Monday, September 30, 2013

Fashion Illustration: Vintage-Inspired Plaid Dress #1

One of the projects I have left to do for my certificate program is to design and illustrate four garments to go in my Line & Proportion notebook.  Each garment has to be the same type - for example, all pantsuits, or ballgowns, or cocktail dresses.  Since I'm stuck on plaid and love vintage clothing, I decided to do little vintage-inspired plaid dresses for all of my garments.

Each drawing must be shown on a different body type*:

Rectangle:  Medium to broad shoulders, small to medium bust, medium waist, medium hip.
Triangle: Narrow shoulders, medium to small bust, small waist, full hip.
Inverted Triangle: Broad to medium shoulders, large bust, medium to large waist, narrow hip.
Hourglass: Medium shoulders, full bust, small waist, full hip.

  Lastly, each drawing should be an example of a stylistic genre**.  The four genres we were assigned, and some common design characteristics:

Exotic - jewel tones, animal prints, mixed prints
Romantic - soft colors, florals, flowy fabrics
Town & Country - neutrals, equestrian-inspired, preppy
Classic - solid colors, simple prints, very simple designs

For my first dress, I was designing for a Triangle figure type in the Exotic style.  I sketched the dress a few weeks ago and loved the idea of doing a bright plaid taffeta with black guipure lace accents, with a shape inspired by the all the fabulous cheongsams worn by Maggie Cheung in In The Mood For Love.  It was definitely interesting to think about how to design something that is inspired by another culture, but keep it from being too literal or appropriative.  I was very happy with the design I came up with; I think it echoes the inspiration without copying it wholesale.

IMGP9945 IMGP9940IMGP9943 IMGP9950

  This afternoon, I grabbed my pens and Prismacolor colored pencils, traced the pencil sketch onto another piece of paper, and inked the outline.  I had to spend an hour or so developing the plaid pattern, since I didn't have a fabric sample to work from.  I think the only thing I didn't quite capture is the texture of the fabric - crisp and rich, with a soft glow.  Then I had to think about the construction of the dress and how it would affect the plaid and seam matching.  (I've been thinking a lot about seam-matching lately, because of the plaid love affair!)

The lace was really fun to ink, but took forever, so I listened to Starjay Knits and drew zillions of circles with dots around them for a few hours!  Now my hand hurts, but I'm a quarter done with the assignment, and almost caught up the podcast.  Hooray!

*These are general guidelines - most people, including myself, are a combination of these.  For this exercise, we're supposed to design to flatter each body type using the guidelines we learned in the class.  I have some differing opinions on the subject, but I also think it's interesting and constructive to learn the "rules".

**Again, I have my own thoughts about these genres, particularly Exotic, which can be a very problematic word because of the frequent sexualization and commodification of marginalized cultures.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Current Obsession: Plaid!

IMGP9930 IMGP9929IMGP9924 IMGP9932

For some reason, a few months ago, I started craving plaid.  (Technically the black & white is a check, not a plaid, but I'm going to group it in there anyway.)  Most of the plaids that I've been drawn to have been cotton.  One exception, though, is that gorgeous turquoise and deep blue plaid, which is the end of a bolt of Pendleton wool.  It's perfectly wooly, but still lightweight, and the colors are saturated and gorgeous, and I'm getting all wistful just thinking about it.

The newest addition is the watermelon print, which I found in the flat cut cotton print section of Pacific Fabrics - usually mostly quilting cottons, but this was a lucky find!  It's a woven-in pattern rather than a printed one, with a nice drape to it, and I thought it was perfect for a sundress.  (Hello, summer picnics!)  Sometimes prints get a little too twee for me - as much as I like cute and/or tiny prints, it's hard to pull off "I'm adorable and so is this teddy bear print" when you're a grown-ass lady.


I can probably blame this recent plaid obsession on these two dresses.  Both are vintage, and I ended up wearing them a ton this summer, feeling super cute all the while.  There's something sharp about plaid, and yet sort of cheeky.  Not all plaids make my heart sing - some of them read too pajama or schoolgirl-y - but I've found that my tastes don't really adhere to any rational patterns.  I love traditional and unusual color combinations alike, and each plaid has a very different character that dictates the design decisions that I'd make with them.  I'm  planning to copy the general design of the yellow plaid sundress, and improve the fit, using the Pendleton plaid, but the black and white check wants to be a fuller, '50s style dress with a bias-cut bodice and close-fitting sleeves.


