I Can Sew, But Painting? I Don’t Know

I Sew, But Painting? I Don’t Know….

I want to share with you a recent project that pushed my scaredy button.  Part of stretching a creative practice is to jump into new techniques without knowing how it will turn out.  This is where my procrastination will kick in.  –kind of like when I’m playing with a new idea to write about. I am still a newbie at this blogging thing, so I also want to mention that process and congratulate you as a charter reader. Thanks for checking in! Blogging is a great new thing for me that I see will help me reflect on my own process. –like an online journal of sorts.

To Live Lane, of Choosing Beauty: FLOWERS, KUDOS, ACCOLADES, HIGH FIVES… You get the picture. She is my teacher in the Extra Valuable class, How to Build a Blog You Truly Love.

Trying new things jazzes me. I struggle with the idea of wasting time on something that might turn out to be a mess. But hey, it’s important to take risks. I couldn’t get this project out of my head. It repeatedly said, Hallooooo! You gotta do this!

                                                                                                                                           ImageStencil mess.

I had some dusty lilac colored cotton knit on my shelf that was begging me to become an easy summer skirt. A little at a time, I have played with painting on fabrics. I am into the alchemy of upcycled clothing and think this can be a fun part of it.  Natalie Chanin’s book, Alabama Studio Sewing+Design  gave me a kick in the pants and a pattern to start with.  Her work shows GENIUS interpretations of rustic southern  fancy. I was so excited to find this book and get the go-ahead to use some of her great knit designs as a springboard for my own.

The skirt is a simple A line with a flowered elastic waist detail. I sewed the side seams and left the back seam open until after I painted. I serged the seams so they would show on the outside, using gold, fuchsia and burgundy thread, It was an unlikely combo, but seemed to work. I pressed the seams flat and sewed them down with a dark green zigzag. It all works with the flowered elastic which went on last.

Image           In real life, the red looks more subtle, like plum.

I enlarged the paint design I liked on my printer/copier. Then I traced it onto clear contact paper. Using a fine blade exacto knife, I cut out the areas to be painted. It was easier than I thought, to peel the backing off the contact paper, considering the fairly intricate pattern. I just tried to be careful. Chanin paints dyes onto their fabrics by spraying. Since I don’t have an airbrush (might have to check into that) I bought some spray fabric paints at Joann’s and Wally World. THAT would have been a disaster, had I not practiced on a scrap first. The spray is drippy and has drops that are waaay too big. So I sprayed the paint onto my palette of choice (a paper plate).  I used a foam paintbrush to tap the paint onto the stencil. Black went first. After letting that dry, I offset the stencil a bit, then used a combination of lilac and cranberry color which was a little more transparent than the black. I went back in after that dried and added highlights of silver acrylic. The silver is my least favorite part. I’ll get to play with that another time; maybe using a different paint or permanent marker. For definition, I added a few sketchy outlines with a black permanent marker. A dry iron fixes the paint so it should be washable.

                                                                                                             Image Do ya like my little tramp stamp on the back?

The next step in expanding my repertoire of skills will be to do this process over a few times to get more comfortable and adept at it. So many times, I have tried something new and gone into Klutch mode so I only do part of it or have a creativity freeze. Then I avoid addressing it again out of fear. The critical voice in my head says, “see, you are no good at this.” I will get chance to practice as I get ready for a class I’m teaching at a local kid’s art camp done by The Space. We will be dyeing, painting, and remaking white Tshirts into something new and fun. Use paints and dyes with a group of 24 kids? Am I crazy? No, diabolical. I want to plant or nurture the seed of appreciation for working with fabrics in the minds of impressionable youngsters. 😀

As always, If you have any specific questions or tip requests related to any of my projects [maybe you want to try it out for yourself] please ask in the comments section. Other readers may get something good from this too!  


Fitting the Bride’smaid Dress

Fitting the Bride'smaid Dress

Daughter #2 has to look and feel great for her friend’s wedding. Daughter #1 and I take extra care to fit the maid’s dress around an 18-week preggo tummy so she feels beautiful as she walks down the aisle. I have enjoyed sewing for these girls and their older brother since they were babes.

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Reluctant Artists Beware!

When people ask me what I do, I say that I do sewing and design. Then I feel a twinge of guiltiness. The critical voice in my head says, ”REALLY. Design? People don’t hire you for that often at all. You are NOT Vera Wang.”

