Recycle a sweater into fingerless mittens

These mittens give you warmth and the flexibility to type (or to sew!)

Turn your sweater ( any type but cashmere is especially nice) into a quick and thoughtful gift for you or a friend.

Check out thrift shops for a soft sweater.  If it has moth holes or stains, just make sure you can cut around them.

I wash my sweaters on delicate.  Note that cashmere does not felt, but wool will compress and get smaller.

For this example, I found a small purple sweater at a thrift shop.  The neckline had been cut – otherwise I would have been able to make 2 pair of mittens.  I will just search for a complimentary color and make a pair that mixes the body of the mitten and the thumb.  I have enough for one more mitten.

Print off the pdf pattern  by clicking here :  fingerless_mitten pattern – be sure and select actual size on your print menu.  Making sure your pattern measures 1″ in the sizing square.  You will need to tape together the mitten body at the join line.

Cut two mitten bodies and two thumbs right sides together.  If you need to cut each piece individually – make sure you flip the pattern so that you get a right and left mitten.  Cut with the greatest stretch going around the hand and the body of the mitten.

 

I cut this pair utilizing the lower edge ribbing.  You do not have to have a ribbed edge.  Simply serge the lower edge after you cut out the mitten body to keep the edge from curling.  The top edge (fingers) will curl slightly and doesn’t require any serging.

 

Sew with a narrow long zig zag stitch.  On my machine my setting was a width of 1.0  and a length of 3.5.  This gives the seam a little stretch.  You will be sewing the seam above and below the thumb circle on the body of the mitten.

Because the sweater is bulky, I suggest you use a scrap of the sweater to start off your seam.  Butt the doubled scrap up to your seam, be sure to backstitch or lock the mitten seam.

You can try on the mittens at this point and make sure they are snug to your liking.

 

You will sew the thumb piece using a 1/4 ” seam allowance 3/4 of an inch down from the top.

 

Again, use your scrap piece to start your seam smoothly.

 

Press all of your seams open.  I used only the tip of the iron and steam, but not pressing the sweater loft flat.

Turn the thumb seam to the inside.  Place thumb piece inside glove piece so that right sides are together.  Now match the thumb seam and the finger seams, match the notches and match the lower seam to the point on the thumb pattern.  Start and end sewing at the thumb seam using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Press this seam open and viola your mittens are complete!   I trimmed my notch and a little of the seams to lay flat and be more comfortable.

To recap  instructions:

1)cut 2 mitten bodies and 2 thumb sections right sides together

2)if not using ribbing section of the sweater, zig zag or serge lower edge

3) Sew mitten body above and below the thumb opening right sides together, check fit.

4) Sew thumb section seam 3/4 ” from top edge right sides together

5) With right sides matching pin and sew thumb section to mitten body matching notch, thumb seam with top of mitten seam and point of thumb section to lower mitten seam.

 

 

 

 

Paris Adventures: Christian Dior, Couturier Du Réve part 1

I was so lucky to be able to see the exhibit Christian Dior, Couturier Du Réve  at the Les Arts Décoratifs Paris.   Beware this blog post is photo intense, be patient as it takes less time than the flight to Pairs.    The exhibit runs through January 7, 2018.  This is a must see wonderland of couture.    But to avoid the long line, book your ticket online in advance.  The link is here:  http://billetterie.lesartsdecoratifs.fr/gammadn/adnnet/  it is only in French, but it is well worth the time savings.  This is a very popular exhibit so the crowds are capacity controlled.  Also most of the exhibit is dark, so unless you have a camera that does well in low light, your ability to take photos will be limited.    However, if you can’t make the exhibit, the exhibit catalog is available as a “coffee table” book.  It weighs over 7 pounds!  The book is available in multiple languages, the English version is sold on Amazon.  Even if you attend the exhibit the anniversary book adds so much additional history and photos it is well worth the purchase.  Just buy it here as it is way to heavy to transport in luggage!

Let me just say that I am not one to be on the designer bandwagon.  I don’t buy products (handbags, eyeglasses, perfume) just because they have a designer’s name emblazoned on the product.  But I was overwhelmed in this exhibit by the creativity, the beauty and the skill of these creations and of the magic of the exhibit itself.

