Learned so much in this class, it was more than just learning to print with dyes. We dyed fabric, had a crush curse on pattern making, did mono prints…

Pattern Making at Lill Street

From the Dept. of C-Thru rulers and Scotch Tape: We’re about halfway through “Fashion 101: Drafting From Measurements,” and the student pattern makers are knocking it out of the park! Not only are they not phased by fractions, but many of them are attempting more work than is on the syllabus.

The first several weeks have been devoted to making a custom sloper (aka “block,” aka a base pattern that serves as the starting point for other patterns).  We started by measuring each other, which requires both trust and a sense of humor!  That was harder than it sounds, and we definitely did a lot of double checking and remeasuring.  Then came a first-draft sloper, which everybody sewed up in muslin and test-fit.  Once the problem areas were identified, students made corrections and transferred their slopers to hard manila paper (see photos).

Currently the class is learning to manipulate their slopers to create an original design for themselves. Among the projects are a knit workout top, a button-up, and a sculptural flared tank top. Looking forward to seeing the results!  —Holly Greenhagen

Printing Profusion

Work continues as we are deep into the second half of the Spring term.  Focused and intentional, students are on task, creating work that asks them to step into the detail of their design.  From swirly whirls evoking Hermes and Pucci, to Warhol inspired quarter squares, to the straightforward sublimity of the geometry of form, these pieces reflect a mastering of conceptual and printing skills that result in thoughtful. refined pieces.  Mostly, we have fun.


Inspired yet?  I know I am!  You know you have that project you’ve been meaning to coax along, or complete. or you just want to play around with printing in a room with like minded creators.  Why not join us for the 5 week early Summer term of Independent Projects, Wednesdays from 6:30 – 9:30 beginning June 21.

Spring Session II Open Studio Schedule

5/12/17: Insert gif of me eating my hat. Sorry, Thursday night First Time Sewing- I didn’t mean to forget you!

5/10/17: OKAY, LAST CHANGE, I SWEAR. No open studio in the sewing room on Friday night’s ’cause we’re makin’ bras, baby. And Frame Loom Weaving is now from 2-5pm on Sunday afternoons in the Print Room. Thanks, everyone!

5/8/17: A couple of tiny edits to the open studio schedule! <3

5/1/17: Hello Lillstreet Textiles Department Community! Second session open studio begins today: here’s the schedule. See you in the studio!



Oaxaca, Mexico Natural Dyeing

I traveled Oaxaca to Huatulco, Mexico. Observed fresh leaf indigo dyeing, natural dyeing, and rare purple shell dyeing.  (Akemi Nakano Cohn)

Mexcan woman (weaver) cut and chopped fresh indigo leaves (different Japanese indigo), then kneed really well to get the juice onto yarn(cotton).  Left it couple hours, washed.  Green color turns to blue.

Purple sea shells are now restricted because not enough resource.  It comes from the juice from the shell like a snail.  After the juice was taken by the licenced expert, he put shell back to the ocean.  It saves to grow.  It is the same as indigo dyeing, oxdize through the air to change the color.


Draw Attention to Trees: Illustration and the Shapes of Things

I started the month of January in the studio drawing tree forms, branches, leaves, and studying books at the Sterling Library at the Morton Arboretum. I was looking at tree silhouettes, the gesture of branches, tree scars, and instructions on pruning. I made new drawings as part of my round sketchbook series and revisited a favorite text: Trees in winter landscape, by Alice Upham Smith.

In early March Eileen Barrett, the head of the Morton Arboretum’s graphic design department, invited me to meet with her team to discuss their upcoming Arbor Day event: Draw Attention to Trees. The Arboretum’s concept was to emphasizes the importance of trees in our daily lives in urban, suburban, rural and wild environments. The public would be invited to color the illustrations on oversized Arbor Day “coloring pages” installed at Daley Plaza and the Morton Arboretum. The installation at Daley Plaza was to be a four-sided structure measuring 16 by 8 feet on each side. The Arboretum installation was to be a single panel outside the visitor center at The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois.

