Friday, March 31, 2017

In The Sketchbook- March 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

This month I have 2 very different options for sketching that I often do. 
The first option is more of playing with an idea, quick sketching, adding notes, etc.. This can be done in pencil, marker, combinations.
The second option is more of a finalized sketch. It has gone through several iterations and this is is usually my final sketch of something that I really want to design and create. I almost always already have the fabric and am working in the colors that I will be using. This gets hung up on my cork board to keep the idea fresh in my head.

This is a mini notebook that Sarah Veblen gave to all of the attendees of her Design 1 class. I reduced the image of my croquis to fit in this little book and it is always in my purse. This lets me quickly pull it out and sketch some ideas if I see something that captures my interest. I often use this when I am on an airplane. I have my iPad with me and I keep a folder of inspiration photos and very often will go back through them and pick up new ideas that I want to try.

This idea for a pintuck panel at the bottom of a knit skirt came from inspiration photos that I took from the Mary Ray workshop I took in January. I think it will be a wonderful way to enhance a plain fabric. I also like the idea of a single side panel that incorporates a pocket.
Here you can see that I have jotted down several notes, including my thoughts on fabric type, construction ideas and general thoughts. this way when I go back to this at a later date it will jog my memory.

This one is also from inspiration from the Mary Ray workshop and it is a band at the bottom of the skirt with inset triangles. Again there are notes that include my ideas.
The same goes for the shirt sketch below- it is an idea to pair with the skirt and therefor making it a complete ensemble.
The really nice thing about all of these sketches is that they work right off of my master patterns and I can just add the details or make some minor changes without having to start from scratch.

This next set is playing with my markers and then into final sketches. Sometimes I just site and use the markers to play with ideas. I find that if I let my hands just go I can come up with quick ideas that capture the essence of the design I am thinking about... and sometimes it is just a mess! The thing about markers is that they are freeing, you can't go back and erase and change your mind. I just go quickly and see what happens.

Originally I was not even going to include this. However, I thought it might be nice to show that my first drafts are not always so nice at all! but they do capture the spirit of what I am going for.

The drawing on the left is the final iteration of the quick sketch on the previous marker drawing on the left. You can see here that I took my time refining it and adding in the details and the colors that I want to work in.
The dress on the right is just a line drawing with the design lines added in for a new iteration of a dress that I like. 

The dess on the right is an idea that I keep coming back to so I decided to really get the ideas and details added in and this will go on my to-do list. I have a beautiful chambray that will become this lovely summer shirtdress.
the dress on the left is playing with ideas for a sheath dress. I did not add in the marker yet because I have not decided on what fabrics I will like to use! 

Make sure to stop by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor to see what lovely sketches and ideas she is working on. Please feel free to share your sketches and ideas, leave either of us a comment or just link back to one of our posts.

Happy Sketching!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A hidden gem of a Museum with an amazing fashion exhibit!

 If you get a chance you really need to get over to The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Much to my surprise the museum is not just all about cars! The complex is is comprised of The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation as well as Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour and the Big Screen Experience. You could easily spend a full day at the complex.

Somehow Wendy found out about this fashion exhibit, American Style and Spirit, that is on display until April 2, 2017. It really is such a shame that the exhibit is not going for a longer period of time! It was an amazing exhibit. Such a wonderful collection from a single family in Wisconsin. Can you imagine having such a collection plus more stored in one attic! Not only did they have clothes but journals and receipts and photos and so much more. The curator has brilliantly set this exhibit up. In my experience this rivaled any top fashion exhibit I have seen, including those at the MET in NYC.
Wendy, Liz and I at the Henry Ford Museum

If you aren't able to get to see the exhibit the catalog that goes along with it is quite more than just a collection of photo's and descriptions. It is the story of the Roddis Family from 1850 to 1995. It is a great companion to the exhibit but goes into much more depth and includes more than just what is seen in Dearborn. Here is a link to resources where you can purchase this book.

