Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fall Pattern Picks

ArtBarn Fall Pattern Picks

Here at we've been seeing our customers' orders  shifting to fall, and we are doing the same, sewing for this transitional season and cooler weather ahead.  We all love to sew, wear and share our projects with each other.  This selection features patterns chosen by our ArtBarn team (Marcy, Katherine, Diane, Beth and Shelley), and Gwen Spencer who was here sewing with Marcy last weekend.  When Gwen comes we sometimes have a spontaneous sewing lesson too!  

Butterick 6241
Beth's pick is  Butterick 6241, which we now all love for the lovely draped pockets, cozy collar, zipper front and flattering comfortable shape.  Make it in a jersey or light weight ponte.  

Butterick 6247
I like the cozy layered design on this top, can see it in jersey or one of the new soft and cozy French terrys or a collage combo of different fabrics.  Keep it soft and drapey, this will feel so cozy on a cool day, a great every day casual look to wear with jeans or skinny pants.
Butterick 6248
The fishtail godet at the back is a flattering detail, (might be a tad too long tho), and the princess lines are flattering.  A good choice for French terry, jersey, light weight ponte or light weight sweater knits.
Butterick 6253
Gwen Spencer's choice.  She is going to do a rendition of Katherine's tiered knit jacket, maybe in a ponte or French terry, 'something not too thick' is what she said.  Can't wait to see what she comes up with, will post in a future blog.  As shown here, done in 'quilted knits', not actually stitched, but the quilted texture is woven in.  Good for fleece, ideal for double sided fabrics too, you can sew the tiers using a lapped seam so the raw edge reveals the under side.  Read more on Katherine's 3 Tier Jacket blog.

