Darcy Lewis Design

Adventures in "Good Enough" Design

Archive for the category “Fashion”

Upcycled Coats!

It has been a CRAZY month and I’m looking forward to showing you what I’ve been working on!

Earlier this year, The Baldwin Center, a local community charity, asked me to develop a line of garments for them based on remade clothing.  You see, among the many services they offer is a clothes closet where clients in need can pick out clothing they need at little or no cost!  Some of the donations they receive, however, are fabulous fabrics but dated styles, or with a spot, or otherwise undesirable to the clients.  I was tasked with taking those items and designing several patterns they could use to make a series of garments they could sell for a higher price.  The money would be used to fund the charity’s other endeavors, and the plan is that down the road we can also offer training to their clients and set up a little workshop so the garments can be made on-site!

For one of my initial two samples, I started with this beige wool coat from London – it had beautiful designer details, but the lining was shredded and the elbows were worn.

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I couldn’t eke out an entire new coat from this, so I paired it with a delightful wool-cashmere blend from my shop and two different sleeve fabrics from my stash and created this stunning beauty:

I reused the back with the original vent, part of the collar, the beautiful pocket flaps, and the cuffs.  I added molded resin rose buttons from Italy, and an eggplant flannel-back satin lining.  Every coat needs pockets, and, mindful of the pattern needing to be accessible for unskilled sewists, I chose patch pockets.  The ribbons swirling over the back and up over one shoulder are an easy and unique touch that adds some lovely drama and interest to the otherwise-plain back.

My second jacket was designed for spring, so I chose a silk Maggy London maxi halter dress with a great floral print.  I managed to get the fronts and back out of the skirt, and took the self-spaghetti straps from the halter for the jacket ties.  I chose an ivory lace shirt to complement it and barely managed to get the sleeves out of the entire front and back of the shirt.  For the facing and cuff bands, I used a sage green Thai silk shantung from my shop.

I had been waiting until the jackets were presented at their annual gala to reveal them, but now that the gala has passed, I am thrilled to share these with you and to say that everyone LOVED them and both garments were snapped up in the fundraising auction.

I’m so honored to have been asked and glad that I could help.  I look forward to sharing the rest of the collection with you at a later time.

She Wore WHAT?!

I’m only now starting to catch up on the hundreds of open browser tabs of fascinating articles I meant to read… but one of the articles I had been particularly saving was this incredible story about Michelle Obama’s wardrobe.

I’ve heard a lot of comments about how Melania is so much better dressed, but I think that really misses the point of Mrs. Obama’s deliberate choices.  She worked very hard to represent specific messages with her wardrobe – her fashion choices were arguably the most reasoned and deliberate of any celebrity.  Regardless of your political leanings, it is quite safe to say that she has been the most ‘democratically’ dressed First Lady ever, or at least since Eleanor Roosevelt.  Her wardrobe was comprised of both custom pieces from high-end designers and J. Crew, even Target!  And was always ‘on-point’.  She purposefully mixed affordable pieces in to her wardrobe (something Melania will never do since that is the antithesis of her brand) and made dressing well and being interested in clothing something that was fun instead of a daily struggle.

If you have heard me speak on fashion, you will know that I talk a lot about the messages we send with our clothing and how it behooves us to control that message and use it to signal deliberately.  Michelle Obama did exactly that – from her choice of color and style down to the price point and ethnicity or national ties of the designer (she tended to wear designers with ties to specific countries for state dinners or other functions when she wanted to acknowledge major international events or happenings).

Mrs. Obama gave the fashion industry an unprecedented boost – including launching the careers of young designers – and we in that field have really enjoyed watching it.  Salut.

Please click over to the Washington Post for the original article and a slide show!

Baking!

Gosh, I know I’ve been so bad at keeping this updated!  It seems like I wake up, do the bare minimum to keep my business and life running, and suddenly it’s 1am and bedtime!  Every day feels like nothing got done, but I know that isn’t true and vast amounts of unpacking, settling in, organizing, and LIVING are happening.

So, some highlights of the past month (as proof 😉  ):

ONE OF MY JACKETS WAS FEATURED ON TELEVISION!

On a local morning talk show, to be precise!  That was tremendously exciting, and I only found out about it the night before!  They’d seen my work in one of the galleries I show in here, and decided to grab it!

Also, have been asked to teach several workshops, some open to the public, some not.  So if you are local, or visiting the Greater Detroit area and you’re a member of ASG, I will be doing 3D Quilting in March and Velvet Embossing in May for 2 different local chapters.  You are welcome to come join.

