Tuesday, April 8, 2014

In Which to Dance the Can-Can

Detail: Cotton Petticoat, 2014
Beneath an ankle length scarlet red wool skirt, a petticoat with a pleated band stitched around the hem in a wave of crests and troughs. Paired together, the light wool gauze drapes over the ruffled petticoat which lends fullness to the skirt's silhouette and adds a layer of warmth.

The prolonged winter is ebbing away now, slowly. Tree branches have begun to bud. Spring will be sublime, bursting with color. In the morning birds chirp vigorously as though anticipating a fireworks-like display of radiant blossoms and greenery.

Skirt & Petticoat. Wool, Cotton, 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Summer in Winter

1920's Singlet. Wool/Nylon, 2014.
To ward off the snowy chill there is wool, silk, and...dancing (the perfect antidote to winter's inducement to hibernate). Wore multiple layers for the journey to a party on Sunday night. Then, on the dance floor, layers were shed. It was among the pleasures for all who, in staunch denial of the long darkness and deep freeze of a Sunday night mid-January, had come to revel. Revealed under coats swiftly tossed aside were tee shirts, singlets and partially unbuttoned shirts. Summer attire. Bodies in motion swayed and stomped to the beat in boots that had recently trudged through the snow. 

Wore a soft wool singlet with a low scoop neck. Its material and style are reminiscent of a 1920's bathing costume. The pattern was easy to design and assembly was quick--wool absorbs stitches like a thirsty sponge. Yum. 

It took much longer to make a silk jersey camisole with a minimalist design (photo below). It has wide straps which taper as they meet the front and back panels and a tiny scalloped hem. As soon as it was finished (two weeks ago) wanted to wear it every day. Developed the pattern a little further, slimming the width of the straps, repositioning where they attach to the back, raising the height under the arm and narrowing the front panel. Then, with these modifications, sewed another camisole. The silk is warm and alluringly fluid along the body's surface. ("What?" asks the invaluable proofreader, "fluid"? Am explaining when she confesses that she happens to be wearing the silk long undershirt I'd sent her last year. "Comfortable" she says softly, "and luxurious.")

Wrapped again in layers left the party and headed home. Was warm for hours.... It was the wool, the dancing, the happiness.

Camisole with Scalloped Hem. Silk, 2014.
Camisole. Silk, 2014.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Rug, A Labyrinth

Rug Making Workshop for Kids  (November, 2013)
Weaving a rug from scraps of fabric is the kind of project that, if it holds one's interest (as it did this lad's) becomes meditative. Strips of fabric are woven outwards from the center in a widening spiral. A rug, a labyrinth? Indeed. 

Taught a rug making workshop for children and grown-ups last weekend. Had as much fun as the kids! Demonstrating the steps during the workshop, wove a mini-version of a rug. Afterwards brought it home where it makes a good table mat.

Woven Table Mat, Cotton. 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Urban Slumber's Consolation

Silk Pillow Cases, 2013
Purchased a yard of patterned silk in the garment district. Brought it to the studio to sew a set of pillow cases. Its woodgrain pattern in violet, green and white was difficult to pair with other colors. Looked about for a fabric to use as a border. Nothing worked well. Then found a small scrap of olive green silk that was nearly perfect. There was enough for one border. For the other border used a different fabric. (They are fraternal twins.)

Many sounds [one might more accurately write "noises"] in Brooklyn: sirens, incessant car horns, construction. (If a car horn were as loud inside the honking car as outside would it be used as liberally?) Am longing to write, work and sleep where nature's sounds are unmasked by the city's loud rumblings. Until then, an urban consolation: to slumber with one's head upon a soft silk pillowcase--grassy green, orchid purple.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Souvenirs of the Future

Earrings: pearls, quartz, 2013
Having tried numerous hair clips attempting to find one that doesn't get tangled in long curly hair, bought a box of hairpins as close to the ones worn by my grandmother as could be found, 3" long with ripples. The box contains a pound of hairpins! Edwardian corset in progress, a box of hairpins... Envisioned jewelry harkening back to the era of corsets and hairpins. Made a pair of dangling earrings with rice grain pearls above a faceted teardrop of smokey quartz.

Sou(s)- under, beneath
Venir- to come

To come from beneath...souvenir.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sketching A Corset

Sketches for a Corset, 2013
More than a decade ago after a year of searching from afar for an apartment in New York City that fit my budget, moved sight unseen into a tiny, tiny sublet in SoHo. It looked out over a churchyard providing a view of sky and trees, and against its amber-hued brick wall, of photoshoots with fashion models posing for photographers. Within hours of arriving in the city had found a job. Early that evening walking along Lafayette Street joyful and reflective, urgently wanted to write about what I'd come to understand that day. With everything in boxes, had left the apartment with neither a pen nor paper. What to do? Turned toward a woman who was walking along the same stretch of pavement. "Pardon me," I began and asked whether she happened to have a pen or pencil to lend momentarily--and oh, a scrap of paper? Explained that I'd an idea I wanted urgently to write. 

She rested her large messenger bag on the trunk of a parked car. From the bag she extracted a fresh yellow legal pad and a pen. "Keep them," she said handing them to me, "I know how that is!"

As ideas churn, will draw or write on any available paper--the back of a business card or receipt, a random flyer, in the margins of a newspaper or the inside of an envelope. Began recently to carry a 3x5 pad of post-its. Sketches made at various times are easily assembled later into a group. Am playing with ideas for an Edwardian corset now in progress.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mending: Sewing a Patch

Mending is integral to making what one wears. Small tasks accumulate: elastic to be replaced, a seam to reinforce, a patch to add. I often sew simple patches but when it's time for a really nice one here's the method I use:

Monday, September 30, 2013

"Yes! Magazine. Powerful Ideas. Practical Actions"

Yes! Magazine.  (Photo: Paul Dunn)
Am featured in the cover story in the September issue of Yes! Magazine. Follow the link and scroll down to number 5.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Never Finished... And That's a Good Thing

Summer Nightgown. Cotton,  2013
The heat of a summer night asks for nothing more than the simplest nightgown of finely woven cotton. This one has pintuck pleats each adorned with an embroidered stylized blossom. It was only after sewing the nightgown with its pintucks that an element appeared to be missing: a dash of color. A month or two later embroidery was added.

Designing and making clothing rather than shopping since 2008 have produced a fairly complete wardrobe. (This summer stitched a new lingerie design which I'm loving.) As with the nightgown, recently find myself reworking garments: modifying a neckline, lowering a waist, raising a hem. Read about an artist who altered paintings even as they were on exhibit in a museum. Understandable impulse. Rare is a piece static enough that imagination resists dreaming of its further development.

Detail: Embroidery & Pintucks, 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Scenic Route

Flounces at the cuffs & neckline, Dress, 2013
Photograph by Robert Lucy
The scenic route to the studio doesn't pass by a babbling brook or offer mountain views but there is a corrugated metal wall with fantastic dark persimmon streaks of rust. 

It was a windy and cooler day last month when this photograph was taken. Underneath the dress is a slip. A student in a sewing class bemoaned the lack of good slips available for purchase. Although a slip can be made in a more complicated manner, here is a simple strapless slip in cotton jersey.
Strapless Slip: cotton, 2013