Enough of my prattle! The rest of this post is photos. I took a huge amount of photos! There are an amazing amount of details and an endless amount of inspiration!

A photo of the general layout of the left side of the exhibit.

Collection of children's clothes.
 I love how every display has photos of  the family members in the clothing.

As you can see in this picture they had photo's from the time period along with many documents. 

This was a very interesting part of the exhibit! It showed dresses that were made by the family along with notebooks detailing their sewing notes and samples.
The rest of the photos are of dresses and outfits that I either loved or details that really interested me.

Are you inspired by fashion exhibits? I know that I sure am!!

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sewcial retreat 2017

In february I attended the Sewcial Retreat  put on by American Sewing Expo. It was a 2.5 day retreat filled with sewing, socializing, a field trip, prizes and just an all around great long weekend away with girlfriends.

Three of us, myself, Wendy G from The Couture Counsellor and Liz H, made the road trip together and we sure did have fun! The retreat started off on Friday midday and ended sunday evening. Since we had a 300mile trip we decided to drive in on thursday and home on monday, this way we could take our time and enjoy ourselves. We sure did lots of enjoying!

L-R, Myself, Wendy G and Liz H
The retreat was held at the Suburban Collection Showplace conference center and we stayed onsite at the Hyatt Place Detroit/Novi. It was great to be able to stay onsite. The hotel staff were very nice, the rooms were quite comfortable and spacious enough for 2 people to share.

We started off the retreat with a trip to Haberman Fabrics store. You can read about that experience in my last blog post, Fabric Shopping in Michigan.

After our trip to Haberman Fabrics we had a couple hours of downtime before we needed to check-in for the retreat, get our name tags and goody bags and then we had a cocktail hour meet and greet with most of the attendees, staff and the 2 weekend teachers, Janet Pray and Linda Lee. We had a fun evening hearing about the details of the weekend ahead. We also had a little gift exchange! several weeks prior to the Sewcial everyone was sent a package with a piece of fabric and we were asked to make something out of it for the gift exchange.On preview was the table of items that would be given away on sunday during lunch.

The package we received several weeks before Sewcial.

I made an embroidered bag with the fabric sent on the back.

The 50 or so attendees were broken into 2 groups, A and B. The three of us were in the B group which meant that Saturday we spent 8 hours sewing with Linda Lee and Sunday we spent 8 hours sewing with Janet Pray. Both classes were project based and the object of both was to learn new techniques and leave with either finished garments or almost finished garments.

On the left is all of the gift exchange items that people made! On the right is the giveaway raffle items.

The Linda Lee class used one of her The Sewing Workshop patterns called the Tremont Jacket. Honestly I was not expecting to like this jacket, was not expecting it to fit me at all. Most of the clothes that I really like are quite a bit more fitted.
Not only did I finish the Jacket in the class but I really like it! I made sure to pick my size based off of finished measurements and NOT the sizes listed on the pattern envelope.

Top, the attendees that completed the Tremont Jacket in Linda Lee's Saturday class. Bottom pics are of LInda demonstrating how to sew acute mitered angles and on the right is an example of how important proper pressing is in successfully executed mitered corners. 
The fabric I used was a free piece of fabric that I picked up at a Chicago ASG event. It is quite a nice heavy and drapey rayon. At least that's what I think from when I washed/dried it and from my burn test. I actually think I may make some more of these!

During this class Linda showed us her techniques for making acute mitered corners with differing seam allowances. Several of us in the group finished the garment and wore them to the Saturday evening dinner.

Saturday evening was a dinner with everyone followed by charity sewing, massages, sewing bingo and just general socializing. It was a lot of fun and very low stress!

Serging for charity, lunchtime guest speaker from Babylock, sewing bingo and fun gift exchange. These and many other moments made for a wonderful weekend!

