My So Charmed Life

So Charmed

Charming Shadowbox

11.28.12

A comment from the mom of the baby whose bracelet is pictured in the below post mentioned that she was considering making a shadowbox to contain the bracelet for display during the years prior to her daughter being able to wear it.

This jogged my memory of creating just such a box when I designed a wedding gift charm bracelet for a friend who I wasn’t sure would be able to wear the chunky bangly thing too often… but might want to display it in her home rather than keeping it in a jewelry box hidden away.

The photos aren’t great, but I hope you get the idea. The raw pine box was purchased inexpensively at Michael’s crafts store and has a glass front door. I stained the box and lined it with pretty craft papers, including a scrap from the actual printed wedding invite, installing two small nails on the back wall for hanging the bracelet.

I then added a few treasures to the bottom floor of the box, a miniature cake and some dried rose petals. I honestly can’t remember if I ever resolved creating a way to hang the box on a wall, or if I just left it as something to display on a shelf or tabletop (probably the latter). I had a moment’s thought to offer these custom boxes for sale along with my charm bracelets, but ultimately decided that the amount of work involved was just beyond what I could probably charge. It isn’t hard, and you CAN do it yourself! If you have any questions or want support with your own shadowbox project, drop me an email any old time! xoxo

Charming Charminess

11.26.12

Those of you who’ve known me for awhile might remember that my little jewelry business, So Charmed, began in 2001 as a small Web site selling themed charm bracelets with titles like Alien Abduction, Mod Squad, and Tutti Frutti. There were Alice in Wonderland bracelets and darker gothy pieces. Shortly after, I began designing custom charm bracelets for clients the world over… from the US to the UK, from Lebanon to Paris. Lots and lots of charm bracelets, each with a highly personal story to tell. And then… I took a break from charm bracelets.

When Margie’s family got in touch recently to request a gift bracelet, I couldn’t say no. Pictured at the top of the post, with additional detailed shots, the process, result, and exclamations of joy from Margie reminded me fully why I LOVE LOVE LOVE creating these magical little heirlooms.

Margie’s bracelet is sweet-with-a-bite, titled: Smitten, Bitten, and a Kitten. It includes the articulated fangs shown above and loads of vintage beads in dusky candy colors. After doing dozens, possibly hundreds of these, I can tell you, the endless nature of how they turn out never ceases to amaze me. And I’d really like to start offering them again on my site!

Above is Margie’s daughter Abby’s bracelet… a long ago creation. Completely coincidentally, I chose the SAME kitty bead for Mom’s bracelet! Everything is up for grabs on these pieces… thematically, stylistically, color, charm selections. Materials are all sterling… sometimes with pewter charms used to keep costs lower.

Above is the add-a-charm bracelet designed for a one-year-old who is very special to me and my family. I left the bracelet blank enough to receive goodies annually. Please note, the bracelets are NOT appropriate for children or even super-active teens. They do have a certain inherent fragility, and should be handled with some care. Charms can be soldered in place for added security, this adds greatly to cost though. This and other childhood pieces are curated for presentation at a much later date.

One of the most elaborate bracelets I ever created was Wendy’s, pictured above. This one includes many custom resin charms, which are not at this time being offered. Still available though are an endless variety of gorgeous sterling and enameled charms, food charms, vintage charms, even a Tiffany’s gift box charm. The sky really is the limit.

Custom charm bracelets start at $400 + insured priority shipping; this covers my time and the basic supplies with pewter charms. Most of the pieces cost $450-600, with some going much higher. What drives the cost higher?Sterling/enameled and other specialty charms, vintage rare charms, and soldering (+$20 ea charm). The best approach is for YOU to decide your budget or range, and then I will work within that. Intrigued? Get in touch! And stay tuned for a section on the site offering these lovelies once again.

PS: No, I probably can’t get one done by xmas. In the past though, holiday recipients have been gifted with cards telling them that something verrrry special is being custom-designed and made for them. Trust me, no one has been disappointed to date!

These Boots

11.14.12

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) here in DC has a wonderful exhibit up called Women Who Rock. Artifacts — including a lot of clothing — from Billie Holiday‘s mink stole to Meg White‘s embellished suit (cover of Icky Thump) are displayed along with posters, videos and a terrific historical timeline for context. Of course my favorite objéct, by a longshot, were Patti Smith‘s boots, pictured above, circa 1974. At this shrine, I considered genuflection. Meanwhile explaining all of this to my 75-yr old mom, who I was so happy to have with me that day.

