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Retail Temptation

1 Feb

If it wasn’t for this project, I would have bought this bird dress, by FluffyCo:

I’m a little grateful to find it’s sold out, online, because now removed from the opportunity, that’s one temptation removed. So, the question is can I qualify what I like about this, if I want to try to incorporate those features into a future handmade project?

I think the main point is how the lovely dark “asphalt” color covered with screenprint bird design reads as an all-over pattern, like a herringbone weave, but is still large enough and dramatic enough to flicker back and forth at the edge of perception, causing a visual surprise that delights my eye: “It’s tweed!” “No, it’s birds!” “No, it’s tweed!” “Nope, birds.”

Totally fun! What a great design.

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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.

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.

Wearing the Shift

4 Jan

Quite some time ago, a friend alerted me to a Kickstarter project out of Pittsburgh called “Wear the Shift”, which focused on creating custom-made dresses to fit all bodies. It focused on alternatives to many aspects of mass-market clothing retail, from using (or reusing) vintage materials, to making clothes well so that they can last longer–fewer items, but better-fitting, more comfortable, and more well made. A kinder, more sustainable sort of fashion.
Now, Wear the Shift is releasing their custom-designed shift dress patterns so that home sewers can get in on the action, too.  Today you’ll find me guest-blogging over on the Wear the Shift site about my experiences working with my custom Shift dress pattern:

You can get a custom pattern drafted for yourself, starting tomorrow, over on Wear the Shift’s Etsy store. And today (and always) you can find cute shifts and skirts there as well (also custom made to fit your individual body in all its sizing peculiarities).

Upcycling Inspiration: Gary Harvey

30 Dec

Like everyone else, I’ve been watching low-brow fabrics emerging into upmarket fashions for a little while, like the old flannel grunge shirt fabric finding its way into chic dresses. I’ve been wondering myself about taking cloth from unexpected sources and sewing into a conventional shape of a completely different form, but my thoughts have run along more mundane lines, like canvas and burlap.

Now Gary Harvey transforms blue jeans, tee shirts, laundry bags, trench coats, and army jackets  into feminine ballgown styles, taking it to a very elegant extreme.

More can be seen here, and they’re really worth looking at carefully: http://garyharveycreative.com/

The strike of temptation

23 Dec

I didn’t mean to shop…really. I was running errands: mailing letters, dropping off boots at the cobbler to be re-heeled (see? very thrifty!).
But that fashion retailer–it was standing in my way, with all it’s big “50% off!” signs screaming at me.  So I went inside.  And surprise, I fell promptly in love. Fortunately, the item I wanted most was not available in my size…oh, the salvation!  So perhaps I got off easy, this time.

It was this plaid wool cape jacket, at right.  Really, I have a perfectly serviceable winter coat and I don’t need another jacket, even though none of mine swish and swirl at the elbows just like this one does. It’s very, very “Peggy” from Mad Men. [Fourth season, of course, I should note: when Peggy is at her self-actualized, saucy best.] At any rate, the more I looked, the more I realized that “Yes, I could make this, and perhaps I could make it better!”  Well, not objectively better, perhaps…the workmanship was fine enough. But perhaps, one I make might be a better garment, for me. And in truth, this fabric, while fun (yellow and turquoise!) would be difficult to coordinate with other pieces from my closet. To wear it, I’d have to dress for the jacket.  And even at 50% off the “already low sale prices”, I could still buy a nice fabric for the same cost…it would take, perhaps, 3 yards, at most? Plus lining fabric and buttons…it would be worth  a little more, perhaps, to have a cape jacket with a sash belt that also could be worn with most anything else I wear.

So I took photos in the dressing room, made notes of seams and lengths and designs, and now I will add a “Cape Jacket” to the ever-growing list of things I would like to make for myself, as part of this project.

I think the key to this one is that unlike many cape patterns I see, here the “cape” part is only the sleeves, which are built on a vest-like bodice, so the jacket fits close to the body at the centers, rather than wrapping you entirely in a shapeless cape form. It’s a double-breasted vest, with both front and back broken by a vertical seam, into which the bat-wing semi-circular cape part is added.  I can do that!

I am going to have to be careful, however, or my wish-list of sewing projects is going to quickly outgrow all of the time I have to devote to this hobby.

Inspiration: Bergdorf Goodman

21 Dec

The window displays at Bergdorf Goodman are eye-catching year round, but at the holidays I find them a special treat. This season’s windows are no disappointment, with an emphasis on textures and lush materials. I’m a fan of the 1930’s style mannequins, in particular.

But the best part of the experience for me, today, was the synchronicity of this fabulously dressed young woman in a sheepskin vest, stepping up to the “Carnival of the Animals” window to closely photograph the wool-covered sheep in the display. The texture of the cabling on the knit of her sleeve, compared to the knitting in the animals in the window, the repeated motifs on either side of the glass….that is more beautiful than a mere window display on its own!

(click to enlarge)

Life imitates art…imitates life.