Couture Lunacy

Exploring Fashion One Thread At A Time


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Spellbound

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For two+ hours today – I looked for this thread – the picture which you see above. It is not to be found. This is sad for me because I had planned to start my navy sheer shirt project today. I can’t. I looked everywhere I could think of for this missing spool of thread.

I did wade into the swamp this month and clean out the sewing room. I just hope I didn’t pitch this thread, not recognizing that there WAS a spool of thread in a mailing envelope, but I might have. So for now – I have to re-think things until Tuesday when I will haunt JoAnn Fabrics and buy myself some navy thread. I might just cut out the navy shirt and wait to get the thread – but I like to sew right away, after I cut something out.

So I’m spellbound again ———- looking through my fabric for more inspiration and through my six thousand or so patterns for the “one”.

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Paris

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I have no idea why I am so strangely drawn to France and particularly, Paris. We travelled to Paris in 1997 from Detroit, MI. Detroit is a hell of a lot different from Paris!

We only had 5 days and I had to beg my husband for that. I sold an enormous amount of quilts at auction to pay for the trip and give us spending money. When I told him we were a go for Paris – he said nah you and the kid go and I’ll stay home. Such a drip.

He went. He sweated on the plane and started drinking immediately. When we got there our room wasn’t ready for check-in. I was pissed. I was also tired.

After we got our room and slept a bit we took off for Printemps. The stained glass roof in the cafe is unbelievable. We have nothing like that here. The closest you can get is Marshall Fields and that’s not even close. We ate, we had “coffee” which was some kind of espresso and we started walking. We walked all the way to The Louvre and then figured out we had no idea how to get back to our hotel. None.

We had metro passes so we got on the metro. We landed at the right metro stop but took the exit to Rue St. Denis instead of Rue de Poissonne. Eee Gads. We walked all over looking for something familiar. We got into the red light district with these women standing outside. I had no clue what they were doing until they started shilling for the husband AND son. Good God. I was shocked. Here I was walking with them and these whores had the nerve to solicit my SON and my husband. The husband was fine – take him – please – but my son? I almost killed some whores that night.

DH said we had to find the pharmacy because he remembered that. Well the pharmacies are all over and have the same green plus sign sign. Hmm. The one I went into nobody spoke English. Oh what the hell. So off we go again and by this time I am so pissed off at the old man I could kill him. I tell him we need to get a cab and he takes off running across an eight-lane road and almost gets killed. Now I start to cry thinking that I would have to scrape his body off the pavement – no somebody else could do that.

Finally my hysteria impresses even he. He gets it – might have been the slap upside his head. Anyway we get a cab. I tell them we’re at Le Horset – which I pronounce Horsay. The cab driver corrects me telling me it should be pronounced HORSET. F***ck it I say just drive there. It was two blocks away. It cost 3 francs or some other minimal amount.

We had another fun experience when DS decided to tie his shoe and not follow his dad in a department store. DH gets all bent out of shape that he’s lost DS. So we start looking for him in this 7 story store. I ask to have him paged. They will do this in French. Well he doesn’t speak French – they won’t speak English – although they can – I offer to do it for them – they refuse. I start screaming after an hour of looking for the idiot. I find him – we leave the store – jeez it was like being in Canada.

On the good memory side we went to Souleaido and I bought tons of fabric. The clerks thought I was nuts. I was. We looked at antique American quilts they were selling an another shop – I wanted provincial quilts. We went to Sennelier for pastels and another art store on the Left Bank for a model of a hand and an easel and other stuff.

We ate at a diner in the neighborhood of our hotel. DH drank so much wine he was barking at the dogs. Ha! This did not impress his son who took his wine away. I had to threaten him not to speak as we went into the hotel. God know what would have come out.

We went to the Louvre one day – wow that’s a lot of stuff to see in one day. We couldn’t do it all. We went to the Eiffel Tower without DS as he wanted to rest and we looked at antique shops near there. We went to Sacre Coeur for mass on Sunday and I loved it – I’m not Catholic although DH was before he divorced twice and got kicked out. We saw Notre Dame and there weren’t any tourists there – it was November and wonderful gray cloudy weather but warm. I had taken a coat and layers and I needed none of them. I will never travel with that much luggage again although it was handy for the fabric I bought!

We ate at a cafe with a market across the street. The guys had hot dogs and I had an omelet. We also got supper and took it home at the McDonald’s right across from the diner we ate at. One nice thing about McDonalds is that you feel at home right away. It was good food that made us feel we were back home. Some of the French food was really odd – like the raw ham and the “steak”.

We went to the Arc de Triomphe but it wasn’t that much fun. We got off at the wrong metro stop and had to walk underground for what seemed like 10 miles. We took the kid back to see the Eiffel Tower at night and I bought some French home decorating magazines – which I still have.

