Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Taking it back!

Sometimes ideas were not meant to be nurtured to their fruition. Sometimes ideas are half-baked. Sometimes you just have to embrace the "What the heck was I thinking?" Sometimes you need to go into the back garden, quietly dig a hole and bury the evidence. This evening was just such a sometimes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Take It Further Challenge

In keeping with the theme of strips of fabrics, tucks and pleats and using up waste fabric (old curtains)... I've finally started something for Sharon B's Take It Further Challenge:(The blue's are not so blue, and neither are the greens - it works with the colour scheme - sort of). Now to cut and slash it. This is all seriously experimental, but trying to keep with the theme of taking it further then I'm naturally inclined to.... fasten your seatbelts and hold your breath!

Sewing sideways!

After some self-assessment of the work I've been doing lately - I've come to realize that I'm okay with mucking around with thread and paint, but the quilting part is decidedly lacking. While I might hold out about not being able to sew a quarter inch seam to save my life; I really should get better at it. So, thought I'd better work on it a bit this weekend. Basically three colours - that I've stripped and sewn back together, cut again and appliqued. Nothing exacting and nothing fancy; progress below:
No not even strips. Wasn't wild about the yellow at first.
Wonderundered and free form cuts into buds and flowers.
Okay, so now I'll go muck about with thread... and maybe some paint...sticks.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Other things that happen in the wee hours of the morning.....

I started the Sumptuous Surfaces course - devouring all 32 pages of the first lesson! I've been wanting to do some handstitching for awhile - and after said devouring - I have to wait until next week because I am tasked with coming up with a design first! Pout!

Since I'm all about instant gratification, I pulled out some crazy squares I had been playing with awhile back and attacked! I'm incorporating some moosehide scrap as embellishment and stitching on that. Even with a leather needle, pulling embroidery thread through hide is tough - especially if you're doing brazillian stitching! Wouldn't it be nice if they came up with a way..... and then ..Eureka!... I remembered! In Birmingham I had bought a fancy little gadget that sits on your thumb and allows you to grasp and pull needles through wads of fabric. I had promptly forgotten about it until last night. Much rummaging through the stash later.... I think its original intention is for hand quilters. It works wonderfully on moosehide and even more wonderfully with frostbitten fingers (shovelled the driveway)!

I was so impressed that I went wading through the rubbish bin to find the package so that I could share the name and manufacturer information. Are you ready for it? The wonderproduct of my day is called ...... a Needlepuller! Snort!

The packaging sucks though! It doesn't tell you anywhere who makes it or where you can get another one. On the plus side, I now know the name for needepuller in three other languages: Tireur d'aiguille and Naaldtrekker and Nadelzieher. One I can identify as French. No clue about the others though. And that is about as helpful as I can be!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pathos and Morbid skipped down the lane hand in hand.....

We received one of those phone calls that you dread in the wee hours last night (well, not quite so wee except insofar as I was dead fast asleep). Between those moments of "sort of stunned 'and what do I do now?'" which progress quickly to "Self pity 'Hello, Universe, I don't think I can handle anymore stress in my life. Helloooo, are you listening?" we suddenly realized that there are not too many of those calls left to receive (What? the title of the entry didn't warn you that this post might be a downer? Tough it up!).

In general, I have the affliction of being a deep panic person when I hear the phone ring in the middle of the night - you'd think I'd be cured by now because we always get phone calls in the middle of the night. Usually late in the week from some drunk who is pretty darn sure Angela or Larry is hiding somewhere in the house despite my best efforts to convince them otherwise. "Would you like to come over and check under the bed? Because, really, the dustbunnies are always kidnapping things! So you just never know? They could be among the stray socks, empty Hall's wrappers and Quilting Arts Magazines." I am a worrier by nature - phone calls never bode well.

Anyways... despite being up most of the night doing phone calls and the like (being both the recipient of and bearer of) I was wide awake and living dangerously in the land of nearly creative but not quite so this morning. So I sewed. Dangerous! But it was either that or I could go enter a death date in my geneaology program (Hey! I can so wallow in it if I want too! It's my blog!). I am sending and waiting for faxes and telephone calls because apparently I am the only one with the authority to send Granny into the flames and I'm 3000 km away (Yes, I handle stress by being morbidly and sarcastically funny - leastwise in my own mind - apologies if you're offended!).

