Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you and yours! My husband and I were lucky enough to enjoy 4 days of skiing this week at Mammoth Mountain resort in the California Sierra's. While we were there, it snowed 10 inches!

We wear helmets when we ski and it's interesting to note that almost everyone else does too. You must protect the noggin!! This year I made bags for our helmets to keep them from bumping around and also to give us a strap to hold onto them when not in use.

We got lots of great compliments and they were so easy to make. I traced the helmet, adding a few inches all around and cut the pattern out of fleece. Fleece was perfect - no fraying, soft and easy to sew. For the closure, I put in a heavy duty sport lace and a plastic toggle.

Make it Yourself and you'll be the hit of the slopes too! If you don't ski, I'm sure there's a bicyclist, snowboarder, skate boarder, motorcyclist or other active person in your life that could use a helmet bag.

Chanel and That Jacket: Part 2

Like I said before, the Chanel Jacket has always caught my eye. So, I went to the Chanel "sale" at Decades Two, an upscale designer resale boutique. The two main rooms were flooded with Chanel jackets, suits, coats, purses, shoes, handbags and more. All used, all in great shape and all on "sale". Now, when an item originally costs around $4,500, the word sale here means 50% off and sometimes more. A Chanel bargain if there ever was one. Here's a pic of the main room, loaded with jackets.

I know the cardigan shaped jacket is what made Coco famous but I like a traditional collar. So, I decided to try a few on. European sizing can be tricky. The more relaxed, boxy jackets fit me in a 36. The fitted versions meant a 38. Many of the jackets were quite small - size 32 and a few 34's. I guess those starving Hollywood celebrities are the people who buy these new! I went with a friend - that always helps. She was honest and brutal. I fell in love with two.

The first was a green and black cotton/linen/wool fitted military style jacket. Fit like a glove. Pockets that buttoned at the breast and hip locations, beautiful sleeve vents and a back vent, all with 4 hand sewn buttons. The buttons were made for me - tiny open scissors with the Chanel logo. The inside is lined in green silk.

The second was a multi colored more traditional hip length style with shades of lavender, brown, grey and black. Bracelet sleeves, pockets at the breast and hip but no flaps. More relaxed fit, easy to dress up or down. Buttons are detailed with two hands shaking and the Chanel logo. Lined in grey silk. Lovely.

Merry Christmas to me!

Chanel and That Jacket

I'm not sure when my fascination with Chanel jackets developed but as long as I can remember, it's an item that I vowed to one day put in my closet.

Several years ago I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to Palm Springs to observe Claire Shaeffer's class, Chanel and That Suit. This is a very high end hands on class. For five days a select group of students learn about Coco Chanel, her life and contributions to fashion, examine Chanel designs from Claire's personal collection as well as slides from private and museum collections, learn to select and adapt patterns and choose fabrics, and learn the techniques that make Chanel, well Chanel! Decorative trims, the three piece sleeve, unusual and contrast linings, unique hand buttonholes, chain weights and quilting. You work on a half scale model of a jacket but focus on techniques so you can go back home and spend the next weeks (months?) creating your own. I was inspired and loved looking through her collection. She is a wealth of knowledge and a wonderful woman.

I was so pleased to recently learn that she has published a CD-based album exploring her wonderful collection of Chanel garments, inside and out. Here is a quote from her blog about it:

"I doubt there's ever been such an extensive collection of full-garment and close-up, full-color photos—over 600 images—detailing the work and influence of a single designer, so readily available; all thanks to the wonders of the pdf format. It's been quite a mammoth task, shooting, editing pix and commentary, designing, building, proofing, testing… But it's finally done!"

"If you've ever wondered what all the fuss was about regarding couture garment-making, prepare to be amazed at the astonishing skills and efforts that emerged from the Chanel workrooms. Each pdf page is 11x17 inches at 100%, so the slides can be zoomed in on for great detail. The couture blouses are particularly spectacular!"

