Sunday, February 21, 2010

"One of a Kind"

From time to time I enjoy departing from weaving scarves and tops in order to do "one of a kind pieces". When I weave a garment many times there is left over warp so I continue to weave cloth that can be used for something else at another time. These pieces of handwoven cloth go into my extra fabric stash. When I am ready I pull them out and make something with them. Sometimes it's a handwoven embellished purse, sometimes it becomes the embellishment on something, and other times it becomes a shrug.

A shrug for those of you who do not know is a shawl type garment that has a very small sleeve seam so that when worn if it falls off your shoulder the sleeves will keep it from leaving the body completely.
I just finished working on one of these. They are time consuming as I am designing the embellishments as I go. I am hunting through my stash of interesting fabric, trims, beads, buttons, etc. in hopes of finding just the right items to use.
This time I looked into my stash of samples from a complex cloth class I took which was taught by Jane Dunnewold (the complex cloth guru!). These samples are only about 10" x 12"and are dyed, over dyed, discharged, screen printed, stamped, and painted. Multiple techniques are used to make the cloth design. Since I have documented all the processes used for each sample, I am free to use them , soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, I decided to cut them on the bias and use them for trim and binding.
Here are a few pictures of the process. It goes like this:

These are my complimentary complex cloth samples. One has been dyed, over dyed, discharged, stenciled, stamped and printed. The other has only been dyed and over dyed.

Bias trim is cut from both cloths.

I organize the fabrics. Here are 3 complex cloth fabrics and 2 handwoven fabrics. All will be sewn together. I love this color combination!

The bias trim is applied to the handwoven fabric. The other complimentary fabric is used as piping.

Seams are covered for a couture finish.
Here is the completed piece with the third complex sample creating the binding along the upper edge.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Drawing Inspiration

Recently I visited the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. There is a wonderful exhibit right now called "Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel". Basically it is the fashions from one woman's closet! But, OH MY, what an interesting closet! And even more interesting is the way she puts pieces together.

Iris Apfel is a women of flamboyant and eclectic tastes. In her wardrobe are pieces from designers and pieces from flea markets around the world. She has a knack for pairing the most unusual with couture designs. She converts large Turkish belt buckles to brooches, Bakelite sample chips to necklaces, and unusual Tibetan carrying cases to purses.

I think my 2 favorite pieces in the whole show are an Antonio del Castillo (circa 1961) gold lame ribbon applique, beads, and rhinestone evening coat. It is spectacular! I have a friend who I know would covet it instantly!

The other piece is much simpler. It is a beautiful Krizia (1980) cornelian twin sweater set paired with a multicolored silk brocade, silk damask, and silk embroidered wrap skirt. The fabric is from the Chinese, Qing Dynasty! It is accessorized with a very long silk corded necklace of cornelian, jade, and metal. Once again from the Chinese, Qing Dynasty. (I'd love to shop at the flea markets where she shops!) I could see myself wearing this many times over!

The point that Iris makes over and over again (and she is alive and well in New York) is discover your style. Express yourself through clothes, have fun with them, and don't be afraid of what other's think. I have to add that it helps if you have a little bit of a sense of what looks interesting and fashionable together with out being costume-y or clownish! Sometimes there is a fine line!

This exhibit is only on until Feb 7 (Sunday). If you can't make the exhibit you can check out pictures on-line at There is also a wonderful article written for the Boston Globe about Iris and the exhibit. Go to and google Iris Apfel.

Hope this inspires you to be creative and express yourself through apparel and accessories. Live adventurously! Be a work of art!