7.21.2014

A New Dress: Improvisation and Indigo



I'm excited to share my new indigo shibori handmade dress! I started working on this little frock before I left for summer vacation and I was so excited to finish it when I returned. Nothing like a few weeks away from the studio to light a fire when I return. (A proverbial fire, of course. Don't worry nothing has completely burned down in my studio as of yet. Knock on wood.) I didn't use a pattern for this dress and I have mixed feelings about that but overall I love the way it turned out.



Mixed feelings because I ended up spending quite a bit of time altering the top to make it more fitted. (Notice the hand-stitched darts and the triangle cut into the straps? These were my creative fixes to a top that was too big). I also made the skirt too small the first time but I couldn't bring myself to rip out all those beautiful French seams so I decided to cut the skirt up the center and add another panel in the front and back.

The hand-stitched details made the top fit perfectly and the skirt panels are less noticeable with the pleats. Win win. But it would have been SO much faster if I'd used a pattern. In time, I hope to have a handful of go-to patterns but also embrace improvisation as a creative guide. Is that possible? I'd like to think so.


I made this dress from two yards of fabric I hand-dyed with indigo last summer. I used several different shibori techniques to make the prints (in the dye) but then I cut the prints where I thought they were best highlighted on the dress. I used nearly every last scrap of fabric in this dress. The pockets were happily just big enough to fit my hands as that was all the fabric that remained aside from one small panel.



There are so many hidden details in this dress. There's a poem tucked into one of the pockets and then there's my horoscope constellation embroidered in French knots on the other. That's right, the tiny French knot configuration is actually the constellation for Capricorn. And then the tag was a tiny project all its own--patchworked together and hand-stitched into place.


I wanted this dress to straddle the line between art project and wearable garment and these details helped push it into the art category in my book. (What do you think? I'm experimenting with this idea of attachment in fashion. That if we are more emotionally attached to our garments we will keep them longer. Makes sense, right?)



I'm realizing how much improvisation plays a part in my artwork. And my sewing work is no different. Some of the dresses I've made in the last year feel more like art projects than fashion designs. And I like this space of the hybrid. I like imagining that some of the dresses are evolving from my art practice and some are more straight-forward sewing techniques--teaching myself to follow various patterns and bettering my sewing skills as I go. Goodness sake, I still have so much to learn about sewing.



If I had to give this dress a name I'd call it Cosmic Blue Bodies. That's right, sky inspired. In looking back on my travel photos from our summer vacation I see how many times the skyscapes played into my viewfinder--blue backgrounds with various white clouds slipping past. The patterns and colors of this dress look like those cloudscapes. And something about the various hidden details makes it come to life. Like these details give it breath and maybe a pulse that it might not have had otherwise.


Forgive my awkward modeling in these photos--I still cringe every time I get in front of the lens. If I could afford to hire a model or find a friend with my exact measurements and work schedule I would happily slip back behind the lens and let somebody else model these garments for you. What a dream! For now, me trying to hide behind the camera while appearing in front. There you have it.


I'm already scheming my next creation. I feel compelled to make a few more garments before the summer's end. On August 1st I will have completed 365 days of my fast fashion fast. Meaning that in just two weeks the first year of Make Thrift Mend will be completed. I'm deadline inspired. I admit it.

(Hi friends. I hope your summer is smashing! I missed you while I was away.)

xoxo,
k

12 comments:

  1. Very pretty dress! Love this space of the hybrid!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I'm thinking more and more about the hybrid space between art and fashion. Seems so full of opportunities.

      Delete
  2. What an awesome dress and I love the creative details that you added. Your improvisation of a pattern reminds me of the summer that I had off during grad school, in which you could find me pinning pieces of fabric around my body in front of our mirror. My mom finally bought me a dress form, which helped immensely. I've always found pre-made patterns to be more confusing than coming up with my own design. Beautiful work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! My one grad school summer was also pretty fantastic. I remember doing all kinds of creative work and my husband and I spent 6 weeks touring with a performance group around the UK. Two blissful weeks on an organic sheep farm in England too. Now I'm full of daydreams. (So glad you like the dress.)

      Delete
  3. Beautiful dress! I love the idea of become more attached to items we put a great deal of effort into.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Melanie. Yes, this idea that some garments stay with us for a long time usually out of sentimentality. (My father's cardigan has been in my closet for almost 20 years.) So some designers are trying to replicate this emotional attachment from the start. Fascinating idea.

      Delete
  4. LOVE!!! And I love that you're modeling it too ;) It's a beautiful piece of heart and soul work, PLUS it looks so good on! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I love that you called this a piece of heart and soul work. Yes, that feels right. Modeling, it's the most awkward part! But you really can't see the shape unless it's on a 3-d body. Someday, maybe I'll work with a model. Dreamy.

      Delete
  5. Yes, yes and yes! I love the dress - the hidden bits, the label - amazing! And what you said about emotional attachment to clothes really makes sense to me - what I love about making things myself is the way I appreciate and hold on to them more because there is a sense of emotional attachment and a bit of me has gone into it. The same can be said for growing vegetables too - I appreciate a meal more when I know that I have tended to the veg as they have grown. Great post Katrina!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, exactly! I think there are so many similarities between the Slow Food and Slow Fashion movements. Growing our own vegetables makes us appreciate the labor and also find added inspiration for cooking, preserving, and finding new seasonal recipes because we suddenly have so many tomatoes! Same for fashion. We are more attuned to the materials, labor, and details of construction when we make it by hand. And then we are more attached. Hooray!

      Delete
  6. Anonymous9/18/2014

    I'm wondering....did you hand stitch the hem???
    (sorry, I couldn't help it), love you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mom? Is that you? I did not hand stitch the hem. Sigh. After so much careful handwork I went ahead and decided to machine sew the seam. xoxo

      Delete

Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.