That was Sunday afternoon. Last night, I had the surreal experience of standing in a dark basement club (U Street Music Hall) with daughter Molly and her stepmom Beth to see her Dad, Glenn’s band, 7 Door Sedan open for none other than the Rezillos! But that’s not all. As we were dressing to go out, daughter Molly came and asked if she could borrow a pair of boots. She chose my Nana pole climbers, pictured above, which have been in my life and on my feet for 30+ years, rocking around the globe from Vancouver to San Francisco, to Europe, NOLA, everywhere. Words can’t describe the feeling I had standing next to my beautiful kid, age 14, wearing MY boots and big black underage X’s on her hands, in that loud banging club.

Suffice to say, there is no lack of boots at our house. Pictured above are the BF’s black suede pointy-toe Chelsea boots, purchased on the King’s Road in London, circa 1990. They’ve rocked a stage or two. And, b/c the BF is certifiably insane, he has had a SECOND brand new pair in the box since 1990 just in case something were to happen to these.

And should YOU, dear reader, require a pair of killer boots to call your own… and should your feet be a demure size 6.5 or so, you are in luck. Visit the Oh Victoria vintage lace-ups over in the new So Charmed clothing section, a great score and made for walking… or dancing and twirling, whatever your pleasure.

PS: The bands totally rocked it. 7 Door Sedan will have video of the show soon, Molly shot 400+ photos with her new Canon T3, and Rezillos were wild and outta control.

PSS: Got a favorite pair of yr own? Send me a pic and I’ll collect/post ’em.

Charming Chat: Mad Tea Party with Mo Lappin of Howlpop

11.08.12

The sky was a bright electric blue when Mo Lappin of Howlpop and I sat down to tea and chat about lawless fashion and what shoes to wear to the apocalypse. I’ve been a huge fan of Mo’s cut & paste recycling genius for many years now and boast a solid collection of treasured garments. Here’s the transcript of our get-together, sans the noise of bombs dropping and suns exploding.

Jo B: Hi Mo, thanks so much for coming to this Mad Tea Party today! Let’s start with the name Howlpop, which grabbed me instantly when I found your Etsy shop. Is there anything behind the name? It always put me in mind of Alan Ginsberg Meets Michael Jackson… something like that! Am I close?

Mo Lappin: The truth of the matter is not such an exciting story. Back in the mid 90’s I was living in SF venturing into the eBay world and I had a vintage bright yellow donut phone I was selling. It sold to a guy in Japan with a user name of POP HOWL, and I just loved those two words together. I loved the way it sounded, just like you Jodi. It wasn‘t really inspired by pop culture, but I just liked the rawness of the words. It’s like pop art, with teeth! There are no rules in all this, the Howl is the edge. I toyed around with the words for a year or so, then I bought the domain in 1997.

Jo: Well, that makes sense, the Japan connection. I love how the Japanese mash up Western culture and send it back to us spinning on its head. Howlpop seems to have a strong New Orleans connection, but I also get the sense that your life is an adventurous one (and thanks, btw, for the great photo of your own trusty magic boots, below)… Which places have had the biggest influence on your work and why?

Mo: I grew up in Boise, where I had a vintage/alternative fashion boutique called Retrospect for eight years (1988-1995). This period gave me the chance to develop a point of view concerning fashion and design. I moved to San Francisco in 1995 where I lived for five years. I relished the anonymity of the large city, and embraced the feeling of the whole world in a microcosm. After five interesting years the wild west call of New Orleans was irresistible. So I landed there in the spring of 2001. I determined from that point on I would live as an artist, and made myself sit down and overcome my fear of the sewing machine. I realized my designs had to be self made or they would lose something. The idea of New Orleans and the freedom to live as an artist with the whole culture of parading and festivals, I mean, there is always a reason to dress up there, Jodi! Life is a festival in New Orleans! I was delighted to discover that nothing that I made was too far out for someone not to love it and want it in that magical city. I realized there was a niche for me there, people didn’t know what Howlpop was, but they loved it!

