The Blanket Coat - Sketches

I have so many finished projects from the last few months to share, but I'll just add those in between current ones, so here's something I'm working on right now:

A winter coat! Made from a blanket I found at the thrift store for 15.- francs. I loved the color and though it would be nice to have a coat that feels like a blanket, so why not make it from an actual blanket?

Also, I liked this color combo and I'm considering using a dark red for the lining:

(image via)

I made the first draft of the pattern and first muslin on friday, I'll have better pictures up in the next few days. For now some instagrams will have to do:

In the second picture I've started draping the darts at the bottom, but it's not quite right yet, still working on it. (In the first picture you can see my schools sewing room!)

Also, since the blanket is very drapey, I'm going to have to interface the sh*t out of it to make it hold the shape of the sleeves. I hope it's possible without adding too much weight... I was thinking of using horsehair. Anyone have a good idea?

Posted on October 20, 2014 and filed under Sewing.

Entry Exam

Hi! In the last few weeks I moved to Basel and started studying fashion design here, so I've been quite busy. So far I love it! I'm hoping I can blog more regularly about my projects now because I'll really be focused on fashion for the next few years (no more musicals to distract me... for the moment).

The reason I found time to blog is because I'm sick with sinusitis... no fun! But I'm almost better and I can go to school again tomorrow :)

I wanted to share some pictures from my entrance exam to the course, because it was really interesting. The first part was an assignment we had to do at home and send in. We had to film an "autoportrait", no longer than 1 minute. It was really hard to show yourself, what inspires you, what you've worked on in the past all in under 1 minute! We had to send the little film, a one page "essay" about our approach to fashion and some sort of "packaging" for the CD or memorystick.

front and back

front and back

Above is the pouch I made for the memory stick. I used the same wool fabric I used for the Armor Jacket (I love this stuff!) and leather. I had just watched Moonrise Kingdom and I felt like making something that looks homemade and boy/girl-sout-y or like one of those knicknacks you have left over from your childhood but can't remember where you got it. Also, I only had an afternoon left to make it soooo... and I was sick. But I really liked it! Unfortunately I forgot to go pick it up from the university on the two scheduled days so it is gone forever...

A few weeks after I sent in the autoportrait (I don't feel like showing it because watching myself on film just makes me cringe, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about...) I was informed that I was in the next round! Yay!

The second part was a practical exam that took 2.5 days. The first day was kinda like project runway (no srsly). We had to bring along different materials and then after looking at a huge moodboard full of pictures, we had to create something on a mannequin without sewing! So just glueing, stapling, etc. We also got to use this see-through plastic they gave us.

So yeah, that's what I made. The bottom part is a bit of a mess, but I'm ok with how it turned out. Obviously it's not something I'd wear like this, it's more "art" than wearable. Plus, just like the pouch above, this thing is longe gone in the garbage...

The second day we had to photograph what we'd made, and in the afternoon it was time to draw! I was more nervous about this part. But it was ok! There were two models and and first we only had like 1, 2 or 4 minutes to draw them, then we had more, 8 or 10, the longest was 18 minutes I think. Then we had to pick our 8 favorites, rank them and turn all of the drawings in. I only photographed the "top 8" and these three are my favorites:

The last half day of the exam was the written part. It wasn't fashion history or anything, more about our thoughs on fashion, where it's heading, our favorite and least favorite works of art/design/music.

I think it's worth mentioning that sewing skills weren't required to be accepted to the program. Also, we didn't have to send in a portfolio (we could take one along to the interview if we wanted to), the first step of the application was really just that 1 minute video and it's packaging. Pretty smart I think, because making a video like that forces you to create something new, and it takes additional effort apart from putting together a portfolio, and that extra effort might already "weed out" applicants that aren't really passionate about the subject. Plus looking through 1 minute videos is faster than looking through hundreds of portfolios. They let 50 applicants attend the exam, and now we're 23 students.

