Tag Archives: fashion

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.

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.

American Craft Favorites, Part 3

23 Mar

One other “Maker of Fine Clothing” that I admire is textile artist Leni Hoch.

Leni Hoch makes silk scarves (mostly) but also jackets that start with a very light, transparent fabric, and then are hand-dyed lustrous and brilliant colors, often with a metallic sheen. Then they are intricately pleated. The resulting scarves have more body and form to them, from the scrunched pleats. As you’ve seen, the cloth-as-sculpture thing is a perennial favorite for me.  With a fabric this distinctive, the shapes and styles of a garment can be really simple, as the fabric takes over and makes any resulting item a statement piece that’s hard to imitate. Complex, intensive process leads to strong, distinctive and unmistakable results.

American Craft Favorites: 2

26 Feb

Nichole Deponte‘s work is not for shrinking violets. She makes statement piece accessories from men’s neckties–are they scarves? Are they necklaces? I’m not sure, but they wrap around your neck, and they’re beautiful.

It’s funny, because the first thing I thought of when I saw Deponte’s work was this pin, that I’d pinned on Pinterest:

It showed how a simple necktie could be turned into a feminine, ruffled, neck piece. And yet, what I love most about Deponte’s “Lilian Asterfield” line is that although it stems from a common cultural meme, it takes the common idea and pushes it further than anyone else has done and does it elegantly and with great workmanship. Again, there’s that push-pull relationship of competing thoughts: “It’s just neckties, you can do this yourself” and then, as you peer closer and see what’s really going on, there, “No, way, look what she’s done with those neckties!”
The more you look, the more you see.

I’ve done work with upcycled men’s neckties, myself (more on that later) and again, Deponte’s art stood out to me because it was not easily duplicated. For starters, she uses really nice ties. They’re good quality, and she uses a lot of them: one ruffled neck piece might have three ties in it, but when they’re all the same color, you don’t notice at first. And then she puts them together. I’m sure it’s fun to fold and ruffle ties, but I also know from looking that it’s going to take a lot of time before I  could ever “fold and ruffle” to the extent that she has. So many quirky variations! And then on top of that, she adds bits of lace and buttons and other embellishments, and they’re all sewn together quite well. These ties are flashy and fun, but they’re also well-made down to the details.

I think this product line is a good illustration of how, as crafters, we often have a choice: we can wrap our arms tightly around our ideas defensively and say “I thought of this, first!” or, like Deponte, we can rework ideas, improve upon them, and get so deeply rooted into the artistry of it that we run, leaping and skipping ahead of the pack, making with pleasure and wild abandon until what we’ve created has value far beyond that of the original idea.  She hasn’t “inspired” me to make a tie scarf, myself, or copy her idea (no, I want one of hers, preferably one of the striped ones that look so very modern-Downton Abbey) but Deponte has inspired me to look farther than just follow-the-directions when I see an intriguing idea, lying around.

American Craft Council Favorites, 1

26 Feb

My hands-down favorite clothing vendor at the ACC show was Teresa Maria Widuch.

Widuch makes jackets in wool felt and ultrasuede: simple, sculptural jackets with crisply cut raw edges of fabric stiff enough to stand up like paper. Indeed, at first glance one might have thought the booth held paper cut-outs  of clothing. The colors were pure and vivid: fuchsia and citron, smooth, even colors that let the shapes stand out  and highlighted the three-dimensional forms by emphasizing the cast shadows across the surfaces.

 


They look, at first glance, deceptively simple: a raglan sleeve here, a rounded collar there. But this is yet another instance where a “simple” look comes from a myriad of perfect details, all lined up to deceive the eye into reading the whole, “simplicity”, rather than each of the details on their own.

 


I’ve never seen anything like these.  I’ve never seen anything constructed quite like them, either–the pieces are put together like sculpture, not like clothing. And there are no two alike. I don’t know how many I looked at (nearly every one there, I think) and each one offered a slightly different shape or variation from all the others. Some (like the red example, above) had an inner part that serves like a vest, under the opened petals of lapels. Many had asymmetrical collar lapels, wrapping differently on the left than on the right.  Some had decorative design details cut out, some had toggles or closures and others just fall open smoothly. All of them are based on traditional jacket forms–blazer, kimono, cape, etc., but none is quite straightforward. This is a great example of how, crafty and clever as I might think I could be, I know that I could not duplicate this effect in my own workroom, for any amount of trying, at least not without spending far more for materials and effort than the finished jackets themselves cost. (You see, I’ve tried ultrasuede!) And I think it’s because I sew, myself, that I appreciate this all the more.  Because I know where the seams usually go, on a blazer or jacket, that I notice how the traditional seams are moved or missing, and  all the different variations Widuch has made to design a garment that looks like and yet nothing like what we expect from a jacket.

There’s something almost existential about these that I love. They’re sculptures: art pieces that comment on the “essence of jackets”, perhaps. Sculptures about clothing that double as actual, wearable clothing.  And they’re quite chic when worn, as well: they have their own dimensionality and stand out and away from the body, and yet their  shapes are as conscious of the shapes of human bodies that fill jackets as they are about jackets, and thanks to carefully angled darts and seams they look quite gracious when modeled.

One day, perhaps, when I return to buying clothing that other people have made, I may find that it takes something this dramatic, this chic to make it worth my while to go shopping. And wouldn’t this be a handsome acquisition, to a handmade wardrobe?

 

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.