Coats, Works in Progress

Stardust Coat: Part One

On to the next coat!

I am also working away on the personal statement to accompany these in my grad school applications, which is like moving mountains with my brain. I haven’t had to write an artist’s statement, or any sort of solid explication of my work and motivations, well, since graduating last time I guess. It was always my least favorite part, prone to causing tantrums and rage, but I’m all grown up now or something, so no stomping feet and crying. Ok maybe just a SMALL tantrum.

The next coat has been dubbed the Stardust Coat. It has occurred to me that all the ideas I have lined up so far are all inspired by books or characters in books, which, given how much the aforementioned personal statement talks about the importance of STORY in my work, seems appropriate.

Since the last one was all blacks, it seemed right to make this one of light tones. I was originally going to work in straight WHITE, but I found this pretty pearl-color upholstery velvet and had to get it. Guess all-white will have to wait.

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The Dream coat was worked in individual pieces, all the applique running vertical. I thought this time I’d try running some applique across the body. This is somewhat tricky, running cross-ways across curved seams, but I’m giving it a go. Here’s some layout experiments. I did this for about an hour in different combinations, then scrapped the whole thing.

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Eventually I settled on a few pieces of applique, with more focus on the stitching, trying some new things from the last one.

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Added in some hand-drawn elements on this one, too. These are the back pieces…
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…and a similar treatment to the front.

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Here’s the body so far. Back and sides are sewn together, with iridescent contrast panels in the back vent and box pleat. Pocket are installed, with contoured welts. The body stitching is done in either plain white or silver iridescent thread, and all the seams are top-stitched.

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Next up, the sleeves and hood attack!

xo

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Coats

The Dream Coat: Part Four– Finished!

The beast has been vanquished, and the Dream coat is finally done! Overall I’m quite pleased with it. I learned a lot: messed some things up, asked and answered a lot of questions, and then made more questions. It’s very comfortable to wear and feels solid like armor with all that quilting. Dream armor. I hope it lives up to its inspiration. I wanted it to feel like a story; like every time you look at it you notice some new detail, some new secret.

Here’s a shot when it was still missing collar and sleeves. You can see some of the quilting of insanity.

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Detail shot. Note the pocket flaps– I think they turned out pretty nicely.

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I also inherited some wonderful brass buttons that seemed to have arrived just for this project.

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Here it is in all it’s glory:

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Sleeve detail. The two stripes are a bit of an artist’s mark– I thought I might make them a common thread (haha) on all the coats. They represent the old magpie rhyme:

One for sorrow,

Two for joy,

Three for a girl,

Four for a boy,

Five for silver,

Six for gold,

Seven for a secret,

Never to be told.

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Truth be told, I rather liked the secret-never-to-be-told, but seven was a bit more than I could deal with. So joy it is.

Back detail. I vented it in the shoulders and gave it a box pleat at the tail. I drafted both of these into the pattern and they were one of the toughest parts, having never done them before and adding them in– there was a lot of “what the hell am I doing… please please please don’t let me mess it up”  Hopefully the next ones will be a bit more graceful. Many thanks to all the wonderful bloggers out there whose tutorials, tips and tricks helped save my sanity on this.

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Some lining detail. You can see the top on my hem facing there because I fucked up. Pleat fail. Everything is ruined.

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The front facings are more simple and have silver flames and stars embroidered on. There’s a bit of ribbon piping between lining and facing as well.

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And here you can see the hidden inner pocket. Because pockets!

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Detail of the inner collar. The collar stands up, so this is rarely visible. It’s meant as a secret moment just for the wearer; something just for you. It’s a quote from Sandman and reads:

“Sometimes you wake up.

Sometimes the fall kills you.

And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”

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So it’s done. Sweet dreams.

xo

 

 

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Coats, Philosophical Musings

Will It Blend?

Will it blend?

And now you’re all “thanks for that, there goes my whole day.” The point was that my creative brain feels like a blender recently– I’m throwing all these ingredients in there and hitting “frappe.” Also I’m not sure my blender has a lid, nor do I have those cool safety glasses, but ah well. Creativity is a contact sport; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Things in my head right now: Coats (Duh) Largely double-breasted coats with a hint of military style. I really like the blending (oh there it is again) of styles– military mixed with whimsy, or bright color, or punk…

Via Yahoo Image Search– source unknown.

