Sunday, March 21, 2010

Talbots Or ... Steampunk???

EDITED TO ADD: All the below sounds like superficial materialism. What I want to buy. What I want to wear. Not really. It's actually a metaphor for the fact that rather than go through life in an office, I want to live a life like Margaret Moth. I just think through visuals and things. Anyway, I'm on my way ... first stop this year: Istanbul, then India again ...

* * * * *

The more I see steampunk style, the more I realize I've been living a lie. Corseted into form-fitting Talbots wool jackets to be all uptight officey professional, which is what I thought I was supposed to be. Instead I'd rather be rockin' some  hardware and leather. You're gonna find some interesting shoes peeking out from under my tailored wool work pants this spring.

I was way ahead of the steampunk trend. Waaaaaaaaaay back, like when today's steampunk aficionados were still riding with their training wheels on, I horded packages of watch parts from Michaels stores. I'd drive from one to another to another, snapping up all the packages. Until I finally tracked down a paper catalog from an ad in the back of a magazine, and found a source to order an infinite supply of old watch parts at wholesale. Needless to say, this was before the internet.

I spent so many hours of life gluing old watch parts and metal pieces and mixing them with semi-precious stones to make bracelets, earrings, necklaces, brooches. Those pieces were ME. I even designed little price cards and other branded materials on the Mac that held like 64K of memory. Remember that tiny cute box? And floppy disks? My company's moniker was 7:51 co. Long story why, but never forgot it, so watch for 7:51 to appear on a project to be posted soon.

I held house parties and sold some pieces. Some. But way less than the $4K I invested in materials over the years. Meanwhile I was so envious of my friends going on European backpacking trips. Heck I coulda gone to Europe and left them in backpacker dust while I powdered my face in fine hotels! Instead I bought watch parts. I was so obsessed with watch parts.

Unfortunately, not many other people were. While friends bought pieces, strangers didn't. I sat at several "art fairs" which were more like "craft shows," watching a friend frantically stuff more glittery ribbon into round glass Christmas bulbs so she could keep up with the consumer demand on her side of the booth. She was very happy. She made a boatload of money. My booth side was pretty unprofitable. But I sure loved those watch parts, I could look at them all day. And I did. Alllllllllllllllll daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay looooooooooonnnnnnnnnng. And I took them all back home too.

I held onto all those gears & workings & gems & chains for years, through numerous moves. On our last move from Minnesota to Illinois, I decided, no more. I hadn't opened those boxes in a decade. Life was moving on. I had new obsessions, namely, Japanese kimono and haori. (Thankfully I was ahead of the curve on that trend too and collected some nice pieces on eBay cheap-cheap-cheap before demand rose. I will never sell.)

So without a care, I put the plastic boxes of thousands of dollars of watch parts and finished jewelry pieces in a box for the Salvation Army. It was a decent write-off.

Now today, I imagine the riches that Etsy could bring me, as I had supplies purchased in 1990 dollars! Maybe someone else had the foresight to buy all those parts at a Salvation Army store. I hope they got themselves a kick-ass vacation with all the steampunk merchandise they made with my watch parts!

Always be true to yourself. It will bust out sometime anyway. As I see more steampunk style, I realize I've always had the bug for it:

-- I love zippers and hardware, as posted here previously.
-- We live somewhat of an aviation lifestyle as that's my husband's hobby and we have a small airplane, so of course I own cool aviator goggles and a leather Amelia Earhart jacket. I was Amelia for Halloween a few years ago. I'd love to find an affordable Italian 1950s aviator goggle with antique brass and leather in good condition.
-- Of course anything navigation-related that's old and metallic ... love! Compasses, lust for them. Old maps too.
-- While I no longer have clock parts, I seem to collect clocks. And pocket watches are the absolute coolest.
-- Is absinthe steampunk? Really? I was obsessed with making an absinthe candle. Back in the mid-90s. Like I said, we shouldn't lose sight of who we really are.
--  I love anything riveted. I once took a jewelry-making glass -- again back in the mid-90s -- and wound up making a copper and silver picture frame with tons of handmade rivets. It was the coolest. I gotta find that thing. Or else take another class and make it again.

I want this on a wall in my house:

Cogs and gears. I love them as much as I loved the landscape of Tuscany. That might sound incongruous. But the obsession for the visual is the same. I love them for different reasons.

Oh, and this:

Although I'd like it better in khaki so it looks more safari, another style I adore.

Because I am an Adventurer.