I bought a Limoges perfume bottle in the shape of a chair with a kitty on it for my friend and a Souleaido scarf for another friend’s birthday. I won the birthday best present award that year. We ate that night at a crepe bar – kid chose goat cheese on toast and couldn’t stomach it – but he ate his crepe!

We flew home in the morning and flew over the icebergs and glaciers of Greenland. There was a tiny little fisherman in a boat in the cold water. The glaciers were fantastic. We got back to Detroit and had to fight with ahem Detroit’s Arab population to get a place on the van to go to our parking lot. We got shoved and shoved until I about brutally attacked someone. Shove me around – no – in my country – no. Ha I felt like I was French.

I am going back to Paris. This time probably alone – maybe with DS if he wants to go. I want to stay longer and see more. I want to smell the chocolate streets and the coffee and the rising bread. I want to be in Paris.


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Making Art – And Whatever Made You Think Someone Would Buy It?

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I’m sure it was Winston Churchill who said that to keep doing the same things and expecting a different outcome is insanity. Consider me insane.

I’ve been some kind of an artist for over 50 years. I started with oil painting, then progressed to batik and ended up with wall hangings. I still paint – I make things – I do not CRAFT. I am not part of the Arts and Crap movement.

My work has been published in Great American Quilts 1992, Best Loved Traditional Quilt Patterns, Our Favorite Scrap Quilts, Better Homes and Gardens Scrap Quilts and Patchwork Quilt Tsushin – a quilting magazine from Japan.

 
My work is in private collections in Grosse Pointe, MI, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Tokyo and Sydney, Australia. I have a piece entitled “The Wall” on permanent exhibition at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield, MI. I have been represented by a gallery on PEI, Canada and in shows throughout the United States

I dye fabrics, paint them – apply stuff to them and occasionally fuse them together. I make what I like. I don’t do commissions although I have sold all of my work with the exception of the one you see above and one other.

I do find that selling my work is burdensome. I had a gallery that represented me on PEI. I sold most everything with the owner’s immense help and hefty percentage cut. That was back in the day when people had money to spend. They don’t now. Or if they do, they don’t spend it on anything they truly can live without.

Which leaves an artist artisting and not eating. I know how Van Gogh felt when he cut off his ear. He should have cut off his arms. Would have made more sense. Or did he do that for the love of his life? Either way – stupid.

We own some pretty cool art too – stuff we bought. We can’t sell it either. A rip-off auction place offered me $100 per item even though they were selling a painting by the same artist whose work we have – for $5000. I didn’t expect $5000 but I sure didn’t expect $100. How much profit margin is that?

I make my clothes now – as most of you who read this know. I don’t make art. I don’t need anymore stuff on my walls and my creative outlet is satisfied with constructing clothes. I knit too. I like sweaters. I like big cozy sweaters and knitting is satisfying – if you don’t screw up – but I now know how to fix a screw up so instead of telling myself I can’t make a mistake – I make them and fix them.

When I’m older – if I live long enough to be older – I might make art again. I always have ideas. My ideas are surely not popular – but they are mine.

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Sewing Notions and The Fear of Not Having THAT One Thing You Need

There are so many “extra” things you need to complete your wardrobe – here are just a few and I’m sure you can think of more ………….

 

There are several wonderful websites to help you accumulate everything you will need. I like SewTrue for most things – including wonderful patternmaking supplies and hard to find tailoring supplies. Also they have a large thread selection and every weird notion you can name.

Mood Fabrics has a notion department too and it is fantastic. MJ Trim is good for – wait for it – trims. Fabric.com carries pattern tracing material you can sew to fit and it’s $2.15 a yard. Also fabric.com has muslin which you will need to mock-up your garments.

One thing I love that I cannot live without is my Olfa cutter and mat. I have the 24 x 36 mat and I use it to cut out fabric. An extra supply of blades comes in handy – it needs replacing often if you cut a lot – mine is cutting weird with skipping every so often. I think it’s the cutter itself as I’ve changed the blade and it’s still doing it.

Anything else? Let you imagine run wild.

 


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A Few New Designs I’m Going to Steal – well parts of them anyway

I know stealing is bad. But that’s stealing STUFF. Taking apart current couture fashion and using bits of it in design – everybody does this.

Case in point – I’ve noticed that a lot of pattern designers, not to name names, take elements from other designers’ previous patterns and incorporate them in their pattern. Sometimes the pattern is so similar I have to ask myself if there’s anything new at all.

All of those waisted dresses with the little skirts look alike to me. If you have one pattern, you have them all. And some of the “new” shirt patterns look right out of Issey Miyake‘s vintage patterns. Elements are there that are just directly derived from his work.

