Friday, August 24, 2012

This lady had style!

There are days when you wake up to a somewhat fresher view. If you first give up slightly and then give in a little, expect to be astounded. Things will inevitably cross your path. People leave this earth, and seamstresses, I hope, go to a place where sturdy reliable sewing machines are cordless and virtually noiseless. But in leaving, they leave behind a train of beautiful memories, traces of who they were. I seek to leave something behind, as trivial and inconsequential as my calling might be; and in the process am rewarded tenfold by what others, of perhaps a similar disposition, graciously left behind.

I feel honoured and perhaps a bit too giddy whenever I receive generously, and can only promise my absolute best to restore and re-use and do justice.

As I said, this lady had style and thanks to her ever charming grand daughter I was allowed a precious opportunity to have a glimpse in her world and draw some beautiful conclusions and estimations. It's a fresher view of a person whom I never met and yet, somehow, got to know well.

Choices must be taken responsibly, and gifts of the sort, accepted even more diligently.

Here are some kid gloves and belt buckles that I'm very looking forward to transform. I absolutely love the ageing process on leather and how that buckle looks suspiciously like 2 Babettopolis 'B's

A collarless summer suit with gathered skirt, an embroidered terracotta shirt dress and a pleated shift dress in the loveliest printed fabric

A flimsy and sturdy mix of underwear for which I have some serious embellishment plans

The dress I, embarrassingly enough, couldn't wait to try on. Apparently it makes me look like a Caribbean owner of a banana plantation by day and a socialite by night ~ pass the fruitbowl, mister! (my target was very far off the mark. I had really hoped it would make me look like Sonia Delaunay). So yes, I washed it, replaced the zip and went over all the seams to strengthen them just in time for dinner. Next to it, the long skirt of dreams.

Secret-Rose-Sarah, I know you're out there, please take good note of this top. I want to reproduce it with geometric embroidered shoulder panels. Next to it, a lovely piece of tattered black lace I will use as a headscarf.

And two lovely suits I haven't yet had time to tend to. Simple straight cuts make for very elegant and timeless pieces .. every item, most of which are tailor made, reasserts my belief in the need to stop and think before investing in something that fits your body shape and your lifestyle.

I am the happy owner of a pretty washing line.
* for the record: dear all superstitious out there, my closet is simply not the best place to be.

This, on the other hand, is a picture of me, taken by my dad under strict orders to not show what a horrible state I was in at 10pm after a marathon day in the pottery studio.. I found clay in my earlobes and colour on my back when I got home (wtf!). In any case, I am putting the finishing touches on something new for Babettopolis. Will keep you posted about it all once the pieces survive the second firing. I don't want to 'jinx' it by revealing too much. Suffice to say that my lifelong aim to bring something special to the table just got literal.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Musing about the act of sketching and more work

I pat myself on the back whenever I find that I've been good enough to save a copy of a sketch for a dress. With big projects like this flamenco dress I usually sketch in detail and if I'm in a patient enough mood/have the colours within arm's length/have enough time, I also sketch in colour. I can safely say that I enjoy it but circumstance often dictates that I go directly to the rice paper to draught a pattern and simply get going. Also, once a sketch is finished (and to such a degree) I kind of feel cheated; a drawing becomes a mockery of the time-consuming process that looms on the horizon for a seamstress! 

With this flamenco dress we kept to a traditional palette and patterns, but one walk down the textile shop got me thinking about several other possibilities in orange and turquoise and yellow and lace. A flamenco dress must complement the dancer's personality and her personal stance towards the dance, every little detail has to come together to make up one rational whole. With so much going on it's easy to lose your plot, so it's a fine line that we thread between visual coherence and a bag of crazy haberdashery trimmings. Ruffles, like the hills, come alive to the sound of music so I can't wait to see this graceful dancer, in her dress, in action next December!

And now on to summer-friendly items of clothing, lined in practical airy cotton and in colours that help keep up the spirits when the heat just gets too much. A lover of the 60s asks me to re-interpret some classic shapes for day-to-day staples that are toddler friendly and breeeeeeezy!

And a young fashion lover opts for a purple strapless dress with open pleats instead of closed up darts which can be accessorized over and over. We kept it simple, waistband-less to allow unrestricted belt size options and with a discreet slit at the back.