So this piece called out to be worked on: probably because it's of someone's grandmother. Not my grandmother! but someone's. Not all relationships fit into nice neat boxes of famial bonds and happy warm fuzzies. I loved my grandmother, but she was a fairly unhappy woman who spent a large part of her life living with regret and resenting those that were happy or were trying to be. If anything, her life reaffirms my desire to be happy, to take joy where I can, to love and value my family and friends and to live as far outside the box as I can wiggle. Most important, to desperately try not to get bogged down with regret! So, thusly said sage sayings, here is where we got back to in the wee hours of lack of sleep.... Woo, we are digressing....

I'm whizzing along - the sewing machine is humming. Everything checked out before I began, and after I and my sewing machine had one of those 'Oh poor baby - why didn't you tell me you weren't feeling well?' moments.

Some of it is salvagable - generally because it is all on the ruff - I'm not too too worried as it adds texture. It does mean that I'm going to have to do alot more embroidery to tack those suckers down. But not I think now!

P.S. Be at peace granny! Give my love to grumpa.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Sort of. Central Sewing in Edmonton has sent me 16 felting needles for the Babylock Embellisher. If you'll remember, they said they were sending me 10, and I was sort of feeling cranky about it. I suppose I'm somewhat mollified - albeit now I'm cranky that I keep having to post retractions in my blog. That'll teach me to get all hot headed! I suppose I have to be all responsible to the whole editorial process. Still, appropriate communication in the first place would have prevented this!

I've also installed a little stat counter on the blog - it's very addicting! More surprising, there are people out there (beside my mum) reading the blog. Gah! I'll have to step up my game now and try and be interesting. I somewhat suspect I've embarked down a slippery slope!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rockin my world!

I was sitting at my desk at work during lunch - putting the final touches to a quiz - when I felt a slight vibration, an almost shimmy. A co-worker called out that he thought we'd just had an earthquake. Apparently we had - two of them. A 5.9 and 6.1 back to back. Technically, I suppose that means one earthquake and an aftershock - but they were recorded separately and showed up in my RSS feeds separately about 2 hours later. I doubt that anyone really felt it - my office is just a cave with a wall overstuffed with books and binders... heavy books, heavy binders. I think about it too!

I'm signed up for Sharon B's course Sumptuous Surfaces beginning next week. They sent the supply list out today - but there is no way I'm going to be able to get some of the suggested supplies ordered in by next week - so I'll just have to wing it. Sharon is recommending using neutrals for the first half of the course. I went spelunking through my stash to see what I could come up with. I was a little worried, as I'm not inclined towards buying neturals.

Think I'll be okay? The only thing I'm really missing is the linen and a few wooden beads. I'm not worried about the beads as a friend's cache is far superior than what most full fledged beading stores could produce. As for the linen, here's hoping I can use duffle :)

Aurora Minimums

2006 to 2010 is considered an Aurora Minimum period - when Canadians generally hog the northern lights and they can't be seen much past the border - except for seriously high activity. 2011 - 2016 will be an Aurora Maximum period (we dust em off and hand them back to the rest of the world.. all shiny and spiffy (okay, North America, at least). Because it has been quite cold, the aurora is very active tonight and rays are spread out across much the sky (I've got a very cold nose because I've been outside quite a bit watching them). They are a great source of inspiration - but darn difficult to represent nicely or effectively. I've been playing a bit to figure stuff out, but also decided to do some research and see who else has been inspired. These are all fairly random - with some commercial sites included. If the work is not specifically of the aurora, it is done with a technique that suggests them.