I just ordered my copy and I can't wait to receive it. In the meantime, Decades Two in Beverly Hills is having their one day a year Chanel consignment sale. I think I'll have to check it out..........

The Art of Sewing : Cirque Du Soleil: Kooza

I had the pleasure of attending the latest Cirque Du Soleil show in Santa Monica this past weekend and what a show it was. Kooza tells the story of The Innocent, a melancholy loner in search of his place in the world. As a lover of clothes, the costumes in Kooza held a special fascination. The Costume Designer, Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt, states "My costumes draw on....everything from graphic novels, the paintings of Gustav Klimt, Baron Munchhausen,the Mad Max movie, time travel movies to India and Eastern Europe." And boy, does it show. Here are a few of her sketches.

Cirque pays special attention to their costumes. I read that they actively seek out new materials which can be used. A "technological watch team" tracks global advances in adhesives, batteries and miniature lights to see how they could be incorporated into costumes. The team looks beyond boundaries of standard textiles to encompass fields such as avionics, plumbing, water sports and even dentistry for components that achieve the imagined task.

The artisans of Cirque Du Soleil's Costume workshop custom-make all the costumes, dyeing the colors in-house or painting costumes directly. They mold each individual hat on a plaster model of the artist's head for a perfect fit. They consider comfort during these shows too: the wig-making team, for example, builds wigs one hair at a time to achieve optimal ventilation. The attention to detail is staggering: the juggler's suit in KOOZA consists entirely of mirrored squares, like a disco ball.

Anyone who wonders why they should learn to sew or why it's so special should just take a look at these costume sketches. The creative process, the gathering of materials, the time spent constructing and the pleasure the audience has in experiencing - these are all reasons to sew. Whether your "costume" is a Holiday outfit, special slacks or cozy jacket, the personal rewards are the same. Just create!

Successfull Venice Swap!

The Venice Swap was a success! Thanks to all the volunteers who generously devoted their time and skill. We made trick or treat bags, costumes, and silk screened skulls and daggers.

Felicity Huffman and daughter were in the house transforming their new found clothes. Who says thrift is only for the poor?? Swap focuses on recycling, transforming, creating and being "green."

Make it Yourself!
Stay tuned for our 2010 events.

October, our favorite month of the year!

Who doesn't love October? The crisp air that fall brings, Harvest Moon, fresh apples, changing leaves, and of course Halloween.

Take the time this fall to create something for yourself, you deserve it. It can be as simple as a new set of napkins and matching placemats or your own Halloween trick or treat bag. Our DVD's will guide you.

This October is special because Susie and I will be traveling to Italy to help our father celebrate his 80th birthday in the town his father grew up in. How special is that!

Susie will be blogging on her site Sweetie Petitti about the food during our trip.

May October bring special gatherings your way too!

Halloween Costume Swap and General Clothing Swap

How much fun would Halloween be if we all made our own costumes? When I was growing up my parents made their costumes every year. They were the best you ever saw - Mickey and Minnie, the Organ Grinder and Monkey, old Roman's in Toga's.
Check them out in the picture. It doesn't have to be elaborate - just creative!

And here's a sneak peek of Helena Bonham Carter in costume who appears with Johnny Depp in the upcoming movie Alice in Wonderland. That's a home-made costume too! Thank goodness for Hollywood which continues to inspire us all!

Well, we hope to inspire you too with another Swap O Rama Rama. Coming October 10 to the Venice Center for Peace and Justice with the Arts. This will be a general clothing swap as well as a Halloween costume swap. Our silk screeners have come up with some groovy designs and we'll have stations making trick or treat bags, finger puppets, special Halloween applique's and more!
Check out the website to stay in the loop!

Frugal Festival this Sunday in Los Angeles

Most people who sew and craft tend to be on the frugal side. We appreciate the beauty in simple things and hate to throw anything away. We recycle instead of throwing away - whether that means giving it to a thrift shop or a friend, waste isn't in our vocabulary. If this describes you, then Sunday, July 26, in Woodley Park is a Festival just for you - Frugal Festival. Everything is FREE! So bring your unwanteds - anything and everything. It's a giant give and take and a chance to discover a new treasure.

