Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Manus x Machina, Thoughts on The 2016 Met Gala

As soon as I heard this year's theme, I was expecting to be disappointed with The Met Gala red carpet.  I was anticipating futuristic silhouettes with flashing lights and maybe even a 3D printed dress or two.  But just because you have the technology to attach lights to a dress does not mean that you should.  Case in point, this Marchesa dress on Karolina Kurkova.  It was lovely without the tech - with the wiring, she looks like she belongs on a float at Disneyland (I hope no one spills a drink on her or there may be an unscheduled trip to the emergency room).  And do your best to avoid looking at the hair . . . I guess she pulled off that Disney wig in a hurry before stepping on the red carpet and did not have time to run a brush through her hair.  I do, however, love Georgina Chapman's backless dress.  The beaded fringe is amazing, and must be incredibly fun to wear - although I think I spy a case of horsehair braid resting on the floor which is doing strange things to the hemline.  Make it stop!!

It would seem that a lot of folks thought that grunge or goth was the dress code, and some choices were downright bizarre.  There were a lot of strange shoe choices as well as some really short hemlines.  I am not a fan.  I guess 90s grunge is back, but I wish I could un-see all of the combat boots on the red carpet.  Very few women can actually get away with the look.  Sarah Jessica is one of them.  She went with stilettos, but her outfit choice this year is still breaking my heart.

I did catch a glimpse of Dior's "Junon" gown in the museum exhibition as well as a Bar Suit.  So I guess I have misinterpreted the theme.  And thankfully, not everyone and their stylist went the tech route.

My absolute favorite of the evening is Nicole Kidman’s choice of Alexander McQueen.  Here is proof that cut-outs can be classy.  She looks gorgeous and incredibly elegant.  

I am not quite sure about the chain that holds the cape in place (I would have preferred that the piece attached directly to the dress at the shoulders).  And those two moon shapes at the midsection look slightly off - they would have looked much better at the waist, in my opinion, but other than that, I think this celestial confection is stunning!  I would definitely love to see this one up close!

A dress I would love to have in my closet is Bee Shaffer's gown with a train that goes on for days.  This one is also McQueen.  She looks like she belongs in a Pre-Raphaelite painting!

Zoe Saldana went with a Dolce & Gabbana gown with a significant train, but I think this one is trying too hard.  I am sure that all those feathers (I think that is what they are) look incredible in person, but it looks more like a floral arrangement trying to look like a dress than an actual dress to me.

This 1930s style Chanel is pretty fabulous.  I am not generally drawn to Karl Lagerfeld's design ethic (although I would love to be a fly on the wall in the couture atelier!), but I do love this.

I also find myself drawn to this Chanel as well.  What is happening to me?!  I hate the hair and the attitude, but I bet that dress is wonderful up close.  I love texture!

And here comes the prettiest robot you ever did see.  There were a lot of metallic choices which is obviously a play on the "Machina" theme.   Naomi Watts is wearing a pretty basic silhouette by Burberry that would normally bore me, but she looks beautiful, and I do like the floral texture on top of the chain mail base.  I am not sure I like the choice of earrings, though.

I actually prefer Gucci's liquid gold version of the strapless column dress on Sienna Miller to the silver on Naomi.  This one is bordering on gaudy, but she makes it work.  And I love the bow treatment on the bodice.  Maybe I am drawn to it because I can see Marilyn Monroe slinking around in something just like it.

Rose Byrne is also in liquid gold, but the form fitting shine makes her look dumpy, which I did not realize was possible.  The silhouette looks very classic 1930s Hollywood and I want to love it, but it is not very flattering.  Is it velvet or satin?  The shoes and clutch are not helping the ensemble, either.  And now that I am staring at it, I think that skirt ruffle needs to start at the waist instead of the hip - that might also help cut down on the shine across the stomach.  This might be incredible in a print . . . maybe floral or even an abstract geometric design.

This Proenza Schouler on Brie Larson also has possibilities (although by the look on her face, Brie might not agree).  I love the tiered ruffles in a heavy fabric encrusted with paillettes and the black tie; I actually thought this was Prada when I first saw it.  But the cutout at the waist would look better with a more extreme diagonal line, and perhaps a more scooped armhole, in my opinion.  The length is a bit unexpected, but I think it works.  I am also curious to know what is going on in the back.

And while it seems a bit informal for a red carpet, I adore this green dress.  I have no idea who Elizabeth Debicki is and I cannot find any mention of the designer, but the dress is lovely.  All it needs is a parasol and you have the perfect frock for a garden party.  Love those sleeves!

