Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wedding dress kit?

This weekend, I read an article in the online version of New York Times that blew my mind...

Who thinks this stuff up?

Someone has actually applied for a patent for a "Wedding dress kit", which allows brides to mix and match elements of their "dream dress" -- a sleeve here, a skirt there, and take it to a dressmaker to be made.

Ummm... okay... why is this patentable?

Ideas... we dressmakers see many. Are they all executable? No. Are they all good? No. Are they all practical? Within the brides price range? Suitable for the fabric choices? For the body type of the bride? No.

Giving a dressmaker a group of elements to assemble for you, is like giving a chef a group of ingredients and not acknowledging the endless variety of possible outcomes that could result. It is like giving a pilot a destination without a flight plan. It is like... well, you get the idea.

What this sounds like to me, is a "dream kit". Heck, I could do that. Sounds like a good idea... but I don't see how that could possibly work. Your thoughts?

Monday, November 19, 2007

On fatal design flaws...

I've had this pattern for along time, mostly because I keep thinking I must be missing something about this dress.

It really appeals to me, but I can't imagine how this dress, cut the way the pattern recommends, and using the recommended fabrics, could possibly work on a body that moves.

This deep back is really lovely, and would make a great vacation dress, but...

The pattern for the body of the dress is THREE pieces, and the contrast bands, are another two. It has no waist stay, front boning or support of any kind, and no underwires or bra cups are called for at all. The recommended fabrics are denim, gabardine or linen. The front of the dress has a high, square neckline and shoulder straps spaced far out on the shoulder.


I can't imagine who could wear this, and still lead a life, bend over, reach for anything... unless she relied heavily on double-stick body tape... what would hold this dress on your body?

Have any of you ever seen a low-backed garment that didn't make up for it in structural support at the waist, and the front and/or sides?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

On "drag" or "lift"...

When discussing bias, Charles Kliebacker phrased it eloquently in Threads #99 (February/March 2000).

He says...

Fabrics cut on the bias either have "drag" or "lift". Fabrics such as crepe, jersey, or charmeuse are among the fabrics that can be said to "drag" or "drop" on the bias. Fabrics such as taffeta, chiffon, broadcloth, or organza "lift" on the bias. Either type can be used to create a beautiful garment, but drag is better suited to revealing the form underneath, and lift, to concealing it.

I don't think I could have put it better.

Now, here's where I always have a problem explaining the visual to clients, since both fabric types are "right", but achieve different effects. Garments constructed of bias-cut fabrics with "lift" can create that "I feel fat" result. No, it isn't slimming, but it doesn't hug, either. Really nice way to understand which effect you want BEFORE you begin.

It may seem that I am abandoning projects...

Once upon a time, I made these things...

Above, a dress for an actress to wear at a red-carpet premiere of her indie-movie. I saw her again on TV some time later. I hope she's living her dream!

Above, a fun, flirty replica of the bride's mimiskirted wedding dress, to be worn to her rehearsal dinner. Stretch tank dress beneath this lovely silk... trumpet sleeves - sexy... what fun!

Above, pants for a very slim and elegant executive. They fit like a glove.

Above, a Valentine's Day themed duvet cover and accessories for the NY Newsday article. Although they came and photographed everything (this was my own photo, not a professionally lit and styled one), the only picture that came out in the publication was a huge one of my face. It was a very uncomfortable moment then, but now I'm over it!

Above, a bridal client's neckline for her 50's themed dress, with a big, flowy skirt... No understructure... see? There's my point. Every bump and wrinkle shows.

I have quite a few projects in various states of completion - I tend to work on many at at time, and new ideas come in. You can see the rhythm in my blog, even though I hide it. I suddenly get inspired to write like ten posts, then stagger the publishing, so I can provide a bit of steady content. Well, that... and I have NO time, these days...

So, I get inspired by things that might not look like what I'm envisioning, but they spark an idea, and I must hold onto it. Then I keep an idea journal, and create things in a sewing binge, that makes my family wonder if I've gone mad. I'm in one now...

So, there are always some pieces of inspiration that I doubt would explain much to anyone who is not in my brain... but rather than wast time trying to convey my plans, I'll just work on showing you the results...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Is it time yet???

This thought was inspired by Threads #74. Forget about the garage attendant-look, here... that's not where I'm going with this.

I love overalls.


But I do!

So if I can do some overalls, similar in shape to these, with a lot more sizzle, shaped waist, and a more elegant front opening that doesn't point "you-know-where", has enough time passed since the 80's to pull it off in a way that looks "new" again?

Okay, don't answer that.

I'll have to make my own decision here. If I do spiky boots, a strong lipstick, and my hair in semi-wild ringlet/crinkles, it would work. I'm thinking denim...

On boning...

Funny how going through the Threads stash can remind me of things I forgot I knew...?

This post was actually inspired by the neat, smooth look of Hillary Clinton's jacket on the debate last night.

This one, from Threads #87, February/March 2000. "Boning - Not Just for Corsets" by Susan Khalje.

Of course I can use boning in the waists of my jackets and pants!!! I realize that there is no reason why I should relegate boning to corsets and gowns only... how quickly I can forget its actual purpose!

