Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Beginnings Giveaway

Readers, I did it! The thesis is finished!

Trust me when I say that I had your best interest in mind when I disappeared from the blogosphere for a while. You did NOT want to see me in the state I was in!

***Heavily edited version of what it actually looked like***
With my masters under my belt, it's a new beginning for me! What's next?

After changing country five times in five years, you know that I couldn't just stay in Toronto. Now I'm turning towards planning my upcoming move to Sweden at the end of May, as well as learning Swedish, further establishing my translation business, dabbling in travel writing, continuing to work on my academic research, and of course, sewing. Always sewing.

I can't even begin to describe the sense of accomplishment I have from finishing my degree. To celebrate, and to thank you for being such an amazing topic of study, as well as a source of support, I am hosting not one, not two, but THREE giveaways:

Lucky winner #1: Your very own digital copy of the Mathilde Blouse.

Lucky winner # 2: A Sewaholic pattern of your choice. (Might I suggest the fabulous Robson Coat? Amazing.)

Lucky winner # 3: A Victory Pattern of your choice. (Have you heard that the Toronto-based pattern company is now going print?)

To enter, make sure you're subscribed to All Style and All Substance -- either through bloglovin' or your preferred blog reader or through my email subscription -- and leave a comment bellow telling me about a period in your life where you've experienced a new beginning. You'll be automatically considered for all three giveaways, unless you specify otherwise. One person per entry. The contest is open worldwide until April 1st, 2013 at midnight. I will be announcing the three lucky winners the following day.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to my sewing room!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pattern Drafting Class

For the past two and a half months, every Tuesdays and Thursdays, I've been heading to George Brown College for my 3-hour pattern drafting class. It's been quite an intense time-commitment, but I've learned a lot.

Although at times the pace of the class felt too slow, the good thing was that Nick, our instructor, was always responsive to our feedback. I made a total of four requests and all four of them were fulfilled: grading skirts and pants, drafting welt pockets, drafting a zipper placket. Most useful of all, I learned the theory behind pattern drafting, which has opened my eyes to "think like a pattern drafter" and which will lead to further independent learning down the road, without a doubt.

Nick had tons of interesting anecdotes and stories for us, from his days as a buyer for a luxury Canadian department store. Those stories alone made the class worthwhile for me. He's traveled all around the world within the fashion industry and has even met most of the big designers, such as Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta. (So cool!)

The best part of taking this class at George Brown, though, has been without a doubt the creative environment: Working alongside fashion students, some of whom are working on very vanguard projects, is very inspiring. The intense creative energy is palpable!

Often-times, what they're wearing is a real feast for the eyes, too. Last week, I saw a girl in a beauty of a coat. It looked straight out of a Balenciaga runway in a deep green alpaca wool which stood in almost ethereal contrast to her complexion... I was so taken, I nearly tripped over!

Last week was our last class for Pattern Drafting I, which covered skirts and pants. In a few weeks we'll be starting Pattern Drafting II, for blouses and dresses. And I can't wait for that. Most particularly, I'm eagerly awaiting the Japanese dress designs we've been promised. I'll be able to use more of it for myself, I feel, because skirts are usually something I avoid. Although I have drafted a tulip skirt pattern that I'm dying to make as soon as my thesis is over. (By the way, for my Toronto readers, I think it's probably not too late to sign up if you want to join me for level II. You can check the website to see if there are any spots left.)

In other news, I've been wearing my Polka Dot Frock Fest dress a lot this week, for the simple reason that I'm insanely busy and that I can't be bothered to think about what to wear. Don't you love how a dress and tights get the job done? I highly recommend it -- for my male readers too! Anywhoo, I've taken your advice and decided not to top-stitch the pleats. I've been getting lots of compliments on the dress, so it must have been the right decision. Thanks for all those who chipped in.

Happy sewing everyone!

Monday, March 04, 2013

Polka Dot Frock Fest

I wanted to participate to Winnie's Polka Dot FrockFest, but I didn't want to buy the pattern, and I wasn't sure that I would be able to find a polka dot fabric that inspired me. I would not normally work with polka dots, but I was up for the challenge. It definitely took me a while before I found something that inspired me. Something about the rich deep brown/aubergine colour of this fabric and the contrasting texture of the velvet polka dots caught my eye.