As a loyal Swapper this is my kind of festival!

The Fabric of Our Lives

I am very lucky to have two sisters who I enjoy spending time with. Unfortunately, they live far away. But this past weekend we all got together at the big sister's new house for a visit. The oldest, Patti, lost her house in a tornado last year so she was very excited to finally have a new home. I know she lost many personal things in the tornado, many with sentimental value. Like clothes and quilts and old patterns and even favorite jewelry. We take these things for granted until we lose them - I call it the Fabric of our Lives.

Quilting is a time honored tradition that lets you bring fabric to life. Whether you use scraps from fabrics that have a meaning or buy fabrics that you enjoy - it doesn't matter. What matters is the time and love you put into creating the quilt.

Anyone can quilt and if you haven't tried it before, get going! Our DVD, A Simple Quilt, is a beautiful five piece block called Looking Thru a Window.

On our trip to Patti's we toured the countryside and enjoyed a few Barn Quilts! Hope you enjoy them too and remember, life is short, spend the time with those you love.

Swap Success - Thank you all volunteers and participants

Saturday's Swap was a huge success - over 260 participants came downtown LA to the California Market Center to create new from old. The DIY spirit and the recycle craze is well entrenched in LA. Thank you everyone! Enjoy some photos. And a link to KB, our applique guru's, flickr page here.

Swap O Rama Rama - Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bring your clothes and $5 to the
Swap O Rama Rama this Saturday
at the California Market Center.

Twelve design stations with sewing
machines, felting machines, silk
screening, fabric paints, glue guns and more.

Reduce, reuse, refashion!

Dog Days of Summer

I don't know about you but in California we have been waiting for summer for what seems like a very long time. And now it's here - and a hot one at that! My sisters in Iowa and Memphis tell me the same - hot with humidity. What's a crafter to do? Head to the beach I say! Whip up a tote with our Making Handbags pattern and throw in a good book.
And don't forget the sunscreen!

Swap Success

The Sunday Swap at the Santa Monica Museum of Art was a huge success!

Thank you to all the Designers, Volunteers and Museum Staff that made it possible. We transformed hundreds of t-shirts otherwise destined for the junk yard! From silk screening to doll making - and even making a dress!

What I loved about this Swap was the diversity of the participants - young, old, man, woman, punk, traditional and from the pages of High Fashion.

Stay tuned for news of the upcoming July event!

Swap O Rama Rama - tomorrow at SMMOA

Come one, come all to the Santa Monica Museum of Art on Sunday, May 31 and transform your old t-shirts into something new!

Our silk screener's have created three very cool designs for you: bird, bike, recycle LA.

Two felting machines will be set up with swatches of wool roving to get your creative juices rolling.

14 sewing machines will be armed with designers (and possibly a free one for you to try your own hand) ready to transform.

This is the most fun you can possibly have without being on Project Runway!

4 Short Days to Swap O Rama Rama at the Santa Monica Museum of Art

That's right, on Sunday, May 31, we will convene at the Santa Monica Museum of Art for another Swap O Rama Rama. This is a special T-shirt only Swap in support of the museums program Cause for Creativity.

The line up of silk screeners and designers armed with sewing machines is awesome and you can learn more about them here.

At Swap, you bring T-shirts and a mere $5 and gain entry to a room full of creativity. Over 10 stations are at your access armed with a bevy of talented professionals to help you transform old into new. This is all about reuse, reduce and recycle.

So, come Sunday from 2pm to 5pm at the Santa Monica Museum of Art located in the Bergamot Staion, Building I, 2525 Michigan Ave, Santa Monica, Ca 90404.

As a special treat, here's a look at the creation of a Hoodie from two old T-shirts. We had a lot of fun making this video, as you'll be able to tell! But it turned out darn cute and I'll be wearing it Sunday!!

