THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

December 23, 2009

It Only Comes Around Once a Year

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Embellishment,Georgene — georgene @ 9:30 pm

Christmas is the only time of year that this sweater can be worn. Not exactly a candidate for the Ugly Christmas Sweater contest, it  only comes out in December.

It was a sample, made in China,  for a collection I worked on a couple of years ago. It got rejected for its ‘unusual’ color combination. The factory just  decided to use what they had on hand, not the colors I had requested. That’s often the way with prototypes, they use what’s lying around, just to give an idea of the design, so that the next piece can be corrected. This poor sample never had a chance to go any further than the first piece.

It’s beautiful, its flawless embroidery and dazzling rhinestones are perfection. But everyone blinks when they see it, and it languished in the showroom until I rescued it and put it in the archive.

Here is the inspiration for the artwork of the embroidery – a Persian carpet my friend brought back from Turkey.

The beautiful but lonely sweater is the result.

Season’s best to all. It’s so great to share this sweater with those who might appreciate it for the little gem it is.

December 7, 2009

Sew your own ribbing fabric

For a lot of patterns you need a knit fabric, like a jersey or wool plus some ribbing to finish the sleeves or sew a neckband.

I know it can be difficult to find a matching ribbing for the knit fabric you want to use. I have bought cotton and acrylic ribbing in bright colors when I was making sweaters for my kids but I never found a wool ribbing.

If you can’t find the right matching ribbing you can make your own faux ribbing, using the same  knit fabric, and a twin needle.

I learned that technique from a Threads magazine article “RIBBING” FOR ANY KNIT FABRIC”
by Dorothy Amo back in 1996 April/May issue 64.

Years ago I made a wool jersey sweater and made the ribbing from the same fabric using a twin needle size 4.0×75

I made the neckband from a folded pin tucked piece of the wool.

After the pintucks were sewn I measured the needed wide and sewed the band together with a regular stitch and finished the outer edge and attached the band around the neckline with a 3 thread serger/overlocker.

I topstitched the band seam allowances around the neckline again with a twin needle.

For the sleeve cuffs I sewed pintucks for a length of 20 cm and finished both edges with a 3 thread serger and traced the part of the sleeves which I wanted in pintucks , sewed the ends together , attached to the sleeves and used 4 cm for the hem wide and hand stitched the hem since I did not want to use a visible line of stitching.

As you can see the sweater is old but it is only to show what is possible if you make the matching ribbing your self.

I made a new sample from a purple knit

I marked the knit fabric on 10 cm and starting to sew pin tucks, the wide between the pin tucks is 4 mm and I have 13 pin tucks for the 10 cm wide fabric which leaves me with 8 cm wide faux ribbing.

The size of the stitch length I used was 2,5 and the tension on high at 8. I used my normal sewing feet and set the needle on 4 towards the right.

I used my sewing foot as a guide for the previous sewn pin tuck.

wrong side

I used the sample to make a cuff for the sleeve .

The amount of stretch depends on the stretch factor and stretch recovery of the fabric plus the amount of pin tucks. In this case the cuff 10 cm wide and it can stretch towards 14,5 cm.

It is best to make a sample first.

but did not finished the edges as you can see inside the sleeve.

If you want to explore more about this sewing technique try to find a copy of Threads magazine issue 64 which shows detailed pictures and a lot more information.

   or find a copy of the “Book Sewing with Knits” by Connie Long , she also covers this type of sewing ribbing in her book.

September 28, 2009

More Jeweled Inspiration

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Embellishment,Georgene — georgene @ 7:57 pm

Continuing my current obsession with sewn jewelry, I thought I would share some of the latest entrants to the field.


lanvin bracelet 5This Lanvin bracelet, while it does have some hardware, is a nice combo of pearls, ribbon, and some rhinestone brooches.



I have my needlenose pliers, and it’s not hard to find jumprings and clasps at the local bead store.



I think deconstructing thrift store costume jewelry could yield some useful elements.


Lanvin crystal ribbon necklaceThe scale of this Lanvin piece is quite wonderful.

Lanvin crystal ribbon necklace 3

lanvin dbl pearl necklace 1I love the double row of pearls on a  mesh covered double-face silk satin ribbon here – Notice the crystal bead sewn in every now and then. It’s very subtle with the two different sizes of pearls.


marni plastron 1


Here’s another of the felt  plastron styles from Marni. While the elements used here are more ‘real jewelry’, I can see doing something in this vein with beads, sew thru stones, crystals, or buttons.


marni plastron 3










Again, the scale of this is interesting.

Not for the shy or faint of heart!





marni stone felt necklace 1




This one from Marni is a more eclectic mix of elements. Here you can see that the black ribbon ties are inserted into big grommet holes, and then just knotted.





