School Days

More pockets! This time, with a scholastic theme!

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I met my friend Cheryl in class when I was a student at Houston Community College several years ago. She is one of the few people in my life that understands my obsession with design because she is equally obsessed! We can spend hours dissecting runway shows or celebrity red carpet events. We have a working vocabulary of design that is eerily in sync. Seriously, we often finish each other’s sentences when discussing fashion. I wanted her pocket to reflect the origins of our relationship, so I focused on the core of design – a sketch. Her pocket is the Forgotten Traditions jacket label.

The foundation fabric is white muslin and I did some simple stitching to reflect the look of wide-rule filler paper. I used a Sakura brush-tip pen to draw the sketch and words. I like the Sakura pens because they don’t bleed on fabric and they are rather permanent. I did some simple embellishment stitching and used a few sequins in various millimeters to highlight the dress of the illustration.

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I have known my friend Julie for what seems like one hundred years. She is basically another sister to me. I have so many memories of Julie, it’s impossible to single out just one story. Let’s see, there’s the insane sales lady in Dallas, the Betsey Johnson assistant manager VCR/fashion show freak out, making her wedding dress, her struggles with the pink lamé bustier… I could go on forever. LOL

She has a wonderful eye for putting clothes and accessories together. I always think of her style as sort of vintage eclectic with hints of pop color, so I chose fabric and embellishments to reflect this. The foundation is dark royal, hand-dyed silk velvet and it is lined in blue hand-dyed china silk. The flowers are gathered circles of hand-dyed silk organza with hand-dyed silk ribbon leaves. The edges are outlined in small, mottled, lapis-colored beads and the beaded fringe is made with blue crystals.

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My dear friend Ruby Marquez unexpectedly passed away a few years ago. We had been at school together as students and then as teachers a few years later. Ruby was the kindest of people – genuinely kind. Her students loved her and I honestly can’t think of anyone that ever had a negative thing to say about her. Apart from being a delightful person to know, she was an exceptional tailor. She excelled in learning new techniques and adapting them to her design aesthetic. As soon as she mastered these techniques, she was the first person to teach them to a new crop of students.

I wanted her pocket to reflect this spirit, so I tried a new technique that meshed with the beautiful wool and silk fabric that Ruby mastered – weaving. I chose yarns that had an obvious, visual texture and tried to chose colors that harmonized, but still had individual personalities. The embellishments were kept simple and the outer edge is finished with flat kumihimo that reflects the interesting trims that she was known to work with.

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The other Ruby in my life is the one that taught me much of what I know about sewing and design, Ruby Muller. She was the first teacher I learned from at school and it was an honor and a privilege to have been, not only her student, but also a teaching peer. Ruby can sew anything and has taught countless students how to master a sewing machine.

She really taught me to appreciate beautiful fabrics and in this spirit, I chose a beautiful wool suiting for the foundation. Ruby loves turquoise, so I trimmed the pocket in hand-dyed china silk. She taught me how to make welt pockets, so her pocket does double duty with two functioning openings. I used gunmetal and turquoise seed beads for the two picot edges and hematite-colored bugles for the welt opening. The buttons are cast polymer clay and are shot with gold glitter. The pocket needed sparkle, so I added the clear sequins just to catch the light.

More pockets on the way soon!

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Fiber Pockets

The further adventures of Pocket, The Kid!

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My friend Nadia K. taught me how to paint silk.

Let’s rephrase: my friend Nadia GOT ME ADDICTED TO SILK PAINTING!

Seriously, it’s really fun and she’s to blame! I’ve known Nadia for a while now and she’s an absolute delight to be around. We’ve had several silk painting adventures; at one point, teaching the techniques to some students at a therapeutic day school.  She is also responsible for a holiday dinner that she and a few of my fiber friends have every year. It has quickly become one of our most looked-forward to events!

I wanted her pocket to reflect the sensual quality of painted silk, but just doing a flat, embellished piece didn’t seem to work, so I chose to create texture with one of my favorite techniques – furrowing.  It’s a relatively simple technique of hand gathering a large amount of fabric into a small space, but this time, I furrowed through a layer of light weight, low loft polyester batting. I did this because the silk is so light that, even with the gathering, didn’t have a lot of body.

