This week I got a request for the most unusual sewing job I’ve ever had. Based on a tattoo his girlfriend has, a client needed a Scott Tracy outfit made for a Hello Kitty doll. Scott Tracy is a fictional character from the TV series Thunderbirds, which I had never heard of but was happy to take on the job. I’ve never made an outfit for a Hello Kitty doll; while I always enjoyed making clothes for my Barbies when I was younger, apparel for dolls is not exactly my forte. Hello Kitty’s proportions are fairly strange, which posed some interesting problems to be solved. It’s safe to say that this is one of the most unique jobs I’ve ever done, and I enjoyed the change in pace.
What is a skube? It’s a skirt plus a tube! Skube.me, owned and designed by Monica Kohler, makes fun, easy to wear tube skirts. The idea behind the skube is versatility; fashion that transitions easily from workout to work day. The skube fits right in poolside just as well as a business casual setting.
Over the past few weeks, we at Cut and Sewn have been happy to be a part of the skube production process, contracted to produce 300 skubes for the Skube.me summer stock. Kohler hand selected a variety of complimenting patterns, then delivered them to Cut and Sewn to be made into the finished product. This kind of access to local small batch manufacturing is what Cut and Sewn is all about. It provides a way for entrepreneurs to have their product made locally and affordably, while allowing us to give close attention to the manufacture of every garment. For the small business, it’s a win win situation.
Skube.me will be showing at Second Sunday on Main throughout the summer, starting this Sunday, June 14. Owner Monica Kohler can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (513)505-9384 to schedule a pop-up sale or private showing.
This summer I took a big journey into creating art.
She asked me to make quilt portraits of the members of my family to replicate the work of JR who’s portraits of citizens of Cincinnati cover the walls of the museum.
I had never done anything like this before and I was terrified and excited to try it.
First, I took pictures of my family and myself and using photoshop I applyied a grid over them and applyed the painter filter.
I printed out full size copies of the photos and used the paper piecing quilting method to lay out the image. Then I stitched around every piece of fabric to quilt all the layers together.
The quilts are large, 35″ X 50″ and it took about 30 hours to finish each one.
When the huge quilts were finished and installed in the museum they looked like this:
I recently made some new towels from my Towel Topper Pattern. I still find these towels super handy around the house. When they get too old and ratty I toss them out and get to make more!
If you’re interested in making a few towel toppers of your own you can download the PDF pattern here (towel_topper) and the original tutorial is posted here. If you have a larger towel that you need to make a topper for just enlarge the pattern a bit.
Be sure to let me know how your towels turn out!
Lately it has felt as though I have been treading water. Working a lot, but not really getting anywhere. I will work on a project and then get to a point where I need to stop and wait for supplies or just think about how to proceed. It becomes really frustrating to work this hard and just have piles of fabric and full sketch books to show for it. So, I started a few just for fun projects to keep my hands busy and maybe feel a bit of that thrill you get from actually finishing something.
I embroidered this skirt for Scout.
And I knitted this sort of Rodarte inspired scarf thing. Of course I got carried away and it is HUGE, but it will be fun to wear.
And then this week something strange happened. In the middle of all the frustration of trying to work while having kids home for yet another snow day, I started to see some progress.
After days of sampling, yarn shopping, pattern drafting, and muslin making, I started on this crochet/knit jacket. Once I actually got started it moved forward pretty quickly. I still need to make all of the pieces for the back and then join all of the little pieces together. Then it will be lined and finished off with leather trim. All in all I think I will have 2 solid weeks of work into this little tiny thing. I am really happy with how it is turning out; a little bit ugly and a little bit odd, a little bit vintage and a little bit modern.
Yesterday the best progress of all happened when I received the swatches from Spoonflower of the fabrics I designed. They look amazing and only needed just a few changes. Very soon I will be able to order the fabric for the shirts, scarves and bags.
The largest moths here are about 8″ across.
If I could afford the Comme des Garcons trench (FW/09) I would buy it. I would buy one in every color and style. This coat makes me want to cry.
OK, I’m a bit over dramatic but what the hell. So of course on my student/designer for hire/can I shorten some pants for you salary, I could never afford a coat that would cost more than what I paid for my car. So I headed out to my favorite thrift in search of clothing that could be turned into something resembling the coveted trench.
I lucked out big time. First I found a short mens trench that was a great color and weight but also had the most amazing brass buttons. In the women’s section I found a long red and black wool blanket skirt.
I had to take the jacket body and sleeves in quite a bit because they were both really wide. Then I chopped off about 12″ of the length and removed all the buttons, pockets and plackets. I reattached about 5″ of the length including the original hem to form a really straight, thigh length coat.
