Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An opinion on Gertie's 'What is Fashion-Forward' Question

This post was initially intended to be a comment to Gertie's thought-provoking question about the meaning of the phrase 'fashion-forward'. But as I was writing it, I realized I had to say more than would fit in a comment format. Gertie has a talent for digging up hot topics, and this is one of the reasons I enjoy reading her blog, besides the love for couture we both share, I believe.

I loved how she admitted that she had no idea what 'fashion-'forward' meant, when she was asked to create a look for  the American Sewing Expo "Passion for Fashion" contest.

To me, FASHIONABLE refers to a garment, or the entire look, that has an up-to-date feel  and is likely to appeal to certain number of people. I mean, fashion is when a group of people wants to wear certain types of clothes, right? Like, people are into color-blocked garments now...

Fashion is about trends. We get tired of things, we crave for change after a while. Pale hues follow saturated colors this year, for example. See this month's Vogue. Only understandable - our eyes want to rest to indulge in colors again as summer approaches.

But FASHION-FORWARD has to be more, it has to have elements of design, or construction, that make it stand-out from mass-produced clothes you are likely to find at many chain-stores.

Fashion-forward is about creating these trends, responding to what people are more likely to desire now, in broader context. In insecure times, some vintage fashions, or conservative garments could mean stability. I am not trying to trace some Freudian complexes to justify trends. I am just saying that fashion doesn't exist without a broader context and as the context and environment changes, so does fashion.

If you are interested in the subject, I highly recommend an out-of-print book by Tony and Claes Lewenhaupt called CROSSCURRENTS. It follows art, fashion and design from 1890 to 1989. Judge yourself:

"... the bewilderingly beautiful trailings and curves of Art Nouveau could tell much about the times, its longings and ideas. Should the style preserve the past or develop the future? 
The wife and the home stayed in their locked position but daily papers, trains, and above all the bisycle let the outside world move in closer. Feminism was clamorous, but the tyranny of the corset was tighter than ever. And La Belle Epoque desperately held on to old ideals - wine, women and song - while Social Democratic Party united the masses in Europe.
The economy was good and that was what decided how far the freedom would be permitted to go. And, consequently, the hemline"
Like it? I love this book. Here is more, now on 1980s:
"The obsession with physical fitness resulted in broader, fortified shoulders. When work-outs and jogging gave results, the fashion accentuated the muscular curves of the body."
Designers who notice these trends ahead of trend-spotting companies are truly fashion-forward. McQueen, named by many commenters, was an innovative and extremely talented designer, and often fashion-forward, indeed. But so is Carl Lagerfeld, or Elbaz, or Galliano, Nicolas Ghesquiere, or Christopher Kane, or Vivienne Westwood.... (really in random order).

As for vintage, Gertie admitted, jokingly, that she is 'fashion-backward' (for her love of retro and vintage). But vintage  can also look fashion-forward, mixed with unexpected accessories, shoes, bags, hairstyles. If not, it is a very strong personal statement, right? Passion? Maybe. Fashion? less likely.

What do you think, readers?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Colette Fall Palette Challenge = Burda Cape Pattern Challenge!

Remember this cape?

Yes, that's Burda 08/2010 #112. I love this cape, and so I did trace the pattern, as you may remember, and made a muslin. I was not sure it was necessary to make the muslin, but now, I am really glad I did it, because, if you look at the image, you will notice the odd drape at side seams below the shoulder.

I was happy I found someone who made another cape from the same issue - #113 - which is based on the same pattern as #112. Here is the link. And here is the original:

See? Again? And that girl on the left leans on the cape. I wonder why?!

May I suggest that this pattern is not drafted very well, readers? You see, when I tried the muslin, I looked like an American football player.

I swear, this guy could fill this cape easily!!! And I have cut size 36, which is one size smaller than my regular 38. The patternmaker was drafting it under the influence, I am sure - there is no other explanation.

Anything else was perfect, though - the length, arm openings, the flare. I just had to fix those side seams. And since it was kind of awkward to make alterations on myself, I decided to re-draft the pattern, or side seams on the pattern.


I have a few pattern making books at home, but only one, Patternmaking for Fashion Design, by Helen Joseph-Armstrong had good instructions on cape pattern. Actually it had instructions for two cape styles, an A-line cape (similar to Burda style) and a circular cape.

The thing is, however, that instructions just tell you how to draft that particular style in the book, with that particular amount of flare... Read yourself:
  • "...Extend center back to the length desired. Label D. D-E = A-C plus 3 inches, squared from D.
  • Draw a line from E. Extend the line through C.
  • Blend hem 1/2 inch up at side seam.
  • Mark 1/4 inch above shoulder tip. Label F
  • .... "
and so on...

I did find Armstrong's instructions useful, but the Burda cape had more flare, so I could not use the 1/2 to blend the hem up at side seam. Burda used some 1.5 inches there. Or, drawing the shoulder curve...

What I expect from a good patternmaking book, like this one, is an explanation how these numbers are calculated. Because, readers, following basic geometry rules, these figures would not work in my case. 