Random Aurora Research Links
  1. Anna Grossnickle Hines has a truly lovely quilt inspired by the bargello technique. She's documented the creation here.
  2. Terri Allen has a wallhanging at Flying Lillies Art Quilts.
  3. Norma in her Silver Thimble Quilting archives documented a guild talk by Judy Farrow last year - who spent a lot of time up north and has some interesting representations (along with othe themes).
  4. A little more well known is Carol Bryer Fallert's public commission. Photo's can be found at her website Bryerpatch Studio.
  5. A traditional interpretation of Aurora Stars by Shelley Swanland (click on the photo for a larger view) commissioned for RJR Fabrics. They've posted the pattern here.
  6. Over at Fembellish's blog - she did a tutorial on using Angelina - so while not strictly an aurora - it has some good possibilities. She also did a Celtic Moon felted quilt with the Embellisher that is truly lovely. she hasn't blogged for a couple of months, but I know she's dealing with crappy stuff of life at the moment {good thoughts!}
  7. Renate has posted some photos in her Picassa gallery - that I really liked; especially the Aurora - in Twisted Log Cabin.
  8. Vicki Hallmark's Diamond Series has some very nice inspirational stuff.
  9. Christie Dunning of California Fibers has a nice Aurora piece done in silk, paint and embroidery.
  10. Ann Fales Quilted Images has a truly beautiful wallhanging. This is the type of quilt I was sort of hoping to find when I started researching.
  11. Found Japanese dinnerware here and here - don't they scream quilt!
  12. Iwona Creation's Temple Northern Lights
  13. Regina Browne's Under Northern Lights 2
  14. Linda Gass' Art Quilts are gorgeous!
I bookmarked a ton more. The intent is to see what is out there and now try and figure out something different. Does anyone else work this way?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


My conscience is requiring me to fess up a little lie I told yesterday. ::cough:: ::cough:: I'm so sorry! I need to admit that it didn't quite get to -42 last night. It, uhm, only made it to -41.8 according to Environment Canada. I know, I know - you are questioning my reputation, doubting my veracity, pondering the authenticity of my sources and wondering if everything that I've posted thus far has been so blatantly embellished. The shame of it all is a heavy weight to bear, trust you me. I was even thinking of applying for membership to Quiltland, but I'm a little afraid of being stoned! They have some tough rules over there. Apparently though, it'll be Zero degrees by Sunday afternoon (that's a little freaky - even for an area affected by your global warming!). I'm sort of wishing I hadn't seen the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" since according to its timeline, my little town was quite already annihilated while we were standing in line for popcorn!!!

Oh, and speaking of bare (groan moan groan), I was sorting through photos today (transferring them to archive because I'm desperately short of disk space) and came upon this one that I took at last summer's Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England. Now, it ended up a little out of focus, so I tried to sharpen it a bit. I think I actually remember being a little annoyed that these ladies wouldn't move... (not - so - quick - on - the - uptake - She - is!).
Alright - off to spill blood on fabric!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

-42 Baby!!!

Well okay, technically only -39 right this very minute (being -46 with the windchill factor); but it is creeping steadily downwards by degrees (hee!). I've ...ahem... noticed ...ahem... a fair amount of ....hmmm..... shall we say.... grumbling about the weather on a fair number of quilt and fibre blogs lately. I just thought I'd sneak that lil ol trump card in there while I had the chance (heck no! not a competitive bone in my body!)

Onwards to creative pursuits... though not much to report, except that my 'blue daisies Shiva painty applique thingee' (note to self: think up better name) has taken an interesting turn. It is no longer quite the way I saw it in my head, but I'm not entirely unhappy with it either. Some puckers happening - but those'll sew out and my stabilizer has proven woefully inadequate. I used an iron on muslin which I bought at Evil Mart the last time I was south. Lesson learned!

I was talking with EP earlier about our creative processes. My style is that I am inclined to start with an idea "I love", outline or sketch a "relatively happy with", and then work the piece until "I hate it, can't imagine what I was thinking in the first place or where it all went so terribly terribly wrong". Finally, with some effort and a really hard push, I can fight my way back to "it's 'okay" or on really good days "not half bad". I then tend to blank out about a piece and will even often forget I did it. The reason for this blather is that the funny thing is, while I have often been my worst critic, I was way more stressed about what others thought about my work. Now I find myself less concerned with the opinion of others as the work becomes more and more 'done for me' and about exploration and development. Okay, yes, I do realize that this is coming from the same person who has to go and throw up before an exhibition and cried buckets because she sold everything - but hey, I'm allowed my .... artistic and creative insanity, because it's not like I'm cutting off an ear or anything.

