Handprinted Dharma Trading Unitard

This fabulous project taught me lots and lots. There are a few aspects of this project where I will continue to find and apply solutions to perceived problems.

I started by printing a small swatch of cloth, just to see if my color choices were pleasing.

The Unitard is a  ‘clothing blank’, made of cotton jersey, procured at Dharma Trading. I love it. The medium size fits my body well, I am 5’2”, weighing roughly 130 pounds. The gathering at center front is pleasing and easily printed over. The plunging back is a fun addition to the design. The legs are about 6” too long, which I think is a great addition to this piece-as yoga clothing goes, allowing you to pull the excess length down over your ankles and heels. My one complaint is that the bodice is slightly long, although this may just mean, I am short  🙂

I decided to Playful Fabric Print the Unitard in an all-over design that contains Roses and Forget Me Nots. The repeat is a six inch square (Page 26, Playful Fabric Printing), the multicolor print set (Page 29) contains a total of 5 possible layers to print. The Rose and Forget Me Nots were carved from Eko Carve, and the additional color separations were printed using plexiglas mounted, sticky back, fun foam stamps (Page 63). This was printed using thickened Procion MX Dyes (I swapped out Turquoise Blue, Fuchsia, and Lemon Yellow dyes when mixing color numbers 2 (an Orange), 15 (Teal) and 22 (Red). I did this because I wanted bright colors (see the value bands on page 57 of Playful Fabric Printing).

My one hesitation in printing this, is the need for an insert or form, as I discussed in this post. I traced the Unitard out onto an opened cardboard box, including an additional 3-4″ to stretch the knit jersey and separate the front from the back. 

Recycling a cardboard box meant there were folds in the cardboard. Those folds were nearly impossible to print over. I had to fudge, add thickened dye with a brush and make due on this account. It’s nothing major, the print is pretty forgiving. Also, the Unitard, stretched over a full length form was a bit ungainly to manage on my small print table. But, oh well, it was necessary. 

And, I have two more Unitards to print!

Next time, I am going to try printing with Thermofax, as I think the color saturation with be super pleasing. Overall, I think printing on clothing blanks is something I am going to thoroughly explore! When I bought these babies, I also bought a skirt, a camisole and I recently dug out a tunic and a kimono (similar to this one) from my stash.

Stay tuned to more printing on clothing blanks!






Clothing Construction=Love

I live in New York City where folks wear a good deal of black, it is almost a uniform, and a dull one if you ask me. I have made a conscious decision to wear printed blouses and clothing. I mean, I love cloth and color right? So I think it is high time I put my ‘money where my mouth is’.

This fabulous blouse was sent to me by a good friend and as soon as I laid eyes on it, I fell in love with it. It has a snap front, two small pockets, also with snaps, a great collar. But…it bloused out to accommodate ‘the girls’. At first I was disappointed, thinking, ‘It is too big, I won’t wear it, I love the cloth, maybe I will use it in something’. But then I remembered that I have skillz. Crazy mad skillz, (well not really, I don’t want to sew a lined silk suit-but you know, pumping yourself up for a new adventure is a good thing sometimes).

So, out came the seam ripper (that is a crazy mad seam ripper [ok, I have said that phrase enough already]), and I am in love with it, and I mean l-o-v-e love.


I opened the side seam and dart, I smashed the excess cloth from the dart up into the arm hole, I took about 4 inches of cloth out of the side seam. I removed the pockets in order to extend the pin tucks up into the collar (the termination of the pin tucks created about 3/4″ of poof on each side of the chest area), I reapplied the pockets and am wearing the blouse as I type. I have a few more blouses that need my attention. A few of them are quite colorful too! This is also really good because I don’t want to start shopping in the mens department just for the lack of shaping, I would rather have feminine prints that tickle my fancy and make me feel pretty, fun, excited.

Go ahead, brag on me, and tell me about your crazy mad skillz.

Progress is perfection

You know that saying, ‘progress not perfection?’ Let’s change that. I use that saying a lot and don’t really like it.

I am working on ‘journaling’ my clothing. If you aren’t caught up with this idea you can read about it here and here. To start I have been completing my Sew-plies Purse. I will discuss in detail and I am creating a pattern to upload for a post later this week. Suffice it to say, these are the changes I have made to my purse thus far:

1. I am testing out a snap closure, though I am not sold on it and want to try a magnet as well.

2. I made a sciccor pocket

3. I made a Thimble Cinch Sac. 

The Thimble Cinch Sac is attached to the Sew-plies bag by use of the tassel. The little black tassel reminds me of a scribble and I like this as a concept. I may bead it up a bit more, that was my intention but right now, I like the scribble.