... was out of question. For a cape you need to have a sleeve attached to your dress form, and I haven't tackled this task yet. Oh, well...  However, if you do have a dress form with a sleeve, check out my favourite draping book, Draping: Art and Craftsmanship in Fashion Design.  Unfortunately, it is sold out, but is you ever come across it for a reasonable price, grab it immediately - you won't be disappointed. 


I need to get lining for the cape. The thing is I am going to use the same techniques as for my Chanel-inspired jacket, and quilting the lining is a step I want to accomplish on Tuesday. The fabric is an 1" even plaid with white lines on black background and so I wanted to go beyond predictable solid color, such as black. 

Now, if I pick bright colors, such as red, or blue, or anything else, I am afraid I am going to look like a superhero, or a vampire. 

This iconic Dracula cape worn by Sir Christopher Lee, aka the legendary Count Dracula, was auctioned for $43K, apparently. I don't think my cape will score that high with red lining, even with all the couture construction techniques.

I would rather use these 'time-tested combinations' suggested by Claire Shaeffer in her Fabric Sewing Guide:
  • foulard and plaid
  • plaid and paisley
  • plaids and stripes in the same colors with similar scales
  • two plaids in similar scales
  • plaids and checks
  • a positive and a negative print 

My muslin is now fitted, and I have even managed to cut the fabric. 
  • I took pictures, but cannot find the cable to upload them... well, pictures will have to wait 'til tomorrow. 
  • I will try to do all the thread tracing for the cape and 
  • tackle the muslin for my mohair jacket. 
  • I would also love to get some nice charmeuse print for the cape lining... if I have time.
Now, readers, please help! Would you go safe and use solid black charmeuse as cape lining, or be daring and go for print?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Colette Fall Palette Challenge: The Progress

Ok, I am tortured, suffering, and impatient, readers! Are you familiar with that feeling when you are so ready for something, but something beyond your control delays it. I am talking about the Colette Fall Palette Challenge (read about my plans here)

The Colette patterns are not here yet, and I am dying to cut Sencha and Macaron. I also need the Macaron pattern to get leather for the bodice. The patterns must have been shipped on Thursday so I got to be patient. I also ordered Clover pants today....

So, I spent whole day tracing Burda patterns and preparing muslins for the Mohair jacket, Silk skirt in Teal, a blouse from the same Burda 08/2011 issue, and, finally, the cape. Here is the proof:

I still need to transfer seam lines and markings, so I may be able to do it tonight. I doubt, though, I will be able to put together any muslins this weekend, as children keep me extremely busy.

I am now off, dinner is ready and the family is waiting...

What are your plans for the weekend? Any sewing?

My Fall Wardrobe plan (aka Colette Palette Challenge)

I promised you my Colette Fall Palette plan. Here are some fabrics I am very likely to use. There maybe some changes on the way, but only minor ones.

As I have my Chanel-inspired skirt ongoing, as well as couple of UFOs - I chose only four garments for this challenge. Ok, my color palette is different... but I just love real images as oposed to technical drawings.

SENCHA BLOUSE from Colette Patterns: I picked flower print charmeuse for the blouse.
MACARON, also from Colette Patterns: I am using the red mohair for the skirt, with matching leather for the bodice, and wool chalis (still not sure) for the top.
BURDA 08/2011: I love both, the skirt and the blouse, but for the challenge I am working on the skirt in medium-weight twill silk in teal.
BURDA 08/2011: this cropped jacket will be made from the grey blue mohair to match the skirt.   
I also crave COLETTE CLOVER PANTS after I saw this version by Sarai on her wonderful blog Coletterie. (By the way, if you don't know Coletterie, make sure you follow it - it is very inspirational and full of great sewing tips!) Back to Sarai and Clover: doesn't she look gorgeous?

I am still waiting for Colette patterns to arrive. I ordered their Jasmine blouse as well, but the initial run of the blouse ran out of stock, and so it takes somewhat longer. I would need to order Clover pants as well, as this is something I really want to have for this fall, in teal or purple wool.

My bonus item that doesn't match with the wardrobe, but that I really wanted for the fall to wear with my jeans is this CAPE I fell in love with the moment I saw it in the same Burda 08/201.

I chose very similar bouclé plaid from Mendel & Goldberg (I blogged about the store here). And yes, I am quilting it!

What are you sewing for the Fall, readers?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My inspiration for Colette Fall Palette Challenge ->

Let's start with positive things. I am now all ready for the Colette Fall Palette Challenge (the link is below)! Also positive, but, partly, stressful and time consuming things are over and involved family emergency (all fine now!), and having my 5-year old daughter have a great start at her first year at school (or kindergarden, in the US).

So, friends, here is my inspiration board:

I have already chosen garments I am going to make and have almost all patterns lined up, but this is the topic of the next post. 

Those of you, who haven't heard of Colette Fall Palette Challenge, or Colette Patterns, (I am, like, are there really people who know nothing about it?), here is the badge that will bring you to their website once you click on it. 

Colette Patterns Fall Palette Challenge

As for those who stay here, I would love to hear from you whether you tried Colette Patterns and if yes, what are your favourite styles?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

And the winners are:

... all of the commenters!

