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Sewing with Threads Podcast

Diane Ericson on Creativity in Adversity | Episode 45

Video: Threads magazine

A seasoned artist and designer, Diane has been sharing ideas and design techniques as a contributor to the sewing industry through workshops and magazine articles for years. She focuses on how to expand the creative process while building design skills to express a more personal style. Based in Ashland, Oregon, she teaches workshops and offers retreats through Design Outside the Lines. She blogs at DianeEricson.com and you can find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as @DianeEricson.

Diane’s wardrobe remake

In late summer 2020, Diane’s home and studio burned to the ground, destroying everything she owned. In the aftermath, she has, of necessity, been crafting a new wardrobe. This personal project has been daunting. It forces her to face the large issues of acknowledging who she is, what her life is about, and to discover what she needs to be comfortable in the world.

After the fire, Diane received many gifts of sewing materials. Her style has always blended multiple fabrics in each garment, and she continues to do so with the fabrics she has been given.

In the podcast video, she wears one of the pieces made this from gifted fabrics: a “birthday garment,” designed to illustrate the events of the past year. This shirt includes a piece of fabric printed by a friend, a recycled garment, and some home décor fabric.

Wardrobe-building template by Diane Ericson
Diane has been planning and sewing an entirely new wardrobe. Photo: courtesy of Diane Ericson.

The fire of Sept. 8, 2020

Diane recounts the shocking story of the Almeda Fire, which destroyed her community in minutes. She had only 5 minutes to jump in her car and drive away to safety. Since then, she’s determined to move forward from this loss and grow as a person. Her sewing has been therapeutic, from handling textiles to engaging her creative side.

Woodworking and problem-solving

Even before the fire, Diane created woodworking projects. She is again looking to wood crafts as a way of experimenting with problem-solving. Because she comes from a family of builders, her background enables her to expand her abilities as a maker in media other than textiles. Diane eventually returned to the burn site and retrieved pieces of wood from her home. With these salvaged pieces, she created a ladder. She now displays fabric on the ladder. This process helps her build structure in her life and move on from the adversity of the fire.

Birthday garments

Diane speaks about special garments she has made over the years to explore where she is at that time in her life, what she wants to celebrate, and what she wants to move toward. She encourages people to consider doing this to tap into their creativity and into the meaning of their life. These garments help her look back and remember who she was at different points of her life.

Upper back of a handmade shirt by Diane Ericson
Mixed fabrics and a ladder emblem illustrate Diane’s progress during a year of loss and rebuilding. Photo: courtesy of Diane Ericson.

Retreats, workshops, and inspiration

For decades, Diane has led educational workshops. Her Design Outside the Lines retreats are popular with students from across the country. These events offer them the opportunity to find their genuine selves, Diane explains. She says she creates a welcoming situation, with a mix of new and veteran sewers.

Recently, Diane has been collaborating with a local knitting expert to create a new winter coat. The garment will bring together pieces of hand-knitted fabric with gifted coating fabric. Celebrating the pairing of two art forms and textile languages has made the process more meaningful.

According to Diane, “Big life moments are breathtaking and transforming, and I want to grow in really awesome ways from that.” To her, the power of making allows us to make our way through difficult experiences.

Diane has shared content with Threads for years. Some of her contributions can be found at ThreadsMagazine.com:

“Use Fabric Scraps to Make Knotted Buttons and Beads”

“Stenciling Workshop”

“How to Create Fabric Jewelry”


ISAF logo

The International Sewing Arts Festival is proud to announce that our first-ever class catalog is now available for viewing online. It features classes from some of the most sought-after instructors in the sewing world. ISAF has projects for everyone. Don’t forget to check out one of our fantastic runway shows featuring the gowns from Season 30 of Dancing with the Stars, or the best of Angela Wolf. Don’t delay, sign up today, and we will see you January 13–15, 2022, in Ontario, California, for our debut event. Visit our website, SewingFestival.com, for more information about this exciting event. 

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