Thursday, October 08, 2015

SKETCHES, FABRICS AND MUSLINS! OH MY!!

Can someone please tell me where is the time flying off to!!!  I just can't believe that on the 11th it will be a month since my last post!  I don't know how it is for you dear readers, but for me there really just aren't enough hours in a day!  

Well let's not waste a moment and get down to brass tacks!  As you know, I'm a devoted follower of Peter Lappin's wonderful blog Male pattern boldness and I was recently commenting on how much I loved flannel fabrics, especially shadow plaids. I then diverged to the subject of home sewing and cheap clients. Well needless to say, I received a reply from another avid MPB fan whom I shall call "T" (for Testosterone) who abruptly yanked up my reins and put my hiney back on the topic of flannel!  Well!!  Being a product of the 'Eisenhower era' and and a staunch follower of  the rules of etiquette and decorum, I offered my most humble apology and went on to say that I had acquired a piece of wool flannel with a percentage of cashmere blended in ( I have no idea how much!)  as pictured here:
 I then went on to elaborate that I was planning on making a pullover hooded jacket from it and that I hoped to have most of it done that same day!  Little did I realize what lay ahead!  Now the hoodie I had in mind was to be composed of only two main pieces, that being the body, which would be one piece of fabric with an attached hood as pictured in my sketch here:

It would be cut on the bias giving it a soft and fluid drape.......or so I hope!  I love eliminating seams in my designs but it can pose problems because you've got to get the right balance of proportion which centers around the neckline and the garment hanging from the shoulders.  Below is the first muslin without the hood and the second with a hood attached.

As you can see the hood is criss-crossed in front and will be trimmed in black rib knit along with the sleeve cuffs and waist banding.  I was going to use blue, but decided that black would be so much more sharper!  I'm still not quite satisfied with the neckline though and will do one more muslin before putting scissors to my precious flannel.  The bias cutting will be a big plus and since the fabric is not a silk or knit and therefore more stable,  it will be much more manageable in handling as far as controlling any unwanted stretching.  

Needless to say, I was inspired to cut on the bias after seeing how beautiful clothes become using the technique....... it just makes everything so much more fluid and body conscious and as you may or may not know...... Halston was the American master of bias cut design, something that other designers avoided, because of both the difficulty in execution and the amount of fabric required.  I am but a mere book apprentice of the method, who learned through hands on experience some of the pitfalls of it early on and after tossing out several stretched out garments, have become much more thoughtful about making clothing using it.  

I will be starting a final muslin (hopefully) early tomorrow morning since I've taken a three day leave from the (snake pit) office and will of course post as I progress.  Stay tuned........... there's much more to come!!   

Friday, September 11, 2015

MAKE MINE VINTAGE!!

Gracious greeting to all!

Yes dear readers, I've returned!  Where have I been??  Well sometimes I wonder!  I do know however, that I'm currently on a weeks vacation and regretfully, it's all coming much too quickly to a close.  If there was anytime to write a very long overdue post here.........well now is as good as any!  To this day I  marvel at Peter Lappin and how he use to consistently post at his blog 'Male pattern boldness' on a daily basis.  I mean, you really gotta love blogging to have done that for several years!  I consider myself lucky if I could get up the gumption to post every nine months! LOL!!  Yes, Test if you're out there, I know you have all of the evidence against me........but remember there always a chance for reform!!!   

Well, now that I'm back, I wanted to discuss the second greatest love in my life (of course Halston being number one) and that is my love of vintage Singer sewing machines!  
I attribute this addiction to Peter over at MPB who has collected a number of vintage machines from a wide array of companies.  Seeing him using and rhapsodizing about the virtues of vintage, eventually won me over and all I knew was that I had to be in possession of one of those treasures.   At that time, I was the owner of a single Kenmore that I bought about 8 years ago, now that number has grown to 6, five of them being Singer machines each more than 50 years old.   I was been bitten by the 'vintage bug' and became obsessed about owning one.  Now some of you may wonder why anyone would prefer a straight stitch machine over the 'wonder' models of today?  Well I'll put it to you straight.......when I want to hem a pair of Levi's or repair the split seam on a heavy woolen coat, the last thing I want to do is fight with a machine without piercing power!  Yes, the computerized machines of today may do everything under the sun, but what they're so sorely lacking in is what I call good old fashioned backbone!  I can sit down at my cast iron 1943 model 99 or 201 with those same jeans that need hemming and I'm confident that either of those machines will be able to do the job without a whimper or groan!

  What do we have today capable of completing such tasks..........well to be honest....... not much!  Plastic and nylon gears are just no match for iron and aluminum castings along with solid steel guts!!!  Can I get an Amen from the vintage congregation!!!  Yes, dear readers I wouldn't trade any of my machines for anything they're making today!!  At Singer's height, they held 80 percent of the world market, producing finely crafted machines that were meant to last a lifetime, now that very same name is but a shadow of itself, churning out cheap plastic junk from China, overflowing the landfills!  

