Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Homage Murakami

Well, even though i have more than my share of gaping holes in my wardrobe basics, i couldn't resist making this little piece just for fun. Obviously, it is a blatant rip off of Nancy Murakami's little bubble lace cardi in black, over which i drooled in my last post. I made my version using the same Marcy Tilton for Vogue pattern, and just used an ivory dot patterned lace instead of black. I had been eyeing this pattern for months, but it's out of print so it can be hard to get ahold of, and the price can get pretty steep. By happy circumstance, Vogue Patterns recently had a fantastic sale on out of print patterns - $2.99 a pop! - now 8559 is mine. (And just in time, too - i went to link back to Vogue Patterns and 8559 is sold out.)

Heesh, i'm such a copy kitten i even wore my new cardi over a black dress in the same silhouette as Nancy's!  In my defense, I didn't have to run out and make the dress, after all, it's been in my closet for a couple of years. As has the white petticoat (stolen from this knockout Murakami ensemble), the shoes and other accessories. Many style gurus will advise one to take inspiration and make it your own. Others opine that mediocre artists take inspiration, great artists steal wholesale. I'll just say, why mess with perfection?

Even though this particular garment is a bit of charming fluff, i did have a serious underlying purpose in purchasing this pattern. A warm, easy layering cardigan is one of the backbone pieces of my closet, especially during the cooler months. For decades i've relied on a succession of little black cashmere cardigans to fill this role, one at a time. I love cashmere for it's warmth, comfort, and feather weight. But a jewel neck cardi with little shell buttons.......eyelids dropping..........wake me when it's over!  Where is the cardi that slips over a top and under a jacket while actually adding a bit of style along with it's practicality?

In my closet, thanks to Ms. Tilton and Ms. Murakami!  This cardigan pattern is very comfortable and perfect for layering. There's back interest without adding bulk, the 3/4 sleeves don't get in the way while washing dishes and such, and the neckline adds plenty of style without interfering clumsily with more ornate collars, scarves, etc.. There's even a variation on this cardi with faux ribbing at the hems and front and back cut as one. The pattern also includes a cute little tank, which like the cardi-jackets makes up in a snap. In fact, i'm making up the tank in this same bubble lace for a  twinset. And i'm scouting a couple of nice knits for more practical (warmer) versions of this cardi. It's so exciting for me to have found a wonderful solution to a very distressing, decades long wardrobe problem!

All right now, if any of you have made any workhorse breakthroughs or found the style icon who's closet you would steal outright, tell us all about it in the comments!  And if you missed the links in my last posts, click here (scroll down) and here to ogle more Nancy Murakami creations.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

It Lives!!!!

This blog, that is ;)   Life continues busy in a good way, just not much extra time. I would venture to say it does look like i'm getting towards 'caught up' with enough things to be able to post more regularly - except i'm nervous about jinxing it.  So no public comments.

I may not have been blogging, but i've been a busy wardrobing bee. In the process of researching patterns and fabrics to create some wardrobe workhorses i ran across Marcy Tilton's website and have been obsessing around there ever since. Marcy sells fabric on her website and does an excellent job of talking about how to use the various fabrics successfully with different patterns, which as a notoriously slow fabric shopper i find very helpful.

Marcy Tilton also showcases different ways other women have made up her many designs for Vogue Patterns.  A true love of creativity comes across in the pieces she shows made by other seamstresses. And i love that the more a person has tweaked her original design the more Marcy loves it! While inspecting all these wonderful everyday garments on Marcy's site I've fallen head over heels with the capsule wardrobes and outfits made by Nancy Murakami. Nancy Murakami is a designer/sewist who helps out in the Tilton booth at the Puyallup Sewing Expo. Good grief, does this woman knows how to dress the part! Scroll down a bit here to check out her gorgeous capsule wardrobe based on black and white. Her pieces blow away any and all stereotypes about boring: capsules, repeating, black and white, etc.  In Marcy's March 2012 Newsletter you can drool over four more of Nancy Murakami's outfits. In this grouping Nancy added a bit of a paprika orange to her black, white, & grey palette. Yow!

