You can compare this with the instudio picture.
62.jpg This is the Stringray outfit much discussed in this blog (a, b, c, d </a e, f, g, h i, j).
The textile center has put up pictures from the ARTWEAR IN MOTION show. They have pictures from the show and of the winners. This year’s show wasn’t a runway show but took place on a stage.
At the Center’s website you can find info for entering next years show.


Yesterday I sewed weights on the front and back seam at the hem of the dress, steamed the hem, sewed on the straps and positioned the hook and eye above the zipper. I think that it is done. Grace may make a hat…
Here are some snapshots of the outfit. Without proper lighting it is hard to see the details of the collar in the front and I assure you that the the dress is black, not grey, not navy– just bad lighting not bad dyeing. The leather is shinny black and the silk matelasse is matte black.
Here is my description of the outfit:

This ensemble is composed of two pieces: a black leather jacket and a black silk dress. The starting point for the jacket was the stingray leather piece in the center back with the white pattern down the center and its shape. The shibori dyed pattern in the silk dress was developed to mimic the white patterning in the stingray leather. The pleated leather was also made by shibori techniques. The waves in the collar, peplum and the flounces of the dress were inspired by the movement of the stingray swimming gracefully through the water. The entire ensemble was made with couture construction techniques.

The only thing I would add now is that there is a lot of play with textures in the outfit. The jacket has smooth shinny leather, corregated leather and the sting ray leather has a texture like tiny seed beads embedded. The silk matelasse has a structural texture and the flounces are organza , a crisp smooth texture.
You will not be subjected to more snapshots of this outfit, you’ll have to wait for professional photo shoot for more.

I spent the yesterday at Grace’s studio in Cinncy. The sting ray jacket is assembled, just needs the hem facings and the lining which is ready.
The sting ray leather in the center back sets the mood for the whole piece. The pleated leather is in the waist panels and cuffs. The collar does stand up.
From the from you can see the collar turning into waves down the front. The panels underneath, lower center front, to fasten took some engineering. The dress is nearly done too. Today we are hemming, attaching straps and lining. Then remove all the colored basting threads.
Grace is leaving Tue. AM for the birth of a grandchild so this and the other outfit must be finished by then.

Oops, a sting ray outfit

4 September 2006

this may not be the best monent to put a outfit called a sting ray on the runway. But I think we will carry on.


3 September 2006

On Thursday we started with the sting ray dress mostly sewn and finished with it in pieces. The front center front was sagging and our idea was that the under-lining was causing the problem so we took it all apart to remove the china silk under-lining and ended with the dress in pieces. On Friday I put it together again, with out the china silk and using a narrow zigzag stitch and I’m thrilled to report that it now looks good!
You can see for yourself. The rest of the dress is going together just fine. Grace was here yesterday and was showing me the difference between the shape of the dress form and a real person in the underarm area, a critical no gap zone. We’ve put a bone in the facing on the side and eased in the upper edge some more from the side to above the bust point.
One of the problems for these projects is fit. Since we have no idea of the model , we make the outfit and send it off with some indication of the size . They then look for a person to wear it, seldom a professional model. Grace likes to make things to fit. When I see how they look on the models that they have chosen I want elastic everywhere!
On Friday the local radio NPR station, WYSO, ran a program on women’s body image. And the new sin of being fat. First they pointed out that thin does not mean healthy. Healthy is determined by glucose and cholesterol levels, blood pressure…. Any how they said the average size US women is now a size 14. They talked to Lane Bryant about using plus size women for their plus sized line ( the usual plus size model is size 12). Lane Bryant said that they have tried several times using larger women and the styles that they model do not sell. They were convincing that this was a problem.
So my question is how much of the sizes we sell is fit and how much is fantasy?

Good news and bad..