Butterick 6254
Beth made this in organic hemp knit from last season, and wears it as a jacket over a t-shirt and jeans.  This is a shape/design you can wear as a dress or cut it a bit larger and wear as a light jacket or coat.  Ponte, French terry and stable sweater knits are all good fabrications, and it makes a good blank canvas for combining different fabrics too.  Read Katherine's article on the kicky pocket she added to this coat dress in the current issue of Vogue Pattern Magazine.
Vogue 1456
We all love this Sandra tunic/vest.   I can see it kicked back and casual or dressed up for the city.  Sandra Betzina's vest/tunic is a standout you could make in many different fabrics.  The tunic can work in soft fluid knits and wovens, from silk to jersey, and the vest could be done in ponte, silk taffeta, jacquard or stretch wovens.  I love jacquards textured stretch brocades for this piece too.  Flattering and slimming to boot.  Sandra always includes great tips and techniques in her instructions.  A star of the season!
Vogue 1459
Koos passed away last year and his patterns are sure to become collector's pieces.  This little dress is so simple and clean lined to embellish or not, and you could easily shorten to a T-shirt or lengthen, wear as shown or with leggings and narrow pants.  An instant classic you could interpret in ponte, light sweater knits, wool jersey, French terry, even sweatshirt fleece.  Makes an update of the classic sweater dress.
Vogue 8946
Shelley's choice is this figure flattering slim lined sheath dress which she will make in a ponte.  Her plan is to make ¾ sleeves, eliminate the back darts and give it just a touch more ease so she can wear it for every day....and she will layer a cardigan or shrug over it for cooler days.
Vogue 1464
Sandra Betzina always does great pants, and I like this one as an alternative to jeans.  The style is a take on the classic navy sailor pant, traditionally were made in wool with 13 buttons representing the 13 original states.  I had an original navy issue pair back in the day.  Use a stretch woven, though I think they would also work in a stable beefy ponte.
Vogue 9130
My most recent pattern is a duo of tunics, both with seaming detailing that are easy to sew and fit and flattering to wear.  Make in light weight jersey, French terry, ponte and sweater knits.  A natural for combining different knits too.
Vogue 9057
I keep making versions of the layering tunics, these are my go to tops for everyday and travel.  Some of the fabrics I've used and can recommend:  rayon/lycra, ponte, ITY knits, novelty knits.  I used our Parisian microfiber for the green and blue versions on the pattern envelope.  I used a mesh for the sleeveless angle tunic to wear as an under layer so the lacy edges show at the neck and hem.
Vogue 9135
Kathryn Brynne's vest and top are so appealing and versatile, would work in a wide range of fabrics, dressy to casual, wovens and knits, lightly crisp or uber soft.  We haven't made a version yet, but it is on the wish list.  I really like the layering potential of these pieces too, they will slide easily under a jacket or coat.  For travel, I'd build in hidden inside pockets.  The basic shape lends itself well to surface design too.
Butterick 6138
Shown as a sleeveless top on the pattern envelope, Katherine's asymmetrical sculptural vest is one to make again and again, to dress up or down.  I can see this in a nylon or silk taffeta or silk dupioni.  To kick back a more dressy silk taffeta or dupioni, I toss it in the washer and dryer, the fabric emerges with a more matte surface and overall crinkles.  Take it out of the dryer before it is bone dry and smooth so the crinkles are even overall.  Pressing during sewing will smooth things out, but you can crush it to bring out the texture.  This would work well in a fall cotton, from shirting to jacket weight, and would be like a sweater vest in a knit.  In a soft jersey, it will hang closer to the body, in a more substantial knit, would have a sculptural effect.  This is the perfect garment to wear for long distance travel in hidden pockets for glasses, boarding pass, passport etc.  Katherine says, 'watch the inside collar as both sides show'.
Butterick 6213
Katherine used ponte knits for both versions on the pattern envelope, but thinks it would work in a stretch woven as well.  I see the sleeveless version as a fall jumper, just the thing to wear in the studio on a cool day, super comfortable, flattering and pockets too.  Use a zipper or a row of buttons for a closure, and people tell us they have adapted the pattern eliminating the closure entirely and cutting the center front on a fold.  Shorten to wear as a tunic with leggings.  Raise the neckline for cooler weather or add a soft cowl.   Read more on Katherine's Versatile Dress blog.
Vogue 9140
I used felted wool and wool blend stable knits for the coats as shown on the pattern envelope...both fabrics are sold out, but I have MANY fabric options coming from my recent buying trip.  The coat is simple to sew and fit, can be made in stable knits like ponte or sweatshirt fleece, but would also work in a lighter knit for those of you who live in warm climates and want just a light cover up for cool days and evenings.  Gwen and I have been visualizing this as a vest. 

The pants are slim lined and very flattering.  The pattern envelope says that the pants have side front pockets, but this is an is the back side seam wrapping around to the front.  However, I add front drop in pockets inside the waistband.  I used a ponte for the tomato red pair, and our Pale Gray Parisian microfiber knit for the gray pair.  These are my go-to travel pants made in Black Parisian microfiber knit.  Read more about this pattern in my recent Cozy Coat & Euro Pant blog.

Fall Coat, Jacket or Vest 
Win $100. in fabric
Win $200 in fabric if you use our fabric or a Tilton sisters pattern
Win $300 in fabric if you use our fabric AND a Tilton sisters pattern
Make your own version of any jacket, vest or coat (OK to use something you've already made) .  
Deadline:  September 10.  
Winner announced September 17 on Marcy's blog and FaceBook page
Send photos to:  
Guidelines:  Send along a brief description.  Design counts. Photography counts.  We will not edit or crop your photos.  Judges include our ArtBarn team, Katherine, Marcy, and Gwen Spencer.  Sorry, I can't respond to individual questions. Most of all, have fun with the process.

Entries are coming in and people are doing such creative interesting work, it is a joy to see, thanks to all who participate, you make it a pleasure for all of us to share in your process. Thanks to you all for your willingness to play!!! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Jacket & Vest Sew Along

Off to LA and Las Vegas to buy fabric, one of the favorite parts of my job.  Follow my adventures in fabric-land with a camera on Facebook, I'll be posting photos and would love to hear your fabric requests.  

