#15 – The Book Launch Party

#15- Book Launch Party

Thursday was a very busy: from 10 am – 1:30 pm I was in Salem, MA with Jess McDougall getting professional Head Shots (photographs.) From 3 pm – 8 pm I was at the School of Fashion of Design preparing for, enjoying and then dismantling, the Creating Couture Embellishment Book Launch Party. It was terrific but a long day.

The School of Fashion Design www.schooloffashiondesign.org is where I learned about Couture Embellishments and later taught a course about Couture Embellishments; it seemed right to have the book launch party at the school. Dr. Denise Hammon and Jennifer LeClerc arranged everything: Evite, mannequins for displaying the bodices, snacks, bartender and wine… What more could I ask for?

 

I drove to The School of Fashion Design (SFD) directly from my photo shoot( see post #14)  with Jess McDougall www.jessmcdougallcreative.com still wearing my hair and make up as done by Shannon Rouvel www.shannonrouvel.com. (Clever me to have booked the dates on the same day!) I got a parking space in front of the school, which was a blessing as I had a lot to carry in: bodices and skirts, sleeves filled with new muslin arms, a clothes steamer, a box of books, a large poster of the book’s cover, a bag of assorted junk and dress-up clothes for me.

window showing the SFD logo on Newbury St.

SFD window

 

I dressed the 6 mannequins in bodices and skirts, laid out the sleeves filled with their new muslin arms, put up my 24” x 36” poster of the book’s cover. I used the steamer to un-wrinkled the bodices and skirts, which have been in storage for quite a while. Jennifer LeClerc had already set up table with lots copies of Creating Couture Embellishment, waiting to sold and signed. Ready, set…

GO: by 5:15 pm there was a line of people waiting to buy Creating Couture Embellishment!

people waiting in line to buy copies of Creating Couture Embellishment

A line of people waiting to buy books

There were some alumni, some current faculty, some current students and some good friends – all standing in line to buy my book and get it signed! WooHoo!

 

Me bent over to sign a book and Martha using my phone & Square to sell the books.

Me -signing books, Martha with the Square.

My friend Martha used my Square™ to sell the books while I signed them.

Ellen & Denise Hammond seated & smilling

Q & A with Denise Hammon

At 6:15 pm Dr. Denise Hammon, the director of SFD, and I sat down for a Q & A session.

We had a good time: Denise asking questions and me answering.  I explained  the pitfalls of making and photographing embellishment samples,  how the samples came to be the colors they are, why “writing” Creating Couture Embellishment took so long. If you want to hear the naswers to these questions you’ll have to come to an event.  (See  Master Classes  on the bar at the top of the page.)

After the Q & A there was time to mingle and be photographed.  Jay Calderin took the pictures seen here.  Jay is a teacher at SFD,  a designer, an author, a photographer and more…. calderin3.com . Thank you Jay!

Ellen & Denise Hammon smiling

Ellen & Denise Hammon

Ellen & Denise: the beauty shot.

Jane Conway Caspe & Denise Hammon

Jane Conway Caspe & Denise Hammon

Jane Conway-Caspe, Board member at SFD,  with Dr. Denise Hammon.

I’m sorry there are no pictures of the mannequins dressed in their couture embellished finery. Note to self: take photos of the mannequins and sleeves or whatever at future events.

A family photo

A family photo.

By 7 pm it was time to undress the mannequins and pack up back into the car.  To cap off this long day there was  family was waiting to take me out for dinner.  A great ending to a great day!

 

 

 

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#14 – Head Shots

Head Shots

Thursday was a very busy: from 10 am – 1:30 pm I was in Salem, MA with Jess McDougall getting professional Head Shots (photographs.) From 3 pm – 8 pm I was at the School of Fashion of Design preparing for, enjoying and then dismantling, the Creating Couture Embellishment Book Launch Party. It was a long day but terrific!

The Photo Shoot

White Blouse on me

Head Shot- White Blouse

Jess McDougall www.jessmcdougallcreative.com in Salem is a professional photographer who specializes in Boudoir and Fitness photographs; she also does Head Shots  to use for websites and publicity pieces. I wanted new Head Shot photos as the photos I have been using were fairly informal photos that are at least 5 years old. It’s true that those photos look pretty close to how I look now but Jess’s session included full hair and make-up done by her colleague Shannon Rouvel www.shannonrouvel.com which I’ve never done before! As a child of the 1960’s I was brought up to believe that looks mattered less than what was in your head; while this is still true, what’s in your head matters tremendously, looks do matter and trying to live as thought they don’t matter is foolish. (This is a topic for another day’s blog post.) Long story short, this photo session was a HUGE gift to myself and was really fun.

