When Leslie Peacock retired from law enforcement in California, a friend persuaded her to take a quilt class.
She saw it through, but decided making wearable art with quilting techniques was more creatively satisfying.
"I have always sewn and have always enjoyed creative activities," Peacock said. The one requirement she has of her creative endeavors is that they're challenging.
Making wearable art still challenges her, and so does china painting. She also quilts.
Peacock has lived in the Payson area for barely a year, but her coats and jackets have already taken honors at both the Northern Gila County Fair and the Quilt Round-up.
"It is all very detailed," she said of the wearable art, "but I love to embellish."
One of her favorite pieces is her "bad hair day" jacket. "If you're having a bad hair day, when you put this jacket on, it won't matter. People will see the jacket and not even notice your hair."
The coats and jackets are basically quilts, created using quilting techniques and explained using quilting jargon.
"You just put them together bit by bit," Peacock explained.
The piece she is proudest of is her "Angel of the Orient" coat, which was the winning piece in the Quilt Round-up and has won numerous other awards.
"I love entering contests," Peacock said, "not necessarily to win but to help make more people interested in wearable art."
She said a lot of quilters have never sewn garments. "But I've never been afraid to tackle an art project. My parents told us you can do anything you want."
A basic jacket will take her about 34 hours to construct, but that doesn't include what she calls journaling. Peacock writes down each step she takes in designing and putting a garment together, the reasons behind her choices, what works and doesn't work.
Over the years she has constructed probably 50 pieces of wearable art and at least half of the those she has retained in her own collection.
She starts with a basic jacket pattern, one without darts; then decides on the fabrics she wants to use, or chooses fabrics guided by what her clients want. One entire wall of a her fairly large workroom (it is probably 15 to 18 feet wide and 20 to 24 feet long) is filled with cubbyholes stacked with fabric.
Her current project is a mandarin-style jacket for a friend featuring red and black fabrics, dragon designs, cording and other embellishments.
She initially cuts the pattern on a lightweight fabric, such as muslin, which becomes the base from which the garment is built in quilt-fashion. Then she picks and chooses which fabrics are going to go where on the pattern, generally starting with the top portion of the back.
"It is taking things one step at a time," Peacock explained.
She is designing a line of patterns to be used in wearable art called "I'm wearing my quilt." She plans to self-publish.
Peacock is also available to teach classes on making wearable art. The Shoofly Quilters have signed her up to present a program on making a basic jacket. She is also happy to teach one-on-one, work with church groups or small groups of friends.
To arrange a class or find out more, contact Peacock at (928) 468-1866.
Magazines: Belle Armoire Art to Wear, published by Stampington & Company, 877.STAMPER (782-6737), which also publishes Somerset Studio; Threads, published by Taunton Press, 800-888-8286 (can be found in stores locally).
Works by both Stephanie Kimura, who has a line of patterns, available in Arizona at The Quilted Apple in Phoenix, (602) 956-0904, www.quiltedapple.com, and Jenny Raymond.