Gina Clark Style
The Ron Collar (not you Ron-the other Ron)

This is the photo I would have liked to use for my Sew Weekly post. It shows off my personality a little better. To read it click here.

This week I made a collar necklace out of window screen, brads, and upholstery nails.

I would love to spend more time making a few different versions. One in an off white vinyl using only gold and silver brads in rows. Another with crystals. I plan on making a tutorial of some kind-hopefully by the end of the week (probably more like the beginning of next month) so maybe I’ll make two at a time.

Today I am off to the hardware store again for more supplies for next week’s challenge. Here’s a picture to give you an idea-

I’m being pretty ambitious and will probably not have time to use it but a girl can dream right? I may have time to make everything and then have zero time to shoot. We’ll be meeting friends for bowling Saturday so I may have to go along looking like a children’s book character (or maybe just like I’m insane) so that we can take pictures in between.

Oh the things we do in the name of art and fun!

Inspiration Overload

Yesterday I wrote about Vogue’s September issue and how I can’t sit down for more than 15 minutes without needing to put it down. In the mail I received my new copy of W magazine and while doing my weekly grocery shopping I spotted InStyle’s September issue. I didn’t buy it but I will. I know I look like a magazine junky. I’m not but those may be the words of someone in denial. Who knows?

Fashion is. It’s what I do. It’s what I think about-for myself and for other people. If I had a lot of money I would not buy Vogue or W (I’d still buy InStyle and Teen Vogue though) I would buy Lecturas Moda

and L’Officiel

and all of the other magazines at The Magazine Rack that cost well over $50 an issue.

OK-now that I have said all of that let me try to get myself back to what I really wanted to say.

Right now there are too many ideas in my head and I have this much time.

Actually-even less. I still want to make pants but now I also want to make a flowy blouse out of sheer fabric and a button down to go with it. I want to knit that Marc Jacobs inspired shawl and make a hat-several hats actually. I want to go to the store and exchange the bright red lipstick I bought for the black cherry and dye another wig.

To accomplish all of this I will need a maid, a nanny, and a cook.

I have so many ideas that I’m beginning to feel a bit paralyzed. I need a plan. I need to get organized or I’m screwed. I was talking to an acquaintance at a show and she told me that her husband always has so many ideas and when she hears him talking she knows immediately which ones will never happen. That made me feel so sad. The thought of having so much inside that will never come out makes me sad. Is this just part of being human? Is this something any of you struggle with? Do I have to accept it or is it worth fighting?

OK-now I’m making myself sad. Overwhelmed, mentally paralyzed, and sad don’t sound very good. Right now, as I write this I am taking some deep breaths. I am thinking of pretty flowers and birds.

Believe it or not I actually feel better and if I want to get one fun thing started today then I’d better go. See you soon friends-

The September Issue

While in line to check out at the grocery store on Friday the woman in front of me picked up Vogue’s September issue and asked her mother why a magazine needed to be so big. This woman wasn’t dressed like she cared a bit about fashion so I understand. It’s huge! If you cut out all the editorials and such it would be one of those magazines you could roll up and put in your back pocket while you boarded the train. It’s not only full of ads but it’s also an anniversary issue.

I don’t subscribe to Vogue. I’m not interested in reading about the latest plastic surgery nor do I want to sit in my little apartment and look at pictures of fancy homes but the September issue is another story. I’m inspired by the spreads and the ads. There is much inspiration in there I can only look at it for about 15 minutes at a time before I have to put it down again. It takes me forever to get through and I’ll go back to it many times over the next 12 months to stir my imagination again and again.

So far the ad I am most disappointed with is the Ralph Lauren fragrance ad.

This is the same ad he used last year. Maybe he got busy. I haven’t really been impressed with any of his ads so far. They feel so dated. His ready to wear line for the last couple of seasons has been a a bit of a mystery to me too. I haven’t really loved the prints he’s used.

I didn’t mean this to be a Ralph Lauren bashing. I don’t know him and he must be doing something right to be able to keep going all these years. And if he’s reading right now (yeah right) I just want you to know that my son loves your polo shirts.

The ads I’m most excited about so far are the ones for Marc Jacobs.

I want one of these hats for winter. I hate the winters here and a hat like this would make it more bearable. I may have to make one. It’s not just the hats though, it’s the clothes and the make-up. I think I’m going to learn to crochet so I can make myself a wrap like this. I’ve already got the large safety pin for the closure. I’m serious about this and will post pictures either of my progress or when I’m done.

I hear the kids stirring so that’s my sign to go.

Sweet Skirt

For this week’s Sew Weekly Challenge I decided to go off the grid a little and make something inspired by the trio Kitty, Daisy, and Lewis. If you want to read my SW post click here.

