Charles James: Beyond Fashion

Posted on | May 19, 2014 | 1 Comment


“Cut in dressmaking is like grammar in a language. A good design should be like a well made sentence, and it should only express one idea at a time” – Charles James


This weekend, I went to the newly opened costume exhibit at the MET, Charles James: Beyond Fashion. I will start off by saying that if you live in, near, or can visit NYC before August 10th and are interested in, design, or wear clothes (in other words everyone!), you really should set aside some time to see this inspiring exhibit.

It was probably the best costume exhibit I’ve seen at the MET in the last 10 years. Yes, there have been some interesting ones: Chanel, Punk, English something or other, but Charles James is what fashion is all about. He constructed his clothes with the mind of an engineer and artist, and took as much time as he wanted to do so.

The exhibit was set up fairy simply in the newly named Anna Wintour Costume Center. The clothing felt very accessible, making it fairly easy to see almost every seam. It’s a far cry from the past exhibits in the costume center with all of the clothing behind glass, somewhat off the ground, and what felt like so far away.


There were also drawings, scrap books, and dress forms on display. Did you know James came up with a modernized dress form that allowed for movement so fit could be improved?


The exhibit then continues in a special gallery space on the first floor. This is where his more famous dress creations are displayed. The Clover Dress, Lampshade Dress, and Umbrella dress were all there and accompanied by some high tech gadgets (one camera even went up inside the skirt of a gown!) to give us a seldom seen look inside how these masterpieces were made.

Personally, the high tech element is what made the exhibit for me as a designer. While its nice to look at pretty dresses all day long, seeing how they are made provides a whole other appreciation for James’ genius along with an education. I have the feeling I might be making a second trip sometime soon.


Weekend Reading

Posted on | May 16, 2014 | No Comments

Here are a few things I came across this week that I thought were worthy of sharing. Hope you enjoy and have a happy weekend!

How To Remove Food Stains: it’s always good to know how to remove stains. Considering I stained my new skirt with blueberry bourbon sauce last weekend the first time I wore it, I thought this was applicable this week.

I applaud this young lady’s hard work and determination. She started her own company making bras for young girls which are largely unrepresented in the market.

Bristol, England has been turned into Briswool by a 100 or so knitters. So cute! This is more for the photos than the article, I certainly expected better writing from the BBC.

Another little article about the Charles James exhibit. I hope to get to the Met this weekend to see it!

The Saga of the Skirt

Posted on | May 11, 2014 | No Comments

simplicity 2215I’ve been nursing a sinus infection for two weeks and decided I should probably take it easy this weekend. So on Saturday, I didn’t have much on my agenda besides a few chores and sewing up a skirt.

The problem was my meds make me a little loopy and a bit tired. When I’m tired, patience goes out the window. When I’m loopy, all common sense takes a hike as well.

I prepared all of my pieces Friday night and things were going well. I pinned the pockets onto each piece just before headed off to bed. After taking care of my chores Saturday, it was time to dig in. I started with the pockets and the invisible zip.

Oops! Invisible zipper went in backwards. Fixed the zipper. Oops! Put the zipper on the wrong side of the skirt! (It stayed that way.) Put the pleats in the lining! Oops! The lining is too small.

Well, by this point I had had it. It was nap time.

After waking up from my long nap, I went right back to it. I was determined to have a finished skirt this weekend! I worked till after midnight, but I finished.

Simplicity 2215

I love it! It’s Simplicity #2215, by Cynthia Rowley. It’s probably not too noticeable from the photos, but the pleats were designed to be completely random and uneven. It’s one of those little details that makes the skirt different and special. The pattern also comes with a dress that I will be making up in the near future. I expect a few more skirts will be made up as well. I love this pattern!

Also, I really need to purchase a tripod so I can post modeled shots when the hubster isn’t around. It’s so cute on and was very comfortable on it’s maiden voyage around Brooklyn yesterday. The fabric is an olive green cotton with a nice hand that I picked up from Paron last summer. The fabric is just sturdy enough to hold the pleats, but soft enough to drape correctly. I also added a lining to the skirt. I figure I will wear this year round and there is nothing more annoying than your skirt sticking to your tights.

