Friday, July 31, 2009

"Out, damned spot! Out, I say!"

I am a mom of toddler twins. One of the occupational hazards of being a mom of toddler twins is that my clothes often become stained beyond repair. I have decided to take these sad items and create wearable art out of them, and covering the stains with paint! This photo of a shirt from Six Foot Owl Clothing is great design inspiration (although I think I would leave out JFK's head... it's just not my thing).

Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts offers a wide variety of fabric paints, from sprays, to markers, to puff-paints, to brush-on.

I'll be sure to post photos of the items I rejuvenate! If any of my loyal readers take on this project, I'd love to see the results!

Photo courtesy of The District Weekly

Title quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

This Day in History: 7.30.1942

1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill creating a women's auxiliary agency in the Navy known as Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES.

The crisis of World War II called women out of the home and into the work, volunteer, and military service in greater numbers than ever before. The influence of the war and the greater acceptance of women into military service had a widespread influence on the fashions of the day.

One branch of military service that was reinstated for women was the WAVES.

"Recruiting had to be undertaken (or at least managed, as the number of interested women was vast), training establishments set up, an administrative structure put in place and uniforms designed. The latter effort produced a classic design that still has many elements in use nearly six decades later. Difficulties were overcome with energy and indispensable good humor, and within a year 27,000 women wore the WAVES uniform."

A wide variety of recruitment posters were designed that depicted the WAVES as patriotic, feminine, and modest.

Some women had never ventured away from their hometowns and longed for the excitement of travel, jobs and new friends. Others joined to escape unfulfilling, low-paying jobs, the isolation of an "empty nest" or the routine of full-time housework.

"While traditionally female secretarial and clerical jobs took an expected large portion, thousands of WAVES performed previously atypical duties in the aviation community, Judge Advocate General Corps, medical professions, communications, intelligence, science and technology. The wartime Navy's demand for them was intense as it struggled to defeat Hitler and Mussolini in Europe and the Japanese in the Pacific. At the end of the conflict, there were well over 8,000 female officers and some ten times that many enlisted WAVES, about 2 ½ percent of the Navy's total strength. In some places WAVES constituted a majority of the uniformed Naval personnel. And many remained in uniform to help get the Navy into, and through, the post-war era."

Reading the biographies of these pioneering women is truly fascinating.

The increased patriotism and rationing of fabrics and supplies lent a military flavor to civilian fashions of the time marked by a highly tailored look, broad padded shoulders, belted waists and large pockets. Pencil skirts came to the knee and were not so tight as to restrict movement for this active generation of women. The overall look was austere and it was considered unpatriotic in a time of shortages and rationing to wear clothing and accessories that were too ostentatious. There was a resurgence in popularity of the sailor look as well.

Quotes from the Naval Historical Center.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Seeking reader questions!

I would love to start taking questions from my lovely readers... Have a question about sewing technique? Need help with a project? Want info about fashion history? Want advice about what to wear to an event? I'd love to help you out and give my readers a chance to chime in, too. C'mon! It'll be fun!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Here's a fun video to enjoy on this lovely Sunday. If only I could find one of these invisible elves to help out when it gets busy around here...

*ps: I want to add that this video demonstrates dressmaking with A LOT of shortcuts... I am only posting this for fun, not as an endorsement of sloppy sewing :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

DIY Couture: Instant sundress

"Bring your desires down to your present means. Increase them only when your increased means permit."
- Aristotle

Yesterday I desired a sundress. I did not have a sundress in my closet. My means did not permit me to procure a sundress. What's a girl to do?? Then I saw it... the blue three-tiered skirt with the elastic waistband that I've had for a couple of years now. I like this skirt because it is comfy and full, but the thick elastic waistband was not terribly flattering and I never seemed to have the right thing to wear with it. So yesterday was the day that the skirt became the sundress! This is an insanely easy way to recycle an old wardrobe piece into something new and fun.

If you have a good strapless bra that you like to wear or you're fortunate enough not to need a bra, all you need to do to turn a skirt with an elastic waistband into a sundress is hike the waist up over your breasts and put a sash or belt around your waist.