Odd though, what I have found in this "process" is that while I was quite comfortable with the older panic - the hide my head under a jacket, don't even look sideways at my art - me; it is this newer confidence that has me freaked to my very (cold) toes.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Productivity and Procrastination

After my lovely 15 days break, it's been a challenge to get back into the swing of things at work. On the home front, the unpacking frenzy continues - but on the plus side, all the christmas presents came yesterday. We had a belated epiphany party and we were nicely spoiled!

The studio closet is as organized as it ever has and ever will be! Everything has been sorted, picked over, purged, piled, resorted, grouped and stowed. I now have a good handle on where all my needles are (I have a lot), have neat little labeled storage bins, have sorted, resorted and detangled my threads, and much much more. I am, overall, quite pleased with the result; although, there are still some minor things to be accomplished (filing cabinet!). I was worrying that I was procrastinating by doing this decluttering stuff instead of the creative stuff - but made some progress in that direction too, although not what I am suppose to be doing!

Below is another drum dancer. The first is my almost final cartoon. Stuff still needs to be fixed - in this case - I wasn't happy with the hand (the overhead machine does some distortion when I transfer from the original sketch) and I had to wing the feet knowing I'd draw them in later on the fabric (also the overhead machine's fault).

I've done some editing on the cotton at this point - shrunk the hand and then decided to add some aurora waves as if the dancer was calling them forth. I'll fix other problems when I paint. My intial creative style is somewhat impatient - I'm not a planner - but doing thread painting, I've had to start forcing myself to be patient. I think it's good discipline, but I have to work at it...alot!

Here is another one waiting for paint. At this stage I think it's missing something. This is a probably a good example of one that I know will change alot during the painting stage.

And finally, a few more sketches that haven't yet been transferred to cotton. These need some more work too. I did the pencils at Guild meeting on Monday as I was too lazy to cart my sewing machine (-30!). I've inked over them with a sharpie now - but will have to sketch over them again. I use different coloured sharpies to help fix small details that bug me. The hair and hands need to be redone on the first and the head needs to be larger on the second. I will admit, that they look a little worse because of the angle at which I shot the photo; but fixing is not bad, as I'm unhappy with the facial expression on the second (I rushed the transparency, since I like it in the original sketch). I also have to add more detail to the parkas and fix the fur.

My greatest challenge right now is working from photos. I wish I had the guts to go watch practice sessions - to work on the movement - but I feel very intrusive doing so. The winter is not a time when there are a lot of full dance performances. I do watch some videos, but they get a little boring after awhile (same model). I'll update progress as I putter along.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Oh the weather outside is frightful.....

It's -26 but the Weather station says it 'feels like' -32 (windchill!). Most mortals would be snug inside, curled up in front of a roaring fire enjoying Epiphany celebrations. Us? We spent the afternoon outside cleaning out the backyard storage shed! Nuts, the typist is NUTS! Supper is consisting of hot mushroom soup and freshly baked biscuits in a vain attempt to get warmth back into my insides. There are fireworks tonight - to celebrate the return of the sun to our dark little part of the world. Only 30 seconds of sun today, but sun nonetheless.

I am a podcast junkie! I am addicted and eagerly anticipate new releases of CBC's Vinyl Cafe, NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and APM's A Prairie Home Companion Tales From Lake Wobegon each week. I'm on my second iPod and it has become more indispensable to me than my computer. I've actually had thoughts along the lines of in the event of fire - who gets saved? The cat or the iPod? There is a dearth of podcasts on quilting and fibre arts - a few old ones that haven't posted new content in over a year like Driven to Quilt, a couple of commercial ones, like Alex Andersen's Quilts and Annie Smith's Simple Arts and a truly outstanding video podcast by Bonnie McCaffrey (all of which you can listen to or watch without the need of an iPod). There are dozens of podcasts on knitting and a few on general craft making. Lately, I've been listening to an art marketing podcast and a creativity building podcast. Both are commercial endeavours, but are quite good. The latest episode on art marketing is all about branding yourself.