Susan Khalje... Great woman... fun to talk to. She is also speaks French fluently... (as do I, but I'm rusty) and she teaches some wonderful educational retreats in Paris. When I am able to go away for an extended period of time agian, you can bet I'll go!

Susan's on the left in this picture I took when I attended the PACC educational conference in San Francisco. Next to her is Dominique Fallecker, who is the manager of the "Little Black Dress" store, nestled in the Palais Royal in Paris. Dominique gave a great (and very funny!) speech at the banquet.

And... another thought. Sometimes, potential clients, who are often more creative-thinking brides feel they want to forgo the understrucure of a gown, and simply wear a white dress.

I am changing my policy on this one.

Every bride feels fat in a white dress with no understructure. Everyone says they won't be like the others, but if you care enough to have your dress custom-made for you, take the time to have a fabric sculpture built, and wear that sculpture on your body. This requires BONING. It is important. For the next white dresses I do, I will no longer offering the option of doing them without it. After all, she will be photographed and critiqued all day.

If she truly is an out-of-the-box thinker, she may wear another color. Remember, it and she will both be photographed. White fabric shows every wrinkle, bump, snag, hiccup, mistake and detail in a way no one wants to be scrutinized.

Hooray for boning!

On a personal note:

My son said "Amen" after our dinner prayer tonight... This is a milestone!

On Bias...

I am always amazed at how long one can sew, and how the learning curve never ceases. Even now, I keep learning things that I am absolutely amazed never came up...

I have always been troubled by bias chiffon. To the point that I currently avoid it like the plague... Now, I know at least part of the reason why. While perusing my collection of Threads Magazines, I found issue #47 (June/July 1993). Oh, my collection is far from complete, but I have kept the ones containing valuable information.

So, the "Taming Bias" article by Joyce Gayle contains lots of information I already knew, but it also gave me a HUGE "ahaa!" moment.

Did you know that the two mirror-image pieces (opposite bias) will actually drape differently? No wonder!!!!

Monday, November 05, 2007

When the teacher becomes a student...

This stream of conciousness post is just bursting out of me, so I'll just write, and you'll get it straight from the heart that way, okay?

Funny thing about blogging... I'm always thinking about what I want to tell, but not necessarily getting quiet and still enough to listen to what I want to know, and, more importantly, need to know... or better yet... might not know I want/need to know.

Make sense?

I was thinking about my Pay it Forward projects, and realized that I'm always thinking about what I want to make, but not necessarily what the people I'm doing it for would actually want to have.

Well, after teaching and preaching all the time, I spent the past week as a student.

Of everything.

Well, maybe I'm lying a little bit. What I did, was slow down (no, that's a lie, too)... we moved this week... to what is an incredibly great new apartment. I always felt that living in a free-standing house in New York City was an incredibly inefficient (environmentally, logistically, socially) and expensive way to live, and we are soooo not do-it-ourselfers...

So, with much drama and many glitches, we finally moved.

On meeting the neighbors:

Who knew there were this many nice people in this city???? We have had people offer to help us with EVRYTHING... hold open doors, introduce themselves, offer help with the kids, disposal of boxes and wrapping stuff... the welcome has been incredibly warm. I really didn't know people could be this nice.

This building is in a rapidly changing neighborhood and seems to have no racial, religious, or cultural majority. It seems to be an incredibly tolerant and respectful atmosphere. After 3 PM on weekdays, the building is alive with children. It is so great that everyone is being noisy at our noisy time! What a gift to be able to give our kids... they can run around freely in this space, in a way they never could in the house. No stairs!

The move was a lot of work!!!!

I've always been a person who tried to be great at everything. Guess what? I'm not! And there is probably a good reason for that. We all have different talents
and abilities. I've lived long enough to know what my main talents are, and I've chosen to embrace them. I have wasted so much time worrying about why I'm not better at this or that... who cares? I'm not great at baking - but my mother is. I can't remember birthdays to save my life, but my aunt and sis-in-law are pros at it. (Shoot! Tomorrow is her birthday!) I have a hard time organizing all of my sewing stuff, and professional info. It is always a mess. Guess what? No pictures of my studio are likely after the initial setup photos, if I post them.

So what does this mean?

I leraned the importance of listening to people, appreciating their unique talents and abilities, and discovered that even someone who doesn't speak your language, may, in fact "speak your language".

So I'm slowing down a bit now.

I took an actual nap today. (20 minutes!!!)

I will aim to be more patient, make a conscious effort to be a student, and find quiet moments once in a while.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Shut up and sew!

This picture feels like someone sneaked into our house, set up our stuff, and took pictures while no one was looking. This is not my photo. You will need to visit Desire to Inspire to see more beautiful photographs. Not that it is such an unusual design setup, but this is so weird, it is unsettling.

Below, our trunk...

If you caught the Valentine's Day shoot photographs I did for Newsday afew years back, you would see that our pillows are very similar.

Blah, blah, blah.

I feel like I've been all talk, no sewing... so today, I am immersed.

I've covered my sofas (the room they are in is too stuffed with boxes to take a good picture right now) - good thing we're moving to a much larger space!

Made my custom pillows, and found my ideal pillow color scheme.

The hardest part is keeping it all kid-friendly!