Good resolutions (#2019makenine)

This blog began as a (very badly kept) new year resolution. It’s been left aside fort years, but since I still like to have my little corner of the internets, I decided to put it back on its feet, little by little. There are still many, many things left to do, but hey: “done is better than perfect”.

This saying is relevant for sewing as well: I’m often too perfectionist (which, for me, is quite the same thing as being a procastinator) and I’ve always wanted to bite more than I could chew. This has always kept me from this simple task: sewing what I actually need. This is why I decided to rally the #makenine project this year.

Continue reading “Good resolutions (#2019makenine)”

Summer nostalgia

Well, that’s official: fall is here. I may have repeated to anyone who would hear it that “summer only ends on September 22nd”, I may have enjoyed one last sip of sun and sea last sunday at La Baule (I went there to support my now-triathlete boyfriend), yet I have to face the sad, grey truth: it drizzled on Nantes when I last took my bike and hell, I even sneezed. Summer is over.  Continue reading “Summer nostalgia”

Why do I sew?

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“Handmade clothes increase the feeling that they blend in with us, with our flesh, but also with them who, patiently, made them to fit us”

I’m currently reading Dressing, by Jane Sautière, and this sentence made me finally write this post. That’s it. That’s the reason why I sew. To find, beyond ready-to-wear’s anonymous clothes, something that would make one with me. That’s also the reason why I’m so fascinated by the notion of style (which is not all about clothes). To me, style is the material, clothing, litterary, or cinematographic signature of a personality. I’m not foolish enough to believe that elegant people are better than the others, but I’m nonetheless fascinated by the matter. I love the fact that a movie character’s wardrobe tells me so much about them that the scenario doesn’t even mention. It’s simply part of them.

While I’m not a fictional character, I always dreamt to have a costume that would tell everybody who I am. And to prove my uniqueness (and to satisfy my clothing demands), what’s better than sewing? Preferring the fit of a high-waisted skirt or, on the contrary, the ease of a flowing blouse, a flared skirt rather than a straight one… Beyond the notion of style, I think that sewing is paying attention to your body : looking at it, measuring it, adorning it, sometimes repairing it. Taking the time to think , to make, stitch by stitch (I enjoy the hand finishing), at our own pace, what will fit one’s body and one’s soul. A very special way to pay attention.

Fall style: sweet & sour

I have a confession to make : I’m fascinated by a certain archetypal character : the French Bourgeoise, the very type played by Catherine Deneuve, portrayed by Helmut Newton, and, of course, dressed by Yves Saint-Laurent. Last year’s restrospective of the couturier’s work was very influential on this season’s collections, and to my great pleasure, seventies are on trend again. But after going to the YSL Rive Gauche (Saint-Laurent’s ready-to-wear line) exhibition, and reading his biography by Laurence Benaïm, I must say I would be under Saint-Laurent’s influence anyway. Since I have plenty new year resolutions to achieve (and that I need to wear something on my back), I figured I could use some of his vibrant colors for this fall sewing.

What’s unusual though, is that I’m going against my penchant for the seventies regarding figures. It must be because I’m so glad I discovered high waists and can’t get enough of them (yet), so I’ll mix these acid colors with the soft spot I have for the late fifties/early sixties fashion. This fall’s fashion icon is Catherine Deneuve in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, rather than Faye Dunawaye in Eyes of Laura Mars. But is it very sensible to pick the provincial pregnant teenager over the sexy photographer?

My imaginary suitcase

Summer essentials 2011Phew! My mémoir is written at last! And I even had the time to sketch a little. I barely mentioned it, but I intend to participate to the 2011 edition of Summers Essentials Sew-along, despite the fact that this kind of challenges didn’t prove to be very successfull for me. But first, it seems that I need a certain discipline when it comes to sewing, and second, I just immensely love the creative process of picking various inspirations (from Brigitte Bardot to Clare McCardell and D&G lingerie) on a Pinterest board, in an attempt to make a coherent wordrobe out of this, to go to some imaginary destination.

In my case, this creative process always implies sketches. I’m unfortunately far from being as talented as Isabelle when it comes to draw stylish and realistic silhouettes, so my sketches are childish at best (and yes, I know my little ladies don’t have feet, and could you please not look too closely at their hands?), but here’s my plan above. Wherever I go this summer, I’d like the content of my suitcase to look like that:

1 a poppy red Crescent skirt

2 a ruffled navy gingham dress

3 a pair of gingham Ruby shorts

4 a simple stripe tee with kimono-ish sleeves

5 a chevron striped dress (frightening!)

6 Striped trousers

7 a few crazy projects such as a handbag, two belts, a wide-brimmed hat and a gingham bra.