I really like their music but to be completely honest I’m not super fond of all of the outfits I’ve seen Kitty and Daisy in. I get the look but sometimes the proportions are off or the fit and quality leave something to be desired. It’s hard to ignore when getting people dressed is what you do for a living. It’s like a musician with a trained ear not noticing if something is off key.

On the other hand, if someone were to go and polish them up then I think they would lose some of what makes them so appealing to me. I always like things better when they’re a little rough around the edges. Too much polish and you’re Justin Bieber. You know what I mean? What’s the girl equivalent? Selena Gomez?

I got the bright idea to go to a public restaurant to take the pictures. I was pretty nervous. It’s hard not to call attention to yourself when you walk into a restaurant dressed like this. I thought there would be a jukebox there. There wasn’t. The waitress and my husband gave me a little pep talk so I was able to keep it together.

I’m still learning Photoshop so the pictures I submitted to Mena were….lacking? I was trying to make them look like old photographs. I found a tutorial that was pretty easy but I was still stumped on a few steps so the above picture is the best I could do. I’d give it B-.

Well that’s it. Now I will leave you with a sneak peak for a project I am working on for next week-

Tailor Made

There are a few things my mother taught me growing up.

1. It’s important to look put together-even if you’re not feeling well. I’ve re-worded that slightly. Her version goes more like: It’s important to look clean and put together.

I’ve always had a thing about dreadlocks,

boys with greasy looking pompadours,

tattoos,

and have been known to go at least a month without a shower and even longer without clean clothes. I’m better about those last 2 but still wish I had dreads. Damn this beautiful silky Korean/Mexican hair!

2. Mascara and lipstick-absolutely!

3. Blazers-the completer. A blazer is essential. She bought me my first one and it was lovely. OK-I bought plenty of over sized mens blazers at the thrift store but she bought me my first beautifully tailored womens blazer. It was black wool with leather panels and a zip closure. I wore the hell out of that thing.

So it should be no surprise to hear that I have always wanted to learn how to make my own with all the bells and whistles. I’ve finally started one and it has already proven to be a very long process. On top of the usual pattern adjustments I have cut the pieces for the shell, the lining, the underlining, and the pieces from hair canvas for the front. After that I marked with chalk all the places that need a running stitch. Here’s a sample of where I am so far-

I know the fabric isn’t very exciting. I always go with something simple when I’m learning something new like this. I have thought about using this as practice and buying something more fun to use as the shell. We’ll see.

It do not believe I will ever be as good as Alexandre Plokhov

who makes clothing so beautifully it literally brings tears to my eyes.

Or like David Neville and Marcis Wainwright of Rag and Bone.

I was lucky enough to find a Rag and Bone trench coat like the one below at the thrift store for $15.

Mine has a subtle plaid print with no sheen. When I wear it I feel strong, elegant, and very put together.

A perfectly tailored piece not only feels right when you put it on it also feels right in your hands. You know what I mean? Do you have something like that in your closet?

I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Making a blazer is my #1 goal for 2012. Maybe I’ll have enough time to throw in a pair of matching pants with pleats and tapered legs with cuffs and a button down and bow tie.

I can see it now!

My Handiwork

As promised-here is a picture of the cheongsam.

I couldn’t get it on a mannequin. I didn’t even ask. She was about to meet with a client so she let me use one of the rooms to hang it. The back is nothing special so there’s no picture of that. I asked her to send me pictures from the wedding so I may post one more with an actual person in it. What do you think?

Sewing Challenge and Some Updates

Update number 1: I finished the Cheongsam! 99% of it anyway-I still have to sew on the hooks and eyes and the frog closure-which I need to buy. This leaves me very tired this morning because I stayed up all night stressing about whether or not it’s going to fit. I honestly do not want to have to alter it. The silk brocade frays very easily and I’m afraid if I overwork it I’ll have nothing left! I know what you’re thinking-“buy some Fray Check already and stop your whining.” No-I will not buy Fray Check. This dress needs to go home. It’s lived here long enough. I’ll post pictures later today. I’m dropping it off at Macy’s and I’m going to try and talk my way into getting it on a mannequin. It probably won’t happen but it never hurts to ask.

Now that that’s behind me (for now) I have a bit of a dilemma. The Sew Weekly challenge for this week is collars.

I’ve made a few pieces with collars and I have a nice little vintage pattern I’m considering for the challenge (I can’t show you that-it’s more fun if it’s a surprise-though I may not use it). The dilemma is that I want to make pants right now.

So what’s the problem? Make the piece for Sew Weekly and move on right? No. The thing is, it takes me a long time to sew. More time than I think it will. Somehow I forget that I am a woman who is married, has a part time job, is raising 2 kids and running a home. Did I mention I have friends who like to see me from time to time? And young women to mentor and…

At this point I will not skip a challenge. I’ve been in it since day 1 and skipping now would just be sad. It would make me sad anyway. I don’t even have the fabric yet.