The theme is the anniversary of 70 years of fashion by the House of Dior.  The exhibit spaces is over 3200 square feet and includes over 400 haute couture garments by Dior and his successors.  It is one of the only exhibits I have attended where there were audible gasps of wonder as attendees walked from room to magic room.  There are original sketches, art borrowed from museums around the world, photographs by all of the leading fashion photographers,  lights, music, video clips all of it blending to the experience that is this Dior exhibit.   The best part of the entire exhibit – if I were forced to choose – were the demonstration by Dior ateliers.  My first visit, the demonstration was on the inner construction of the Bar suit.  The iconic cream peplum jacket  that epitomizes the “New Look”.  The suit is the first thing you see when you go to the 2nd half of the exhibit.  A later exhibit features all of the Dior designers, but to give you a quick timeline:  Christian Dior (1947-1957)- Yves Saint Laurent (1957-1960), Marc Bohan (1960-1989), Gianfranco Ferré (1989-1997), John Galliano (1997-2011), Raf Simons (2012-2015) and Maria Grazia Chiuri (2016- ).

 

The exhibit starts with a history of the House of Dior, and then the history of Christian Dior the man behind the couture house.   And then moves to a large room where huge famous photos disappear and the dresses are displayed.   Princess Margaret on her 21st birthday in the 1951 haute couture evening gown designed for her; Richard Avedon’s  Dovima with Elephants – transitioning to the Fall-Winter 1955 Soirée de Paris dress and  ‘Zemire’ modeled by Dior house model Renee. Paris, 1954. Photograph by Regina Relang with Eifiel tower in the background. (the dress is red)

Next up – fashion inspired by art (here are just a few in this section of the exhibit)  Here is a link to a different exhibit but the the same idea.

2005 Haute Couture gown inspired by Madame Charles Max in Giovanni Boldini’s 1896 portrait
Raf Simmons Fall-Winter 2012 Haute Couture gowns inpired by Sterling Ruby ‘- Shadow Print

 

Galliano inspired by Picasso ensemble — Painting by André Derain

The next section is probably my second most favorite – everything arranged by color.    Scaled garments, handbags, hats, perfume, jewelry, drawings,footwear  – all falling together forming an amazing color wheel.  The crowds in this section where packed (and it was hot!) visit now when Paris is cool and tourists are hopefully back in their homes.

 

Yes there is so much more –  stay tuned for more beauty!!!

Markita

London – Food, Fabric, Sightseeing

London June and July 2017

Two different short trips to the capital of England and the UK.   I think this was probably my fifth trip to London, so I did skip the top of the tourist list spots.  While walking in Hyde Park (Home of Kensington Palace and the Diana Memorial Fountain) we discovered the Food Night Market.   I love this description of the event from the Evening Standard Walkways festooned with lights lead the way to a covered, cloistered seating area, with a clear plastic roof for starlit nights, and a multicoloured “umbrella roof” for earlier in the day. Around the market, red telephone boxes are decked out as powder rooms and takeaway libraries, while scattered Eden Project-style mini domes make the perfect reclusive date spots. 

In true London fashion, it rained.  Not the Texas “frog-strangler” type of rain, but drizzly, chilly Texas fall weather rain.  It didn’t dampen our hunger, or the fun.  Especially considering we signed up for the Kettle One Bloody Mary master class.  In addition to making one of those we finished the class with a chocolate creme coffee vodka cocktail.

Be like a local – dress in layers and always carry an umbrella!

My sightseeing this trip included a visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum 

It is kitchsy, but I did get a picture with this pretend bobby.

Sherlock Holmes Museum 221 B Baker Street

Unlike the tight security at Buckingham palace changing of the guard.  Notice the real police force with machine guns politely shooing (not shooting) tourists that wander too close to the gate.  With recent events I did see a greater police presence in London and every European city.  Here is the schedule to see the event for your self.   Realize that there will be a crowd and a fence, so go and enjoy the beautiful park and your small glimpse of the action.    Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace encompasses colourful spectacle and British pageantry. The ceremony lasts about 45 minutes between 11.00-11.45am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from January to March, weather permitting.

 

Changing of the guard – Buckingham Palace

When visiting any where, I always compare – what is the same at home, what is different.   I LOVE the walk sign in Trafalger Square.  Nope, equality isn’t something you see on our street corners.

I did find an amazing exhibit of a tapestry commissioned by the weaver’s guild.  This artistic collaboration between artist Chris Ofili and the guild was simply breathtaking.  See the huge tapestry as well as a close up of the weaving that re creates the texture of the original watercolor.