American Sewing Guild

I have long been a member of the American Sewing Guild (ASG) and last weekend we had our annual Los Angeles Chapter meeting. What an inspirational group. I lead a Neighborhood Group in the Westside of LA and I'm hoping that 2011 will bring lots of new ideas to all our members..

Our next Neighborhood Group meeting is Thursday, November 11 at the uber hip Urban Craft Center. The UCC, as it is commonly known, is a studio designed to nurture creative energy. The space is bright and lofty with lots of tables, seating, equipment and books.

Come and check it out, learn about the ASG and get your creative juices flowing. Donna will be leading the group in making Teacup Pincushions. You don't need to be a member to attend the meeting - just bring your curiousity along.

ASG Westside Neighborhood Group Meeting
Second Thursday of every month (except December) from 6:30 - 8pm
Urban Craft Center
2433 Main Street
Santa Monica, Ca 90405
Group leader: Lori Petitti

Santa Monica Art Festival May 9

The 18th Annual Santa Monica Arts Festival is this weekend at Clover Park. The festival theme is "Revel with a Cause" and the line up for music, food, workshops and vendors is fantastic. We will be selling our US Forestry recycled canteen bags while they last as well as other assorted Hip Line Media goodies designed to get you creating!

See the line up at the Festival website. Back again is the Fashion Workshop with Ann Closs-Farley. She will be creating outfits out of paper bags. She is uber talented and fun to watch. Our great friend Asuka Hisa of the Santa Monica Museum of Art will be helping folks design trophies at her workshop "Champions of Change".

The weather will be great so get on out and party with us in the park!

Sewing for Earth Day at the Long Beach Aquarium

In celebration of Earth Day the Long Beach Aquarium will be having a special events festival that will include sewing stations to make sea creatures out of old clothes! This is a great event to encourage recycling and reconstruction as well as let people see how fun and easy it is to sew. We do all the sewing and it's all free with your Aquarium admission ticket. So, check us out!

Getting Ready for T-shirt Swap

In preparation for our T-shirt transformation Swap-O-Rama-Rama, we got together with a few designers to work out projects. Sean Devereaux of Social Studies will be creating his famous "monster" plushies again. This is a great project for kids and beginners as well as an opportunity for creative types to really express themselves. These monster plushies make perfect baby gifts and dog toys!

T-shirt Transformation Swap-O-Rama-Rama will be for the Santa Monica Museum of Art on Sunday, May 31, 2009. Get more updates and sign up for our email here.

Enjoy this short video of Sean making his lady monster plushie!

How to make a Tulip Handbag

Spring is in the air and what better way to celebrate your creativity but learning to sew a simple, adorable Tulip shaped Handbag. The final project is perfect for a dress up night out on the town.

The pattern can be found on our website listed with the downloads for the Making Handbag DVD. Simply cut out the pieces following the pattern guidelines, fuse interfacing to both the interior and exterior pieces as well as the handles, then sew! We like to use the acro fusible interfacing. It has a good weight and is easy to sew through.

After sewing the handles, the interior and exterior sides, you are ready for assembly. Be careful to place the handles correctly - on the right side of the interior fabric facing the bottom of the bag.

Pop the interior into the exterior - right sides together - and sew the perimeter leaving and opening between one side of the handle for you to pull the handbag out, the "birthing" process. You'll know what I mean if you've seen the handbag DVD. Press well and topstitch the handbag closed. Add a closure of your liking.

Here's a short video of Susie going through the major sewing steps. This is a great project to accompany a prom dress this spring!

Swap-O-Rama-Rama in Santa Monica May 31, 2009

Save your T-shirts! A special T-shirt Transformation Swap O Rama Rama will be held at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in Bergamot Station on May 31. This event is part of the Museum's Cause for Creativity workshops.

You are invited to participate as a Volunteer helper, Designer or Swapper. Museum members will get free admission with a bag of t-shirts. All others will get in for $5 with a bag of t-shirts or $10 without.

There will be silk screeners and a number of design stations including making totes, plushies, re-design and more. Stay tuned for more details!

Hail to the Chief!!