Jo: Boise! For me, it was Columbus, Ohio and then here in the DC Area a vintage shop called That Girl which I ran out of my house for awhile. There must be something to this land-locked youth that sends us flying to the coasts in search of a different context for life. I love the whole concept of life as a festival and I really see that in your joyful design aesthetic. And I can’t believe that you too had a fear of the sewing machine… I wonder if that’s more universal than anyone realizes?! Your work is so incredibly free; have you had to push yourself to allow for chaos and chance or does it come naturally to you?

Mo: I call myself a line eraser when it comes to art and life, removing obstacles and unnecessary lines allows me to embrace chaos and chance. This automatically assumes that I have to be open to the happy accident as well as drawing from my surroundings and life experiences.

Jo: What a great way to express that… line erasing. It’s really gentler than my version which seems to want to veer toward a certain violence with scissors, but truly springs from the same place of a desire to remove barriers and obstacles. I’m going to think about erasing, that’s a whole new idea to me. Still, I can’t say exactly why I feel this way, but your aesthetic seems to have socio-political underpinnings. Are there any manifestos in the world of Howlpop or is it really just for fun?

Mo: Is it fun? Perhaps I am sometimes bored of the sewing part, but the designing is endlessly enticing. I am self indulgent enough to only end up making things I really like. And even after all these years and so many things, I get very excited when I start making something. When I start cutting into things I often have no clear picture of the end result. Every piece is a sketch, that is why I don’t take it too seriously and that is why I don’t take it to the fine finished point, I spend an intense but short period of time designing each piece.

In Boise, Idaho in ‘91, I started my first fashion line called Shrew. The men’s line was called Shrewd. I was, in my own Edith Wharton style, reclaiming a word that had negative female connotations, and twisting it to open possibilities for conversations about feminist issues. So you got me there, Jodi!! I consider myself a citizen of the world these days, and this prompts me to use language and elements of design to be inclusive and enable connections between everyone. I mean, 8 year old girls or 70 year old ladies can go crazy about Howlpop! People seem to like to rest their eyes on something that confuses and delights them. A lot of my fashion is intentionally unisex. I sometimes wonder why people waste their personal billboard space advertising for Nike or Gucci, which tells us nothing about their own personal world view, and it wastes all the opportunities of their first impression. So, yep, there is intent. Busted!

Jo: Shrew and Shrewd… you are just brilliant with the poetry, you know? And I can see you working intensely and super fast, while I’m intense but work for so long that I often have to go back and edit because I’ll tend to go past the actual endpoint. And I can truly see the politics of inclusiveness operating under your creativity, the genderless ageless aspects of your art. In fact, I think this photo above is one of the first Howlpop images I saw and when I contacted you I felt certain I was talking to the guy in this photo.

What do you think of the description “post-apocalyptic” in art and fashion? Is that a term you’d use to describe Howlpop? And can you tell us exactly when/where the apocalypse is going to happen so that we can start planning our wardrobes now? In particular I need to know which shoes to bring.

Mo: Yeah! I would say that post-apocalyptic is a great description of Howlpop! Because it is completely recreated from existing materials… so, much like the coming apocalypse perhaps predicting a time when things aren’t manufactured anymore, and we make from what we have, which is certainly plenty here in America. A trip into any second hand store reveals the mountains of cast offs available now, so I don’t think that anyone will be running around without clothes after the apocalypse, unless that is their desire.

Heels! No heels girlfriend! Completely impractical for the apocalypse. Jodi, wear your favorite shoes, but there could be a lot of basketball. And remember, a hot pink flat goes with everything.

Jo: Ok, I’m going to take your advice and not go tripping through the apocalypse trying to shoot hoops in my Westwoods. Speaking of the upper eschelon, are there any fashion designers you particularly admire or have been influenced by? I think we both share a love of Alexander McQueen and I’m trying to remember if you made it to the Savage Beauty exhibit at the Met last year…

Mo: For me to miss the McQueen show would have been the equivalent to a Tibetan monk missing the Dali Lama. I went twice. It was a pilgrimage. It was so eye opening in a real way, to be able to stand so close to his work, and to see how he put things together, it demystified him for me and awed me simultaneously. Martin Margiela and the whole Belgian deconstruction movement really blew my mind about fashion in the late ’80’s early 90’s. I’ve always looked at fashion since I was a young girl, it is infused in me. Xuly Bet and his fashion collages and Coco Chanel and her liberation of the female form; Any designer who liberates through their work inspires me.

