THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

August 18, 2009

Not Just For Plant Hangers

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Embellishment,Georgene — georgene @ 6:06 am

Macramé back for Chado Ralph Rucci by Gail Gondek

A note from The Center for Pattern Design landed in the inbox about the 2009 Pattern Design Conference in San Francisco Oct 2- 4. The goal is to bring together master pattern makers who will ‘share their insights, their designs, and the pattern techniques that make them a critical part of the fashion industry.’

The keynote speaker at the conference is Gail Gondek, pattern designer for Chado Ralph Rucci, Geoffrey Beene, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, and Peter Som. Her talk, Concept to Catwalk, ” will shed light on the often mysterious pattern design process that produces a fashion masterpiece at the highest levels. Her work has been shown at the Paris Couture and Pret-a-Porter shows and regularly at New York’s Fashion Week for the past 20 years.” Some of her pieces have been displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Fashion Museum at Kent State University, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA).

The photos attached to the press release show some of Ms. Gondek’s marvelous work, including some startling macramé inserts. I was intrigued by some of the construction shots that were included in the press pack.

Fitting the knots to the pattern

Placing macramé design on the dress form

This seemed particularly serendipitous, as my neighbor showed up wearing a wonderful knit tank top with a macramé back just 3 or 4 days ago.
tee back

tee front

Time to bust out those macramé skills that are long dormant, or ask your grandma to give you some pointers on technique? First make a ton of plump bias spaghetti cord out of your fabric, then experiment with some knotting. It’s great seeing this treatment at the very high end of haute couture, alongside the much more mainstream 2×2 rib knit top with the matching jersey knotted cord.


  1. This is so intriguing. I have never had a desire to learn macrame, but you have given me a reason to want to learn. My 16 year old would love to have a knit tank with the macrame detail on it. I think it would look especially nice on a maxi dress.

    Comment by Trudy Callan — August 18, 2009 @ 8:55 am

  2. I did so much macrame back in the 80’s! I never thought of translating that to garment sewing! Thanks for the inspirations.

    Comment by ConnieB — August 18, 2009 @ 9:41 am

  3. Fantastic idea to do some macrame but this time as fashion embellishment. Like others I made a large macrame wall piece back in the late seventies from orange, beige and green rope. I still can remember my sore and rough hands.
    Thanks for sharing the green top from your neighbour and a peak from your new studio.

    Comment by Els — August 18, 2009 @ 10:37 am

  4. Gail left a wonderful TSD comment on a Ralph Rucci post I did last fall; its great that you got to meet her Georgene!

    Comment by Phyllisc — August 18, 2009 @ 11:53 am

  5. Oh duh – her presntation is in October. Well make sure you get to meet her Georgene! The post I did was about making the tucks on RR’s Vogue Patterns knit dress.

    Comment by Phyllisc — August 18, 2009 @ 11:56 am

    • I will be attending this conference and report back!

      Comment by georgene — August 18, 2009 @ 1:11 pm

  6. Yep, I did macrame back in the 80’s. I had lots of plants that I hung on macrame cords. I don’t remember what else I made with it, if anything. What I would like to know is how you sew the neck piece on without resorting to hand stitching.

    Comment by Nancy K — August 18, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

    • For the 2×2 rib tank top, there is a narrow binding inside, like a mini-facing, that catches the ends of the cords. then the binding is topstitched at 1/4″. I believe there is some clear elastic inside, as this is a rib and very stretchy.

      Most likely the Rucci has a facing with attached lining sewn around the opening that has the macrame inserted.

      Comment by georgene — August 18, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

  7. Very cool trend and not DIY happy-hippie-looking.

    Comment by Mary Beth — August 18, 2009 @ 5:35 pm

  8. This is so fascinating. Unfortunately I sold my macrame books in a yard sale back in the early 80’s. Who knew? But, now you have me really intrigued. My brain is spinning on this one.

    Comment by Bunny — August 18, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

  9. Oh, I to did macrame back in the 80’s and I still have rope/cord and a board and T-pins. I should clean out my closets more often. I did some Christmas decorations that I still have. I wasn’t big on hanging plants and I’m still not.

    I love this inspiration and a reason for holding on to all that stuff, all these years. I can see sleeves with macrame insets. Time to go dig out all that old stuff and see if it is usable.

    Linda T

    Comment by vernonfashionstudio — August 18, 2009 @ 7:08 pm

  10. Oh, I LIKE. Especially the first one that has the black underlay, because I wouldn’t have thought of that!

    Hmmm, my library has *got* to have macrame books!

    Comment by knitsnwovens — August 18, 2009 @ 7:21 pm

  11. Hi Georgene,

    I too have notice an upsurge in interest for macrame-d clothing; I’ve been blogging on this trend for a couple of months. Check out my blogs at

    Mary McFadden: Goddesses

    Lorenzo Riva:

    Imagine a Byzantine Midsummer’s Dress:

    A Sleight of Hand with a bit of String:

    Threads Back Cover:

    As you may (or may not!) remember, I’ve recently published a book on macrame called “Micro-Macrame: 30 Beaded Designs for Jewelry Using Crystals and Cords.” It is having quite a lot of success on Amazon, and I’ve become really intrigued by the possibility of adding macrame and micro-macrame features to the tops/bodices of chiton-like Fortuny pleated gowns. I’m in the process of designing one now for my next book.

    For the most part, macrame can be washed (gently) in shampoo water or slightly soapy water. If you use rattail or mousetail, pre-wash it!

    Annika deGroot

    Comment by Annika — August 19, 2009 @ 9:08 am

  12. I love this! I remember taking macrame lessons back in the early late 70’s (telling my age! LOL) but never ever thought it would progress from plant hangers to something this beautiful!

    Comment by Jeanette — September 11, 2009 @ 11:17 pm

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