Monday, November 30, 2009

Party Season: Glamourous Gowns

images from

If you've got an invitation to a Black Tie or a White Tie occasion, lucky you!
 You can pull out all the stops and go for the glitz and glamour.

I like Donna Karan's edgy geometric, Christian Dior's ethnic shocking pink chiffon lace, Bottega Veneta's Old Hollywood glamour, Reem Acra's one-shoulder drape and Elie Saab's bejewelled shoulders offset by soft flowing chiffon

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's Party Season Again!

Cocktail Dresses
images from

3 more days to December and it's Party Season again!

Soon, streets will glow with Christmas lights and shop windows filled with wonderful Christmas displays.

 Christmas is not the time for dull colours.
Bring on the satins, silks, tafettas, velvets and rich, rich jewel colours.
Or be a contrarian and go for icy colours or black.

Here are my favorite cocktail dresses from the Fall Winter 2009 collections.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Jewellery - Ring Designs by Adris

Jewellery Design - Rings by Adris
Notes from the Sewing Studio 2009

From left to right: aquamarine in a baguette-cut, mid-blue sapphire in cushion cut, deep-blue sapphire in oval cut.

This year, I'm giving Mum a special Christmas present.

It's fun popping into our long time jewellers, Adris to discuss designs. Adris is no longer around and his son Chola runs the family business.

Chola scans the gemstones into his design software, then uses the software to simulate the real thing, and sends us a sample of the design. It's a great way to see what the completed piece of jewellery will look like.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Bias Cut

Photo credit: flippinyank at

In a bias cut, the pattern pieces are cut diagonal to the warp or lengthwise grain of the fabric giving the garment more stretch, drape and “cling”.

The bias cut is ideal for designs requiring a lot of drape or stretch such as grecian draped dresses or gowns and the “tube” dress.

Body curves are emphasized using this cut, so if you’re like me and shaped like a stick, try a bias cut dress and you will be amazed to find you’ve got curves after all!

Peplums, draped frills and edge bindings are some of the items cut to leverage on the drape and stretch of the bias.

The bias cut was first developed by Madeleine Vionnet in the 1920’s. Her highly popular designs catapulted her to fame and set the direction of fashion in the 1930’s. I've posted a brief write-up on Vionnet HERE.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fashion Competitions - Miami Fashion Week 2010 - Fashion Design and Fashion Photography Competitions

Miami Fashion Week 2009
photo credit:

Those who aren't in time for the GenArt "Plastics make it Possible" competition, here's another opportunity to enter a Fashion Design competition.

The 2010 Miami Fashion Week Student Designer Competition and Emerging Designer Competition is a great chance for fashion students and emerging designers to showcase your talents on an international platform.

There's also a Fashion Photography Competition for Photography students.

Closing date for all submissions is 15th Jan 2010.

Student Designer Competition:

The competition is an international platform for fashion students anywhere in the world.
You have to be enrolled in a fashion design, fashion mechandising or fashion management course to be eligible for entry.

Here's the link to the Competition rules and instructions for submission:

Emerging Designer Competition:

You have to have been in business for at least 1 year and less than 5 years, and be producing 2 collections a year and be selling in 1 store at the minimum.

Here's the link:

Student Fashion Photographers:

You have to be enrolled in a photography course at an accredited institute to qualify for entry.

Here's the link:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fashion Design Competition: GenArt "Plastics Make It Possible"

image credit:

Found out about this recently and the deadline for submission is 11:59pm EST 1st Dec 2009.
So if you're quick with the needle........

All themes are acceptable but you must use Approved Materials whch are fabrics derived from plastic material, such as polyester. Embellishments, thread, trims, buttons and embellments need not be plastic based.

There's a list of approved materials in the official rules on the GenArt website. Here's the link:

Monday, November 23, 2009

What I'm Reading Now: Madeleine Vionnet

What I am Reading Now: Madeleine Vionnet
Notes from the Sewing Studio 2009

Our Malaysian bookshops don't stock a lot of fashion sewing books.
So a while ago I ordered a whole bunch of books online including this book on Madeleine Vionnet by Betty Kirke, which I am reading and thoroughly enjoying. I thought I'll give you a glimpse of what's inside.

When it first arrived, I expected it to be just another coffee table book with pretty pictures. That's mainly because of its size:  15 x 11 inches, and heavy! It's definitely not something I can pop into my bag for a quick perusal while waiting at the dentists.