I've been preaching the gospel about vintage machines for the past couple of years and feel   both proud and lucky to have several in my ownership.  Nowadays many sewists  seem to have caught 'vintage fever' and classic machines are becoming both harder to find and  much more expensive!  I attribute that fact to the influence and popularity of Ebay, Craiglists and even the classifieds.  If you're thinking of owning one, all I can say is don't wait!!   As the old expression goes...."when you snooze, you lose"!    Yes........ lets raise a toast to these masterpieces of precision engineering and craftsmanship and to the men and women responsible for making them!!    Hip, Hip Hooray!  See you soon!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

CHARLES JAMES!

Greetings dear readers!

By gosh, by golly, I can't believe two years have whisked by since my last post!  To say that I've been sidetracked would be an understatement.  I'm finally eliminating the many obstacles that have been blocking my creative path.  Inspiration is a funny thing and comes and goes in a hot moment and when I'm riding a creative streak I go into isolation mode!  That's something that's hard for some people to understand, but I always make it clear that phone conversation must be kept to a minimum and quite frankly I'll let calls go straight into voicemail.  

Now there are many sources of inspiration and a great one has been the Metropolitan museum's exhibition of the work of couturier Charles James.  Like many I have heard his name and saw some of his work, most of it being his fabulous ballgowns.  I bought the Met's book on him entitled "Charles James" and was stunned to realize the wide scope of his fashion genius!  Ballgowns are just one facet of his brilliance.  He was also known for his spiral seamed day and evening looks, his legendary puffer jacket and anatomically 


 cut day wear among many other brilliant innovations.  Halston was a friend of his and was clearly inspired by him.  Balenciaga, considered the Dean of 20th century fashion design, hailed him as a genius!

 I am just stunned by this designer!  How could I have overlooked the wealth of his contributions for so long?  Talk about timeless beauty and form......it doesn't get any better than this!
 I'm going to use the inspiration derived from him in my upcoming work, going further with my efforts to create seamless design for men.  Be on the lookout for my upcoming projects!  A million thanks to you Mr. James for firing up my "sewing mojo"!  I hope my fellow sewists will join me in my celebration of this legendary master!  Happy sewing!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

SOURCES OF INSPIRATION!

Well I guess that I've surprised myself by posting again within a six month period!!  I'm sooooo bad!  I had a real spurt of inspiration after writing about Truman Capote's 'Swans' and I couldn't get the image of Babe Paley out of my mind!  I have the picture I posted last, hanging in my sewing room and as I looked at it, I knew I had to take that look of elegance and some how translate it into something that would work for a man.  What struck me was the color blocking of her dress as seen here.  I knew I could create a shirt of some kind that would have that same color blocked effect.  A light bulb went on and I decided to do a sweatshirt!  I'm very fond of fleece fabrics.... to me they're the poor man's cashmere and so easy to care for.  I went looking for a light blue and navy combination of colors at the local Jo-Ann Fabric store but didn't find exactly what I wanted, so I chose a vibrant Chinese blue shade and paired it with black.  I loved the combination and knew I could make something striking from it!  Here is the whole process in pictures:

I decided that the shirt would consist of only two main parts, the sleeve and upper part of was cut on the fold as one piece, the lower part was also cut on the fold of the fabric with only one seam at the back.  I've always been fascinated by seamless garments and the way they contour to the body.  So much of men's clothing involves lots of construction and I'm trying to get away from that and create a more relaxed, easy look, while still maintaining that classic masculine edge.  Now unfortunately, I don't have a male mannequin, so I use my regular one.  Here is the upper portion of the shirt, first draped and then sewn.  I had a bit of a problem getting the neckline right, luckily I cut things out in a cheap cotton fabric I had in my stash before even thinking about cutting the fleece.  I've finally learned that it is well worth the effort to make a test or sample first then to be pissed off from not getting it right the first time.





My main problem with the top was getting the neckband to lay flat around the neck.  I had to take it off, trim  and apply it several times, finally I decided to sew a strip of clear elastic inside the band itself which was a big
 help in controlling things.  I then proceeded onward and attached the lower black portion and added the waistband and cuffs. 

 I was pleased with results and added a two-toned matching muffler to 
complete the look.

Here are some shots of the end results side by side with the source of inspiration Babe Paley!




Sunday, December 25, 2011

IMAGES OF CHIC!!

