Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Two missions accomplished...

Went to the William Ivey Long exhibit at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC today... and I wore my new dress... felt good!

The exhibit was fantastic! Advance reservations are suggested, and the museum houses only that exhibit right now, so you will need to call before going, if it is on your agenda.

The costumes were truly works of art, and you were really given time to appreciate them in all their glory (up close and personally!) on a guided tour. The docent was patient and gave interesting tidbits of information as we went along... and I must say, the costumes for Chicago, Caberet, Hairspray, and the Contact were the best of all.

More later...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sold on Ebay

I have realized one thing...

If you say you want to get rid of something, you lower its value in the eyes of others, because it is your "trash". I put the Batman and Robin patterns on EBay for $.01, because I would prefer to give them to someone who wants them, than throw them away, if they would pay just the shipping. So I put them on EBay, and they sold for a few bucks. I popped them in a padded envelope today, printed out my Paypal shipping label, and off they went. Easy, breezy...

Next up, a group of original celebrity photographs from the early 60's. They are mostly glamour-type shots. Eva Gabor, Shelley Winters and Donna Reed are among them. I haven't kept them because I love them, but because I sold a few on EBay and got tired of doing it one by one, and the pile was just too big. The ones I sold were: Jackie Kennedy, Jamie Leigh Curtis and her sister(as children) with Janet Leigh, Tony Randall, Dinah Shore, Lucille Ball and a candid of Liz Taylor with Eddie Fisher. Gotta love EBay... We'll see if this group sells. It is an interesting experiment, at least.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Stitches from the soul...

I once had a bridal client, with a beautiful wish. She had her late mother's wedding dress, which had been handmade by her mother, and wished she could modify it for her own wedding. Problem was, her mom was a tiny woman, and the bride-to-be was of a much more modern, athletically healthy build. We examined the dress, and determined no flattering alteration could be done.

I took her mother's dress partially apart, and we agreed to incorporate sections of it into a new gown, for her relaxed, outdoor wedding. We went to New York Elegant Fabrics together, and bought a creamy silk that complimented the yellowish tint her mother's aging gown had acquired, and a lovely floral embellishment for the neckline, waist, and godets.

From the fabric, I made a custom, plain halter-style gown for the bride. Using the lace from her mother's dress, I made a waist detail for the new one.

I kept her mother's hand stitching on two long triangles cut from the original gown, so that the bride could walk down the aisle with the feeling of her mother's "hands".

And it was a beautifully fulfilling project. This one is a good example of when a dress isn't just a "dress".

Friday, August 17, 2007

Crazy-expensive stuff... and a resolution

I attended a networking group panel discussion a few months ago, where I asked a high-end muckety-muck why these uber-luxury brands make keychains. His response, in a nutshell, was that you can tell how many keychains are being sold relative to the core product of the company by how much floor space is dedicated to it, and its position in the store. Some people just want "a piece" of luxury, even if they can't afford it, so they buy the keychain, sold right next to the entrance/exit.

The article which inspired today's post, entitled The Psychology of the $14,000 Handbag, is full of bits of business wisdom. It opened my eyes to a market I had really been having a hard time understanding. I do understand how a $3500 jacket makes the $800 jacket hanging near it seem less expensive, and therefore, desireable.

I know everyone has their top price for everything, and for some, money is no object. This must be true, since, a $1500 coffee-table book (no, that's not a typo) featuring Christian Dior's work will be available for purchase next month. Hope you don't spill your coffee! (Apparently, you get a steep discount if you preorder it at Barnes and Noble for $1200.)

It is a truly special edition. 500 of these first edition copes wil be wrapped in linen hand-embroidered by Lesage, so that's a boost in value right there... 400 pages with beautiful and rare photographs... $1500?




So, I just had an epiphany.

Work with me here... If you are reading this as a creative person who designs, paints, writes, anything... I assume you hope that the reward for the hard but pleasureable work you do, will be people appreciating and/or buying your creations and expertise. Having just read a great post by Lisa Call (quilt artist) on sacrificing for your art, stimulated a thought process that brings me to this idea... If you TRULY believe that art is meant to be appreciated and shared, isn't it important that we, of all people, should support one another in the quest to do this?