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Jillian Lewis Trench

I am fascinated by the sculptural structures that can be created with just fabric and thread; particularly the work of Inaisce, and, of course, my hero, Alexander McQueen.

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Alexander McQueen

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Alexander McQueen

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Alexander McQueen

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Alexander McQueen

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Inaisce

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Inaisce

Also coats using riots of color or creative embellishments. Remembering that the details, while not always immediately noticeable, can be the thing that takes a garment from ordinary to special.

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Via Simply Rebecca Studios; creator unknown

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Desigual

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Balmain Summer 2010 collection

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Red thread poetry dress by ruthrae, via Flickr

 

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Jamie Avis Sharpie Coat

 

The question comes to me: Why coats? Why not dresses or, for that matter 2-dimensional art? Drawings and paintings?

I did not expect clothing to speak to me so deeply. I thought I was going to be a painter; make huge, meaningful canvases.

I have always had a deep interest in clothes, but it was a personalized interest, all wrapped up in my teen angst years. Defining what was “me” and what wasn’t; creating the self I was trying to become through the use of clothes. The clothes create the character, right? So dress as the person you wish you were. Turns out this means a lot more to me than I realized at the time.

In college I was an illustration major, and I got really into tattoo art, and body modification in general. I wrote my senior thesis on the evolution of tattoo art in America and it’s modern applications. There is something beautiful and deeply tribal about body modification– the way that it is both a quest of personal creation/evolution, AND a form of visual communication.  Over the years I have realized that the things that fascinated me in tattoos are not completely disparate from what interests me about fashion. We use tools like tattoos, hairstyle and clothing to speak, to identify,  to whisper incantations of what we are, think we are, or want to be.

These art forms are extremely dynamic– they exist actively in the world rather than in a gallery. They are constantly in flux, evolving. To work in the medium of fabric and fashion is a more interactive experience for me than I could achieve through more classical art forms. I feel like I am drawing inspiration up from myself, but I am also simultaneously having a conversation with the people who will eventually own, wear, and live in my pieces. I’m putting in little messages for them to decode and treasures for them to find.

This has been today’s philosophical diatribe. Can you tell I’m ramping up to apply for grad school?

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Coats, Works in Progress

Dream Coat: Part Three–Fabric Explosion!

I’m started on the outer layer of the coat. I found a nice black-patterned bottomweight for the base layer and have cut out the MILLION pieces, so now they are ready to get all artsy.

Laying out fabric like a bawss.

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So many pins… so very many pins…

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This was my workspace/bed a few days ago…

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…and this is it a few days later.

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This part of the work is not exactly tedious, but it’s this weird, non-verbal sort of brain work. After a day of this I am pretty incapable of coherent speech. I communicate largely through strange sounds and hand gestures. I am pretty much an ewok.

The good thing is I get to listen to a lot of audio-books while I do it, just to remind my brain what words are. So far I’ve “read” The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (how appropriate),  Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon, The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling, and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Several of these were read by British narrators, so at least my squeaky ewok noises sound posh and classy.

I’m attaching all the strips and scraps with lots and lots of stitching. Ungodly amounts of stitching. I may actually be liking the back more than the front at this moment.

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Here you can see the chalk layout for some of the quilting:

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Then, because I can’t get enough quilting action, apparently, I thought I’d try sewing flame patterns on the bottom section of the pieces. Remember that whole bit about Dream’s cloak being all flames inside? I wanted to bring a bit of that to the outside as well, so I stitched in flames in red metallic thread. I don’t have a picture of that yet but here’s the chalk layouts.

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The red thread is much more subtle– you  have to really get up close and look before you notice that it is laying out flames. I felt a little torn on putting in so much stitch work that is so subtle, but it’s all a learning process, right? If I hate it or it isn’t worth it I won’t do it again. And in any case I’m taking the attitude that all these details, however subtle, are adding to the overall majesty of the piece. Right? Of course.

That’s all for now. It’s weirdly hot-yet-cloudy in Boulder today, which I think is a sign that ice cream should be sought. OBVIOUSLY.

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Coats, Works in Progress

Dream Coat: Part Two–Lining

I started in on the lining first– seemed easier, I think. I was probably wrong.

I thought it would be nice to work the flames inside Dream’s cloak into the lining, so I decided to hand-dye it. I got a really nice flannel-back satin for the lining, which I KNEW was going to be hell to dye but I decided to go for it anyway.

I apologize to my husband and kitchen.

