sewing october

Wrap Skirt (detail) - Vintage Balinese Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Wrap Skirt (detail) – Vintage Balinese Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015

Sewing?… Me?…. you’ve got to be kidding! This craft was not a priority of learning in my childhood home. It even became a family joke that if you ever happened to find my beautiful and glamorous mother behind a sewing machine, she was usually standing up, because she never planned to be there for very long.

Therefore, to my surprise I found myself sewing during the month of October. It started with a delightful purchase of two vintage cotton sarongs, found buried in the back of a fabric shop whilst on holiday in Ubud, Bali, earlier this year. I had the idea I would use them as skirts for summer. However when I got home I began to feel this wave of inspiration to make some simple summer garments for myself. No patterns, zips or button holes… just square zen shapes with some detail stitching.

I borrowed a sewing machine from a friend, bought a few cottons, heading tape, embroidery threads, a good pair of fabric scissors, picked up a selection of cotton sheets and vintage fabrics from the local op shop, and away I went!

Not knowing the correct process for sewing a garment or how to use a pattern, I just approached it like starting a painting. I’d lay out the fabric on the floor and see how it spoke to me. What could I feel or imagine this piece of fabric wanted to be? I cut out simple shapes, pinned them together and tried them on. Can I get this on and off over my head? Does it fit over my body contours comfortably? Does it hang ok? Oh blast I can’t be bothered with facing on necklines, why don’t I just leave it raw and add a bit of contrast stitching?

The first couple of garments were tabard dresses with low slung self-ties for belts. Next a piece of natural linen became a mini pinafore dress with white cotton curtain gathering tape for straps. Wow… I was amazed. Even managed to do french seams to keep everything looking very tidy, thank you very much!

A beautiful piece of navy chambrey denim became a reversable day/evening wrap skirt, leaving the narrow white selfridge as detail on the front panel. At this point I did teach myself how to make a handstitched button hole, mastering blanket stitch via the wonders of You Tube. Thank God everyone wants to share their DIY skills via home video these days.

And on it went… a straight skirt with self-tie in a crazy vintage fabric, a super wide leg pant from old cotton sheets with paper bag top when tied with pale pink heading tape. (A bit like the old fisherman pants.) My out-of-date coral maxi silk skirt (hardly worn) was reconfigured into a short strappy summer evening dress with detail stitching at the back to gather it into correct width.

It was at this point I decided to become brave and make a patttern from an old wrap skirt. Whallah! Two summer A-line wrap skirts from the Balinese vintage cotton fabric – one long, one short. OMG I was becoming a dressmaking machine!… and having so much fun. 🙂

I couldn’t wait to get up out of bed in the morning and make another garment. I wasn’t interested in catch up tv or cuppas with the girlfriends. I was flying on the joy of unabandoned creativity, not having a clue what I was doing and loving, relishing, delighting in every minute of it.

The pieces of fabric began to run out so the garments were adjusted in size and shape to what was available, hence a couple of crop tops were next, followed buy another wrap skirt in the first piece of new fabric – calico – from Spotlight. To this I added a crazy Carmen Miranda-like applique, cut out from the last piece of vintage fabric.

And that was it… four weeks… twelve garments… all ready to greet the hot humid 2015 summer of sub-tropical Byron Bay.

Absolutely Fabulous darling!

Mx

Here are some of my favorites from the MBPblue Shy Summer Collection 🙂

Tabard Dress - Reclaimed Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Tabard Dress – Reclaimed Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015
Tabard Dress (detail) - Reclaimed Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Tabard Dress (detail) – Reclaimed Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015
Cropped Top - Vintage Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Cropped Top – Vintage Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015
Cropped Top (detail) - Vintage Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Cropped Top (detail) – Vintage Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015
Wrap Skirt - Calico and Vintage Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Wrap Skirt – Calico and Vintage Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015
Wrap Skirt (detail) - Calico and Vintage Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Wrap Skirt (detail) – Calico and Vintage Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015

 

indigo september

Indigo Lotus Leaf - Monoprint - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Indigo Lotus Leaf – Monoprint – Melinda Blair Paterson – 2015

Something changed in my art practice in September. I put down the paint brush and started playing with a cake (block) of natural indigo dye I had brought back from Bali in 2013. It had sat on a shelf in my studio haunting and mocking me for two years… “when are you going to stop being afraid and play with me!”

So after the clear out and burning of June, the pens and pencils and upscaling of July, and the cabin bound flu of August; Spring arrived and the indigo came down off the shelf.

I had no idea what to do with it. I read the indigo dyeing instructions that the kind Balinese man, Wyang, had given me needing paw paw pulp or banana skins for the dye vat and thought: “too hard!”.  So I meekly shaved a bit of powder off the hard cake and mixed it with a bit of water. Grabbing a few leaves from the garden I began the simplest printing technique I know – monoprinting.

Within a matter of moments I had produced a string of little prints quietly drying on the studio floor and felt the childlike play spring to life. Ahhhhh…. that’s the feeling I remember. The lost in the moment, ‘no me’ joy of just creating, having no idea of where it goes or how it ends up… the creative expressing being all there is.

Within a few days I was at an artist friend’s studio gratefully using her printing press, experimenting with larger pieces of paper and lotus leaves. Oh God… this was even MORE fun!

September finished off with exploring the addition of colour, pens and pencils, and working back into the monoprints.

Here are a few of my favourites from this little forage into the simplicity of leaves, monoprinting and indigo, which I’m happy to say I no longer fear. 🙂

Mx

Australian camphor and gum leaves - indigo monoprints - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Camphor and Gum leaves –  Indigo Monoprints – Melinda Blair Paterson – 2015
Seaweed Indigo - Monoprint - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Seaweed Indigo – Monoprint – Melinda Blair Paterson – 2015
Indigo Pen Pencil Leaf - Monoprint - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Indigo Pen Pencil Leaf – Monoprint – Melinda Blair Paterson – 2015