For the fabric, I used an older piece of painted silk from when I first learned how to use the paints. I like the idea of using a piece that held fond memories of when I first met Nadia. The embellishments are simple seed and short bugle beads and the outer edge is outlined in iridescent, fresh water pearls.

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 Another technique pusher I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for a few years now is my good friend Barbara Kile. Barbara got me hooked on felting (In all fairness, Barbara has gotten me hooked on several different techniques, but that’s another post altogether!). We used to teach at Houston Community College together, during my academic days (She is the current millinery teacher there) and she is constantly inspiring new students to work in the fiber arts, either through millinery or felting.

A funny thing happens when Barbara and I go out to lunch or just shop-hopping, for some reason people will turn to us and ask something along the lines of, “Are you guys designers/artists?” I’m not kidding; it’s happened to us on more than one occasion. We never prompt anyone, people just assume it. It’s weird! I guess we have that look when we’re together.

Since I would be working with a garment, I used Nuno felting to create the textile for the pocket. The foundation fabric is a navy blue silk chiffon and I used a various hues of blue and violet roving to achieve the mottled look. The white streaks are Wensleydale locks. I love them because they curl when they get felted. The upper, outer edge is trimmed in kumihimo braid I made from yarn that matches the color story. I didn’t want too much embellishment on this because I wanted the texture of the felt to shine, so I just used a few scattered sequins, bugles, seeds and iridescent facets to highlight the shape.

OK, More to come!

Pocket extravaganza!

And on with the cavalcade of pockets!!

Again, I sincerely apologize for my terrible pictures, but in all fairness, some of these puppies are hard to photograph.

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I recently met Laurie Tigner, first on Facebook, then in real life when she invited me to a dinner during last year’s Quilt Market/Festival. Laurie is a treasure and a delight to know.  Apart from that, she is a magnificent quilter.  She makes the most beautiful icon quilts using Inktense pencils and liquid lamé fabric. I still can’t believe that anyone would be brave enough to quilt liquid lamé, but Laurie makes it look effortless!

There is no way I could duplicate her style, but the idea of religious icons was too good to pass up. In honor of her work I made a pocket that reflects the rustic charm of traditional ex-voto style icons of the byzantine era. In this instance, I used gold silk dupioni that was treated with felt needles to give it a textured; tweed-y feel, then I quilted it in an undulating curve pattern.  I made several molds from old buttons and broken jewelry then cast them in gold polymer clay shot with glitter. Instead of using a specific, religious personality, I chose Moreau’s St. George and the Dragon. The painting is printed on Lisa Riley’s Artist Transfer Paper and then heat pressed onto white muslin. Normally, ATP leaves the texture of the fabric too stiff for my liking, but this time the rigidity was needed. The arch of the pocket was then outlined in seed and bugle beads and the outside edge was treated with a picot design of seed beads.  This pocket is HEAVY, but like most good Byzantine art, probably needs to be.

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My friend Shanni loves adorably sweet things when it comes to design. I met her through another friend and we quickly became buddies. Shanni’s family used to have a jewelry design company and at one point, I used to help her at a trade show in Atlanta. When she wrapped up the jewelry design, she gifted me a ton of beautiful beads that I have incorporated into several of my designs. For this, I can’t thank her enough. Yes, she is a bead pusher and got me addicted to embellishing my work. LOL

When I was designing her pocket, I knew it had to have two things: a bow and lots of pink! She is a big fan of Tarina Tarantino’s jewelry, so I kind of designed the main pendant around that concept. The floral cabochon is pink polymer clay that has been dusted with chalk pastel. The pearls and beads are all glass in white, clear and gray. I stitched the chain in a way that made it look like a necklace hanging from the bow, which is China silk. The background fabric and binding is hand dyed cotton. I kind of fell in love with working with these pearls. They are all uniform and the holes are large enough for multiple strands of thread.

If I ever have time, one day, I’d actually like to make this into an actual piece of jewelry.

Yes Shanni, I’ll put you on the list to receive one. LOL

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Before my grandmother died, she had been working on several, and I mean several, flour sack dish towels with hand embroidered motifs. My mom would press the designs onto the towels and Grandma would stitch them. I was lucky enough to receive several of these tea towels and use them all the time. I treasure each and every one of them.

