Friday, December 30, 2011

my mother's ski sweater

In honor of what would have been my mother's 72nd birthday, today, I wanted to write something thoughtful to honor her. I wrote some notes about what she called the "clothing museum." It included clothes of hers and mine that were special in some way. I have not finished this piece for many reasons. I will get to it, soon. For today, I will post one photo of one item from that museum: my mother's ski sweater from the 1950s. It was handmade, tiny and wool.
I would never have worn it--even if it would fit me--because wool makes me itch. And I never saw my mother wear this sweater. But I picture her in it when I read her short story, "The Circle," in The Hottest Night of the Century, which revolves around a skiing trip.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Today's work on the Schrader dress re-do

I have draped Daisy in the cut pieces of the 1980s Schrader dress and the new grey fabric to get an idea of what I have and what I want to do. The whole dress will be lined in the grey cotton. (I have yet to cut those pieces.)
Do I want to add the grey stripe down the center of the skirt?
How do I want the neckline to work?
Can I pull this off?

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

marathon, purple tutu and Frye boots

I ran my fifth marathon on Sunday, the Philly marathon. This was the first marathon for which I wore the purple tutu, and it kept me lighthearted as my brain became foggy and my legs stiffened up when I hit the wall at mile 22. I finished, thrilled with my 21st-century PR (that’s “personal record”) of 3:54:06. (I did run the NYC marathon faster in 1999, but that was last century and doesn’t count anymore, right?)

The photo may be blurry, but it is the only one I have and nicely captures the movement of the tutu. I also appreciate the pink and yellow hues of the runner behind my right shoulder.

And because I ran a marathon, I get to buy these boots:


They are not Frye, but they are so like the then-used, now-vintage Frye boots that I bought in 1986 from a street vendor who set up her wares on a sheet on the sidewalk near the Astor Place Cube in New York City.

Since those boots became unwearable, I kept them in mind when I was wandering thrift stores, but have had no luck. I searched on etsy and eBay. I refused to pay upwards of $200 for a pair of boots that would probably let the rain in, no matter how awesome they were. (You could say, “Don’t wear them in the rain,” and I would probably listen, but as a 15-year-old, I did not.)

The day after the marathon, I looked on Etsy again. And I saw the ones above, sold by cherublover,  ], and they were on sale for a mere $80 (which is still more than I should be spending on anything, if I were to be honest). I actually like them more than the similar Frye ones below, sold by Stellah’s Groove, because the shape of the toe box is chunkier, which I appreciate, on the non-Frye ones.

Another thing I like about both pairs? They don’t have a zipper, which conflicts with the aesthetic and the purpose of the laces. I believe one should have to do the lacing up, not just work around them with a zipper as most modern knee-high lace-ups do.

So they are my marathon present. (This is not to be confused with a push present.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

tweed swing jacket

This tweed coat is not vintage. The brand is O'Neill, and it was probably bought at a local department store (Macy's perhaps?). I found it at the local thrift store. I liked the idea: tweed with a swing shape. But the length and proportion were awkward, and the buttons were cheap.

I replaced the buttons, added a skirt using a grey and citron cotton weave with a bird print to exaggerate the swing and lengthen the jacket. The jacket now looks more interesting and retro.

And the buttons and birds match perfectly.

The size is small. Who wants it?

Monday, November 7, 2011

The vintage Schrader dress

This is the actual dress, maybe from the early 1980s, on Daisy. I am considering using the front pleats in the bodice of my design below. I love the sheer pink fabric with the white floral pattern outlined in black. It does, however, require a grey lining to tone it down.

The current form, the matronly dress complete with original shoulder pads, will be dismantled and recycled.

Now to find the time to do the work...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Schrader dress re-do

I found a Schrader dress, size 18, at my local thrift store. The sheer fabric is pink with white flowers outlined in black. I am a size 4 or 6 and the actual dress form is very dated--not retro. So I am going to use the fabric to make a flowing mini-dress, lined and bordered with grey cotton lawn fabric, and an asymmetrical hem.

As I waited for my son to be done with a school-related appointment, I sketched an idea. I will add photos of the current dress once I am back in my "studio."

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

mouse girl

If memory serves, she is a mouse girl. Here, I was showing her usual clothes and her princess clothes. She is kind of like a superhero. She might look all normal in her shorts and tank top, but she is transformed with the fabulous dress. Notice how her hair also changes. 

