Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mad About Joan!

            So me and the mans have been catching up on the “Mad Men”.  So far Season 2 disk 3, and let me tell you I am in LOVE!  She is a vision in her tight, tight wiggle dresses, and her sassy up-dos and no nonsense office politics send shivers up my spine.  Of course I am talking about Sally Draper.  Oh I can’t lie to you…   I love Joan!  Joan, Joan, Joan Holloway.  I wish she would slink on over to my side of the bench seat of my 1959 Plymouth.
            In the words of Warren McKenna, “She’s so much woman."

Philip - in Brooklyn

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Knocking Off Genius, Christian Dior

            Fashion designers can be a little brazen sometimes when they get inspiration from other designers.  The word “knock-off” is pretty taboo but let’s be honest it happens all the time.  I've had to endure this masterpiece of Haute Couture being knocked off on two separate occasions.  Then again this could be an example of someone “being inspired” by the source and then the next culprit copying them.  The age old Chicken and the Egg situation strikes again!
            The original source was the “Junon” dress, designed by Christian Dior for his 1949/1950 Fall/Winter collection.  Pale-blue silk net embroidered with iridescent blue, green, and rust sequins.  The dress resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection a gift of Mrs. Byron C. Foy, 1953.

The original design that has been on display at the MET

When I saw press photos online for the Broadway musical “Wicked” I realized it was very similar to the Dior dress I've drooled over for many years.  “Wicked” opened on Broadway in 2003.  The costumes were designed by Susan Hilferty and the dress was worn by the character Glinda originated by Kristen Chenoweth (who rules!).  Ms. Hilferty won the Tony for Best Costume design that year.  The costume has been on display at the NY Public Library before, and it was described by the website as "Dior -inspired".  Perhaps she isn't shy; imitation is the best form of flattery.

Chenowith on stage with Idina Menzel
The writer of the book "Wicked" photographed with the 2007 cast

The second time I noticed a similar design was at the 2009 Academy Awards.  That truck filled with chipmunk teeth of a young woman named Miley Cyrus ambles down the red carpet wearing a Zuhair Murad gown.  Looks a bit familiar.  I wonder if Billy-Ray’s daughter knows who Christian Dior is.
Cyrus on the red carpet and the gown on the runway

               The sad part is that neither newer version really stands up to the original by Dior.  The moral here is; Leave well enough alone.  

Philip - in Brooklyn

Monday, September 27, 2010

Inspiration – “The Great Gatsby”

            In July of this year there was a 1920s Lawn Party out on Governor’s Island.  So of course I had to make myself, and my mans, some sweet sweet “Great Gatsby” digs.  I chose to make myself a waistcoat and knitted Ryan a V-Neck sweater vest.  Of course my inspiration behind these beauties was Mr. Jay Gatsby himself as portrayed by Robert Redford. 

Here is a photo from the movie of Redford and Mia Farrow. 
Redford is wearing a cable knit V-neck sweater. 

The event we went to was in the dead of summer and it was about 9,000 degrees out.  So I opted for to make a vest instead of a full sweater.  Ryan, the poor sap, would have dropped dead in that heat… and most likely taken me down with him.  Ryan’s vest was machine knitted light weight white alpaca wool.  I took some liberties (GASP!), and added a merino wool navy stripe to the hem, neck and armhole ribs.

Ryan wearing his sweater vest, he held up well in the heat.
I use a Bother KH680 Machine with Ribber attachment.  This was my first project where I employed the use of a cable stitch.  Turned out pretty good I must say!  You can say it too if you like, down in the comment section.  Don’t be shy.

Here is Redford in a White 3 piece suit.
This is me.  A few refreshing drinks into this shindig.

I used the 3 piece suit as inspiration for the double breasted vest.  It is made of white summer weight wool with an off white slubbed silk lining and back panels.  The notched lapel is what drew me to this design.  I used a contemporary pattern, so there goes the period accuracy.  Although I did tailor the fit so I could forgo that stupid adjustable strap on the back. At least I looked good doing it though?

Philip - In Brooklyn 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Taking a Moment, Barbra Streisand

            It’s an lazy overcast Sunday here in the BK, so I think now is a perfect time for me to share with you a special little someone.  Her name is Melinda Winifred Wayne Tentrees, and was portrayed by Barbra Streisand in the Movie-musical “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever”.   The film was made in 1970 and was directed by Vincente Minelli, yeah that’s right, Judy Garland’s husband and father to Liza Minelli... Can it get ANY better?!  It can, and does! 

            One of the most important things to remember about this movie is the period costumes were designed by two-time Academy Award Winner Cecil “My Fair Lady” Beaton!  Barbra dons these 19th Century duds AND she sings too! SAY WHAAT?!

            My partner in crime Kathleen introduced me to this movie back in 2000 and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.  It’s so lush and amazing!  I would highly recommend that everyone watches this and pay attention to EVERY frame.  It may seem trite and corny at parts, but believe me… it’s perfection.