When my grandmother was younger, she was a professional sample maker for a couple of designers here in Houston. Her sewing was perfection in thread. Even well into her late 90’s, Grandma could stich perfectly uniform embroidery stitches.  She had given up garment sewing because of the physicality of it, but the skills she honed over the decades, never left her fingers.

I doubt my embroidery skills will ever compare to hers, but I designed her pocket with the same style of embroidery that she completed towards the end of her life. She did a series of Southern Ladies tea towels and a few of them are holding delicate fans. I wanted the pocket shape to reflect this shape and that of a folded handkerchief. The base fabric is a heavy cotton shadow stripe. All of the embroidery on her pocket was done by hand using both original and traditional designs and motifs.

After the pocket was completed, the lace trim was sewn on. I really resisted the urge to embellish this piece since I knew that Grandma was a lot simpler than flashy sequins and beads, so in need of a center for the bow, I went with a solitary pearl bead.

OK, I’ll post the next bunch in a few days.

If you have any questions, ask away in the comment section.

Pockets! Pocket! Pockets!

When I started this project, I didn’t know how involved it would become. I spent hours on each of these pockets, not to mention the patternmaking, quilting and sewing that constructed the entire look.

I hope I have done justice to the women who inspired these pockets. I have to say that I really did enjoy making all of them. I think I have found out that I really love

I am going to present the pockets in small groups so I can focus on the construction and techniques I used on each. If you need some backstory on where this project began, check out this link to the original idea.

And as always, my pictures suck.

Let’s start with the last pocket I made.

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I have a friend who is a former student of mine. She is very much the kind of person who dances to the beat of her own drummer. Her name is Kiki Maroon. She is a producer, promoter and burlesque performer. When I designed her pocket, I couldn’t think of anything more telling of her personality than the basic shape of the ultimate tease – pasties! Because of her lively persona, I used the most colorful embellishments I could think of. The center of the pocket is shisha embroidery and it’s surrounded by bright sequins and crystals. Because of the nature of pasties, I needed to add a tassel, but this tassel is adorned with handmade polymer clay beads cover in glitter.  Now, I’m not saying that I pinned this pocket to my shirt and tested out the tassel to make sure it works, but let’s just say it works.

I hope this next pocket is not too baaaaaaad.

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I probably don’t have to tell you all that this pocket belongs to one of my dearest friends, MULTIPLE award winning quilter, Janet Stone.  Janet loves sheep. She’s used them as motifs in her quilts for a while now and does them so very well. I wanted to really convey the idea of a fluffy ewe so I went back to a technique that I hadn’t used on a long time – needle-punch embroidery.  This version is a bit more refined because I used single strand embroidery floss and a very fine needle.  Janet’s other love is the alphabet, but I really didn’t want to use a commercial print to convey this so I painted my own alphabet print on hand dyed fabric. I used a set of paper crafting letter stamps and stamped them in ProChemical fabric paints. I love this technique because you can create any scale of print you want based on the size of the stamp.

The edge of the binding is stitched with vintage bugle and seed beads. The sequins have an iridescent face and a grid pattern overlay. I’ve had them for a while now and could never find the correct project for them.  I love this pocket and will have to hire a guard to prevent Janet from cutting the pocket off and framing it.

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I blame my new obsession with graph paper on the inspiration for this pocket, Sherry Reynolds.  I met Sherry on the night her quilt America: Let it Shine took home Best of Show at the international Quilt Festival a couple of years ago. I once described her as “the best kind of crazy” and I can’t think of anything more appropriate for someone who drafts some of the most complexly geometric quilt patterns ever, by hand. I thought I would give her pocket the same kind of shape that sections of her quilts take, but rather than use the millions of pieces she does, I thought I’d blow up the smallest detail that defines her quilts and highlight the simplicity that her designs yield. I used hand dyed china silk and lurex-shot cotton for the piecing and holographic sequins, milky crystals and hot-fix crystals as the embellishments.  The center is embellished with a silk yo-yo and stacked sequins. This was the first time I have ever quilted China silk and I think I’m hooked.

OK, that’s all for now folks.

I’ll be back soon with more pocket goodness.