Thursday, November 4, 2010

jill2day at work...

I have been in high production mode lately. I am getting ready for shows in Chicago (December) and Chantilly, VA (end of January) as well as the holiday season on Etsy. Boy has it been work and fun... Here is a little peek into my day(s).

I head down to my studio each morning and line up Nellie, Doris, and Evy (my three dress forms) and we get started. I have shelves of previously bundled sweater parts. So I decide what this particular day should be... a red day? a tweedy neutral day? or a multicolor fun day? Once my color appetite has been identified I grab the appropriate bundle.

I then spread the parts out and look for a starting point. Sometimes it is a unique collar structure, sometimes it is a pattern that has a particularly intriguing color combination, sometimes it is a unique "hand" that the fabric has. The I start sculpting the parts and pieces together. I don’t use patterns, because each reclaimed sweater is different and has different idiosyncrasies that must be honored and exploited! If I am using an existing bodice or neckline, that may determine the size… and which of my ladies gets to go first. If I am using color as my starting point, I have to decide what ratio of each of the different fabrics will go into the scheme… and sometimes hunt through my stash for the little extra dash of purple that wasn’t in my original bundle. Slowly but surely, the dress forms go from naked to covered with pins and pieces. During this process there is a great deal of stealing from Nellie to give to Doris, and the like…

Finally the ladies are prepped. One then steps up to the serger machine. The machine is threaded with the appropriate color(s) and the sewing starts! A seam here, a tuck there, a replacement here, a new idea there, the garment is still morphing through this process.

At the end of the day, or the next day, or the next… the garments are sewn.

Then it is onto the “proofing”… into the washing machine while I hold my breath. They tumble about in the Dreft detergent and the hand wash cycle for their allotted time and then on to the dryer for the delicate dry cycle. Most make it, some don’t. One of the hazards of using reclaimed fabrics is that it has had a previous life… if there were wear spots or tiny moth holes that didn’t show up before, they will be gaping after the wash cycle. Threads that were cut short grow in the agitation. And some stains actually appear after washing!

Once they are out though, they are soft and have a cohesiveness that just didn’t exist before the individual pieces had this shared experience! Then they are tagged and rechecked, photographed, described and then listed on Etsy or packed up for a show.

Then it is time to find them homes and get them on their way to their new life! These photos are some from some of my latest "litters"! Spicy is a great coat inspired by the color combo in the print panels. Bay is a shorter jacket that where the existing bodice and collar was the starting point.

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