THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

December 9, 2011

Shingo Sato Designer part two

The moment I saw the green dress on Shingo Sato’s website   I felt the excitement to try to copy that dress using “Transformational  Reconstruction” (aka design on 3D)

See the previous post Shingo Sato Designer

At the end of last year 2010 I was invited to make a garment as part of the Dutch tailors catwalk show for the International Master Tailor Conference which would take place in Rome Italy in August 2011. So now I found the opportunity to make such a dress.

My model who would show the  dress in Rome, lives in Amsterdam while I live 200 km away so I was happy with my dress-form, although my model has a more nicely curved body.

I found the right fabric for the dress (“Balestra” which is a high-end quality 100% polyester satin back crepe fabric and both sides can be used since it has a matt and a shiny side. This fabric is often used for evening  and bridal wear.

And I bought a cheap satin back crepe in purple for my test dress.

I drafted a basic dress and my adventure started.

After fitting the basic dress I could start with the design. But since I am not used to draw (permanent) lines onto a 3D form, I started with pinning wool yarn threads instead. The advantages of using wool yarn threads above the permanent pen lines are obvious.

The wool yarn threads could be rearranged easy without having multiple lines on my basic dress that could make it difficult to see the final result.

When I was satisfied with the design lines on the dress-form, and it really helps if you stand away and take another look.   (The perspective is different from viewing in front of it like an arm length away).

(I also used “Paint” to highlight the shiny parts on the pictures on the computer) and I traced the wool yarn lines with a pen.


Putting the dress on my ironing board I was able to smooth out the design lines with a curved ruler and marked the reference points. After cutting out the pattern I placed the pattern pieces on the purple fabric matt side and some parts on the shiny side.

Since this one would be my test dress, I could use a tracing wheel and tracing paper to mark the seam lines and reference points. I used 1 cm seam allowances.

Detail view of one of the cutout shiny parts where you can see the reference marks, side seam mark:

The new dress design has design lines which are not corresponding at the end points of the darts  so learning how to deal with that the video easing and forming was helpful.

During the next fitting I was not really pleased with the design lines; moreover, the dress was too tight, probably caused by the shape of the pattern parts (some are cut at the bias due to their shapes).


So I marked some new design line points and started with a new drafted dress pattern but now with more wearing ease that would vanish into the design.

The second test dress was better in the fitting but needed some rearranging of the design lines which I could do at home using my dress -form.

The blue lines are the permanent lines which I used for the final dress in blue.


pattern parts matte side :                                                                        pattern parts shiny sides:

I was pleased with the final outcome on the dress -form                   Vanished extra wearing ease test dress versus final dress

see below:


Unfortunately when my model was trying the dress for the last time, some wrinkles appeared due to the bias cut pattern parts.

Obviously the purple fabric was a bit heavier than the blue fabric which I should have known but did not recognize in time. Otherwise I should have fused all the pattern parts with a thin fusible interfacing to prevent the wrinkles due to all the curved lines.

But it was too late to make a new dress since the dress was going to Rome in 3 days.

Well lesson learned for the next time.

It was an experiment and a lot of work but I liked the new take on designing the dress on 3D and I enjoyed making this dress a lot.

So thank you Shingo Sato for being an inspiration  in my process to make a dress using this TR designing technique.

The picture of my model on the catwalk at Piazza Campidoglio in Rome Italy August 9 2011.

July 3, 2011

Jean Paul Gaultier

Last week while we were traveling Canada for vacation, my hb and I visited the fantastic exhibition “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier “From Sidewalk to the Catwalk” in the museum of fine arts.

This exhibition will travel to Dallas Museum of Art (November 13, 2011 – February 12, 2012),

the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, de Young (March 24 – August 19, 2012),

Thee Young (March 24 – August 19, 2012), the Fundación Mapfre – Instituto de Cultura, Madrid (September 26 – November 18, 2012) ,

and The Kunsthal Rotterdam, the Netherlands (February 9 – May 12, 2013).

The exhibition was fantastic not only to see the 140 garments which were shown but also the display with 30 of the dress models/ mannequins have animated faces.

The clothes are not just displayed on our average mannequin: in true avant garde style faces of those close to Gaultier are projected onto the mannequin’s modeled heads- Gaultier’s own countenance is even present on one lucky model (see video below, it is truly mind blowing). Thierry-Maxime Loriot, the curator at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts explains the innovative method of display: “If you know Jean Paul Gaultier’s world then you see how creative and how alive and fun it is. It would be wrong to show his work only on boring mannequins.”

