My Ashland Project

Starting, particularly starting with a new way of thinking, is often a daunting task.  I was really excited that our DOL mentors recognized this and gave us several "starting places."

One of our inspirations at the DOL workshop (As you may recall I went to Ashland, OR to play with Diane Ericson, et al.)  was the concept of an apron as a working garment.  It was one of the "entry points" that Diane and Holly suggested for our work during our week in Ashland.  

Another option was to start with fabric.  Not simply yardage of one fabric, but a 'collage' of different fabrics with 3D elements and textures that would suggest the direction of a garment.

A different 'way in' was to play with 'upcycling' or 'reworking' other garments.

Each person chose a starting point and it was great to have the experiences of all the 
DOL-ers to understand how each 'way in' evolved into a project.

I decided that starting with 3D fabric sounded intriguing and went about putting together a mishmash of stuff.

...when last we saw the "Ashland Project" it was most of a dress and the beginning of a vest/jacket/something......the saga continues...

It took me a while to jump back in.  I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about 'finishing' my project...by myself!  Well, it's just fabric right?  So I threw it up on the dress form and had at it!  Yikes!

Diane and Gwen had helped me decide that my collage pieces would be great for the back and the right side of a short, shrug style jacket, so that's where I started when I got home.

There was so much going on on the right side I decide to keep the left side a bit calmer by using one piece of fabric (not sure that plaid is all that 'calm!').  One of the collage pieces seemed to want to be a shawl collar so that's where I headed.

The process was more like 'sculpting' than the sewing I am used to.  I realized that when we sew with traditional patterns and fabric we start by cutting away all the parts that we don't think are part of the pattern.  As I worked on my jacket, I wasn't cutting things away until I had made a very intentional decision about what I wanted it to be...jacket part or scrap!  

As I made decisions about seam placements, closures, collars, darts the jacket began to take shape.  It was fun to be surprised by a detail that presented itself as the result of the previous decision.

One of the ideas that we explored at DOL was the difference between a garment looking 'high-end boutiquey' or 'home-made crafty'... How does raw edge construction not appear as just 'unfinished?'   What tips the scale toward 'art-garment?'  As I thought about these things at home I decided that for this garment I wanted it to be 'intentional' and have a high degree of 'finishing.'  I thought those would be the keys to it being more in the boutiquey category.  

I lined the body of the jacket, cutting the back lining on the bias to maintain the fluidness of the back fabrics.  I finished the collar to the outside with a bias strip to cover the seam.  Figuring out the sewing order to make sure I could get a professional finish was a real exercise in engineering.

'Pink' stepped forward as the accent color. I used it to stencil 'dogwood-esque' blossoms on the back shoulder reminiscent of the gorgeous dogwoods that were in bloom in Ashland.  I found myself adding other details that came from my "DOL friends in my head"....(it's kind of like hearing voices, but in a good way!) Rows of hand stitching, beads, prairie points.....

Each decision resulted in a little pile of 'bits' on my cutting table!

I was particularly surprised and pleased with the way the collar turned out.  I knew that the stripes would never chevron the way I would prefer, and when the ends (that had not been cut away!) overlapped themselves, it was the perfect solution.

Notice the 3D 'tail' that was part of the original collaged piece.
I used the sleeve pattern from Diane's Fault Lines pattern, I love them!!!!
Will be incorporating them into more garments

I am also very pleased with how the jacket works with the dress.  The dress is cut on the bias to allow 'entry' without a zipper!  Adding 3 darts for shaping at the back really emphasizes the 3D element of the jacket's back.

The dress started its life as a very large pale gray linen tablecloth!  (Great way to get a lot of fabric!) Here are some details of the dress...

The bust dart is incorporated into the neckline seam/detail.  The collar is a bias strip allowed to stand away from the body to add another 3D element.  The drawstring at the hem gives the dress a funky fun silhouette.

I also like the jacket with this top that I made before the trip to Ashland...score!  The top has a bias cut linen panel in the front with cotton jersey sides and back.  Very comfy to wear. (Yes the 'tail' of the jacket is the leftover from the top!)

You can probably tell that I spent a bit of time with this project.  The evolution and learning were amazing and I feel like I have immersed myself in a new way of thinking that I can now incorporate into my way of working and my style.  ...And I finished it in time to wear it for my ASG Spring Fashion Show!  Ba-da-Bing!


  1. Hey Becky, this turned out amazing! But I had no doubt that it would. Hugs Ro.

    1. I couldn't figure out how to get any purple in there, but I thought you would approve!

  2. What a beautiful, inventive, wearable jacket. A really stunning piece of art-wear. There are plenty more praise adjectives waiting to be said about your work but I'll leave it at the above.
    In a previous post you used some metallic pens – I couldn't see the brand name so wonder if you could post that. Love to get some.
    So glad I found your blog courtesy of Communing with Fabric.

    1. Thank you for your kind 'adjectives!' Wow, you are looking closely! The pens are some that I must have picked up at Office Max, because that's the only name on them. I can't tell you how long ago it was so I hope they still have them. I don't think they are 'fabric' pens, but they seem to do OK without bleeding the way some pens do. Good hunting!

    2. Just a further note to say thanks for the pen update. As I live in Canada I don't think we have Office Max here but I'll check for similar pens in the outlets we do have.
      Also just wanted to say how much I like your "remnant" boiled wool jacket with the knitted sleeves. The acid green is very attractive and the sleeves you made look to be a perfect match to the fabric. I think I see the beginnings of your "Ashland jacket" in the making of this one. Process is SO INTERESTING.
      Your carry-on bag is also an inspiration. I know they do take two days in the sewing room – at least. I could make a coat in less time than it took me to make the last two bags...not that I'm complaining because I got exactly what I wanted. However, there's always room for improvement. I hope my next bag will be poifect.
      Also love, LOVE the dress you made to wear to DOL. Another inspiration for me. I have the pattern, the fabric and the technology
      Thanks for all the inspiration.

  3. Good luck finding the pens. You will probably be tired of hearing about Ashland, but it was very inspiring for me and just the kick in the bum I needed! Thanks for your interest.

  4. I'll never get tired of hearing about Ashland or DOL or the inspiration you received. I used to go to Ashland about four times a year for many years but that was before Diane was there. I miss it very much and may have the opportunity to go in June. If I have the chance I'll look in on Diane and possibly whip over to Marcy's while I'm at it.
    I'm awaiting your next project with great anticipation.

  5. Shouldn't be too long...I'm working away!