Archive | August, 2011

Mrs. Stylebook (Summer 2011) Review

19 Aug

This issue is a disappointment compared to the last two that I reviewed.  The majority of the clothes featured are very loose and boxy and there is a lack of garments with innovating pattern drafting techniques.

There are about 100 patterns to draft.  Like the last issue, there are a lot of tunics, dresses and tops.  Included in this issue are twenty ready-made patterns of tops and dresses that are variations of six drafts with elements added on or taken away.

The A Group

Two dartless button-up blouse: (Left) Shorten at the waist and sleeves.  Cuff added onto the sleeves.

(Right) Hip length blouse with three-quarter length sleeves.

Using the same dartless blouse draft: (Bottom left) Button-up dress with ruffle collar and sleeves.  The front placket is decorated with trim.  There is an option of adding decorative trims along the front of the dress which isn’t shown in the photo.

(Top left) One buttoned blouse with ruching above the bust.

(Right) Pullover tunic with ruching below the bust, drawstring collar and double layer sleeves.

The B Group

Using a tent dress draft with neckline pleats: (Left) Pullover blouse with three button enclosure on the front.

(Right) Dress with mandarin collar and pin tuck pleats decorating the hemline.  There is the option of adding a tie around the waist that isn’t shown in the photo because it is belted.

The C Group

Using the shift dress draft with a series of single darts at the waist: (Left) Fitted blouse with zipper closure at the center back.

(Middle and Right) The two dresses are exactly the same in draft, just the sewing is varied.  The dress on the right has the waist darts sewn as tucks, while the middle dress has the waist darts sewn as darts.

The D Group

Using the princess line draft: (Left) Crop jacket with zipper closure.

(Middle) Sleeveless hip-length vest with ruching on the shoulder and hook and eye closures on the front.

(Right) Button up drop waist dress with three layers of ruffles.

Two collarless jacket using the princess line draft: (Left) Jacket with full length sleeves.  Self made ruche trims decorates the collar, the front and the sleeves of the jacket.

(Right) Jacket with three quarter length cuffed sleeves and false pockets.  Decorative frayed edges are used along the sleeve cuffs, pockets and front placket.

The E Group

The base draft for this group is a variation of a blouson draft with the right side dart removed and replaced with pleats on the right side of the neckline.  (Left) Short sleeve dress with gathers on the mid back and neck.

(Middle) Drawstring blouse decorated with lace trim on the collar and sleeves.

(Right) Lace tunic with gathered sleeves embellished with a bow.

The F Group

Both the blouse and the dress is exactly the same using the kimono draft as its base with the only change being the length.

My Picks

(Left) When I first saw this vest, it looked like a generic vest.  On closer inspection of the draft, it was far from generic.  The vest is a patchwork of different shades of black, color blocked in such a way that it gives it a geometric look reminiscent of a Mondrian painting.  It’s a shame they didn’t photograph the vest better because it looks so interesting on the draft.  Another thing I love about this vest is one size fit all and no sloper to draft from since it a bunch of rectangles sewn together.

(Right Top) Three tier blouse with expose front zipper.  There is an interesting detail by the zipper where two pieces of fabric is gathered and pleated to form what looks like two bows.

Exploring Fabric Types

There is a section on using different types of fabric with accompanying designs to go with it.

(Left) Jacket with zipper closure made from embroidery lace.  The neckline, waistline and center front are bound with satin bias tape.

(Right) Sheath dress with color blocking using art pique fabric and black woven fabric.

(Left) Jacket made from leno cloth with ruffles decorating the collar, front and hem.  I am not liking the polka dot ruffles.  It’s a bit too much with the stripes of the jacket.  (Right) Jacket and skirt sewn in seersucker fabric.  Fray trim decorate the neckline and front.

Matching Mother and Daughter Outfits

There is a two page spread on matching outfits for mother and daughter.  No sloper required for the kid’s clothes, just follow the measurements that are given and just draft.  From experience I can say drafting and sewing kid’s clothing is as simple as you get.

