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.
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.
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!
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.
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’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.
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.
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.