Philip - in Brooklyn

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Quick Show and Tell: The 1920’s headband

Hey Y’all,
Just sharing a lil’ piece of fabulousness…
Here’s a 1920’s headband I made inspired by the real thing.  Unlike the original, mine was made from wire and leftover holiday ribbon from Michael’s craft store….classy.
An adjustable brass headband from the 1920's, with Egyptian &Art Deco detail...what a perfect combination!

My version: Wire headband with ribbon flowers and coin fringe detail.

I added hints of Egyptian-ness throughout the entire outfit.
-Kathleen in Oakland

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Twitpicy Goodness - Milla Jovovich

            So everyone’s favorite zombie killer and Blue Lagoon resident tweeted herself in a period costume.  Not sure what period exactly… but you GOTTA LOVE that color of burnished silver.  After doing about 3 minutes of investigating, it turns out Milla is currently filming "The Three Muskateers" with Orlando Bloom due out 2011.
            Work it out Ms. Jovovich!  WORK IT OUT!!!!  Big thanks to my man's Ryan for bringing this Breaking News Story to my attention!

@ MillaJovovich - Well here I am skirts, floppy hat n all! Lol!

Supplimentally -
Via another photo of Milla on the set of "The Three Musketeers" in what appears to be a similar but different costume.
Philip - Brooklyn

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dirndl Bodice: Part One ~ Patternwork & Fit

The Folkwear Austrian Dirndl pattern has 2 FRONT bodice options.  *Back bodice is the same for both.
Option A has a modest square neck with button closures.  
Option B is the low, square, “serve ‘em up a bowl of tits” neckline. 
I cut and fit muslins of BOTH options, and these entries are posted in the order I worked on them.

Option B Front Bodice:
Version B was my first choice.  Not really because of the low neck, more because I liked the unique bust gore detail.  However, something alarmed me from the very beginning….this version had front armhole darts….WTF?  uh-oh….
And yep, I was right….I sewed up the muslin, and the front armholes were totally janked and ugly.  Fuck. 
The dart is unnecessary to achieve a close fit, and the armhole’s too big and scooped out, no matter how much I darted….yuck…
Oof, seriously, overall, Option B fit was astonishingly sad.  Part of me wants to re-draft this bodice for Folkwear with NO front armhole darts….eesh.
Option B was immediately aborted due to time constraints.  Yes, I have the ability to fix, but not the time.  This requires some intense pattern work and at least 1 more muslin fitting.
BYE BYE, Option B!!!

Back Bodice (same for both options A and B):
The other WTF was the back bodice.  It is 1 piece with no darts or anything.  This 1-pc design was also a huge contributor to the poor fit/balance.  So, without changing the distinctive V-shape neckline, I immediately altered the back bodice to be 3-pc with curvy princess seams: 
This solved the fit issues immediately.  Moreover, all the authentic dirndls I’ve seen have 3-pc back bodices….with piping in the seams, which I will add as well:
Revised, better fitting, Back Bodice piece, with piping basted in place.

Option A Front Bodice:
OK….so, Option B front bodice with the cool bust gores was a no-go….
At this point, I had to decide on the surest thing…which would be to attempt the more modest, basic, Option A. 
Luckily, with all my research, Option A seems to be the classic overall design still worn today. 
I cut a muslin of Option A in a medium weight khaki twill, with 1” seam allowances to play with.  Oh, and this included my revised 3-pc back bodice as well.  Thankfully, the 1st fitting was good, with barely any changes.  Because of this, I was able to use my muslin as the interlining!  I sewed Ridgeline boning directly on the khaki  at the sides, and might add more later at the CF area, or in the front darts....not sure yet.
A view of Option A Front Piece, with inside exposed to show Ridgeline bowning sewn to interlining.  Use zig-zag stitch through center of bone.  **Be sure to round off all cut corners of boning and melt the edges with a lighter, or boning will poke through fabric to the skin....yowch!!

Each khaki piece is sandwiched in between layers of lightweight black twill.  All layers (3 total) are zig-zag stitched together at the edges to become one piece.    This can also be done with a serger, if you have one J
This construction techique of combining all layers (SELF, INTERLINING, LINING) as one piece is also known as FLATLINING.

Each of these layered pieces will eventually be basted together for final fitting/placement of the armhole, darts, and neckline….

Stay tuned for more on the Dirndl Bodice!!

Later, y'all!

-Kathleen in Oakland

More Dirndl-ness: The Inspiration

Why I am making a dirndl???
Short and Sweet:  Last year, I attended an Oktoberfest shin-dig at this bar in Alameda and loved it. 
This year, my friends and I are going again, and we are all dressing up!    
There are not many dirndl patterns on the market, so I decided to try Folkwear’s Austrian Dirndl.   Why Folkwear?  I’m not gonna lie, it’s the sketch on the front cover.  I mean, c’mon…that’s cute as hell! 
Folkwear Pattern #123. 
Sketch by Gretchen Sheilds
 Of course, I fully intend to change and “tweak” the original Folkwear design to what I want.   This pattern is just a starting point for me, a guideline.  I will create my own construction method & details.

