Sunday, February 16, 2014

All things purple and lush

This round up post, another long catching-up type of post, brings together several projects I've worked on in the past months. I must admit it's been a trying period and yet, somehow, when I'm at my lowest I manage to create better than ever before. Perhaps, it's because it feels, more than ever before, that your life/livelihood really depends on it. Perhaps because when only very little joy remains in the pursuit of other things, the safest option is to stick to that one thing that troubles you least. And so I sew and make things because it is easier than breathing, easier than sorting out my bank balance, so much easier than socializing and a bit more socially acceptable than staying in bed all day eating pie/cake.

Other than the obvious 'list of things I made' purpose, I hope that the next couple of photos manage to channel something a bit more substantial with regards to the responsibilities of consumption. No pressure, it's just something I really care about, the driving force behind what I do, if you will. I wish I had more time on my hands to rant on a bit more constructively about it - instead, I derive consolation from the fact that I kind of lead by example. So the idea is to buy less and invest a little bit more and by more I mean attention and thought rather than money. True, money makes it easier to acquire quality, however, this late in history (because from where I'm standing it feels as if it's quite late) it is easier to come across valuables that cost next to nothing. Value is ultimately the result of the amount of time, thought and energy you're prepared to invest in an object or experience - and there goes my 2c worth of algebra for the day.

I start off with this. A custom purple dress I made for another Maria
every panel that made up this strapless princess-line dress was
individually covered in pleated chiffon 

A sea of pins and hours of steaming later, and the dress started taking
the desired shape. We're talking about days of work here - I'm lucky I
managed to stop and take some pictures of the long process and working on
your own doesn't make it any easier. Documenting a process is work in itself
and when you work alone there's only so much you can do.

This is a picture taken at the very last moment, a lovely in-between
 moment when you're about to put the finishing touches on an item.
It's a triumphant moment and yet you feel like delaying it a bit more because
 the moment the label goes on you know that you're parting ways
with something you've come to know so well.

Individually cut and layered guipure motifs frame the bodice of the dress
and cascade down the sides. Possibly one of the most time consuming
projects of 2013 but thoroughly enjoyable. It is an absolute joy to
 work with and for someone so appreciative of all that is
custom/hand made - there's no greater joy for an artisan than
a trusting and respectful client. 

In the same months dedicated to Maria's purple dress,
I was entrusted Donnah's purple coat,
an old purchase which needed re-fitting,
shaping and some embellishing. 

Some alterations take longer than predicted, and this is a case in point.
Sometimes, whilst working, you realize that stopping half way simply
isn't an option. The reward for giving your all is a very personal
and untranslatable thing, in fact, I often find it difficult to explain
the amount of pleasure one can find in snipping away at delicate lace,
pinning it in place and carefully stitching it on by hand.
Oh well, here it is.. I managed to watch all three seasons of The Borgias
whilst finishing off this coat and I have a feeling that
that's somewhat evident in the finished product.

This may not be purple, but it certainly is lush.
A lacy 60s inspired mini-shift dress with matching under dress
constructed out of a considerably larger dress worn for special occasions
by Luisa's mother a couple of decades back. I carefully cut up the
original dress; raised the hem-line by applique-ing a border of lace,
stitching it on by hand and re-shaped the original full and gathered mutton
sleeves into shorter bell shaped sleeves.
Always a sucker for dresses with sentimental value
Always happy to be working on reviving old clothes.


In fact, here's another one of two similar projects I carried out for Elaine
- that is, transforming prized pieces from the wardrobes of older relatives,
updating styles and helping out with giving a second lease on life to items
of clothing that have been relegated to the dark recess of overflowing wardrobes.
The material on this piece was a joy to work with - only rarely do I come
 across such decadent metallics nowadays, so working on it was
educational in more ways than immediately evident.

It pains me to know that most dresses I've worked on have
probably been to more and better parties than I ever will!
But I rarely allow the envy colour my work ..  only rarely

And now on to something completely different ...

Whilst working on this piece, the hours ticked by and
overshadowing all concerns for the finished product ...

'Hope I've understood what Lara wanted'
'And if I did understand, hope that what I'm making is it'
'Oh god, hope this isn't too flowery'
'Goddamit, I need some wine if I plan to hand stitch all of this by hand'
'But wait, wine slows me down and gives me wobbly fingers'
'Aaa i'm loving how it's turning out, but will Lara like it?'
'Ok, this is too much, I over did it'
'Sue me, I love it, I love over-the-top, Lara knows I'm over-the-top'
'aaa more wine yes please thank you very much'
'midnight? MIDNIGHT? but it was 7pm a minute ago'
'eh so pretty, so much prettiness')

So, overshadowing all of these concerns was the thought, or hope if you will,
that this piece would set the tone and standard for the year/s to come:
one-off pieces, couture-hours, painstaking work that few others are willing
to put into this kind of work/recognise in mine/and ultimately purchase for themselves.
Call it crazy business-sense .. but this is what I LOVE
and hope to do for the rest of my life.

Must admit I couldn't be prouder 
a) to have been entrusted this in the first place
b) to have, after months of deliberation, made this of it
A renovated headpiece that started out as an already pretty good-looking,
albeit slightly unloved, object; (following Lara's orders)
went on to become something quite unique intended to hug articulately
set curls just like she likes to sport them!

So one saturday night, I stayed in with a movie, some wine,
a load of pins, and a steaming iron. I disassembled the whole piece and
constructed the dome like structure from scratch, hand stitched the lace motifs
which I had individually cut from a mesh-like off-cut ..
and then ..
suddenly ..
2am happened and I couldn't stop smiling as I stumbled into bed.

NOW, I must get back to my sewing pile, but before I leave .. here are a couple of favourite snapshots (some purple and mostly lush) from my last visit to Brighton and London. I recall the sprawling greenery and steamy fragrance of the Kew Gardens greenhouses as well as 'the frozen-over toes' effect on Brighton pier with fondness. It was a wonderful week or so .. but now I must get back to some serious work and not let the wonderful prospect that is visiting Japan distract me! (*YAAAY JAPAN I'M COMING ermahgerd!!!) 

See more, Love more and Keep more and for longer!
and now, I'll definitely up, up and away x