Sincere Forms of Flattery

This project was born from an experience of seeing something that I couldn’t get out of my mind until I figured out how to do it in my own way. This happens a few times a year and sometimes takes quite a while to come full circle. It begins in different ways. I will obsess over a film or video. Images on Instagram scroll through my head. I file away pages torn from books and magazines in my sewing lair (I have binders I started as far back as the late 90’s).  I might be at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC, or in Paris at Colette or Bon Marche doing research for my day job…looking and looking and looking. Which also involves a lot of touching, fondling and coveting like a thief waiting for a good idea to take.

I had a teacher in design school, Professor Eva Nambath, who seemed to be 1000 years old but spry as can be. She was dramatic and demanding with these expressive hands and I remember her gesturing to her eyes and then pointing in all directions in the distance, insisting “To understand anything you just have to keep your eyes open and look! Look at everything! Look and look and look until you are too tired to see anything more and then you have to study it all in your mind.”

I never know when something will trigger the creative instant from all these ideas, but it’s especially serendipitous when I actually have fabric or a pattern in my stash to work from.  If not, I have to go hunting and there is no frustration more keen than not finding what my heart desires. In this case I was lucky, I had all the parts I needed, and here is the recipie:

1) An Image

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This is from a Bottega Veneta ad campaign from Spring 2015. So, a year ago. To me it feels like yesterday that I tore this page out of a magazine. I like the mood, the color, the textures of the peeling paint and the fabric of her dress.

2) The Fabric

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When I saw the picture I finally felt I’d got the germ of an idea for using up a fabric in my stash. I’d bought this light, silk blend denim thinking it would make a good shirt dress. This image gave me a different notion though. I thought the fabric could be used in a more unexpected style like in this picture, which reminds me of a 50’s New Look era day dress, but mixed up in denim with these raw edges.

3) A Pattern

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I forgot for a while that I had this vintage reproduction pattern, but while organizing my sewing lair back in March I came across it and presto! My new skirt was on the way. It took my brain probably less than two minutes rattling through my mental rolodex to pull together this pairing.

4) The Make

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All the perfect, basic elements were there for the project, I just had to work through how to make it right for me rather than attempting a copy of the photo. Through trial and error and playing with some fabric scraps, I came up with this concept of using the selvage edge to trim the pocket opening, which would lend the skirt a little of that same esthetic from the B.V. design. I also executed some of the finest top stitching of my life!

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I used a calico print leftover from another project to line the pockets and bind the inside hem edge.

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5) The Outcome

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into my creative process. I can’t wait to wear this for Me Made May, and to turn my attention to the next big idea to come.

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