Designers’ Studios +

We began the day with a visit to an estate sale where the woman had been a collector of fabrics and sewing supplies – turned out to be the wrong day – not until tomorrow! The house did have an interesting feature though: an espalier of some kind of evergreen along the roof edge – I’ve never seen anything like it:20130621-183910.jpg
After a stop for coffee we made our way to Ann Williamson’s design studio. Her silk jackets are exquisite:20130621-184134.jpg
The detail is very fine, her choice of fabrics amazing. Since 2003 she’s been using mainly kimono silk, from kimonos she’s taken apart as well as new kimono silk from Japan. She has a large stash of 14″ bolts of kimono silk:20130621-184515.jpg
We spent more than an hour with her, talking about technique, and seeing samples of her work.

Next stop – Josephine’s Fabrics. She specializes in “fine” fabrics – and although the selection isn’t large I came away with a Liberty cotton print for a shirt as well as some lovely reversible grey and off-white woolen fabric which I can see making into a pieced reversible jacket of some kind.

Then lunch at the Portland lunch carts: 20130621-185254.jpg
There’s a big choice of food, and after you’ve purchased what you want to eat there’s a small square nearby where you can sit and eat:20130621-185454.jpg

Our next stop was the Button Emporium. I was too busy looking for buttons to go with the purple fabric I bought Wednesday to remember to take photos of the wall of buttons! I also picked up three bits of lace and entredeux for heirloom sewing (not much of a selection in Halifax).

Around the corner we visited a designers’ consignment shop – lots of interesting ideas there.

One last stop at another small fabric outlet where I thought I might find more swimsuit fabric but they had little in the way of interesting lycra prints.

Finally back to the hotel, something to eat, and now for a quiet evening.

Tourist II

Thursday started early – breakfast before 7:30 to be ready to board the van (there were now eight of us) at 8:00 am for an hour and a half drive to Washougal WA to tour the Pendleton Woolen Mill. A brief bit of shopping the the Mill store (lots of discounted ready made clothing) before entering the Mill itself. NO pictures allowed we were told. So I have none of the massive bales of raw, undyed, uncarded wool or of the huge carding machines or looms. We started where they dye the entire bale, moved on to the carding machines where differently dyed wools are blended during carding to create roving. Next are the machines that check the quality of the roving and spin it. Then on to the looms which weave the blanket fabric. We also walked past the yarn dying vats, and later the whole cloth dying process.

The Mill produces many different kinds of wool cloth which is sold all over the world. A lot of it is shipped abroad to be made into garments to be sold back in the US under the Pendleton label (made in China of US materials, for example). I didn’t buy any of the ready made clothing – I saw a sweater I liked but it wasn’t available in my size. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey through the Mill.

Next stop, the Maryhill Museum of Art, another hour away beyond “The Dalles” – the change in the landscape was striking – from lush green mixed forest on steep cliffs and slopes to golden brown rolling hills. This is vineyard and orchard country in eastern Washington State.

The Maryhill building was built from 1914 – 1926 overlooking the Columbia River by Sam Hill (you know – “What in the Sam Hill…?”) as a residence, but he and his family never lived there. It opened as an art museum in 1940. An addition in a very different architectural style was completed 2012.

We came to see the “Theatre de la Mode” mannequins – a large collection of 24″ wire frame “dolls” wearing French designer outfits created in 1945 as a way of advertising the couturier collections in Paris because high end clothing fabrics and other sewing supplies were in short supply. The mannequins and their outfits are amazing!
The detail, right down to the miniature shoes and handbags, hats, jewellery has to be seen to be believed.

Following the art museum, we stopped briefly at Hill’s reconstruction of Stonehenge:

Our last stop of the day was at Multnomah Falls – the water drops 620′ from the top of the ridge to the river in two stages – ending in a pool that drains into a rather nondescript small river (the name of which I don’t remember).
There are trails to the top of the falls – you can imagine how steep the climb must be. It was drizzling so we walked only as far as the bottom pool.

Another very enjoyable day.

Fabric Shopping, Portland Opera

Today the group went fabric shopping. Visited a couple of fabric warehouses. The first, Mill Ends Store, is a huge barn of a place which sells, you guessed it, mill ends! The selection was overwhelming. I was so busy looking at fabric I forgot to take any photos! I managed to find two different fabrics for swimsuits, some batik for the back of quilts and a bit of print silk chiffon for a scarf. I stopped looking at that point.

Our second stop was the Pendleton Outlet store which sells cuts of discontinued woolen and cotton fabrics made in the Pendleton Mill here in Oregon. I ended up with some lovely plaid for a cotton shirt, and two yards of a light weight purple wool for a jacket. Again, I forgot about photos!

After a tasty lunch at a small restaurant we headed to the Costume Department of the Portland Opera. I did remember to take some photos here!

The costumes are amazingly well made and very expensive to “build”.
This costume made from upholstery fabrics and trims was for Falstaff in a recent production, who was a large man to begin with and the costume designer wanted to make him much larger.

This wedding dress was exquisite, but it was only carried onto the stage by the maid servant – not worn, nevertheless it was completed as a wearable garment.

A half yard of silver fabric (made of real silver thread) which will be used to trim the jacket cuffs of a suit in the upcoming opera “Salome” – the cost – a mere $350/yard!

We ended the day with Marsha showing us actual travel garments made using her Safe-T-Pockets line of patterns – these travel wardrobe pieces all have many concealed pockets – the point being to travel without a handbag.

It was an enjoyable day.

Pattern Fitting

The greatest challenge for the garment sewer is a garment pattern that fits! The truth is that very rarely will a pattern actually properly fit the wearer – that’s why so many people give up making clothing.

Pants! For more than a decade I have been on the hunt for the perfect pants pattern. I’ve tried lots of things. I’ve come close but my pants pattern still needed tweaking. Today we did a paper pattern fitting, starting with taking body measurements, cutting out the pattern pieces, pinning them together, then trying on the pinned tissue so darts can be added or taken out or moved, seam positions shifted, etc. My pants pattern fits fine from the hips down; today Marla showed me how adding half an inch to the center back (leaving the front as it is) will allow me to sit and bend without having my shirt pull out. I made that adjustment to my pattern – At home I have fabric for five new pair of pants. I’ll get to them as soon as I return.
I had also brought the pattern for the winter jacket I had intended to make last winter; I just never got around to it. I was planning on making a size M, but after fitting the tissue it was obvious a size S was a better fit. So that jacket is back on my To Do list.
All in all a productive day!


I arrived in Portland late Sunday. Yesterday I played tourist. Took the hotel shuttle back to the airport so I could take the public transit train into and around town. A senior day ticket – just $2! That allows you to get on and off at will.


I got off and back on at several stops. The first location was a farmers’ market – had lunch there.


I walked around a bit after that, then got back on the train a couple of stops later. Lots of empty shops wherever I got off. You can see Portland was hit by the economic downturn.


After a couple of hours I returned to the airport, 20130618-074619.jpg
back to the hotel for a snooze and then an early dinner. My body is definitely still on east coast time! I was ravenous by 4:00 pm.

It’s now Tuesday morning. Time for breakfast and then to meet the other gals.
more later.



I’ve had this Rhododendron growing in a large pot on my deck for several years; it has flowered each year but this year it’s loaded with blooms!

The bird bath is brimming with rain water – no birds splashing about this afternoon, though – too cold and rainy.