Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Capturing something elusive

I have been blessed to be working with some seriously amazing and creative people. People who translated my vision into reality. Kristin Nilsson of Creative Nilsson Design came highly recommended by a friend. I met her for coffee one afternoon and attempted to describe what I was trying to do with Meandering Design (at that point I did not have a very solid idea of what my vision was!). I gave her a very vague idea of what I was looking for in my logo (I think I was more clear about what I did not want, then in expressing what I wanted.) I sent her the photos below to give a gist of the mood I was trying to evoke and colors I wanted. 

She translated my vision into a reality I could not have even imagined and this is the brilliant logo she designed-

I love that it evokes a needle and thread, but that it is not overt. My hope is that Meandering Design will one day be more then just my hand-sewn goods and this logo gives me room to grow. 

Here is my Etsy banner, which just makes me squee with delight-

Take a look at Meandering Design on Facebook because Kristin designed the cover page image and you will see more of what she has done. The logo and everything else she has created make it all seem much more real. I am really doing it. Now I better go get some sewing done!

Thank you Kristin!!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Just perfect for a picnic

Chicago is absolutely at its brilliant best in the summer. Outdoor movies, music and fests. I have a great picnic backpack that some friends gave me years ago and in it I had stashed a plain beige sheet. It was just so blah. I came across a vibrant 1970's sheet and it was just the thing for a picnic. So I lined it with another old sheet and it is perfect for laying about in Grant Park. I found some more fabulous sheets and a 1990's denim duvet cover (does anyone remember that whole Ralph Lauren ranch chic look from the 90's?).  My friend Maria needed a picnic blanket and chose the first one I ever made.

Her son is an equal opportunity picnicker and likes them all.

The blankets, sans ridiculously cute baby, will be available June 1st in the shop. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Truth is Messy

I am sharing this post because often I see blogs written by creative and crafty people and their space is so beautiful, and there are unicorns prancing about, and I think to myself I must be doing something wrong. Except, that is not true because life is messy. Creating is messy and when I am in the midst of sewing the house is a....well, there is no other way to put it--mess. Sewing is not what takes the most time and creates the most mess. No, what takes time is doing the laundry, ironing, and cutting fabric. Some times too it takes time to decide how I am going to put things together and what it should look like. I'll lay something out and leave it to sit overnight and decide in the morning if it works. For example, I am trying to lay out this quilt, but there are a couple of things I am not sure about. In the meantime it sits on the kitchen table. Oh, and on the floor are scraps from the sheets I just cut to make picnic blankets out of that I was in the process of ironing, until I started taking pictures (oh shiny...).

I would like to point out that there is no dirt on my floor, but there is thread and bits of fabric. My whole house has thread strewn from one end to the other. I wake up in the morning and there is thread in my bed. I get dressed and leave the house and find myself absent-mindedly picking thread off of my clothes. I do vacuum but it doesn't matter if  I do because moments later I am cutting fabric and sewing and there is thread everywhere again. 

Here is a glimpse of the living room with the half-started picnic blankets, a finished picnic blanket and bits of fabric that may or may not find its way into the quilt I am making. Yes, that is a glass of wine because I was cutting fabric and ironing at nine o'clock on a Friday night.

Here are the piles in the sewing room. While I do have adequate storage space for materials I leave out things to do and things that are done and need pictures. Draped over the chair are things that need their pictures taken.

A friend the other day mentioned how lucky I was to have a separate sewing room and she is right, except all I can do in the sewing room is sew and store fabric. What is missing is the space to iron fabric, to lay out fabric and cut it and a place to properly photograph things. For today I iron in my living room, cut fabric on the kitchen table and sew in the sewing room and it works. I will admit that I am day dreaming about a loft that is a cooperative with other crafty like-minded people and space to spread out and do everything. A girl has to have dreams! Of course in my dreams the space looks a bit like Neal Caffrey's dining room from the television show White Collar. Oh, and if Neal Caffrey were to show up and want to take me out to dinner I couldn't possibly say no. Those windows and that balcony are swoon worthy.

Here is another great shot of the...um, windows.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Holy excitement batman

I am still working on getting business cards, after a small fiasco with a printer, but I did get my clothing labels and they are fabulous. Today for the first time I used them and here is the result. This is a skirt that is going to be listed when the store opens June 1st.

Did I mention that I am opening the shop on June 1st. Talking to my mom today I mentioned I could not come out for Memorial Day weekend because I need to open the shop on June 1st. Come to find out that my mother thought I was opening a brick and mortar store. That would be nice, but for now Meandering Design will only be available online.

I always forget to take pictures of things before I chop them up and remake them, but today I remembered. This is a 1970's dress that I found at the thrift store. It looks kind of like something Mrs. Roper would wear on Three's Company. Please excuse Mrs. Palmer, her 1880's hips do not quite suit the 1970's look.

It's label says "by At Home Wear for VanRaalte". I did some digging and found out that the line was designed by Spanish designer Fernando Sanchez who, according to a New York Times article, "introduced dressmaker techniques [with the collection he started in the early 70's] to slips and caftans so that they transcended their functional boundaries. Things like finished seams and linings made innerwear acceptable as outerwear and foreshadowed the mainstream acceptance, two decades later, of women wearing lingerielike garments in their daily wardrobe".

