Wednesday, March 31, 2010

No longer work in progress!

Here (right) is the "work in progress" from the other day, now done and on its way to its new home!
(Looks a little better with the seams in.)

Here (left) is another custom shorter sweater I just finished.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New category - Custom Starters!

Sometimes I find truly wonderful/wacky recycled patterned sweaters that I know someone would love in one of my reconstructed sweaters...but many might not! I have not figured out exactly what to do with these yet! If I go ahead and make them for the shop, they will certainly be the wrong size or style for the exact person who loves them! But if I don't post them, they will never be used!

I plan on starting an "ideas" or "starting points" category in my shop. I can post some of the unique patterns for repurposing, either alone or with some solids shown with them. I would like these to be the starting point for a custom sweater idea that the customer and I can than collaborate on for the style and size. This is a way I can showcase some of the more unique items I have in my stash, while not committing them to a size or style.

I know someone out there would love a cowboy themed sweater, but who?!!

I will also be posting some of my "bundles" there. These will be my groupings of colors that could be used in a custom reconstructed sweater. It will give the customer an idea of color ways - and readily available specific patterns and combinations that can be repurposed into a garment just for them. On the right are some examples of how the bundles may be shown.

I would really be interested in your feedback on this idea... please leave your comments!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Great looks are made not accidents!

Today I thought I would show you a little WIP (work in progress) and tell you some of the reasons people find my reconstructed cardi-coats so flattering for every body style.

Before everything gets sewn up, I pin most of it in place on a dress form so that I can preview the colors. It is a great way to be able to not only size the item, but to really work with the colors so that they enhance the particular style of the coat and the unique body size of the item I am making. I don't use any type of pattern, so this part of the process is a bit like building a sculpture on an armature!

I was looking at some other reconstructed sweaters recently and realized that the bodices and upper sleeves were simply complete sweaters cut shorter and then additional pieces added to the skirt and sleeve areas. While that certainly would be more efficient for me, I really don't think it makes for an interesting or flattering look.

The piecing that I do on the back and bodice allows me to place brighter colors near the center to draw the eye there. If I piece the back with a center panel, it breaks up the expanse and slims the back - especially when the ribbed panel slightly above the waist is also used.

The skirt panels are not random. You will notice in most of my stock or custom sweater coats, the repurposed center panels have the pattern (if any) and the brightest color. (Lily2day, at left shows how that works!)That, with the length of the panels, elongates the look and again makes for a vertical look to the garment. That is usually further enhanced by darker panels put on the outside of each hip. The skirt backs are usually made with a colorful or textural or contrasting central panel - again for a slimming look - that is surrounded by more neutral panels.

At the same time that I am choosing colors, I am also choosing textures and weights. Heavier weight knits are used in the structurally important areas, where lighter weights may be used in the swingy skirt or sleeve areas.

I hope this helps you understand some of the decision making, and design that goes into my garments. It isn't by accident that I get great feedback about how these garment fit and make the wearer feel!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

25 at 3:25 on 3/25 - is HERE!

I will be posting the new items this afternoon, but thought I would give you all a taste of what is coming. Here are snippets of some of the new items:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring - It really is coming!

Every spring I wait for the pasque flowers to bloom. They are wonderful fuzzy purple flowers that send out the flower before the leaves. They are very short plants and must get to the sun before the grass and other plants emerge. We have a very rocky west facing hillside near our house, that must be the perfect place for them. Every year the hill is more and more cover with this purple beauty. The best part is it usually happens right around my birthday. I just came back from the hill and am happy to report that there are buds that came up today and should be ready to bloom tomorrow. Tomorrow is my birthday, so the first ones to bloom will be my present this year!

The other thing I look forward to at this time of year is being able to get into (sort of) the woods behind our house. Most of the year it is a so full of barbed under growth that it is virtually impassable. But right now, it is possible (if you don't count a few bloodied shins) to gt back in there. Our neighborhood hawk family lives in the top of those trees. While we can see them flying in and out all year, it is only now that we can get close enough to actually see the nest.  It is quite a good sized structure, and, considering the winds it must endure, a strong one too! If they are home when I visit, they will usually circle and screech while I am there, but today they must have been off hunting.

And finally. As I walked back to the house a flash of the most amazing blue went by. The bluebirds are also back. Like the red of the cardinals stand out from the snow during the winter, this blue was unbelievable against the greys and browns.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Heart to Heart

I just finished this custom reconstructed sweater coat for Carolyn Jourdan. I am honored that she is going to be wearing it to her presentation to the city of Lansing Michigan. They have selected her book HEART IN THE RIGHT PLACE as their city-wide read! This book is also a five star book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and it's a bestselling memoir at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Borders, Tower, and the Independent Book Stores.

