Tag Archives: fabric hoarding

What Time Off?

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I was asked to make a Day of the Dead-themed Victorian walking suit for a show that will spend two years traveling to various museums. For the first time in my artistic life, I have not only failed to submit my piece early, I have missed the initial deadlines. Inspiration showed up late in this case, but I think it was worth it. Initially I made a Victorian-esque skirt from some of my extensive collection of Our Lady of Guadalupe fabrics. Then it all ground to halt. Digging around in a cedar chest filled with -Ray’s things for a class I was teaching on the topic of DIY-clothing (upcycling, transforming, etc) I found a jacket that I had made for her from two vintage blouses that featured an appliqued skull on the back.

In looking at that, and some other things I had made for her, I realized I was ready to let these things out of the silent tomb of the cedar chest. I wanted to transform them, then release the back into the world. I took the tshirt she sent me with the logo of their band, which I designed, and cut the logo out, hand colored it, and hand appliqued it onto the skull jacket:

Victorian Altar Process 1Victorian Altar Process 2Victorian Altar Process 3

Then I appliqued elements from a gorgeous quilter cotton that was full of Mexican folk symbols (and some skull fabric leftover from my purse-making days) as well as drawing root elements by hand with alcohol-based markers and a Tee Juice marker.

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Next, I drew in a cat skull with bony wing elements and painted them gold.

Victorian Altar Process 7

Then I decided that everything needed embroidery. Everything.

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Next  came the bustle. I used as the bottom layer a capelet I had made for -Ray from a vintage apron, that included hand made flowers and a portrait I drew of her sewn into the pocket. Over that are layers of a vintage linen with crocheted corners, and the top layer is a rotten Victorian collar. For height I made two sort of bum rolls out of related fabrics. Then I drew, appliqued, embroidered and painted everything.

Victorian Altar Process 13Victorian Altar Process 14

I will save the rest of the photos for a second post.

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Since that’s not enough to do, I am also volunteering as the Costume Designer for a production of Chicago that a good friend and co-worker is co-directing. The concept is that the show is being put on by a group of convicts in a modern-day women’s prison (shades of OITNB). Thus, they are all dressed in gray prison clothing which the actors have to try to make look sexy without a lot of options to remake things. If you doubt this possibility, think back to being in high school and shortening your skirt by rolling the waistband after you went to school, or tying your shirt so that some midriff showed. It’s working quite well. Also, though, a lot of their costume elements need to look like they made them from a limited amount of available materials, so I have now gotten very good at making fedoras and boaters that look like they are made from food wrappers and boxes:

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There’s also a derby hat covered in Dum-Dum wrappers for Amos as well as a bow tie and lapel flower of the same. The third boater, not pictured, is a Cheese-Its theme.

We go into Tech this week, and then, possibly, I will reclaim my summer break and actually get to relax and enjoy some of it.

Famous last words, that.

The Muse is Accustomed to Being Fired

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I’ve had to let the muse go due to intense hip, back, shoulder, wrist and hand pain. No longer am I enamored of my patchwork collection, instead I am judging it wanting and a waste of time. It probably isn’t either of those things but the chronic-pain-colored glasses view it as such. Every step I took yesterday hurt my hips like a wide band across my lap, from deep in the joint to radiating outward over the muscles of my thighs. By the end of the day, of course, it was worse and I lost my composure entirely and had a sobbing fit in my bed while the husband and the dog tried to figure out what to do with me.

I suspect my emotional fragility at the moment is partly due to the above and maybe somewhat influenced by hormones (O, perimenopause, you wretched, wretched bitch). While I cavalierly said I didn’t care if I was once again making a collection of things no one would buy, today I DO care about this and perused my Etsy shop just to make myself feel worse. I don’t know why I cling to Etsy when I haven’t the time to devote to keeping it up. It’s the excuse for my thrifting addiction, “I can sell it on Etsy” but no, no I can’t, not consistently. There are times, like today, when I feel like my constant making of things is foolish and sad since rarely do I have an answer to “What will you do with this?” or “Who would buy this?” Earlier this week I was content to simply be creating, happy to be in the process and satisfied by the process and the products. But the process that makes me so happy and satisfied is the same process that means I was in bed crying at 8:00 pm due to pain.

The Shrink and I are working very hard on being in the Now, since that’s the only thing we have any control over. Last night, eyes leaking, my brain kept saying, “Okay, so this is the Now but the Now is horrible and what if it’s the new forever (no, no, forgive yourself for that and go back to now) Now sucks, Now is awful!” Or, as my husband finally put it (canceling out hours of mental looping and self-criticism) “Today’s just a bad day.” Yes. And I have to learn not to then tack on, “And what if tomorrow is, too? Or worse?” Because I don’t know that, and I can’t determine that until tomorrow becomes the Now. It’s a bit of a rabbit hole.

So today is slightly better so far except that I feel like a giant, potentially leaky vessel of tears. I have a massage and maybe that will ease some of the pain. Maybe I will look at my last assemblage of pieces and find it more favorable than I did yesterday. Maybe tonight will not be a night wherein I find myself freaked out about not having pain drugs, sobbing into the dog’s neck and panicking about the future. A future in which I will possibly drown in clothes, fabric, and partially finished quilts.

And, It’s Now An Obsession

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Good heavens. I am enslaved to my muse who cares not what we will do with all these patchwork garments. Hell, she won’t even let me think much on how we might be creating yet another burden in terms of clothing I can’t sell. No, I am simply completely smitten with pieces of fabric, quilting with the serger, and debating how many times I will cut something up, assemble it, cut it up again and then assemble it.

Here is the second complete garment:

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Now what? This:

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Once it’s assembled as laid out, I’m going to cut it up again, into maybe 3″ wide strips, then reassemble. Because I am insane. My shoulders are killing me, my hands are killing me, but I can’t stop. At this point, still a long distance from the finish line, I am already casting about for what else I’ll chop up next.

I know where it all ends, I do, yet—I love being engaged in a project.

Oh, Right, Making Things

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It all started with making this skirt:

First skirt

Like any costumer worth their salt, I hoard fabric. Some of the fabrics I used in this skirt I’ve had for more than ten years. I used a vintage 1970s pattern for this maxi skirt because instead of gathering (I hate gathering, it’s so tedious) it had a flounced lower section. Once it was done, I got a little bit obsessed with the scraps, and started sewing them together like a crazy quilt until I had enough to make a second garment:

Patchwork prototype dress

This is an 8-gore retro-style sundress that I patterned myself (or, “made up as I went along”). Each time I joined a piece of fabric in the patchwork phase, I serged it, then topstitched the seam allowance so it would all lay nice and flat. Once I finished that, I corralled all the final tiny bits of scraps and made another small section. I thought it would be interesting, artistically, if each garment had an element of the garment that preceded it, so that is waiting to to see how it will be included in round two, which I did in strips:

Patchwork Round Two

What I haven’t decided is if I will take this yardage I’ve made and cut it all up again and re-assemble in a crazier way before I make it into a skirt, or if I’m going to call this the finished fabric and make it into a skirt now. Decisions, decisions.

If you are thinking that this is what’s probably why all my joints hurt, you might be right, but stopping isn’t on the menu when I’ve got a closet full of fabric (plus multiple bins throughout the house) that I could use for this. I plan to list a grouping on Etsy once I have enough, rather than listing them piecemeal as I finish each one. That way it’s a sort of fashion collection. Then we’ll see if they ever happen to sell. That, or I have an amazing new patchwork wardrobe, right?