Also, how cute did this bustier turn out?! I had found the material at a charity shop in Valletta back in the day when there were still a couple open (how sad is it to not have a decent charity shop/bazaar Valletta that does not open for just two hours in the early morning on one very particular day unless it happens to be a feast/birth/too hot day). So yes, I has bought this piece with the intention of doing something for myself with it, but as it usually happens, I placed it on the neatly folded pile of 'future projects' and forgot all about it until the right person came along, a fellow cat lover and pancake maker extraordinaire! It would have been a real waste to make nothing of it. The buttons turned out pretty sweet after an acrylic and clear nail polish makeover, sweet enough to steer the bustier clear of any lingerie connotations and make it all the more wearable. Miaou!

And after all that I thought, feckit!, time to make something for myself. So I made a skirt that is scant consolation for my holiday in Santorini which never happened but at least long enough to hide a tan-in-progess whilst keeping the mosquitoes out! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

In the pipeline ...

I woke up to a hot dark kitchen and realized that my flowers have dried picturesquely.
So I got to thinking about what needs to be done next in Babettopolis.

Here is some more felt in exciting new colours, courtesy of the ever gracious Michelle! I have, in the past, on interminable bus rides, whilst waiting for someone, late at night, been sketching a number of ideas for new hats. I plan to start working on them once I replace the bulb on my working-lamp, and once the weather gives up its nasty game. Roll on winter, give me weather that justifies hat making!

And here are bunches of feathers, generously donated by Rose, my mother's childhood friend! I have plans, many plans for these feathers, as does my cat! Pheasants, peacocks .. all welcome here!

Also I'll be going back to my dad's pottery studio soon, I have freshly made casts and moulds waiting for me in a line on the metal cupboard. I want to make tableware that tell stories, to help fill cupboards and tables with some charm. Fingernails full of clay, Balthus running around being a fuzzy (yet still somewhat endearing) nuisance, corona beer and the rest is my own little history (in the making).

I believe there's little else more satisfying than an object that turns out just as you had imagined it would, that comes out whole from its mould, that pleases the eye even in its most rudimentary state. 

Some excitement mounts! 

On the pastel front

Cannot believe it's been almost two months (already?) So much stuff has happened in the interim and yet the memory of stringing together rows of pearls, is still so vivid! These are the accessories I had created for a June bride with a penchant for the dramatic. Very few could have carried off this look, so I'm happy I was given the opportunity to help out creatively. The hat piece brought together all of my favourite elements: lace, feathers, pearls and netting, and the choker, incorporating a vintage earring with sentimental value for the bride, sat perfectly in three neat rows around the neck. From the looks of it, this turned out to be as smashing a wedding as everyone involved had hoped for.. so it's all goood!

Here's the bride at her first accessory fitting, and a close-up of the choker in the making. Below, a pretty photo of the happy couple! The perfect make-up from her favourite era brought everything together so nicely! I wish them both all the very best .. 

And for a guest at the same wedding, and a personal friend, I created a cupcake of a prom dress in a subtle leafy theme! Had it been for me I would have covered the whole dress in leaves .. but that's just me and my twisted need to keep up a chronic and splitting headache! Satin and chiffon in a pale peachy blush pink (I'm sure there's a technical name for it, but oh well!) come together nicely in the gathered skirt.

Here's the young lady herself at the wedding reception! 

 And here's the feathery and leafy head-band to go with the dress. At the bride's request everyone was 'encouraged' (to put it lightly) to wear head gear .. that, I must say, is my favourite kind of tyranny! you go girl!  

As far as pastels go, I've only just come to realize that they've taken up much of my last month. Here's a picture of a flowery bustier I made for another friend, Alexandra (* from a piece of sturdy cotton salvaged from a charity shop. After featuring on her handmade-market stall as decor, we decided to make something more respectable of it! Such lovely material deserves the very best! Now I'm determined to wait for a good photo of it as worn!

And we end this post with the queen dress of all pastel dresses.. a boat neck and belted, ice-cream van/parlour, cotton dress where all our favourite elements come together; including a gathered 3/4 length skirt, a flattering collar, and a pearl button fastening! It's the second dress I made for my friend Sarah (*check out her facebook page) this year.. and by now, I've (creepily) come to know her shape by heart! 

And as if there wasn't enough cuteness in one long post dedicated to pastels.. here's a cute photo of Sarah with my fuzzy fat cat Gustav! Which makes me wonder .. why don't they use more cats in political campaigns?