Last but not least, I will also fully admit that I play favorites in my stash, and this one is teacher's pet.  It's silk taffeta, and it sings of Alexander McQueen.  I'm going to design a ballgown based on it - I haven't decided on a lot of the elements, but one idea I like is short raglan sleeves with cream lace accents.  One of the tricky things will be to keep the design from going too Christmas-y, but I'm hoping that it will read more classic, because this fabric deserves better than becoming a festive disaster.

What do you think of plaid?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Not-Quite-an-FO: Taygete

IMGP9877 IMGP9874

Remember how I said that Taygete was just about done, only waiting for blocking?  Well.  I soaked her, and started pinning her out, and was so excited to have another finished object... and disaster struck.

IMGP9881 IMGP9882

See that little orange marker?  What it's marking is a sneaky, dumb, excessively long picot, which I discovered while threading my blocking wires through the edging.  And, since it was soaking wet at the time, I had to wait until it dried before I could do anything.  (I fretted a lot about it over the weekend.)

Apparently what happened is: while binding off for hours straight, I cast on two stitches and bound them off for the picot, looked away for a second... and did it again before continuing on the way I was supposed to.  And of course, it happened somewhere along the picked up stitches from the lace pattern, which is over halfway back on the bind off row.

And since I can't bear the idea of leaving it, I am going to tink all the way back and re-bind off.  The bind off that took three hours?  Yep, I'll be repeating about half of that, not to mention the time it takes to rip out a blocked edging and wash the yarn to get the kinks out.

Sigh.  The things I do for art.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Modeling Future Beauty

This past summer, Seattle Art Museum featured an exhibition called Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion, a stunning collection of garments from designers ranging from Issey Miyake to Yohji Yamamoto.  I checked out the exhibition in late July and was incredibly inspired by the innovation and artistry of the clothing; I love the complex conceptual and architectural elements of Japanese fashion, so it was really amazing to see so many pieces in person.

As a grand finale to the exhibition, SAM invited my school, New York Fashion Academy, to present a runway show inspired by Japanese street and high fashion.  Although I was swamped with preparations for the wedding, I was itching to participate - so, when my friend Nicole Hood of Samara Clothing asked me to model for her capsule collection, I jumped at the chance.


The shoe rehearsal was the Tuesday after the wedding, so I was still a little dizzy from a magical weekend with my friends, family and brand spankin' new husband!  It was a blast, though, to hang out with all the designers and their models, many of whom I recognized from the April runway show and earlier model calls.

Shoe rehearsals are a standard preparation for fashion shows; they give models a chance to walk the runway in the shoes they'll be wearing, hear the music, and plan any choreography or posing.  I know I was happy to have a chance to walk those steep marble steps in heels before I did in front of hundreds of people!

The day of the show was surprisingly relaxed backstage.  Nicole directed hair & makeup, coordinated our accessories, and gave us some last-minute direction about posing and attitude.  Her collection was three looks with a smart, sophisticated feel - appropriate for office and evening alike.  I loved the color and cut of my dress, and it fit me perfectly, which is a rare, wonderful thing for me.  I also tried on the shorts from her collection during a fitting, and holy damn were they cute!  (Needless to say, I'm ordering a pair.)  

It was my first time modeling for runway - other than subbing for absent models in jeans and flats - and it ended up being a great experience.  The audience was overwhelmingly gigantic, but had a great energy that made the whole thing very exciting.  Once I was out there, I hammed it up and had an awesome time!

Seattle photographer Bret Doss was kind enough to photograph both the shoe rehearsal and the actual event, as well as to provide the photos for this post.  He's always an absolute pleasure to work with - friendly, engaging, and a magician behind the lens!  (Lumberjack called me as soon as Bret's runway photos were posted on Facebook, and I won't go into details but I believe the word "foxy" was involved.)

Thanks to everyone who made this event happen - the behind-the-scenes folks at SAM and NYFA, my friends and fellow designers, the sweet and friendly models and dressers, the photographers, and the audience who made our event a success.

Happy Monday!

Friday, September 20, 2013

WIP: Winter White Miralda

IMGP9865 IMGP9867

The other day, I forgot one of my WIPs - I started it a few months ago and dropped it for plain socks!  It's my sixth(ish) Miralda's Triangular Shawl, and probably the most classic of all of them.  My personal Miraldas are pink or purple, and the others I've knit have been silver and turquoise.  For some reason I was really drawn to the idea of doing Miralda in a color more traditional to Estonian lace, although I'm using alpaca, so it's still not entirely traditional!


