Fish

Daughter Fish

WOVEN SHIBORI: AN INTERVIEW WITH CATHARINE ELLIS #22 THREAD CULT

Back in March, I visited The Oriole Mill in North Carolina, where I recorded a couple episodes with Bethanne Knudson, co-founder of The Oriole Mill, and Libby O’Bryan, owner of the Western Carolina Sewing Company. While Libby and I were chatting, I spotted a blouse Libby had made from the most fantastic dyed fabric. I could tell the design was shibori—Japanese tie-dye—but I couldn’t figure out how the perfectly pleated design had been made. Here’s a picture:

See what I mean?

Catharine working at a Jacquard loom in The Oriole Mill

The fabric was designed my Catharine Ellis, who I hadn’t heard of before, but is very well known in weaving circles for her woven shibori technique. Back in the early ’90′s, Catharine—a trained weaver—had a Eureka moment when she realized she could actually weave resist stitches into cloth. The stitches are simply supplemental warp and weft threads used to gather the cloth before dyeing. The results are really beautiful, and totally unique. Now Catharine designs fabric on the massive Jacquard looms at The Oriole Mill, and sells scarf-sized pieces through Cloth Roads (a very cool business, btw, that works with indigenous textile artists from around the world).

Here are a few other examples of her work, all dyed with natural dyes. It makes me want to get a little loom to try this, even though I have absolutely zero space for another hobby! The green scarf was dyed with a combination of woad (blue) and weld (yellow) on cotton.

Catharine is a sought-after teacher and literally wrote the book on woven shibori, Woven Shibori. Happily, she made some room in her busy teaching schedule to chat. Beyond shibori, we discussed ikat weaving and the organic indigo batch Catharine tends at her home in North Carolina.

If you’re into natural dyes, make sure to catch episode #2 on growing your own dye garden and episode #8 with lovely color master Audrey Louise Reynolds.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Textile Arts Center

Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada

Memory on Cloth: Shibori Nowby Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada

Shibori: The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped Resist Dyeing, by Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada, Mary Kellog Rice, and Jane Barton

Michel Garcia

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*Outro music: “Little Wooden Church,” by The Trumpeteers

SILK! EPISODE #21 OF THREAD CULT

The last time I sewed a silk dress, I nearly lost my marbles trying to figure out how to press, cut, and stitch up the slippery, shifting yardage. Despite finding some helpful tips in Claire Schaeffer’s Couture Sewing Techniques and on plenty of websites, I remember wishing that there was someone I could call with questions. Like a silk fairy godmother, or something.

Who I really needed on the line was Katrina Walker.

Katrina is a silk expert and teacher who contributes regularly to Threads and other sewing publications. She’s studied silk production in Japan and knows quite a bit about shibori techniques as well. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Katrina also raises sheep on her ranch, Rose Butte Ranch, in eastern Washington (state, for all you East coasters!). You must check out the adorable shots of her animals. When I first caught up with Katrina in April, we had to reschedule our interview because one of her sheep was actually giving birth out in the pasture.

Katrina also teaches a variety of sewing classes, as well as the Craftsy course Decorative Seams. (BTW, you can get the class for 50 percent off through this link. Cha-ching!) Also, check out this recent Threads article on Katrina’s work studio, a dreamy retrofitted cabin/guesthouse on her ranch.

Happy listening! 

Notes:

Kai Scissors

PerfectSew Fabric Stabilizer

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*Outro music “Island Pop” by Drama for Yamaha

UPSTATE STATE OF MIND

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything personal here. The combo of a good amount of work, the intense experience of being pregnant and becoming a parent, podcasting, and life in general just hasn’t left me with a lot of time or energy for sewing this past year. Now that I have my body back to myself, I’m looking forward to making some new things. But right now what I’m really excited about is this appliqued quilt sampler.

Mama Fish has been visiting since the beginning of the month, and we’ve hidden ourselves away in a little paradise an hour or so out of the city where there are trees and lakes and rivers and you can breath a big lungful of air without that particular summer city potion of hot garbage fumes and sticky exhaust. Let me tell you, I am digging “upstate” New York this summer. Mama Fish brought along this quilt, which she’s finishing for Baby Fish, that she started way back in 2007.

I first glimpsed this handy work a couple years back, on a visit to my grandmother’s house in Idaho.  I fell hard for this quilt the second I saw it. Mama Fish said, with a wink, that she was making it for a grandkid. I got the hint. I won’t deny that I was a little motivated to have a kiddo just so I could have this beauty in my possession. She machine stitched the wreaths and vines, but all of the leaves and flowers are hand appliqued.