Here’s the first go. I used a mix of I-Dye Poly and Rit, to try to deal with the mix of poly and cotton in the fabric.

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Note the curious dog face in the corner.

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I was tricked by the “wet fabric” effect into thinking that several colors were darker and more saturated than they truly were. As a result, I re-dipped several sections of the lining and the whole process took about two (long, messy) days.

Second dip!

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Once it dried, it was a lot lighter, of course, but it turned out rather pretty overall, I think. The flannel-back satin has an interesting effect because the flannel backing takes the color much better than the satin, so there is a sort of interesting sheen effect of the light satin with this darker base.
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The pictures didn’t capture the orange bottom very well–it is light but is much richer and prettier than it is appearing here.  Bah.

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Next: Into the abyss of fabric experimentation on the outer coat. I’ve realized I’m a bit paralyzed with uncertainty, so I’m going to take a slug of bourbon and just start. Caution to the wind! Into the breach!

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Coats, Works in Progress

The Dream Coat (yes, THAT Dream)

To use the most-uttered statement in the world of WordPress–I’ve been remiss in my blogging.

I’ve been working. And taking pictures. But they have been just sitting on various devices, making rude faces at me, building up into a big ol’ guilt-mountain. UNTIL TODAY. Today, gentle reader, I have ventured into the wilds of Pekoe Sip House, where dude-bros discussing au pairs and Muy Thai rub elbows with white women in head-scarves doing dramatic chakra-blessings over their rooibos. I am not kidding. And it is only 8:30 am.

I have fueled myself with chai (with real milk, because I am going promptly to hell) and will now endeavor to sort out some of what I’ve been doing lately. I may need more chai.

A bit of foundation– feel free to skip this and go straight to pretty pictures. I’m in the process of building up a portfolio to apply to grad school, to continue to study the sartorial arts, or the artsy sartorials. One of those.  I’m building the crux of this portfolio around coats– sort of a conceptual bee I’ve had in my (shiny) bonnet for quite a while and have probably talked at you about before. Basically I have some ideas for pieces that are both art and garment, but it’s a lot of ideas in a lot of uncharted territory and I pretty much have no idea what I’m doing but I have faith it shall be, if not awesome, at least interesting.  So that’s the WHY of it.

I started with the Purple Scrappy Coat, which I still haven’t finished. It pretty much taught me just enough to know that I wanted to make the whole thing from scratch and have control over the shape and style of the coat. I may have control issues.

So I made the Piped Damask Coat to begin learning about that. I should mention that I am not, at this present moment, expecting to become a master tailor. Tailoring is an intense craft that, frankly, scares the shit out of me, so while I intend to pick up as much knowledge and skill as possible, please don’t mistake this for me being all “I’m a tailor now!” That’s like drawing a stick figure and then introducing yourself as an artist.  But I digress…

The newest project is inspired by The Sandman. That’s right, this guy:

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Isn’t he just DREAMY?

(i’m sorry.)

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If you don’t know the Sandman books, go read them all, right now, then come back. These books have been HUGELY influential in my life, and if I could pick ANY ONE LIVING, FAMOUS PERSON to be friends with, it would absolutely be Neil Gaiman. I have even drawn this wonderful alternate reality: It’s me and Neil drinking tea and discussing books and dogs and the magic of small things, all while taking a lovely jog, and we don’t spill a drop, no not a one.

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Right. Fangirling over. I am so embarrassed.

I thought to myself, “If I were the Lord of Dreams, what would I wear?” so it’s the Dream Coat… no technicolor involved.

Here’s some of the first sketches.

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Lots of doodle of pockets and sleeves…

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Dream is pretty much tall, dark and handsome. Emphasis on dark. He’s a bit of a mope sometimes, but you love him anyway. He makes my inner goth very happy. He’s always in black, so I’m thinking black on black on black for the coat, clearly. However, his cloak is all flames on the inside, so I want to work in an element of that as well.

I picked a very nice Burda pattern as the base pattern to mock up a muslin in. I’m basically taking the shape and sleeves of this coat and altering the hell out of it.

Point A:

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 I drafted a new collar, added a hood, lengthened and changed the sleeves, added inseam pockets, added pleats to the back and changed the hemline. Pray for me that it goes together alright at the end.ImageImage

Lots of alterations and bourbon went into this pattern.Image

It should be a lot closer to this now.

Point B:

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Next– into the (fabric) breach! Stay tuned!

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