Jo: I wish I had gone back to the McQueen show a second time b/c the first viewing was so visually and emotionally overwhelming it was hard to truly absorb it all. And Xuly Bet! I can’t believe you brought it up… I haven’t thought about that Funkin’ Fashion house for a long time. I bought a little collaged sweater from that line back in the early 90’s at Patricia Field, when her store was still on 8th Ave., and I loved that piece. He was so ahead of it really, from upcycling to modern tribalism, his African pop-culture vision was so fresh and unique. And of course, I too love those Belgian deconstructionists particularly Ann Demeulemeester. Now, I must ask, how massive is your stash of discarded garments and textiles for reworking? Are you any better than the rest of us at using materials at the same rate as you acquire them?

Mo: When I moved into my new studio, I winnowed out all the riff raff from my raw materials. In doing that it helped clarify my vision for what I’m up to right now. That said, I’m a genre jumper, and I still enjoy surrounding myself with unlimited possibilities. So, yes and no, Jodi, yes and no.

Jo: Awhile back I tried to get to Asheville NC to take a workshop you were giving, but sadly I never made it. Do you give workshops often, and how do you teach other artists to embrace their own inner Howl?

Mo: Jodi, I love doing workshops because it is really fun to explain my lawless techniques to current/future seamstresses and see the lightbulb go on when they realize they don’t need a tape measure to fashion-party Howlpop style!!

Jo: Sharing your freedom to create just takes it all to another level in my mind and heart. What music is playing in the Howlpop atelier when you’re at work? Somehow I picture there’s a hard-rockin’ soiree when you’re designing!

Mo: Jodi, I’m gonna come clean here. It is more often than not new country, straight off the radio. I like to stay in touch with the real world, but I do go all over the road with what I listen to. And then I get hung up on songs, depending on the show or event I’m working on, the ideas I’m trying to get across are driven by the music, so I relentlessly listen to the same song over and over while I design the show.

Jo: I never pictured a country soundtrack for Howlpop, but of course it makes perfect sense and one of the things I love about you and your work is the constant surprise element. Well, I could personally stay and chat with you all day, but I’d better let you go off to your next adventure. Do you have any parting advice for readers who want to make clothes but feel they may not have the skills and training in the traditional sense?

Mo: Pick up the scissors, and start! Be fearless, because really, what is the worst that could happen?! It’s not brain surgery.

Jo: I love this picture of you celebrating The NOLA Saints big win, and I’m going to chant that mantra when I’m working… What is the worst that could happen?!. Thanks so much Mo for breaking all the rules and helping us keep it fearless. xoxo

Atelier Charm

11.01.12

Anyone who sews understands the frustrations of having to haul your machine onto the dining room table, make a huge mess, run upstairs to where the ironing board lives, clean everything up for dinner, and begin again. Agonizing, especially during an intense time of creating. Here are photos of my newly created nook. Above, among other things, you can see the little Indian dress which I am in the process of altering to fit… and it’s coming out GREAT!

It’s taken nearly a decade of living in my little house to figure out that I had the space and even the furnishings I needed to work this out in a far more satisfying and workable way. Above you can see that I used free weights against the folding table legs to help fortify it. I’d still like to find a sturdier table at the thrift sometime.

Top floor of the house is basically one master bedroom suite, outside of which is a lovely hallway / anteroom that is actually big enough for a small sewing elf such as me to feel cozy working in. Above you can see my grandfather’s desk, a beautiful old thing I’ve had in my life for over 30 years now. I remember him using it… a small round silver dispenser of stamps and a little dish with a wet sponge for applying the postage. There were always other fascinating things to look at in the desk cubbies.

To the left of this image is the doorway to the bedroom, a very large and quite gorgeous room that was expanded by the previous owner. My dressmaker dummy is in that room and the ironing board sets up easily there.

This is the other end of the hallway, if you spin around you’re at the stairway leading down to the main floor. I dearly love all of my old hat boxes, suitcases and my dolly pram full of vintage hats, which was thrifted for about $10. Major score. All images can be seen at full size over on flickr in the aptly titled set “house.”

Wild Thangs

10.24.12

Seems I’ve been in a wild animalia mode creatively this past week or two. Above is a necklace I designed and made this week. The bones are found (West Coast, USA), mostly deer. There is one other necklace in progress, I’ll share soon.