I never think to BUY the things so many of these artists who blog are selling... why did that only occur to me today? Perhaps you already do this, but I never thought much about it.


When I am really moved and feel a connection to something created by human hands that is of use to me, and priced appropriately for my willingness/ability to pay, I am going to buy it, compliment the creator, or express gratitude for their creation in some way.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another glove story...

This may be basic info for some, but since I knew none of it, I share my findings with you now...

I can now say "I get it" as far as what the pattern wants me to do, but I'm not sure the result will be too pretty, without a bit of a glove education first. If you know of a good book, (better than my usual trial and error) please let know!

The glove size is determined by the measurement of the circumference of the hand (without the thumb)at the knuckles. So, mine measures 7 1/2", thus I am a 7 1/2 glove. The pattern I have just happens to be my size...

This pattern comes in the package pre-cut, and there are no cutting lines or written instructions for anything on the tissue, so it looks really spare...

All the guidance you can hope to find is on the instruction sheet (click pictures to enlarge). They are written in the same casual way you might jot down a recipe for a friend; it assumes you know the rest...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The quilt evolves...

Today I have been fiddling with the quilt, and other projects. I think the quilt is gaining a bit of personality now, so I'm sharing today's developments with you...

The hand that rocks the cradle...

I've been working so much lately, but everything has been really slow-going. I plan, rearrange, rethink, plan... I need a vacation, I think.

I am a mom, and an EXTREMELY busy one at that, but I just can't break down and wear mom-type clothes, and I can never find what I want in stores. When I don't do any personal sewing, my wardrobe shrinks. I bought some fabric that just spoke to me, and have had a hard time deciding what type of garment it should be. The denim-look linen is from Rosen and Chadick, and the printed cotton is from Britex, bought on my PACC trip to San Francisco last year.

Believe it or not, I remembered a favorite dress from about 10 years ago, found the pattern (with notes!) in my collection, and View B (long) is what I am creating...

I am also still working on a quilt (yes, a quilt) reinterpretation of a painting created by my sister in 1976. This is a quilt that will belong to my family, that we will actually use for sleeping... Finding the fabrics, colors, and the bits of time I have dedicated to working on it has taken two years so far... what a journey. How far am I from finished? I don't know.

As you can see, I am still in the "fabric collage" stage, organizing and positioning cut pieces, and making sure the colors pop vibrantly next to one another. I have it hanging from the ceiling post so I can see how it works as an image, as it grows and grows. It is about 3'x3' right now, on its way to being 6'x6'. It is meant to be childish and fun, but is far from what it will be when done - this is 25%, maybe? Forgive the picture quality and the drag lines from the way it is hanging - but I can't convey what it looks like in words...

Over the past weeks, I have also made a big, colorful bag, a Barney Rubble costume (yes, its true), and a variety of repairs and redesigns.

Above all, though, I've been enjoying my kids. They're only this small for a short time... Watching them run and play and laugh today made me happier than anything I could ever imagine. They inspire me creatively. The quilt will get finished when it gets finished.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Exhibits and eye-candy

I may or may not have mentioned that I am a museum junkie...

I used to complain about the prices at my favorite museums here in New York, and then, in an "aha" moment, I slapped myself back into sanity, and realized that if I will pay $120 for a subscription to People Magazine without batting an eyelash(and, no, I'm not proud of it), how can I complain about the price of a museum entry? Better yet, I decided to buy a family membership at the Met... I spend at least that much there in a year -- what was I thinking?

Note: I have also since cancelled my People subscription.

Today, I invite you to look at some of he cool things I've seen on the web lately.

I love beautiful presentation and pictures, and have found some real gems on the web lately. I invite you to look at Mademoiselle Ombrelle, a Belgian site, all in French, but really, just look at the pictures in the hat and sculpture galleries. I love that "Alice in Wonderland-y" feeling...

I have also happened upon Hanneke's site for her wild creations. She even paints on clothing, and her style is very unique.

I love the idea behind this quilter's site.
Quilters often get a bad rap, since in their name, so many hideous things have been created, but this woman has a cool take on it.