For most of us, style becomes the number 1 branding tool; artisans really quickly develop a niche and there commercial endeavours (ie. books or tools) are almost always centred around that niche. Everyone knows of art quilters of a specific style genre (even if you can't come up with a name); ie. the ones who burn, the ones who paint, the ones who bead, the ones who applique, etc.... But, how do you brand yourself as a 'quilter' or 'fabric artists' in everyday society? Do you have a tattoo? Do you carry your guild membership card on a lanyard around your neck? Wear inchie's as jewelery? When I'm with like minded folk, I can talk fibre and technique for hours; but I'll quickly bore the socks off a non-creative type. How then do we identify each other? Perhaps one day I'll rethink the tattoo, but in the meantime I wear a necklace which I treated myself to a few of years ago. It's a lump of silver with an impression of a 17th Century French sewing guild's seal in the centre.

When I was cleaning out the studio - I found 13 USB Cables! 13! And that doesn't even account for the ones already plugged into the computer.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Ribbonwork Research

(Please note - I've tried to put links to better quality photographs. The thumbnails are only teasers!)

I've had quite a few emails and comments about my rough tutorial on delta braid/trim. One poster commented that it reminded her of the 'Scarlet Ribbons' of the southeastern and northern plains native American work. This is my downfall. If I don't know about something, I get all sucked into research and emerge days later... so I've spent a glorious evening researching native American ribbon work and its derivatives and inspirations. Wow!

Ribbonwork began to die out in the 19th century but is beginning to gain interest again as groups strive to protect their cultural heritage. The modern Pow Wow circuit and Potlaches have had much influence in this area. Ribbonwork (which essentially was silk applique) was as important amongst the Woodland native americans as delta trim is in our arctic region. Patterns were cut from silk and they used techniques such as folding, splicing, tucking and sewing. Although some of the early examples that I found online (mostly photos in historical collections) show geometric designs, the vast majority seem to be floral in nature or abstract designs based on floral lines. The use of embroidery such as cross-stitch and herringbone stitches along the edges of the qpplique was popular to add to the decorativeness of the garments.

I found quite a collection of modern work which I've linked below. The first is thumbnail of the artist (screen name) Blackbear's exquisite ribbon work. I know it's a little grainy - but the link given from for thumbnails is a little wonky in Blogger. A better image can be found in gallery forums.

While there, you should explore more of Kevin Yazzie's work - it is truly gorgeous. His forum discussion can be found here!

As well as this absolutely stunning cedar bag:

In fact the crafts section of has some truly beautiful work in entirety. As a final peek, take a look at this shawl! The thumbnail is only a teaser of its beautiful work.

This led me to Crazy Crow Trading Post's article on Dance Shawls (be warned it is a commercial site, but has some good references. Another discussion on craft ribbon work can be found in Canku Ota's newsletter celebrating Native America. A very interesting two part article on Ribbon Work have been written by Lynn Sageflower Pennington. Part One is here and Part Two is here.

Windows on Maine has a wonderful photo of a ribbon appliqued cradle board. They have links to similar resources which will suck up your time - so be warned.

Finally this led me to read a slew of reviews on a book written Helen Kelley called SCARLET RIBBONS American Indian Technique for Today's Quilters. It is out of stock on Amazon, but it is now on my ordered list. One day my credit card will die when amazon finally gets all the books I want back in stock.

A last link loosely on the subject (or my branches off the subject): The National Museum of the American Indian has some lovely online exhibits. The first is entitled: Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native Women's Dresses. The second is Across Borders: Bead work and Iroquois Life (M! this is for you). A whole list of their other online exhibitions can be found here. There is a great teacher's guide to the exhibition To Honour and Comfort: Native Quilts here (downloadable pdf) as well as a guide on Native Dolls (plus many other teacher's guides on exhibitions past and present).

On the home front - I received an enormous box in the mail today. My Sulky thread! All 128 spools of the stuff. I'm in heaven!

Now if only to carve out some time this weekend to use some of it.

Pushing the Purge!

