Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pants pillow

Pillow made from 1960's? cotton corduroy pants that belonged to my brother-in-law's grandfather, 1920's (or earlier) wool tapestry , 1960's cotton curtain fabric, assorted silk, linen, and cotton scraps, a vintage tape measure, and catfish line (an allusion to the time his grandfather spent in the Louisiana bayous.)

construction project

interior of pillow front showing applique stitching on old sheet, and white cotton pants pockets at bottom

.. plaid lining of the pillow back... I resorted to hand-stitching in places at the side seams where my machine couldn't sew over the thick pocket-seams in the pants.  One aspect of working with a garment-- something I've been wanting to try-- is working around bulky seams. Using the pants was an opportunity for me to do that and to make something for my brother-in-law and sister that has personal meaning, but the process was cumbersome, so I think I'll call this experiment a one-off.

no-label pants

The corduroys were one among several "no-label" pairs of pants, including these chinos, which appear to be professionally made.  The quality of construction details, while beyond  amateur sewing, is nowhere near the finish level of fine tailoring.  A guess is that his grandfather regularly ordered up sturdy and serviceable pants from his tailor and said  "make it fast".

thinking of...

The Peruvian artist Jorge Eielson who made art with old clothes-- this is Camicia 1964--  came to mind.

 Also the Gee's Bend work-clothes quilts, like this one by Lutisha Pettway    The dark spots indicate pockets that were removed prior to sewing, possibly to avoid sewing over bulky seams?


....the return of Tillycat 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New, old, ancient

 New pillow made from vintage fabrics (1920's- 2013) which include a 1930's blue cotton flour sack,  1950-60's gray floral-print cotton (my grandmother's curtains),   green woven 1960's cotton (our den curtains growing up),  1980's plaid wool (my sister's pants), and newly bought yellow burlap and digital print silk from my scarf .


I think the oldest fabric in the group is this red woven wool which was in a box with some other upholstery scraps and a receipt dated September 1926. The color and weave brought to mind ancient South American textiles....

like the one I sketched when I visited the "Wari: Lords of the Andes" exhibition at the Kimbell Art Museum in Aug 2013.

Referencing the photo in the exhibition catalog, I pulled together the other fabrics to complete the color palette.


the main idea was to showcase the pattern and weave of the red wool. 

thinking of a color-blocked composition like  Hans Hofmann 's painting "Elysium" 


The blue wool plaid reminded me of  Japanese boro textiles  
and since I wanted to use up some scraps that were already in strips, I sewed them, along with other darker cotton scraps onto an old bed sheet.   

 Then I cut that textile into strips...

and sewed those strips in layers to make a textile.  The white sheet pops through in places and accentuates lines and texture.

the scrap of digital print silk was added just before I sewed the pillow together.


Here, the right and wrong side of the curtain fabric are sewn together to make a new pattern. The matrix of raised, stitched lines is the result of sewing with a double needle.  The curtain fabric is old and tears easily in places; sewing it onto a lining not only reinforces it, but creates another texture, a map-like effect, which I really like.


The handwritten label sewn onto the pillow back is made of the cotton lining of the curtains.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Rock pillow and beyond

Rock pillow  made with recycled fabrics--
green woven cotton 1960's curtain, light blue  1960's cotton canvas shower curtain.  Other fabrics include tea-dyed burlap, Italian linen, and silk.
The yellow burlap and orange silk  edge strips  are trimmed from the Istanbul textile

trimming the pillow front:

and playing with the edgestrips
-- the leftovers from one project generate ideas for the next:



Usually Tillycat joins my photo-shoots, but today she took refuge from the cold wind in a plant container.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Points of departure

A mock-up for a pillow made of new and vintage fabrics-- the idea of layers that meet in the center was inspired by this rock which comes from a rock collection my sister made when she was twelve. She's a geologist now, and I'm making the pillow for her; I like that the design has a personal connection to her.

My first pass at the design was more starburst-y.
I decided to simplify it after I completed and trimmed....

.... this wall hanging I made for my niece . I cut a wide piece of fabric off the left side  (orange silk and yellow burlap), and liked it so much that I decided to organize the pillow design around it.  You can see in the first photo that it's one of the cross-bars ... a good example of how projects can overlap and influence each other.


A close examination of the wall hanging reveals lots of possible designs within the overall design, any one of which would make a great pillow.  These  cropped views, which in reality are only about 3"x3", could definitely work at a much larger scale.

So a project which started with a fairly literal (for me anyway) interpretation of this photo my niece took in Istanbul has yielded a wealth of materials, both physically in the form of leftover fabric,  and conceptually in design ideas for future projects.

From past to present...

I've been looking through some slides I took 30 years ago in Europe which have been stored away for years, and came across this courtyard view in Milan, taken from the kitchen window of a good friend's apartment.

As soon as I saw it,  I was astonished to recognize the loose organization of lines and textures around a central, choppy, irregularly-angled shape of the bird's nest pillow  -- a testament to the catalog of visual references we retain in our unconscious which emerge in the most surprising ways.  It's no wonder that that kitchen has staked out a space in my head. I spent a lot of time there, staring out the window, laughing with my friends and listening to their stories, and learning about and eating a lot of good food.

Day for Night Shirt.... adapting a pattern (in progress)

I'm working on adapting the design of this linen shirt made by a company called Matchpoint. I have a couple of these and enjoy wearing them so much I decided to make my own using two different linens.

It kind of reminds me of the dress my great Aunt Myrta is wearing in this photo.  The buttons I'm using for the shirt are vintage grey mother-of-pearl from her collection  

I call it the "Day for Night" shirt because it reminds me of an old-fashioned nightshirt, and because I would like my daytime, waking life to be as creatively articulate as my nighttime, dreaming life. There's also the expression "day for night" which refers to film scenes shot during the day with a special filter to make it appear as if it's night.... an idea that jives with my desire to blur the lines between my dreaming and waking life. 

... back to making the shirt--- first I worked out the front tucks, designed a  neckband, and then added vertical seams in the darker linen which contrast the direction of the pinstripes.  I'm waiting to cut the armholes and side seams until last-- will add in some in-seam side pockets which the original shirts don't have.  Love pockets.

The back has a yoke--the pale center line is the exposed selvage- 
and a long vertical pleat.....

which brought to mind this  runnel at the Salk Institute designed by Louis Kahn ...speaking of pictures embedded in one's memory-- the giant projected slide images from Prof Rodriguez's Architecture 101 obviously have carved out a place in mine.

Clothes and making things

A friend of mine and I frequently have conversations about clothes and what they communicate. Lately I've been thinking that I want my clothes to say,  "I'm ready to make pillows or pies, anytime, anywhere."

Pear pomegranate pies from this NYT recipe  .... served warm with sea-salt caramel ice-cream,
so yummy I must have been dreaming.