So forgive me Winnie for bending the rule of your challenge! The pattern is not actually New Look 6000, but my interpretation of it. It seems that my pleats are deeper and the collar wider than the original, but other than that, I'm happy with the result. The ease of this dress is just the right amount. I'm going to aim for that in the future.

On sewing with taffeta:
This was the first time I sewed with taffeta and I must say that it certainly won't be the last. Taffeta has really such a nice weight, and could make the simplest thing look expensive, even if you're only working with synthetic taffeta ($14 a yard on Queen West in Toronto) as I was. I could see taffeta working really well with By Hand London's Elisalex dress, for example. (Psst, have you SEEN Heather Lou's version. Amaaaazing.) I'm not 100% sure about the pairing of taffeta with this particular dress pattern, though, with all the pleating. I'm still debating whether or not to top-stitch the pleats, to set them in place. My mom said "Absolutely not." but I'm not sure. Also, as you can see the pleating on the side seem to be pulling at the back, or maybe it was just my posture in this particular photo.

On the Pattern Drafting Process:
Drafting this dress from my skirt and bodice blocs was fairly simple once my pattern drafting instructor put me in the right direction and told me to first transfer the front waist darts to the sides. After that, creating the star was straight-forward with the slash and spread method. The first two pleats are actually the bust darts rotated on the side, as you can see bellow. Although I had initially tried to split one dart into two, I later realized it was a bad idea. There was no modifications to the back, I kept the waist darts and everything.

That's pretty much it for the polka dot dress.Thanks Winnie for putting on this challenge!
If you want more, you can pop over to the Polka Dot Frock Fest Flicker Group to have a look at everyone's polka dot dresses.

Happy sewing everyone!

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Fashion and Intellectual Property

When I was doing my interviews for my thesis, a blogger mentioned that one of their favourite things about the online sewing community was that it's OK to copy other people. It's OK to make a carbon copy of someone's garment.

I agree, it's a wonderful aspect of the online sewing community.

But also of the fashion world in general. Johanna Blakley did a very interesting Ted Talk: "Intellectual Property in the Fashion Industry" where she shows that the practice of extensive copying and a lack of copyright in the fashion industry has actually made the industry MORE innovative. I cannot recommend it enough.

I will add to this, that in the age of the internet, the nature of creativity has evolved. Things are moving much, much more quickly. To the point where we've evolved from a model of creativity rooted in the isolated individual, to a model of creativity focused on group thinking, communities and cross-pollination.

I was discussing these ideas with a painter, a while back, and she argued that copying original ideas, even the smallest detail of a painting she's seen, is to her equivalent to stealing. To avoid that, she said she avoided looking at other people's work as much as possible, so as to not be "contaminated".

To me, looking at other people's works is half the fun! How can you make art, without simultaneously consuming art? I know for myself, looking at other people's work really is what keeps my creative juices flowing. I'm totally addicted to Pinterest now, and find that I'm getting more and more design ideas the more I pin (I'm here, if you want to follow me!).

I will fall in love with something I see, and feel compelled to make it myself. Or a variation of it. And in the process, most often than not, a mistake happens -- or a new discovery happens. So the end result is always a little different, a little more me. This is the creative process: a conversation that happens between me, you, and the objects we make.

I also don't think that this painter was truly uninfluenced by the art of others -- Her work is still rooted in a tradition, and in a community of artists. She went to art school, where she learned the techniques and the rules -- whether she chose to respect them or break them. And she now works in a huge studio space surrounded by other artists.

The fact is, we never create in a vacuum. By definition, creating is taking different parts, different elements, and putting them together. Think of the creatures that seemed so original and otherworldly in our youth: the unicorns, the ugly monsters. These are nothing by a combination of different existing animals.

Source Source - Source
For myself, this boils down to one thing: produce, produce, produce and not to think about it too much. Like Andy Warhol said (quoting from memory) "I don't listen to what people are saying about my work. When they are talking about something I did, I've already finished my next project." It's all about being more do-think-do, as opposed to think-do-think. (BIG challenge for me!)

If you yourself have a blog, do you sometimes run into people asking you: "Aren't you afraid of putting all your things out there? Aren't you afraid that people will take all your ideas?"
Short answer: No.
This should be the least of our worries. The only attitude to have is to focus on coming up with new ideas.
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