Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kantha Quilt Jacket


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Kantha Jacket

I first became aware of coats made from Kantha quilts two years ago, when someone posted a picture of Heidi Klum wearing a Meiko Mintz coat (made from a Kantha quilt) on Stitcher's Guild.

I was smitten. I quickly started researching Mieko Mintz and her amazing work. I even found a boutique that sells her pieces locally and tried some on.

I then started shopping for Kantha quilts on Etsy and Ebay. I didn't buy one, however, and I moved on to other things.

Then, recently, Ann Smith, a local sewing buddy (who is well known on Pattern Review), made a Kantha quilt jacket, inspired by Meiko Mintz. It was fabulous.

(Ann is not posting these days, so I can't point you to any photos of her jacket, but it was great! She used Vogue 2949 - an OOP Sandra Betzina pattern that I made long ago.)

Anyway, Ann got me all fired up about kantha quilts again. This time I went shopping, and bought, a Kantha quilt on Etsy. It came from India but arrived quite quickly.

So...what style should I use for my jacket? The standard Meiko style, with its a-line shape, and giant collar, isn't flattering on me. (Trust me on this.)

So I decided to use a silhouette that works better on my uber busty, inverted-triangle-shaped form. Inspired by another RTW designer, I started looking for a pattern that featured shoulder front and back princess seams and a pointed shawl collar.

There was nothing like this available in any current pattern offerings. This is too bad as this is a great silhouette and very popular in current RTW.

I started searching OOP patterns on Ebay and I found one that had the right bones, but would need substantial altering: Vogue 1042.

The pattern and the quilt arrived in November, but I set them aside as I was working on other things.

During my 2-week break over Christmas and New Years, I decided I wanted to tackle this project. I pulled out the pattern, traced it off in my size, did an FBA, lengthened it, and changed the style lines a bit. I quickly ran up a muslin, because I was going to be seeing Ronda Chaney, head of the Fashion department at Cañada College the next day, and I wanted her to be able to take a quick look at the fit. I finished the muslin late the night before, so I had no time to finesse it.

When I modeled it for Ronda the next day, it was in fairly rough shape. She made quite a few suggested alterations.

I went home and incorporated her changes, creating muslin #2. The second muslin was better, but it needed further tweaking. (The first version was so off that it required more than one round.) I was going to be seeing my pattern drafting friend, Georgene, only a few days after seeing Ronda, so I brought muslin #2 along.

Georgene made quite a few further alterations. By the time I was finished with these two rounds of edits, the finished pattern barely resembled the original and, most importantly, it fit me to perfection!

I was planning on making muslin #3, but Georgene convinced me to "go for it", so I grabbed the kantha quilt and started cutting. I'm not sure if you can tell, but I cut the quilt with careful thought as to how the design would flow around the body. I wanted the printed design and colors to flow in a particular way. The twin size quilt was just large enough to create the jacket—I had very little left over. I also did my best at cutting around the holes and imperfections, but I couldn't avoid all of them. (This quilt is quite authentic in its use of worn saris.)

One of the hallmarks of Meiko Mintz's jackets is that they are unlined and reversible. She finishes the internal raw edges with a purl marrow stitch, which is similar to a serged edge, in a contrasting color. She generally doesn't use closures, and the external edges are sometimes finished with the same purl marrow stitch, and sometimes she just turns both outer edges towards the inside and slip stitches them together—finishing them in a similar manner to a double-cloth coat. This results in garments with no extraneous fabric that are as light as air.

I didn't own a serger that I felt was good enough to use in this way, so I sewed my coat with normal 5/8" seams. (I have since bought a new serger...) On the wrong side, I turned under the raw edge under of each seam, and stitched it down by hand. (I really didn't feel the need for this jacket to be reversible, but I did want to finish it neatly.)

8 yards of self-made bias binding using a batik purchased from Stone Mountain & Daughter

I finished the outer edges with self made bias binding made by using the 18mm bias tool from Clover. Finally, I added a dark brown toggle closure purchased at Britex.