So many people were surprised to hear that the exam was so thorough, they'd be like "what? for fashion design?" - Yeah man, for fashion design. I think it was good to have such a long exam, it helped me get a feel for the school, and it just seemed like a place I'd enjoy studying at. So far I'm right!

Posted on October 2, 2014 and filed under design school.

Couture - 1953 Magazine Scan

A loong time ago I posted some scans from an old magazine - I'm back with more! First, the beautiful cover:

I love the colors and textures! The vertical pleats are so beautiful, they're sort of stiff and soft at the same time. And the mohair coat! So luxurious...

Pages 9 and 13 are also interesting:

from left to right: Dress by Georgette Rénal, Jacket (or more like a poncho, it doesn't look like the buttons go all the way down) by Jaques Griffe, Dress by (Madame) Grès

from left to right: Dress by Georgette Rénal, Jacket (or more like a poncho, it doesn't look like the buttons go all the way down) by Jaques Griffe, Dress by (Madame) Grès

Top left: dress by Jean Dessès, Top right: Pierre Clarence, bottom: Jeanne Lafaurie

Top left: dress by Jean Dessès, Top right: Pierre Clarence, bottom: Jeanne Lafaurie

I think my favorites are the wrap dress by Georgette Rénal, and the weird print on the dress by Jeanne Lafaurie!

Red Sequin Tailcoats - Costumes for Verona 3000

I mentioned in the last post that I'd been busy with a musical. It was a project a group of young people started in june 2012 when the ensemble was cast (I was chosen along with around 29 other people between 13 and 30) and ended with 19 performances of the musical "Verona 3000".

It's a dystopian, sci-fi, modern musical version of Romeo & Juliet, that tells not only the story of two young people in love, but of our Generation. (There were many different styles of music (Rap, Hip-Hop, Blues, typical Musical songs, Swing, Funk...) and original Lyrics, all in Swiss-German)

In our version, the government has set up "hypertasers" (towers in puplic places that tase people when it senses a readiness for violence) aimed largely at young people. This leads to youth riots and the government turns to Glove TV (who have a world wide monopoly on television and general media) to distract the teenagers. So they brainstorm and the famous pop-group "Mercutio" leads them to Romeo & Juliet.

I was part of the pop band "Mercutio". Photo by Thomas P. Krähenbühl

I was part of the pop band "Mercutio". Photo by Thomas P. Krähenbühl

They skim the beginning of the piece and decide to start a reality show that focuses on finding the world's best couple (under 25).

This is where the costumes come in: there was one scene where the reality show was announced on Globe TV, with song and dance of course! :) It was a burlesque swing song, with an old hollywood inspired dance routine that my friend Tiffany and I choreographed, and we thought it would be really cool to have flashy, over the top, red sequin tailcoats for the women, so I sewed some. Also: huge velvet heart hats!

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Photos by Thomas P. Krähenbühl (that's me walking down the stairs in the first, and in the middle of the second picture ^^)

Photos by Thomas P. Krähenbühl (that's me walking down the stairs in the first, and in the middle of the second picture ^^)

It was a stressful time so I didn't exactly enjoy sewing 5 of these sequin things, but they turned out great! The way they shimmered in the light was really cool, and it really fit the choreography. It was the only scene in the musical with identical costumes. I also made the men's ties, they have velcro on them. This is definitely the most important thing about stage costumes: they have to be easy to put on and remove! We all had about 4 minutes to change into these costumes (tights, leotard, tapshorts, heels, tailcoat and hat) and do our hair, one girl even had to do it in about 60 seconds! She had the tights, leotard and shorts on under her previous costume, so she could throw on the tailcoat, climb down two ladders and up a flight of stairs where we helped her get on her headdress.

The above photos are from rehearsals so not everyone has their heart hat on unfortunately. You can also see the costumes for a few seconds in the video below (at around 0:25):

I drafted the pattern from a bodice and skirt sloper, and made them all the same size because the fabric was stretchy, and we're all about the same size. The front closure is three golden elastics with big gold buttons on the end and loops of elastic on the other side.