Part of what intrigues me about this project is the idea of mutability or the ‘changing nature’ of objects, purses, blouses, fashion. I like the idea that a blouse is not complete when sewn or chosen from the rack. What happens if we improve upon our clotting, make it fit with comfort and style in mind, embellish it and make it prettier?

I made the changes to the purse because someone has a musical ‘playmate’ with a friend and quiet as a (don’t let Arrow hear me say this) church mouse, I am going along. And what church mouse doesn’t need something to do?

Want to know another thing I am really digging right now? Machine sewing and hand sewing side by side.


Gather your Sew-plies!! Purse

So here is the story.

I have been quiet on the home front of cancer. I don’t know how to frame a discussion about my experience last year, all I know is I am just beginning to land and unwind, and integrate what I have learned from being ill. But at the same time I think it is important for me to be plain with you as well as myself. Perhaps you have already noticed but I chose not to ‘reconstruct’ my body. I think having a body, healing and moving into life after cancer is enough. I am still all woman. I am just a flat chested woman.

I am being up front about this because I am exploring clothing as a form of artistic expression. This is a creative theme that I need and want  to explore, both metaphorically and physically.

Clothing my body has become an adventure. I am an artist, I have always wanted to dress ‘singularly’, uniquely. And what better way to explore artistic, healing and integrative themes about the body than to adorn myself. 

I have fallen in love with the word, Adorn. 


 Suggestions? Anyone? 

for Gather your Sew-plies Purse.

This purse recipe is a lot of fun, it is a sewing/fashion accessory. Big and bold when paired with a white shirt and skinny denim jacket. I purposely made this purse in such a way that I could continue to work on it until I had perfected the design. Do you know Cat Bordhi? She is a sock knitter and a creative thinker. She wrote a book about starting the sock… ‘from the middle’. And this got me thinking. What would happen if you started a project in the middle rather than tucking in all the loose ends at the get go? So this little purse is being completed as I go. I started in the middle. Will you make one too? I would love to see how you proceed alongside me. Mini Sew Along?

I am making an add-on pattern for the Gather Your Sew-plies pattern…A thimble Cinch Sack! More on this later.

Tell me.

How did you start sewing?

I think I was maybe 20 years old when I decided to set up my mom’s sewing machine and started making bags. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the pattern I bought. Soon after this, I found a sewing teacher. She was a retired Home Economics professor. I took weekly lessons from her, she taught me to iron, cut, sew, she gave me a serger (a friend of hers needed to find a home for it, and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time).

I was a sewing machine operator at a furniture manufacturer for a few years, that was dull but taught me some good sewing work habits, how to keep the cloth moving straight through the machine, how to hold my scissors for quick clips, how to cut squares to make pillows with welted corners. 

Then I found a job as a sample cutter for a women’s fashion house. I loved that job! It was a fast paced job and I drank up techniques, approaches and ideas. I worked with some fabulous pattern makers, sample sewers and people. I watched as my boss came back from fittings, kept an eye on her as she would add volumes, shift darts, lengthen, shorten and fix garments. It was a very interesting job.

During this time I began quilting, put the sewing away, even told myself sewing clothing was too fussy and difficult. Normally, I sew clothing in the summer time. Skirts, dresses, reconstructions. I don’t know that I have the skills to sew a silk blazer, but I do know how to set a sleeve. So here I am, living in NYC, near some of the best fabric stores in the worlds and the clothing sewing bug has bit me hard.

If you would like to do a sew along with me, I have been looking for free and interesting patterns for you. Can you handle that? Japanese sewing patterns for women, men and children! 

I will reveal the entire blouse soon.

So, tell me about you. How did you get into sewing? Did you always quilt?

And take my survey and sign up for my book giveaway!

A New Day, A New Week.

Wood Block Stamps and Music

I opened my mail last week to find this CD, sent by Meg Cox. The woman who heads the band is also a breast cancer survivor and although this is not the type of music I gravitate to, this album is really good. It is uplifting, danceable and has been on rotation since its arrival. Great stuff.

You also see some woodblocks from Colouricious in this last photo.

Making rules as I go, Boro Dress, Art Clothing

I have been on a mission. I am defining (redefining?) what clothing needs to be and how I might participate in the making of it. This will be a dress. A boro style dress, made just for me, using scrap, recycled bits of cloth, oak gall dyed organza and an indian sari. In my mind, clothing needs to fit well and be machine washable. It could also be pretty, inspiring, well made,  and interesting. 

I have always wanted to dress differently. I ‘see’ clothing that is not available on the market. It is time to start actualizing what I see.