Punching holes into the toggle

There is quite a bit of handwork in this coat, so it took me awhile to finish. For example, I made 8 yards of bias binding to finish the outer edges. I also made two patch pockets, also finished with bias binding, but I haven't attached them to the jacket. I may attach them still. Or I may put them on the inside. Or I may not use them.

Completed, but unused, pockets

I have't decided.

How do I feel about the finished jacket?

To be honest, I'm not sure. I'm not sure that it's "me." I love the fit. I looove the fit, the shape, and the silhouette, but I'm not so sure about the colors and the print.

I also think that, when I use this pattern again (and I will), that I will make the collar a bit larger. This will quickly become a TNT pattern for me and you can expect to see it in many incarnations. In fact, I have already started another version using a beautiful fabric from Marcy Tilton.

What do you think... Is this quilted, brightly colored, jacket "me"?

Time will tell.

I also decided to model it for some of the photos inside-out, because I can wear it that way if I want to.

Inside out - front

Inside out - back

I may bring it to Puyallup to wear.

Maybe.

Thanks, Ronda and Georgene for your fitting expertise!
Thanks, mem for taking these pics!

I'm enjoying my new purchased-on-sale Trippen boots! Or I was, until I walked out of a conference room this morning, looked down, and saw this:

Ha!

Self Made Earrings!

I decided over the holidays that I wanted to try my hand at jewelry making. And by that, I mean working with metal. The very next day, on January 3rd, an email dropped into my inbox offering a discount on a beginning jewelry making class at a studio in downtown San Francisco.

I jumped on it. I attended the class on the weekend before last. This 3.5 hour workshop offered a hands-on experience in metal folding, resulting in a pair of leaf-shaped sterling silver earrings.

I had never even heard of the metal folding technique before, so there was lots to learn. I find this sort of artistic expression difficult. Before you completely fold the metal, you paint the inside with ochre. Then you fold the metal completely in half and start hammering. This shapes the metal and imparts surface texture. But hammering the silver also makes it brittle so you periodically have to anneal it, which means you fire it. (Or, in this case, the teacher applies the fire.) After it's been fired, it returns to a soft and malleable state so that you can hammer it further without risk of breaking it.

Both pieces of metal are folded (one for each earring) and the hammering has begun

You repeat this cycle over and over until you achieve the shape that you want. The ochre prevents the two sides from fusing together during the annealing process.

Then you cut the folded metal into a leaf shape, using your own self drawn template.

(I hope you are still with me, because I'm going somewhere with this blow-by-blow recap.)

Now it's time to open up the folded metal to reveal the leaf shape.

I should mention that the heat from the annealing process changes the ochre from it's characteristic mustard color to red.

Except, once opened, my pieces of metal didn't look so much like leaves as... something else.

I seemed to be the only student in the room wondering aloud why my pieces of metal looked like they needed underwear.

After opening up the folded metal "leaves"

I took my pieces to the assistant and asked her what I could do to make my "leaves" look less...

"Georgia O'Keefe?" she offered helpfully.

"Yes."

I spent quite a bit of time re-cutting the leaves, bending and shaping them as best as I could, and scrubbing out the red ochre (which is very difficult to remove from deep in the fold - I had to use two different brushes and the magnetic cleaner machine).

My friends tell me that the resulting earrings are quite leaf shaped and not particularly "Georgia O'Keefe."

I hope so. Though they still remind me of my very favorite Everybody Loves Raymond episode, Marie's Sculpture.

I'm thinking that my silver-smithing career might be over. I didn't really enjoy the process that much.


Get Your Motor's Running Contest - the Results

Thanks so much for your votes in Rhonda's contest! The lovely Cennetta won with her beautiful rendition of a color-and-print-blocked sheath dress. Congrats, Cennetta!

On Sunday, I could see that I would not have the votes to win first prize, so I took advantage of the announced sale last weekend and I purchased Janet Pray's class—which comes with the moto jacket pattern—for half off. It's a win-win!