I wanted to share these costumes and a bit about the musical, because it's been such a big part of my life for the past two years! It was a huge project, organized independently by young people. We all contributed ideas to the story, lyrics, music, costumes and set, and we rehearsed almost every sunday between 10 am and 5 pm for two years. I'm sad that it's over, but on the other hand I'll have time to really focus on my own projects now.

a picture taken during rehearsal - the stage was huuuge!! We built it in a really big gym we rented. The white netting could be used to project images onto it, but it could also be lit from the back to make "shadow pictures" and when light sources right behind the net where turned on, you could see actors standing right behind it, kind of like turning on a TV screen, it was really neat!

a picture taken during rehearsal - the stage was huuuge!! We built it in a really big gym we rented. The white netting could be used to project images onto it, but it could also be lit from the back to make "shadow pictures" and when light sources right behind the net where turned on, you could see actors standing right behind it, kind of like turning on a TV screen, it was really neat!

Armor Sweater and Polster Skirt

I finished these back in February, but was busy doing a musical since then (I'll share the costumes I made for it at some point!), so here they are, a little late:

Once again, my dear friend Vicki agreed to be my model :) (I'm so grateful I have friends who will let me put make-up on them and smear their faces with vaseline to make them look like creepy mermaids, then make them climb over / lie on cold rocks in weird positions in the chilly swiss february air IN HEELS! Without getting my precious clothing dirty! - tough girls fo sho!) we used the same location as I did for the Armor Jacket shoot, the shore of lake lucerne near my parents house.

These two pieces are a little more casual than the Armor Jacket, the fabrics are less structured, and the silhouettes are quite common ones: a pencil skirt and a raglan sleeve sweatshirt. It's more about the details with these two.

as the photos are quite dark to set the mood of the collection, you can't see those details too well. In the sketch above you can see that I altered the classic raglan seams at the shoulder to mimic the look of medieval armor. The inspiration for this came from a painting I saw at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich last fall:

My sketch of part of Albrecht Dürer's "Baumgartner Altar" on the left side, development of the design on the right.

My sketch of part of Albrecht Dürer's "Baumgartner Altar" on the left side, development of the design on the right.

I was also inspired by the design of the armor's elbow joint: the sleeve is in two parts (upper- and lower sleeve), connected by leather appliquées that extend over the elbow and fasten to eachother with 2 heavy duty metal snaps - creating a sort of "hinge".

In this photo you can see the "hinge" at the elbow.

The skirt features thigh- and hip-padding! ("polster" is padding in german, I've just gotten so used to referring to the skirt in my notes this way that I'll just keep the anglo-germanic mix-up of a name :))

Lovers of vintage clothing might not find this weird as hip pads were used in New Look suits (and some dresses I believe) to exaggerate the silhouette into wasp-like curves. But to many today it might sound weird to want to accentuate a womans thighs (from the expression "thunder thighs" to the thigh gap fetish).
But I was wearing a knit dress with a sweater over it one day, and the way the fabric clung to my legs and the length of the sweater somehow made my thighs look bigger than they usually looked to me. And I was surprised to notice that it made me feel good. I mean, like most people women I have body-image/acceptance/beauty/whatever issues sometimes, but in that dress my thighs looked big and I felt good about them, they looked beautiful and strong and it made me feel strong.

And that's exactly what this collection is about, that's the kind of everyday Armor I want to make. Of course it's not going to protect you if somebody randomly stabs you in the leg on the street, but it makes you feel strong and good about your body. (/end_rant)

So I guess the "armorous" nature of the skirt is its mix of protection and mimicry.

I created the padding by cutting out poly-batting in the right shape (each pad has two pieces, front and back to fit the line of the skirt), attaching it to the seam allowance of the side seam, then top stitching around the perimeter and finally sewing the rows of quilting. I like how the quilting on the pads reacts to the movement of the legs, forming little rolls when the wearer sits down.

The quilting did take a while, but other than that the skirt was quite easy - no zippers! - and the fabric is from an old thrifted sweatshirt. I reused the hem of the sweatshirt for the waistline and hemmed the skirt by hand.

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