2 September 2006

We are working away on the garments for the Artwear in Motion because Grace is going to FL around the 12th.
First the bad. The dress was sewn together and pinned to the dress form. In the morning I walked out and saw this:
The center panel is sagging like an 80 year old face! I called Grace, then when she came up we took out those seams and rebasted them. There are 3 fabrics in this seam: shell= matelasse that stretches and gives, under lining= light weight china silk that is stable and the organza of the flounce that is also stable but circular cut so has different grains. After many bastings, and a level of frustration we decided to remove the china silk under lining and sew with a narrow zigzag stitch to allow some stretch. We ended the day twith the whole dress dissassembled.
Grace has inserted the pleated leather panels in the sides of the jacket. They look better than I had imagined!
shibori leather panels.jpg
I cut some inserts for the cuffs out of the remaining pleated leather. This looks like it is coming along nicely.

sr underconst-dress.jpg
Time is nearing to send the Sting Ray outfit to Minneapolis, so we need to work on it. The runway show is 21 Oct. at the Bloomington Art Center but the garments have to be at the Center 29 Sept. When I get back from Evanston that is all we will do until about 11 Sept. when Grace leaves town. To review previous post on this outfit check here. I took the fabric for the dress, a silk matelasse that I dyed black with stitched shibori stripes placed in the skirt. It took Grace over 3 hours to steam and get the fabric on grain before she could cut out the dress. I did, in a moment of suspended judgement cut the fabric on the bias but we decided that all the difficulties were really inherent in the fabric, it was like dealing with dyed chiffon–which you can iron any size. Grace cut and basted the dress together adjusting for the shibori pattern.
In the snapshot taken in her small studio, you can see some of the adjustments we have made and all the basting in colored thread. Because of the instablity of the matelasse we decided to underline it with 5mm (very light weight) black china silk and Grace made many stays of black illusion/organza that we are using for the ruffles. I’m glad she likes the texture and drape of the matelasse because it sure has been more of a pain than anticipated. Even the ruffles have been fussy, one side would have 5 waves and the other 6!
I made two different stitched shibori patterns for across the front, one curved that I thought might look different and one on the grain that ended up looking more like the ones on the skirt. The top front yoke has lost its V -cut so matching the two patterns has become an issue.
sr underconst-front yoke.jpg
For all the problems, I think the dress is just the right softness to go under the black leather jacket. Here is a side view and you can see the slim shape and the placement of the shibori stripes. Sorry about the bell-shaped paper with our notes right in the middle.
sr underconst-dress side.jpg
The jacket is also coming along, I took the pleated leather to Grace. Here is a backview of the jacket on top of the dress.
sr underconst-back.jpg
The sing ray leather with its pebbly texture is in the center back. We added a collar stand to help the collar stand up. The pleated leather will go in the open spaces at the side waists. Stitching the pleated leather to the right side and then turning it seemed pretty trickey to us so we decided to sew a thin black cotton to the opening turn that then top stitch the finished edge to the pleated leather. You can see how the ruffle of the dress carries the movement of the bottom of the jacket into the dress.
sr underconst-front.jpg
The front view show the collar and how the waves start there and continue into the bottom of the jacket. You can see the holes at the waist where the pleated leather goes. And a final shot of the side.
sr underconst-side.jpg
The sleeves have been made, except for the pleated insertion at the cuffs (only if we have enough pleated leather). Hopefully most of the technically problems are out of the way and it is just putting it together now.
Did I mention that we have another outfit we are making for the same event! More about that when we move to working on it.
On Thurs. this week I packed up 3 outfits, we made last year, to ship to a runway show in Ft. Collins CO –all part of ARTWEAR: Fashion Week. Pack them up, write up how to wear them, and write up how to return ship. It took all day! I find this a real pain, and when I attend the shows I’m not sure anyone has read any of the instructions. Anyone have any hints on how to make this easier?? I try to think of the people on the other end recieving many peoples works, each with different instructions and requirements. But it is hard to be a happy camper when the model wears turquoise bra and panties that can be seen thru the dress. Here are some collages of the three outfits I made to send along—hoping that a picture is worth a thousand words. I don’t have the thousand words in me.
3 las ondas negras copy.jpg
3coppertails copy.jpg
3 singed illusion.jpg