111 comments:

  1. Shams, you had me absolutely howling with laughter at your description of your fold-formed earrings unintentional resemblance... The only time I have tried that technique, I cut the edges into wobbly curves instead of into one smooth line, so my leaf more resembled an oak leaf, as was my intention... but kudos to you for stretching to another art form, and I think that your finished earrings look quite botanical! I think your new boots are fabulous, but I understand your sense of "not quite right" about your new coat... the shape you developed is excellent. There are other playful and colorful pieces you have made that set off your sparkle and work with it; this piece seems to overwhelm you and demand that the coat rather than the Shams be the star...

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    1. Thanks, Alison! You might be right that it's a bit much for me.

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  2. I love the coat , I think it is fabulous. The colours are fabulous and the shape is fantastic on you.

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  3. I think all the patterns on the front of the coat look a little bit busy . . . I actually prefer the back because the different motifs sort of blend into each other a little more. It winds up looking more cohesive than the front.

    I love the earrings, though it's a shame it was so much hassle to get there. My mother had a similar problem with folded fabric flowers she appliqued onto a quilt in a class (it didn't help that they were pink!)

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    1. I agree, livingincolor, that the back is more visually cohesive. LOL on your Mother's fabric flowers!

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  4. Shams,
    I think you coat is gorgeous and I do so hope you decide it is "you" as it does look stunning. Your new boots seem very practical as I am sure there are a number of useful items you could pick up in the course of a day. Earring story is hilarious. A

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    1. Thanks, Anne! When I saw that pen stuck to my shoe I first worried that it was glued there via gum or animal poop, so it was quite the relief. :)

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  5. Yes, it IS you! Your coat is fabulous and absolutely and totally unique. WEAR IT (or else send it over to me....)

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  6. I love this coat on you. yes its bold, but in a good way. And the earrings are stunning...although i can see how worrisome thet were at the start!! Well rescued!

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  7. So, I'll know where to look for a pen next time one goes missing, if not your boots then someone else! I'd never heard of Kantha quilts, what a great idea. Love the concept and the coat... was it 1 or 2 quilts? Most that I looked at seemed approx 100cm x 200cm. I do like the adapted Vogue pattern on you too, its a lovely silhouette and will be a great TNT for future.

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    1. LOL, Sandra! I used one quilt with only a little bit left. Thanks!

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  8. Nah, not a fan. I think the style is too formal/stiff for the brightness of the quilt. But that's me :) If you decide it is not you, not to worry, you have a great fitting pattern. Lol re the earrings. they turned out well in the end.

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    1. Vicki, I think you may be right. Meiko's pieces have a different vibe and maybe the wild print/colors work better in that scenario. Thanks!

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  9. The coat is amazing! If it is not "you", it should become the new "you"! Enjoy it and wear it often, it will make you smile! I think you have made your next Kantha coat convert... must do some research...

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    1. Thanks, PugMom! If you search for Kantha or Meiko Mintz on Pinterest, you will find inspiration galore!

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  10. What do you mean this isn't you? Put the coat on a dress form and I would have known you made it. I love this and want to make one. Thank you for introducing me to sewing with Kantha quilts :)

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    1. Awww, thanks, Sarah! Just search Kantha or "Meiko Mintz" on Pinterest and prepare for some eye candy! Also, if you read Margy's blog, she's bought two of her pieces and has modeled them for her blog.

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  11. I love the quilted coat and have now filed away that idea. Someday I will find myself making one and realize the inspiration came from your blog. Your pattern is really wonderful, too. I just love a good TNT pattern and that sure fits the bill.

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  12. I have a kantha vest that I love and have been thinking about making a jacket. You've definitely inspired me!

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  13. I love the coat! Maybe if you put it aside for a while, and look at it with fresh eyes, you will decide that it's more "you".

    I just made a jacket from a bedspread, as well. Great minds.

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    1. Thanks, Claudine! I LOVE LOVE your jacket! And it's so "you"!