1973 capsule

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I’m a vintage sewing patterns addict. There are many reasons to this addiction, from the lovely illustrations to my annoying tendancy to prefer the idea of a dress to the dress itself, but the main reason is certainly that when I buy a vintage pattern I feel like getting a time capsule. As a fashion history lover, I’m always eager to know more about the never-ending cycle of fashion, and how the home-sewing market adapted current trends. I’ve noticed that most of my favorite patterns are from 1973, an excellent year for Simplicity it seems. The company seems to have taken inspiration from contemporary brands Cacharel and Biba.

Why sould I talk about that, as I’m  currently tied to my desk with a ‘mémoire’ to write and can’t really develop on the subject (nor sew anything for that matter)? Well, there’s this dress I’m pretty much in love with, especially for the diamond-shaped midriff. I even took the time to read the sewing instruction during my lunch break, hence fully enjoying a bit of 1973, which seems to be my favorite fashion period (though one could argue that sewing instructions are pretty timeless), and I just wanted to remember that for later. Oh, and I know my illustrations don’t have anything to do with the purpose, but hey, they’re from 1973, too!

Pretty frilly things

rene-gruau-lingerie-diorThis month, lingerie is all I can think of. I feel like my brain had been replaced by a knickers drawer. But I must admit that there were a lot of things to drive me to the subject, lately…

  • First there was this post from fashion blogger Alix (aka the Cherry Blossom Girl), a preview of her work with Etam. I’ve seen the lingerie ensembles in store last friday and it’s not something I would actually wear, but this made me wonder what would my collection look like, were I given the chance to design one (as you may recall, I consider underwear to be just as important as ‘regularwear’_ and oh well, I just love lingerie).
  • Then, there was this post from Isabelle (check out her blog, it’s in French but she’s a former stylist with an amazing eye) dedicated to knickers (I hope I’m using the right word, by the way _ or should I say panties?). A few years ago knickers had to be low-waisted, unnoticeable or were even replaced by thongs, but now they’re back! Etam sells whole ‘semainiers’ (packs of 7) of knickers, brands like Strumpet and Pink now sell luxury knickers, even my favorite brand Princesse Tam-Tam made a limited edition of hand-embroidered knickers lately.
  • The following week, two bloggers talked about high-waisted, giant granny panties. Diglee seems to prefer lace (albeit teenage shoppers obviously prefer thongs), and Gertie appears to be a radical advocate of the plain nylon version (but seems to add lace and bows). I personnally rather like this one. Then, Woody wrote in Flavor magazine on how to wear slips outside (lucky girl also got an email from Australian label Hopeless… I’m green of envy!). This was quite obviously the lingerie assault. I could no longer resist.
  • Once again, I tried to find something on Etsy I knew wasn’t there, and found this shop. The tied knickers brought me there, I staid for the puff panties and I’m considering the frilly knickers, but there are also the peep-show panties if it’s your cup of tea. I sent an e-mail to the seller, and YES! In a charming answer, she told me she could draft the pattern of a balcony bra for me… Because even if I love knickers, there’s no way I could wear mismatched undergarments. Ah! The things you call ‘dignity’…

To be continued!

On planned wardrobes

spring-essentialsFor clothes lovers, sewing (if you’re sufficently experienced, that is), is a kind of superpower  you no longer need to rush to the stores for something that fits or simply for whatever specific item you’re eager to wear, all you have to do is to sew!

Yet, it’s only recently that I really understood what sewing could really offer (but also the rigour it should imply). Indeed, till now I had only sewn one thing at a time, when I had an idea. If something went wrong with it, I could simply let it down: it was only about one garment more or less in my wardobe. But lately, the sewing blogosphere began to use words I had previously read only on the fashion/style blogs, talking about “capsules” or “palettes”…

My reflection began with this comment of Balibulle on the Alexa Chung collection for Madewell. “I want everything… and nothing in particular. Which, to my eyes, perfectly sums up Chung’s style : rather than specific pieces, a way to associate them. Maybe we could all dress like her with what’s in our closets, if only we KNEW how to do so”. At the time, I thought that yes, building a style had little to do with my “magpie” way to pick a few cute, but isolated garments, but rather with owning a coherent wardrobe, like the scale from which you can start playing variations.

I first tried to do this with Ali’s Summer Essentials Sew-along, a playful proposition to sew a mini-suitcase for summer, but lacked of time to make it. Then, Zoe approached the question differently: not in terms of element to plan on a long term, but in terms of colors as a base to build on. Then I got lucky: as a sequel to what had already been said on the subject, the Colette patterns team launched the Spring Palette challenge, which has already been helpful to structure my future projects. I planned too much at first and had to reduce my ambitions, but realized that once more, the most important was not the deadline, neither neither the number of garments I could sew, but how much I want to sew each and every one of them, in order to compose a wardrobe I could live and play with. I think I might be growing up…