Here are the patterns you won:

Kelerabeus: #3, #12
Iowa Hoodlum: #5, #8
Lissa: #7
bodicegoddess: #9
lakaribane: #10
Peggy's closet: #11

Congratulations, everyone! Stay tuned to the next set of patterns!

I guess I know why nobody picked #13, but we still have #1, #2, #4, #6 and #13. If anyone is interested I will just add those to your package for no additional shipping charge.

Winners, to claim your prize, please, send me your shipping address to my email at mvk(dot)fashion(at)gmail(dot)com.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

13 Vintage Patterns Giveaway

Readers, thank you for your comments on my vintage pattern stash reduction!

I must admit I felt guilty after I read your comments. I do love my patterns, really! And I promise, I won't get rid of all, I just need to have a clear overview of what I have.

Also, in my defense I have to add that in the past year I have learnt so much in draping, pattern-making and couture sewing that I can now easily hand over patterns that I no longer need as a reference.

So, my 'pain', your gain, readers! I am starting these giveaways with a modest set of 13 vintage patterns!

1. Simplicity 9043 (Size 14, Bust 36")   |   2. Simplicity 8884 (Size 12, Bust 34")
3. Simplicity 7329 (Size 14, Bust 36")   |   4. Butterick 3543 (size 14, Bust 36")
5. Simplicity 9206 (Size 14, Bust 36")    |   6. Simplicity 9838 (Size 12-14, Bust 34-36")
7. McCall's 3511 (size 14, Bust 36")   |   8. Simplicity 6235 (size 14, Bust 36")
9. Simplicity 5247 (size 14, Bust 36")   |  10.  McCall's 5344 (size 12, Bust 34")  
11. Simplicity 9071 (size 16, Bust 38")   |   12. McCall's 2086 (Size 10, Bust 32 1/2")
13. Simplicity 3615 (Size 14, Bust 36")
As usual, the giveaway is open to the followers of this blog. List patterns you like in a comment to this post and you may win one or more. This time I have to ask the winners to pay shipping costs (sorry, but I have to do it considering the number of patterns I will need to ship).

The winners will be announced next Thursday, 15 September.

Estimated shipping costs (exact amounts will be given once winners are drawn):
USA $1.30 (one pattern) + $0.60 (every additional one)
Canada $ 1.60 (one pattern) + $0.70 (every additional one)
Europe $3 (for appr. up to 3 or 4 patterns)
India $3 (for appr. up to 3 or 4 patterns)

By the way, I will be offering some 50 patterns as giveaways during the coming few weeks. And about 100 more will be sold on eBay. No worries, I will still have some 100 vintage pattern to enjoy and cherish! Phew, I already feel better for the patterns :-)

Whether you participate or not, may I ask you to spread the word and post a link to this giveaway on your blog! Thank you!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Crossing the Rubicon

A trip to IKEA and re-arrangement of almost entire furniture in my sewing / working room (and elsewhere) led to a few revelations:

1. I own enough fabric to sew at least two seasons wardrobe. Now, it's time to use it! Fall wardrobe sewing is planned to start next week.

2. I got way too many (vintage) patterns. And I made a decision and am going to offer some of those for giveaways and some for sale on eBay. I mean, I want to let go over 100 patterns! I loved all of them, but I will never sew them - so stay tuned to announcements here!

Alea iacta est, readers! Do you sympathize? 

Friday, September 2, 2011

And the winner of the Threads fitting book is...

... Chie Duncan of vivatveritas

It's new here, but I thought these giveaways are also a great opportunity to briefly introduce winners - don't we all love interacting with others and being inspired from each other?! So, here you go:

Chie is a prolific seamstress and designer from Tokyo, Japan. 

"Fashion, sewing and blogging all began as little side hobbies when a friend lent me a basic sewing machine to make a few household odds and ends," says Chie on her website. "Over time these small side hobbies  have grown into what they are now, the Vivat Veritas clothing line and a beloved part of my everyday life."
Congratulations Chie! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back to Chanel... now with a skirt!

Remember my Chanel-inspired jacket?

Now it's time to finish this chapter by addressing the skirt, won't you agree, readers?
The thing is, I have almost two yards (got to check, actually) of the same boucle left... How could it happen? Well, I bought end of a bolt and got a good deal for this very generous amount of bouclé!

Ok, back to skirt! I must admit, I am tired of pencil skirts, and this is a welcome opportunity to do something different. Well, not VERY different... To be precise,.. look at this image from Chanel Fall 2011 RTW show...

So, I do want to have a continuous line running at the center front through the jacket and the skirt. I have only couple of flowers left from the trim, so I would need to find a solution for a coherent look, but I think I can come up with something.

I am not in a rush, so this skirt will be going along other sewing projects, one step a week. Obviously, I will start with a muslin (I will need to match and I want to cut the fabric knowing that I won't need to make any alterations). Then, there will be quilting, shaped waist, lining clean-up etc. I will be posting the progress here.

If you have never worked with boucle using Chanel-inspired techniques - this is a great project to test your patience! And if you are up to it and want to have a sew-along, I will organize this accordingly. If not, it will be a loose progress report :-)

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