Experiment with Rectangle Pattern Drafting

When I first saw these four outfits I was like …ugg.  I know Mrs Stylebook likes to experiment with pattern drafting but these garments are not flattering at all.  I noticed the foundation of all four designs are based on the rectangle so I googled rectangle pattern drafting and discovered it was a drafting technique used before the late Renaissance in the construction of clothing.  As quoted from, “Rectangular Construction basically takes advantage of the ‘rectangular’ nature of fabric.  Most, if not all, pattern pieces are rectangular in shape, there is minimal fitting, and very few scraps left.”

This is Mrs Stylebook modern interpretation of this technique.  Even though I would never make any of these garments, I appreciate their attempt to pay tribute to this ancient method of clothing construction.

Another Baby Lock Wave Project!

Another Baby Lock Wave project that involves decorating a shirt with the wave stitch and alternating it with ruffles.  The shirt draft is included along with the instruction on how to apply the wave stitch.  I don’t like this look as much as the one featured in the last Mrs. Stylebook, but it shows another way of using the wave stitch as a design detail.


Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the MET

9 Aug

This past weekend I made a quick last minute trip to New York City to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before it ended.  I endured a ten hour bus ride from Toronto to New York hoping to arrive at its scheduled time so I could line up at the MET before it opened.  The bus arrived two hours late into NYC and by the time I got to the MET, there were enormous line-up on either side of the museum to get in.

I waited one and a half hour outside to get inside the MET.  Once I got in, I had to wait another one and a half hour to see the exhibit.

So was it worth it?  It was WORTH EVERY SINGLE MINUTE I HAD TO WAIT.  I could almost cry from the beauty and artistry that went into every piece.  Alexander McQueen is a master tailor known for pushing the boundary in drafting, draping and tailoring.  He also had a great respect for couturier techniques, which are reflected in his works.  All I can say is having seen the exhibit and owning the exhibit book “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’, the photos in the book does not capture the full breadth of the beauty and ingenuity in each of his work.  You cannot see every stitch or seam in the photos.  In fact some of the black garments in the book you can barely make out the seams.  There is a petition going around to make this a traveling exhibit.  Here is the link:  If you were one of the few that couldn’t make it because you lived too far or lived on a different Continent, sign the petition to have it brought to your city.   I would definitely see it again if I had another opportunity.

Also buy the exhibit the book if you couldn’t make it out to see the exhibit.  It is worth the buy, since Amazon has it on sale for thirty dollars ( I paid 25 to get into the exhibit and 7 for the audio guide) so take advantage of this price before the price goes up or the book sells out.

Here are some pictures of the exhibit taken from the MET website.  Enjoy!

Costumes from the Toronto Caribbean Festival 2011 a.k.a Caribana

1 Aug

Taking a break from writing about sewing, I have decided to write a quick post about my participation in the Toronto Caribbean Festival and the beautiful costumes made for the parade.  This is my sixth year playing MAS (short for masquerade) in the Caribana parade and the costumes gets more elaborate with every year that I participate.  This year for the first time I played MAS with Saldenah, a veteran in Toronto’s Caribana parade since 1977.  The title theme for his band this year was “Secret from the Outer Limits”, so the costumes were loosely inspired by all things space and astronomical.  I chose the costume called Frozen Abyss of Sirius because of the color and drama of the costume.  Here are pictures of my costume in pieces minus the bikini bottom (not interesting just a plain bikini bottom) and the back pack (it’s pretty huge and it photographs better on a person).  They are a little bit worse for wear since it was photographed after my participation in the parade.

My headdress

Close up of my headdress

My blinged out bikini

Close up of the bikini top

My tail feather – Back of the belt

Front of the belt

Leg tie (tied below the knee)

Jewelry to match my costume

The complete look on parade day

Back view of my back pack (I have a tail that moves when I dance)

Closer view of my back pack

Here are pictures of the costumes that were displayed in the parade.

From Saldenah – D Visitors

From Saldenah – Black Hole

From Saldenah – Umbriel

From Saldenah – Super Nova

From Saldenah – Black Hole (Frontliner)

From Saldenah – Milky Way

From Mas Toronto – Ocean Warrior

From Mas Toronto – D’Eruption (Frontliner)

From Toronto Revellers – Over the Rainbow

From Toronto Revellers – Weathering the Storm

From Toronto Revellers – Dorothy (left) and Lullaby (right)

From Toronto Revellers – Glinda the Good Witch

From Carnival Nationz- Angel

From Carnival Nationz – Quetzal

From Carnival Nationz – Pheonix