Which is a breath of fresh air after seeing this feathered monstrosity.  It looks like Bjork's swan dress went grey overnight and lost its sense of humor.  What on earth was Vera Wang thinking?!  

[Click on image for source]

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Cutting into the Good Stuff

My fabric has arrived - all seven yards of it!  My Fabric Designs does not have an option to purchase half or quarter yards (although I hear that there is a possibility this may change in the future), and I was not sure that six would be enough.  The pattern repeat is rather large, and I did not want to end up short.  This has turned out for the best because all I have left is small scraps now that everything has been cut out.

But first things first . . . I tested my fat quarter in some soapy water before hand washing all seven yards.  Even with a bit of scrubbing, there does not appear to be any color transfer when the fabric is wet.

Before cutting into the print, I needed to cut out the underlining layer.  This time around, I used a mid-weight quilting cotton.

Yellow tracing paper was used to transfer my stitching lines to the underlining.  The marks are easy to see, but not so visible that they will show through the cotton/silk fabric.

Next, the underlining was pinned, cut out, and hand basted to the cotton/silk.

And then the fun begins!

There is a whole lot of hand sewing to be done, which just so happens to be my favorite!

[Disclosure:  My Fabric Designs provided me with a coupon code which was used to purchase a portion of this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Extreme Netting

So I couldn’t leave well enough alone.  This petticoat needed to be over the top!

And so I just kept adding more and more netting . . .

and then some more . . . 

until there was a mountain of netting.

This is what 20 yards of the stuff looks like.  

I am not sure any more bulk would fit through my sewing machine!

Then I hemmed the cotton lining with a one inch horsehair braid.  

This will help to keep the cotton skirt hem from collapsing and/or getting caught between my legs when I walk.

My initial thought was that I would attach this piece to the corselette.  However, with the amount of netting on this skirt, it suddenly did not seem like such a great idea.  That, and trying to pin the two together was getting on my last nerve.

With time running out, I found some grosgrain ribbon in my stash and attached it to the cotton portion of the garment.  It is not pretty, but it does the job.  A skirt hook & bar closes the waistband just off of center front.

And that is one fluffy petticoat.  Only time will tell if I can fit in my car while wearing this!

Finalizing the Muslin

I often get impatient when working on a muslin - the actual garment is so much more interesting to stitch together, so I tend to plow right through the practice round.  But in this case, I did not have my fabric in hand because it was being printed!  So in order to perfect my design, and to make sure things were headed in the right direction, I decided to make a second muslin in a slightly crisper cotton.

After playing around with pleats for way too long, I finally settled on the skirt.  

Once everything was marked, I cut out a brand new version, this time with one set of clear markings.

That went together fairly easily.

And soon enough, I had my skirt.

It was a relief to see that things were looking good!

A second bodice was also basted together.   The sleeves were slightly wide, so I narrowed the gusset pieces which fixed that issue.

As a foundation for the bodice, I pulled out Simplicity 4070.  If I need to tack the bodice fronts in place, I will have that option.  This layer will also have one or two sets of boning channels stitched in for added stability since the neckline is going to sit very wide on the shoulders.

The sweetheart neckline of this layer required a bit of reshaping to keep it from showing, and the princess seams were taken in at the waist, but other than that, everything matched up nicely.

Then I put the two parts together, basted a zipper in, and tried the darn thing on!  For my first self-drafted garment, I am very pleased.

There is some bulk at the waistline seam, but with my fabric choice, I think everything should work okay.

After some minor alterations (the back dart did not match up with the skirt pleats, for instance), it was time to rip the whole thing apart.

Which looked something like this.

And after a quick press, I had my pattern pieces ready to go for when my fabric arrived.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Draping the Bodice

And now for the bodice portion of this project . . .

This was actually much easier than the skirt!

Most of the shaping was accomplished with pleats.

I cannot be sure exactly how the inspiration for this dress was drafted, but I rather like what I came up with.

So the muslin came off the dress form and was marked up.

Then I pulled out Vogue 1043 to see how the gussets on that design work.

Using tracing paper, I transferred those lines onto my bodice piece.

For the back bodice, I traced Vogue 1043 and Vogue 8701 on the same piece of muslin, doing my best to match up important points like waistlines and side seams, etc.

And then I put the whole thing together.

My first attempt was not terrible, but there were a few things that needed to be fixed.

The only major problem was that the back neckline was too wide.  And I also had to straighten out the side seam so it sits straight on the body.  (When I look at the corrections on the flat pattern, the errors are rather obvious, but that did not keep me from missing them the first time around.)

And then, because all of those lines were starting to make my eyes cross, I made a second version.

This actually works quite well, so I am going to rip out the zipper, attach the skirt to the bodice, and hope for the best!