Archive for September, 2007

Is Tim Gunn married?

September 24, 2007

Dear readers,

To those of you who are arriving at this blog via google searches inquiring as to the marital status of Tim Gunn. No, Tim Gunn is not married. But I’m pretty sure you still don’t have a shot.


NY Fashion Week

September 13, 2007

I moseyed on over to to check out some of the designs coming out of New York fashion week. Mostly I look at this kind of stuff for inspiration — ideas on stuff to sew or color combinations or shapes. It’s tricky to do, though, especially for silhouettes, because you have to translate shapes from the models, who are all the same shape, to your own shape. There are some things which look very nice (or interesting, which isn’t at all the same thing) on the runway which would just not look at all right on me. You also have to not let the model-shape colonize your head. Most women don’t look like that, but if you spend all day looking at these pictures, you can forget that, sometimes.

When you look at runway shows, you see a lot of stuff that is silly and easy to mock, and it was not my intention to do a post about that stuff. But I failed. There just wasn’t enough stuff that I liked. So I’m gonna start with a couple of very bad mistakes.

Marc Jacobs was playing with asymmetry and with garments where the left side didn’t match the right. Some of the results were tragic:

This is from Heatherette. Who I had never heard of before, but I hated their stuff.

You might have to blow the photo up. It appears to be some species of crotcheted beach short for men.

This is Valentino. I thought he had died, but turns out he just retired, so I don’t feel bad mocking him.



I suspect this is what they call “challenging”. I just think she looks like a lampshade. And are her arms pinned to her body with this contraption? (Don’t tell me you don’t need to move you arms if you’re wearing a couture gown. How do you sip your cocktail??)

The only thing I’ve seen so far that I’ve thought “hrmm, I might make something like that” is this:

I don’t know what it is, exactly but I’ve been watching an old BBC series called The House of Eliott. Two upper class sisters in London in the early 20s are left penniless by their father who was mean and frittered away the family fortune. The only thing they know how to do is sew, so they open a fashion house. Trials and tribulations ensue, and there are a lot of fabulous clothes. They spend a good deal of time swanning around in their pyjamas, which have wonderful matching dressing gowns. So, even though I suspect this is a dress, I think it would be an absolutely divine dressing gown. Do you think anyone does a print like that in flannel-backed satin?

Tim Gunn’s Guide To Style

September 6, 2007

So I watched the first episode of the new Tim Gunn show, he of Project Runway fame.

Oh sweet baby jesus. Sweet, sweet baby jesus with balled up fists of fury.

How did the usually fabulous Tim Gunn become roped into such a cauldron of sickly sweet pseudo-empowering sentimentality? I know the man is smart (you can tell because apparently he uses big words). And there are one or two moments when he lets that shine through — especially when he talks about hemlines and seamlines and proportions.

But the rest of the show? I feel a little ill.

The premise is that a young woman (“Rebecca”) is judged by her friends to be “unstylish” and given a makeover. Now, I knew that was the premise going in — all these shows have the same premise, and yeah, it’s icky, but I can get over that. I could deal with Tim and his cohort Veronica taking the poor woman shopping for underwear. I could deal with the hair styling and the makeup and the “let’s go shopping” and “ooh, shoes”.

I could not deal with the “life stylist” who made Rebecca wear a garbage bag and repeat a mantra. “I cannot control how I am perceived. I can only control how I am presented.” He was very earnest, too. And yanno, I kinda thought Rebecca looked alright in the “before” pictures anyway.

But really it was the last ten minutes that took the cake. This was the point when I thought to myself, “Tim Gunn, you have lost it. You really have crossed the Rubicon of bad taste. I didn’t expect it from you, but you did it.”

The show ends with Rebecca performing a “fashion show” of the new outfits she’s bought in front of her family and her adoring husband. Before the “fashion show” begins, Tim Gunn takes the adoring husband aside and tells him he has a gift to give him. There’s a blurb about how they got married young and didn’t have much money and blah blah blah, and then Tim Gunn busts out this diamond ring and is all like “so, I know you couldn’t get Rebecca the diamond she deserves when you got engaged, so here, have one now”.