And, a feel-good article that reinforces my view on the legacy of really special clothing. It is always more than just thread and fabric, isn't it?

I also want to see the William Ivey Long costume exhibit at the Cameron Art Museum when I got to NC again later this month. They have such strange hours - it will take some planning.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sewing and beyond in the blogosphere

"Society is complex, yet it is simple. It binds together people of diverse tastes, beliefs, and habits of thought, but it comples no one to affiliate with his neighbor beyond the extent of practicing toward him the polite formalities which are the social currency of enlightened people. Whoever does more than this is valued accordingly; and by the subtle workings of sympathetic affinities; those whose mutual aims and ambitions are nearest alike form circles within which their special enjoyments or pursuits are followed."

--Good Manners (Butterick Publishing Company, 1888)

I was taking a little trip around the blogosphere, wondering what other passions people were blogging about. I know sewists can be fanatics, but most of us aren't really writing specifically about sewing, so much as about life, really.

Well, no matter what the topic, I found some amazing similarities between bloggers with a "human" quality. Sites focusing on other creative topics eventually touch on crafts, or knitting, or sewing, and eventually... pets. No matter who the author, it seems all readers are eventually forced to look at 10,000 pictures of your cat/dog/precious rodent/whatever. I laugh every time I come across another "kitty" entry. Check for yourself! The universality of it is hilarious! Sorry, I'm not a pet owner, so I don't understand.

There is also the obligatory "what I ate for breakfast/lunch/dinner" entry when people feel compelled to write, but have nothing to say. But here's the amazing part... I read them. With interest. I read about stay-at-home moms with the summertime "blues", frustrated artists, witty, snarky, and beautiful comments about everything... and it all started to blend into one voice. This blogging trend is bigger than just tiny slices of ordinary lives. It is amazingly democratic, real, fascinating, and nothing is too small or mundane.

Today's item for the daily purge...

This book was never opened by my mother-in-law, and, after sitting on her shelf for a decade or so, it was never used by me. For some crazy reason, I decided that it was something I should keep. Guess what, guys? 1982 was a long time ago. Time to let go! It can be yours for the price of postage - just let me know.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Drowning in stuff...

Today's mission is to start getting rid of all these "good" things I know I'll never use. I don't know why I am keeping all this stuff. Last night, it occured to me that I'm not a messy or disorganized person, but this habit of not parting with things I don't use is making me look like one!

First step...

After careful introspection, I have decided that I will never want to dress as Batman or Robin. So, why have I had these patterns for 10 years???? To make it worse, these are both adult sizes... Can you say... Ebay? If any reader of this blog wants these, let me know, and they're yours for the price of postage!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wouldn't it be Glover-ly????

"When in doubt as to local customs, put a pair of gloves in your pocket, and if you cannot judge with certainty whether others will wear them, be on the safe side by putting them on before you enter the drawing room."

-Good Manners (Butterick Publishing Company, 1888)

I have an obsession with gloves, although I almost never wear them. I am fascinated by the making of gloves and the completely foreign shape of the pattern pieces! My beloved glove pattern from 1943, which I am absolutely baffled by, but hope to figure out someday, calls me to create something as lovely as the illustrations on the pattern envelope. The instructions are so spare, I wonder if they are joking.

After reading the "instructions" again a few more times, I have determined that the pattern company makes the following assumptions; that the gloves will be sewn by hand (which appears to be necessary, due to the shape of the pieces), that you know what type of fabric to purchase (there is no guidance for fabric at all - but it certainly shouldn't fray), that you know what it means to "glove stitch", and that you know how to determine your glove size. Okay, so I'll have to do a bit of research and make a muslin before I can tackle this one. My goal is to make gloves with embroidery travelling up the fingers. This will take time. Maybe my pattern doesn't need to be from 1943, huh?

For online eye-candy, the Martin Margiela artisinal clothing featured on is so inspiring and beautifully weird, that I felt I needed to share... Check out the top made of overlapping gloves!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Climbing down from my high horse...

Recently, I posted "Who are You Wearing?", a short entry featuring a photo of a Eva Gabor wearing a leopard coat. I went on to mention a BBC article that explores the plight of garment and textile workers in impoverished countries, and how their labor provides us with $5 T-shirts.