The moving van with everything salvaged from Dad's house is due to arrive bright and early at 9:00 am on Saturday. It has taken 3 months for it to get here (or, depending on your perspective, 3 months for the ice road to get thick enough for commercial traffic). All creative endeavours have ground to a halt while we rush to purge our house of various debris and ready it for more debris from his house (we lot are packrats and the shipping costs to save family memories has come to a whopping $5,549.64 - OY!).

I now have quite a collection of scrap material - all neatly torn up into useable bits. Buttons stripped and tossed into the button jar. I am most excited about inheriting Dad's lovely antique dresser as well as some truly archaic sewing bits and bobs. These will all have to be sorted in that brief lull between van arrival and return to work on Monday. I have vague memories of a shopping extravaganza held in those odd moments between pre- and post- funeral madness - and I believe I threw most of that in a box as well. Plus, books. Lots and lots of books! I can hear the house tilting off its pilings in anticipation.

The upshot of it all is that we backslid a bit on studio progress as stuff got shuffled from room to room. Ah well, I'm beginning to believe that is the enduring curse of trying to make art out of fabric. I have planned a bunch of stuff out in my head though. Let's hope the download process goes smoothly!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Some progress

It is amazing how motivated you can get to clean up your space after you post your filth on the web. I've made some inroads. Still lots of work to do. I'm most pleased that the design wall is reassembled. It's portable, hangs on two hooks over the closet door or it can be moved to hang over the window. Yes yes, I know, we quilter's prize our natural light... well we haven't had natural light since mid-November and by summer, our cup will runneth over! When I can finally find black batting - that'll be what I use.

The design wall currently has some fabric thrown up on it that I thought might work with the Take it Further Challenge. They certainly are darker in the photograph than in real life though.

Back to more creative pursuits tommorow I hope!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Mucking Out

Since quite a number of fellow bloggers have decided to start the New Year by cleaning out their stashes, UFO's, studios and lives; I'm feeling a little pressue to do the same (I am such a little lemming). Please note dear readers, that when I say "studio" you must immediately conjure up in your mind's eye "a teeny tiny closet sized room' doubling as office space, sewing space, painting space and storage space. Using the term studio, is my (inane albeit) way of living in the moment and creating the necessary aura to get the creative juices flowing.... akin somewhat to the philosophy of 'if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck....oooh, look, feathers'! Oh, never mind, forget the mind's eye thing - I'll just post photos.

With some trepidation, herewith is my very very messy studio. I hear the cries of 'shame' from here! Now, let us hope that I can do something about it. I'm giving myself a time limit. If you don't hear from me by early tommorow, please call 911. It's very likely that the embroidery floss has kidnapped me and is holding me ransom.

The sewing (and embellishing) corner. When I'm doing one, the other sits on the floor beside my feet. My UFO's are posed to the wall behind the sewing machine... along with miscellaneous flotsam that I may have started but have abandoned and can't bear to toss.

The closet (just to the right of the sewing machine, past some very useless decorative shelves). The bins hold most of my fabric and wool. Canvases are the bain of my storage problem - they never want to sit neatly anywhere. Art supplies are shoved higgledy piggledy in the closet.

Behind the door, next to the computer desk. I pin my patterns and sketches to the wall to get them out of the way. Computer paper, scanner and printer are on the shelves (look closely, did you know the paper tray of a printer is a wonderful paintbrush holder? .... me neither). What you missed is a filing cabinet (with stacks of miscellanous mail piled atop) wedged between the closet and the door.

My computer - a little old and more than a little cranky with age by now. It has way too many peripherals attached to it - but it's holding on (for now).

And finally, the floor. At least my collection of Quilting Arts magazines are neatly stacked on shelves.

I'm blaming (with affection and admiration) this whole process on Sharon B of In a minute ago. She's like the leader of this little fibre arts clique at the moment. And a clique we are - it's worse than Girl Guides. Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying it, but with the full realization that I've joined a group where addictive behaviour is encouraged! In a 12 step program - I think I'm on step .0002. Okay, enough banter.... off to the salt mines!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Delta Braid/Delta Trim

I sat down at the machine the other day, determined to master the fine art of Delta Braid to add to some of the post cards I owe in the lates Art2Mail exchange. Failed rather miserably - I don't have the patience! But I decided that since there is such a lack of information on this technique on the internet, I'd add my 2 cents worth. Also decided that I should get the year started off well by being productive on the blog and not just use it as an excuse to vent.

