The Making of "Sew La-La"
I learned about the Whole Foods' sponsored Creative Re-Use Contest from friends. I contacted Susan Grelock at Whole Foods in Mill Valley and picked up vinyl banners on Saturday, April 23. Hoping to wear the garment at the Awards Ceremony in Mill Valley on June 1, I designed a wearable, lined high-fashion suit with jacket and skirt. During the making of my suit, I drew on my early experiences of watching my mother, a master seamstress design garments. For 2 days, I inspected the banners and slept on how to use the material to its best advantange. I settled on working with the largest and thinnest ones, including a 4' x 8' coffee printed banner used for Whole Foods' 20% off sale, and a double-sided 3' x 5' organic food banner printed with apples and cursive writing. When, I didn't have enough of the coffee printed fabric to make a matching jacket and skirt, I decided to use the back of the organic food banner that luckily was a solid black, which was perfect for the classic design including black inset sleeves and side panels. As a quilter, I create my own fabric and make wearable arts. For this project, I created the combo coffee print/black insets fabric, laid out a combination of Butterick and McCalls patterns, then cut out the skirt and jacket pattern. My intention throughout the making of the piece was to integrate the jacket and skirt with a matching bag and topped with a hat. But, I ran out of time to finish the hat for the Event. To bring the bag into the garment, I used the reverse of the black fabric for the inside collar and bag. So much history went into the making of this ensemble, including the marks on the black fabric which occurred when I had to turn the garment inside out four grueling times after setting the sleeves and the lining. I wish I had a video of the entire process, but I was under the gun for time and really just wanted to have a finished garment by Saturday, April 30, so I put my effort into the making and not the documenting of the process.
I feel like I have gone through a warrior initiation process in the making of the garment as I have the wounds to prove it. I joke that if you look carefully, you'll see tiny smears of my blood on the inside of the garment, caused by multiple stabs from the pins and needles, which I left as a reminder for the difficulty of working with vinyl on a 20 year old Viking 500 home sewing machine. When folks ask me how I do it, I tell, them "Ibwork very slowly, stay in touch with Spirit", and knowing and accepting that anything could have happened when my machine balked at sewing through 3 and 4-layers of vinyl, I joyfully announce, "I am a Feldenkrais teacher. When you can't open the door, move the house!"
As a contemporary textile artist, throughout the making of my coffee suit, I played with titles, including "Wake-Up Call", to speak to the nature of the impact of the plastic and our planet and the metaphor of coffee as a stimulant to make us alert. But, in the end, I am a fashion designer at heart and after chatting with a group of ladies in the Vitamin aisle at Whole Foods, I settled on another idea for a title, "Sew La-La".
I achieved my goal. Sew La-La is wearable, beautiful and truly stunning. In fact, to top off my day, while loading the garment in the trunk, a woman with the same name as me, Elizabeth, saw my suit hanging at the Event. Upon making the connection that I was the designer, she jumped out of her car saying, "WOW, I love your suit!" She forgot to put her Toyota SUV into park, and as she was talking to me, noticed out of the corner of her eye that her car was rolling toward us and the car next to mine. She stepped on my foot, trying in vain to prevent the inevitable. After impact, I asked the man in the parked car if he sustained any injuries. He said, "No. I was distracted by your suit!" I told him, "That is the reason the woman hit your car!" So many stories go into the making of a garment.
A lot of hard work paid off today! I was awarded a Special Prize, called "Nickle For Non-Profit" Program at the Whole Foods Store in Mill Valley. On June 1, my favorite non-profit organization, the O'Hanlon Center For the Arts, where I built my professional art career since my first submission of my fiber art in a gallery show, "For the Love of Fiber", in 2008, will receive a monetary award that is dependent on the amount of donations collected over a given period of time. I am told that it can be at least $500 and as much as $1000. In addition, I have been invited to wear my garment and perform my improvisational singing and story-telling about plastic and it's drastic and fantastic nature at the June 1st Recognition Event at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley.
My DREAMS are coming true. The Director of "Teens Turning Green" asked me to work with the kids and create a fashion show, with garments made out of trash.