What are you sewing for fall, what fabrics and colors do you want to work with?  

In the studio I've been working on a vest for a Fall '16 pattern, and a jacket for a future Vogue Pattern Magazine article.  As always, I have a tunic or T-shirt in the works.  We're getting photos for the sew along, hope you'll consider participating too!  I'll be posting new fabrics online as I go, so keep checking the NEW FABRICS on the website.   

Fall Coat, Jacket or Vest 
Win $100. in fabric
Win $200 in fabric if you use our fabric or a Tilton sisters pattern
Win $300 in fabric if you use our fabric AND a Tilton sisters pattern
Make your own version of any jacket, vest or coat (OK to use something you've already made) .  
Deadline:  September 10.  
Winner announced September 17 on Marcy's blog and FaceBook page
Send photos to:  
Guidelines:  Send along a brief description.  Design counts. Photography counts.  We will not edit or crop your photos.  Judges include our ArtBarn team, Katherine, Marcy, and Gwen Spencer.  Sorry, I can't respond to individual questions. Most of all, have fun with the process.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Vogue 9140: Cozy Coat & Euro Pant

AKA The Cozy Coat & Euro Pant

This soft and cozy coat plus slim line pant is deal for travel and everyday wardrobing.  The coat is easy to sew and simple to fit with a hood that lies flat in the back, forming a soft shawl collar when down and frames the face when worn up.  Wear it open or wrap closed....I secure my version with a large decorative safety pin. Welt pockets placed just where you need them are stitched flat.  Unlined, the wrong side will show, so choose a fabric that has a pleasing back side.  The flattering slim lined pull on pant, with a darted flat front, side angled pockets, minimal elastic in the back and tapering cuff detail is very comfortable to wear.  All the pieces use knits in different weights, though you could use stretchy soft wovens too.  The Cozy Coat and Euro Pant is designed to work with the Seamed Tunics in Vogue 9130.

Coat Fabrics
The red version on the pattern envelope uses a felted wool that appears to be a woven, but actually is a knit, with loft and just a bit of stretch.  The gray coat is a double sided sweater knit.  Both fabrics are stable, soft, drape with no raveling at the cut edge....all things to consider in choosing a fabric.  This coat could be interpreted in lighter knits too.  Ponte in any weight would be ideal, but you could also use mid weight jersey for the feeling of a light sweater.  Stable sweater knits and fleece are good choices.  This simple shape lends itself to casual to refined depending on the fabric.  Make it in basic black or your favorite neutral or use as a blank canvas for embellishment or surface design.  The wrong side of the fabric will show on the hood.  I did the design as an unlined coat, though you could line it with a lighter weight knit, but I would not use a woven lining with a knit outer fabric.  You could also choose to line only the sleeves if the outer fabric is 'toothy' (sticks to other clothes).  If you choose to line, make sure the lining is compatible with the fashion fabric.

Cozy Coat Fabric Suggestions
Shown below, a selection from our NEW FABRICS including ponte, sweater knits, French terry, and European wools.
New fabrics are posting nearly every day, stop by often!

Sewing Tips
The welt pocket is positioned right where you want to tuck your hands.  It is easy to sew, and soft knits are forgiving to work with, but I recommend making a test sample to get familiar with the technique, and to be clear on positioning the welt so it is going in the right direction.

Make a test pocket
My sample pocket in process.
Make sure the pocket is headed in the right direction!
This photo shows the position of the welt in relation to the side seam.  Hand basting lines show the markings on the right side of the garment.
Bind the neck & shoulder edge
Finish the neck/shoulder seam with a bias strip of lining fabric.  Hand basting holds it in place to assure the binding is an even width.  I keep a small stash of rayon/viscose lining fabrics on hand to use for pockets and details like this.
Once the binding is stitched to the neck/shoulder, the seams are trimmed and the fold edge machine stitched in place.