Copied from

My husband took a lot of pictures (+ 130) of the garments ( allowed by the museum but no flashes)

You can see them all at  my flickr album

If you have the opportunity to see the exhibition please do, it is phenomenal.

I admire the designs but also the fantastic craft/workmanship from all the people who made those fantastic garments.

see this leopard skin dress’ which is made entirely from tiny beads embroidery.

6 months ago I watched the Arte documentary “The day before Jean Paul Gaultier”on Dutch television with Dutch subtitles, maybe you can watch it too via

AVRO Close Up portal – Close Up: The Day Before: Jean-Paul Gaultier.

September 2, 2009

Valentino Movie DVD release

Filed under: Couture Techniques,Designer,Georgene,Inspirations,Videos — georgene @ 9:23 pm

VALENTINO websized

I guess someone over at the Valentino movie PR firm read my review of The Last Emperor. We received a note about the DVD’s release, so my wish to own it is about to come true.

The description of the little mini movies included with the DVD look interesting; I know I am looking forward to seeing the extra glimpse into the atelier. Regardless of what you think of Valentino the man, or his style, the movie is a wonderful poem about the creation of beuatiful clothes. I can’t wait to hit the slow-motion, and the pause button, to study up a bit on some couture techniques.

For those who might be driven to own a real Valentino dress, you can enter a contest to win a vintage Valentino gown from Decades in Los Angeles – all you have to do is send an email to enter. Who knows where that info may end up? I can imagine that your in-box might be filled with fashion and cinema related emails for the foreseeable future. Still, the gown is valued at $3200, and you get the DVD along with it. However, the drawing isn’t until January – I am not going to wait that long.

July 9, 2009

The Joy of Sewing: Part 2

Filed under: Georgene,Inspirations,Musings,Professional Friends — georgene @ 11:16 am

matisse blouse
Part 2 of my conversation with Elaine Lipson about Slow Cloth: the development of ethical fashion –

Ethical Fashion
In England, the sustainable movement in clothing is referred to as ethical fashion and textiles.

Greenwashing,”or efforts to get on the ecological bandwagon, doesn’t necessarily benefit the sustainable, ethical movement. Clothing or fabrics are marketed as sustainable, with no standards to support that labeling.

Certification and labeling?
Foods labeled as ‘organic’ have some sort of certification process – that is required by law in Oregon – and all organic products in the US that intend to be sold in Oregon submit to this standard. Are eco-friendly fabrics better when there is no attention to dyeing, finishing, or fair labor practice?

Lainie has a short rant: “Too many trendy tops, made out of bamboo softened by heavy doses of chemicals, marketed as ‘eco-chic.’ And if we’re going to make “repurposed” old clothes, we need a strong aesthetic – I see too many that look like a vision for a post-apocalypse novel. That’s potentially brilliant on the screen or the stage or the runway, but in real life it can be a bleak vision.”

She loathes some junior fashion producers’ “institutionalized objectification of young women in their ads and in their stores, and calling it sustainable fashion. All these things contribute to the green-speak fatigue that we’re already seeing.”

Education and Community

G: How can we engage people in expressing their creativity or culture? Is there a community model?

E: “Every community should embrace its creative class and invest in it…The movement toward creativity and craft is happening everywhere. Building live-work and studio-gallery spaces is a fantastic idea for any community with empty buildings. You also need local businesses that supply artists.

While we can buy a lot of things online, everyday creativity often depends on the materials readily available to you. If you don’t have a great fabric store with inspiring classes and workshops and a convenient place to get thread and elastic and zippers, you’re going to have a hard time learning to sew. The advent of knitting groups and public sewing studios is terrific. But we need to look at how to make these businesses viable, because so often they’re prohibitively expensive to run, and they’re based more on idealistic dreams than business sense. We need both.”

What people are doing now
Lainie mentions what Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin is doing with locally produced fabric and fashion.

E: Chanin’s philosophy is linked to organic food and sustainable agriculture “in a very graceful way. Her model is to create high-end, inspirational and aspirational handmade clothing, but also write books that show you how to make it yourself. She has a lovely, elegant yet raw, very authentic aesthetic that people are clamoring for. And it truly seems to come from the heart, her love of handmade and her commitment to her roots and community.”

Here’s Lainie’s recommendation for further reading on subject of ethical fashion:

E: Charty Durrant has written “The Tyranny of Trends,” a terrific article for Resurgence magazine on the need for rethinking fashion. This is a powerful statement from a former fashion insider. She mentions some multinational brands, and notes that it is important to acknowledge the small independent and local companies that are being very conscious and innovative.”