Then I draped the skirt around and under the coat until I had an idea about how to cut it. I used the waste band of the skirt as a scarf around the collar and the fringe from the front of the skirt to trim the lapel and left front. I trimmed up the rest of the skirt into a rectangle and then cut a square from the center of the cut edge, basically making a horse shoe shape out of it. Then I took the horse shoe shape by the inside corners and stretched it out so that it formed a straight line at the top with the corners of the original rectangle hanging down all pointy and uneven. Get it? Kind of tricky to explain, but it worked! I sewed the pockets and buttons back on, reattached the lining and tried it on.
I’m happy with it. It’s not quite as amazing as the original but it is definitely my style, I think it looks like something I would make and wear — it’s more me than the Comme version. I am tempted to get into my feelings about copying other designers work, which are mixed. But I’m just not in the mood, I just want to enjoy my new coat and this snowy day.
(Comme pics from Style dot com)
Muslins are ugly, they just are. So bland and colorless. When I make one I can appreciate the beauty in it, well, because I made it. But it takes a lot of imagination to see the final garment in a beige mass of unbleached cotton. For example, here is a snap shot of a muslin, a sketch of the same coat and swatches of the fabric that the final coat will be made from.
I think seeing the sketch and fabric makes things a little clearer, no?
With all of that said here are some more snap shots of muslins on the models from our recent critique.
This shirt dress has a row of buttons and button holes on each side so that it can be buttoned right over left or left over right. Sewing in sleeves is a real pain, especially when you know you are going to have to do it many, many times. That is why some of these shirts only have one sleeve. My sleeves also have a lot of detail in them so I tend to only make one in the muslin.
This hat is actually in final fabric, it’s the first hat of hopefully many.
Since every minute of my free time and some of my not so free time is spent worrying, doodleing, and actually working on my senior thesis, I have no time for crafting. So, I thought maybe you would like to see exactly what goes into designing a small collection. I say small because we are required to design and build between 4 and 8 complete looks. Of course I have a lot to say so I’m doing 8. That’s 8 fully dressed models and I am hoping to make hords of accessories like hats, shoes, bags and jewelry.
The first step is to develop a concept which can really be anything that inspires you. In my studio we have designers who are inspired by the senses, under water creatures, Michael Jackson, synaesthesia, medieval music, and garments as musical instruments, just to name a few.
My concept is based on a Terry Gilliam movie called Tideland about a little girl who is utterly inocent to the point of makeing viewers uncomfortable. She is left all alone with her friends the bodyless doll heads that she talks to, the firefly ‘fairies’, and the squirles in the attic.
I love her fearlessness, imagination, ability to make me uncomfortable, and her ability to defy death by ignoring it.
Once you have established your concept, you just start sketching, and sketching, and sketching… I find myself doodling constantly. At some point you are supposed to have an ah-ha moment when you stop sketching, you pick your final designs and move on. I never seem to reach this point. Oh, I move on but the thinking and sketching just never stops and this can become confusing because now I have to start to making things…
Next, the patterns. Lots of paper, lots of tape, pencil smudges all over my face; this is my favorite part. Without a good pattern you will not have a good garment.
This is my wall of patterns so far:
Probably only 1/4 of the patterns I will end up making. These are priceless. Well, to me anyway.
Once you have a pattern that you think is going to do what you want it to, you make a muslin. A muslin is a garment that is made from very simple fabric, usually unbleached cotton or something that resembles what your final fabric will be.
You fit this muslin on your model and make corrections by pinning or drawing right on it. Then you transfer those changes to the pattern and yup, make ANOTHER muslin. It isn’t unusual to make 3-5 muslins of one garment. How many garments am I making again?
The things that don’t fit into this time line that you just have to squeeze in there between sketching, muslins and awful sociology classes, are the fabric research and shopping, fittings with models, critiques, eating, sleeping…
So, this is where I’m at so far and what has been occupying my time for the past 7 weeks. I’m making some patterns and some muslins, and soon I will make the jump to final fabric. Wish me luck, I’m gonna need it.
The fall issue of Kiki is out! This is the second DIY project I have done for this great magazine. If you’re new to Kiki, this is a truely well done magazine for pre-teen and early teen girls that comes out seasonally. It focuses on style, individuality and substance. I strongly believe that teaching girls to make things, and then their completing a project, gives them a feeling of pride and a sense of control over their own lives.
This latest project focused on recycling vintage clothes, this time menswear and t-shirts, into new garments.