Saturday, July 5, 2008

Wardrobe enhancement

I lucked out on Ebay during this past month where I got good deals on four, count 'em, four Nanette Lepore tops! Two were new with tags! The first one is silk with two prints, grommets and a scarf like tie:

This looks great with black jeans or capris! The second top is a stretch cotton eyelet which is very fitted.

The next top is made of rows of lace stitched to a net background. It is lined with black silk and has a black embroidered silk collar. This top buttons completely up the back.

The last top is a tunic which falls below the hip. It is heavy cotton with pintucks and embroidery.

The other Ebay score was my new in package deluxe Black and Decker rechargeable scissors. I found them in local stores, but they were the basic model. The deluxe model has a hands free clamp, which I probably won't ever use plus, more importantly, a fabric cutting blade. None of the stores seem to have that model.

I also hit up the sale at Joann's where I picked up 2 books:

I have a rather large antique button collection which I may have to use in some of the jewelry projects. The upholstery book has directions for projects very similar to the ones I am about to begin. It's the first book I've seen which clearly explains and illustrates these particular projects.

I also picked up the following Vogue patterns:

I have been knitting on Labyrinth and I'm at the point where I am doing the hip increases. I will finish the body in a day or two and I will photograph it then.

A bit of nostalgia
Back in 1985 I entered my first design type of contest. It was called "Contemporary Interpretations" and it was cosponsored by Folkwear Patterns and G Street Fabrics in Washington DC. For those who aren't familiar with Folkwear Patterns--they are patterns made from authentic historic garments or ethnic garments. The challenge of the contest was to create a contemporary garment or outfit using Folkwear Patterns--an outfit that could be worn in the contemporary world. There were over 100 entries with 30 of them being chosen as semifinalists. The semifinalists' garments were modeled in a fashion show (by models--not the contestants) then the winners were announced. I was fortunate enough to win second place, my prize being a $500 gift certificate to G Street Fabrics. The first prize was a new, top of the line, Bernina machine. It was interesting to see the various entries. Many of them were true works of art with patchwork and embroidery or other artistic elements. The winning garments focused more on a contemporary appearance and less on the wearable art possibilities that Folkwear designs offer. My outfit was made from these three patterns:

We have a traditional Japanese Hapi or Haori jacket, an English Middy top and a 1930's skirt called the Wall Street Skirt.
My outfit was inspired by the fabric which I had seen earlier--Irish handkerchief linen in a cinnamon color and muted sage green and heavy irish linen in off white. I had seen these fabrics together and knew I wanted to use them for something, It was a week later when I was doing a mundane task at work that the proverbial light bulb went on in my brain and I pictured my finished design.
The first piece, the skirt, was made true to the pattern with no changes. One thing I did and still do when making a couture garment is take special care to finish my seams in a traditional manner. Even after getting my serger, I still do not use it to finish seams in a fine garment. For this skirt, all seam allowances were hemmed.

The second piece, the middy top, was changed somewhat. The pattern had a facing with an applied patch on the back, traditionally used to protect the shirt from the greasy braid that the sailor wore! I made reverse facings. By that I mean that the facing was stitched wrong side to wrong side then folded to the outside of the shirt. I then machine stitched a bamboo design with silk thread using satin stitch after which I cut away the excess facing fabric. Each corner of the facing was different--one had 3 leaves, one had 2, one had none.

This piece was sewn entirely with French seams which to this day remains my favorite method of seaming for sheer or lightweight fabrics.

I made an ultrasuede belt with the same bamboo motif as on the top.

The last piece is the jacket. It was made to the pattern specifications with the addition of a full lining and, of course, shoulder pads. After all it was the 80's and we all looked like linebackers back then. The jacket was made of the sage green linen with darker green satin band on the front. The bamboo motif was appliqued on using the satin and the cinnamon and off white linen.

Here is the entire outfit:

Here's me with my sister in law on Easter Sunday 1987, wearing this outfit!

I love this outfit. I will never wear the skirt again. I was thirty pounds thinner in that photo! The top still fits and I was thinking that I may take the shoulder pads out of the jacket and wear it with a sash over slacks. Kimono tops seem to be in again!

Bushism of the day:

"I can only speak to myself." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 28, 2005

Kitty Cam: Samantha always seems to find the sunny spot!


  1. I love view F in the first Vogue pattern. It's very similar to a dress I made back in 1981 to attend a friend's wedding. Those are pretty tops from Ebay and your design from the three Folkwear patterns is great. The jacket, sans shoulder pads, will be right in style.

  2. You always seem to find the best deals on ebay :)

  3. Love your new Nanette Lepore tops!! I like your new patterns too - the first one will look especially nice on you. I can't believe you were 30 pounds thinner in the last picture - you look the same as you do now, in my mind!

  4. OMG!! That picture! What a blast from the past! I think you and my mom have aged quite gracefully. We should all be so lucky!