 

After Shannon and I talked for a few minutes Shannon used a curling iron to curl the renegade sections of my hair that don’t curl as much as the other sections. All went along swimmingly except for one lock of hair, on the top of my head, which only curled up and would not join the other locks. Shannon curled it the down, left, to the right, … Finally it sorted of joined the rest of the crowd. I was impressed with Shannon’s unperturbed manner in dealing with ornery lock- and that this stuff happened to her too! On to make-up: unfortunately I had my eyes closed for a lot the make-up application and I can’t tell what she did. I do know that I looked amazing when she was done. Not too different, just polished and with great eyes & lip color. I need to book a make up lesson with Shannon.

Jess has a small but wonderfully light and airy  studio in downtown Salem. The small space made the session less intimidating; it was just Jess and me, casual and intimate. On Jess’s instructions, I brought 4 different shirts that were different colors and have different necklines. I did not feel self conscious or worry about anything, as Jess was clearly catching every detail in each photo. She was clear in her directions: “head forward, chin down- not so much”, “look there, now here,” “tilt your shoulders to the left.” Jess took photos of me in each of the 4 shirts and we were done!  After Jess downloaded the photos into PhotoShop, she had me choose my favorites. I chose 18 favorite photos. Jess and I looked the 18 photos together and quickly whittled the 18 down to 6 based on Jess’s comments.  So fun and easy!

Head Shot- Red Shirt

 

Me in the purple blouse

Head Shot Purple Blouse

Here are the three most formal of the photos.  Which one do you like best?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#13 – Wedding Day!

Today my son is marring an amazing woman!  We are so excited and pleased. We love our in-law family, but especially we love the BRIDE!

I did finish the Mother of the Groom dress; it’s far from Eddi’s design, but I am very comfortable in it.  There are no photos as my camera has gone off to the repair shop.  (After 6000+ photos for The Book it needed some TLC.) There will be photos later today, taken by the wedding photographer, so I will post some of those to show you the dress.

The sun is out, my dress is pressed – ready, set….

 

#12 – The Burgundy Top

The Burgundy Top

As you know from a previous post my friend and sleeve designer Eddi Phillips designed some clothes for me to wear while on The Book Tour. I am so lucky to know such a talented designer and have him design clothes just for me!

Eddi designed 10 outfits and we picked 6 of them to make; Eddi helped me chose the fabrics and trims for each outfit- or at least the general idea of fabrics and trims. This top included gathering fabric to one side seam, then layering lace and appliques on top of the gathered section.

Sketch showing a long sleeve blouse with lace and applique on one side

Lace & Applique Top

 

There were 2 stumbling blocks in my iteration of this design: the lace addition just added bulk to my non-existent waist and the applique didn’t work the way I envisioned it. I didn’t take pictures of the top with the lace and applique, but the basic top with the gathered fabric had a great deal of appeal to me. Hmmm…

Burgundy top front pinned to dress form with a few rows of gathering stitches on the right

Shirring idea

 

I decided to shirr the entire half circle area and add beads. Can you see it?

Close up of the shirred and beaded part on the wrong side

The wrong side

This is the wrong side of the top, showing the shirring and the bead work. The shirring was sewn by machine; the rows are ½” apart. You read about this in detail in Creating Couture Embellishments, page 95.

 

I sewed the beads on with FireLine™ Smoke, size B, with the thread doubled. I suppose I could have used size D, single thread, but I had the size B on my work table already. I knotted the thread after each bead so if one bead got pulled off the rest would stay on. After all the beads in place I covered the shirred area with fusible interfacing to protect the knots of the shirring and beading, and covered the interfacing with a layer of lining to keep the entire garment slippery.

The top on the dress form sowing the shirred and beaded section

Shirred and beaded

Here is the garment finished except for the hem.

The burgundy blouse with shirring and gold tone pearls on me.

Burgundy Blouse

The finished top on me. Jess McDougall of Salem, MA took this photo of me.

I think the next iteration of this top will have more rows of shirring and be 3″ longer.  And there will be more iterations of this top!

Have you got other wader saves?            Please share!

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#11 – Mother of the Groom Dress

Mother of the Groom Dress

My son is getting married in a couple of weeks. We are all very excited as we love my future daughter in law and her family. The entire event will be outside, from 4 – 10 pm in Massachusetts. The weather could be chilly and rainy or could be warm and sunny; what to wear?