Because, doesn’t everyone need a tv celebrity to tell them how the wedding jewelry that they bought for their spouse is crappy? And they could do better and by the way, hey, I’m your fairy godmother? I would have decked you, Tim Gunn.

So then, they have the fashion show, and just before the reveal of the big finale number, adoring husband gets up and makes a speech about how his wife is a beautiful woman and he always wants to provide for her and he couldn’t prove that when they were all young but this is for her and everybody cries because she is all feminine now and he’s all masculine and providing for her (except for the fact that really I guess she is now married to Bravo since they paid for it. I wonder what three months’ of their salary is?)

And then she puts on the fabulous dress. And then they bring in her mother-just-recovering-from-surgery. (Seriously. I am not making this up.) Who didn’t get to see the whole “fashion show” bit? I don’t get that.

Then they go to Mexico and she swans around in her new clothes and Tim and Veronica talk about how she was an “A student” and she totally “mastered it”. And Rebecca does a little wrap-up spiel about how her friends now call her “Newbecca”. And everyone drinks champagne and feels a little bit sick.

Fabric geekout: Silk Dupioni

September 6, 2007

I have about two yards of what I think is silk dupioni that I picked up on vacation about two years ago. It’s a beautiful iridescent fabric that is mostly a rust tone but has a green thread in the warp which makes it change color with the light.

It’s also quite possible that the fabric is shantung. There doesn’t seem to be a firm consensus about the difference between these two fabrics. Both are woven with irregular weft threads and often with different color threads in the warp and the weft. Both have a slightly uneven surface texture because their weft threads are not of even width, and it’s this texture which gives the fabric its iridescent quality.

Technically, silk dupioni is woven from threads produced when two silkworms spin thread side by side and their threads twist around each other. (Is that cool or what?) But I’m not sure that modern manufacturers stand on the difference. It also appears that shantung is generally described as “lighter” “softer” or with more drape.

The fabric that I have is extremely crisp.

Here’s are some of the highlights of the shantung & dupioni entry in Claire Shaeffer‘s fabulous book Sew Any Fabric:

  • Be careful with pins; they can mark this fabric.
  • Don’t cut on the crossgrain as the seams will slip.
  • Avoid seams on the straight grain.
  • Use a new sharp needle (I know that everyone always says that for everything; in this case, I would). Sharp or universal, 60/8 – 80/12.

You can prewash this fabric if you want to, but you don’t have to. If you wash it, it will become softer and drapier; if you don’t it will retain the very crisp hand — but you should have your garment drycleaned. In my experience of washing silk, you can also lose some of the shininess with a wash.

As for seam finishes, Schaeffer suggests “serged, pinked or zigzagged”. I personally don’t like any of these options; I don’t have a serger, my fabric is awfully ravelling for pinking, and honestly, to my mind, zigzag finishing just doesn’t look good on a woven.

I think for this type of fabric, I’d go for some sort of modified Hong Kong finish, where the raw seam is wrapped in bias tape.

Baby Sling

September 1, 2007

I made a baby sling for my friend Bomboniera. Apparently they are all the rage with celebrities these days. I was explaining to another friend what I was making, and he nodded and said “oh yeah, like Angelina Jolie”. So Bomb, you’ll be rocking it like Ms. Jolie.

I tried to find some pictures of glamorous celebrities wearing them, but although I could find plenty of pictures of “celebrities”, I’m really not so good with the celebrity gossip, and I wasn’t entirely sure which celebrity I was looking at, or often, how celebrated said individual really was. So here’s a picture of Laura Bennett.

And here is a picture of me, modelling what I made. The sling is filled out here by a five pound bag of flour which Spouse Phor insisted on calling “Nikita”* for the duration of the photo shoot. Note also my multi-tasking as I both wear Nikita in the sling and engage in scathing political analysis of Mike Huckabee.