Hi all!
Just wanted to take a moment to have a little fashion chat, this being a holiday weekend and season.  First of  all,  I want to discuss a group of seven women that Truman Capote dubbed "The Swans", these were women of extraordinary chic, who not only were muses of some the greatest designers, but whose personal style had immense impact on the fashion world.  The Swans included the following: Babe Paley, Slim Keith, Gloria Guinness, C.Z. Guest, Marella Agnelli, Lee Radziwill and Pamela Harriman. Two of my favorites are Babe Paley and Slim Keith.  Barbara Cushing -Mortimer-Paley was one of the Cushing sisters from Boston who were renowned for their beauty and all were groomed by their  ambitious mother to marry into money and titles.  'Babe' was married and divorced from her first husband who made his fortune in oil and later married the founder of CBS,  William Paley.   She was the perfect 'trophy wife', Paley a Jew, needed and wanted someone who could gain him entrance into the rarefied world of WASP society, Babe was the perfect choice.  It is said that if she was in a hurricane, the winds  would blow around her and not muss a hair on her perfectly coiffured head!  LOL!!  She embodied style and lived for it. She once casually tied a silk scarf to her shoulder bag...a charming feminines gesture that was immediately copied by women everywhere!   Her own children never saw her without makeup or looking anything other than picture perfect. I think this picture says it all and I  have it on my bulletin board in my sewing room.  She smoked like a chimney and at the age of 65, I believe, was diagnosed with lung cancer.  Upon learning that fact, she immediately set about the task of making arrangements for her funeral, everything was personally handled by her from the dividing up of her jewelry to the flowers arrangements and catering, nothing was left to chance.  She is of course in the fashion Hall of Fame and considered one of the most elegant women of the 20th century.  Of course you know I have to throw in the fact that she wore Halston and would plan couture wardrobes with him right down to her shoes.

Another Halston client and  favorite of mine is Nancy 'Slim' Keith.......the California born  golden girl!  Slim loved a sporty, casual look and wasn't into the fussiness of European couture.  She was seen at Hollywood parties on the arm of Gary Cooper and Cary Grant and pursued by Clark Gable and  Ernest Hemingway......".Miss One" was the bomb!!  LOL!! Her sense of style of course, earned her a place in the fashion Hall of Fame. She looks so fabulous here in her tailored to the nines red cropped jacket and perfectly fitting pants, the tailoring offset by the seductive feminine charm of her white top, her hair pulled casually back giving you a fresh clean face!!  Totally fabulous!!  This is a woman the men in the room couldn't keep their eyes off of!

What do we have today??  Where is refinement and understatement??!!  Why are women today sooooo insecure that they'll go to  the extent of not wearing underwear to get attention!  I've always believed in the old maxim that less is more and something should be let to the imagination.......but then I would be considered out of sync with the times my some.  I always believed in understatement which is why I'm a totally devoted follower of Halston and the timeless legacy  he has left.  


On a side note........has anyone heard any updates about the  release of that documentary on Halston?  The waiting to get my hands on that dvd is killing me! LOL!!  Let me know if you have any news!  Happy  holidays to all!  Cheerio!!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Hello all!
Well it's been much too long since I posted here, I don't know where the times files off too!  A lot has been going on, first of all the documentary "Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston", was released and premiered at the Tribeca theater in NYC!  I'm waiting for it to come out on DVD since I didn't get a chance to see it there.  You can see more about it at You Tube of course!

I fell out of my sewing due to so much going on in my work situation and personal life, but I'm glad to say that I'm back on track and creating again!  Part of my renewed excitement is the recent discovery of Google.sites which gives you the ability to create your own website.  I needed something more than a blog and I've finally found it!  I'm going to start creating the page soon after I have the necessary images to post there and it will be focused on my designs and  the steps of construction.  I also will have the prices of the items and the location where I sell them on a consignment basis.  I plan on creating a comment field so I can get feedback from the public on my clothes.  What they would like to see, fabric care and any problems they may have with anything.  I'll keep you all posted when I get things set up!  Cheerio!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Well it seems that after all of the talk by many about doing a documentary or film on Halston, someone has finally followed though!!  A documentary entitled "Ultrasuede: in Search of Halston", was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC.  Celebrities, friends and models like Liza and Pat Cleveland all were filmed giving insight into his accomplishments in fashion and personal life.   I'm hoping and praying that the film will be put on a dvd so that his legions of devoted friends will have access to it!!  I know I'll be on the lookout for it!

I also discovered at the You Tube website that there are 34 video clips on various subjects and celebrities from film footage and interviews the late Andy Warhol did with various famous people.  Much to my absolute delight, there were four clips on Halston!  Anyone who is a fan must see them!!  He appears discussing his business and fashion philosophy and there are scenes from his couture and ready to wear collections.   To see Pat Cleveland working that Olympic Tower runway will firmly establish in anyone's mind why she has been called the "greatest runway model in fashion history"!
 I was sliding out of my seat as I watched Ms. Cleveland and the other Halstonettes define what is real modeling....drama and elegance combined!!  They swirled and worked the skirts of those totally fabulous bias cut gowns....many of them made from a single piece of fabric!!  To this day there is no other American designer making clothes of that calibre and innovation!  One can easily see why he has been called the "ultimate American designer", and why sadly there will never be another like him!


Here is the link to that You Tube page:
http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=EastSeventhStreet#g/u