Sunday, July 20, 2014

Navel Gazing


That was a word used to describe my blog.  See the negative post here. Funny thing is, introspective rambling is kinda what the blogosphere is about, isn't it?  And I really like that. Frankly, I like to visit the blogs of people I find fun/interesting to listen to.  If it isn't interesting to me, I simply don't read it. Problem solved.  If I were an aspiring journalist, I would report news.  An activist?  I'd talk about issues.  A garment district fanatic? Well, I do wander a bit, but that's my focus, really.  So...



There was also a comment regarding the fact that I don't often show the things I make.  Well, I don't think my taste in clothing and accessories would necessarily have a broad appeal, but the appeal of the things I do make is extremely specific.  I am wildly self-conscious about doing "selfies", so my photos don't often capture the "magic" that I'd like to convey.  If you have an interest in seeing what I've made, I'll gladly show you. As a matter of fact, I'll show some things more often, and see how that goes.

Because I'm neither a plain Jane nor a supermodel, I am not quite sure how to take pictures of myself in a way that doesn't look like I'm neither trying too hard, or not trying hard enough.  I do know how to do the "movie star" thing, since I've done it for so many other people, but doing it for myself just feels... weird.  Living in a city like New York gives and abundance of fancy places to take photos while looking "natural", but I just can't...

So, I'll share something here today.  

This is in response to something i saw on the internet that really annoys me....   I don't like these "halfway" DIY posts that kinda hint at how to do something, without really telling you what you need to do to make it.  It feels kinda like someone explaining how to parallel park to someone whose never done it. So, here's the "vest" I made, and how I made it.

At 2:15 PM - I took out a small piece of a border print stretch knit from Elliott Berman.  Pretty, right?  60" long, 30" wide.  What could be done with it to feature the borders?

This fabric was particularly suitable for my plan...

I hemmed all four raw edges on the machine.  Finished that at about 2:30.

Did other things, ate lunch, had some phone conversations, sorted the laundry, and watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians.  Yeah, seriously.

At about 6:30 PM, I sewed a loop on the center top back edge, tied the two front top corners to it, and VOILA! I had made  a vest.

Looks nice when worn, but you've just gotta trust me, since I am a very selfie-conscious!

Front - no closures

Very basic, very pretty, very easy, and I can wear it with a spaghetti strap tank top and make the tank look significantly less bare, and more easy-casual.

Total time investment? Hard to say, since I had to make some decisions about which fabric I'd use, and what dimensions kept if from looking heavy, and that takes some time.  But really, 1/2 hr?  Here are the simple instructions I wrote, which you may save, if you're interested.

If this kind of explanation makes no sense to you, please feel free to let me know, as I am very interested in how different brains process information...

Monday, July 14, 2014

The things you didn't know you were looking for...

Tearing through the garment district at breakneck speed the other day, I went on an inadvertent shopping spree.  I tend to visit the stores through the eyes of a traveler,  noticing small changes when stores rearrange, brighten their palettes, change their focus, etc. I touch things, I interact, I talk to owners and employees, and all of this opens the doors to wonderful discoveries. When I consider what my purchases from that day will (hopefully) yield, my shopping trip was actually an outrageous bargain of an excursion. When I think about how I deviated from my simple plan of just stopping into one store with a very focused mission (a plan I failed to achieve), my wallet cries a little, but I will survive!

Having said that, what I want to share with you, is that this adventure led me to a few stores where I found a variety of things I have either never noticed before, or simply didn't realize were available to be found.  

Pacific Trimming

Once inside, I felt the creative vibration. I walked to the back, peeked just to the right of the button area, just before the "Employees ONLY!" sign, and saw impeccably neat folded stacks of resilient, crisp, ribbed knit cuffs and edges.  No, not the tatty factory overrun pieces you've seen in other stores, offered from a tattered box in piles of dingy mini-ziplock bags... these, by contrast, are precisely the pieces you would actually want to finish the edges of your own sweaters, hats, soft pants and jackets.  These are the kind of pieces you can use to breathe new life into old things that need a structural rescue. New ideas abound.

