Saturday, February 18, 2017

Shoemaking update

It has taken a lot of research to get this far, and I must say that it has really been quite an exploration.  Can you make shoes?  Yes.  Should you?  Well, that's still debatable.  Certainly not for the sake of having shoes... That is to say, it won't save you money or time, or anything. Making shoes by hand that you will immediately abuse is a questionable pursuit, too (this is especially true in New York City). But... the shoes you make will be one of a kind.  And only you will have THAT pair.

The best scenario - do it for the art of it.  When you need performance, you need engineering.  From my research, I would say, don't make athletic shoes unless  you're gonna assemble a workshop and proper tools.  I don't think you can play around at that level. For me, the answer for my first attempt is to add artistry to a well made foundation.  No, they will not last forever.  I can abuse them as life requires... whatever.  The shoes you make are a different animal.  Entirely.

My first try will be semi-homemade.  Much like Sandra Lee's cooking concept, I will use a beloved but bedraggled shoe as a base for re- creation.

My choice


Boy, the sole of these shoes was made to last, but the bandage-like top is not particularly feminine for the foot, and even less so when it gets dirty. What ends up happening?  I never wear them. Obviously made for neither the subway nor quick supermarket runs, they linger in my closet waiting for an opportunity to dangle over the side of a deck chair or give a bit of cheer to the entryway shoe pile at my "we don't wear shoes indoors here" friends' homes. I've worn them when impractical, but I sorta wince and bear it, especially when I need to do a lot of walking, because I have to work a bit to keep them on my feet.





I have separated the sole from the insole, and am now free to make whatever upper works, is visually appealing, while allowing flexibility of the foot, since these soles don't bend.  I have now entered the design phase.  The insole was wrapped in leather and adhered to the base with strong glue, and a layer of fabric between the two feels a bit like tailoring canvas.  I've cleaned away all of the red pieces of fabric, and discarded the tape (like a thin twill tape) perimeter. 

I will seek manufactured soles/heels as the foundation of my first pairs of shoes.  I find that you can easily get never-worn shoes for $1 from thrift stores. Because I haven't invested in a last or more sophisticated materials, I will keep my projects simpler for now. 

When I make flat shoes, I will fortify both the back (vertical) heel and toe cap with stiffer leather. I may figure out how to shape the sole to the insole. I will make sure the insole is contoured and supportive, but outsole must be hard enough to not feel the ground, rocks and glass and random hazards.

Follow my Pinterest page if you would like to join me on the journey!

More info as I progress...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Layers - creative wandering

**Reposting**

What have I been up to lately? Lots, in my personal life,  but while I've been doing other things, my creative brain has been in overdrive!

Lately, intrigued by technique, history, hand skills, and the thought of using different fabrics and fibers together to create radically creative and sustainable works of art, I thought to myself, "If my great, great grandchild could one day wear a jacket/scarf/coat I made, or cuddle under a blanket I've stitched, why wouldn't I create them?" 

Inspired by my daughter's experiences at an international summer camp right now, I am thinking more globally, and feeling more curious.

Enter the following thoughts/techniques/philosophies/ideas... (supplies for which can be found in the garment district) Don't worry about the languages, if you don't speak them.



TOHOKU STANDARD 02 KOGIN-ZASHI, Aomori Prefecture from 東北STANDARD on Vimeo.

Below, you need not speak the language to appreciate the beauty of what she has created using a technique called "Nuno felting".  Search the term on Pinterest, and you will be amazed at the beauty of what you will find!  Check out the video below, and don't worry about the language.  The visual is enough to inspire!



Where would one go to find the kids of supplies needed to attempt to create these beautiful things? 

Dyes: Manhattan Wardrobe Supply
Roving: School Products (note the recent move)
Silks: Lots of places (the maps will give you many suggestions)

If you are feeling the way I am, and your creativity is on fire, follow my lead, and start creating. You won't regret it.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ON the beaten path...



This past Saturday, I peacefully wandered in and whispered to myself, "Where have you been all my life?"







And the answer was "Right here", apparently.






The brochure made me curious...
If you've ever been to/near Bryant Park, you've been very close.  At 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, a place all New Yorkers scurry past... but rarely enter (at least, not the ones I know)... stands the New York Public Library.

Primarily a research library, this place is an intimidating structure. Architecturally, and procedurally, you may feel out of place if you aren't there for a specific reason.

Exhibits on subjects less familiar to the layperson, research librarians ready to answer sophisticated questions (if only you could think of one), quiet meeting rooms where important things are certainly being discussed, and ceilings that will make you gasp with delight... so, why are we here?

I stopped to ask a man at the info desk who the likely visitor is, apologized for my "silly" questions, and he instantly made me feel at ease, explaining why this is such an important library, from A-Z.

That would take quite some time to re-explain, but the biggest takeaway of that encounter was... you can visit the website, do a detailed search for what you seek (you have to get really specific, or be exploring such a niche that you hone in on what you are seeking precisely, or it will not yield anything useful), wait about 48 hours for the book train to retrieve it from under Bryant Park (yes, seriously), come to the library, get the publication, sit at one of the big, fancy tables in one of  the glorious reading rooms, use the publication while in the library, and then forever be enriched by whatever that is for you.

Why am I telling you this, my dear garment district lovers?

Because, if you love to research things to DEATH when beginning a new venture, and you happen upon something like this...

Link
 or this... 
Link

You know you need to know more...


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Next Speakeasy?


And the next Speakeasy is listed for Friday, March 10!  Will you be there?

Click here for more information.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Museum at FIT - Paris Refashioned 1957-1968





This weekend, I visited the Museum at FIT again... see my recent post for the other exhibit, currently on view.