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  14. I look forward to seeing you in your coat in Puyallup !!! I love your fitting techniques . The style & colors would not be ME , I actually liked it better inside out but that's just me . Wear what you love !

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    1. Thanks, Mary Ellen! (I think I like it better inside out, too.) Rats. ;)

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  15. Ah, Shams, I love this coat on you particularly the reverse side! Isn't it interesting how one can pay great attention to pattern placement and the "unplanned" placement seems better? I have that OOP pattern in my stash and will now revisit it. My shape is similar to yours so I'm always anxious to see how you transform patterns. The earring story was hilarious! Karen

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    1. Yes! Maybe I should have just not worried about the placement. :) I worked hard to get that red sleeve out of the tiny bit of red, for example, and I'm not sure I like it at all.

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  16. I'm impressed with how creative you are.

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    1. Aww, thanks, Kathy! Not when it comes to sculptural things like earrings. ;)

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  17. Well, I love your coat, and you in it. It is more colorful that your usual clothes, so perhaps that's why you don't think it's you. Since I love kantha cloth, I think I should make one, too!

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  18. Ta Da! I finally get to see the jacket you've been working so hard on! It's fabulous, you are really giving MM a run for her money. The fit is fantastic, well worth all the muslins and fitting help. The colors are beautiful, but perhaps not you (that much color and design would exhaust me). Like others, I prefer the reverse side. I think you may "grow" into it...and you should definitely wear it at Puyallup...you'll be a
    STAR!

    The earrings are beautiful, the story is hilarious...

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    1. LOL. Thanks, Margy! I agree with you. Maybe after Puyallup I'll move the closure to the "wrong" side... (I don't feel like doing that now.)

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  19. I *love* the earrings and never once thought they were O'Keefe-y until I scrolled down. Ha ha ha ha! It reminded me of an Etsy seller I saw that used polymer clay make photo-realistic and personalized necklace pendants of lady parts (requiring a photo for custom work, naturally).

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    1. Ergh! Wow, I would never have the balls to wear such jewelry. ;)

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  20. It's cute and whimsical. It'll grow on you, just wait and see. I do like the fun colours, especially the two sleeves of a different colour. And I looooove the earrings you made - never made that particular association, though, so your alterations were bang on (oops! pun intended).

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  21. I have never heard of a Kantha quolt before, let alone a Kantha quilt jacket. I LOVE it!!!

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    1. Oh, thanks, Nita! There's a whole world of Kantha out there! Even Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie sell Kantha jackets. (You can check on Pinterest.)

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  22. You are so creative, I like the inside out version better, just my opinion.
    Kudos for trying out a new medium, will keep that in mind for myself in the future. Great job

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  23. Outstanding work on the coat, it is beautiful! I would like to know what size quilt you used, would love to give this a go...thanks.....

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    1. never mind, I reread the post and see that you used a twin size, love that coat!!!

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    2. Thanks, Anne! Yes, I had *very* few scraps left over using the twin size.

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  24. Oh. My. God. The coat is amazing. The earrings are wonderful. And if the coat isn't you, it IS me! (I can try...) Love the photos too.

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  25. I love it! The colors are great!

    Rose in SV

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  26. I love it and I think it looks great on you. Fantastic colors and a really nice fit. My mom has 2 quilted jackets of a similar style that she bought in SF ages ago (like decades) there was a boutique that made them. For some reason I seem to remember a Japanese connection or perhaps Japanese fabrics? Anyway she still wears them and is always hinting that I should recreate a new one for her. so I might show her your blog post. And make more work for myself. thanks for all the details.

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    1. I bet it was Obiko, Beth. That store is missed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandra_Sakata

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  27. I love it and I think the colors look great on you - either side! Sew your pockets together and make a little bag, just in case you aren't feeling the whole coat every day. That coat is my definition of happy.

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    1. Thanks, Robyn! What a great idea for the pockets!

