(I may have felt a touch foolish after buying the Asian "pez dispenser" fabric in an Asian booth, when I discovered that it is Alexander Henry fabric!)
Finally, I got these small pouches for two friends who really love this kind of thing and the super soft, hand-dyed sock yarn for a friend who knits socks.
Next, my classes. Because this conference is not geared specifically towards sewers, I had the opportunity to take some classes that aren't offered at conferences like the Sewing and Quilt Expo each year. For example, I took a class on sketching for fashion and design, taught by Diane Ericson. I was really excited about this one, as I have always thought of drawing and sketching as a skill that I don't have.
I really enjoyed the class. Diane pointed out some obvious things that most people tend to overlook, such as the fact that we get good at the things that we do a lot! So if we want to be good at sketching...
She gave us some fun exercises to practice using our eyes and trusting our hands.
She explained how to use light and dark shading to give the illusion of depth (see my ruffle below).
And we spent much of our time with tracing paper, tracing designs and design elements on existing illustrations that we liked, and then trying to recreate those images superimposed over a line drawing of a female figure.
Basically, she encouraged us to keep a portfolio of images that we like, trace and sketch them, combine them, manipulate them, etc. She made it all very do-able for me. :)
As for my second class - I have read in so many sewing blogs about the importance of keeping inspirational journals - plus, I want to make a kind of scrap book for the wedding dress - that I took a class called "Journals for the Fiber Artist" by Mary Fisher.
This one turned out to not be what I was expecting. It was more about experimenting with scraps of fabric, bits of ribbons and beads, tissue paper, water colors, etc. to create interesting, creative, textured and abstract visuals. Mary showed samples of her work and she is an incredibly creative and powerful visual artist.
However, truth be told, I'm more of a coloring-within-the-lines kind of person, and I'm okay with that. I did manage to put this cover on the small book that came in our materials kit:
But you can see my mistakes right away - I used symmetrical shapes, colors that match, recognizable images... This garnered the dreaded comment from the teacher, "Oh, that's pretty." Instant death in her world... ;)
Seriously, most of the women in the class had a lot of fun, and I don't suppose that a little bit of loosening up would kill me, but I was much more drawn to... the looms! The woven fabrics are visually gorgeous, have incredible textures, and the kind of systematic, mathematical relationships that appeal to me.
There were many loom vendors in attendance and I spent probably more than 30 minutes learning about and weaving on a small Harrisville loom. This was their 22 inch model (that's the largest width of fabric that it can produce) with four harnesses. I fell in love. I learned how to do a standard weave (your weft thread goes over and under each successive warp thread - like those potholders we used to make when we were kids) and a twill weave. Pressing the treadles in the right sequence, passing the shuttle back and forth, watching your fabric emerge in front of your eyes... It was all so cool!
My fate is sealed. I don't know when - certainly not too soon! - but someday I will weave. :)
Okay, my last two classes - more traditional sewing classes - were with Cynthia Guffey. One was on seam treatments and the other was on drafting lining patterns for your garments.
I really enjoy Cynthia's classes. She is incredibly skilled, interesting and entertaining. She showed multiple exterior seam treatments, described lots of tips for modifying a garment pattern to produce a corresponding lining pattern, and demonstrated her hemming approach (3 hems!) to help support bulkier fabrics (such as hand wovens).
Of all of the things that I learned, perhaps the most interesting was this simple yet significant idea that I have somehow missed during my years (okay, just 5 of them, but still...) of sewing - apparently you are supposed to sew with the grain of the fabric.
In other words, every time I pin in a zipper and carefully line up the edges along the top of the fabric, and then sew down one edge of the zipper, pivot at the bottom, and finish by sewing up the other edge, guess why the top edges of the fabric don't line up anymore? It's because on one of those two long rows of stitches (either the down pass or the up pass), I was sewing against the grain of the fabric and that side stretched!
And that's why one side of my collar lines up so nicely, but not the other. And ditto for hems. According to Cynthia, instead of stitching in long continuous seams, I should break up single continuous seams into sections and stitch them separately, changing direction as needed so that that I am always stitching with the grain. Her rule of thumb for stitching with the grain is "high to low and wide to narrow".
So, have you guys heard of this? Do you do it? What do you think?
In summary, it was a great three days and I'm exhausted and can't believe I have to get up early and go to work tomorrow! Yikes!