Now that I had the taste for piecing and applique, I looked around the cottage and found a yellow linen duster that belonged to my mother-in-law. A petite woman, it would not fit me in any case and so I deconstructed it and took a scrap with me to the Quilt Basket to find some batiks that would make it go far enough to be an entire Oneshirt. A cheerful honeycomb and some light florals were just the ticket.
Some people are shy of yellow, thinking it brings out the yellow of their skin, but I think I look just fine in yellow. If the Oneshirt project is meant to be a detachment from forecasted trends, I can choose colors that meet my needs, not the ones that drive people to buy new things.
Either side of the front of the jacket I was upcycling featured some embroidery, with trapunto and silver beads. I carefully cut around the wing shaped embroider and transferred it to the front and back of the oneshirt I am calling Honeycomb.
My adventures in piecing Oneshirts is also driven by problem solving to use what I have in the best manner. Linen Lawn is a good example of this. The soft floral lawn comes from a collection of fabrics that I salvaged from my second paternal grandmother, Annabel’s home when we packed her up for the move to assisted living. I drove home that time from Paduca, KY with a car full of fabric, which I quickly burn tested on the dock of the local Salvation Army, leaving behind a stack of synthetics and carting off the precious natural fibers. Having a stash of heirloom fabric proved to be a bit stressful. How could I cut up this beautiful fabric and what could I make from it that would last as long as my memories of my grandmother Hustvedt? Here the Oneshirt comes to the rescue. I honor the heritage in this fabric by making longevity a requirement for the design: longevity in style because it does not reference any fluctuating external trends and longevity in function because it is resistant to my fluctuating size.
Of course, there was another problem in this shirt, which is that I made a mistake in the cutting. Trying to make the lawn go as far as possible, I didn’t notice that I cut the second side facing the same direction as the first. These sides begin in the front and wrap around me, with a seam inserted for the pockets and the sides and then meet around the gusset in the back. The back “wing” is taller that the front because it has to wrap up and over the shoulder to form the top of the armhole. Also, the back is on a bias (not quite true bias) so while it extends a bit further over than the front, it isn’t a match. So, I used scraps from the heavier light green linen I had on hand from an older adventure making a wrap skirt to “fix” the top of the front of one of the pieces to make it like the back. This is why there is a solid green wing on one side and why the edge is pieced, creating the off center green stripe.
I used the scraps I had to cut to make the second piece work as an applique of birds on the shoulders on both sides.
The result is a Oneshirt that is more complex and individual that is would have been without this mistake and one that gave me inspiration to piece the next shirt to include an applique.
Now that I have set the stage with a description of the initial Oneshirts and described the digital design element, I want to bring in painting.
I learned painting, starting with oil painting, from my paternal grandmother when I was in late elementary school. One year for my birthday, several years after I was given a sewing machine, my birthday present was an easel and some oil paints. My grandmother, Eula, had a painting studio on the unheated porch that wrapped around two sides of the barn the my grandfather built around the school bus he had converted into a mobile home. During the summer, I could sit next to my grandmother and try to soak up her simple advice. Her interest in art began when she spent high school in the Jewish Hospital in Denver, a public sanatorium for tubercular patients. She cut poems and pictures from magazines for her scrap books.
I stopped painting a few years later and only picked it up again five years ago, after my mother’s death. Since then, I have found watercolor and silk painting to be my preferred mediums, not feeling constrained to attempt realism, a leap my grandmother didn’t make.
Oneshirts can not only be my canvas, they can be my subject. I intend to paint a watercolor of the front and back of each of my oneshirts. To this end, I used Adobe Illustrator to make a basic “flat” that I can transfer to watercolor paper using carbon paper. From there, I can indulge the pandemically suitable activity of coloring.
Here is the front of Origin, one of the first Oneshirts. Each day I wear a shirt I haven’t yet documented, I stand in front of my phone on a tripod and take a picture of my front and back using the remote in my iWatch. Eventually I will have documentation of every oneshirt and have all I need for a full set of painting.
Another reason I designed the Oneshirt was to allow me to incorporate some of my silk paintings into my garments. River is the result of my use of both the scraps not used in Origin and pieces of silk painting practice that didn’t end up on a canvas or scarf.
The little appliqué at the bottom front is a painting of a jellyfish I did on the beach in Oahu after I was stung down my neck and chest while swimming in 2016. The top front is a painting I had used in a shell top but once my Oneshirt wardrobe became my only wardrobe, I took the shell apart to reuse the painting and fabric elsewhere.
The dark teal in the back is part of that shell. Trying River on again after a year or so, I remember that this early iteration did not have generous enough sleeves right at the elbow, something I have since altered in the pattern. However, the beauty of a pieced garment is that I can easily expand the sleeves from any of the remaining scraps.
Our house in Nebraska was right along the path of the Solar Eclipse in August 2017. We were exactly along the line of the maximum and this meant we had a full minute of Eclipse magic. I designed these fabrics using colors sampled from photos of the eclipse and then riffed off of various impressions.To find my colors, I looked at dozens of images of this specific eclipse in local newspapers and at astronomy enthusiast posts on Instagram. Based on photos, similar to these, I found that the predominate hues captured were violets and burnt orange.