It's time to break free of wool business suits and keep exploring the world ...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stylin' for Transition Weather

Clearly my project ideas have a ridiculously long gestation period. Weeks ago I laid olive knit fabric on the basement floor for cutting, and posted about sewing it into Kwik Sew 3115. It still lies there, untouched except for my sewing assistants chasing each other over it. Life has been busy. So here I'm stuck in a hotel out of town, and decide to do some virtual sewing & shopping. If I could buy all new pieces to go with this olive knit sewn into Kwik Sew 3115, here's what I would wear:

Leather vest from Bluefly
Pants from Bluefly
Belt from Bluefly
Bracelet from etsy seller houting688
Boots from 6pm
Handbag from Bluefly

Monday, March 8, 2010

Scrappy Metal for Sewing

Need unique metal notions for your sewing projects?

Check out the scrapbook supply section of bigger hobby stores and online scrapbook shops. For metal pieces, Tim Holtz is a prolific producer of ideas -- look for the idea-ology line. I found these swivel clasps and trinket pins at Michaels yesterday, and plan to incorporate them somehow into a garment or accessories with "acceptable edge." My new favorite catch phrase so I can have some edge without going steampunky. Mix these with some snaps, grommets and rivets.

I've seen fasteners like these on sewing supply websites, but here is the same idea from the scrapbooking world, hitch fasteners. I don't know how durable these are, though, for something that would go through more use and wear than a scrapbook sitting on a shelf. Still, they are cute embellishments for a bag when you want metal, but don't want to get as dangerous-looking as spikes.

You could adapt label holders like these by attaching them with rivets on leather or strong reinforced fabric. Showing through the window, attach contrast fabric or even leather pieces stamped with words or symbols. From K&Co.

Here's another style from Making Memories:

These "word sticks" may make interesting zipper pulls:

7 gypsies hardware & embellishments are another scrapbook fave of mine.

The scrapbooking world has many supplies that could be incorporated into our sewing.

I'd start using the embellishments with handbags and belts, things that won't go through the washing machine. Obviously scrapbooks will not go through the rinse n' spin cycle, so I'd expect the supplies aren't washing machine-tested!

Watch for a handbag soon incorporating scrappy metals ...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Try This Unique Zipper Detail On A Handbag

Continuing my obsession with zippers ... while flipping through the latest Garnet Hill catalog, I found this Cole Haan handbag:

Garnet Hill photo

Check out the zippers. The second inside zipper seems to be possibly functional as well as decorative. Even if only decorative, this is a great idea to add some "acceptable edge" to accessories and clothing. By "acceptable edge," I mean adding some metal without looking like a steampunk wannabe. (nothing wrong with steampunk, I actually like it, but it's not appropriate for my work image)

This zipper detail could be accomplished by modifying the pattern to cut pieces and seams to accommodate the zipper detail, or add a godet and insert it with zippers in the seam. As you can see better in the photos below, the Cole Haan bag has a mix of leather with suede pieces behind the zippers. Nice idea.

This could also give your handbag a feature similar to expandable suitcases, allowing you to carry a slim bag most days, but widen the bag on days when you need to carry bulky items.

photos from Garnet Hill

Couldn't you also make unique zipper pulls like this one, with a combination of leather strips, small D-rings, small grommets and metal pieces?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Make Skirt from Dress Pattern

I blogged previously about planning to sew a skirt like this one from last summer's Sundance catalog:

At the time, I had just sewn this dress from McCall's 5617:

So it was an easy connection to see that the lower half of this dress pattern, made longer, could produce a skirt like the Sundance skirt. So I simply cut the fabric to the length I wanted using the dress pattern, and scooped side seams in for the waist while leaving enough width for the waist to clear my hips while pulling the skirt up. I used an elastic waistband. I usually am not a fan of elastic waistbands because I have a 10" difference in my waist and hip measurements, which produces lots of bulk with elastic waists, but for some reason this skirt is not bulky there. I lack the insight to know why!

Here's the result:

While I have the Sundance "All American" T-shirt and copy-catted the necklaces, I could show you a near-replica of the catalog photo above. But here the skirt is styled with a Texas cowgirl T purchased from an airport gift shop somewhere in Texas. Maybe San Antonio? I forget -- I used to have to travel all over Texas for business. And a Brighton belt purchased at the Savannah, GA hotel connected to the convention center (yeah more business travel, assuaged with shopping). But the boots are CIRCA Joan & David from Zappos acquired in the comfort of home.

The hem is simply a raw edge cut below one of the striped sections:

Because the fabric is sheer, as you can see here, I lined the skirt up to the ruffle seam with a matching dusty blue lining fabric:

While wearing the skirt yesterday, I noticed that the sheer ruffle makes interesting sidewalk shadows on sunny days.

I absolutely love this textural slubby fabric. It's from Gorgeous Things and has been in my stash for awhile. Here's another shot:

It's cold right now to wear a sleeveless T, but throw on a leather jacket and you're ready to go:

Pattern Review

- posted from my iPhone
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