Delta Braid (truly called Delta Trim, but I'm using the terms interchangeably as they've shifted a bit over the years) is the trim that is used to decorate parka's in my region - the Western Arctic. It's a skill that has been passed on through the generations in our area, but like most traditional skills, it is starting to disappear. Delta Braid is a form of applique. Likely, its origins lie with the Inupiat of Alaska and Coppermine of Nunavut. In the early days, various types of fur and skin were used to add decorative and distinctive elements to clothing. When the fur and whaling traders reached the arctic, they introduced european fabric and trims.

Nowadays the trim is almost exclusively made by the Inuvialuit and Athapaskan's of the Beaufort Delta (Mackenzie River) region (and as well as some Inuit and Inupiaq communities). I love the whole idea of delta trim because it so clearly affirms the inherent artistic nature of humans - that we'll decorate just about and with anything. You can find some very nice histories in a variety of books by cultural anthropology expert Jill Oakes (aka Jillian e. Oakes) as well as in the more recent book Arctic Clothing produced by McGill-Queen's University Press.

Delta Braid/Trim is made up of geometric patterns from layers of multi-coloured bias tape and seam bindings. In the early days it was mostly done in primary colours - but as the bias trim industry expanded, so did the colour selection. There is a whole debate going on about when the changes between a purely linear look (Inupiat) shifted to the more complex geometric (Western arctic), but I'll digress. In days gone by, it was used mostly on dresses and parkas. These days you'll see it on Parka covers, gun cases and the odd pair of Mukluks. It takes ages (and SKILL) to make the truly beautiful stuff. That skill is so undervalued that it makes my head spin. My examples suck - so in the meantime you'll have to look at the following links:

It is hard to find information on this subject, but I did want to include some instructions - just in case anyone wants to try it. I just may have to force myself to explore this area as part of Sharon B's Take it Further challenge which started today (well yesterday in Australia)?

Tutorial On Delta Braid/Delta Trim

Materials Needed: Sewing Machine, Polyester/Cotton Thread, Bias Tape (varying colours), Rick-Rack (optional), Graph Paper, Pencil Crayons. Also Optional: Egg Carton for sorting colours

Before starting to create delta trim – draw a pattern out on graph paper. This will allow you to count the pieces required and determine the length of each piece. Measure the length of your material where the delta trim will be applied. You’ll want to cut your base piece of bias tape 1 inch longer then your material measurement. You'll also want to cut individual pieces of bias tape - approximately 1/2 to 1 inch long - in colours that match the design on your graph paper. This is where the egg carton comes in handy - because you can sort the sizes and colours of your bias tape. In my opinion, this is the finicky part.

Your first row will be the bottom row (a long plain strip of bias tape or trim a couple inches longer than the width of where it will be attached). You will attach your coloured trim pieces to this row. In the image below, we're pretending to attach a small piece of red trim to the longer white bias row.

You can see in the second diagram below, that we're adding a second piece of trim a short distance away from the first. This is where your graph paper pattern will help keep you on track.

Once you have finished your first row (attaching the smaller pieces of trim) you will layer a piece of trim over top and then fold down the small pieces. Wash, Rinse, Repeat!

Hours later, you should have a very cool geometric pattern of trim. The design can be as simple or as complicated as one would like. Lots of women I know add rick rack or other machine braid.
Other sources of information can be found at:

Threads of the Land - at the Canadian Museum of Civilization talks about the clothing styles of the inuit and athapaskans and you can see some examples of Delta trim in the photos of the modern parkas.
McCord Museum has a nice thematic exhibition on the Art and Technique of Inuit Clothing. While not much on Delta Braid/Trim - some of the work is beautiful.

This was a rough, off the cuff tutorial, but I hope it provided a little bit of illumination. I'll try and get a photograph of some Delta Trim in the next few days (people do tend to look at you funny when you take photos of their calves though).