Over the summer I asked my friend Eddi Phillps to design some clothes for me to wear on a book tour (still in the planning stages.) Eddi sketched 10 beautiful designs; we selected 6 for me make.  Eddi also helped me choose fabrics from my stash to use in this project.

Sketch of green princess line dress with swatches of fabric and trim

Green Dress Sketch

I chose this dress design for my Mother of the Groom dress.

I started by adapting my muslin from the shirtwaist dress pattern (in post #3) to a shoulder princess line dress. I sewed the bodice pieces to their corresponding skirt pieces and fiddled with vertical seams until the pieces laid flat on the worktable.

The center back seam opened so the pieces can lay flat.

The center back seam opened so the pieces can lay flat.

Here is a close-up of the back panel showing how the center back seam had to be opened up to accommodate the pattern changes. (The fabric peaking out from behind the muslin along is the lining layer.)

 

All the pieces laid out in order on the worktable.

All the pieces laid out in order.

I cut out the dress in a lovely dark teal that I bought from Zimman’s Fabrics in Lynn, MA. http://www.zimmans.com/

I cut out the lining in a dark Bemburg rayon; I love the feel of the Bemburg against my skin and it sews up beautifully.

After sewing the dress and lining I put the dress on my dress form and started to pin the trims in place. The trims are from Daytona Trimmings Co. in New York City; they don’t have a web site.

Trim pinned to the back of the dress.

Trim pinned to the back of the dress.

Designing is not my well developed area. The change from lace and rat tail in Eddi’s design to this flat, rectangular trim and rat tail trim has thrown me for a loop. I can execute a design, but making something up isn’t something I can do. I have fiddled and diddled with the trim for the better of two days and this still doesn’t look anywhere near what Eddi designed.  Argh…

Time to re-group…

 

 

 

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#10 – The Montana Antique Mall

An unexpected trip to Missoula, MT afforded an opportunity to go to the Montana Antique Mall. https://www.montanaantiquemall.com/

Several of the dealers had antique clothes for sale; here are some photos of some of the pretty clothes I drooled over.  The Montana Antique Mall isn’t a museum technically but it inspires me the way a museum would.

I’m sorry the pictures in this post are blurry.

A White Dress:

antique, white wedding dress againsta green door.

This lovely white dress was embellished with rows of taffeta, pinked on both edges and gathered into ruffles. Four rows of ruffles cover the sleeves. Another four rows of ruffles are placed at an angle, encircling the hips. Three large loops of taffeta are gathered and sewn to the side seam to form a bow at the waist. I think this was a wedding dress; can’t you just see the bride holding a bouquet of roses?

 

a close up of the white dress: the ruffles along the hip line and the big bow at the waist

Close up of ruffles and bow.

Close up of the ruffled sleeve.

Close up of the ruffled sleeve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Pink Coat:

A soft pink wool coat

This lovely wool pink coat is decorated only on the ¾ length sleeves’ cuffs.

The pink cuff embellsihed with off white crochet work, cyrstals and tiny nailheads.

The embellished cuff

There is central crotcheted motif of a daisy like flower, encircled by smaller flowers. Scattered further afield are smaller flowers and single leaves. All of the crocheted elements are held onto the cuff by small, prong-held, pale blue crystals and tiny silver nailheads. Imagine the ¾ length sleeves, with its wide sleeves and embellished cuffs meeting a long, shapely evening glove. The Opera, anyone?

A Salmon Dress:

A salmon colored flapper dress embellsihed with crystals.

 

This lovely salmon dress is embellished with crystals, a gathered skirt and a handkerchief hem.

I love the pattern of crystals following the lowered waistline and then flaring up into the bodice, going to either side of the breast mound, with one group of crystals continuing all the way up and over the shoulder.

a close up of the gathering of the skirt and the crystals.

Close up of the gathering and crystals.

 

The fullness in the skirt is controlled with gathers that peek out in a small arched section where vertical lines of crystals blossom. I’m ready to wear this dress out dancing! If only it fit me…

 

 

 

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#9- My work room

My work room is in my home. We have recently moved into this house (10 months ago!)  so my work room is still a work in progress. I have to think: where did I put those duck billed scissors? Or the fabric markers? Still it is lovely space: filled with light and beautiful fabrics.

At the top of the stairs from the front hall is large loft-like space; this is my workroom. Along the far wall of my room are west-facing windows that look out over the river near us.

The view from my work room at high tide

I have 2 industrial sewing machines positioned along the north wall: a straight stitch and a zizgzag machine. On the south wall I have a bamboo counter that holds a small ironing board and my industrial iron. The north and south walls also have shelves starting at 5’ off the floor and continuing up to 10’. On one set of shelves are my books of Fashion History and inspiration. On the other set of shelves are boxes of fabric that I hope to use soon.