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  28. I love the Kantha coat on you -- it's fun and whimsical, and you will get a lot of mileage out of it. Just enjoy it and wear it!

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  29. The colors scream, "Hurry up, Spring!" It is gorgeous inside or out.Sometime we just have to be bold and crawl out of our comfort zone and go a little nuts! It is very cool and youthful unlike lots of the old lady quilted jackets for the 90's that were so stiff they could stand up by themselves and resembled giant tea cozies.

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    1. I know someone (Who Shall Remain Nameless) who refers to such jackets as "Stiffies". ahem. Thanks, Mrs Mole!

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  30. Hey, I can see lots of moments where that coat is going to make you very happy, so I'd put it where you can see it and grab it for one of those.

    Please tell Ann Smith that she is missed on Pattern Review. I know her from her Miyake reviews, and I wish her nothing but good stuff.

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    1. Thanks, SJ! I will pass it along to Ann! She is just the same as ever, as creative as ever, as busy as ever, as wonderful as ever! And now she lives a lot closer to me. :D

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  31. Hi Shams, I too hesitated about the coat when I saw it on you, but after seeing it reversed, I think it's because the colors on the first side don't look quite as good on you as the reverse side does. So i would go with it, but wear it the second way. And ditto the request to tell Ann Smith she is missed. Even if she's lost interest in blogging, would love to just see pics of her creations!

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    1. I have to agree, Kate, about the reverse side. I will pass the message along to Ann, but let me say that pictures are sometimes the hardest part! (That's a big reason that Dorothy K isn't posting reviews, because she is also just as creative as EVER.) Both of those women are a true inspiration to me.

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  32. Please wear it!!! It's fantastic on you!!!! And add the pockets! More visual interest.

    Cute earrings. And it's okay to want to try something and realize it's not you!

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  33. You are a lucky woman having not one but two experts to help with fitting. The coat is not really in colors you seem to favor, but it is beautiful.

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    1. I am SOOOOOOOOOO lucky! Thanks, Nancy!

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  34. I love Kantha cloth. You did a wonderful job with the placement of the pattern and fit I think it is a bit outside your usual color palette but it looks really good on you either way. You have to wear this. It is too wonderful to be ignored. As to your jewelry, that was one hilarious description. End product great.

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  35. I think it is great. It may be because it is longer, there is too much of it for you. Maybe shorter length and bigger collar would suit you better. Thanks for mentioning me.

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    1. Thanks, Ann, and thanks for your inspiration. (Hey, I do have a photo of you in your jacket, but won't post it without your permission...)

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  36. Once I stopped laughing at your earring story, I took a more serious look at the coat. I think adding just the more gray/greenish pocket with the repair patch onto the side with the most black-and-white print would tone down the mustard just enough that you might like it. Otherwise, the reverse colors are definitely you. What a beautiful coat!

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    1. Thanks, Charade, I will consider that idea!

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  37. Sharon - that coat is SOOOO you - IMHO! Beautiful job, as always. And yes, it is a fantastic fit! I love the earrings also.
    Marcia

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  38. Omg I love your coat and can't decide which side I like best. Probably the first pic. Earring story is hilarious and I really wish I was going to Puyallup. Maybe next year! I've been in the past and know how much fun it is. Hope you are bringing an extra suitcase!

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    1. Thanks, Star! I know you are semi local to me and I'd love to meet you some day!

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  39. Each of your posts have become pearls of sewing experiences dropped down to us to enjoy. I laughed out loud at the picture of the earrings before you fixed them which btw made me feel better because if you had started making jewelry I would have just thrown my hands up in despair!

    I actually thought the jacket looks like you and loved the back story! Hope you wear it to Pullayup!

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    1. Thanks for that sweet comment, Carolyn! (I am toying with taking the ring class, but there's no rush...)

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  40. You are so funny! Needing underwear- ha- cracking up at that!
    Your jacket is gorgeous- I really like it on you - I am sure it is lightweight and really comfortable to wear. I agree, Ann's was inspirational- she brought it to Menlo Mornings.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy! Yes, these kantha quilts are so lightweight. Mine is made from layers of voile saris.

