Monday, June 8, 2015

Is imitation the sincerest form...? (A pleating story, primarily)

This is an older story, but now, we are approaching appropriate weather for my creation, so I submit it to you, dear readers.

Once upon a time, I fell in love with the dress pictured above, and asked the folks at International Pleating if they could pleat some fabric for me to execute my own dress, inspired by this design. Click the link for the beautiful story of this historic family business.  Click this link, and this one, to see some work they have done for me, personally. This time, I wanted to do EXACTLY the white dress pictured above.  I was sure of it. That was actually more than a year ago... but I haven't reported on this project until now.

Back then, I went searching for fabric to make EXACTLY that dress in my own color choice, and found this combo - both purchased from Metro Textiles:

So, International Pleating pleated the brown silk on the cross-grain, turning it into something so texturally beautiful and graceful, I was almost afraid to cut into it. It started to whisper to me that it wanted to be something else.

Pleated charmeuse fabric, after sitting, untouched and rolled for a few months...

I steamed it a bit to get the little "kinks" out, and the fabric obeyed beautifully. I was ready to cut.

And cut it, I did.  

On the dress form, I shaped the lace portion of the dress differently, and created the beginnings of something that looked lovely on a dress form, but pretty awful on me. Note: the above dress design REALLY exaggerates a large bosom, and kinda makes you look like a kid.  Patent leather tap shoes and an oversized lollipop would complete the Shirley Temple look it gave me.  Basically, I wouldn't suggest it, unless that's what you're going for...

So, after a few other permutations, sighing, pacing, thinking, putting it away and taking out, etc., I sculpted a patternless top that I probably manipulated several hundred times in my head, on the dress form, and on my own body before it sang to me.

And sing to me, it did.

From the back, which is nearly identical to the front...
My husband loves the deep brown color, as do I... it works well on brown skin. The horizontal back seam was subsequently flattened by being very narrowly serged and pressed upward to the lace side, so it has a bit of a "shadow" at the edge of the seam, which is fine, in my opinion.  The top has lace extends beyond the shoulder, and curves at the at the cap to create a graceful bit of a sleeve. The top hangs to the hipline, and is extremely lightweight.  *Can only be worn with a strapless bra beneath.

So did I copy the dress?  No, I made a blouse.  I just kept the lace shouldered/pleats below inspiration.

Funny that I should EVER want to copy anything exactly, with all the possibilities that exist out there in the world.  After all, what would the point be, really? We've all read about Target copying that boring  t-shirt, when there is simply an unfathomable number of ways to decorate the blank canvas of a T-shirt! Why bother, Target?

On the process:

Because I appreciate the beauty of the pleating so much, I didn't want to interfere with, or complicate, the design.  The blouse is simply two rectangles for the body, and two rectangles for the neckline/sleeve.  Important to know: how to sew seams in pleated fabric so the seams are invisible in the texture of the pleating, and how to hem pleated fabric, if desired.  You can hem fabric before pleating, or use the selvedge edge, or hem the fabric yourself, and appreciate the "lettuce" effect it causes.  International Pleating will walk you through these considerations.  

Is this affordable?

Yes.  In fact, astoundingly so, in my opinion.

On Being original:

Is imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or is using the art of others as inspiration an even more sincere form? When tempted to copy something you've seen exactly, (which usually comes with some inexplicable feeling of disappointment, somehow) it may be good to question whether you just too scared to leap into your own imagination.  These are some thoughts to ponder on your creative journey...

Side notes:

And when it comes to artistic pursuits, is anyone noticing the rush of sound-alike music playing everywhere lately?

Pharrell Blurred Lines Controversy

Ed Sheeran Thinking Out Loud vs. Marvin Gaye Let's Get it On

Sam Smith's Stay with Me vs. Tome Petty's Won't Back Down

When it comes to the Garment District specifically, though...

Wanna take a tour?  Click the link to see dates and options.

Short on time in the district? Want a shorter, lower priced trip? Click here for another option.

Wanna go shopping for free? MPB Day  Peter of Male Pattern Boldness always hosts great  shopping parties!

Need more garment district services? There are many...

NY Embroidery Studio
Star Snaps
Quick Fusing
Jonathan Embroidery
Steinlauf & Stoller
Westpfal (scissor sharpening)
City Sewing

So no, don't imitate anything exactly.  Do your own version of what you do, using whatever makes your interpretation special!  There are so many ways to do things, taking details to twist and turn and change, and it is great to make your own statement, whether the the people you encounter "appreciate" your version or not!

As always, there is just so much more to say... and I'll share more later!

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