Every time I revisit this pattern, I remember why I love it.  There is both practicality and elegance in this design - knit in CEY MountainTop Vail fingering weight alpaca, it will be cozy and warm, but the same pattern could be breathtakingly light and ethereal executed in laceweight silk.  (My next Miralda, perhaps?)


Now that I have brain cells again, I have been working on her some nights, usually while watching Game of Thrones or contemporary Dr. Who.  I'm almost finished with the nupp section, which is the most difficult of the shawl.  I'll admit it's been a little tricky with a bounce-free fiber like alpaca, but absolutely wonderful watching the pattern come to life in such a snowy, soft yarn.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


IMGP9833 IMGP9791IMGP9805 IMGP9832

For the past month or so, I've been thinking that my head has gotten a little too shaggy for my liking, but wasn't sure what kind of haircut I wanted.  And although I love many things about vintage style, most vintage hair is way too involved for a girl who doesn't even own a hair dryer.  It's been weird, needing haircuts, too - when my hair was long, I sometimes only got it cut once a year, and if I went too long between cuts, it didn't matter because my hair was always up in a bun anyhow!  So after weeks of puzzling, one day last week I woke up and realized that I wanted a cut that was long in front and pretty short in back - just a little modern, and super easy to wash-'n-go.

So today, kind of on a whim, I walked up the street and got my hair cut at our local Rudy's Barbershop.  I was pretty specific about what I wanted, and it turned out just right!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Coming Clean

There comes a time in every knitter's life when she must come to terms with her WIP basket.  That time came around 4 pm yesterday afternoon, when I suddenly and inexplicably felt the need to Finish All The Things.  And so it was, that I blocked a shawl and a cowl and grabbed a shawl to "knit the last little bit of".  Seven hours, six billion picot bind offs, and a facial twitch later, I have a brand spanking new Taygete ready to be blocked.

IMGP9245 IMGP9222 Untitled

It wasn't until yesterday that it fully hit me, the sheer numbers of my works in progress.  For the last couple of months, whenever anyone asks how many projects I have on the needles, I think for a minute and say, "Um, about eight.  Yeah!  That sounds like a big enough number."  Yesterday, my confidence was rocked.  Apparently I don't know how to count, and also have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to where all of my Addi Turbo Lace needles have gone.

IMGP2588 IMGP2933 IMGP1572
IMGP3026 IMGP9443 IMGP6721

Because there are - count 'em - 15 projects there.  3 sweaters, 1 pair of mitts, 1 hat, 1 pair of socks, 2 cowls, and uhhhh 7 shawls.  How did I let it get this bad?  How is possible that a totally finished object that I cast off almost a year and a half ago was only waiting for a wash?  How?  How?!?

IMGP9446 IMGP5013 IMGP9448
IMGP9492 IMGP9182 IMGP9454

Friends, I have no better answer than "I get distracted by pretty things".

So in the next few months, I'm going to try to whittle it down.  Knit a sleeve here; block a shawl there.  I can't promise that I'll be able to start off the new year with a clean WIP slate, but I would like to get down to a reasonable number, like 10 or even 8.  (A more mature and well-adjusted Cory scoffs at this definition of reasonable, but let's not shoot for the moon here.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

FO: Wisp

IMGP9766 IMGP9782IMGP9780 IMGP9753

Hooray, the FO parade!  I did a major cleaning of my studio space this week and rediscovered a bunch of 90% finished projects, so I wove in about a zillion ends while watching movies on Netflix.  I still have way too many WIPs, but I'm hoping to chip away at the ones that are basically done except for small amounts of knitting, blocking, or sewing.

This wrap is called Wisp, a free pattern from an older issue of Knitty.  I knit it from a skein of Colinette Parisienne, a mohair/nylon blend laceweight that I bought in California probably four years ago.  It sat in my stash for quite a while before I realized that it would be the perfect yarn for this pattern.  I had a really fun time picking out buttons, but was a little stuck on what outfit I could pair with a bright blue wrap with lemon yellow buttons.  Luckily, between then and now, I found this adorable little yellow plaid vintage dress!  (We'll talk about my plaid obsession later.)  It's too hot to wear this wrap right now - when we took pictures it was about 90 degrees F! - but I think it will be a fun accessory to pair with dresses as cooler weather hits.

Ravelry Page: Wisp
Pattern: Wisp, from Knitty Summer 2007
Yarn: Colinette Parisienne, colorway Salty Dog, 1 skein
Yardage: ~240 yards
Needles: Size 8 US Addi Turbo Lace