The piece is titled Come Here Little Dreamer and also features sweet vintage glass beads including rare African trade (vaseline), Indonesian glass, and native American glass crow beads. This necklace both scares and delights me and currently resides in my own collection.

Here is another completed garment. This is a thrifted 80’s wild thang party dress ($3) recon for the end of the world. It had coffee stains on the zebra-print fabric and when my vintage consignment shop rejected it I brought it home and decided to have at it. I’m really glad they didn’t take it!

The back is super cool, even the zipper got hit with the neon spray paint. I cut off a pair of very long sleeves that will be useful elsewhere, removed some ginormous shoulder pads, as well as several layers of zebra floof.

I also turned the lining to the outside around the neck b/c it was so pretty in that deconstructed way. Removed/replaced a big matchy rhinestone-encrusted zebra bow which will undoubtedly show up elsewhere.

The color is otherworldly. The neon green/yellow fabric glows as if lit from within.

Close up of the “confetti” treatment. I just sewed randomly with contrasting thread and stopped every so often to place a tiny scrap of the neon fabric, then sewing over it. I love this effect as it’s both purposeful and random.

This is the garment that inspired the confetti idea. On this lovely piece, the lace bits are just barely tacked down by a row of machine stitches and since they are larger, they flutter some. A very fun idea.

Head over to flickr if you want to see these images larger. Clothing is always listed in the horrifically titled Misc Stuff I’ve Made set.

The Joy, Curse, and Politics of Curly Hair (A White Girl’s Perspective)

10.20.12

Much has been discussed, filmed and written about black Women’s hair.

From fake (Photoshopped) Internet images of First Lady Michelle Obama wearing hers “natural”…

…to Chris Rock’s documentary, Good Hair, about the subject (including the vast industry surrounding the care of said locks) …

…to the recent hullaballoo about Gabby Douglas–the beautiful, talented, teenaged olympian star who should not, in my opinion, have to suffer such nonsense.

Despite certain fantasies I at times like to entertain, I am not a black woman (or a gay man, but that’s another post for another time), and it seems likely I never will be.

All of that laid out… how ’bout that photo above? Yes, I am my hair and I always have been, like it or not. It’s been my joy and power, my cursed (sometimes won, often lost) lifelong battle. From Shirley Temple in the 50’s to Dippity-Do in the 60’s, to the Afro-Sheen aisle in the 70’s. Me and my hair have been on a long and at times fitful journey together.

Curls go from super tight (sometimes referred to as kinky, but I’m never sure that’s leveraged as the compliment it should be) to looser ringlets (which sounds so darling doesn’t it?). Frizz is a whole other factor (dryness, due to over-washing and harsh treatment), as is density. Curly hair can be thin, but is most often thick if not extremely dense. Mine is pretty tight and very thick. Here’s a fun fact: my hair has to be 4x longer than straight hair to appear the same length. FOUR TIMES! I like to joke that it really doesn’t get long, it gets big.

People do compliment curly hair, but usually in weird ways such as… is your hair natural? I’m so knocked out by this question that I usually retort: Uh, do you really think I would PAY for this?? Really? I then look at them queerly b/c while they may be admiring the curls in that moment, a certain terror often appears in their eyes as they run through what it might actually be like to tangle with such hair on a daily basis. I try to hear the compliment through my long years of hair-loathing.

Oh, and hairstylists–except for the highly trained in all things curl and for you people: R.E.S.P.E.C.T!!!!–quiver in their shoes when I come through the door. Black salons and white salons are verrrry segregated, although I see that changing some. Still, white women with curls need to seek out trained stylists. Naturally curly hair MUST be cut specifically to look its best.

The joy of curly hair is very present when you are a young child. There’s a lot of ooo-ing and ahhh-ing and cheek pinching and fondling of your curls. In my case, in the 50’s, lots of Shirley Temple exclamations… Yes! Shirley Temple Jew! Charles Schulz’s character, Frieda, was an early pro-curl grrrl, but she was probably in first grade when it was still cute to have curls.

In early adolescence all of this cutesy adoration just ground to a screeching and alarming halt. Suddenly, it was incredibly uncool and unattractive to have curls. Peggy Lipton. Twiggy. The Supremes. My public schools had large Jewish and black populations and as the 60’s rolled into the 70’s there were more and more afros and jewfro’s. But weirdly, (at least in my memory) it seems it was more acceptable for boys of both persuasions. There were some black girls sporting fabulous (and huge) naturals; it seems in retrospect that they were considered radical at the very least.

