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Pay it forward – Notions & Fabric

Pay it forward – Notions & Fabric

In 2003, someone asked me if I would be willing to take the notions and fabric from her mother in law’s haberdashery. The shop closed temporarily when she had a health problem, never to open again. They were remodeling and just wanted all of this carefully stored inventory to disappear – and be appreciated.

The only caveat? I must take everything.

Two station wagon trips later, my Via Volta studio was full of notions and fabric. With friends, we dissected this treasure trove, giving away, selling, and enjoying for ourselves everything from embroidery floss to shoulder pads, silk velvet to snaps.

View down Via Volta, Monza, Italia near Cafe San Biagio
My old stomping grounds on Via Volta, Monza

Those were wonderful days! When I left Monza, my fabric and yarn friends made me a wonderful scrapbook of those days. During my March Madness painting spree, I enjoyed paging through this wonderful work of love. But I digress…

I’ve made incredible progress on this gift, but it makes sense to #payitforward again. Here’s a list of the notions and fabric I’d like to give to another creative soul or business.

I’m giving it away, and it’s definitely something that can fit into a small car (it’s about 2 medium moving boxes). I ask that you enjoy, make beautiful things and perhaps consider donating to Follow Your Art Community Studios in Melrose if you are able.

Leave a comment below, or find my on Instagram or Twitter so we can arrange delivery. Everything’s been in boxes for more than a month (kind of like me!), so the quarantine time for textiles has passed.

Stitching Palestine, the movie and the embroidery

Last night, I was lucky enough to see Stitching Palestine at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

 

While the film and its stories held me in its web, I kept thinking, “Where’s the embroidery? I want to see and learn more about the embroidery!”

Well, there’s a story to that…

I missed the real action the night before. For the closing celebration of the Palestinian Film Festival, Clotide Abudi’s embroidery was an integral part of the event. Her embroidery will be on exhibit Tuesday through Saturday (October 31 to November 4, 2017) at the Center for Arabic Culture in the Somerville Armory.

Wafa Ghnaim, author of Tatreez & Tea: Embroidery and Storytelling in the Palestinian Diaspora was also in attendance. And you could see fashion embellished with Palestinian embroidery from the crowdfunded fashion brand Taita Leila .

Once again, Boston is the home not of FOMO (fear of missing out) but YAMO (you are missing out).

I’m looking forward to seeing the embroidery and learning more about Palestinian embroidery.

 

New chairs for the New Year?

Once upon a time, there were two chairs that looked something like this:

Alanna Nelson sews slip covers

With slipcovers old enough for a drivers’ license, it was time to give these chairs a slip of respect. Fortunately, a trip to New York’s Garment District yielded a fine remnant at a fabulous price. It’s time for that fabric to become new slip covers.

So far, I’ve repaired one chair body and made a muslin cover, which gave me a chance to test my pattern. Whew! That was already a chunk of time. Now it’s just repair this chair, make a second cover and sew the two slip covers.

Just….

Will there be at least one new chair for the New Year? I’m off to my studio.

Save

Save

To sew or not to sew

How many times over the last 15 years have I vowed not to make my own clothes?

Alanna enjoys window shopping in Northern Italy
While living in Italy, interesting clothing options popped from every shop window. Why do I need to sew with so many fabulous options nearby?

While focusing on art quilts, accepting reluctantly that there are only 24 hours in a day. Why would I neglect my fiber art?

Then reality hits: Italian fashions are often too short for my limbs, too expensive for my budget.

I find fabulous fashion fabrics that I definitely want in my life! So much for my vow not to sew my clothing. Temptation and opportunity lure me back into paper patterns and fitting sessions. So the zig zag continues. I enjoy sewing my own clothes.

Last winter, I vowed to update my wardrobe with clothing purchases. Shuffling through Boston’s dressing rooms yielded more skinny jeans (yawn!) that stuck to my calves when I stood up. The color palettes suited winter or summer complexions, but not this contrasting persimmon autumn. Really? Can’t I find interesting clothing that fits my lifestyle? What to do?

Summer arrived and favorite duds came out of boxes to save the situation(many of them made by me!). My vow to update my wardrobe pops into my mind as the fall/winter fashions hit the news stands and shop windows. In October, I will buy some new clothes.

During the studio move, all of my wonderful fashion fabric passed through my hands. Scrumptious.

Oh, yes, I will sew this fall.

