Last fall, one of my neighbors gave me a box of vintage patterns he found tucked away in his basement. The weather-stained cardboard box that once belonged to his mother was filled with patterns that represented decades of accumulation: Vogue Patterns, McCall’s, Simplicity, and Butterick . Each had been purchased for as little as a dollar and some change.
Last month we launched our online class, Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading, and Embroidery on Craftsy, along with our DIY Kit for the class, which includes all fabric, thread and paint needed. Originally we offered only one colorway for this project – Italian Plum #12536, shown above. We now have ten additional colorways from which to choose.
Sign up for Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading, and Embroidery with Natalie to learn techniques on completing the project and choose your colorway for the Craftsy Bundle here. Bookmark this post for reference on colorway details and paint recipes for your project.
Fit is by far one of the hardest subjects to address within the realm of manufacturing. There are just so many different body types that it would be near impossible for one manufacturer to address EVERY type in one product—and often times in one line. The most basic body shapes range from round to pear, petite to lean, and every shape in between. When you start to do the math and include XXS – XXL, you come up with a number of patterns that reaches to the Nth power. When you begin to add categories such as Juniors and Misses, it becomes staggering.
Entire classes in design schools and universities around the world spend semesters working on streamlining and finding solutions for fit issues. Body scanners can now take perfect measurements of your body and supposedly create a jean that is perfect for your shape. I find that hard to believe but based on the shape I have carried with me my entire life, I don’t really care for pants that much anyway.
In 2008, to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the peace symbol, National Geographic published Peace: the Biography of a Symbol, by Ken Kolsbun with Michael S. Sweeney.
The book documents the symbol, from its creation in 1958, through its usage in the folk scene of the 1960s, its very visible presence in the 1970s at Woodstock, Vietnam war protests, and in the artwork of Peter Max, until today, with its wide use in commerce and as a cultural icon.
National Geographic has a moving photo gallery of the peace symbol that you can view here, starting with the gorgeous photo of Arlo Guthrie below by Bettman/CORBIS.
Today, for DIY Thursday, we are featuring a Guy Laroche pattern from Vogue Designer Patterns constructed in the Alabama Chanin style. I never had the chance to meet Guy Laroche, nor have I met the house’s current artistic director, Marcel Marongiu, but I admire their focus on impeccable tailoring. Laroche’s collections once featured billowing empire line dresses; the pattern that we chose to adapt combines the flowing nature of those garments with their famous tailoring skills.
Because this garment was dressier than some of our other Vogue Pattern adaptations, we only made a basic version. We think it is spectacular without embellishment. However, it would be gorgeous with some beading around the neckline or the hem. Either way, this dress is perfect for any upcoming holiday parties.
In 2009 and 2010, an exhibition was held at Pratt Institute to help explain the relationship between fashion and sustainability.
For this exhibit (called Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion), curators Francesca Granata and Sarah Scaturro (now Conservator at The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art) displayed garments from our Alabama Chanin Songbirds collection, and also from artists and designers like Susan Cianciolo, Andrea Zittel, Suno, and Bodkin.
Andrea Zittel’s smockshop pattern was included in the “Rethink” portion of the exhibition and provided as a printed pattern at the back of the catalog. From page 36 of the catalog:
A simple double wrap-around garment, the smock as designed by the artist Andrea Zittel, is a versatile and utilitarian garment. For the Smockshop project, it is reworked by a number of artists who reinterpret the original pattern based on their individual skill sets and tastes. In line with Zittel’s motto, “Liberation through Limitations,” the smocks are intended to be worn exclusively for six months, but in an understanding of the idealistic nature of such a practice, the artist is at least hoping “to inspire a more frugal approach to design.” The examples in the exhibition are by the artist Tiprin Follett, who wore her smocks continuously and documented her performance in an interview with Zittel as well as through snapshots.
Continuing our conversation around design, craft and fashion, this week we present a Tracy Reese pattern from Vogue Designer Patterns for DIY Thursday. In all my years as a designer, I have not had the chance to meet Tracy, although I have been familiar with her work since the launch of her collection in the mid-1990s. At that time, I was working as a stylist in Europe and spent much of my time in boutiques, reading fashion magazines, and working with clients.
In an effort to understand Tracy Reese’s philosophy, we reached out to her press office for information and received a note stating that they could “not provide any information at this time.” However, this is what I found on the CFDA website:
“Detroit native Tracy Reese is a graduate of Parsons School of Design. Reese apprenticed under designer Martin Sitbon and worked as design director for Women’s Portfolios at Perry Ellis before launching her eponymous collection in 1996. The collection blends the ultra-feminine and nostalgic with modern polish. plenty by Tracy Reese, was introduced in 1998, after a trip to India provided endless inspiration. A joyful color palette, art-inspired prints and playful details are seen on essentials with a bohemian spirit. With flagships in Manhattan and Tokyo, the Tracy Reese and plenty brands have expanded to include footwear, handbags and home goods.”
Martine Stibon remains one of my all-time favorite designers and I used those pieces often during my days as a stylist. I do love the dress that emerged using our organic cotton jersey fabrics with Tracy Reece’s pattern.
1. A decorative design, as for fabrics, wallpaper, china, or rugs.
2. Decoration or ornament having a design.
3. A natural or chance marking, or design: patterns of flowers on a fabric.
Moving through the Penland studios, you see patterns emerge everywhere.
Perfect for all of the upcoming festivities and beyond, our Beaded Seam Corset is easy to make for yourself by following the pattern with instructions from page 145 of Alabama Stitch Book (on sale for $25 this month). As one of the most popular garments in our collections, the corset is designed to show off a woman’s best assets, enhancing natural curves.
Purchase our DIY Beaded Corset Kit, ready-to-sew with all notions needed to complete the project, made from 100% organic cotton jersey.
A flattering pick for any party. Pair with our swing skirt or blue jeans and celebrate.
Today we launch a month-long celebration of all things American, culminating in my annual neighborhood 4th of July Parade (Kids vs. Adults Baseball Game and Grill Extravaganza). We have searched high and low to find the spirit of red, white, and blue.
For today’s DIY Thursday, we start by (re)sharing instructions for our American Flag Quilt. The flag is, after all, the epitomic icon for Independence Day. Get started now to display for your July 4th celebration.
Check back tomorrow to begin our month of ‘Celebrate America’- featuring new products, projects, stories, and recipes to make your own celebrations spectacular.
P.S.: And we won’t forget Dad— so stop by for some of our favorite Father’s Day gifts too…