Before little minnow arrived, I’d planned on making a Gee’s Bend-style quilt for her, but I nixed that after we received a dowry-worth of handmade quilts and knitted blankets. This kid is never going to lack for something soft and made with love to wrap up in. I’ll have to share some of those here once I’m back in the city. For now, I’ll leave you with a few snapshots of summer, upstate style. I hope you’re having a good one, too.

A sewing blogger is only as good as her cats. Maybe that’s why I haven’t gotten anything done…

SEWING WITH LINEN! TIPS FROM LINDA LEE, EPISODE #20 OF THREAD CULT

Summer has officially arrived in a hot and sticky way here in NYC, and it’s definitely time for light-as-air dresses and blouses. Linen is one of my favorite summer fabrics, and it’s on my sewing list to make more garments of this fabric. That’s why I was very excited to speak with Linda Lee, of The Sewing Workshop, about all things linen.

Linda Lee

Linda is an accomplished seamstress, teacher, and writer. She contributes regularly to ThreadsSew News, and Stitch magazines, and she also designs The Sewing Workshop pattern line, a very cool collection with a casual Eileen-Fisher-meets-Issey-Miyake feel (I’m planning on making a few soon).

I really enjoyed speaking with Linda. She’s clearly very passionate and knowledgeable about linen, but also about sewing in general. She was an interior designer for years, before making a midlife career change when she bought a fabric store and became a sewing instructor. I love chatting with people who have made a success of their passion, and Linda has done just this.

This episode is the first part in a series I’ll be running over the next few months on sewing with summer-appropriate fabrics. Stay tuned for the next episode, an interview with the lovely Katrina Walker on sewing with silk.

Happy listening!

Notes:

Gray Line Linen 

IBC glass-head silk pins

Fabric-store.com

G Street Fabrics

A couple good resources for finding indi fabric stores around the country:

Fine Fabric Stores (25 indie fabric stores around the country)

Project 95 (searchable fabric and quilt shop database)

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* Top image from Country Living

*Outro music: “Spears” by Drama for Yamaha

BABY FISH IN THE HOUSE!

Well, it’s official. My little bambina, every perfect inch of her, has officially arrived. Actually, she came on her due date—incredibly punctual (like her daddy)—exactly three weeks ago. It’s taken me a while posting about her because, well, motherhood is a lot more consuming than I thought it would be. Free moments have been spent napping, binge watching Netflix, letting my body rest, and generally tripping out on my baby. I feel like I’ve been in a place where, outside of “feeding time” and “sleep time,” time really doesn’t exist. It seems like I was in labor either yesterday or years ago.

To be totally honest, I’ve been hesitant posting about my little girl here. I’ve had an internal debate brewing over whether I should share her picture on my blog and on the internet in general. (I’m sort of doing a half-assed compromise by showing her beautiful half profile up top.) After discussing it with Mr. Fish, we’ve decided little fish should control her own internet privacy when she’s good and ready. I won’t be posting pictures of her, at least not with her face. DaughterFish will continue on as a place for me to share my makes (many of which, I’m sure will be for her) and Thread Cult episodes.

Speaking of Thread Cult, I’m hoping to get the latest episode, a great interview with Linda Lee of The Sewing Workshop about sewing with linen, up this week! Now I just need an hour to edit…

ON THE BIAS! EPISODE #19 OF THREAD CULT

If I had to pick one type of dress to live in for the rest of my life, it would probably be some number cut on the bias. Even before I really knew what bias-cut clothing was, I lusted after hip-hugging 1930′s ball gowns. And I probably spent way too much time studying reproduction patterns from the ’30s before my wedding. I’ve experimented with some bias-cut designs, and I hope to do more after my little one arrives. For this reason, I was very excited to chat with Julianne Bramson and Susan Lenahan, co-owners of Fashions in Harmony, a pattern and fabric company specializing in bias-cut garments.

Julianne has spent years studying and designing bias-cut clothing, and I found her to be a wealth of information on everything from the right fabrics to use to the best finishing techniques for bias-cut garments. Julianne also reminded me that a lot of sewing on the bias comes down to old-fashioned geometry. Although my mind splits at that a little, I also appreciate the challenge of brushing off my high-school math skills.

I hope you enjoy this episode!

Notes:

Center for Pattern Design

Patterns of Fashion 2: 1860-1940, by Janet Arnold

The Vintage Pattern Lending Library

Decades of Style

Color Catcher 

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COLETTE PATTERNS! AN INTERVIEW WITH SARAI MITNICK, EPISODE #18 OF THREAD CULT

When I decided to start a sewing podcast this past winter, one of the first people I reached out to was Sarai Mitnick, founder and designer of Colette Patterns. I’ve admired Sarai’s patterns and blog, Coletterie, since I started getting back into sewing a few years ago. To my delight, Sarai immediately agreed to an interview. Rather than do a Skype chat (Sarai is based in Portland, OR), we decided to wait until she was going to be in New York, touring with her newest pattern the Laurel dress.