I forgot what it’s like to have a new piece of clothing finished in one day. What a wonderful feeling!


Weekend Reading

Posted on | May 9, 2014 | No Comments

Me Made a May is going well and I’ve managed to keep to my pledge so far. I expect it will get harder by the end of the month, but that just means I’ll have to get more creative with my outfit choices. I even wore my new Macaron this week! Photos coming as soon as I can get an extra hand to help me take a few.

Meanwhile, my sewing machine is now back home, so I hope to whip up a few pieces this weekend. There is a skirt and t-shirt on the agenda.

Finally, Here are a few things that I came across this week that may be of some interest to you. Enjoy and happy weekend!

How To Assess the Quality of Garments Cheat Sheet since I’ve been talking about building a nice wardrobe so much lately, here is a great guide to purchasing quality clothing. Links to the longer two part article are there as well if you have some extra time.

Graffiti Made of Plants: a new take on street art.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion opened today at the Met. I can’t wait to go see it! Here is a fun article about a woman who used to know the quirky designer.

Me Made May 2014

Posted on | May 1, 2014 | No Comments

Since I’m sewing more, I thought it might be a nice challenge to participate in Me Made May ’14. What is Me Made May (or MMM for short)? Well, it’s when you make a pledge to wear a certain amount of hand made outfits throughout the month. The pledge is a personal one and you get to decide how many you want to wear for the month. Here is my pledge:

 ‘I, Melissa of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear three me made garments or accessories three times a week for the duration of May 2014′

I thought this might be a really great way to inspire me to wear more of my knitwear as well. I have so many samples that have been returned to me over the last year and I want to figure out a creative way to fit them into my wardrobe. This might be a challenge into itself as many of my sweaters are a little heavier than May weather will allow.

I’m going to try and photograph some of my outfits throughout the month, but no promises. I don’t want this to become more stressful than it needs to be! Stressing less is always nice in my book.

It’s selfish sewing week…

Posted on | April 29, 2014 | No Comments

And my machine is in the shop. Nothing serious, just thought the old girl could use a good cleaning since she was put away for 10 years and I’m using her a lot. This was pretty poor planning on my part, but I’ll survive.

It makes you think though, selfish sewing week. As knitters, don’t we get a full month?

I’ve been doing quite a bit of wardrobe planning the past few days and I think I might be in a good place. I also ordered a few fabrics from Mood that arrived Tuesday. I feel a bit silly ordering fabric from a store across the street, but the selection is a little different online – or so it seems.

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 1.17.41 PM
Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 1.18.12 PM

I can’t wait to sew up a dress in this cute Anna Sui star print and the Summer Concert tee in the tie dye jersey. This will be my first foray with jersey on a regular sewing machine, but I think I can make it through. I just picked up the new Colette Guide to Sewing Knits and I’m pretty excited. Other than dresses, I own very few woven garments, so making my own t-shirts has to come in to play. In the meantime, I’ll be saving up for a serger!

The Task Is Done

Posted on | April 11, 2014 | No Comments

yarnOh the carnage!

With a little bit of help and moral support, I ripped out the almost finished husband sweater this Wednesday. I did manage to save the tubular trimmed rib cuffs at least. It’s a small consolation, but I’ll take it.

I should just jump right back in and cast on for round 3, but I actually have a deadline project in the queue. If I said that I was super excited about this design, I would be putting it lightly. I will tell you that it is a sweater and it’s the first hand knit sweater design to be worked on in over a year. I thought my book fatigue would have ended sooner, but I was in no rush.

The deadline isn’t until August though, so I guess it’s being used as an excuse. Well, it’s not like he will be wearing an Aran weight wool sweater in the next few months anyway…..

Why Couldn’t He Just Have Been Happy With A Hat

Posted on | April 1, 2014 | 3 Comments

The saga of the Husband Sweater continues.