I have a feeling it is going to end up as a tunic shirt and a much shorter skirt.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Selvedge is the print along the edge of a bolt of fabric that gives information about the color way, care and the designer (which also can include copyright information). The selvedge helps you color coordinate with other fabrics and gives you the information you may need. I bought a pile of fabric off of Etsy and one of the fabrics had its selvedge and it gave me the date it was made along with the designer. The selvedge provides a historical bit of information.

Many years ago I stumbled across a British magazine called Selvedge. It wasn't always easy to find and it did cost a bit more than your usual magazine, except it was worth it. Selvedge always inspired me with its articles about what current artists were doing with textiles, along with the history of designers and so much more. While the main focus was the United Kingdom, the magazine also highlighted textiles and designers from other countries, even including the United States.

I was very excited to see the cover of this month's Selvedge. In honor of the Queen's jubilee the magazine was focusing on the textiles of her coronation.

It also includes an article about Cecil Beaton and showcases photographs he took of the young queen and her family. He also took the picture of her coronation that is on the cover of the magazine. He used a 1000 watt bulb behind her to create the 'ethereal look'.

Selvedge provides a glimpse into the past and a look at current trends that shape what is happening in textiles today. I am going to have to go and renew my subscription.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What clothes say

I am currently reading Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War by Annia Ciezadlo and I was struck by something she said regarding Iraq. She writes, "Girls like Roaa dreamed of the things their miniskirted mothers had reveled in--travel, parties, advanced degrees." I heard many people in Iraq say that things used to be very liberal. For example, Iraq was the first country in the Middle East to give women the right to vote. In the 1950's and 60's Iraq was a place of culture and intellect.  Any time someone would tell me about Iraq's former liberalism the proof they would offer was women used to wear miniskirts. Miniskirts were not only the symbol of women's independence, but also of intellect. Women at University would wear their miniskirts on campus.

Today you could not wear a miniskirt in public in Iraq. I lived in the Kurdish region, which was quite liberal compared to the rest of the country, but skirts had to be below the knee. I met some of the students at Bagdad University and those women were fierce. They would wear the head scarf, but they would also wear tight jeans, long sleeved shirts and stiletto heels. They were covered from head to toe, but they dressed on their own terms.

Monday, May 7, 2012


One reason I like to travel is to see what other people are wearing. I am still inspired by the style I encountered in Madrid on a trip there almost three years ago. The women dressed so romantically with long flowing skirts, flowered scarves and bangles up their arms. In Istanbul the style is similar, but there are subtle twists. Not every woman in Istanbul is a practicing Muslim, but respect for Islam does impact style. Women in Istanbul dress similarly to women in Madrid in long-flowing skirts and scarves. Plus, there are a lot of people visiting from Britain, France, Russia, the Netherlands, and I only know those nationalities because those were the people we talked to. I hate to say it but usually the Americans do stand out and not because they are fashionably dressed!

I snapped this shot as I was walking down the street because I loved her skirt.

I poked my head into a couple of shops on Istiklal Street. Istiklal is a fabulous street that has an adorable old trolley that runs from Taxim Square to the end of the street. There is a ton of shopping and fabulous food. The street is always filled with throngs of people and the scent of roasted chestnuts-day and night. I can tell you that gypsy style skirts are popular and oh my goodness pastels are in, especially the mint green of my youth.

Of course I also went shopping in the bazaar. Shopping at the bazaar is a bit of an art. First you have to learn to ignore the people trying to get you to come buy their wares, which is very difficult because they do it in every language. I skip the main aisle and head back into the bazaar closer to the coffee shops. I scope things out until I see something I like and then the dance begins. I let them bring things for me to look like at and entice me with and sometimes that does work, but mainly I sit and I drink tea and talk about their work. Then I start sorting through what I must have and what I do not care for and then the negotiations begin. Keep in mind that negotiating is part of the process, but you have to let them offer a price and then you counter with a little bit lower then you want to pay. Usually it only takes a couple of times back and forth and then you agree on the price. Chat while your treasures are wrapped up and head on your way.

I saw a shop that had some beautiful embroidered fabric and pillows. I entered and starting talking to the gentleman and found out that he had owned the store for forty years and imported goods from Uzbekistan.

I fell in love with an Ikat pillow cover and then I started asking more questions. I walked out of the shop with an Ikat pillow cover and a pillow cover made from part of a Suzani (which is an embroidered bed cover) and five meters of hand made one-hundred percent silk from Uzbekistan that I purchased from a Turkish bazaar. The fabric is beautiful and I cannot wait to make something from it.

Once again I really should wait to take some better pictures, but I just could not wait to share. Here is a picture of the red Ikat that has a very traditional Turkish design of a tulip. Tulip's originated from this area and in fact Turkey is trying to reclaim their tulip heritage and have planted over 50 million tulips over the last eight years.

This is just a fabulous colorful design. The silk has a beautiful weight and it drapes beautifully. It looks even better when it isn't wrinkly!