Wow. What is wrong with me. Suck it up! Seriously! There are much bigger problems out there. I can’t believe I am wasting your time like this. “I have too many beautiful things to create! Why is life so hard?” Please-I need you to send me a slap somehow or maybe throw some water on my face. That cup of coffee you have in your hand will do just fine.

OK-that’s better. Let’s get on with update number 2.

Update number 2: I went online to order those beautiful shoes in blue and they were all out. They only have them in taupe. That’s what I get for overthinking it. Lesson learned. I will order them in taupe and love them anyway. They’re pretty cool in any color.

I feel like I’ve tortured you this morning and I’m sorry. As a present I will leave you with this trailer-

http://mubi.com/films/being-bazaar

Time for a Change?

I have to decided to buy a brand new pair of shoes. This is not something that happens often. I buy mostly second hand-even shoes. Sorry if that grosses some of you out. Some women don’t really wear their shoes. You know what I mean? Sometimes a woman has lots of shoes and she may wear some only for a season before she decides to get rid of them. Then I pick them up and love them for a time and then move them on etc, etc. Ah-the circle of life…for a shoe. Only they can’t speak and pass on all they’ve learned along the way. Oh the stories they would tell!

When it comes to buying shoes I want the most bang for my buck. I want something that will go with most things so I can wear them a lot. Every once in a while I stray from my rule of practicality for something I think is very special. Like these Mizz Moo two toned oxford shoes.

I could have gone with black (which was way more practical) but these were just too beautiful to pass up. I do wear them and they really take a simple look to the next level and I’m all about that.

I have decided to buy a pair of these Betsey Johnson studded suede pumps.

I love the blue pair but think the black or taupe would be more practical. I really like those too but can only buy one pair. What to do? Any suggestions?

Is it time for me to change my rule of practicality and instead invest in pieces that really excite me? Sounds like the answer is yes. Angi did mention the whole blue suede shoe thing. An Elvis paraphernalia fan should have a pair of blue suede shoes….

My (very short) Life as a Rock ‘n’ Roll Model

Last week my husband was out of town so he couldn’t take my photos for Sew Weekly. I managed to get the help of a new friend, Monika Labbe, who is a very gifted photographer. I’ve worked with a few photographers and they all have a different style. It’s interesting because even though photography is sometimes done out in the open where everyone can see, the magic still happens in the eyes and mind of the artist. I don’t see what they see and it is so clear once I get that first glimpse of the photos. Moinika doesn’t just do wedding photos. She does commercial work as well and has even had her work on Oprah. She did me a huge favor taking these and I am very grateful.

This is the wig I dyed. I think it looks really great and it takes the look to a place my own hair could not have. That’s what I love about wigs-they help tell the story. I need to condition it though. Right now it feels like straw. This is also the dress I made for the “Yellow Challenge” back at Sew Weekly. If you’re interested in reading that post click here.

I love all the photos and would love to share them all but that would be a little much right? So, I’ll share one more-

I can’t wait till it gets a bit cooler so I can wear this dress out and about. I think I’ll have to leave the hair at home. Well, maybe.

Reaching for Anna Piaggi

Anna Piaggi is gone and we can never get her back. She was very eccentric. That’s what I loved about her and other women like Iris Apfel.

I was out window shopping with one of my girls last week in the city. We were at Akira and I was admiring all the over the top jewelry. I have a weakness for over the top jewelry. I turned to my girl and told her that my goal as I age was to eventually become one of those eccentric old ladies. I’m not exactly sure what my version will look like but I hope I feel as free as they look like they do.

As I sew and go through the (sometimes complicated) process of dressing myself each day I hope to grow and break through the barriers that sometimes keep me from expressing myself completely. It’s all fear.

There is growth and that’s very encouraging. Anna Piaggi set the bar for me and I hope to have a lot of fun reaching for it.

Breaking a Rule

Many many months ago I was asked by a business contact if I would consider making a dress for her daughter for her wedding. Not her wedding dress or the dress for the reception, she wanted me to make a cheongsam.

Her daughter is half Chinese and would like a cheongsam to wear for a small ceremony after the wedding.

I sew for creative expression and for fun. As a rule I do not sew for others. Too stressful. I know I’m not perfect and still have a lot to learn and I can live with that. It’s different when you’re making something for someone else. What if they can’t live with that?

This is a picture of the dress she wanted.

The woman who made the dress lives in Canada and wanted $450 for it. I e-mailed back and forth with her daughter for a while trying to make it clear that I was not a professional-this is not what I do for a living. She seemed OK with all of that so I decided to give a it a go. At our final fitting for the muslin she said she did not know that I do not do this for a living. She thought I was a professional. I know I made it very clear so I just won’t go there.

I decided to use Vogue 8633. It was the closest I could find to the original design.