I will admit that I have not read it yet, but have ordered a signed copy from her to read as soon as I get it... sounds like a great read while hubby is watching all the basketball!

So take a look at her website  (and note the heart and heart buttons on her sweater in honor of the book.)

It was a pleasure working with you Carolyn and best of luck on your presentation.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My tools

Tools of the trade. Everyone has them, that pen you have to use when you have serious writing to do. The knife that cuts the veggies just right. The screwdriver that has been through three generations. As I was working today I was thinking about my tools.

First is my Bernina Serger. Paying off this machine was my goal for the first year of my business. Done. But this poor, overworked thing just never lets me down. Whirring away through whatever I throw at it, it just keeps on stitching. (Yes, Carol - that is the pink thread from your sweater coat!) . Obviously it is my main tool.
But it is often the little things that make life easy. Here are three of my “can’t-live-with-outs”. In total they are probably worth $1.98, but to me they are worth their weight in gold! The magnetic pin holder is magic! I use it to sweep across the floor, under my chair and around my workspace. It stands ready to grab each pin as I remove them during stitching and is equally ready to distribute them when I am piecing. Shamefully I don’t even remember its origin. I think it was a “freebie” at a tradeshow that I attended in my previous life.
The little clippers, hanging on my son’s discarded lanyard, is my most frequently worn ”jewelry”! I can lose at least 5-6 scissors in the course of any day, but these are always hanging right where I need them as I start and stop each seam.
And then there is my chicken. She just makes me smile every time I see her, and she holds all my needles at the ready.
Working in my studio can be a solitary existence. But Winkin, Blinkin and Nod are the best non-complaining cooperative companions I could have. Looking at them is rather nostalgic; although they were employed to stand in for the range of customer sizes I sew for, they also remind me of the many sizes I have been in my life! They never scream when I pin them, they don’t call in sick and they rarely steal my lunch.
Tools are good. Those cave dwellers were on to something when they picked up a rock and stick.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Teaser and walks

After a hard day of work in the studio, I took the dog out for a walk (the trail is finally free of snowmobilers!!). As we were walking I kept seeing my recent creations in the landscapes... or are the landscapes in my garments? Anyway, here are some peeks at what is coming on March 25th.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Guerilla Knitting - who knew?

Sometimes creative people are just sooooo wonderful! Today I came across an article, in a UK newspaper; Police hunt 'The Midnight Knitter' wool graffiti bandit. Apparently they are after a “guerilla knitter” in England who is being hunted down for her exploits.
The article says that guerilla knitting has been an increasingly widespread phenomenon over the past few years, with yarn enthusiasts taking to the streets of cities around the world to encase parts of them in wool. Personally, I hadn’t known of this uprising until reading this article. But now could really see dusting off all of my ‘revolting tendencies’ from the ‘60s and participating in this underground revolution! The world could use more cozy anarchy right now.

Saltyknits also has a website where she has posted photos of her taggings be sure to take a look:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What she sent, what I did!

A customer sent me the photo on the left for inspiration for her custom coat. This was great to work let me know what she wanted, without too many specifics. It was great to look for the fabrics and once I found them I sent her this collage (right) of the fabrics I would use.
 She thought they looked great... so I went to work. The final result is below. What did she think? According to her: "It's simply, absolutely, positively, beeeeaaaaauuuutttiiiifffuuuulllll! When I put it on, my whole being sang.... thanks so much." Thank you, too it was a great project!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mosaics by Val... check them out!

One of my new Etsy Friends is She has some vintage for sale, but it is her mosaics that are really wonderful! I just came across a video that highlights her philosphy and process that I think you all might enjoy seeing. Click here to see it. If you have any trouble getting to it just search "mosaics" within the site and look for the article named: Broken glass & tile transformed by Two Harbors mosaic artist.

Val has created a vase called the Celebration Vase (pictured at left), my "go to" piece when I just need to look at something beautiful. And yesterday I got a sneak preview of a table she is working on that wil be just perfect when it is done.

Just wanted to give her some "props" and encourage you to take a look at her votives, furniture, vases and vessels. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spring is springing!

... at least in my attitude, if not in the weather!

I just came home from a great visit with many family members in the Colorado area. Brand new babies, wonderful grand-nieces whom I hadn't been able to spend time with before, and watching the "kids" from the family becoming the parents and movers and shakers of the world.

The mountains were beautiful. The sun was warm on my shoulders. I saw one beautiful purple pansy bravely poking out from the snow. On the drive home I got to drive towards the biggest-reddest-fullest moon I have ever seen. Also saw herds upon herds of antelope and deer, a couple of eagles and the hawks that act as sentries along the highway.

So now I am ready for spring to get here and do the spring dance! In anticipation, I just posted a spring-green sweater coat named LEAF2day in my Etsy shop - jill2day. It is hooded and fun and mostly cotton - so perfect for now and through the summer.