"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer Storm Moving In

I took these photos last week, of a storm system moving in. It was around six or six-thirty in the evening, and I was standing out on our deck. To the west, the sun was still shining, but to the east the sky was really dark. Loved the contrast of light on the madrone, oak, and pine trees.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Just Get It Done

"Don't think about making art, just get it done.
Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. 
While they are deciding,
make more art."

Andy Warhol

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Belle Epoque Tunic — Process

Here are process photos of the BE tunic I am making. The tunic is done, except for the beading, and the small applique that will go on the front of the bodice.

The inspiration, and the elements laid out.

The bodice cut out, and the lower part of the man's cotton shirt cut off just below the sleeves.  I also cut the narrow hem off the bottom of the shirt, since I intended to add purple binding as a finish.

The tunic sewn together, and the purple binding sewn on with fly-stitch (or fern-stitch, I've seen it called either one). The cotton skirt was basted to the bodice with a running stitch, and instead of gathers, I made pleats to take in the fullness. I pinned the purple binding around the waist, to see how it looked, decided I liked it, but made it a bit narrower.

Also, I had intended for it to have short sleeves, but there wasn't enough of the gray T-shirt to make them, and I didn't want them in purple, so the tunic ended up sleeveless.

The tunic laid out on my coffee table (better lighting...sorta). I have almost finished beading the waist band, which was sewn down with a double row of fly-stitch. Next to bead will be the neckline, armholes, and the bottom of the skirt. Yeah...lots of beading. But I love the heft the garment takes on the more beads I add, and I like the clicking sound the beaded parts make against the table as I work on the piece. The beads are tiny matte-finished silver, AB dark purple, and larger lozenge beads in dark purple with blue glints. Embroidery floss is gunmetal gray a shade lighter than the bodice.

I'm going to either swap out the buttons for others, or sew beads to the existing buttons. Not sure which.  And I think I am going to hand-sew down the front of the skirt, so it doesn't gap in between the buttons. I'm never going to unbutton it, so might as well close it nicely. Probably with a running stitch in the gray floss. In the last photo it looks as if there is a stain on the right side of the skirt, but it's just shadows.

The more I work on this tunic, the better I like it. Wasn't too in love with it at first. I wondered if all the beading I was doing would be for naught...but no, as it goes along, the piece grows on me. I'll see how I feel when the applique is on, and the beading is finished. I may love it by then. One can only hope.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Is It Altered, Embellished, Or Upcycled?

I was flipping through the latest issue of Altered Couture magazine the other day, and after viewing the clothing inside, decided that, for me, there is a a big difference between something that has been altered, and something that has been merely embellished. And before I spill out my two-pence worth, let me state that this is just my personal opinion. I'm sure there are lots of people out there who will disagree, but hey, my blog, my thoughts.

Using the term "couture" implies that whatever altering done to the garment should be high quality, show that a lot of thought, effort, and planning went into it, and the end result looks "right." I can't define "right" but I know it when I see it (accepting that "right" for me might not be "right" for someone else). All the changes and additions come together in a cohesive way and it all just works. Even funky, which is not my thing, needs to have some rhyme or reason to the design. When done correctly, funky can be awesome (the work of Rice at the Voodoo Cafe comes instantly to mind). When done badly, funky looks messy and chaotic or just plain silly. The same could be said of bohemian, gypsy, modern, or any other style.

And this is where my inside voice goes "Seriously?" Taking a T-shirt and roughly hand-sewing a four-inch rectangle of tea-dyed muslin to the chest, and tacking on a six-inch length of flimsy old lace, off-center, to the bottom of said shirt, does not make it altered, and calling it couture is a real stretch. Taking a thrift store camisole and sewing on a couple of crochet doilies that dangle off the side is not altered, it is embellished, and in my not-worth-much opinion, it is embellishment done for the sake of a trend, rather than with much thought. The design makes no sense, and looks as if the doilies sort of stuck to the shirt by accident. The flip side of that is, I saw examples of outstanding garments done with lace and doilies. The designs work, the colors work, and the finished garments are beautiful.

If you are going to call a piece "altered couture" then the piece really should be altered in some significant way. There were many good examples of this in the magazine, some quite simple, so being altered doesn't imply that it has to be fancy, home-dyed, or covered with embellishments. It does mean, to me, that you have changed the shape and style of the original garment into something unique.

The word "upcycled" is used a lot lately, and I would agree that almost all of the items shown in the magazine were upcycled from thrift store finds or antique shop discoveries.  This fact was stated over and over again by the people whose items were pictured. With the diversity of clothing, shoes, and accessories shown, and the fact that so many of them were decorated but not really altered, I think upcycled rather than altered, would be a better definition for many of the items pictured. Is a shoe you have painted really altered, or is it decorated? Yes, you have changed its appearance, but you haven't changed its shape. It's still the same shoe, just painted a different color, or with fabric and beads glued on. They have definitely been upcycled, and many of them are fantastic, but altered? 

alter: v to make or become different; change. (Oxford Pocket American Dictionary)

According to the above definition, I guess all the items in the magazine were changed to a certain extent, so in the broadest sense of the term, they were altered. But add the word "couture" and it ups the anti to something beyond just upcycled, refurbished, or embellished. And yes, even the OPAD defines "couture" as merely "the design and manufacture of fashionable clothes = Haut couture." However, I still think it implies a higher quality of thought and design over and above a snip of muslin, a bit of old lace, or a doily hand sewn onto a thrift store T-shirt. But that's just my opinion...and you all know what that is worth, right?