Fabric shopping this trip has no pictures to protect the guilty.  But I did bring home some Liberty London cotton, and some bargains from Goldhawk Road.  While in London be sure to catch a play or performance in the West End.  We saw Motown the Musical, it was fabulous.  The Victoria and Albert is not to be missed, there is almost always a special fashion and/or culture exhibit.   For easy transport around the city, get a tourist Oyster card.  London is an easy city to walk and access via the “tube”.  Just don’t forget to “mind the gap”.

Cheers –  Markita

Pattern Review Weekend 2017 – New York/Brooklyn

Visiting New York again – this time with my sewing sisters.  If you have just started following my blog, let me just say that I sew.  It is a passion, a creative outlet and a boutique business for me.  And there are makers out there that share my passion.  You will find them in the online community located at www.patternreview.com.   Launched 16 years ago by the fabulous Deepika, the site has an international community of over 450,000 members.   You can find reviews of sewing patterns, books, classes, stores, and machines.   And once per year, some of these enthusiasts get together for a weekend of sewing fun and shopping.

First up was a tour of the New York office of the McCall Pattern company (McCall/Butterick/Vogue/KWIK SEW patterns).  We were not allowed to take photos past the entrance, due to all the secret designs coming soon.  It was amazing to see how much creativity is generated by so few employees.   It requires planning and coordination among departments and teams.

We visited the fabric library where swatches are cataloged by color and type.   Learning how Pantone and garment color trends influence the fabrics that are chosen for the pattern sample garments.

One of the most surprising things to me was the reverse engineering that is done to create the Vogue designer patterns.   A team of experienced and talented makers receive the garments from the fashion houses.  Then they create both patterns and instructions with out taking apart the original garments.

We also visited the photo studio, where next season’s shoes were lined up awaiting the models for the next catalog.

The first official day we had a great panel of sewing experts to answer our questions and give us their ideas on the state of the home sewing industry.  The panel featured actress Marcy Harriell known for her blog oonaballona; Meg McDonald, social media manager of McCall pattern company Deborah Kreiling, design development director, Simplicity creative group; and Karen Groner, professor of fashion design, FIT.

Swatch – Mood Fabrics
AKN fabrics 1239 Broadway #507

Day two was fabric shopping!!!  As you can see from my suitcase packed to the 50 lb limit, I had a very successful trip.   Swatch, the famous dog from Mood fabrics (taken on thehttps://bymarkita.com/diy-cord-organizer-travel/ previous New York trip).  Marcy gave us the tip about AKN as a source of wax prints.   I also made purchases at Elliot Berman Textiles and Purl Soho (both opened just for our group); Pacific Trimming.  Going shopping in New York?  Drop me a note and I can share some stores and addresses for fabric fun.

Custom leather handbag ByMarkita Pattern by ChrisW Designs (Uptown Girl)
Travel organizer for chargers and cords ByMarkita

This year the PRweekend “contest” was to create a travel accessory.  Yes, I won the contest with my black and white hair on leather handbag and travel organizer for chargers and cords.  How to make your own

 

I love the sewing community created by Pattern Review – where I hang out until the next PRWeekend!

Rei Kawakubo May 4th – Sept 4th MET

Only the second time in the history of the MET, an exhibit featuring a living fashion designer.  Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons Art of the In-Between.  A link here featuring exhibit photos, downloadable exhibit guide and more.

I visited this exhibit before I traveled to Japan.  I had some preconceived notions of Japanese fashion and culture, a lot were outdated or even wrong.  After spending a week in Toyko, I do appreciate this exhibit and the designer much more.  And Japan has become my favorite country to visit.  That experience in a future blog post.

Rei Kawakubo is a Japanese born fashion designer.  She created her label “Comme des Garçons” (French for “like some boys”) in 1973 in Toyko creating women’s clothes adding a men’s line in 1975.  In 1982 she opened a boutique in Paris and started exhibiting at Paris fashion week.

The 74 year old designers fashions are often described as deconstructed, unfinished, anti-fashion, and avant-garde.

This photo of visitors to the exhibit and the gift shop gives you an idea of the wide range of people attracted by her work.   The young Asian devotee embodies the fluidity of gender, form and function of the exhibited art. Because you constantly ask yourself is this fashion or is it art or does it really matter what we call it?