In mid-April, Sarai and I were finally able to catch up. She stopped by my apartment in Midtown, before heading out to a party at Brooklyn General for the new pattern. Sarai is just as smart and sweet as I thought she’d be. We chatted about everything from how she comes up with her designs to how hard it can be, as a woman, to pare down your wardrobe.

Before becoming a pattern maker and entrepreneur, Sarai worked in Silicon Valley doing user experience for places like Google. This analytical background has really shaped her approach to designing patterns and instructions, and I think ultimately makes her patterns wonderful teaching tools.

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did recording it!

As I mentioned before, I’m only posting episodes every other week through the summer, because I’ll have my hands full with my newborn (who could really arrive any day now!). Stay tuned for the next Thread Cult episode, all about sewing on the bias (one of my favorite topics!) with Julianne Bramson and Susan Lenahan from Fashion in Harmony, in which we geek out on Madeleine Vionnet and all things related to fabric grain.

Happy listening!

Notes:

Colette Patterns

Brooklyn General

Laurel Pattern

Grey’s Fabric

Mood classes

The Colette Sewing Handbook

Fabric Depot

Mill End

Bolt Fabric Boutique

Modern Domestic

Josephine’s Dry Goods

Free Sorbetto pattern

Spoonflower

Oonaballoona

Thread Cult episode on sewing for your sweetie (and why it’s so hard to sew for men!)

Thread Cult episode with the Williamsburg Seamster

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*Photo care of Sarai Mitnick

JEANS! COUTURE ADVICE FROM ANGELA WOLF, EPISODE #17 OF THREAD CULT

Angela Wolf

One of the great sewing challenges I’m attracted to—but somehow keep dodging—is making my own pair of jeans. I’ve read up on other sewing blogger’s makes, such as the lovely creations of Tanit Isis  and Thread Square, and even invested in Kenneth D. King’s Jean-ius class, but still haven’t worked up the nerve. (Being pregnant, btw, has given me the perfect out for 9 months + until whenever I get my bod back). Yet, I’m still very attracted to the idea, particularly because designer jeans are so God-awful expensive and I have a hard time finding jeans that I love. This is why it was great to speak with Angela Wolf, the lovely guest of this episode of Thread Cult.

Angela is a jeans guru, of sorts. She’s been making them for years—for herself, and as a custom designer— and the woman is a wealth of information. Angela dishes on what to look for in fabric, how to distress denim (hint: a trip to Home Depot is in order!), the perfect pockets, and how to get great topstitching. If you’ve been thinking of making jeans, or already tried and want to learn more, this is the episode for you!

Of course, Angela is much more than a jeans expert. She’s the founder and designer of ABO Apparel, a contributing editor to Threads and Sew Stylish magazines, the couture expert on It’s Sew Easy, she has a successful custom design business, a pattern line (including a jeans pattern),  and she teaches regularly on PatternReview.com, as well as two courses on Craftsy (see the notes, below).

I learned a ton from this interview, and I think you will too.

Happy listening!

Notes:

Angela Wolf Pattern Collection

Create TV

Tailoring for Ready-to-Wear class on Craftsy

Creative Serging class on Craftsy

Vogue Fabrics

Metro Textiles  (address: 265 West 37th Street, Suite 908, New York, NY 10018)

Fire Mountain Gems

Simplicity Felting Machine

Angela’s YouTube chanel

 

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INDIGO MAGIC, SHIBORI MADNESS

Cotton-and-silk voile nursing shawl/summer scarf

For more than six months, I’ve been meaning to take some of the shibori skills I learned in a workshop at the Textile Arts Center and experiment with an indigo batch at home. I must have been waiting until the weather warmed a bit…that, and maybe a last burst of energy before Baby Fish arrives in June. Last Monday, I invited some fellow textile geek friends over and we whipped up a batch of pre-reduced Indigo I bought from Dharma Trading Company. Between my little back deck and bathroom, we managed to dye yards of silk, cotton, and linen, along with a few pieces of clothing. Now I’m fighting the urge to dye every white surface (curtains, bedspreads, etc) with some shibori goodness.