And the Jewish girls? Ummm, no. Not then, and still, not too often now. Today, black women seem to be experiencing (hard won battle) more choice about hair than Jewish women, if you ask me. Most of the Jewish girls you know whose hair seems straight? Wellllll, some, but not many of us really have perfectly straight hair. It is, more likely, chemically relaxed, ironed, SERIOUSLY blow-dryed, and the latest: some Brazilian treatment that costs hundreds of dollars and lasts a few months. No thanks. And all of this because long, straight white hair is still the mark of wealth, power, success, beauty, and desirability in Western culture. It is expensive and endless work to have straight hair when you’re not born with it, and I do not believe we would bother if it didn’t matter so much.

I have tried chemical relaxers (actually “perms”), and even in the 80’s corn rows because Boy George did it and it looked so damn good on him. Ouch, the pain was intense, it lasted only a week (half of which I had a blistering headache), and Boy George was in fact prettier than me. I discovered a great love of hats, especially vintage hats for those bad hair days, which were 9 out of 10. Young white women didn’t wear pink and blue wigs back then and have only recently have been getting weaves (excuse me, I mean, extensions) and those cost the big bucks. I never went in for rasta-twists, but thought about it many times and I think it can look cool on women of all shades. My mother would have plotzed.

Recently Molly and I have been talking about self-esteem and we agree that most people either have none, or maybe have some, but the people who appear to have tons are probably faking, covering up, at least most of the time. This doesn’t comfort us… we of wild hair, or Asian eyes, or short stature, or of mixed-race families. We dream of a day when these qualities ALL will be truly celebrated, or maybe even not matter, but we feel pretty sure that although the world is greatly changing, for us, these things will likely continue to matter, and sometimes a lot. We do feel mighty lucky to live and work and attend school in a community where things are generally far better regarding diversity than many/most places across this great land of freedom. Hooray for Takoma Park!

Recently I am happy to share that things for me and my hair have turned around again. It might be a middle-age acceptance thing, and I am seeing more freaky curl flags flying in fashion and other media. As more and more sisters of all colors embrace their fabulous hair texture, I find myself standing strong in a place of defiant adoration of my own crazy curls. Most days. Oh, and btw, I’ve got NO (absolutely NO) problem with anyone straightening their hair. For me, it’s about choice. Having one and exercising it. Not feeling like you have to straighten for acceptance or to get somewhere, or to succeed. Curly sisters, let’s be tolerant of everyone’s journey.

What’s really interesting is that hair products are following along with this growing desire amongst us to free our curls, and to have them appear healthy and sexy. Black hair, Latino hair, Jewish hair… so many textures, and each deserves its own specific product line for optimal care (not race-based, texture-based). My favorite, hands-down, is DevaCurl, pictured above. It’s a system of products and treatments (and training for stylists who cut curls) that has been life-altering. DevaCurl claims to work on ALL curl, from highly textured to less so. It’s available a little cheaper at Ulta than your salon. My bio-sister — beautifully curly-topped — is a Ouidad devotee, and her hair always looks gorgeous. Of course our purses are gouged for these products… We are not talking Suave here, curlygrrrls. For now, it’s worth it. And here’s my final tip: STOP washing your hair every day. Dampen and condition, but wash it much less. Your hair will be healthier, not dirtier (yeah, another judgement!).

As Sistah Ru Paul always says: If you can’t love yourself, how the HELL you gonna love somebody else?

Do you have a curly hair story to tell? Please share!

What $17 + a 25% Off Discount Card Will Get You on Thursday at Value Village Thriftstore

10.19.12

I thrift in two ways. One is that I think VERY specifically about what I’m looking for (usually project related, sometimes just a fashion issue) and it is frightening how often I find exactly that thing. The other is just a random trip for the inspiring thrill of the hunt. 50/50 success rate.

Yesterday I went to score cheap old tshirts to make another dress. Didn’t happen due to an overwhelming number of ridiculously gorgeous textiles lurking about. Top of the post, the whole score. Above, a set of pillowcases (India) with amazing mirrored handwork on both sides of each, total of FOUR panels. Katie, Bethy, Dorie… one each for you local craftistas.

