Saturday, March 14, 2015

Bride of Frankenpattern

Frankenpattern: "To pattern using multiple styles and mis-matched pattern pieces. The end result is a combination of the garments that leaves the patternmaker horrified as to how it was put together, but usually no one else knows that from the end result. (phew!)"

Yes, dear reader, i too have fallen prey to this internet fad! Actually, i have been all about frankenpatterning since before the internet was a gleam in Jacques Vallee's sleepy French eyes. Sometimes, whilst working over a long period of time with various shapes, one is struck with inspo as to a different way to 'solve the puzzle', as it were.  Conversely, one may incur a yen for a particular garment and whilst ruminating realize that various pieces already in one's possession may combine to produce an item damn close to the desired result.

Frankly i forget which way this one came about...however from the moment i saw my beloved Beatrice dress (Marcy Tilton's best selling Vogue 8876) i knew i would love a skirt with a similar vibe. I also knew it would be difficult if not impossible to pull off, given the amount of ease at the waist. You either take out a lot of fabric and lose the line, or place a metric ton of gathers/pleats/combo of both at the waist and lose the graceful line.

Which is why the Beatrice is a dress, not a skirt.

I've also really enjoyed my version of Hot Pattern's Lantern Skirt. I made it a couple of years ago in natural linen; it is incredibly useful, comfortable, mixable and provides an awesome line with which to work while creating outfits. When i saw this gorgeous olive drab linen at Stone Mountain and Daughters i snapped some up with another lantern-type skirt in mind.

The Bride of Frankenpattern skirt combines three patterns from three different designers. Starting from the top: Waistband and pockets by Mari Miller of Seamster Designs Honeydew Skirt; skirt front and back pieces by Trudy of Hot Pattern's HP1178 Weekender Chameleon Dress; hem bands by Marcy Tilton of Vogue Patterns V8876 "The Beatrice Dress". In the process of making this skirt i altered each of these pattern pieces ( the skirt pieces pretty significantly), but they provided a great starting point. 

I'm especially taken with the 'magic lantern' shape i made at the back of the skirt, it's kind of squarish with the corners rounded off which adds a nice dimensionality to the skirt as seen from the side. Next version of this idea will exaggerate this effect. I'll also lessen the hi-lo differential from front to back. And stabilize the side seams where the pockets insert - i skipped this step and they bag out like crazy!

I'll take this occasion to announce i've acquired another scarf! Always a banner day in my closet, as i wear scarves just about every day of the year yet am chronically short of them. This beauty is china silk with a black/inky blue/inky violet design over cream, found at A Verb For Keeping Warm. Mr. E put his hand on this roll of fabric, there was one and one quarter yards left - a perfect square. I took it home, washed it in hot water and olive oil castille, trimmed the selvedges and along the straight of grain, starched the hell out of the edges and stitched two lines in from the edges. Scarf!

Anyone anywhere near the SF Bay Area should drop into a verb.  The space is generous and gorgeous, massive gobs of natural light pour in from the west facing windows. There's a really nice sized work/class space with plenty of classes offered in knitting, dyeing and garment construction. The highlight for me is the huge selection of natural fiber garment-useful yardage from all over the world. Handwoven African cottons, Liberty of London lawn, more Japanese cottons than i have seen in many online shops - all there for ogling and hugging! Notions from London and France (though i didn't see any underpants). Paper patterns from all corners of the USA, France, London, their own house line, and more!

This shop is stellar, i could not be more excited about this new(ish) player on the fibre scene. They even have movie nights! What cold be more fun? 

I have to laugh at myself, though. I never could make sense of the name, and happened to mention my conundrum to an online penpal. He immediately wrote back: "Making clothes is what you do to keep warm." Okaaaaay - well, put it that way it's utterly obvious! Sometimes when we get too close to things we lose our perspective. 

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Rose Strewn Riding Peplum

As soon as i became aware of Natalie Chanin's wonderful stencil and applique technique, i knew how i wanted to use it in my own wardrobe. I saw low contrast, neutral-toned stencils and stitching on single layer linen.

I'd say the droopy eyes are due to lack of coffee - but i'm a tea drinker!

Here is my first attempt. I loved the Riding Peplum's strong, sweeping lines. At the same time, the pattern pieces are big and simple, a great canvas for showcasing fabric embellishment.

I used Alabama Chanin's Rose Placement Stencil (which i had used previously on a tee) and acrylic fabric paint and medium to create the roses (the stencil can be downloaded from this page - scroll down). Then i started stitching. I stitched about half of the roses right at the edge of the paint, the others i eyeballed a margin of around a quarter inch between the stitching and the paint.

I used those triangular makeup sponges you get at the drugstore to do the stenciling. I like the crumpled effect you get from the edges of the sponges. The project took awhile, but was not onerous.

I really love the way it turned out! As you know, i constantly complain about not being able to find fascinating, low-contrast detailed fabrics. Traditional Alabama Chanin style fabric embellishment, with two layers of cotton jersey, is overly warm for a large part of the year around here. Using this technique i can get the look without having to take salt pills ;)

Yesterday I purchased Deer and Doe's Bruyere Chemise after seeing Seamstress Erin's beautiful chambray version while eating breakfast. I have a length of white linen which i will make up first, and an Alabama Chanin paisley stencil which i cut out months ago but which has yet to be used (link here, scroll down again). I am thrilled to start on such a useful and stunning garment - white linen blouses have been more and more in play in my recent outfits.

I cannot help but play with hemlines. The hems of the Riding Peplum and the jacket balance each other out by moving in two opposite directions, so even though there's a lot going on it's not jarring. The low contrast between the two low-saturation garments keeps things from being too crazy as well. I always enjoy echoing the lantern shape of this hat by wearing a similarly shaped peplum or skirt. As these jeans approach the end of their useful life, i am happy to report that Uniqlo's $40 jeans are a good fit on me. I just need to get my hiney motivated to buy a pair!

I experienced an interesting synchronicity whilst working on this garment, centered around roses. Curious readers can find the story here. Even without reading the synchronicity, it's obvious that i adore roses in clothing and jewelry. Do any of you have similar talismans?

p.s. i don't want to say anything about posting more coming up in case i jinx it! Please help me by pretending you never read this "p.s." - & have a wonderful day!