In order to create my fabric patterns, I did not just simply “adjust” any photo of the eclipse, but instead used flare filters and circles in Photoshop to build my own eclipse effect.
I riffed and then tried additional effects.
The goal was to create an endless repeat that would capture the mood of the solar event. I settled on five different styles of solar images, including one that looked like a pearl in a clam shell, one that looked like pansies, one resembling the photos I had seen and one with a rough but sinister feel with a muted maroon background.
I ordered fabric from Spoonflower printed with these five favorite designs. I had one yard created of each of two fabrics and then two fat quarters and a 5×5 sample square created of the other three. I will post about the resulting shirt, including the applique work, tomorrow.
The use of fat quarters in my design is directly attributable to the way I purchased fabric for the first few oneshirts. The Quilt Basket in York, Nebraska has been “my store” for 30 years. I left high school early to attend York College as a 17 year old instead of my senior year at Hamilton Humanities Magnet in Los Angeles. My parents were leaving LA and staying behind fir my senior year was not as attractive as my fantasy of college life. In the early 1990s, York, Nebraska was a walkable small town with a variety of shops and was only just beginning to grapple with the impact of WalMart on the local economy.
Stopping by the Quilt Basket to pick up sewing supplies and fabric or to drop off one of my Bernina machines for service is a regular part of a visit to our cottage in a nearby village. I took all of the available coursework in Quilt Studies as part of my masters degree in Textile Science at University of Nebraska in 2003. One of the first things I learned about piecework quilting is that it is much more about consumption display of the huge variety of printed fabrics available after the invention and improvements of mechanized textile printing in the mid- and late-19th century. I feel this same impulse to buy small quantities of the many beautiful fabrics in order to enjoy the diversity of aesthetics on offer.
Forest is made from 2 fat quarters of two different batik fabrics and a yard of two other batik fabrics. The circles in brown is a colorway of the same fabric used in Origin. The trees inspired the name, although I love trees and forest is my natural habitat. The alternation of fabric at the front yoke and the back wings is due to the limited height of the yard, not quite enough to reach the height that 1 1/4 yards allows. The dotted light and dark sleeve are made from each of the fat quarters. The remaining pieces in the area of the armscye curves were used to make the pockets.
Another of my goals with the Oneshirt project was to develop a way to use scraps as efficiently as possible. I had some great scraps (green linen and chambray) left over from the first iteration. So, at the same time as I bought fabric for Mum, I bought 2 yards of another batik that would work with the little samples of the scraps I had in my purse.
I am naming this second shirt Origin because I feel like it really let me see how this particular shape and design could lend itself it endless iteration, not just solve my “needs to fit forever” and “have big pockets” issues. The shirt also reminds me of the San Marcos River, which is such an inspiration for me and in a way, the headwaters of my create work since moving to San Marcos in 2009.
The piecing on Origin includes a yoke, center back panel and binding that are made with the chambray and the green linen was used to allow the sleeves to be cut from the portion of the right and left panels that would have wrapped up and over the shoulders. This gives the shirt the appearance of “green wings”.
The next step in the Oneshirt project will be to make a watercolor painting of the front and the back of the shirt. I enjoy watercolor and I can use scans of my watercolors to also make textile designs that I can have printed on fabric and made into new shirts. This creates a cycle of inspiration from one shirt to the next. Over the course of my 100 day challenge, I will post on some days about a shirt and on later days about the watercolor of the shirt and finally about the design created from the watercolor.
The first shirts I made in my quest to find a tunic length garment that I could wear with leggings all day, every day was from a pattern that I purchased at Liberty of London in 2017. However, this shirt did not have pockets and pockets are an essential (so essential they will have their own whole post). I also didn’t think the result was flattering, it seemed like a nightshirt. In fact, I have since repurposed it as my nightshirt, but that is another story.
While at our cottage in Nebraska, I looked through a few patterns I had ordered from Vogue and found one that I saw I could adapt to my needs. I headed up to The Quilt Basket in York, Nebraska and purchased 2.5 yards of a chrysanthemum patterned batik in tan and green shades. In honor of my mother, who died in May 2015, I will name this first shirt, the mother shirt so to speak, Mum.
I am not from the UK, but I have in fact called my mother “mum” since I made friends with a girl from Australia in the 8th grade. She was the daughter of visiting faculty teaching at the University of Colorado in my hometown of Boulder. I remember that at first my mother was intrigued by eventually found “muuuuuum” to be as annoying as “moooommmm” from a begging teenager. But even now, when I slip into a moment of fondness, moving past the bare fact of “my mother” into “my mum” I find comfortable memories that warmly enclose the heartbreak of losing “my mommy”.
After making Mum, I altered the pattern and changed some of the essentials, this new pattern I developed is the one I still use. But, as a shirt, Mum still fits, or I should say fitted, until I took scissors to it and ripped it to shreds to become the bedding in the cradle of my composting project that will form an important part of my 100 day challenge this cycle. Mum suffered from a problem we call “tendering” where some of the chemicals used in the dyeing and finishing process weakened fibers and made the more vulnerable to tearing or just forming small holes. I haven’t worn Mum for over a year but slipping back into this first shirt, I was amazed to discover that my goal of designing a shirt that would look and feel as good at my lower weight as at my higher weight was met.