Tried my hand at decorating for winter for the first time this year.  Hopefully, will improve with experience 😉

Strung one of our smallest trees with ornaments (no lights ;(  )…

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Hung up 2 large lanterns filled with twinkle lights and ornaments… 1 at the end of the drive, 1 on the front porch by the door.P1000229

I decorated the wreath myself!  (Very proud of my first attempt 😉  ) – this is hung by the garage door we use most.P1000230

Put a little reindeer by the porch… he needed a nose, but not red (I hate the story of Rudolph.  Moral: People will come to like you when they realize they need you?!), gold seemed to match…P1000248

My husband decided this wasn’t enough, so he wrapped ME in lights and planted me on the porch.  We are not amused….P1000234

 

AND, I’ve spent the past month baking up a storm!!!  Husband waited (3 times!) until the last minute to ask me to make something for the company bake sale fundraiser for Toys for Tots, then there was the company potluck, then he wanted something to bring as a present for colleagues, then he ambushes me with a demand for more (he miscounted), PLUS could I make a special batch for one person who is gluten-free (well, his diet is).  Ok, that was actually more like 5 times, wasn’t it?

So I bought a ton of the mini-loaf pans (Bed, Bath, and Beyond has a set of 4 for $10, don’t forget your coupon!) and an average cake recipe divides neatly into 4 minis!  Yay math!

I made lots of cranberry cakes, many different versions! (Note, I skipped the nuts in all these recipes because they were for gifts and I didn’t know who had allergies.)

Our favorite ended up being this delicious coffee-cake version from Cookie Monster Cooking – though I skipped the almond extract.  (Confession: The first time I made it, I didn’t have a spring-form pan handy, so I poured the batter into a bundt cake pan, carefully putting the streusel topping on the bottom of the pan first. This worked out shockingly well!!!  It was QUITE good!)

Topped with the frosted cranberries from Life, Love, and Sugar (which were awesomely good!).  We don’t like white chocolate, so I skipped that part of the LLS recipe, and found that without it the cake was ok – very dense and heavy, but we preferred the lighter, more open crumb of the CMC recipe.

For the gluten-free recipe, I found this recipe from Martha Stewart which really did come out quite well!!  I used the gluten-free flour blend from Krusteaz that was available at my Kroger grocery.

I found a super handy trick for using mini-loaf pans, that surely will work just as well with almost any pan… Use a strip of parchment paper (does not have to full cover the bottom of the pan, can be less than half the pan in width) to line the pan first, pour your batter on top of this, and then gently pull the tabs of paper up to release the baked cake!  I’ve seen recipes that call for lining the pans, but never suggesting just a little strip.  It makes all the difference in the world!  Those little cakes popped right out, neat as could be.  Any batter that had stuck to the paper and burnt on could just be brushed off gently and did not adhere to the cake, and all the little cakes (I made about 50 mini and full size cakes this month, and have a request for another 2 dozen!) came out beautifully!

Here is what it looks like before, waiting to receive the batter… (forgot to take the other pictures (during and after), so just try to imagine how they’d look…)

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Happy holidays, everyone!!!  Wishing you all a year full of joy, health, happiness, friendship, peace, and love!

Goodness!!! and Fashion Tip…

I haven’t been posting because it’s been quite a busy week!!

We have to be out of our rented house by the end of the month, so were looking for a house to buy in Seattle’s very-tight real estate market.  In the process of lining things up, the credit report revealed that my husband had been the victim of identity theft!  We check our report a couple times a year, but this happened in between our checks (make sure you check at least once a year!!  Since you can get a free copy of your credit report once per year from each of the 3 credit agencies, that means you can request 1 every 4 months and stay on top of any problems or errors.  If you find any, be sure to file a complaint and don’t hesitate to file a fraud alert if you suspect something.)  That, plus some car trouble…  Anyways, we are sorting all that out now and hope to have our own place set up by fall!

Meanwhile, I’ve been having fun ‘dressing’ friends in shop inventory – doing my best to sell it off!  Which leads to the advice in today’s post… When you buy a coat or jacket, or sometimes a skirt, if it has a pleat of some sort (kick pleat, inverted box pleat, etc.) or a vent, it is likely tacked shut with a criss-cross of thread.  Also, it may have pockets which are sewn shut.  Assuming there is a pocket bag, ALL OF THESE ARE MEANT TO BE RIPPED OPEN!!!  The pockets should be ripped totally open so they can be used, and your garment will lay MUCH more nicely if those vents and pleats are opened to move freely.  They are sewn shut to keep the garment nice and neat in packing and shipping, and so every customer who tries it on before you buy it and take it home doesn’t warp it out of shape jamming their fists in and out of the pockets.

I can’t BEGIN to tell you how often I see this on the street and how ignorant it makes the wearer look.  It’s the equivalent of walking around with the shop tags hanging off the garment.  And while we are on the same topic, I can’t believe I need to point this out, but suit jackets and coats with the brand label sewn onto the sleeve… Yeah, that’s supposed to be removed as well!!

Have a good week, and check your clothes!!  ;D

 

Oscars 2014

I watched the red carpet fashions with increasing horrified fascination.  There were a few exceptions – Sandra Bullock looked pretty good in a waterfall Alexander McQueen dress, Kate Hudson’s vintage gown (below) was quite striking, Jennifer Lawrence was amazing in fire-engine red, among others, but the majority were unflattering, dated, frumpy, ill-fitting, unstylish, and just so bad!  I really hope this is not a warning of fashion trends to come!!

kate hudson

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