THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

May 31, 2006

Update on The Tailor’s Art at FIT

Filed under: Fashion,Musings — Gorgeous Things @ 5:43 pm

By Diva Ann, GorgeousThings

The following is exerpted from the press release from The Museum at FIT. You can see more at the link above. This looks like a great exhibit.


‘To illustrate tailoring techniques, particularly the seaming of complicated garments, The Tailor’s Art displays muslin versions that show how the garment is made next to finished garments for both men and women by Adrian and Balenciaga. “We selected these two designers because they are masters of the art of tailoring,” Mears said.

Gender differences are further explored by presenting flamboyant and tailored fashions for women that complement and contrast with the menswear on view. Among them are a painted silk and cotton “Iris” dress that likens the wearer to a flower, and a camel wool day suit with elaborate soutache trim. The historical survey of tailoring for women begins with a blue quilted silk petticoat from 1770 and culminates with a 1996 tuxedo dress suit by Ann Demulemeester.

Examples of lush, colorful textiles, an important element in tailoring, include a tartan plaid kilt and waistcoat from the 18th and 19th centuries, and a 1930 emerald green silk chiffon by Molyneux that could have inspired Noel Coward. This romantic attire contrasts with the sobriety of the gray flannel suit that Gregory Peck wore to symbolize conformity in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

The Tailor’s Art ends with a display of the most modern examples of tailoring today. Highlights are Yohji Yamamoto’s deconstructed, reconstructed suit and a “ghetto fabulous” suit by Sean Jean, also known as “P. Diddy.”‘

One that didn’t make it

Filed under: Closures,Couture Techniques,Embellishment — georgene @ 6:22 am

By Diva Georgene
I received this sample from a factory in China in an appalling state – the trim was awful, the buttons were awful, it was nothing like what I envisionned when I sent off the development.
So what? you may ask. Only that I spent countless hours renovating it: ripping off everything and reconstructing it bit by bit, from setting on all the trim by hand, adding an organza bias to the hem and cuff to give it a little heft.

Here’s the a view of the cuff before I added the passementerie trim.

All of this was done by hand – impossible to put this knit to the machine and control it.

A trip to Britex netted me an impossibly expensive remnant of Italian silk twill to use as a facing. The knit was too soft to hold up the front, and the factory had not followed my instructions to put in a facing with fusible. Since there was no way to get more of the knit, I could only hope to match the color.

I prayed that this shopworn remnant would look better when I brought it back from the cleaners. The color was spot on when I finally got it back and I was able to find enough ‘good’ bits to cut out a back neck facing and the inside front.

Altogether I feel like I spent a 100 hours, and hundreds of dollars in this make-over. Unfortunately it got the axe, so now it’s in the reject sample pile. Let me just say I have a better insight to the workroom at Chanel now. They do this with Linton Tweeds however. I am not sure whether this would be harder or easier than my ribbon stripe knit. Too bad it’s not my size, I would wear it forever. If you add everything up, it definitely equals couture, although it didn’t start life that way. 4-Pocket Jacket R.I.P.

May 30, 2006

New FIT Exhibit “The Tailor’s Art”

Filed under: Fashion — georgene @ 3:08 am

by Diva Ann, GorgeousThings
A note in today’s Women Wear Daily tells us that The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City is showing a new exhibition, “The Tailor’s Art.” It features everything from a man’s embroidered velvet suit circa 1785 to a leather ensemble from Roberto Cavalli’s 2003 collection.
“The show helps us to understand that tailoring has not changed much in the past 250 years” according to research curator Patricia Mears.

The show opened on May 23rd but FIT’s website apparently hasn’t caught up with that fact yet. Perhaps after the long holiday weekend they will update?

May 29, 2006

Small Changes, Big Difference

Filed under: Pattern Reviews — Gorgeous Things @ 10:09 am

By Diva Ann, GorgeousThings

I was thinking of titling this post “Fashion Forward but Bass Ackward”, because I got the notion in my head to make a hoodie jacket from wool jersey during a stint of 80 degree days here in Boston. I don’t know, maybe it’s my subconscious desire to move to Australia, but when the weather gets hot, I like to work with winter fabrics. It’s the opposite when the thermometer reads below freezing – I’m making Aloha shirts and sundresses.