Sunday our group had Janet Pray's class. For this we had quite a bit more homework in preparation. Not only did we need our pattern cut out we also had to have the interfacing fused on and the initial pressing for the front plackets completed. For this class I used The Islander Sewing Womens Shirtmaker Express pattern. I ordered the pattern and the recommended interfacing from the Islander website ahead of time and made a quick muslin before hand. The primary reason for taking this class was for the actual techniques that Janet teaches not necessarily for a finished shirt. However, I did make a muslin just in case we did finish the shirt, I wanted to be able to wear it.

Janet is a very energetic and patient teacher. She really makes everyone feel that they can be successful which is quite a feat in a hands on class of 25!

I made sure to take some time to catch pictures of my partner in crime who was very intent on getting her stitching done perfectly! I loved her wonderful smiles during this quite long 8 hour class! We were feeling quite exhausted at the end of it!

You are probably wondering if I finished that shirt in class...nope! and neither did anyone else! I am perfectly ok with that and I don't plan on finishing it either. I enjoyed this class immensely and it reinforced some good techniques that I could take back with me and apply to my own shirtmaking repertoire. The fabric I used was a black cotton windowpane that has been marinating in my collection for some time. I know I got it on a good sale and I have plenty leftover to make another shirt or maybe even a shirtdress if I wanted! I will keep what I did in class as a reference for future projects.
And on the other side of me sat Liz H who just powered through her project and wowed us all with her chevron striped yoke and collar! She was also the perfect size for one of Janet's sample garments, a lace moto jacket, how fun!!

On Sunday evening the three of us decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner out. We were  quite happy to just sit back and relax and enjoy each other's company!

Monday morning... Oh my! Where in the heck were we going to fit the suitcases... Every possible inch of space was taken up in the car. We left with a new sewing machine, a new serger, tank iron, lucite sewing table, project bags, yards and yards and yards of fabric. You don't even want to know how many yards!! And 3 suitcases and of course 3 people!
What a FUN weekend we had!!
Sewcial retreat 2017 was a hit in my book! A great way to get back to sewing and being creative right in the middle of the winter doldrums. Looking forward to next year!

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Fabric shopping in Michigan- Fabrications and Habermans

A couple weeks ago when my friends I attended The Sewcial in Novi, Michigan we had the opportunity to stop and shop at 2 very wonderful fabric stores. Over the past several years I have steadily moved my fabric shopping to online retailers. Having the opportunity to shop at 2 wonderful garment fabric stores was a real treat. Just being able to touch the fabric and feel the drape and lay swatches on it match colors is something that I miss doing on a regular basis.
Liz H, Wendy G and Myself! Happy to be going fabric shopping!

The first shop was Fabrications in Richland, MI. This is a wonderful family owned shop that has a wonderfully curated selection of garment fabric and yarns. Janet and Dick Dapson are a wonderful couple. Prior to this visit to their shop outside of Kalamazoo I had only shopped from their booths at expo's.
Fabrications shop. Beautiful rayons, cottons, cotton shirtings, a wall of silks and racks of every kind of woolen including fabulous Ibex washable merino wools!

Since they were basically on the way to and from The Sewcial retreat we decided to stop on Thursday afternoon on our way AND we made a stop on the return drive to Chicago. We all decided that we were all having non-buyers remorse and that there were still fabrics left in Fabrications that just had to come home with us! LOL!!

Top is a view of the front of the classroom, behind me are several big ironing stations. Really a lovely place to book a retreat! The bottom photos show the main shop cutting table and Janet and just a portion of all the lovely yarns! 
In addition to the wonderful fabric, at amazing prices, there is a grand selection of yarns and a very large teaching space. Having a sewing retreat at their place would be wonderful. It is HUGE, well lit, massive cutting tables as well as quite a few work tables for sewing.