But the book actually had what I was looking for, which are close-up photo's of Vionnet's designs and write-up's on her techniques including features on her key designs/patterns.

According to the write-up on the inside front cover, there are 38 patterns from Vionnet's original designs and over 400 illustrations and photos.

There are no actual usable dress patterns in the book, but there are quite a number of  illustrations on the schematics including how the pattern pieces were placed on the fabrics before cutting. You can see what I mean in the pic above.
If you can draft patterns, you can probably figure out how to make a pattern from the schematics with a bit of trial and error.

I'm definitely going to try doing this once I complete the Sew Along capsule, or maybe I might replace one of the Sew Along items with a Vionnet-Repro?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Work in Progress - Sew Along: Lemongrass Silk Top

Casual Capsule Collection
Notes from the Sewing Studio 2009

I have resurrected the Sew Along project which had been put on hold for a (long) while.
It's nice to sew some casual clothes for a change, and nice to sew something for myself too.

Unfortunately, I won't be winning any prizes for the Sew Along as the deadline is 31st Dec to complete 6 items, but I may be able to complete 2.

I am aiming for 1 top in Nov, and the dress in Dec.

The colour scheme has changed from the pic above.
Colours are now Khaki, Lemongrass and Burnt Orange.
You can see the fabrics by clicking here.

I am using the lemongrass silk for the top, and can't decide between Burnt Orange and Khaki silks for the dress. But, one thing at a time.......

 Here's the work in progress for the top:

WIP Lemongrass top: Main and Lining
Notes from the Sewing Studio 2009

Pic 1 shows the main pieces which have been joined and Pic 2 shows the lining pieces which also has been sewn together. The lining is habutai silk.
Now I'm working on joining the lining to the main.
I find the easiest way is to join the pieces at the neckline, then the sleeve line.

This will create a sort of "tunnel" at the shoulders. I then pull the back pieces through the "tunnel" and voila! the seams will magically end up in between the main and lining.

(Note: if you are thinking of trying this technique, you have to do this step before sewing the back seam).

The difficult part for me is ensuring that both main and lining are the same width at the shoulders otherwise the top will not lie absolutely flat at the shoulders, and I will have to do the dreaded unpicking which is not easy with fragile silk.

So I need to iron, iron, iron and will probably tack both pieces together at the shoulders before machining.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Another Casualty of the Downturn: Luella Bartley

images from

Luella Bartley is the latest fashion casualty of the downturn which is a huge shame.

I thought Luella's collection for Spring/Summer 2010 is young, fresh and very Audrey Hepburn-ish.
Just right for the mood for the coming Spring season.

The company has stopped trading after losing its financial backing.
Last month, its ready-to-wear producer in Italy closed, resulting in the company being unable to fill its orders for Spring/Summer 2010.

Not being able to fulfil orders is a really BIG deal with fashion buyers as there is a domino effect on their retail sales.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Batik: Block Printing Method

Batik Printing Blocks
Notes from the Sewing Studio 2009

Some old batik printing presses I got from my last trip to Jakarta, Indonesia.
These would have been used in the block printing method described here

I thought they were really nice and I'm going to display them as decorative items.

The designs are traditional Indonesian batik designs. The press at the top left is for printing borders in the batik fabric.
The presses were hand-fashioned from sheets of iron, and have a handle at the base.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Shoe Design Competition : Museo Salvatore Ferragamo

Calling all budding shoe designers!

Salvatore Ferragamo is one of the top labels in the shoe world, known for their quality and superb craftsmanship. Their museum in Florence, Italy has a collection that spans Ferragamo's career from 1927 until 1960.

The Museo Salvatore Ferragamo is holding a shoe design competition for students enrolled for the current year at  international fashion and design schools.

Closing date for submission is 10th December 2009.

The winner will receive a scholarship worth Euro 15,000.
And reimbursement of travelling and hotel expenses to attend the prize-giving in Florence.

Here's the link for the contest rules and entry forms:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Yellow Taffeta and Net Ball Gown - Final Version

Notes from the Sewing Studio

Final Version almost completed.
 Lining, hemming and finishing left to do.

looks very Scarlett O'Hara don't you think?

unfortunately, missed the deadline for the ball so this will be put on hold for the time being.

the sleeves have changed quite a bit from the original version.
my fav is still the previous version shown here