So, I took a short trip this weekend, and, while on that trip, had a moment to take some deep breaths, and thought..."Hey, wait a minute...who said that everyone who works to make high-priced goods is fairly compensated?" And a strange connection popped into my head.

Long ago, when I was a college student, a friend of mine wrote a truly incredible term paper on the danger of "truth". To illustrate his point, he looked at great leaders -- Martin Luther King, Gandhi, JFK, etc. He pointed out that these individuals were a threat to no one as long as they spoke for a specific segment of the population.

The bigger picture point of it all is that no person... not a woman, not a man, not a race, not an age, not a socio-economic status or geographical location, makes any person inferior to another. No one deserves less than fair wages for his/her labor, and anyone who contributes to a profit-making enterprise should share in the wealth that work helps to generate. So, while it is common to champion the cause of the underrepresented group of the "moment", the fact is, injustices are all around us, all the time.

In Wilmington, NC, where my in-laws live, the Bellamy Mansion is a beautifully restored Civil War-era estate, featuring the work of so many who were not yet allowed to fully participate in the economy. I bought a lovely book there, entitled "Stitched from the Soul" by Gladys-Marie Fry, documenting slave quilts of the Antebellum South. The author writes elequently of the stitches, the tears, and blood as "time markers" of the everyday events of their lives, stitched into the quilts. Denied the opportunity and often, the ability to write, the slaves stitched their journals into the quilts. Nowadays, locating the quilts themselves is problematic, but harder still, is locating the written data to document their origin.

So, it is easy to point at people in a far away country, and take up their cause, but what about the daily injustices all around us? Some slaves had quilting as an art form, a way to tell stories... I wonder about the stories, talents, outlets for artistic expression of the people who help to make our $5 T-shirts?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Creative artists

"The charm of a golden sunset, to a real admirer, is not complete without silence. A voice dispels it, even though that voice be as sweet as the silvery nest of a forest-bird - a charm in itself, but inharmonious with that entrancing the vision.

So in Art. Although we are obliged to dally with the practical to reach the ideal, no words can add to the enchantments of artistic productions. They surround the worker with an influence that is like a dream, and in it he lives, with Genius for his master and Silence for his companion."

- Needle-Craft: Artistic and Practical (Butterick Publishing Company, 1889)

In New York City, we live with so much noise. Constant noise. To make it worse, it seems every artist within spitting distance of a microphone must over-explain his art. This is why I love to go to the beautifully quiet exhibits tucked away in our city's fabulous museums and galleries. No words, unless you seek them out.

One example of a visual feast, perfectly presented, is the Luxury exhibit at FIT. This display of gorgeous garments in the gentle light and silence of the gallery is a fabulous place to stop, examine, and truly appreciate the art of beautiful craftsmanship.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Who are you wearing?

"The only things that do not change are dead things. Clothes are exceedingly vital and alive."

-Jacques Worth, 1927

Which of these is this coat? Alive or dead?

The caption of this original photo, (from my family's collection) originally from TWA Aviation Press Pictures, reads, "NY International Airport, February 11, 1960. Glamourous Eva Gabor, who appreared on the Jack Parr Show last night, is pictured wearing a leopard coat prior to boarding a TWA Jetliner to Los Angeles where she will enjoy a brief visit."

The airport had not yet been renamed JFK, for obvious reasons... but notice the mention of the leopard coat? My, how times have changed.

Or... have they?

This coat would have been quite a status symbol in those days, but would now be a very unpopular item (to put it mildly), if worn by any celebrity. While such a coat, which once turned heads, now turns stomachs, are animal rights just the popular issue right now, due to the marketing efforts of groups like PETA?

I know there are always other fish to fry, but I want to specifically turn your attention to an article on sweatshop labor, offered by BBC News. Do we think about the human price paid when we buy $5 T-shirts? According to the article, workers in Burkina Faso would love to stop laboring for such low wages, but, unfortunately, cotton is their only cash crop.

So now, here's my bigger point... as you read this, "Who" are you wearing?