She is petite so I had to get rid of the band around the middle so it wouldn’t cut her body up so much. She wants piping around the sleeve openings and the neck and instead of a back vent she wants side vents. She lives in Indiana so I had her take every measurement possible and send it to me. I enrolled in a sewing class and had my instructor, the lovely Veronica Brackett, help me adjust the pattern for her size (which turned out to be simple because her back length is not petite) and to make the adjustments to the waist because I was not using the band.

I did not use the darts in front because they didn’t line up with the darts on the skirt so I made the muslin up minus the front darts and then pinned them in at the fitting.

I couldn’t find good piping and now I’m wondering if I should have driven all over town using time I did not have to find it. Here’s what the bodice looks like so far.

She wanted me to use the black brocade I used for the muslin as the lining so you can’t see the piping very well here. It’s not satiny or very thick. I hope she’s OK with it. She also wants a frog closure at the top but now that the bodice is made i see that the right and left sides are not supposed to meet in the middle.

Say a little prayer that it all works out. I’ll post pictures when I finish the dress and let you know if this story ends well.

Music Inspiration for Sew Weekly? Hmmm…..

As I have been participating in Sew Weekly I have realized that I’m just not into much besides clothing and fashion. I don’t even read many blogs. I was clueless with the movie challenge, I don’t watch the Olympics, and now there’s the music challenge. I listen to music but I don’t invest in it much. It’s not my thing, you know? It’s been hard trying to find the right inspiration. I’ve always wanted to copy the image from Hole’s album “Live Through This”

I don’t see the need for a formal dress in my wardrobe at this moment and I’m not fond of Courtney Love.

There’s also Amy Winehouse-


Her story is just too heartbreaking. It’s hard to get inspired by something so tragic but yet I’m still considering her.

I thought about Debbie Harry-

I may try her. It seems too similar to what I did for the yellow challenge so….

I don’t want to go with one of the guys because that’s what I always do. I honestly thought about using Eddie from Iron Maiden as an inspiration.

If you can see past the creepy you can imagine a cute little bandage dress. I may still go this way too.

It’s up in the air at this point. Maybe I’ll end up using them all. We’ll see.

Treasures

This is a vintage sequined Pierre Cardin top I bought for a steal at a consignment store sale. She sits there quietly in my closet, never complaining that I don’t take her out for the fun I promised her so long ago. Soon-my love-soon.

Check it Out!

A couple of months back I made a top out of sports mesh. I’m going to add a picture here but I want to say first that I made the pants for the ‘pink’ challenge for Sew Weekly and while I had fun wearing them, I would never wear them again. Looking back it’s one of those, “what was I thinking” moments. Anyway, here’s the picture-

And this is the back which is my favorite part.

OK-try to ignore my stripey bottom and focus more on the top.

The reason I’m sharing this is because I opened up The Sartorialist’s blog today and saw this-

  • "This, to me, looks like what would happen if Dior outfitted Wall Street traders.  I’d love to see practical, sportswear materials continue to work their way into classic sartorial suiting.  It could really shake up a very staid, boring segment of menswear.I wonder what the Wall Street trading pit would look like if dressed by Nike.  Sounds like a great editorial for Fantastic Man. I think this also proves the idea that men will wear anything as long as other men are wearing it too."
  •                                                              Scott Schuman-The Sartorialist

Pretty cool right? I haven’t worn the top again because I wanted to add cuffs and a pocket. It’s been sitting there in my bin for months. This may just motivate me to pull it out so I can wear it. We’ll see. I’ll be sure and share it with you if I do.

Ankara

My best friend Angi just sent me a bag full of beautiful Ankara fabric. I was so excited I decided to make something right away.

The first thing I made was these simple shorts using McCall’s 6291. The print hides the front pleats and side pockets. They have an elastic waist and I added a drawstring. It just needed a little something more. I left off the patch pockets and the elastic around the bottom. I didn’t want to mess with the print too much. The next time I use this pattern I’ll add darts in back for a little more shaping. This picture makes it look like the shorts have accordion pleats. It’s just the print-nice effect though.

After I finished the shorts I got to work on this blouse-

I used McCall’s 6036 and added about 2 inches to the bottom. I made a line in from the bottom of the armscye to the outside edge of the neck to create this shape. Instead of following the neckline I just cut at a 90 degree angle from the center front.

I did the same in back and added about an inch and a half to the width so I could cut it in half and add this separating zipper. I rounded the bottom edges out so it flowed better. To attach the front to the back I used a drawstring from a skirt that came in the bag. I cut 2-3 inch pieces and sewed the ends to each side.

The pattern I used is a t-shirt pattern so if you try to make a blouse out of it with fabric that has no stretch make a muslin first to get the fit right. I did not add darts but you may need to if you’re curvier than I am.

I had to take this picture myself. Hey-at least I got my whole body in there!