The exhibit is in an all white space.  Pieces are arranged by number, in groups of “In-Between”.    I have included my selected photos from the exhibit.  Heads and wigs created and styled by Julien dYs for this exhibit.

1: Absence / Presence

2 Dimensions Body Meets Dress – Dress Meets Body Invisible Clothes

 

The first “In-Between” features a jacket and skirt of red polyester felt from Autumn/Winter 2012-2013 (left in the photo)

The middle two are both from the Spring/Summer 1997 collection and are titled Body Meets Dress – Dress Meets Body.  They feature red stretch nylon and polyurethane plain weave padded with goose down.

The garment on the right is titled Invisible Clothes constructed of red cotton velveteen and PVC  Spring/Summer 2017

 

 

2. Design / Not Design 

Patchworks and X (left) Spring/Summer 1983 Three garments are Crush Spring/Summer 2013

This photo is part of the second “in-between” .  Another  garment included in this section is  a dress of brown paper styled with a wig made from curly wire.

The garments titled Crush are fashioned from off-white cotton canvas.

Patchworks and X   features a top of off-white cotton knit appliqued with off-white cotton ribbon over a dress of off-white cotton muslin and white rayon satin.

The garments exhibit the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi.  In the book Living Wabi-Sabi, author Taro Gold states “In today’s Japan, the meaning of wabi-sabi is often condensed to “wisdom in natural simplicity”. In art books, it is typically defined as “flawed beauty”

 

 

3. Fashion / Antifashion          4. Model / Multiple    5. High / Low

Ballerina Motorbike Spring/Summer 2005
Bad Taste Autumn / Winter 2008-2009

5.1 Elite Culture /Popular Culture (left)

A close up view of the black leather jacket over a skirt of black tulle.  This section compares the “high” culture of ballet with the “low” culture of bikers.

5.2 Good Taste / Bad Taste (right)

Dresses of white tulle with black elastic trim.  Using textiles considered cheap, and tacky (nylon and polyester) and the culture of street style, the designer changes the view of what is good taste.  The front dress is my favorite in the entire collection.

 

6. Then/ Now 7. Self / Other  – includes 7.1 East / West      7.2 Male / Female  and 7.3  Child / Adult

Persona Autumn/Winter 2006-7 left and middle The Infinity of Tailoring Autumn/Winter 2013-14 right

These three garments are from Male / Female fusing types of clothing typically associated with men and women – such as trousers and skirts – into one outfit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Object / Subject  9. Clothes / Not Clothes 

Far left Tomorrow’s Black Spring/Summer 2009 remaining Not Making Clothing Spring/Summer 2014

 

I included this selection from 9.1 Form / Function because of the inventive heads and wigs.    All of the heads and wigs  for the entire exhibition were created and styled by Julien dYs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  9.2 Abstraction / Representation  9.3 Beautiful / Grotesque  9.4 War / Peace 

9.5 Life / Loss  9.6 Fact / Fiction   9.7 Order / Chaos    9.8 Bound /Unbound

I hope you enjoyed this partial tour of the exhibit.  If you want to learn more click on these sources.

Rei Kawakubo – The Guardian’s interview after the Met’s gala lunch

Available on Amazon:  Japanese Fashion Designers: The Work and Influence of Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo by Bonnie English

Vogue on Rei Kawakubo 

 Photos in this post were taken with Samsung Galaxy 8 plus and are copyright.  Please see copyright statement before use.

 

Fashion in Art- Selections from the MET

May 2017    New York City

Nothing can make me happier than a whole day wandering at my pace at any major museum.  This adventure found me at the MET

I took a free guided gallery talk “Fashion in Art”.

The guide set the tone dressed fashionably including beautiful walking friendly shoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first stop on the tour:  A Roman sculpture (copied from a Greek sculpture) of a women with a basket.  She is wearing a chilton, which is rectangle of cloth folded, draped over the body.  These were probably made from linen.  A peplos was made from heavier materials, usually wool.  Want to make your own?  Check out how at the Kentucky Educational Television site.

Note that historians are convinced that the clothing and the statues that document them were actually brightly colored.  Not the white sheet toga party garment that comes to mind.

Ancient Greek and Roman clothing continues to inspire fashion designers.  This essay and images of clothing in the MET’s collection (see below link) show how these designs elements have been incorporated throughout western fashion’s 600 year history.

