Thursday 30 January 2014

A Shanel apron

What's a party chez Chanel without a proper themed gift? The chief designer of Foxgloves and thimbles, aka me, got an idea with only a few hours left to buy fabric and just one evening to execute the plan. Typical.

I wanted to make a Shanel* apron. Typo intended.
Coco Chanel herself saw imitations as a huge compliment, was happy to see women dressed 'à la Chanel' and commented on Yves Saint Laurent's little black dresses: "Saint-Laurent has excellent taste. The more he copies me, the better taste he displays." Nowadays the Chanel firm's lawyers don't like anyone to use the C-name in vain. (*Thanks to Goodbye Valentino's Sarah for enriching the vocabulary of the online sewing community with 'Shanel'). Not that anyone will mistake my product for French haute couture, but better safe than sorry.

Back to the plan. I made a little drawing of an apron with patch pockets, grosgrain ribbon details and long satin ties, closing with a bow at the back. I ran of to the fabric store and bought one meter pink cotton with tiny white polkadots.

For the skirt I cut a rectangle, finished measurements 55 x 107 cm.

I cut some pieces of paper to establish the size of the pockets and added some black grosgrain ribbon. Finished measurements 10 x 12 cm and 12 x 16 cm.

The pockets are lined with pink satin from my stash.

The top (26 x 29 cm, slightly tapered towards the top) was also lined with fake silk charmeuse, because, well. Just because.

When I reached this stage my husband entered the sewing room and said: "Really? I wasn't aware you were making something horrible for the box in her cellar labelled 'Things To Be Displayed When Parents Visit'!
NOT the best supporting actor.
It was already late and after this remark my motivation to work till silly o'clock ebbed away. So I took some pictures in order to show the birthdaygirl and let her decide if this was a top or a flop.

On seeing the pictures my daughter said: "O, yes! Can I have some quilting lines too??"
She's got my DNA! Or inherited my bad taste? Whatever you prefer to think of the matter.

Who am I to refuse such a fun request? Since I already missed the birthday deadline I had enough time to work on a diagonally quilted waistband.

I also changed the neckband for a quilted one. Waistband 68 x 4 cm, neckband 54 x 4 cm, finished. I found four buttons with a combination of pearls and chains in my stash and made some satin ties.
Tada! A bespoke Shanel apron.

and the back:

The jury's still out. Whatever the verdict, I had lots of fun making it. Just about as much of fun as we had on the girl's day out.

So, maybe it was a, uhhmm, weird thing to make but I think Coco would have understood.

Happy birthday, darling!

Monday 27 January 2014

Party chez Chanel

Last week my daughters and I visited the exhibition 'Chanel, the legend' in The Hague on my elder daughter's birthday. Here she is, in her little black dress, living proof of the unremitting influence of Coco Chanel on today's fashion.

The exhibition included original Chanel designs of the 1920s and '30s, women's suits of the '60s and creations once worn by star clients like Marlene Dietrich.

1920 dress
In the information on the walls the colourful story of Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel and her fashion house was told, spiced up with quotes from the designer herself. Her revolutionary view on elegance and style, combined with freedom of movement, was highlighted by a story about fitting sessions in her salon in Paris. Women, whether or not they had a drivers licence, had to make steering movements in the fitting room in order to check the fit of shoulders and sleeves. Nice test, will copy that!

That was the one and only important reference to construction and fit I noticed. I would have prefered to see more technical information, however the museum showed no signs of other sewing nerds being around. It was just us, looking for a hint of a quilting line, hoping for a sneak peek of a lining and longing for mirrors to see the back of the garments.

Ensemble of coat, dress and hat
Some details of the same ensemble

And......yes! Study object!

Pocket inspiration :) I love the pockets on the right suit!

Lagerfeld taking over:

And of course we saw lots of jewellery, bags, the first bottle of Chanel no.5 and other Chanel memorabilia.

The museum bought two Chanel jackets on the internet and offered visitors the opportunity to have their picture taken, dressed in Chanel. So, what do you think? (Remark of their dad: "I've seen them better dressed. I prefer their own style!")

Chanel sisters

Saturday 25 January 2014

Dutch design in Paris

Dutch designer Jan Taminiau showed his latest collection during the Couture Week in Paris.

