For a long time, I’ve wanted to combine two of my passions…photography and fabric. I’ve been fascinated with Photoshop for some time, and recently discovered a vehicle for designing fabric digitally, Spoonflower.
I started out with a picture I captured with my digital camera.
Used Photoshop for fun, and uploaded my design to Spoonflower.
I proofed the design to make sure the visual imagery was what I wanted.
“In this era of service jobs and office work, most of us have never been inside a factory. Several decades of overseas competition, unequal trade policies, and a flood of cheap imports have decimated American factories. Since 1990, job losses in apparel and textiles have been greater than those in any other type of manufacturing, and today we have little idea where, or how, the shirt on our back is made.
In 2010, I discovered an old yarn mill in Maine that reminded me of the state hospital workshops I had photographed for my book, Asylum. While those places had long been abandoned, this mill was fully operational, a scene from the past miraculously coexisting with the present. I returned to the mill several times, and from conversations with employees, learned of other mills in the Northeast, many still functioning as they had for decades, using vintage equipment now prized for producing the “genuine article”.
In 2013, I toured several mills in the Carolinas, where the majority of textile production eventually migrated from New England, because the labor was cheaper. The mills are vast and mostly automated, and have survived by adapting technologically to the global marketplace. Though they bear little resemblance to their Northern forbearers, they are bound by a common history and are economically dependent on each other. By the time a finished fabric reaches the customer, it has passed through many factories, each a crucial link in the chain of production.
Over the past five years, I have gained access to an industry that continues to thrive, albeit on a much smaller scale, and for the most part, out of public view. With my photographs I aim to show how this iconic symbol of American manufacturing has changed and what its future may hold. I also wish to pay tribute to the undervalued segment of Americans who work in this sector. They are a cross section of young and old, skilled and unskilled, recent immigrants, and veteran employees, some of whom have spent their entire lives in a single factory. Together, they share a quiet pride and dignity, and are proof that manual labor and craftsmanship still have value in today’s economy.”
Today, before I venture out to do my inner core workout, I want to share my latest endeavor, “Block Painting.” I’ve wanted to experiment with this technique for awhile, and decided to go for it! Initially, the blocks were purchased to use with polymer clay, but after watching numerous YouTube videos, I decided to use fabric. I also plan on using the eclectic mix of paint in my collection, before investing in the medium.
Here are various blocks for borders, allover printing, etc.
Remnants of a quilting project.
I drew a grid on the fabric first for placement of the block. Of course, the striped fabric may or may not be your choice, but I wanted to try it anyway.
try try again. My journey back into sewing all started with an unsuccessful trip to the mall. The mass produced garments hanging on the racks, sewn out of low quality fabric, and lacking style and fit did not deserve a visit to the fitting room. I briskly walked to my car and could not wait to arrive home because tucked away in several storage bins in my attic were options, Swiss cotton, Italian cotton, wool and silk.
It just so happened a pattern drafting Skirts class being offered at Eddie’s Quilting Bee fit my schedule.
By implementing Sally-Ann’s instructions in conjunction with NicoleSmith’s,Skirt-A-Day Sewing, I drafted a skirt foundation block using my low hip measurement. Upon the completion of the skirt block, I drafted a two-dart sloper. At this point, Sally-Ann mentioned, “Sometimes in takes three to eight muslin to reach the final draft.” My first draft needed alteration. After taking 2″ off the waist and 1/4″ off below the low hip, I drafted a second sloper. The second muslin side seams pointed out that my hips tilt forward. Sigh..Back to the drawing board. I drafted 3/4″ off the back and added it to the front. The third muslin did not hang even. I have one hip higher than the other. I proceeded to cut and pivot the front by inserting 1/2″ at the low hip measurement, and inserting 1/4″ to the back. The fourth muslin back did not require any further alterations, but I needed to pivot the front by inserting an additional 1/2″ for a total of 1″. The fifth muslin front and fourth muslin back are perfect… ten drafts later. The final copy of the final sloper needs to be mounted on poster board with spray adhesive. On to the next phase, A-Line Skirt.
I learned how to sew before I picked up a crochet hook and a pair of knitting needles. During the 60’s, the clothing industry did not design clothes with the “chubbie” girl in mind. I was fashion conscious and my parents were dollar conscious, so my mother taught me how to sew on her Singer. Proudly, I modeled my first sewn dress at eight years old. Flashback to the 60’s brings forward the visual memories of Twiggy’s large eyes and long eyelashes, the Mod tunic, psychedelic concert posters, and the peace sign. A world of bold organic and geometric shapes detailed with color as bold as the design.
On a recent trip to Eddie’s Quilting Beehttp://www.eddiesquiltingbee.com/ in Mt. View, CA, I was drawn to the bold graphic design and color of a bolt of fabric from the collection of Etsuko Furuya. After selecting a pattern and purchasing the fabric I cruised on down the freeway excited to dust off the cover of my sewing machine and began to sew.
The more I manipulated the fabric, memories of the 60’s emerged. I was remined of Marimekko (meaning Mary’s frock) of Finland. Marimekko, a woman-owned company, woman-operated Finnish fabric design house that dominated fashions of the 60’s and 70’s. The company was founded in 1951 by Armi Ratia, the wife of a failed oilcloth factory owner. Armi had to have her husband secure a loan for her new venture because during the 60’s it was uncommon for a woman to attempt such a thing.