Friday, December 2, 2016

Art Deco Japan

Art Deco Japan is a current fashion and material culture exhibit at Hillwood Estate in Washington, DC.
The Exhibit is in two outbuildings of the estate and has some very interesting clothing and household items from the 1920s and 1940s that mix Japanese styling with the geometric lines and modern styling of Art Deco.
The contemporary era illustrations in the exhibit show a mixture of western and traditional attire with women wearing kimono and dresses with bob and waves haircut.

Silk Kimonos, underrobes and obis with modern art deco designs, skyscrapers, and designs like movie posters and sporting events

Hair ornaments and accessories

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fashion Rant - Comments on the Tim Gunn Opinion

Warning: Rant Ahead

Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame recently had a Washington Post Opinion titled Tim Gunn:

Designers refuse to make clothes to fit American women. It’s a disgrace.

He makes the point that the average American woman wears a size 16 and the fashion industry isn't really producing clothing for that size.
Ashley Nell Tipton for Project Runway

But in amongst that gem is a load of drivel, assumptions about what women want, perhaps a bit of fatphobia, and an absolutely absurd and un-called for bash on last season's Project Runway winner.

Here's what Mr. Gunn thinks fat women should not look like:

"Done right, our clothing can create an optical illusion that helps us look taller and slimmer. Done wrong, and we look worse than if we were naked."

"Based on my experience shopping with plus-size women, it’s a horribly insulting and demoralizing experience. Half the items make the body look larger, with features like ruching, box pleats and shoulder pads. Pastels and large-scale prints and crazy pattern-mixing abound, all guaranteed to make you look infantile or like a float in a parade."

Delpozo - I guess shoulder pads are ok for skinny people?
There are plenty of fat fashionistas and fashion-at any-size blogs around that Mr. Gunn could have reviewed.  And if he looked, many fat women are not asking for clothes that make them look taller and thinner, they are looking for on-trend clothing that fits and is fashionable.  Fat women know we are fat, and while a nicely cut dress may disguise 10 pounds, nothing is going to hide 100.  It seems as if what Mr. Gunn would like plus size women to look like, is simply, not fat.

And then there is the paragraph long attack on Ashley Nell Tipton, where he blatantly calls her win tokenism and is appalled by the hideous clothes she designed.

Among these fashion sins are
  • bare midriffs
  • skirts over crinoline, which give the clothes, and the wearer, more volume
  • see-through skirts that reveal panties
  • pastels, which tend to make the wearer look juvenile
  • large-scale floral embellishments that shout “prom.”
"This season, something different happened: Ashley Nell Tipton won the contest with the show’s first plus-size collection. But even this achievement managed to come off as condescending. I’ve never seen such hideous clothes in my life: bare midriffs; skirts over crinoline, which give the clothes, and the wearer, more volume; see-through skirts that reveal panties; pastels, which tend to make the wearer look juvenile; and large-scale floral embellishments that shout “prom.” Her victory reeked of tokenism. One judge told me that she was “voting for the symbol” and that these were clothes for a “certain population.” I said they should be clothes all women want to wear. I wouldn’t dream of letting any woman, whether she’s a size 6 or a 16, wear them. A nod toward inclusiveness is not enough."

And this is where I think Mr. Gunn goes truly off-the-rails.  While he may dislike all of these things for all designers, there is no doubt that they are on-trend and present in many designer fashion lines currently showing at NYC fashion week.  Perhaps Mr. Gunn just doesn't want to see these things on fat bodies, as indicated by his comment that they "give...the wearer, more volume".

Here's a comparison of Ashley's collection with what is right now on the runway in ready-to-wear at fashion week.

Bare Midriffs

Ashley Nell Tipton for Project Runway


Tory Burch

Skirts over Crinolines, and large-scale floral embellishments that shout “prom.”


Reem Acra
Horrors!  see-through skirts that reveal panties,  
Ashley Nell Tipton for Project Runway
Ashley Nell Tipton for Project Runway

Reem Acra

 Pastels - pastels, which tend to make the wearer look juvenile

Thom Browne

So, it appears that Ashley's collection is timely and fashionable.  Publicly stating that her win is blatant tokenism is unconscionable.  His tattling out of class that "...judge said... these were clothes for a “certain population.”, is derisive and frankly insulting to the population of size 16 and over women that he claims designers should cater to.  And while it is possible that Mr. Gunn, who is neither fat, nor female, might object to these various styles in both small and large sizes, I can't help but wonder, if he is really not just another voice objecting to seeing fat women at all. Mr. Gunn raises an important issue in his column, but I'm not sure he is part of the solution.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Chenille black-out curtains

My sister has a vintage, shabby-chic style at her house.  She's been using thrifted chenille bedspreads as curtains in her bedroom, but recently had a baby and needs to be able to get more sleep during the day. 
I went to visit, and in between looking at the new little critter, I sewed some new curtains for her bedroom.
As a person who likes a very dark bedroom myself, lining curtains with black-out fabric is something I would do if I wanted to use these materials as curtains. This would be an easy project for someone new to sewing who wants to use thrifted linens for new uses.  It just involved cutting and sewing in straight lines.

