Monday, January 31, 2011

The Wedding Dress- the Final Stretch

Coming up to the final stretch here!   That is: getting that monster panel of a skirt onto the bodice, which means pleating about 175" of length, that the skirt edge now measures, (after reducing it) into the 26" that the corset waist measures.

The answer is cartridge pleating, this type of pleating, used mainly in costumes and period clothing reproduction today, serves several purposes.  It reduces a very large length of cloth much more effectively than simply gathering and the construction causes the pleating to stand out and creates volume. Here, it will give a very pretty and controlled volume to the skirt and I can make full use of the uninterrupted panel of embroidery.

I do a little test and find out that the floral motif in the solid section of linen does not take to the pleating at all. I decide to pick it out. I discover that all these flower petals are incredibly, & beautifully, padded out with layers of under stitching in a cream colored cotton yarn. The embroidery covers this pad stitching perfectly and it is a lot of of work to pick out. But I can't pleat it properly otherwise. So I pick out all the petals that intersect the pleating area.

The beautiful padding stitches- partially removed
Then I line the skirt, I was lucky to find in the perfect shade of china silk. It is simply attached at cut edge and the layers merrowed clean. I also just merrowed the lining hem, I am starting to feel stressed.

The pleats are formed with a running stitch, by eye,  as evenly as possible and using super strong thread. Then stitched, all by hand,  by catching just the top fold of each pleat to the bodice. My hand sewing is rusty - not much call for it in leather (best if there's none).   Here's another test shot- kind of a straight cross view:

At the bottom you can see the tabs that will lie under the skirt.
The silicora thread only comes in black and  dead white, but the non-match won't be a problem
Inside showing final cartridge pleating

outside  of cartridge pleating, my hand stitching sucks but it will not show( at all) when on- That's the beauty of this beast!
The front of the skirt has no pleats and is stitched to 'float' under the extended front of the corset
On a hangar, you don't get the effect of the pleats
I still need figure out what to replace that zipper pull ribbon with!
Next : The Finishing Touches.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Adventures with a Cutwork Tablecloth, part 8

Looks like I am not going to get this series done before the Honeymoon! I will try and condense it a bit and stick mainly to pictures.

I left off at the almost finished bodice here.  Now to finish it off:

oops, remember to change needles when working with silk chiffon!
Clean finished Bodice.

Since this is a corset that is cut at the waist, it will dig into my hips if not tabbed, Tabbing also prevents what could be called "reverse" muffin-top.  The tabs - one side is silk over canvas to prevent any possibility of show through on skirt.

The tabs are simply finished on the merrow machine for less bulk and hand stitched to top of inside binding edge.  A waist stay tape is added to keep bodice snug and anchored and prevents it from riding up.

This is the inside of the finished bodice:
Prussian tape zip pull for fittings - only way I am able to zip it up without help!
Now to tackle the skirt, which as shown here is a huge rectangular swath of embroidered linen, the center section of which made up the bodice embroidery. (you can see the curved edges in some of the earlier detail photos) I did minimal cutting to retain the motifs, and scooped out some more at the front so skirt will be shorter in front.  (You can see the original curved edges of the central embroidery on the 2nd image in this post)

The skirt panel is huge, measuring about 185" on the long sides. I say 'about' because when I fold it in half lengthwise it I discover the sides are not the same length and the motifs do not align. Seems in laying out the embroidery those many, many years ago, rather than flipping the (asymmetrical- as it turns out) pattern. It was rotated. So now there is about 4" extra fabric on each side of the skirt, but extra is at front on one side and at back on the other side. Somehow a teeny bit of the motif was traced out on the pattern twice. But it messes with me. So I have to fix it:

what gets removed
that zig-zag machine comes in handy
almost invisible

The finished skirt panel.  Opening is quite curved now since I removed a lot of fullness from the waist edge,  removing little wedges and zig-ging it like I did the embroidered section.  Too much fabric to be gathered to corset even with the cartridge pleating I am going use.  The seams will disappear very nicely into the pleats.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blood on the Snow

It is falling solidly right now - from where I am sitting you can hardly see across the way.  It may go on like this for days.   Looking at the photos of this jacket I recently finished  got me thinking of the Grimm's Brothers version of Snow White and the blood drop in the snow...

This color is probably my favorite color, especially in leather, a true, true oxblood. The combo of red and black against white has always struck me.  Perhaps it goes back to when I was about 3 or 4 and cut my foot and bled all over the black and white checkerboard floor.  It stopped me in my tracks, I have such a vivid memory of the colors and the contrast.