On Friday, my husband returned home just as I knit the last possible stitch on his sweater. No, it wasn’t finished, I ran out of yarn as expected and I wish this was the worst part of the story. I wish that I could tell you that even though this particular color of yarn had been discontinued, I managed to order some more from one of the many fine internet establishments that still had a few balls in stock. I then wish I could say that the new yarn arrived in record time allowing me to finish up the sweater and proclaim to all the knitting world that I have conquered the beast that is the husband sweater and it fit perfectly.

But no, that’s not how this went at all.

Even though the sweater was missing a bit of a shoulder, I wanted to get an idea how it was going to fit and put it on him for the first time tonight. That’s when it all went horribly wrong.

Where do I even start? The sleeves were too long, the body was too wide, the muscle area was huge, and forget about the armholes. As a self proclaimed perfectionist, I was this close to the edge. I just stared in disbelief. I couldn’t even bare to add photographic evidence to this post.

While I took a moment or two, he kindly took a seat as I buried my head in the nearest blanket. He then proceeded to make jokes of every kind, some which weren’t meant to be, such as, “is there such as thing as un-knitting?” He might have wondered around the room pretending to be the hunchback of Notre Dame as well.

“You can fix this right?”

Sure, sure I can. It’s called knitting it all over again!

Then as we said goodnight he started singing The Sweater Song by Weezer. I’ll tell ya, if he didn’t have such a great sense of humor and make me laugh, this sweater would be a burnt pile of rubbish by now. And if I didn’t have a sense of humor I wouldn’t be able to say, “well, at least I’ll have enough yarn to finish the next one”

A Much Needed Lazy Weekend

Posted on | March 30, 2014 | 3 Comments

Rain, rain, rain. It’s all I have heard beating on my windows all day long. Sounds like tomorrow will be more of the same along with Monday. Usually, rainy days are perfect for crafting, but today was for being lazy instead. Although I prefer to call it resting.

I hate feeling so guilty about laying in bed till 11, ordering in food from a place around the corner (literally), and watching Sherlock all day on Netflix. Not lifting a finger to work on any of my unfinished projects sometimes makes me a little anxious. After all, this is my precious weekend time, the only time I have long stretches to work uninterrupted on whatever I want. But sometimes, I just need a little break and I really shouldn’t feel so bad about it. This is what weekends should be about, right? While I enjoy being productive, running myself ragged certainly doesn’t help my cause.

I did spend a few hours watching my Sew The Perfect Fit Craftsy class at least. You can never go wrong with crafty education when lounging around in bed on a rainy Saturday. Also I am super excited by their newest update. I can now download my classes on my iPad to watch offline. My commute just got a lot more productive.

What are your guilty pleasures when taking a little break from your crafty pursuits? Don’t be shy, we’ve all been there.

Planning a Wardrobe

Posted on | March 20, 2014 | No Comments

photo(12)Now that Albion is finished and my hubby’s sweater is almost complete, I’m busy searching for my next knitting and sewing project.

Planning out my wardrobe is making the task of selecting a new project a little bit harder than usual. Normally, I see something I like and I make it. If it’s out of season, it’s OK, I’ll just wear it next year. If it can only be worn with one thing, that’s OK because I want to make it. But when you have made a pledge to not buy a single item of clothing, unless it is second hand, planning is a little more important if you want to have some clothes come the spring time. It’s also important that the things I make work together.

To make it a little bit less overwhelming, I’m going to start with fabric and patterns I already have in the stash. I have fabric for two dresses, a shirt, and a skirt.


On Monday, I headed over to Mood during my lunch hour to collect a few swatches for inspiration. I picked up some floral printed corduroy last summer to make a Macaron dress, but I wasn’t happy with the color of the green sateen that I purchased for the upper yoke and sleeves. I found a few good candidates in a light grey and brought them back to the office for further inspection under better lighting (speaking of, the color of the swatches above are very off!) Today I went back to Mood and the fabric I decided on was nowhere to be found. Argh! While I suppose it is possible that it sold out, the chances just seem very unlikely. On top of my disappointment, Mood was so busy, it was hard to get help, and discouragement set in quickly. Maybe I’ll try to find a replacement tomorrow when I’m less set on a particular fabric. I hope to get my fabric cut no later than the weekend, after all, tomorrow is the first day of Spring and I’m going to need some new clothes to wear!

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