This blanket (India) is the most amazing shade of yellow-maize with faux fur and sequiny embroidery. Anthropologie eat your effing heart out. Wish I had skills to make a coat, but I’m going to do a skirt. Seems weird, hopefully will work. There’s lots of yardage.

Above, The Gettysburg Address, in its entirety, printed on a scratchy burlap tea-towel sorta thing. LOVE this typography and can’t wait to use patches of it on garments.

Have to research if it’s an image of Abe’s handwriting (as I suspect). I thought the Lincoln portrait was a bit tacky, but it’s grown on me and might get incorporated somewhere.

Warning: This one’s gonna make you swoon.

This vintage Indian garment fits me, but is a bit shapeless. I do not have it in me to cut this; yes I have boundaries. So, if I can’t easily alter it into a flattering shape by taking in the side seams, it will just hang on my wall. Isn’t it divine????

The back, though plainer, is also lovely, with rainbow thread embroidery on this incredible gauzy layered base fabric. This piece was $5, less 25% but is priceless.

There are often great curtains, linens, and doilies but I try not to over-collect hoard them. You might hear me muttering: Someone else’s treasure… my anti-hoarding mantra. At $1.49, could not pass these up. BTW, the one at the bottom is a “pineapple” pattern. Sweet!

My Companions

10.19.12

I can’t be the only designer/maker person in the world who has a love affair going with her tools. I’ve blogged about some very old tools used in my practice as a designer; here are a few pix of fave stitchery tools.

A very unsexy photo of one of my favorite aspects of my babylock sewing machine… the little hidden toolbox. Look at how perfect it is! The tiny compartments holding bobbins, a seam ripper, an extra foot. I find this so charming, esp. b/c the machine is pretty high tech, an embroidering computer really.

And of course this dear thing always comforts. It morphs from holding pins to holding buttons, fabric scraps, ribbons… any old thing. These tomato pin cushions have been around for so long they always make me think of my grandmothers and of carrying on stitchy traditions in spite of modern technologies.

I know you people love your scissors like I do! Above, my super sharp and pointy little snips for thread and detail work. Below, the big mama sheers which came nestled in a beautiful velvet lined gift box/coffin. Both purchased a few years ago, I might never have bothered except for the incredible gothy typeface of the company name–Gingher— etched on the scissors and tin.

And, below (as well as detailed at top of post) my dear tiny screwdriver, the perfect size for the screw that unlocks the machine’s needles. I have had this thing forEVER and have no idea where it came from. I have always loved the deco styling, the cherry red handle and the little golden bakelite piece but it was just today that I noticed the tiny white type reads: COMPANION. Yep!

What’s your favorite tool?

Mad Stitchy World + Iggy

10.18.12

A crazy stitchy day yesterday, several things going at once including this little tshirt remake dress.

Big breakthroughs in stitching tshirt fabric: 1. Buy JERSEY needles for your machine. Life-altering and about $3. 2. Zig-zag keeps the fabric stretchy, and it works to set your stitches wide and flat.

To make the top, just find a tshirt that you like (this one is a thrifted Volcom, I like their graphics!) and that fits your chest and cut it into whatever shape suits you. I tend to like no sleeves (cap sleeves could be cute too), a wider neckline and back to bare my tatt, and a higher waist. I do this freehand, but you can also use a favorite tank as your “pattern.” Don’t fear the scissors!

We interrupt this sewing for a kitty break. Napping kitties are irresistible, don’t you think?

Big fierce yawn!

Fully awake, ready for snacks. Or to sit on fabric laid out on floor for cutting.

Here is another in-progress thing, a dress, but I’m not sure how it’s going to be finished. I want it to be extremely plain, sort of prairie/nun-like. So I may end up not using the pretty vintage doilies (a whole set, thrifted for a couple of bucks).

Definitely will use the Victorian scrap pictured at the top of above shot. It’s really lovely.

The pieced part will be the main dress, the fabric is sheer and super stiff, like voile.

Here’s the finished Desert Babydoll dress, which needed… something… and got a flaming heart treatment + gold spray-painted big safety pin.

I just love how this piece looks with my tassel necklace.

Close up of the velvet heart (it’s a pocket!). The shimmery turquoise fabric is INSANE, and was scored at ScrapDC during one of their fill-a-bag sales.

All photos can be seen at full size over on flickr.

← Older posts

ARCHIVE [BY SUBJECT]