The Arboretum needed illustrations of urban, suburban, rural and wild environments as well as numerous tree species, leaves, diagrams that explained proper mulching, watering, planting and photosynthesis, trees in flower and the fruits and seeds of trees. I based my illustrations on photographs and herbarium (museum) plant specimens. All of the drawings were made first with pencil and then with Perma-opaque markers on 8 ½ x 11” office paper. I scanned the images and vectorized them in Adobe Illustrator to make the files that the Arboretum’s Graphic Design department could lay out. They then designed and created the display, adding the text, choosing the color, font etc.

One of the great pleasures of art making is transforming your work from one context to another: from sketchbook, to tracing paper, to burned screen, to printed image on rip-stock rayon, to printed flags on the rooftop of the Lillstreet Art Center. I am often surprised by the formal change that happens in reproducing my own work in a new format. This project was remarkable in this regard: the transitions from drawing to scan, from scan to vectorized art, from vectorized illustrations to layout, and from layout to banner gave the work and entirely different feel.

If you are looking for fun and enjoy learning come on down to Daley Plaza, all day Friday, April, 28th and learn about trees while adding some color to the big coloring book page on display. If you haven’t visited the Arboretum in Lisle, it’s busting out with blossoms and buds in full spring glory. Bring the kids and explore the Children’s garden, it’s a special place. (

If you’re looking to make some art of your own come visit Lillstreet Art Center, 4401 N.Ravenswood, Chicago, IL. I live in the western suburbs (Downers Grove) and monitor the textile studio one day a week…this place is a gem and full of folks making outstanding pottery, jewelry, paintings, prints, and textiles. New spring session starts next week, check it out. 

— Rachel Davis, Monitor


Don’t forget to follow the Lillstreet Textiles Department on Instagram!

{She Crew} T’s: Foxes Against Facism

{She Crew} is an organization that offers free artistic empowerment programs to girls and trans-spectrum youth in the city of Chicago. Working out of the Jane Addams Hull House, their students learn to cook meals as a group, experiment with theater and improv to build confidence and work in journals to help them develop their own unique voices as writers and artists. Their summer program culminates with a public performance and they’re even working on developing a podcast, Shecast.

You can learn more about {She Crew} on their website! And check out some of their past t-shirt designs on their etsy page.

In this Shop Talk as Lillstreet, you’ll not only learn how to screen print, you’ll also help {She Crew} by producing one of their important revenue sources. Together, we’ll print a run of their newest t-shirt design, Foxes Against Fascism, to be sold at local Spoken cafe, the {She Crew} Etsy shop, and the Lillstreet Gallery. Everyone will leave with their very own, hand printed shirt. (Our very own digital print lab is even printing up some take-away goodies! I’ve heard *rumors* about stickers and maybe even tiny foxy temporary tattoos!)

No experience necessary. Registration required. Children over 10 welcome with adult. BYOB: Must be 21+ to consume alcohol.

Register today! 

Can’t attend but you’d like to support {She Crew}? You can “register” for the workshop without filling up the class PLUS you’ll get to stop by Lillstreet for a complimentary t-shirt printed at the event!Or, you can donate directly through their website.

*(While supplies last!)


SHOP TALK is an ongoing series of events dedicated to benefitting local nonprofit organizations and charities. Shop Talks will be organized on a volunteer basis and are open to the public. All proceeds dedicated to a pre-determined charity organization. The workshop, theme and charity will vary with each event.


Make sure you’re up to date with Lillstreet Textiles Department events and announcements! Follow us on Instagram!

Spring Session I Class and Open Studio Schedule

Hello all!

Spring session is off and running! You still have time to sign up for some of the end-of-week and weekend classes, so don’t miss out. Here’s the session I class and open studio schedule. Open studio will start on Monday, April 3rd. See you all in the studio!


Textile Print Open Studio from 3-5 – Saturday, March 18

Due to the Lillstreet Spring Open House,Textile Print Open Studio will be available from 3-5 on Saturday, March 18.

Join us for the Spring Open House:

Workshop: Fabric Collage as Art: Collage has been around for centuries and still makes its way into crafts today in the form of scrapbooking, fiber art and printmaking. In this drop-in workshop, you’ll learn the basic techniques of heat press, stitching and small-scale print. These techniques can be used in sync or independently across a surface. Come ready to experiment and leave with a one-of-a-kind work of art. 1-3pm, Saturday, March 18  (Ages 13+)