In mulling over how to use these influences in a way that makes sense for me and my daily life, I have found myself working more with Sewing Plum's type of personal style questions (this is an invaluable post for anyone finding their own style and working towards expressing it in their wardrobe). I have been thinking over my own personal style/clothing/wardrobe priorities and while i don't have them absolutely nailed and written down in a neat little list, i did end up achieving most of these goals in this wee jacket. It's designed by Marcy Tilton for Vogue Patterns, #8795. In these pictures from the Vogue Patterns website you can see some of the details better than in my black version, such as the center front flounce.

these photos  make it easier to see the flounce detail - Vogue 8795

One penny which continues to drop is that i need to feel physically comfortable in my clothing AND this does NOT have to dictate a sloppy, mushy look.  Plenty of 'comfy looking' clothes are actually a pain to wear, whilst clothing with a sharp design edge may well be smooth, soft, a dream to wear. I actually manged to pull off this seeming conundrum in this jacket. The crisp lines, sharp black and white contrast, the stripes, the utilitarian look of oversized metal snaps all contribute to a sharper, edgier look. At the same time, this piece is constructed of two different velvets and lined with fine cotton jersey......aaahhhhh. Like floating in a silky bubble bath!

Jilly & me at our meetup - she's wearing her V8795 jacket + Trippen boots, i'm in my new V8837 skinny pants

Or like my mom said the other day about my Katherine Tilton for Vogue Patterns skinny pants, "They're old lady pants that don't look like old lady pants!" I'm wearing these pants in this picture with Jillian of Jilly Be Joyful (taken during our sewing meetup - more on that below). I made these pants of stretch twill with a pull on elastic waistband - pure comf. At the same time, they look cute cute cute and up to the minute with their 'equestrian' style seaming. Now i am aware that i have been harping on this concept of 'comfort level is not  related to style' for over a year now on this blog. But i keep kind of 'getting it' at deeper levels. It goes to show how deeply various stereotypes and 'wisdom' or 'common sense' get ingrained into our psyches. It takes a long time to dig out the various tentacles!

A few years ago mom bought me a wonderful little jacket - embroidered velvet lined in loose weave rayon jacquard. It adds the structured feel of a jacket to outfits, while wrapping me in the cuddly warmth of a fuzzy sweater and providing just the right amount of warmth during much of our year.  Ever since i realized it's wonderful usefulness i've been interested in copying this idea - velvet jacket lined with a nice natural fiber. Using cotton jersey as the lining instead of a woven was a great idea, as it adds to the warmth while being smooth enough to glide over any tops underneath. I also used this jacket to add some different textures to my wardrobe (the velvets), as well as to showcase a great bit of concentrated detail in the snaps over the stripe bands - two more of my personal style priorities (more variety in texture and some concentrated details).

snaps, stripes made with color, stripes made in three dimensions.

However, i did break one style resolution - to use new fabric instead of continually cannibalizing old garments for fabric. It takes more time and it's a hassle and the resulting garment usually has less 'life' left in it than if i had used new materials.  Almost a decade ago i bought a pair of stretch velvet bootcut pants from Carushka. Stretch velvet, worn right next to the skin with no lining, is cold cold cold in winter! And hot in summer.....i only wore them a handful of times, but kept them as i knew i would find a use for the gorgeous fabric. I cut the front, backs, collar and flounce from these pants. The stripe is a beefy cotton lycra from a Goodwill tee. I did buy new yardage for the sleeves - a velvet with a very fine dimensional stripe. I cut one sleeve with the stripe along the line of the sleeve, the other with the stripes going around. I enjoy the very subtle effect this makes in black - it adds a bit more texture, besides. And the lining material is new. My resolution was half achieved.

no need to carry a scarf - or worry about losing one, either.
This jacket did take me quite a while to finish in calendar-time, what with all the other hoo-ha occupying my days. I also decided to just relax a little, enjoy the process and do it right, instead of worrying about a 'deadline'.  My meetup with Jillian of Jilly Be Joyful to compare notes on this jacket's construction added even more enjoyment. We found out we were both involved in making up this pattern at the same time via the Stitcher's Guild Forum. Her jacket took even more fussing than mine, as she made FIVE MUSLINS in order to perfect the fit. Dang! And how worth it was that - she looks stylish, edgy, the blue-grey makes her incredible eyes even more mesmerizing, and the utilitarian hook-and-eye tape rocks and rolls! (heehee, i managed to snag a couple of yards of that tape meself - on sale. w00t!) I also highly recommend checking out Jillian's amazing Trippen booties - i had to keep remembering not to drool.

After all of the planning, plotting, researching, scheming, dreaming, experimenting i've done towards developing my wardrobe it's so rewarding to see things starting to take shape. I would be perfectly happy wearing this outfit and the parts in it for years on end. They fit my body, they fit my style, they fit my life and make me happy. It's invigorating to be moving from the 'preparation and finding out' stage to the 'okay this is the real deal stage'. I still have plenty of work to do, especially since really the clothes i love the best i make for myself. (Adrienne of Wear The Hat may be coming around to this viewpoint as well. Not that i'm biased!) But it's all very much within reach.  Whodda thunk it?  And where are you in your own journey of dressing yourself?