Archive | January, 2012

Fun Fashion Accessories

31 Jan

Here’s something I’ve never thought of wearing before: Spats!

These are from Lux Legs, and I know they’re a little “out there”. But in my opinion, there’s a lot to like. The whole idea of spats is retro and/or steampunk, but I think some of these choices transcend that costume character and could be worn as a fun fashion element away from the theme park or con. I also like the way they change the silhouette of a shoe, and give the impression of ankle, calf, or knee-high boots, but without the investment or commitment of boots.  I wonder if spats wouldn’t be a fun sewing project, to play with this line and shape on legwear.

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Handmade Hotel Fashions

31 Jan

Today’s Day 3 adventures left me barely any time to snap a documentary snapshot of my handmade outfit. So here’s me squeezed into the barest corner of my hotel room, but I’m wearing my personal favorite of my “Wear the Shift” shift dresses, along with the faux-tortoiseshell chain necklace I posted about a couple of weeks ago. I find I can put up with inconvenience easier when I’m wearing fun handmade fashions.

Mess in a Suitcase, Day 2

31 Jan

Day 2: I wore a red skirt that I made last fall, copied off the pattern of a manufactured skirt in my closet…

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Handmade Mess Hits the Road

29 Jan

I told you when I traveled, I was going to pack/wear only handmade, as much as possible.

Well, I’m off!

I had to start off in pink, in homage to my TWA Lady of Vintage Suitcases.  First off, though: trains, not planes (this time, anyway.) Secondly, my life is woefully lacking in pink suitcases. (I’d remedy that in a heartbeat, if I could.) Also, this real-life contemporary lady doesn’t go anywhere without coffee.

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Felted Inspiration

26 Jan

I’ve never made anything out of felt, but it’s a fabric texture that appeals to me in many forms.

A lot of designers are doing interesting things with it, and it has great qualities that make it really versatile. Like the German designers Marianne and Josef Wurst of “Filz und Kunz”, who do silk and wool felt, sometimes woven together, sometimes in layers of transparent and thickly opaque.

See how the jacket on the left has strips of felt beginning as stripes and continuing down as a sculptural effect.  My favorite, though, is the belt (left) and bustier (right) made out of strips of colorful felt, and then “strung” on thing black elastic, to create a stretchy band that hugs the body, curving the vertical stripes along the shape of the waist.

To think of it: a felt bustier!  It is both surprising, and yet still  wearable. And the construction of those might potentially be applied to other materials, as well.

The 30 minute jacket, a.k.a the Easiest Thing I’ve Ever Sewn.

22 Jan

I’d call it more of a “cardigan” or a “shrug” than a jacket, but I suppose it depends on what material one uses.

The design is from the publication Threads, and it’s free online, right over here.

I made it in a stretchy, snuggly black knit, and while it’s cozy as can be, it will probably photograph like a blob.

The oddest thing to me about this jacket instructions (I hesitate to even call it a “pattern”) is how many people get frustrated with the directions. I was thinking about this through the whole…uh, 13 minutes or so that it took to sew the two seams it takes to construct this jacket.  I think the problem is that we think about folding cloth the same way we do about folding paper. If I handed a sheet of paper to someone and said “fold this three times” it’s quite likely that they would fold it either lengthwise down the middle, width-wise down the middle, or from opposite corners, through the center.  Unless we are willfully iconoclastic, most of us think linearly and in a routine fashion, so even a set of directions as simple as “fold, sew” can go radically awry if the “fold” part doesn’t follow one of those three intuitive ways we’d all most likely revert to, when instructed to “fold this”.

So I wondered if I could explain this in a different way that might make it clear, illustrating the way I saw this in my head when I looked at the Threads diagram. (And maybe I can, or maybe I will wind up just confusing the issue further.)

Instead of letters and numbers, I’m color coding it. The colored lines are where you are going to sew: red to red, and blue to blue.

So you take a long rectangle (2 3/4 yards by 25″, but there’s room for variation in all directions) of soft, draped fabric. This softness is the key: your fabric will not fold like a crisp piece of paper!

You’re going to sew the red edge to the red line, and the blue edge to the blue line. That’s all: two whole seams, for an entire jacket/cardigan thing.

To make sense of how it turns into a cardigan, I’ve drawn in a humanoid (sort of) model, keeping the red and blue seam lines:

Your head goes in the middle, your hands go out the openings left at the top edge.  The bottom edge becomes both the back bottom as well as the left and right fronts, once they fold up.

Voilà, a cardigan in two seams. (A red one on your right arm, from those two red lines coming together, and a blue one on your left arm, from the two blue lines coming together.)

Easy. No pattern, no numbers, no letters, no measurements, even: a perfect project for beginners, or for haphazard people who like to wrap fabric around them, stick it in place, and wear it out of the house as if it’s the latest in designer fashion.

If you prefer directions with numbers and letters, I’ve made a version like that, too, as well as the secret to taking it from a 30-minute jacket down to a 13-minute jacket, the way I made it.

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Measuring proportions

21 Jan

Sewing is all about proportions–the amount of ease in a sweater, the length in a skirt that allows you to sit down.
This morning, trying to plan what I might be able to pack for my trip, I realize that I’m overlooking another truth about proportions, in sewing.