Euro Pant: tissue fit to establish your length
This pant is slim lined, sleek and will flatter most figures.  For the pattern envelope I chose 2 different knits.  The rust/orange version is a mid weight ponte.  The gray version is a lighter knit, one of our Parisian knits, a poly microfiber/lycra with a beautiful soft drape.   Tissue fit the pant to make sure it is the right length for you.  This is important as the cuff can not be adjusted.  Once this is determined the pant sews together quickly and easily.   

I want to try this in a stretch woven (with good drape and good stretch), but would be sure to use a wider seam allowance in the side seam to allow for fitting adjustments if needed.  These clean lined pants would be fun in a print, and I'm imagining a cropped version to wear right now.  

Pant Fabric Suggestions
Tasteful Neutrals
On the Wild Side

You'll find more pant choices online with many more to come in upcoming weeks. The first shipment of fall weights and colors in ponte and pant weight microfiber basics are on order, and I have a fall buying trip scheduled soon.  One more shipment of artisan Japanese cottons is arriving any day.

Katherine and I just finished filming a new Craftsy class, more on that closer to the time of release.  At home, in the studio, I've been enjoying watching Craftsy classes while I sew and shoot photos. As a beginner, I am learning a lot from their photography classes, really enjoyed Creative Photography with George Lange.

Back in my studio I've been sewing prototypes for summer 2016 Vogue patterns. Gwen Spencer comes later this week for a sewing & designing session, always fun and inspiring.  In my imaginings I'm planning fall projects.  Stay tuned!  Please send photos of your projects using our patterns and or fabrics.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Paris Photography Workshop

This love affair with photography started gradually, crept up on me, then escalated into a full scale passion.  My dad planted the seed, he had a dark room in our basement in Minot, North Dakota and St. Paul and took family photos and home movies.  When I started the online fabric store back in 2004 with a few bolts of fabric and a handful of silk screens, my camera was a tiny Pentax Optio point and shoot which I loved, and I've been upgrading equipment and skills ever since.  Now I am obsessed!

All the photographs on the website are done by me and I want to get better at it.  I spend almost as much time in my small photo studio as I do sewing and designing, loving and getting lost in it all.  Last summer I was in LA buying fabric for the website, stopped by the Leica store to check out a new camera, and my world opened up.  (My sewing machine is a Bernina, and I have the same kind of love for Leica cameras).  While deciding on the camera, I wandered upstairs to the gallery, where there was an exhibition of work called French Kiss: A Love Letter to Paris by Peter Turnley, an American photojournalist and photographer, who has lived in Paris for 30 years.  At the time I did not really know about street photography, but something inside clicked and cracked open.  Bought a camera, went home, googled in Peter Turnley, discovered that he offers workshops in Paris, and that the May '15 workshop started the day after our Paris tour ended.  Seemed like perfect synchronicity, so I enrolled.

From June through October I used the new camera  and loved it.  Then I dropped it and it went off for repair.  Heartsick, I went back to a smaller point & shoot, but kept photographing and started haunting photography websites, forums and blogs.

On a plane headed to Minnesota at Christmas, I watched the movie Finding Vivian Maier and something else clicked.  I felt a strong visceral reaction to the story and to her work.  Later last winter I went to dinner with a photographer friend who teased me, 'Marcy, why don't you just get the one you really want?'......referring to the camera of my dreams. I started thinking 'why not? which lead to more research.  First the workshop, then another camera upgrade....eeek!  Katherine and close friends got tired of my nattering about it.  In March I went back to LA on another fabric buying trip, visited the Leica store and got the camera.  Photography is mostly a man's world, and I am grateful to the advice and feedback I got on forums and blogs while making this decision.  I lucked out in meeting Sussan at the Leica store who coached me with infinite patience, going back and forth about which model and lenses.  The camera is digital, but all the settings are manual....a steep learning curve.

When the camera arrived, I was afraid to touch it.  More good online advice: carry the camera everywhere, turned on and ready to go.  I started doing just that.  Read the manual, spent hours online searching for information.  Found local coaches who could give me feedback and the technical info I needed.  Thanks to David Winston and David Vanderlip for their help.  A good thing nobody told me that it is not a great idea to go into a workshop with a new camera and new editing system.  Beginner mind helps.

