometimes it is hiding in a UFO (unfinished projects) stash. Lets look at how it might serve you better and actual INSPIRE some new projects. 
My Parts Department is full of elements that have been combined and worked a bit. SOme of them are in the photo above.
Here is a way you may want to view those UFO's in your life: At this stage, sometimes the idea just doesn’t seem as great as it did when we started…so we abandon them and move on to something new with more potential for success. I firmly believe not everything we start is meant to be finished. If you are committed to growing your work, look at what you gained from the partially finished piece and be ready to move on. Each project offers us something different.  Once you have gained the pivotal experience of the project, (without the goal being another finished piece) you are free to move on! 

Consider separating the parts of these UFO projects you like and create new ways of displaying them or storing them. Some of my favorite parts are living in old button jars, baskets exploding with trims….and cigar boxes of odd bits of hardware and wire....but something changes everytime I create new displays. 

The big question is:  How do we create a way to see more possibility in all these treasures we can’t let go of?  What are you seeing?

The Power of Arrangement- If you can't see it..will you even remember you have it?

As spring comes on, I want to work with lighter, softer colors. Faded, distressed fabrics feel compatible with the warmth of wood details: like these hand-carved buttons on the upper left. 

Placement and display in pleasing arrangements always give us opportunity to see things in a  fresh light. It can be new everytime. My eye continues to enjoy the boards I change regularly...There is something new there. What are you looking at?

I’ve been making Aprons these past few week in preparation for the spring retreat here in Ashland………A favorite hanger and apron piece was a re-combination of elements that had lost their fizz. This combination has an appeal with clean basic shapes highlighted by a small collection of 'jewelry-like' elements and snap-tape rubbed with fabric paints

Suggestion:  Find a format that is appealing to you and stay with it for multiple projects...let your voice unfold and explore your design eye in a deeper way. This experience will open fresh ways to apply your sewing skills with other textile methods you love. 
I will be making lots of Apron Layers in the coming will see them pop up in this blog now and then. 
the next one will have more 3-dimensional elements that I am exploring in my clothing design.

The hardware store, across the street from my studio, is a favorite place to shop for unexpected 'parts'.

I took apart the orange work suspenders and sewed them into this work apron for straps!

The Parts Dept. in my studio was a great resource for these first pieces in a series of layering garments for this spring season-

                                                                 Enjoy Setting up your own Parts Department!! 

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Jilli Blackwood at The Design Outside the Lines Retreat-

Sun, Feb 21 2016 07:08
We stepped into the studio of Jilli Blackwood in Glasgow, Scotland, as she unfolded her life in a powerpoint at our retreat in Santa Barbara, California 
Jilli Blackwood sharing one of her fiber techniques for creating elements at our retreat-
We were all captivated and truly inspired by Jilli. She shared her philosophy and the true spirit of her work with us. 
Jilli is tapped into the deep recesses of her creativity and is passionate about sharing it. She reminded us that learning a technique is one thing…and deepening it can open unlimited opportunities to explore. 
Her work is clearly an example  of what Jilli refers to as ‘The Wizard Stroke= that last, brilliant mark that renders a piece finished. Ahhhh!