24 July 2006

Time and a change in the weather allowed the poles from last week to dry. This silk dried and unwound silk looks like this:
off pole-blk-champ.jpg
Here you can see clearly that the inside of the silk, that is the part compressed between the string and the pole, maintained the orginal color, black. This colorway, which is called black/champange, is a discharge only color. Of course I dyed the black so that it would discharge this color, normally the Lanaset black dye discharges to off-white with blue tones. This piece will be opened and finished with beads and a logo, which is my signature.
The other poles from that same batch were over dyed and look like this coming off the pole.
off pole-BN-blk.jpg
And this leather has also dried.
pleated leather.jpg.
This leather looks pretty raggety, the part that was the seam is not pleated. I actually tore one piece when I opened the seam. I hope inserted into the jacket it will be fine. We may have to piece (seam) or stretch some of the pieces to get enough for all 6 pattern pieces we need.

Last year when Grace and I were first working with leather and creating textures with shibori techniques I did a small sample of thin black leather in Bomaki. Bomaki is a technique using a pole but instead of wrapping the goods with string, the goods are sewn into a tube that fits the pole tightly. It is then scrunched to create the pleats.
Here is the sample;
leather bomaki sample.jpg
I had no idea where this samples was (there are hundreds of samples floating around here) but Grace had squirreled it away and now says to me, wouldn’t this look nice here for these pieces in the side of the sting ray jacket. She is pointing to the curved front side and back side pieces just at the waist. You can see the back one here:
She has enough of the jacket togther that I can see that the pleated leather gives a wonderful curve to that part of the jacket. Ok, lets go for it! It will take lots of leather since this kind of pleating dramatically reduces the length of the pieces.
Now the trick of getting bomaki to work is getting the tube sewn just the circumference of the pole. Too loose and you get glops of fabric not pleats. Too tight and you can not get it on the pole or you tear holes in the cloth where it is sewn. With silk you machine baste the silk into a tube and if it is too loose you just sew it again, tighter. This kind of adjustment with the leather is not an option.
With leather sewing makes little holes everyplace the needle pierces. Might be ok in some cases but not here. What I was playing in the pictured sample was how to make the leather into a tube without sewing. Overlapping reduces the amount of leather that you can use in the end. The overlapped portions would behave differently because they are so thick and stiff. So a more conventional seaming technique is needed. I tried several things including double stick tape and rubbber cement. The part of the sample to the left, which is the part we like, was done with rubber cement. Coat both pieces, let dry to tacky, then press together. It is easy to separate afterwards, and the sticky stuff can be removed from the back with an eraser if need be.
Grace had all the other pieces of the jacket cut so we had to hunt for enough leather to fit on the poles (min. 8.5″ wide) and long enough to make the pieces. Oh yes, now we’ve added an insert in each cuff too.
We found enough of the thin leather, left the thicker skins, that would pleat differently, for the under collar and facings. Here they all are, moistened and stretched out with the 2 pattern pieces on top.
leather pieces.jpg
I’m stretching them into shape. When they are dry I careful mark them with a template, I need a “straight seam” to be able to get them on the pole. With rubber cement on the tips of all of my digits, I do get the leather into a tight fitting tube!
leather tube.jpg
Of the 10 pieces of leather on the table I manage to get 7 on this little pole. The pole is ID 2″ and just 18″long. Each pieces has a different size seam and it is postioned differently on the pole. I did not square off the ends of the leather pieces, just just never know when that 1/4″ will make it possible to get a pattern piece out. These unsewn ends just dangle.
leather bomaki on pole.jpg.
The leather is soaked in water for about an hour and now we have to wait for it to dry… maybe by Mon. It is very humid here. Then I can do the last 3 pieces. The big activity this past week is waiting for poles to dry…what excitment!

Once the silk is stitched and gathered it is ready to dye ( previous work) it needs to be soaked prior to dyeing.

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