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Remembering Lois Ericson

We just learned that our dear friend Lois Ericson died last week. Lois was a wife and mother, but she also was an author, teacher, and artist. She designed patterns and touched the sewing community like no other. Her books, patterns, classes, and persona opened the door to individual creativity for thousands of sewers. We already miss her spark.

Some years before I came to work at Threads, I had the opportunity to work with Lois for several days in her studio in Salem, Oregon. She and her husband, Len, picked me up at a late arrival flight in Portland. They drove me to a cottage, Lois handed me a key, and then said: “Here you are. Make yourself at home. Open closets and drawers, touch anything you want, eat anything you want, call us if you need anything, and I’ll see you in the morning.” This was Lois’s studio about a mile from her home.

Imagine being left alone in the workspace of your idol and given permission to explore to your heart’s content. I toured her magnificent button collection. I studied the garments on the rack and tried on some of them. I admired the artwork on the walls—the jewelry, the bags, and accessories she had made. Hanging from a branch in the kitchen was a collection of homemade brushes with twigs and retrieved pieces of wood for handles and feathers, along with straw, grass, and found fibers for bristles. Many treasures from fans and her daughters filled the studio’s nooks and crannies, and there was a journal with messages from previous visitors. It was dawn before my head hit the pillow. 

When my eyes opened, I saw a row of bodiless garments dancing across a bookcase. What charming and irresistible beings these were. I wondered if I had managed to catch the last of the fairies that came in every night to make sewing magic. Later that day, Lois explained she was working on an idea based on the pithy expression “Clothes don’t make the man.” She wanted to illustrate how clothes would be without the person in them. She made miniature kimono, coats, and gowns; saturated them in fabric stiffening liquid; and styled them on those wooden drawing models until they dried. Then the garment could be removed from the model and left to dance alone. This woman was a creative force!

Her generous invitation to pore over her studio was not just inspiring. It was her way of giving me, as she had hundreds of students and others, permission to find different paths and unleash personal creativity. In many ways, Lois Ericson changed my life.

Marcy Tilton tells us: If you want to honor Lois, follow her lead. Go into your studio and create. Make. Invent. Teach. Lois continued creating right up to the end, pursuing a renewed passion for watercolors, and—always, always, always—fabric and fiber. Her design sense and style were instantly recognizable. She was beloved by many, and she forged a path in the fiber arts that is a foundation of the work many pursue today.

Lois contributed many articles to Threads over the years. Here are just a few examples of her great work.


Resist-and-Spray Technique for Dyeing Fabric
Textures: From Photo to Fabric
Master Class: More Great Fabric Manipulations
Unconventional Buttonholes




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  1. Rabia | | #1

    This ia TERRIBLE! What a loss! I have always enjoyed Lois's articles and admired her cleverness at coming up with garment closures and ornamentation! How sad to know that she is now gone! Hail and farewell, Lois!>wipes tear<

  2. gmajunk | | #2

    i am so sorry to hear of Lois's passing. She was an inspiration to me. I'm presently finishing a jacket made just like the one she has on in the picture on the blog. please relay my very heartfelt sadness to her daughter and other family memebers. We have lost a truly inspiring artist. But I'm sure she is redesigning angel outfits in heaven as we speak. She was amazing!

  3. User avater
    Sewista | | #3

    I am so sorry to hear this. Lois Ericson inspired me to not just sew but to see my work as a canvas for embellishment, dyes, and manipulations. I consumed her books and videos, watching and reading them all over and over. I discharge dyed many a yard, all thanks to Lois's inspiration. I went down paths I had never even thought of, all thanks to Lois's inspiration. She contributed a lot to the sewist that I am today and I would love for her family to know that. I am so sorry for their loss.

    Thank you, Threads, for bringing us news of her passing.

  4. Onyx147 | | #4

    What can one say about the loss of a genius? I met Lois Ericson at one of her classes given many years ago. I had heard about Lois and was very enthusiastic about her class. As I sat quietly drinking in every word that left her lips, I was truly amazed. I was further amazed when she had the "show and tell" segment of her class. The way Lois created a garment was phenonmenable and when she asked me to model a couple of outfits, I told Lois that I was afraid that I might wrinkle something, but, she said "oh, go ahead and try it on."

    I was stunned when she mentioned to the class that she thought what I was wearing was sensational. A word like that coming from someone of such great statue in the sewing community was something that I'll never forget.

    We were the last ones left in the classroom that evening, so, I asked if I could help her pack up everything before leaving. She said sure. We got to talking about so many things. She told me about her daughter, Diane and how proud of her that she was. She even took the time to meet my husband that waiting for me in the parking lot.

    We started to correspond and I quickly paid for each year that she published, "The Rag." We corresponded through snail mail and then e-mail. Lois had a wonderful handwriting. I also purchased most of her patterns and have each of her books and right now I'm glad that I do.

    Lois is someone that will always be in my thoughts and each time I go back through her books, or copies of "The Rag" I'm sure I'll pick up another nugget of creative wisdom. She was humble and brilliant and she will be sorely missed.

  5. Ceeayche | | #5

    My condolences to her family and staff. I did not know her personally, but have been greatly inspired by her work. The sewing/creative community has lost a treasure.

  6. LilyforMe | | #6

    My condolences to her husband and family.

    The sewing world and creative world, has lost a "tour de force".

  7. User avater
    packrat1 | | #7

    My condolences to her family and friends. I have several of her books and will continue to consult them for a little spark of her creative spirit.

  8. SewTruTerry | | #8

    I remember Lois from taking many classes from her during sewing events and seeing her on the mainstage during the fashion shows at these events. Her imagination will truly be missed and I hope that one day I can be half as creative as she has been. Condolences to her family and many friends.

  9. Seamstress4theBand | | #9

    My thoughts and prayers go out to her family. I had the pleasure of attending a workshop taught by Lois in San Francisco a number of years ago. She was such a kind and thoughtful teacher engaging us all in the process. What an inspiration! I will always be grateful for her influence on the art/sewing world.

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