The second shopping experience was friday afternoon of The Sewcial included a Sip and Shop trip to Habermans in Royal Oak, MI We had a bus 3/4 full of eager shoppers! Haberman's really treated us quite well. In their open classroom space there was a lunch buffet set-up along with wine, sparkling grape juice and water.

Sip and Shop and eat and have fun and buy lots of beautiful fabric event!

We started off our visit with a tour of the shop. Half the group was with the owner, she is a third generation owner of the shop and took us on a tour and filled us in on the history of both Haberman's as a company as well as the shop itself. They have been in business since 1958 and you can read about their history here. The current store used to be an old lumberyard and they had it remodeled and refurbished to fit their needs.
We toured the shop in 2 groups. Janet Pray and Linda Lee both joined us on this trip and made themselves available for any questions we had while shopping.

 It is a delight to the eyes to walk around and take it all in! The ceilings are soaring and in places they had dropped ceilings put in to recreate the look of rooms. There is a bridal are that has the most sumptuous fabrics, a Royal room that I happened to fall in love with, a designer brocade wall, silk wall, woolens, cottons and beautiful trims and buttons.

Many of the areas were set up with mannequins that either had completed dresses on them or artfully draped fabric on them. It was all very inspiring.

The bridal room was just full of sumptuous white and ivory fabrics, laces, tulle of every kind, horsehair braid and so much more. There was a lovely chandelier hanging over the cutting table in the bridal room. The set-up was so lovely and would make any bride feel special to be choosing fabrics for her wedding dress!

One of the things that really make this shop stand out are the details. There are these wonderful quotes on the walls, collections of vintage findings and on most of the walls the fabrics are displayed in the colors of the rainbow. It just creates this wonderful flow and feeling of beauty.

Brocade wall on top and the silk wall on bottom. The quotes that are on the walls really bring the shopping experience to a whole new level!

Top is front wall of rayons and polyesters and the bottom is the woolens, cottons shirtings and knits of all kinds.

We really had a lot of fun and I came home with several new pieces to add to my own wonderfully curated selection of fabrics!
The bus ride was full of expectation as we made the 30 min ride to Habermans from the expo center in Novi. On the way back the driver had to open up the luggage compartments for us to store all our lovely purchases!
On the way back our heads were filled with all the lovely ideas that we had floating around. The possibilities that these lovely purchases represent are just wonderful. Wendy's purchases on the top right are always a bit more subdued in color palette (and always look so much neater) when compared to my riotous pile of fabrics!

If you are ever in Michigan you really should make a stop at both of these shops! As we all know, too many fabric shops are closing up their doors, let's keep these guys in business Fabrications and Habermans.
We are never ones to forgo the opportunity for a selfie! Here we are with the shop owner. She must have been smiling ear to ear after our busload left! and of course who can resist the charm of  a beautiful boa!!

Happy Fabric Shopping!!

Friday, February 24, 2017

In The Sketchbook- February 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

As usual February always seems to fly by for me!I have several blog posts in the draft stage that will hopefully be coming out soon. These include my fabulous Sewcial retreat weekend in Novi, Michigan as well as some finished garment reviews.

This month I have mostly been working on sketching out a garment collection for my summer trip to Norway and the Netherlands. I have identified the color palette and have pulled a generous selection of fabrics from my collection to choose from. Now I am onto the sketching and planning phase. Most of these garments are going to be knits and should be easier projects. This will be nice to intersperse with my heavy duty HCCC fashion show projects, give my brain a place to relax and still get some fun sewing done!

So far these are the 2 pages of sketches that I have done for my summer wardrobe. One for some tops and one for some dresses. These were all done with combinations of regular pencil, colored pencil and markers.  I have these hanging on a board right next to my sewing station. Having these close at hand keeps it fresh in my mind and excited to see the final outcomes!



I am looking at an overall color palette of blues/greens with blacks and small portions of white accents. I have enough fabrics to make a garment collection to travel with for probably 3 or more months! never mind just the 2 weeks that I need. So I will be making more than I need and then deciding on what to bring once I get closer to the trip.