I’ve also noticed the trend with the god-awful asymmetrical knit shirts and woven shirts. These are not new and I’m really sick of them. Along with waterfall or cascading jackets. Nice for a couple of years ago – now boring.

Once you have a basic pattern for a top that fits you and that you feel comfortable wearing, you can add layers, embellishments, cut the sleeves or one sleeve out of another fabric, slice up the pattern to incorporate different fabrics, paint, silkscreen —— just keep churning out original tops that flatter you.

My training in batik, hand dyeing, art quilting (hate the term – now bunny quilts are “art” quilts – another rant for another time) and color makes clothing construction intensely exciting. Instead of looking like everyone else, I am not trapped in sameness. As long as I have the guts to wear something “out there” the world is my inspiration.

I was born with an interest in clothes. I played with dressing up my kitten. Not a good idea – all sorts of scratches resulted. I made paper dolls and they were  my favorite Christmas present. Remember Colorforms? Sticky plastic things in bright colors with a board to put them on – hours of creative fun.

When I was 13 I had an amazing experience in art class. I’m so sorry most schools have dumped these classes in favor of remedial reading, writing and arithmetic. Making art develops the imagination like no other learning experience. In my class I learned art history and hands-on art. I was able to do an independent study in batik with the noble assistance of my teacher, Mrs. Pond. She was eccentric and we all loved her. The class was a basis for everything I’ve done since then.

I read Glamour magazine back then – as well at Seventeen – and saw ads for Patricia Stevens Schools in New York. I wanted so badly to go to New York and study fashion design. My dad was a carpenter and my mom was a stay-at-home mother who felt her whole life that she could have done something out in the world. She wasn’t ever happy. At the age of 65 she announced that she was living for herself from now on out. She died at the age of 66. Guess she should have lived for herself earlier.

Neither of my parents thought art was a good idea for me. Odd since they had encouraged my sibling to take a correspondence course in commercial art. I was the “brain” with straight As and a bright future in something that would make me independent and financially secure. No art for me. I was encouraged to study teaching – also because I received a teaching scholarship and because it was thought to be “safe” and I would find a job after graduation. I didn’t have the motivation for this and ended up dropping out after 3 years. The grind was mind-numbing. I skipped a lot of classes. I was in disfavor at the house. Big disfavor. I was depressed – and it was viewed as weakness, not as something real.

So my art languished until 1987 when I picked out some fabric and started dyeing again. And I made over 100 quilts. I was published in quilting books and magazines from the US to Japan. I showed my work at exhibitions and I sold. I wrapped myself in little teensy bits of fabric and put them back together. I hand sewed and quilted everything. Every evening I would sit with a piece on my lap and stitch it. I taught myself traditional quilting and the Amish rocker quilting method. And then I branched out into geometric wall hangings of my own design. It was an exciting time.

I didn’t quilt at all or hardly at all while I lived in Canada. I couldn’t get the fabrics we have access to here in the states. The fabric was expensive in Canada – $13 a yard instead of $7 or $8. Being retired, this wasn’t possible to purchase.

I couldn’t mail order a lot of stuff from the US as the import taxes were high. I also concentrated on my antique quilt and used and out of print book business.

After moving to Maine I made 4 quilts in rapid succession. I got a Bernina with the stitch regulator and machine-quilted. I didn’t like the machine quilting and I can only do squiggles, not the intricate patterns I did by hand.

I found myself needing clothes. Badly. I decided I would make them and found an awesome tee shirt pattern by La Fred, who sadly is no longer with us, and started on this journey I am now on. I love sewing. It is the high point of my life right now. It gets me away from the contemplation of what to do for an ill spouse and keeps me steady.

And I get to take elements from every design I see and plan how I will use these in my clothing. Since I work from July to February, I have plenty of time to do this. If only I had room! My sewing ahem studio is 9 x 12 with a large table, three large plastic shelving units, an ironing board and crap all over the floor. My shelves are groaning with fabric. I keep notions, trims and patterns in pink plastic baskets. Sometimes it takes me forever to find something. This room is going to get a major overhaul real soon.

I spin fiber too. Ah like when I can – I don’t do this as much as I want. I need a better wheel. I need it to spin smoothly and easily. I’m going to sell it I think and get one that’s really good. It will be so worth it. I will be able to feed my yarn addiction to. Now instead of quilting at night, I knit. I’m almost done with an oversized dusty pink alpaca sweater that I love and I have one on the back burner that was supposed to be a test knit and I guess still is but I was too slow …………..

Inspiration is everywhere. I even look at sweater patterns and think how I can make this in knitted fabric with the sewing machine. I look at some clothing like skirts and dresses and think how I could adapt them for my wardrobe. I wear casual clothes most of the time. I can wear jeans and a tee shirt to work – but just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to! Wearing unique well-made clothes is my finest ambition – and helps keep me here now –