Be that as it may, I received a package from my dear Kashi at Metro Textiles in New York. In it was a rust colored wool jersey that spoke to me when I pulled it out of the box. I just finished teaching a class on fleece jackets, and I had hoodies on the brain. But I didn’t want to make this into a typical hoodie jacket. So I rifled through my pattern stash and came across the HotPatterns Sportive Skirt Suit:

Aha – Perfectt! I like the welt pockets, and I think the jacket would work well in a single knit, even though jersey didn’t make it into the list of recommended fabrics. This one is close enough to a stable knit though, that I thought it would work.

But I wanted to make a couple of changes. The pattern calls for a full lining and a zipper closure. I didn’t want to line the jacket, because I plan to wear it as a casual jacket, not as a funky suit topper as the pattern indicates. But most important, I had the happy circumstance of placing my fabric next to a length of hook and eye tape that I bought at Pacific Trims in New York when I was there in February. After sifting through my fabric stash (thanks to Georgene for letting me know that it’s genetic that I stash), I came across the perfect silk charmeuse for contrast facings and the hood lining:

I used the charmeuse to make the bags for the welt pocket as well.

And here is a back view of the jacket:

I really like the way the closure changes the character of the jacket completely. It was a very small change, but it makes a huge difference in the way the jacket looks. I’m going to make a skirt to go with this from a rust-colored silk charmeuse using Kwik Sew 3108 in my mitochondrial stash for the skirt. I think I’ll use the yellow charmeuse as contrast panels. Check back later for that.

You can see a full review at
Happy Sewing!

May 28, 2006

Ritual Cloth

Filed under: Couture Techniques,Embellishment,Fabric,Musings,Ritual Cloth — georgene @ 12:44 pm

by Diva Georgene

I was thinking about ritual cloth while working on a young friend’s wedding gown this past year. The subject had been percolating in my mind for a while, after I read Women’s Work the First 20,000 Years by Elizabeth Barber. This book underscored for me women’s attachment to textile, and the significance it has had for millennia. Suddenly I didn’t feel so bad about my enormous stash of fabric, trims, and buttons. It’s in the mitochondrial DNA.

The wedding took place in St. Petersburg, Russia. The bride’s mother told me about the custom of making an embroidered cloth for the bride and groom to kneel on during the ceremony. This cloth is prominently displayed in the home forever afterwards.

I researched it a bit, and found out about Rushnyk, or wedding towels. These look so familiar to me, living in Manhattan’s East Village. Once a thriving Russian Ukrainian neighborhood, it still has many vestiges of its past, like The Ukrainian National Home, Veselka Coffee Shop, The Ukrainian Museum, and Surma, a shop next to McSorley’s Old Ale House on 7th St. that has a folkloric treasure trove of embroidered blouses, cloths, and painted Easter eggs.

The idea of the Ukrainian Rushnyky morphed into the wedding shawl I wanted to make to go with the strapless gown.

I asked the friends and family of my bride to send me bits of heirloom lace to use for the shawl. They thought I was crazy, and called it “The Ragpicker Girls Shawl”, mocking my idea of using old bits of lace patchworked together.

Hmpf! A lot they know! I had seen something similar on one of my “I get paid to shop” expeditions, and it was hundreds of dollars for a few bits of lace.

Bergdorf-Goodman’s carries the line of shawls on their main floor that had caught my eye, from a British house called Pazuki. I have searched in vain for a photo reference, so I had to rely on my memory of the beautiful shawl with bits of lace in all tones of white and ivory on a silk chiffon backing, with fringed ends. I went back to Bergdorf’s to look again but it was months later, and no sign of my lace patchwork shawl.

Eventually the ladies in the family began to understand the concept, and though no one had bits of lace to donate for the shawl, they all plied their needle at one point or another, working on appliquéing the lace pieces to the silk chiffon backing. The bride’s mother, aunties, grandmother, sister-in-law and 5 year old niece all had a go at it.

I told them ‘long after the gown is gone, the shawl will still be preserved’.

We all know how difficult it is to store a wedding gown, and how much space it can take up. The shawl can be put in a small archival box, and carried anywhere.

I wrote the bride’s name and wedding date in gold Uniball Impact Gel Pen, which is as close to permanent as you can get, on a ribbon label. “Georgene Shelton for XXXX June 2005”

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