Classicism in Modern Dress

 

 

 

Next stop: Courtiers in a Rose Garden Tapestry

Materials: wool, silk and gilt metal thread  Dated to 1440-50 Location south Netherlandish (contemporary Belgian Flanders)

Fashion pointed out in this tapestry:

The rolled headdress of the woman.  Fashion dictated showing lots of forehead, sometimes enhanced by removing hair from the forehead and eyebrows.  The head was topped with a padded roll, sometimes decorated with a veil or jewels.

Men’s jackets became shorter in this time period and were worn with hose.  No knitwear was available so they were cut on the bias to give the ability to stretch and mold to the leg.

Take a close look at the man’s shoes.  These long pointy shoes made from leather or fabric are called poulaine or crackowes.  Historians believe that this fashion moment was inspired by Richard II’s Polish wife Ann of Bohemia.  Extravagant fashion of the court were copied by men and women.

 

Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano) (Italian, Monticelli 1503–1572 Florence) Collection of the MET. Photo owner MET.

 

Bronzino’s oil portrait of a young man painted in the 1530’s gives us two fashion items.

First the flat soft brim hat depicted was on of several types of men’s hats worn during this period.

The young man’s jacket features a decorative effect called slashing.  This fashion evolved from the practice of the Swiss army in a successful battle in 1477 over Charles the Bold.  The battle worn army cut up banners and tents and wove the scraps through the holes in their uniforms.  This fabric manipulation was imitated by the wealthy and remained popular through the 1500s.
Read more: http://www.fashionencyclopedia.com/fashion_costume_culture/European-Culture-15th-Century/Dagging-and-Slashing.html#ixzz4nxVgEms6

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743–1794) and His Wife (Marie Anne Pierrette Paulze, 1758–1836) Artist:Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels) Collection of the MET, photo by the MET

 

 

Paris, France.  This painting depicts a new fashion of women’s dresses created from imported fine white cotton.  This fashion inspiration comes from Marie Antoinette and her pastime of dressing as an idealized common milkmaid.  The sudden increase in this gauzy cotton brought about a decrease for French silk.  During this time up to 20,000 silk looms in France ceased to operate, leading to joblessness and discontent.   Did this change in fashion contributed to the French Revolution?

Also in fashion during this time for both men and women – powdered wigs.  Powdered wigs become popular when King Louis XIV of France and his cousin Charles II King of England started wearing them.  Wigs were popular during this time to hide hair loss due to syphilis.  In addition, shaving the head to make the wig fit also made it easier to control head lice.  Ewww, I almost wish I hadn’t learned those facts!

 

And finally on this fashion in art tour, Madame X.

Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau)
Artist:John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London) Collection of the MET, photo by the MET

The description of the painting is as follows by the MET.

Madame Pierre Gautreau (the Louisiana-born Virginie Amélie Avegno; 1859–1915) was known in Paris for her artful appearance. Sargent hoped to enhance his reputation by painting and exhibiting her portrait. Working without a commission but with his sitter’s complicity, he emphasized her daring personal style, showing the right strap of her gown slipping from her shoulder. At the Salon of 1884, the portrait received more ridicule than praise. Sargent repainted the shoulder strap and kept the work for over thirty years. When, eventually, he sold it to the Metropolitan, he commented, “I suppose it is the best thing I have done,” but asked that the Museum disguise the sitter’s name.

Virginie was know to use lavender colored face and body powder and to color her hair and eyebrows with henna.  She was known not only as a beauty but for her her extra-marital affairs.  When the painting was shown society felt that Singer Sargent was flaunting her overt sexuality with the flirtatious pose and the virtually strapless deep v neckline of her dress.   Both Virginie and her mother asked for the painting to be removed from public display, and because of the scandal she was forced to retire from society.  And when donated, the painting became Madame X to protect her name.

 

 

I hoped you enjoyed this virtual accompaniment of my tour of the MET.    Next up the Rei Kawakubo exhibit.

 

 

 

I am happy to answer any questions about this New York visit.  Photos not from the MET’s collection were taken with my Samsung Galaxy 8.  All photographs not credited are the property of ByMarkita and are copyrighted.  See copyright page for details.

Accommodations were at Hotel:  Hampton Inn Manhattan Madison Square Garden Area