This one was lovely, and definitely took a scholarly approach to what could have been a very standard subject matter.  We all understand the 1950's-60's "look", and, love it or hate it, we can identify it, whether we are of the era or not.  But there was a great deal of food for thought here...


  • Studying the demographics and appealing to the lifestyles of the actual women with the ability to spend.


  • The role of Paris in the international fashion scene.


  • The importance of youth and innovation as partners in propelling fashion forward.


  • Challenging tradition, new designers, collaborative work, and the importance of ready-to-wear at the dawning of a new age in the fashion system.





Just one of the many gorgeous and well-made ensembles on display.


Well worth seeing.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Newsworthy... TODAY

Here's an article you may wish to read on... Reviving the Garment Industry Outside of the garment District

This is particularly timely, as there will be a Facebook Live discussion today during the 4PM (Eastern) hour here, addressing the current state of this industry and district.

Check it out!


Monday, February 6, 2017

Black Designers at the FIT Museum - you won't know unless you go...

When I walked into the exhibit on a Saturday, around 12 PM, I didn't expect a crowd.  But there was one.  I didn't expect a really diverse audience, but there was one.

Two very excited ladies (not Black), oohing and aahing over the pieces heard me talking to the extremely knowledgeable black guard (older gentleman) who gave me book recommendations, and overheard our frenzied chatter about how great the exhibit was, and asked me, "What were you expecting?"



Great question. I don't know that I can answer that. Did I expect hoodies, endless t-shirts, sneakers, jackets and caps, emblazoned with hip-hop themes and street lingo?  Maybe I did.

Pharrell

Clothes you would never otherwise dream of, or see...


Epperson

To follow up on my earlier post on this exhibit, I will share what made it so great.  Click here for the audio tour component of the exhibit, which you can watch from anywhere.

I can only suggest that you go. I saw brilliance.  I saw the work and mention of some people I actually know personally.  I saw recent historical references I understand. I saw magical pieces.  My brain took a leap.  I felt great about what I saw, those pieces, the exhibit, and I knew... THIS exhibit is for me.



Friday, February 3, 2017

Psssst...About the "girls" and the "jiggly bits"

*Reposting*

Now, some 700 posts into this blog, I look at some older, but still useful posts, and pull them out again...

I was inspired to repost this entry (originally posted two three five years ago) because of a very timely article I read online today (three years ago).  Ever fascinated by the entrepreneurial spirit of ambitious young people, a skilled dressmaker's contribution, a great business idea, and a market and investors who respond and support the idea, I felt moved and reminded to "support" us all...

We all need support sometimes. Well, except for a lucky few... But as you create, sew,or simply style yourself or others, you find that you have to work your way around "the girls" and all the other bits that don't want to stay where you'd like them to be. You do know who I mean, don't you? Whether you are a member of the "committee", are very ample, pendulous, voluptuous or asymmetrical, you have to work with fitting them every time you get dressed, design and/or sew. Below, are body-shaping swimsuits I've made for a client with a HH cup.

Padded strap elastic from SIL Thread, underwires from Steinlauf and Stoller (doubled in the channel for extra strength), powernet used as lining for a supportive body structure from Spandex House - made my client look like a Bond girl! But every body has different needs...
If the garment is already made, and you are simply getting dressed, every form of "help" you could ask for is available at Manhattan Wardobe Supply. Used by stylists and wardrobe professionals all over New York City, this place knows what you need, and has it in stock. Website or brick and mortar! Wanna make lingerie? There are lingerie and swim bra cups (same cups) sold at Steinlauf and Stoller, by the pair, for well under $10. Need hip pads or underwires? Boning? Stays? They've got that, too. In a wide variety of sizes, and all extremely affordable. And SIL Thread even carries a "separator"! But hey, if you've got a real challenge when it comes to fit, or if you just want that killer hourglass look, you can get a bra or shapewear you can swim in, a bra you can dance in, something that fits you... without having to make it, or have it made. A true specialty store within walking distance of the garment district... This is the "Pssst...." part. Bra Tenders Shhhh.... they're not on street level, and you wouldn't find them, or even know they EXIST otherwise. They really serve the theatrical community mainly, but they are also a retail establishment. Sizes AA to L. No kidding - I said "L". Make an appointment for a fitting. Be prepared to be eyed suspiciously by the guard in the lobby (or maybe that was just my imagination?), and being asked why you are there, and what the heck you want... They clearly don't want just anybody stopping in, which I did... today. "We're not set up for browsing", I was told. "We're really more of a showroom." Doesn't look that way, once inside, as it looks quite "browseable", but they make it quite clear that they don't want you to just "look around" or "explore", so know there are some gatekeepers involved here. They will not let you just buy without having a fitting first. Seriously. They specialize in undergarments and shapewear, and appointments carry no fee or obligation to buy, although you do have to secure your appointment with a credit card. In true New York fashion, they won't let you waste their time.

Now you know. Bratenders 630 9th Avenue Suite 601 NYC 10036 Tel: 212-957-7000

Thursday, February 2, 2017

I just haven't been able to... (but now I have, and WOW! - more to come)

Update: Now that I have seen this exhibit (today, in fact), I stand ABSOLUTELY corrected.  It was absolutely AMAZING! I will grow this post, and repost with current date when all of my thoughts are gathered.

For the first time, there's an exhibit at FIT that tickled an uncomfortable spot for me...  I'm hesitating to visit the Black Fashion Designers exhibit.  I don't want to not like it.  

But really, what is a black designer doing differently than anyone else with a head, heart and hands? When I looked at comments online, I saw the same reaction.. "What?" So I will go very soon... and I will try to keep an open mind.