Photos by Duy Vo

Lovers of exquisite fabrics, design details, beautiful embellishments, beading and embroidery: go see the lookbook

Twenty-one ballerinas of Dutch National Ballet showed the Spring Summer 2014 Haute Couture Collection of design duo Viktor & Rolf at the catwalk in Plaza Vendome. The choreography for the show is by Ted Brandsen, Dutch National Ballet's artistic director.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Sewing diary

Last week my desk diary for the sewing room finally arrived.  This diary by the Victoria and Albert Museum focuses on the museum's unique collection of silk designs, textiles, pattern books and costumes.  It's so beautifully illustrated, I can't think of a more inspiring booklet to write down my sewing plans and shopping lists for fabrics and notions!

Saturday 4 January 2014

Guess the color!

Last month I bought some fabric at an indoor market. At the time I was sure I bought a purple ponte knit. At least the ponte knit part was correct. Maybe I should listen to my optician after all but I prefer to blame the bad light conditions. Anyways, when I got home and unpacked it in plain daylight I discovered it was the kind of shade that looks blue next to purple and purple next to blue.

No matter what we call this color, I like it. Well, making a jacket or a skirt out of this would be asking for trouble. Finding matching prints for shirts is like searching for a needle in a haystack and I am done with wardrobe orphans. 
Okay, now that I have ruled out separates, how about a dress?
Let me think. January equals diet. Not the perfect time to make a garment that is very fitted at the waist.
How about a wrap dress?

Vogue 8379

Vogue 8379 will do the trick. I want to make view B with the longer sleeves but skip the collar. Now all I have to do is find some matching thread in the blue-ish / purple-ish department.

I'm prewashing the fabric while watching my new Craftsy class on sewing with knits.
Always nice to pick up some new tricks!

Happy sewing!

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Reflections and resewlutions

Looking back on 2013 my best decision made in the sewing room was to start this blog. I want to thank all bloggers that inspired me, all followers for taking the time to read my posts and all who left comments for their kind reactions and their support!

I really like the hits and misses top 5-lists, started by Gillian and wanted to make my own lists, but being around in the blogosphere for less than four months means lots of my hits and misses happened Before Blogging and were not documented properly.

My number one hit did make it to the blog. It must be this Negroni shirt, blogged about here

Not only did it win a prize in the Super Online Community Sewing Match but it's so funny to watch my husband roll up his sleeves at a party to proudly show the contrast fabric and 'professional finish' on the inside (his words, not mine).

The favorite me-made-for-me must be the Joi dress, one day I'm gonna wear it inside out because of this:

Over to my sewing plans for 2014.

This might need some explanation. I've spent the better part of New Year's Day reading about other bloggers' sewing plans for the coming year. What worries me a bit is the amount of self-imposed limitations I read about and how often the words 'failure' and 'feeling guilty' are used when it comes to not reaching self set goals.
It's bad enough to have restrictions on calorie intake and the daily dose of espresso's. But restrict myself in the sewing room? Don't think so.
Rules, restrictions and deadlines are part of my working life. Sewing is my creative outlet. Creativity needs freedom.

When I read about a Burda Challenge (you have to make at least one garment out of each monthly BurdaStyle issue) it makes my hair stand up straight. What? If Burda releases a crappy issue I HAVE to pick one of the ugly bunch and make it? Why would I join such a challenge?

I really love the fact that over 200 women are joining Sarah of Goodbye Valentino in her 365 days of Ready to wear-fast. I will follow them all with great interest. But me? It may very well be that I'm not buying any RTW all year long, I really like to sew all the garments that are spinning around in my head. But I refuse to feel guilty for buying a simple white tee, or having to force myself to walk away from a one of a kind deal on a designer coat.

And then there is the matter of fabric stash. Sewists are very conscious about stashbusting these days. I've read about shopping bans, or 2 out, 1 in-rules. Recently I witnessed a woman falling in love with some inexpensive fabric. She immediately knew what she wanted to use it for: a jacket that would match some of her trousers and skirts. She looked excited and was heading towards the salesperson. Then the girl who accompanied her said: "You don't need that, you already have way too much fabric!" The woman's smile disappeared, her shoulders dropped and she walked away. I promised myself on the spot that I'd rather give away my beloved stash than let it block my creativity.

Don't let anyone dull your sparkle. It's easy to come up with goals and challenges at the beginning of the year. But will it make your sewing life happier? Or is there a chance you will dull your own sparkle?
I know I'm at my best when I'm sewing something I really, really want to make. Not because I need to, or have to. And because I don't know what I really want to make in June, or September, I do not want to make any statement now that will limit my choices later on. One rule: no rules. How about you?