Again, the big statement. These felt plastron style necklaces may keep your chest warm under your coat this winter, nestled in at the neck to protect you from the wind blowing in off the lake. Or the Hudson if you are in NYC. I was never so cold as waiting for the bus on 42nd St. with the wind whipping across town.


marni stone felt necklace 2

One final piece, from Phillip Lim, rather interesting in that the fabric is pleated.philip lim pleated necklace 1

I can’t really say what is going on, but it looks like the pleats are stitched to the chain. The chiffon bow is a nice touch.




philip lim pleated necklace 2









I just uncovered a trove of my old costume jewelry (gulp! it’s vintage now) that I can use to cannibalize for chains, pendants, and clasps. Good for Christmas (coming all too soon). I may never have to buy a thing for the ladies on my list.

September 6, 2009


Filed under: Accessories,Designer Inspirations,Embellishment,Georgene — georgene @ 9:55 pm

Ribbon, crystal, and tulle, oh my!

 design elements

Leaping in

 This weekend I put together my own piece of sewn jewelry, since I had the good fortune to find ropes of pearl beads at Addison Endpapers quirky warehouse sale last week. I went thru the trim boxes in the new studio and found some elements to make a tulle covered necklace with a ribbon bow closure, a la Lanvin. The pink/ peach/ nude story jumped out easily. I’ll do a black lace version later on.

trim boxesboxes

 Is it over before it’s begun?

 My fashionista friend who avidly follows anything to do with handbags, shoes, and jewelry claims this trendlet is over because “it’s at Forever 21”. Well, everything ends up at Forever 21 the next day! So what? That never stopped Dolce and Gabbana from doing, say, leopard print. Some things become instant classics, and I think that the ‘statement’ necklace is here to stay for awhile.


(This image thanks to Good Bones Great Pieces)

 The ladies over at Good Bones Great Pieces have also picked up on this trend. Love this great photo montage that shows how the influence has percolated thru the market.

 Not so fast

 Meanwhile,’s Spring 2010 Trend Forecast includes this tidbit about designer/wunderkind Jason Wu:

Wu will be unveiling his line of jewelry for Atelier Swarovski. Expect the baubles as well as the clothes to be sculptural, as their starting point was the work of artist Tara Donovan. “I like her concept of sculpting with everyday objects,” Wu said, “so I’m using fabric and crystals and making sculptures in that spirit.”

 Jason Wu sketch

The sketch that is shown along with the note gives an impression of an explosion of color droplets.

Since Tara Donovan’s sculpture was noted in some of the design services’ forecasts for Spring 2010 that I saw 6 months ago, it will be interesting to see what Jason Wu has done with her influence.

 As seen in Vogue

 September Vogue had this great photo that caught my eye.


There’s a lot going on in this photo. Since there are 2 necklaces in the credits, not sure where one starts and the other leaves off.  No matter, it is a great look for this fall.

200903_marni2The blurb gives credit to Marni for the jewel encrusted plastron, so I went hunting to see if I could find a reference to the specific piece without all the foufou fanfreluche of the Vogue photo obscuring the necklace. I don’t think  this is it.


The whole category of ‘felt plastron’ or ‘bib necklace’ is worth considering for more fun with sewn jewelry.



 MARNI_FW09_jpg  from Marni Fall 2009 collection

 More Statement Necklaces

 Lanvin glass pearl heart 1Love the scale of the latest Lanvin necklace to sell out on Net-a-Porter! Somewhere I have a rhinestone bow pin, I must make my own version of this.

marni_necklaceAlso love the fabric flowers on this Marni necklace – hard to see what is actually going on in this photo reference, but it looks soft knotted cord to form flowers. Could this be some form of Chinese Knotting?

Here’s my finished piece:

 finished necklace

First I tied off the string of pearls with a slip knot, leaving plenty of room on the string to move the beads along.

tie off end

Then I took my 1 1/2″ strip of tulle and passementerie trim and started to wrap the beads. After wrapping the entire length I went back and hand sewed around each bead, securing the tulle around the bead and the trim around that.

wrapping the beads

Once that was done, I lashed the beaded trim to the bottom edge of the tulle

lashing on the trim

I have added some vintage Swarovski teardrops and a pink organza flower…not sure about those elements. I may add more teardrops, and put the flower on a pinback so it can be taken on and off according to need.

The ribbons are stitched to the end and then wrapped with a circlet of the same ribbon to hide the stitching.

It took all day, but now that I know more about how it works, I can see that it could go faster. Worth the $1250+ for the Lanvin version? What do you have in your stash that could be used for something fun?

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.

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