For the base layer tops I have 3 distinct silhouettes in mind.

1. Button down both short and long sleeved. In this example I would like to do a long sleeve and am thinking of drafting a tab and button so that I can roll the sleeves up to just below the elbow and secure. This is a real U shaped neckline that I really have been wanting to play with. The fabric is a lovely cotton print shirting from Fishmans in Chicago. As you can see I only drew the fabric detailing on the shirt fronts and left the rest a solid so that I can see details.

2. Jen Stern The Tee pattern. In various sleeve lengths, neckline variations and fabric pairings. This is a nice versatile pattern that adds a little more interest than just a plain tee.
The first one is a solid blue bamboo/lycra knit from Mood. I want to make this 3/4 length sleeve and a crossover neck. Great for layering or on it's own.

The second one below is a mix of a poly/lycra ITY and a poly/lycra netting. The sleeves will be long and the neckline will be the regular boatneck but finished with either foldover elastic or stretch piping. The upper back piece will also be the netting... I think! The original fabric pairings that I was thinking of using and what is depicted in the sketch just did not gel and sort of stuck out like a sore thumb from the rest of the fabrics I am thinking of using. SO, I decided to go with the fabric pictured below, both were purchased from Fabrications in Richland, MI.

The fourth base layer top I have in mind is a simpler style. Something like the Cashmerette Concord Tee. A very simple base layer that can be made in different lengths and variations of both sleeve lengths and shapes and neckline shape. Once you have a base pattern it is so easy to make modifications and changes to the look.  This one is shown with an amazingly soft rayon scubish fabric. It has a lovely drape, the colors are perfect and the rayon knit means it won't be quite so hot as a regular scuba knit.! I acquired this fabric from Emmaonesock.

The dresses I have planned on consist of one knit wrap dress and  one button up shirt dress. The wrap dress will be an easy make since I have a perfected Cashmerette Appleton pattern with variations of sleeves and skirt shape all ready to go! Even though I am only going to bring one of these on vacation I will probably make 2 and then decide which I like better. I have the fabric on the left which is a black/dark blue blobby lines which I tried to depict in the sketch! This fabric is from Marcy Tilton. The second fabric is a lighter weight scuba in a much lighter color palette of off whites/blues and blacks, this is from Habermans in Royal Oak , Michigan. Both are quite lovely. I do suspect that the scuba will be warmer than the dark blue/black fabric which may or may not work to my advantage depending on the weather forecast.

The second dress is one of my own design. A shirt dress using my button down shirt pattern with my a-line flippy skirt added to it. I have 2 lovely fabrics that I think I may want to try this out on. Both are rayon. One is a chambray denim rayon from Mood and the other is a lovely Cotton and Steele Japanese rayon that I purchased from a local shop that closed up. I will have to do some wrinkle testing on both of these fabrics to see which I want to use. Or maybe I'll make both!

One other project that I am working on is a top for my long zipper pencil skirt that I made in the fall. I have one top that goes well with it and nothing else! I want to be able to pair it with something else to make it a more versatile item of clothing in my closet. My idea is to make a peplum type shirt to go over it in this beautiful Liberty cotton lawn and then to pair a menswear inspired vest or waistcoat in the same fabric as the skirt and of course add some zipper detail as a pocket and maybe as the closure. It is not the easiest to picture, so I did the sketching layers. I think what is throwing me off is that my croqui is from a heavier me and my hips are not quote that wide proportionately as I currently am. I will have to play with the vest idea some more. I'm not entirely in love with the pointed fronts, although it does give some interest instead of just cutting across me with a straight line.

Make sure to stop by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor to see what lovely sketches and ideas she is working on. I happen to know that she has been exploring ways to do digital sketching, it is very cool!  Please feel free to share your sketches and ideas, leave either of us a comment or just link back to one of our posts.

Happy Sketching!