Elaine Lipson is a writer, editor, textile artist and craftsperson. She is the author of The Organic Foods Sourcebook (Contemporary Books, 2001) and The International Market for Sustainable and Green Apparel, a comprehensive market research report published by Packaged Facts (2008). She blogs about textile art, craft, culture and sustainability at Red Thread Studio . Her work with the organic food industry and the Slow Food movement has led her to translate some of her thoughts to the fiber arts and publish her manifesto Elaine’s 10 Qualities of Slow Cloth at her blog.

July 4, 2009

The Joy of Sewing

Filed under: Georgene,Inspirations,Musings,Professional Friends — georgene @ 11:29 am

Mary Beth recently sent me a link to Red Thread Studio, where Elaine Lipson blogs about ‘textile art, craft, culture and sustainability’. Lainie, as she is known, is the author of The Organic Foods Sourcebook, and The International Market for Sustainable and Green Apparel. Her work with the organic food industry and the Slow Food movement has led her to translate some of those ideas to fiber. I love this distillation of her thoughts that I found over on her blog ~

Elaine’s 10 Qualities of Slow Cloth

* Joy Slow Cloth has the possibility of joy in the process. The journey matters as much as the destination.

* Contemplation Slow Cloth can be contemplative, offering a space for meditation or contemplation in the work.

* Skill Slow Cloth involves skill that can develop over time, and with intention, has the possibility of mastery.

* Diversity Slow Cloth acknowledges the rich diversity and multicultural history of textile art.

* Teaching Slow Cloth honors its teachers and lineage even in its most contemporary expressions.

* Materials Slow Cloth is thoughtful in its use of materials and respects their source.

* Quality Slow Cloth artists, designers, crafters and artisans want to make things that last and are well-made.

* Beauty It’s in the eye of the beholder, yes, but it’s in our nature to reach for beauty and create it where we can.

* Community Slow Cloth supports community by sharing knowledge and respecting relationships.

* Expression Slow Cloth is expressive of individuals and/or cultures. The human creative force is reflected and evident in the work.

The joy of slowly sewing a wedding gown.

I recently caught up with her and asked her a few questions about her concept of Slow Cloth.

G: Has your work in the organic food industry had an impact on your thinking in the area of textile crafts?

E: Food and fiber are closely related. Cultivating plants and animals for food and clothing is the touchstone of culture and civilization. In both cases, our human instinct is to take nature’s raw materials and be creative with them to satisfy our senses, our desire for nourishment and beauty. And in both cases, we’ve industrialized and commodified production in ways that are rightfully up for serious review. Just as we learned to be aware of where our food came from and how it was produced, it’s time to take the same approach to fiber.

The idea of going back to the source, preserving and protecting regional and indigenous traditions, supporting contemporary interpretations, and taking time to celebrate the personal and communal rewards of making. That’s what inspired me to develop a set of principles for what I call Slow Cloth, but they work for all kinds of textile art and craft, and certainly for fashion as well.

G: What steps can we take to bring consciousness to the public about textile arts and crafts, similar to the Fair Trade movement for coffee and other agricultural products?

E: We’ve outsourced clothing and textile production so completely that those who make the things we buy are completely anonymous to us, and the environmental issues are invisible. I think a change is underway. The craft renaissance is allowing people to experience what it takes to make something. After you’ve made a pair of pants, you start to ask how Old Navy can sell a pair for $9.99 and make a profit, and then you begin to connect the dots. You might still buy those $9.99 pants, but at least you’re aware that it’s a choice that might not completely line up with your values.

G: There is a lot of interest is creating sustainable, green models for textile and clothing manufacturing. Where do you see the most activity currently?

E: Good certification programs are just the beginning; we also need consumer information and education that help people realize the need for sustainable production and sane consumption. ..It’s hard to look at a beautiful, silky dress or a well-loved cotton shirt and see it as a problem, so we have to identify production issues and still acknowledge that people want beautiful and comfortable garments.

….Sometimes the clothing being marketed as “sustainable” has nothing to qualify it as such. Or sometimes it’s a fabric we perceive as better, but there’s no attention to dyes and finishing or ethical labor practices.

…. In England, this movement is much more frequently referred to as ethical fashion and textiles, rather than sustainable… an ethical model–one that is responsible to all stakeholders from producer to wearer–is really what we need to create.

Slow sewing for a pieced lace applique

Stay tuned for part 2 of my interview with Lainie and The Joy of Sewing next week.

pewter twinset
The joy of working in fine cloth

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