This is my fantasy Motorcycle Jacket.  It was inspired by and created for a great client and very cool guy. Buzz Bissinger. I hope he gets to wear it in the snow.

Oxblood Buffalo MC jacket

Oxblood Buffalo MC jacket

Oxblood Buffalo MC jacket

Oxblood Buffalo MC jacket

Oxblood Buffalo MC jacket


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Good Memories

Today brings up a lot of memories.  First, Theoni V. Aldredge passed away.  She was my idol when I was a kid and a wanna-be costume designer.  Seriously.  

One of my very first jobs was in the costume shop at Joseph Papp's Public Theater.  While I worked there, the shop had to re-build a whole new set of costumes for "A Chorus Line" (I guess it was about mid-run at that point) and boy, I was so thrilled to be in the same room with her!  I could barely speak!

And even though she must have done those costumes several times already, she was in the shop on a daily basis overseeing the smallest details and subtleties. It really, really, left an impression on me.  I was completely  obsessed with costume design.

But,  I especially want to remember my mom, who left us 3 years ago today.  I Love you Mom!   You  always supported our dreams and our creativity above anything else and took  great pride in all of our artistic endeavors (however off the wall some of them were!)  With love, and so, so many happy thoughts & memories of you:

Thank You Mom!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winter Wet

Brrr, all day we were in the midst of what would have been an ice storm, if we were anywhere else but in NYC.  Here it is simply brutally cold, freezing wet and treacherous, filthy walking, since it's semi-frozen mucked up slush more than ice!

The trees, where you could see them this morning were briefly crystalline and shimmering,  but that has all washed away now along with the remnants of the last 2 snow storms.  From the studio it's been pretty desolate and a little foreboding out there on 34th street, with the fog obscuring the Empire State building completely.  Pleasantly quiet in a weird way. I like it!  Still, very glad to be inside,warm and dry & and roughing out some handbag ideas….

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Whose side are they on?

I met with a prospective intern Friday. They came to me on their own to see if we could do a credit internship. Their school is one of the big Fashion schools here in NYC, the so called "Fashion Capital of the World". The school did not direct them to me, since they requested an internship opportunity that would provide them with "hands on" experience. Apparently- the school basically told them - you're on your own since "nobody does that" anymore.

When you have an "industry" school completely discounting an entire class of independent & entrepreneurial and skill-based businesses in this city and beyond we are in a very, very sad state. Fashion is not all Illustrator croquis that you can punch up, mix and match and send to China with a spec sheet. I feel this is very misguided, and shows a real lack of support for these businesses and local industry as a whole.

Nobody does that anymore? Perhaps they mean Carlos FalchiKoos Van Den Akker, and many others?

Have they seen Etsy? All the smaller makers, creating unique and limited edition items at all price ranges. All the buzz on Brooklyn Designers? Not to mention all small makers from everywhere else in the world. Because of Etsy there is a new and nascent class of local, hand-made and specialty production businesses. EVERYWHERE. Turning out an amazing range of beautiful jewelry, (more on that later) clothing, corsetry, leather work, furniture, you name it. This is a whole new world, and it is not just people working at their kitchen tables.

The WSJ notes here that the biggest growth in the Luxury market is coming not from "the rich", but from "the Aspirationals" & "Newcomers".

I think a lot of this is also because people, across the board are sick of disappointing purchases. They want things they can enjoy for more than a single seasonal (or laundry) cycle. If it means spending more, -fine- in the end it lasts longer and is a much more satisfying -and personal- purchase.

It is up to us to support local, independent & entrepreneurial and skill-based businesses. Here in NYC, in Brooklyn or wherever you are.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Auspicious-ness for 2011

Happy 2011!

Maybe it's Auspicious -I haven't read up- but we have a lot of these singular trinities this year and since it'll only happen once in our lifetimes, I'll take it as such!!!

I want to thank all my amazing customers & friends. Those of you who found me via the interweb these last few years and those of you who discovered me in my Tribeca shop, or even earlier…I am so honored…some of you even go way back to the very beginnings of World Domination! (I'm not telling)

It's really amazing for me when a customer from my pre-web days looks me up and I get a call or an email telling me they still have and wear pieces I made them 10, or more, years ago.  I have never believed in planned obsolescence, I believe in STYLE and my customers have it in SPADES!!!!

It's been so great to re-connect with SO many of you these last couple of years.
I did not make it easy initially- some of you were persistent above and beyond the call of duty, and I thank you for it!

& to my new customers, the ones who have found me strictly via the web- You have opened up a whole new world, for me & for my business.  I have gotten to "meet" so many interesting, cool, stylish & discriminating individuals.

All of you are true connoisseurs.  Keep it up.



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