I also have my mother's note, which she attached to my preschool drawing, which she found after moving from her Redfern row house to her Redfern apartment in 2004.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

red leather jacket II

This morning, I finally finished repairing and transforming the vintage red leather jacket I bought in Maine

The skirt of pinwheel woven cotton fabric repairs and extends the existing red lining that was torn at the hem. I measured and drafted the four pattern pieces, lined and pleated the resulting “skirt,” then integrated it into the lining of the jacket.

I replaced the plastic buttons with buttons covered in vintage kimono fabric. The four large buttons at the wrists belonged to my mother; she had used safety pins to transform them into brooches for her assortment of blazers. The two closing the front were part of a pack of five that my mother bought at a museum shop (I can't remember which; many years have passed) and gave to me. I’ve been waiting for a way to use them. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

layering black under light colors

I do not suggest the black lace bra under a white shirt or a sheer shirt (god forbid the latter). No, nothing like that.

I tried a beige slip under this COOPERATIVE dress, and the look bored me. So I tried a back cotton knit slip instead, and was pleased with the contrast. I like the feminine pink, white, and lime green fabric, which has some sort of fruit pattern on it (I am undecided whether they are meant to be apples or cherries), against the flat back.

So there.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

ode to grey

I love grey. Perhaps it is the faded New Yorker in me. I like black just fine—but I find it does not always go well with other colors. The contrast is too stark. So I have faded to grey, in fabrics. And in painting.

On the legs (is this the right term? uprights?) of a shelving project I completed with my husband, I painted blocks of bright, vibrant greens (love a lime green these days, too), reds, purples, yellows, organges and blues. I left space between the blocks and stripes for thin lines of grey, which I applied in layers. The whole painting deal took about three hours of my time. (We used recycled oak shelves from Community Forklift.)

All colors can get along if you add grey.

Friday, July 22, 2011

red leather jacket and my weak sketching skills

I had a black leather jacket from the late 1960s or early 1970s when I was a teenager in the 1980s (kind of like the one at right)—one I bought at a thrift store near St. Mark’s Place (not Love Saves the Day, but someplace similar). I loved it. The lining was fraying a bit when I bought it, and it was in very sorry shape by the time I was in my early 20s and still wearing it. I had to give it up as the whole thing came apart, and not along the seams.

I’ve been in search of a replacement ever since. Unfortunately, such “vintage” jackets now sell for more than I have been willing to pay—but I have also not found the right one. I did find one in a vintage clothing shop on the Lower East Side in February 2010: black leather, soft, almost the same, but not quite. The original was not so soft and was almost shiny. And the original was more hourglass-shaped. The new version is boxier than I would like, though it fits well and looks good with a colorful, long scarf.

This week, I found a red leather jacket at an antique (junk?) store in Milbridge, Maine, for $25. It is different than my original—not only is it red (actually more a Doc Martens’ oxblood color) but also shorter, a deficit I will have to consider. But I bought it.

I am thinking about a Victorian thing—in keeping with the skirt found in Ellsworth, Maine. I am not sure what color of mod-ish fabric would work. Lime green? Grey? Purple? Yellow? Orange? I need to see it more clearly.

And I definitely need to work on my sketching skills.

Monday, July 11, 2011

for today

My favorite things for today are:

1) A so-labeled “Victorian slip” that I bought at an antique stall at the Big Chicken Barn in Ellsworth, Maine. Its button holes are clearly machine-sewn (I therefore doubt it is actually Victorian), but much is hand sewn, including the hemming, darts and loving lace repair. I will have to do more repairs.

2) A small Wedgewood plate from my mother-in-law’s house in Steuben, Maine. I cannot track down the pattern name, but what I have found indicates it may be pre-1930s. I want to grab the set of eight of these for myself and take them home. 

3) A needlepoint by my grandmother-in-law, who died long before I could meet her. I love the textures and the pinkness. My mother-in-law gave this to me for my 40th birthday this year, but it feels wrong to take it off the wall in the Maine house, though I want to. If I can find something else to put on the wall, I will do so. 

I have creative plans for the slip. I must fix the plain cotton upper tiers, which are full tiny holes; the material feels weak, brittle. I may fully cover the top with another fabric, instead of replacing or lining it, to hold the skirt together. I plan to trace a pattern that matches the top pieces to create this new upper level, and the bottom lace will show. I may use a 1960s-style birdcage print for this new top layer. I have a vision of a one-of-a-kind maxi-skirt.

The mix of Victorian and Mod appeals to me. The romantic with the edgy. The soft with the abstract or geometric. This may be what I like about the Wedgewood plate, too. The soft flowers are framed in solid, dark red lines with a geometric background of blue and white. And the needlepoint? Totally 1960s, or maybe a holdover of style into the 70s. Soft, floral, yet also flat and abstracted.