My heart says back, “But that’s what I want to do, and if people hired me more often, I would do it more often.” I design for myself all the time. I use design a lot. I create in my home, in my garden, with cooking, and especially with Sewing. Most of all, I  embellish all over the bulletin boards of my imagination. I think I’m glad I’m not Vera Wang. I’m Carol Reanne Jones.

I’m going to come clean with a few things in this post. This may end up differently than you might expect. If I talk about this, I might get some clarity on what it means to me (and maybe some other people) to be an artist.  REALLY. Artiste?

Who says you’re an artist? It seems like you are more of a skilled technician.


My friends and clients call me an artist. I respect their opinions. I think that one side of designing depends on good technical strategies. The other side of the coin is what speaks to the heart. It uses inspiration and arouses that in others. I sew for the alchemy of it. The science part is just a tool.

You don’t make much money with your art.


Actually, whatever income I have, is from making things for other people. I share my creative talents so they can have magic, beauty, and self expression in their everyday lives. When I’m not making stuff, I am teaching, hoping they will enjoy the gift of sewing for themselves.


Can you support yourself and the lifestyle to which you are accustomed?


Well, not at this point; no. I am looking for the day when I get paid a lot more to play with my art. I could get a time consuming low paying job, but I think that would take away most of my sewing time. I am making peace with myself over not pulling my weight financially in my marriage. My husband appreciates what I do for myself, for others, and for him. Call me a Kept Woman. I learned from a great designer, Kenneth King, that there is a long history of seamstresses being considered as such. Milliners (hat makers) were seen to have even lower morals.

Who are you to not have to go to work every day? Isn’t it irresponsible to give up a paycheck that could make a difference for your family?


Well, I don’t have to bring home a paycheck every week. I can be grateful that we have everything we need and our kids were raised to be kind, productive and well educated. I’ve had a career where I contributed to the betterment of children and families. I work hard, even if it feels like play a lot of the time.

You’re not trained in art and design.


Only if you count the past 50+ years that I have been playing with and researching use of fabrics and construction. I wish I had a photo album of all the projects I’ve made since the beginning. It would be fat and varied.

What about the weeks in a row you did no sewing, like last spring? Or the afternoons you waste shopping?


So I had hand surgery and went on a couple of trips. My imagination was still working all the time. I’ve learned that getting out in the world rejuvenates my work. Julia Cameron (book: The Artist’s Way) recommends taking an Artist’s Date once a week. A shopping trip can give me a feel for current trends, construction techniques, and new ways to combine color.

Aren’t you a little too old to come up with pieces like the cool and trendy things you see online and in the hipster shops?


Seriously? I’m too old to see life through the one lens that shows only what’s cool and trendy. I’ve seen styles come and go long enough to know that style and fashion and beauty all have different definitions. I also know it’s fun to play with a trend when I choose to. I’m surprised at how often I’m drawn to playing with a color or design detail. And the next season, I see it all over the stores.

What makes you so special? You’ve made a few pieces to be proud of. People who don’t sew think there is something unique in it. You’re just lucky sometimes.


Yes, I have been lucky and sometimes I’m unlucky. Isn’t it kind of the point?—To create something for people who cannot or do not want to make it for themselves? I also think there is more operating than just luck. When I can be still in my brain and get in the Creation Zone, I think that inspiration can come through me and into my work. I’ve heard Julia Cameron and other artists talk about this too. If my talent comes from the Source of All Creation, who am I to say “No, I don’t think I want to participate in that?”


Wow! I’m amazed at how easy it is to come up with answers to these jabbing thoughts. To get this back-and-forth out of my head and onto the screen helps me see the answers as more than excuses. A rationale is different and I can use it to guide me. I admire people in my life who do things for no direct monetary reason. Since that is the way I’m put together, I want to see the beauty in creating for the sake of creating.  I want that for myself and anyone else who will tread on this rocky ground.

It strikes me that I am a most fortunate woman. I do not want to waste more energy feeling guilty for that. I can almost imagine what I could come up with when I put that energy towards creatingImage.




Creativity can be found whenever someone is problem solving to bring about something delightful. I do not believe that there are 2 groups of people, related to creativity. Here’s hoping that we can all choose whether or not to forget what our 3rd grade art teacher instilled in us.

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