The process was much easier and less messy than I’d anticipated (despite the fact that my bathtub looked like smurf roadkill afterward!…nothing that a little scrub pad didn’t fix.) And now I have even more respect for those little old Japanese ladies who can make incredibly uniform and precise designs. If you’re interested, I would highly recommend checking out this video, a documentary excerpt about traditional shibori techniques from Arimatsu, Japan (center of the shibori craft). Despite multiple viewings, however, I’m still grasping at how to get a perfect “willow” pattern on cloth.

Attempt at “willow” pattern on linen. I pleated the fabric and wrapped it around rope, tying it with polyester thread.

My big project was to cut out, partially sew, and dye linen pieces for a future dress I want to wear this summer, after the baby arrives. (Unfortunately, I’ve found my future dress design doesn’t look so hot on a preggo bod. It was cool in my first and second trimesters, but with my ginormous belly, it now literally looks like I’m wearing a tent!) Those pieces up top are for the future dress.

I mixed the dye bath in a 5 gallon plastic container from Lowes, and used a recycling bin I had from Ikea to transport the dyed materials to the bathroom for rinsing.

 Here are a few of my favorites from the dye party:

My friend C accordion folded yards of linen. I love the lines with the circular shapes.

For this piece of cotton, my friend L accordion folded the fabric, then sandwiched it between two triangular pieces of woods (leftover wood scraps), and tied the package together with thread. I caught her unwrapping it, so the dye still looks green. Indigo oxidizes to dark blue after it’s been exposed to air for a few minutes.

My friend A created this lovely yardage of silk crepe. The dye bath was actually a few days old and had been used quite a bit already, so the blue here is lighter, and there are some interesting turquoise patches. She accordion folded the fabric and then we sewed lines across the folds at varying distances (that’s where you see the white sections).

Of course, the party wouldn’t have been complete without Baby Fish getting in on the action. I hope she/he like them!

Lord help me from going overboard with the tie-dye and dressing my baby like a hippy!:)

 

 

 

GOING LOCAL WITH THE WESTERN CAROLINA SEWING COMPANY, EPISODE #16 OF THREAD CULT

In the months since I started Thread Cult, I’ve found myself drawn to people and businesses cutting their own path in the world of craft, sewing, and textiles. This week’s episode is no exception. When I was in North Carolina a few weeks back, I had the opportunity to interview Libby O’Bryan, a textile artist and founder of the Western Carolina Sewing Company (a.k.a. Sew Co.), which operates out of The Oriole Mill (the focus of episode #15).

Sew Co. is a full-service cut-and-sew manufacturer of high quality clothing and other products. Basically, Libby and her employees work with designers on everything from pattern design to sourcing fabrics and notions to actually constructing small fashion lines. It’s a service most designers would have to look for in a big city (or overseas), but Sew Co. is doing it all from the bucolic setting of western North Carolina.

As I mentioned in my last post, North Carolina has a rich history in the textile industry, but many of those businesses have closed or moved overseas during the past few years. Like Bethanne, of The Oriole Mill, Libby is focusing her business on producing the highest quality goods, and she’s been able to pull from an amazing wealth of seamstresses and pattern makers already living in the area who were once employed by the big textile mills. (Those sewing machines up top, btw, all came second-hand from closed textile mills.)

If you happen to be interested in starting your own sewn product business, you might be interested in a class that Libby is teaching at Penland School of Crafts this summer. According to Libby, it’s a sort of boot camp for getting your business off the ground. (Penland, btw, also seems like a cool place to hang out for a bit.)

If you’ve been listening to the podcasts as they come out, I wanted to give a heads up that they’ll still be coming regularly, but a little more spread out. I’m stashing away episodes, like a squirrel hiding nuts for the winter, in anticipation of Baby Fish arriving sometime in early June. Because of this, I’m only going to post an episode every other week, so I’ve got enough to go around until mid-July. We’ll see how ambitious I’m feeling after that! Until then, look out for a great episode the week after next with Threads contributor Angela Wolf on sewing jeans!

Here are a few images from Sew Co.’s design room:

A few works-in-progress, made with Jacquard fabrics from The Oriole Mill.

I nearly dropped my camera when I saw this lovely shibori top that Sew Co. made. The fabric treatment was accomplished with woven shibori fabric designed and dyed with natural dyes by Catharine Ellis. This is a technique I’m hoping to cover in a later episode.

Fabrics from The Oriole Mill. Sew Co. actually sews all of the fine linens made at the mill.

I LOVE this door, which was designed by Brandon Pass Architect (they’re called the Acoustic Doors). I think I need one for my future dream home.

Happy listening!

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Notes from this episode:

Opportunity Threads

Handmade in America

Local Cloth

12 Bones

Raleigh Denim

Appalatch