Monday, August 23, 2010

Jungle Fever

So, in nerdy anticiation of the release of "Tomorrow, When the War Began" on Thrusday 2nd September, I'm feeling the "jungle guerilla" vibe; bold animal prints, green, yellow and brown and warm grey are all lovely transition colours from winter to spring, as the weather finally gets sunny!

Wool tweedster pinny in pale grey.
Made to measure for A.Chambers.

This is one amazing piece from the new collection by Amanda Assad Mounser.
Her collection uses semi-precious stones, chain, spikes and crystal to create bold, rock and roll pieces that have strong organic forms.

Assad Mounser describes her new collection on her site: The collection's aesthetic maintains a 1970's wild bohemian luxe feeling, which was typical of this lavish time of excess and indulgence. References are also drawn from editorial imagery featuring the popular 1970's model Veruschka as well as the films Cleopatra Jones and Mahogany.
I think it just radiates jungle glam!

These are the kinds of organic textures that I love right now: combining the neutrals trend with a vigorous texture like snakeskin or leopard creates some much needed diversion from the "flesh-on-flesh" look. Bold prints provide interest and are great for layering with plain colours or denim.
All these amazing prints are from Tessuti on Flinders Lane.

As a side comment: I'm over the 1950's.
Mad Men makes me angry: yes the dresses are great, but the men are chauvanists and the women are bait, and I'm so tired of people asking "can you make me something like those dresses from Mad Men?"

So jungle-chic is my solution. Although it brings to mind images of Beyonce on a sandy shore singing about being a "Survivour", I love the potential for this style to shake up the conservative-ness of current trends.

So much animal hide, it must be right.

Cant wait for Tomorrow When the War Began!

Linen Jacket

As promised, here is the Linen-silk jacket that I've been working on for a while.

Its finally finished, and I think it's turned out to be quite interesting..

I still haven't been able to confirm the fibre content of the fabric, which is really frustrating!
Possible combinations might be silk, rayon or linen.
It crushes very easily, but also holds its shape beautifully.

Above are details of the cuff and front pleating. I decided to bind the edges of the collar to refine the overall impression of the garment. Because the fabric is so floaty, I think the binding really centres the design, and the client loves that kind of detail.
The cuff are gathered up and stitched, and close with a button and roule loop.

The front fastens with a set of 3 large hook and bar, across the front of the jacket.

All the hems are just over-locked, turned once and topstitched. The fabric is so light that anything more would really change the way the hems sit.
I added small shoulder pads to support the shoulders and tops of the sleeves.

This garment was made for K. Elkins.

Hope you all like it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Custom dressmaking

Well today i thought I'd chart the process that goes into a made to measure dress for a client, at Lissom Yarn.

I start by talking to the client about her hopes and fears (!) about the dress and what it should be like.. if she has some ideas... or is open to interpretation.

This example job was for a client with a very clear idea of what she wanted, so there was little need to go over the design.

Her brief was a simple, elegant black stretch dress she could wear to after-5 events. Her specifications where:
Black stetch jersey "tube" dress, with 3/4 sleeves
A cowl on the back neckline and a gentle scoop/v-neck on the front.
She also specified bra - strap keepers on the shoulder to stop the bra and dress going south at odd occasions.

I began by taking her measurements, bust, waist, hip, arm circumference and length, and drafting a pattern.

When I got to the cowl neck, I had to do a bit of reasearch, as I couldn't remember ever drafting one or even using one from a commmercial pattern: what does a cowl look like flattened out, and how do you get that bias drape when you are cutting on the fold and trying to create a deep scoop??

My answer came in part from The Coracle, where Pat Loughery described re-using an old tee shirt by turning it into a cowl neck tank. Her pattern instructions where simple and (to me) rational. I could elaborate as much as I needed to: the secret is in pivoting the shoulder point out from the under- arm, thereby extending the back neckline as much as necessary to create the bias folds that drop down the back when you right the shoulder line to meet the front shoulder. Ingenious!

So this was my first whole toile, which also had a single sleeve to check the fit on the client. Sleeves are my... love/hate feature. They can be amazing and also so very depressing when they are wrong. The cowl wasn't deep or elegant enough for me or the client, but it was a good start for fitting purposes.

So I toile-d again,

this time creating a really wide swing on the shoulder point and got a nice deep cowl.

Then I had to consider facings or lining, or using a double layer of the jersey over the whole garment, to give it extra weight.

I opted for a front facing, with fusing, and back cowl facing without fusing, to maintain that drape and stop it looking like a hood.

So then I cut out the real garment from the black jersey, (Poly-Spandex from Clegs), and started on the proper dress.

I'm finishing the sleeves with little folded cuffs to give the sleeves some definition and form.

Its not quite finished yet, but im happy with the overall design and shape. Next I will just be finishing the hem, adding the bra keepers and have one last fitting to check all the details are right.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Recent Commissions

These are some of my more recently completed jobs of particular interest.

This Edwardian skirt (left) was bought to me by a friend who had found in on Ebay for $10. The lace on the outside was mostly intact, but the entire lining, a silk acetate I think, had disintegrated into barely connected strips of fabric. And there were also massive tears all through the georgette lining under the lace.

So we decided to try a rescue mission and see if we could salvage this beautiful garment.

I copied the skirt pattern and cut a silk georgette lining in softest pale pink, which creates most of the colour you can see in the skirt.
I then re-constructed a lining skirt, or petticoat, on the same 5-gore pattern, with all the extra volume gathered at the back to create the (small) bustle shape. The hem of the petticoat was constructed with concentric strips of bias taffeta to give fullness at the hem, and edged with a large ruffle for good measure.
I used a blue-shot pink polyester-spandex taffeta for the petticoat that gave the skirt some depth of colour under the lace and georgette. The same fabric is used for the waistband/sash, and is washable: hooray!

This cocktail dress was commissioned by a
client to wear at several black tie events,
over the coming months.
She wanted a flattering and easy-to-wear dress that she could bundle up in a suitcase of necessary. She loved the midnight blue colours, and also like the idea of velvet. She definately didn't want "another black dress".

The design challenge with this dress was to create an after-five dress that wasn't too frilly, but would enhance the client's femininity, as well as making her feel special.

Softness and drape were a special part of her requirements. I ended up using a blue polyester jersey as the "lining", over- laid with rayon velvet patterned with devore roses. It was a challenging fabric combination to use though, and I would definitely re-consider such a choice in the future, although I love the final look of the fabrics together.

Lastly is a fantastic linen/silk jacket/blouse that's in-progress at the moment.

This has been a long-running commission for a client who sews herself, but was seeking a variation in her wardrobe, and something interesting for her larger size.

She found the fabric online, and bought a whole roll.

I have to say its one of the most amazing fabrics I have ever used. It has a twill pattern, but is extremely light and as open as a linen weave. It hangs beautifully and shines in the daylight. Its kind of like what I imagine they made the Hobbit's Elven cloaks out of for Lord of the Rings. Hows that for a nerdy reference?

Anyway, I am using pleating, sewn almost flat across the from to create texture, and rolled bias strips as a collar, that will overlap across the front.

Final photos to follow!