Being a 'stuff' person, I had to figure out my gear. walking around Paris  A small across the body bag, (the GROOM La Petite),  worn under my jacket with $$ and credit cards and a GROOM backpack kept hands free for the camera which is always around my neck and never leaves my sight. We dubbed it 'the baby', I'd only leave it in good hands when necessary.

The Workshop
I loved this Peter Turnley workshop! It was a pleasure to be in front of the desk in stead of behind it and I learned so much. Some simple things (lose the lens cap), some more complex (the mix of a challenge and a pleasure).  A pleasure to be in good company with others who share this passion.  Exhilarating to be out in the streets of Paris seeing and experiencing in a new way.  Sometimes challenging (the new camera is a fixed lens, so must get close to people), talking to people (my French got better), watching the light, learning about framing (don't cut off the feet!)....most of all, the discovery of how much fun this is.

While Peter has worked as a photojournalist all over the world in dozens of wars and struggles, he shares his love of Paris, and, that in spite of the challenges and difficulties of the world, the life and beauty of this city is a daily reminder of how beautiful life can be.  A cut-loose instructor, Peter shared his expertise and philosophy, and cut us loose in the city with a list of possible places to explore and shoot.
The workshop took place in Peter Turnley's apartment in the Marais.

The class ran for a week, starting Sunday afternoon, finishing mid-day on Saturday.  We met at Peter's Marais apartment in the mornings for class discussion, viewing our work from the previous day, seeing work by Peter and other photographers and filmmakers, then would go out on our own in the afternoon and evening to shoot.  Back at the hotel, I'd download the day's shoot, edit and put the best shots on a jump drive to take to show the next day.  Evenings included group dinners and times when we'd go out and about together or solo.  The final meeting included a showing of each person's portfolio of prior work.  A bit apprehensive about this, I showed photos of my garments, was surprised in a good way at the support and feedback from a group whose opinions I value.

Guest speakers  
A privilege to have a presentation by Voya Mitrovic, master printer, 'greatest of the great' according to Peter, click on the link to learn more.  Voya printed for Henri Cartier Bresson and Josef Koudelka brought prints from his personal collection. The photo he shows here is by Peter Turnley, on the right, and is the very one that brought me to this workshop....I recognized the street even though the shot was taken 20 years ago.  
We visited another friend of Peter, John Morris, vibrant in his '90's, an esteemed photo editor and important figure in photography.  Over a lifetime that spanned 7 US presidents, he worked for LIFE magazine, Paris Magnum, was responsible for the photo coverage of D-Day and was the photo editor at the New York Times responsible for the contemporary use and look of photographs in the NYT. today He presented a visual retrospective that included work by some of the world's great photographers.  
Random Paris Shots
Each photo becomes a moment of connection, a pause, a memory.  Street photography uses a fixed lens, no zoom, so you have to get up close to people and be quick.  Framing and timing are crucial.  Different than a snapshot, the best shots evoke a mood, tell a story, reveal a person's inner self.  I used a 35mm lens throughout, fiddled and fumbled with the settings, lost many shots to the learning curve.  Behind the lens in a place I love brings a special joy, a quiet calm, a way to see.  

Paris Dogs
A good way to talk to the owners

With special thanks to Katherine who tolerates being photographed, waiting while I lag behind and holds 'the baby' for me. While I was in the photography workshop, she took drawing and painting classes. My best friend and travel companion extraordinaire!

Up Next

This experience stretched my creative limits and left me wanting more.  In love with this creative process, I return to Paris in the fall and am thrilled to be enrolled in Peter Turnley's workshop in Cuba over New Year's.  Meanwhile I continue to shoot every day, fabrics for the website, friends, garments, work in process, dogs, daily life and where I live.

Click to see the student gallery from the May Paris workshop.