Ellen, wearing a pin-tucked, green, corduroy shirt showing some ribbon flowers

 At my work table with some ribbon flowers

In the center of the room I have a custom made table that is 38” high and is 47.5” wide by 66” long with a dropped leaf to extend the table to 92” long. The table is topped by a large cutting mat as I prefer cutting fabric with a rotary cutter. As I work on a project I’m very good at covering every flat surface in my workroom with bits and bobs, so I try to start with all the flat surfaces cleaned off.

All of my tools and supplies have a home in a drawer or a labeled box. It makes me crazy to not be able to find something, so everything has a place to live—in theory. Of course there are a couple of boxes that have all the odd things thrown together: rhinestone setter, grommet setter, electric knife for cutting foam and a bead spinner are in one box.

I made the switch to an industrial iron and sewing machine many years ago. I was exasperated by my home sewing machine needing to be repaired all the time; I needed something sturdier. With the industrial straight stitch machine I can sew fine chiffons or thick wools with just a few adjustments of the tension discs and the stitch length. The zigzag machine is a little more complicated than the straight stich machine so I need to spend more getting the stitches just right. I also have a 3-4 thread serger. I dream of owning a cover stitch machine.

Last but not least I have a stereo in my workroom. I listen to the music, the news, audio books while working. I find the tempo of the music keeps me moving forward: Loreena McKinnett or Jesse Cook are good when working on complicated pattern changes, while Bruno Mars, Beyonce or Adele are good when working on more straight forward things.

The view from my work room at low tide

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#8- On not writing

Instead of writing about sewing for this blog I find I am collecting other writers’ thoughts about interruptions while one is writing! Today’s gem is from the poet Mary Oliver.

Mary Oliver: The Artist’s Task

It is a silver morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone. Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

But just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses itself, splashing, into the pond of meditation. And what does it have to say? That you must phone the dentist, that you are out of mustard, that your uncle Stanley’s birthday is two weeks hence. You react, of course. Then you return to your work, only to find that the imps of idea have fled back into the mist.

Here is a link to the Wikipedia page about Mary Oliver:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Oliver

Ms. Oliver’s poetry is sublime; it speaks to whatever your point of view is at the moment.  I find many of her poems speak of Nature’s clothing.  Haha!  There are two snippets of her poems on the Wikipedia page if you have never read any of Mary Oliver’s poetry and there are full versions of selected poems on the internet.  I’m sure you’ll find her work says something unique to you.

#7- If I am a sewing machine…

If I’m a sewing machine, what are you?

While floating in the swimming pool with Alice (of the re-fashioned Kimono) and my cousin Abby (donor of the Kimono) we were talking about our extended family. Abby was describing people for Alice in Abby’s unique way.

Juki sewing machine

 

One of Alice’s 2nd cousins was described as, “ felted wool sweater and hard cover book.”

2 hard cover books on a table

 

A distant cousin was described as “organic herbs and felted wool hat.”

Sage with some bug eaten holes.

Alice and I thought this method of describing people was very funny, accurate and hard to do. We tried to describe other members of our large extended family using Abby’s object driven descriptions and ran into problems. How many adjectives can be used to describe the object? Does the order of objects matter?

As we floated in the pool, I decided I was sewing machine: lots of potential for doing all kinds of stitches, but I need to be plugged in and turned On. To translate that: I can sew, I can write, I can organize, etc. but I have trouble getting started. Most of the time the jolt of energy from my morning coffee gets me going, but sometimes even the coffee doesn’t work; I get plugged in but the switch isn’t turned On. I’ll find myself reading all three newspapers on the breakfast table and think longingly about the novel I’m reading, instead of the challenging sewing on my worktable. I know that if I can get to my workroom and get started on the current project I will become totally absorbed in the work.

Once I get turned On I have trouble stopping- the Off switch is elusive. I will be totally and happily absorbed in my work and the hours will fly by – until my husband (or my grumbling stomach) reminds me it’s time to eat. My reply, “Yes, thanks for the reminder, I’ll be there in 5 minutes” and mean that. Somehow the 5 minutes turns into 30 minutes and by then I’m totally out of energy. Luckily, my husband knows this about me and compensates for my totally absorbed state/tardiness. So hitting the Off switch is as hard as hitting the On switch for me.

What about you? Are you an elevator? Moving from one floor/task to another as the people around you demand your attention? A tractor plowing through your tasks? Or maybe a weed whacker: capable of cutting through the weeds to expose the hidden flowers?

 

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