First measure your windows, then carefully line up and cut your fabric to be at least 1.5 times the width of the windows.  Cut your blackout fabric to match, being sure to remember you may need seam allowance for hems.

 Since lots of bedspreads have fringe, and you probably want to keep it on the curtain.  This means you'll probably need to hem the blackout fabric to make a finished edge since there won't be a sewn edge at the bottom.

Sew your blackout fabric to your curtain on 3 sides, leaving the bottom open.  I sewed the fabrics directly together as a lining.  I made sure to leave a gap at the top so a curtain rod could be inserted in between the lining and the chenille.  You could also sew all the way around then fold over the top and sew it down along the width to make the curtain rod pocket.

And the final curtains in direct sunlight.  A lot of light still gets through but a lot darker than we started with.

Don't be fooled by the yawn.  This critter is a Creature of the Night

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Bi-coastal costume adventures

Lots of fun costume adventures recently, starting with Labyrinth Masquerade in LA.  This is an event I've gone to intermittently for about a decade and it never disappoints.  Usually a ton of interesting costumes, and of course, being LA, beautiful people.  This year a friend and I had coordinating costumes based off of lovely masks made by Mitchel Walker of Peekaboo Masks.
We wanted to do a version of Victorian fancy dress, inspired by the costumes in Fancy Dresses Described, published in 1887.

The wings were made using this Realistic Wings tutorial.  Since super-helpful boyfriend and I made both sets of wings they were cut on the laser cutter.  It took less time once we had the basic file and it sealed all the edges.  To try to get a lightweight version we used heavy duty zipties as the boning, I'm not sure that was a better choice than wire.  I'd still like to add more wings for each of us and finish painting mine.  I also have a gazillion vintage sew-on cabochons and about 1000 heat-set rhinestones that will need to be added to bling everything up.
After our west coast adventures we came back and immediately started working on clothes for the Gadsby Tavern Jane Austen Ball.  Some googling after my arrival in DC this past month turned up English Country Dance classes and a Ball at Gadsby Tavern in Alexandria.  I'm not a super fan of the whole 1790s-1815  timeperiod so I didn't have anything to wear.  Fortunately I'd purchased a $7.99 ikea duvet while thrifting with my sister in Philly.  Ikea has some fantastic cotton prints that work well for late 18th century, early 19th century.  I wonder if they are using some sort of historic textile archive.  I don't know the name of this fabric but a twin duvet with the printed fabric on both sides was enough to make this era of dress.

I didn't use any patterns, nor do I have any research books with me.  So after a quick stop at the Library of Congress to look at Costume in detail, I did an approximation of a bib-front dress.  The mechanics of the dress worked out fine but I think it needs some serious re-fitting on the neckline, or maybe a drawstring to pull in the whole thing.  I did a quick Regency style fan using a leftover sandalwood fan from my sister's baby shower with some 18th style cartouche motifs in the style of this fan from the V&A, dated 1790-1800.

And, the final result.  Do we look hot?  It was 100 degrees.  Turns out that fan was a great idea.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Fashionable Safety Vest

Safety vests are not the most fashionable items.  This project was inspired by an instructables tutorial
For running you need a high-vis vest with reflective elements, that will not rub or chafe while running.
I re-designed the vest to leave plenty of room on the sides where your arms naturally move while running and made it shorter so it would close at the natural waist.

Vest design in adobe illustrator
The fabric is high vis polyester from the utility fabrics section of joann's.  I cut the fabric on the laser cutter (Universal Laser cutter, fabric settings).  This has the benefit of quickly cutting a fairly intricate pattern, and sealing the edges of the polyester fabric.
Laser cut fabric

The original tutorial used circles of reflective material.  I was able to easily cut the reflective iron on strips with a papercrafting punch.  This allowed me to make them in all sorts or shapes, including stars.
papercrafting punch cutting reflective stars

Sewn on reflective tape on the front and back for extra visibility.

Test run.  Comfortable fit, however wearing a water bottle belt covers the reflective tape at the waist, and many of the iron-on stars are already coming off.  On to version 2....