I had planned to make the dress in my default black, and had even bought some mesh for the contrast cowl neck. But when I started looking back over runway photos from Givenchy’s neo-noir Fall 1998 ready-to-wear collection, I was struck by the palette of neutrals, electric blue, and especially the combination of oxblood with red.
(There’s a blue version of the original sleeveless dress on eBay. The dress fabric is a nylon/acetate/elastane blend, with acetate lining, and the back zipper reaches all the way up through the cowl.)
I made View B, the sleeveless, mid-calf version, in oxblood with a red cowl neck. I hit Designer Fabrics and found some oxblood wool, red mesh for the contrast cowl, and Bemberg for the lining. The pattern recommends chiffon for the contrast, but I wanted to stick with the mesh used for the runway version. I was a little stumped as to interfacing for the contrast, and even bought some tomato red tricot to use before learning that the best interfacing for mesh is more mesh.
I wanted a close fit, so I ignored the sizing and went by the finished garment measurements printed on the pattern, including 1″ ease at bust and waist and a little more in the hips. I also lengthened the skirt by 1.5″ to achieve the correct length.
This was my first dart-fitted dress, and I had fun sewing my very first contour darts—eventually realizing the virtues of even a makeshift tailor’s ham. The cowl neck is cut on the bias, but this didn’t pose any problems, since the mesh handles much better than chiffon.
With the full lining and absolutely no stretch, the dress feels very old-fashioned to wear. One thing I misjudged was the bodice/cowl part of the bodice—I cut the right size in the bust, but didn’t distribute the extra waist length I was adding between the above-waist and shoulder areas, so it’s a bit on the high side and the cowl neck has a closer fit than in the runway photo. It would have been simpler to cut a size up and take the bodice in at the sides. The “interfaced” mesh is also a little bulky; the extra layer was probably unnecessary.
Since the Fall 1998 collection was inspired by Blade Runner, it seemed appropriate to take photos of the dress at the David Cronenberg: Evolution exhibition at TIFF Bell Lightbox. In the Interzone area, devoted to Naked Lunch (1991), visitors could have their photo taken with a Mugwump:
Naomi took some photos of me upstairs at an extension of the Cronenberg show called Body/Mind/Change (BMC). Visitors to the biotech facility BMC Labs can observe the production of personalized POD (Personal On-Demand) implants, which are held awaiting pickup by their hosts. The BMC Labs facility is still open if you’d like to create your own POD implant:
Here I am in the POD holding area:
A closer view of the mesh cowl neck:
The cowl fastens in the back with hooks and thread eyes:
The lab staff let me hold a brand-new red POD (rara avis—most are colourless):
We were delighted to find BMC Labs at the end of our visit: it was the perfect backdrop for the dress given McQueen’s futuristic, sci-fi inspiration for his collection for Givenchy. I’m crossing my fingers for a red POD of my own…
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of participating in a Toronto sewing blog meetup, co-organized by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow and Adrienne of All Style and All Substance. All together we were eighteen sewing enthusiasts—some with blogs, some without, and one who’d taken the train in from Montreal:
Who knew there were so many sewing bloggers in the GTA? We split into two groups to avoid swarming the shops:
Catja brought everyone decadent cake pops that were the perfect shopping break calorie bomb (get her recipe here):
After gathering at Le Gourmand near Queen and Spadina, we started at King Textiles, where the young SA observed, “You’re all wearing name tags.” From there we hit Leathertown (officially Leather & Sewing Supply Depot), Downtown Fabrics, and the Wool House before heading over to Tequila Bookworm for refreshments and a swap.
I wasn’t doing any shopping, but a highlight was when the owner at Downtown Fabrics produced a matchbook and lit some fabric on fire. (He was demonstrating that a fine Japanese lining was cotton with a burn test.) There’s nothing like that old-fashioned salesmanship. Kristiann, who’s the owner of local indie pattern company Victory Patterns, also shared some tips on where to find the right trim for a vintage sewing project I have in the works, which should be very helpful next time I’m in the fashion district.
Unfortunately I hadn’t had a chance to cull anything for the swap, so I was surprised to be able to score one of Vicki’s vintage patterns in the swap’s second round-cum-free-for-all. Thanks, Vicki!
The event was such a success that there is talk of a second meetup this summer; details will be posted on Gillian’s blog. In the meantime, Reethi has put together a handy GTA blogroll, and Vicki’s sewing blogger mapping project, Map the Sewintists, helps bloggers worldwide in planning non-virtual events. Check it out, and til the next meetup!
The page is a handy index to all my posts focusing on patterns by a single designer. I have posts on Kenzo and Marc Jacobs in the works, as well as a couturier or two of the Twenties and Thirties. I would love to hear your suggestions for other designers you would like to see covered. (Lisa, I haven’t forgotten your Issey Miyake suggestion!)
I recently had my very first blogger meetup, with the fabulous Heather of Closet Case Files. Heather brings a designer’s eye and downtown art chick’s voice to her sewing blog. She’s proof that sewing can be cool—check out her finished projects, especially her border print chiffon caftan photographed in Cuba. Naomi and I had a blast meeting Heather and joining her for an afternoon of fabric shopping in Toronto’s fashion district. Her quest for the perfect red double knit took us into every shop I’d ever wondered about. We even found a couple things for ourselves—a pixel print satin and an apple green double knit—and, in the process, discovered the joys of deadline-free, in-person fabric browsing. Thanks to Heather for suggesting the meetup!
For those of you in the GTA, next weekend is the More Than Just a Yardage Sale, the Textile Museum of Canada’s annual fundraising sale in downtown Toronto. The Museum’s volunteers will be selling lots of sewing and crafting supplies including fabric and yarn, buttons and beads. Here’s the official poster:
This is a free event. Look for the tent in the parking lot next to the museum, which is at 55 Centre Ave., near Dundas and University.