Then... I saw bra cups attached to a band.  I didn't know you could actually buy what is best described as the front half of of strapless molded bra, categorized by cup size. Oh, the time that could save!

Unique closures.  If you can relax your brain enough to do it, look at all of the wild closures they have.  From things that look like suitcase locks, to padlocks, to things you push, squeeze or slide, there are amazing ways to close, hook, dangle, and connect things.  Full of ideas after seeing so many things in there.

Oh yeah... I had gone in for buttons, and forgot to get them.  Whoops.

Steinlauf & Stoler

Maybe they always had them, but I noticed mastectomy pads for sale in a bin above the thread. I have designed garments for people who wear mastectomy bras so many times, I forget that we are not limited to always designing around it, since we can build the pads into the actual garment, if needed.

Oh, and they had the buttons I needed. No problem.

Fashion Design books

The little touch knife Olfa tool they offer is outrageously inexpensive and just adorable.  I'm sure that will come in handy every now and then...

Bonded leather sheets in different weights.  The "hot dog" of leather products, really, bonded leather is a pressed pulp made from leather waste.  A professional sewing friend has long lamented the loss of "stay papers" sold in various weights to give structure to handbags, and these bonded leather sheets felt like a suitable, flexible, substitute.  She assured me that there are no "rules" for making handbags, so it is essential that you use your own ability to think like a sculptor/architect when looking for suitable support for the handbag's shape.  Another friend of hers had looked at art supply stores, trying matte board and heavy drawing paper for support in some areas. Always experimenting, this bonded leather product is next on my agenda.

Handbag cord.  Probably offered in other stores elsewhere in the district, I particularly liked the weight, shape, and feel of what this store had to offer, and will be excited to make some wrapped handles using this product.

So, all in all, a good haul.  Working steadily, and I have accomplished a great deal on my "Working Title" blouse.  The amount of hours this particular work has absorbed is just incredible, but it wouldn't be what it is becoming without it!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A History of Lingerie Exhibit at the Museum atFIT

I my be wrong on this, but...

Kinda weird for me to apologize in the intro, isn't it?  

I may have missed the point of this exhibit, or maybe I just think differently when it comes to the subject of lingerie.  While I find it hard to articulate my feelings about this event, as always at FIT, it is still absolutely a worthwhile visit.  Exploring the developments in intimate apparel from the 1800's until the present day, this display of items is an interesting assemblage of pieces, with a solid range of "flavors".   What I feel this exhibit of unmentionables leaves unmentioned, is that so much of lingerie is structural, technical, about supporting the self esteem of the wearer, and/or reshaping/re-sculpting parts of the body, and, while beautiful, is often specifically not fashion oriented.

I recognize that there have been trends in lingerie ("Wonderbra", anyone?), of course, but from this exhibit, the major unifying theme I saw, was that they were all represented as pieces specifically meant to be worn on bare flesh. Is lingerie really defined by ease of "access" to what it adorns?

Maybe we each have our own definition of lingerie?

Whenever I visit an exhibit at the Museum at FIT, I discover a very specific reason for my specific experience there.  Something always jumps out at me, grabs my heart, inspires me, and holds me transfixed by its artistry, wrapping me up in its magic.  This time, it was a beautiful Fortuny pleated cascade of a slip dress that was absolutely magical.  If I were to translate this dress into an experience, the scene would be a figure in silhouette, pouring a glass of burgundy around midnight, poised on a a chaise lounge, poolside, beneath a candle-lit chandelier adorned with tiny grey Tahitian pearls and onyx. 

I would say this exhibit had a more commercial feel than most, as if it had been done with the goal of attracting a particular type of audience. I can certainly appreciate that I am not the target market for every show, and that I may be missing the goal here, but having worked in this industry specifically, I think this particular topic merits a significantly larger and deeper exploration. You may find more information on this particular exhibit here.