A Winter Felting Wonderland

springhillside

I love to wet or nuno felt outdoors on a hot summer day. It’s a great alternative to sailing if there’s no wind.  April 1, 2016, would have been a good day to felt even if it wasn’t hot. Spring flowers dotted my garden and the temps indoors and out were identical. Wet felting in my swimsuit was unlikely, but the weather was great. My felting appointment was on April 3.  That same hillside looked like this…
grapehyacinthsnow
At least my faithful feline fiberista was ready to participate, as long as the felting session was indoors.

Studio Assistant

What a delight to open the merino roving that just arrived from New England Felting supply.
roving

Faithful feline assistant approved. She jumped onto the base layer, watching the colors surround her. Covering a chunk of kitchen counter, the layers of wool put up with a lot of tapping, kneading and tossing. At this point, feline fiberista headed to the couch. Soap suds covered the kitchen cupboards.
Feline Felter

I’ll let you see what it becomes later this month…

 

Comparative Art Forms: A Week of Inspiration

Comparative Art Forms: A Week of Inspiration

In a season known for gratitude, events this week permeated my heart with thankfulness. It all began last Wednesday, when the Museum of Fine Arts Textile and Costume Society friends met for an evening of contemporary art. Tomie Nagano and Marilyn Pappas shared works in progress and outlined their work flow.

Long an admirer of Tomie’s quilts, the peek behind the stitches was much anticipated. However, Marilyn’s embroidery and collage were new to me. I am now completely a fan. While their creative process varies tremendously, both artists devote copious time to each piece. Clearly both women savor the process despite the gradual, meticulous nature of their media.

Tomie collects used textiles from Japan (fortunately, she says, this started when few appreciated the gorgeous silk kimono and obi or the cost would have been prohibitive!). Seeking to create an emotion, she cuts narrow strips, creating traditional patchwork blocks. She decides the size of her work, places each strip and block, numbers it all. Next, Tomie organizes each block into layers laid out in boxes, separated by tissue paper. Hand stitching and hand quilting the entire work, she methodically moves through the process. Her current project is enormous!  A silk quilt displayed for us on her bed simply shimmered. This was one of the many advantages of the evening being hosted at Tomie’s home. I do love viewing bed quilts on a bed. Not to knock displaying bed quilts on a wall, but it’s a different experience.

Marilyn’s approach is more free form and yet equally time consuming. Her early work included textiles, but for many years, collage was a favorite mode of expression. Inspired by classical sculpture, she draws a rough outline on linen and begins to paint with one or 2 strands of cotton embroidery floss. The shading, the vivid dimensionality, the sheer quantity of stitches is mind boggling. She brought several pieces from her History Lessons series. We are not talking about small works of art.  The torsos are often life size.

Can I ever embroider again without thinking of her?

Image of Tomie Nagano buffet MFA textile costume society After feeding our souls with their creative energies, Tomie led us to a magnificent buffet that she had prepared for the group. From the sushi rolls, stuffed avocados to delicious salads, the table was a visual and gustatory delight.  A quick camera phone photo could only capture half of the bounty! A thank you note felt so flimsy after Tomie and her husband offered such hospitality. I am truly grateful for the evening.

Italian ceramics provided a glorious setting for Giardini di Sole’s Meet and Eat this week. Giardini di Sole curates a collection of beautiful and useful Italian home dec and garden tableware, lighting and stone tables (simply beautiful things! And in all transparency, I assist with their marketing and events). Goddess of hospitality, Josephine Wennerholm prepared multiple examples of starters, salads, main dishes and desserts with Elatia Harris of Lucy’s Mom Cuisine. The lively crowd left satiated both spiritually and physically! Jo believes in the ties created by sharing a meal. I know that nothing can be more inspiring than happy people enjoying and a good time together.

Each of us has the creative spirit, expressed in all kinds of ways (providing that we take time to listen). In the knitting classes I lead, the creation process simmers, coming alive in stitches or in thoughts while knitting. This week, we celebrated many new finished objects. What joy when your first knit sweater looks great on your tot or you wrap your first scarf around your neck! How stunning to see the color combinations felted into tote bags. What a vision when a beautiful scarf catches my breath as a knitter walks into the room. How cozy winter evenings will be with that newly completed afghan. I’m delighted to see their accomplishments.

As Fred Wiseman noted in his question and answer session at Sunday’s MFA showing of National Gallery, his documentary was a study of comparative art forms. My week was a study of creative expression. From stitches to squash, ice crystals to philosophical notes, I’m grateful for the perspicacity in my life.