What I did on my Summer Vacation...

Last summer I mentioned that I was working on a project that I couldn't share...well, I can now fill you in on it.  I was working on a garment for an article that is in the current issue of Threads Magazine.  

My idea is something that I have used often in my designs.  I look to one
fabric for inspiration when creating an embellishment for another fabric.  I often have fabrics that I want to use together because I like the color or the drape or the weight, but they don't necessarily coordinate with each other.  I will use some detail of one of the fabrics as the spark for embellishing the second one.  I also use this idea when I want to tie a piece together that might have several fabrics in it.  I call it "Echoing."  

(THIS older post has a good example of how I used the idea of echoing)

I don't usually copy the exact motif or texture or color to the fabric I am embellishing, but I take a silhouette or some aspect of the inspiration fabric and use that to create a surface design.  I'm not looking for 'matchy-matchy' fabrics, just something that makes them work together...an element of synergy.

In the piece I did for Threads I started with a piece of gold colored melton weight wool.  Now you may have noticed in my other posts that gold is not a color that I use very often...and you would be correct! 

It was interesting for me to find out that the editors of Threads have a color palette for each issue.(you can see the one for the February/March 2018 issue on the left of the photo)   I don't know how they decide on the combinations, but as I started working on the article they sent me the palette for the February/March 2018 issue so that my choice of fabrics would fit in with the rest of the colors throughout the issue.  It was a challenging palette for me and just the kind of thing that would have me trolling around for ways to fit gold into my 'normal' color choices.  A perfect opportunity for 'echoing!'

I bought the gold wool and went about finding fabrics in my stash that might give me a spark of inspiration to create an embellishment for the wool, AND fit within the colors of the issue. 

 The article gives a good idea of the different things I tried.  Some of them were more literal than others and some were definitely more successful than others.  I often find that there are ideas that my head comes up with that my artistic skills just can't live up to!  Painted embellishments quite frequently live in this category.  But whether the idea works out or not, it is always fun to experiment and get a bit messy.  Usually the testing takes  way longer than actually making the piece.

The brown and gold combo didn't even make the first cut of being in the color palette.  But I did find the rick-rack interesting with the Malaysian print rayon...might have to play some more with that combo.

I played for quite a while.  Trying different media and different techniques.  Part of the decision is how it looks and part of the choice is how well I can execute it! 

I had to go back and forth between writing about the work and doing the work.  It was definitely the case that I was creating the path as I walked it.  It was interesting to put my process into words, particularly words that would make sense to someone else.  I worked with a wonderfully patient and insightful editor, who took my thoughts and really wove them into a coherent piece.  When I would get something from her I would always think, "Yeah, that's what I meant!"  She made the process very accessible and fun.  I hope I will be able to do some more in the future.

It took a good chunk of my studio time this summer and fall so I am glad to be able to share it here, I really wasn't being lazy, just had to keep it under wraps until it was published.  The pictures that Threads took are obviously professional and really make the idea come to life...I did take a few pics as I was working that are not part of the article.  They are definitely in a different league than the Threads shots.

Because I was under a deadline and really didn't have time to create a new pattern as well as finish the surface design, I chose to use my favorite long vest pattern.  I knew it would work in the wool fabric and I could use the 'inspiration' fabric to make a top to go with it.

I used several of my 'raw edge' tricks...Petersham ribbon to stabilize the button holes and button band, top stitching around the armholes, lapped seams with more top stitching.  The collar is made of a wool jersey, and again the edges are left raw.  I also used the jersey to make the pockets.

I finally settled on a pretty simple stitched design to 'echo' the stripes in the inspiration fabric.  I used double thread to beef up the stitching.  It only took a couple of color changes to realize that I needed a better way to move through the colors...voila!...chopsticks stuck into thread spools did the trick.

I pulled each thread end to the back and tied them off by hand to secure them so there were no 'back-stitched' areas on the front of the garment.  

I used the multi-colored top stitching design to sew the lapped seams.

The top is a riff on my favorite T pattern.  I draped the fronts and attached them to the back and sleeves of my T-shirt pattern.

At the end of the day, I am pretty pleased with the outfit.  I might need to rethink the idea of using gold!  

I am also pleased and grateful to the team at Threads for helping me and producing such a wonderful resource for those of us addicted to sewing.  


  1. I’m so inspired by this idea! Thanks Becky

  2. Sure thing! Hope you have fun 'messing around' with it.

  3. How fun this is! I had read your article in Threads and liked the ideas it set off in my head with a top I had finished last year. Now I happened on your blog and see "the rest of the story." I need to try it out.

    1. Glad I could get your head jumping with ideas. Enjoy!

  4. Loved the article in threads and this "behind the scenes" narrative of how it came about! Very inspiring - maybe I will try some of your ideas one of these days!

    1. I didn't want to just repeat the article here, so I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for reading and sharing.

  5. What a nice surprise to see your article in Threads! I've been reading and enjoying your blog for a while, and you've inspired me to try different, more risky, techniques. Well done, and hoping to see more of your published articles.

    1. Steppin' into risk....I love it! It's only fabric, right?! Good to have you along.