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Printed fabric

21 Jul

I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of Spoonflower.  I really want to make some fabric of my own, but it’s a bit of a conundrum:

If I’m to make my own fabric, it should be some design that isn’t available in some other form, already (i.e. houndstooth)  -> which means it’s really got to be some obnoxious print -> but when I sew things out of an obnoxious print, I am much less likely to wear them -> yet if I design my own fabric, I really want to make it into something to wear, a lot, with pride.
And around again I go. So I’ve been thinking about the question of “distinctive prints” on fabric, I was walking down the street mulling this over in my mind, in fact, when I passed the University of the Arts, with this display in the window:

It’s a “Banner” fashion assignment, where the students made clothing out of cloth repurposed from advertising banners. If that’s not a question of “distinctive prints”, I’m not sure what is.

What I think the universe is suggesting is “be bold”… I’m not sure I’m ready to sport entire faces on my chest, but I appreciate the students of UArts for suggesting the way.

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Bloomsbury Inspiration

16 Jul

One of my longtime favorite art/home deco inspiration sources has been the art and craft of the Bloomsbury group, Charleston Farmhouse, and the Omega Workshops.

I love the aesthetic–the rich yet muted palette of colors–and also the idea of living surrounded by art on all sides, where each component of one’s familiar space is also a work of art. It’s something I’ve long aspired to in my own home (handmade pottery, painted surfaces, etc.) and now, clearly, touching my wardrobe as well.

(fabric by the Omega Workshops, source: http://www.culture24.org.uk/art/art69644)

Lately I’ve been returning to this inspiration again, thinking of fabric design. The Omega workshops translated many of their paintings into textiles for both home use and fashion, many of the participants wore clothing of their own design, with their own fabric patterns as well.

Various companies have done contemporary interpretations of old Omega/Bloomsbury designs, including my favorite fashion retailer Anthropologie:

I recognize this print from my own library as a very close copy of one designed by Vanessa Bell–and they’ve paired it, so cleverly, with Nina Hamnett plaid stockings.

Here’s Nina, in her own Omega-fabric dress, painted by Roger Fry in 1918:

 

“I had a wonderful collection of stockings at that time and wore flat-heeled shoes with straps on them like children do. They made my feet look very large. They cost five francs and were worn by concierges. I had red stockings and yellow stockings and some that looked like a chess board. Modigliani would run after me up the Boulevard Raspail after the Rotonde had closed. He could always see me because of my loud stockings.

-Nina in her delightful kiss-and-tell autobiography, Laughing Torso.

 

At any rate, I’m brewing Bloomsbury-style fashion inspirations. Whether these will be ideas that come to fruition in some future project, or whether they stay in the brew pot of unreachable crafting aspirations, only time will tell.

Rising to the Challenge of the Little Black Dress

30 Jun

I’ve been thinking, since my retail exception for the black dresses, of what it might take, in a sewing project, to make it appealing to undertake a black dress project. Would it be fabric–something with drape, or an appealing texture? A particularly unique design? Some fun technique that I wanted to try so much, it wouldn’t even matter if the fabric was black?

I couldn’t come up with an answer to that question…until a couple of nights ago, out for cocktails, a woman at the venue wore a dress I couldn’t keep my eyes off of. Hers was green, but it had a decorative detail that was so fun and simple and intriguing to me, I thought “I’d like to try to make that, myself…and that’s a dress that I could even make, in black.”

What’s more, the dress requires a knit, with a bit of stretch, and I happen to have a bolt of a smooth black knit in my stash that I think I could use just for this purpose. I’m going to try it: without buying any new fabrics or patterns, I’d like to imitate the effect of the woman’s green dress, for myself: in black.

(Not even close to the black dress I’m attempting…but a pretty neat one just the same. Those women on the far right, they wish they had a black dress!)

Sewing poem

22 Apr

Delightful internet find of the day: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pattern, by sewing blogger Erin of “Dress a Day”, after Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen ways of looking at a Blackbird.

Creativity in words as well as in fashion and design…it’s almost too much.

(Quilt detail from Andrea Zuill)

Chintz is in?!

15 Feb

I never thought I’d say that, much less with such delight.

One of my favorite online retailers, Shabby Apple, has presented a “Mad Hatter, vintage-inspired collection.”

And they’ve named the pieces after lines from the  poem Jabberwocky.

My favorite choices are the dresses “Frabjous Day”  and “Calloo Callay!”

The real joy is that these are all fairly simple patterns, and can be easily reinterpreted in a more quiet printed fabric, for those of us tempted , but not yet entirely convinced, by the return of vivid floral chintz prints.

Inspiration: Alabama Chanin

10 Feb

Every once in a while I’ll see a photo of some hand-stitched, hand dyed garment with a motif of floral cutouts, or an interesting texture created with a simple stitch, and I catch my breath and follow the links….

…and find Alabama Chanin.
I love the textures and the layers, and the way the raw handstitching is so often used in garments that end up being so much more elegant than a sum of their parts.  Of course, their items are also way out of my budget, so I will look, and learn, and as I’m thinking about ways to create, and ways to refashion things into new iterations, I will remember the way rough stitches look next to an unfinished raw edge of fabric, and can still be perfectly glamorous.

Shoe Museum

2 Feb

First thrilling thing: there is such a thing as a shoe museum, the Bata Shoe Museum, in Toronto.

Second thrilling thing: they are having a “Roaring Twenties” exhibit,“Heels, Hemlines, and High Spirits.”  How much fun is that?!

I’ve heard such great things about Toronto…it’s probably lovely this time of year. 😉