Friday, March 14, 2014

Design Notebook: Details & Materials

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These past few weeks, I've been sourcing swatches, trims, and buttons for my ballgown presentation and tailored jacket for school, which has taken me on adventures all across Seattle: from the drool-worthy District Fabric in Fremont, to the charming & friendly Artist & Craftsman Supply in the University District, to the magical ribbon room of Nancy's Sewing Basket on upper Queen Anne.

I think at this point I've crossed into Deeply and Hilariously Scattered Artist territory. I have a Ziploc baggie full of crystal embellishments, printed silk georgette, Copic markers, and bits of French lace that I carry around my purse and occasionally whip out at random moments to stare at. I'm considering doing major research into home bookbinding. The other day, I spent an hour in the cardmaking section of Paper Source waffling between four colors of pre-fab folded cards to best complement the color of my swatches. Plus, Sparklepants and I are both working on our ballgown presentation projects at the same time, so it's become common for one of us to punctuate a completely normal conversation about sandwiches or television with things like, "I really just want to find tulle the color of the mist from that one Tarkovsky film and it's stressing me ouuuuut" (And then I have a moment where I wonder what kind of floaty goofball says stuff like that and realize OH HEY IT'S TOTALLY ME)


In the midst of all of this sourcing, I find myself focusing on the most minute of details - in particular, these past few weeks I got really fixated on finding the right buttons for my jacket. I had this beautiful Balenciaga suit in mind when I designed it, and as a result, I have a very specific vision of the materials and feel of the final garment. I knew that I wanted vintage black glass, Czech if possible, in a faceted style, but beyond that I couldn't tell you what they looked like. And I needed 5 or 6 big ones, and 8-12 little ones. Easy, right?


So I went to every fabric store in the greater Seattle area and a couple in Portland, and...nothing. Each time I walked in determined, and each time I deflated a little as I faced the button wall and was not immediately drawn to my Destiny Buttons. (Who knew being weirdly specific about buttons that may or may not exist would be a complicating factor?) Then, in the stroke of luck/fate/timing, I was able to attend a trade show through the school last week, and not ten minutes after we arrived, I walked into one of the vendor's rooms and there they were: two different sizes of vintage, cut glass Czech buttons with a gentle swirl motif that set off the herringbone of my jacket fabric perfectly, with just the right weight and sparkle, that walked that fine line between beauty and functionality.


And the funny thing is: in the midst of all this scatter and distraction and stress, that single moment of clarity - that moment when the last detail softly clicked into place, and my jacket turned into My Jacket - it made it all absolutely worth it.

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