My goal was to keep it simple and not go nuts. *um......insert laugh track here?*
I needed to research, decide on a design, and stick to the plan. 
Also, I wanted needed to utilize as much STASH FABRIC as possible.
A yummy little piece of inspiration from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

An example of the *better* ready-made Dirndl outfits that can be purchased online.  I LOVE the trim at the neckline!

Holy crap, do I LOVE this dress!!!  My inspiration for the skirt length and shape.  Love the extra-fullness, shorter length and cartridge pleating.  Just adorable!

Left Side: A collection of my Dirndl sketches & notes.  Right Side:  The fabric & trims I will be using for the dress and apron.

So, to re-cap, I am currently creating the following:
Dirndl dress:  Fitted, sleeveless, button-down bodice with knee-length full skirt attached.  (Folkwear Bodice A, with button closure.)
Blouse: A crop length peasant style blouse with full sleeves. (Folkwear Blouse B, with lower front neckline.)
Apron:  Simple gathered apron with ties
snapshot of flat sketches in the Folkwear pattern

My next post will be alllllll about the fitted dirndl bodice...that was quite an adventure, and I will post very soon :)

-Kathleen in Oakland

Vintage Fashion Expo!!!!

Hey y'all!

This past Sunday, my friend Tracey and I attend the Vintage Fashion Expo in San Francisco! 
It was a large collection of vintage clothing vendors who turn the convention center into one giant thrift store.  There were all sorts of wonderful things to buy! 
Since I literally have NO ROOM for more clothes at this time, I took my camera along so I could snap pics for future project inspiration.
The Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco

various booths at the exhibition......

Bling Bling!!

Do-dads and Bakelite bracelets , as far as the eye can see!

Since I am more than a little obsessed with construction & detail, it was a treat to see & touch the REALLY OLD stuff up close.  (Victorian/Edwardian, ect...)
One vendor had a couple of lovely velvet jackets from the 1880's that we got to study.  Tracey and I ooed and ahhed over the details.  And the vendor had NO PROBLEM with us talking pics for our research and inspiration:
a "Real" late Victorian Jacket...probably 1880's, in a yummy black velvet.  The fabric quality is amazing and lush for being 120 years old!  And yes, those are hand-bound buttonholes!
A quick snap of the inside view:  Note all velvet pieces are flatlined in a tightly woven tan cotton.  Casings for boning have pinked edges, and are cat-stitched to unfinished (raw) seams that are clipped & pressed open.  The cat stitching is set over the 1/4" boning, which I'm pretty sure is whalebone, but there were no open casings to verify.
Well, that's it for now!  It was a fun day, and I look forward to going again when the Expo comes around next year (hopefully!)

-Kathleen in Oakland

Monday, September 20, 2010

OBSESSING – The Cocoon Coat

            Obsession is a tough thing to live with, especially when it’s worn by the devastatingly handsome quarterback of your high school football team.  But it’s not the Calvin Klein fragrance I am referring to this time.  It’s that keep you up at night kind of obsession.  It’s the; you should be working but instead your surfing the web looking for answers kind of obsession.  Currently I’m opining about Cocoon Coats…
            When I was a young buck in the stone ages of the 1980s  I would watch endless hours of the Disney Channel, which for some reason played a lot of old school musicals, I ain’t bitchin!  And there in the radioactive glow of the tube I sat stone cold as the opening of “My Fair Lady” began.  The opera let out and a sea of Cecil Beaton clad beauties descended the grand stair case.  Every last one of those high class hoochies was wearing a cocoon coat in every color imaginable, and there began my obsession with that shaped garment. 

Cecil Beaton - Showing how it's done.
            So after years of learning to sew and honing my craft as a designer I’ve decided to put a cocoon coat in my “Cue of Projects”.  I’m planning on using Folkwear’s Poiret Coat #503 as a base and then altering the pattern to get the dramatic shape I want.  Since I’m only in the early stages of brainstorming and planning I’ve been doing some research on the cocoon coat and Paul Poiret, since that seems to be one of his key shapes.  So far Daddy likes what he sees.  Lush fabrics, fancy closures, art deco motifs with a hint of orientalism, what’s not to love?

Folkwear #503


A contemporary cocoon by Galliano

J.C. Leyendecker showing how a cocoon should be worn.

            I’ll keep you guys posted.  I just wanted to give you a peek of what’s on deck.

-Philip in  Brooklyn


            So I come back from lunch and what did I find?!  Bound INSPIRATION!  I ordered two books from this little mom and pop book website called, and they finally arrived today!  WOO HOO!
            Hand-Manipulated Stitches for the Machine Knitter: by Susan Guaglimi and J.C. Leyendecker: by Laurence S. Cutler and Judy Goffman Cutler, I wonder if they’re bother and sister.  I’m gonna be pouring over these for the next few days so you best believe I’ll have future posts on these subjects!

-Philip in Brooklyn
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