I, however, don't do strapless without a serious foundation garment. So, I simply opened up the side seams on the top tier to make armholes. I slapped on a belt, in a moment of inspiration (or lunacy, you be the judge!) I turned the belt buckle to the back to add a little interest. I slapped on a brooch and--voila!-- I'm ready for my husband to take me out to dinner. Now, if only finding a babysitter was this easy...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bring on the kaftans

It is July in Los Angeles. The heat is getting intense, temperatures are nearing 100 degrees in our concrete jungle. Let's face it, tank tops and shorts don't make much of a fashion statement, and they don't even keep a person very cool, leaving your skin to bake in the blazing sun. So, I got to thinking, "What Would Jesus Do?" Not in a religious sense, but in the sense that he lived in a hot, dry climate in a time before hot pants and tube tops. So after poking around a little, I learned that the key to beating the heat may be to wear more clothes, not less. Long, loose-fitting garments in light colors made of natural fibers (think linen, cotton, silk) will keep the air flowing and shade your body from the sun. That's why inhabitiants of the Middle East and North Africa wear kaftans. I went on a mission and found a really lovely selection of stylish and comfy looking warm-weather wear at eShakti. These good people will even customize your order for you to ensure the most flattering, comfortable fit for your body.

I've put a few on my wishlist...

One for taking my kids to the park
One for going to a fancy dinner
One to wear around the house
And one or two for a night on the town.

If a kaftan isn't in your future, you could always just get naked and stand in front of the fan with a spray bottle of water!

*Image courtesy of Hijabi Couture

Thursday, July 23, 2009

This Day in History: 7.23.1914

On July 23, 1914, Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia following the killing of Archduke Francis Ferdinand by a Serb assassin; the dispute led to World War I.

Fashion doesn't happen in a vacuum. Our style is influenced by events in the world around us, by changes in culture and attitude.

World War I had a profound effect on the styles of the era. For example, many women who went to work as a part of the war effort began to cut their hair short. The various work, both paid and philanthropic, that women took during the war began to erode social barriers and differences in dress between social classes became less obvious. As women explored the world outside of the domestic sphere, they sought equal rights with increased determination. This quest for equality and a war-time shortage of fabric, led to more progressive fashions, such as shorter hemlines (for the first time, women were showing their ankles!) and narrower skirts. As the nation mourned the loss of loved ones, styles took on a somber, monochrome look, with military inspred design details. Many of these historical and fashion influences would go on to directly influence the daring fashions of the 1920's Jazz Age. Traces of these trends can even pop up in contemporary styles, a testament to their popularity and practicality.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's a nice day for a black wedding

(image via Red Hot Bride)
I love weddings and I love making wedding gowns! It is a sincere honor to participate in the celebration of love and commitment between two people. While no one loves a wedding gown in a shade of white more than I do, I think it is exciting when a bride explores other colors for the gown for her big day. There is an old poem that guided choices about bridal colors:

“Married in white, you will have chosen all right.
Married in grey, you will go far away.
Married in black, you will wish yourself back.
Married in red, you’ll wish yourself dead.
Married in blue, you will always be true.
Married in pearl, you’ll live in a whirl.
Married in green, ashamed to be seen,
Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow.
Married in brown, you’ll live out of town.
Married in pink, your spirits will sink.

I think it is time to reevaluate these ideas and explore the world outside of white for wedding gowns even if for no other reason than that you could wear the dress again! After all, there is a good chance it's the most expensive piece of clothing you will ever buy. So, in the spirit of progress, here is a new pass at the old classic poem:

Married in white, your love will shine bright.
Married in grey, you'll feel loved every day.
Married in black, you'll never go back.
Married in red, only kind words will be said.
Married in blue, happiness for you two.
Married in pearl, you're one lucky girl!
Married in green, for you he'll always be keen.
Married in yellow, you'll have days exciting and mellow.
Married in brown, you'll never frown.
Married in pink, happy thoughts you will think.

Married in purple, orange, or fuschia... well, you don't get a rhyme, but you're so unconventional, I'm sure you don't need a rhyme anyway!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sustainable Glamour

This is a bias tank I created from hemp silk. Hemp is far more renewable than many traditional fibers, and requires fewer chemical fertilizers and pesticides to grow, making it an ideal fiber for environmentally conscious garments. Until recently, buying used and vintage clothing was virtually the only means of being both "green" and fashionable. We are fortunate that today, many designers and manufacturers have jumped on board with consumer demand for ecological clothing that maintains a sophisticated sense of style.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Prima Ballerina

"Prima Ballerina" because this is my first post! In creating costumes for dance and watching dance, I have always preferred flowing skirts with lovely drape that emphasize the fluidity and grace of movement. The costume, like the dancer herself, seems to float on air.