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  41. Just gorgeous results, Sharon!

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  42. The coat looks absolutely stunning on you, IMHO. I would add pockets because, well, I like pockets! LOL

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    1. Thanks, Nurse Bennett! I just might add the pockets because, well, why not? It won't make me like it less. :)

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  43. This was such a fun post, and I absolutely adore your jacket. But....you temptress you ;) I just bought a quilt. Can't wait for it to arrive!!!!
    Oh, I love the earrings too!

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    1. Thanks, Rhonda! hehehehe I can't wait to see your masterpiece! (And I am making my FIRST soup from your soup posts today!)

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  44. Hi Shams,
    I'm new to posting on your blog, but I've been following it (and you) for a long time. I just have to say, in this instance you are being waay too hard on yourself!! This jacket is fabulous -and you should wear it!! The reverse side speaks more to me when you wear it, but you can probably find some days when the "good" side would work too!!
    You are an inspirational blogger! Love your style and sense of humor . I live in the Boston area, but am in Oakland/SF for a couple of months to visit my daughter and grandkids. A friend of mine (S. - the cover stitch gifter), turned me onto your blog and I'm so glad she did. You west coast ladies don't know how lucky you are to have all these resources and like-minded sewers so close at hand.
    Of course I am looking forward to more fun reading in the future!

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    1. Thanks so much, Mary! Please say hi to S for me! I haven't seen her in too long! I really appreciate your kind words and, yes, we west coasters are pretty lucky. :)

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  45. I think it's too long for someone short

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    1. Who are you calling short, Bonnie? ;) (I'm 5'5".)

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  46. I really like your coat -- and the fit is just awesome. I saw Mieko's coats at Gump's in SF around the holidays -- just wow to see them in person. They weren't my style, but I loved the shapes and how they complemented the quilt fabrics -- very organic.

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    1. Very cool, Jean! I didn't know that Gump's carried her pieces.

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  47. I just love that jacket. The absolute creative specificity, bravery and beauty of it! I loved the "Raymond" episode reference, too! HIlarious and perfect!

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    1. Thanks for that kind compliment, mimi!

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  48. Love your coat. It's so colorful and happy…just like you!

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  49. I love this. You look great in it. If you feel it's too much to wear, you could shorten it, that would be an easy change. I have two of those quilts that I found in a great discount store we have in Philadelphia last Fall. You have inspired me to take them out and use them. They are not as colorful as yours. Your scarf is fab too.

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    1. Thanks, Mary Glenn! Actually, less vibrant might be a good thing. ;)

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  50. Been following your blog for a few months .... That coat is amazing and look great in you.... Either side!

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  51. Just returned from Stitches West in Santa Clara, one of the market booths had a meiko mints trunk show...12 incredible garments that I had a friend try on....they are so well made and beautiful...and pricey!!! I bought a Kantha cloth shawl to make a vest for my self in another booth...all inspired by your post!

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    1. Oh, you must be local! I love Stitches West but skipped it this year since I'll be getting into enough trouble at the Puyallup Sew Expo market. ;) Interesting that there were Meiko Mintz pieces there! You can also try them on at Mio's in SF. If you post pics of your kantha piece, I'd love to see it!

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  52. I love your kantha coat! I have lusted after a Mieko Mintz jacket or vest for ages and just can't find it in the budget to buy one! Plus they seem to be made for Heidi Klum's body and that's definitely not me! I am inspired to try making my own if I can find a pattern that doesn't require alteration. I've been sewing all my life but my focus is art quilts not clothing and I have no idea where to begin to change a pattern. Being short and curvy makes that harder. Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece! Wear it often and proudly. yes, it is you!

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  53. Beautiful! A really, really lovely coat! Me..I love the pattern play and bright colours. I often see you wearing more earthy,organic tones, and this is a bit of a departure. It looks fabulous on you, so I hope it's a keeper!

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