Sunday, January 3, 2010

My inner fashion designer emerges…

This was a week when, even with two boys to entertain and ferry about to play dates, I was able to keep my nose to the sewing machine and finish my ball gown for the Trashionista fashion show. I’m delighted with how it turned out! I call it ‘Elegance Reclaimed’, and now my budding fashion career is in the hands of the jurors. My inner scientist can handle either outcome, since all my expectations as an artist have pretty much been fulfilled. Still, I think I really met the challenge to reclaim and repurpose materials from the trash flow. The shawl for the gown is made from dryer sheets that I painted gold and black and stitched together. To feed my emerging inner fashionista I discovered a new stitch on my sewing machine—a compact zig zag stitch to fuse the diaphanous material. Wow! Now I’m even talking like a designer—this is great! The top is built from a favorite but failing black bathing suit. I stretched and abraided the bottom beyond the point where my modesty no longer allowed me to wear it. Instead of tossing it I transformed the sturdy part into my elegant gown top. I reshaped the neckline and stitched on a piece of an old black t-shirt, and at the junctions I attached well-worn black leather belts I acquired from the Backstreet Mission here in town. The antique gold trim is from a family friend, Kathey Gibson, and in its former life it was used to decorate Christmas gifts. The swirly doo-dad is a piece of plastic I’ve saved so long I don’t even remember where it came from (but of course I knew I’d need it someday!). The skirt itself is basically a crazy quilt made from old men’s and women’s shirts that I picked up at the recycle center. It’s built from a black leather skirt, bits of black lace bra (no need to go into that here), samples from a discarded upholstery book and animal print scraps. The animal print fabric was in scraps because my son Tommie and I made a shirt where he cut pieces out of the fabric and sewed them on a fading but favored grey fuzzy shirt, and now it’s still one of his favorite winter shirts. Back to the gown—the back is held together by scraps of Velcro and the buckles from the belts keep the whole thing closed. There are also a couple of old eye-and-hook closures that were left on cards priced at 19 cents for 25. That speaks to how old those are, but they still found a purpose.

In other big family news, we went to see the Cardinal Stage Company’s ‘Sound of Music’, featuring a charming neighbor of ours as Gretl. She was great, as was her supporting cast and the production. It’s actually amazing that a town of this size supports such fabulous theater, and we’re very fortunate to have them. They’ve never let us down. My boys really enjoyed the play, but I have to admit to having been jolted a few times with some of the staging devices. When the swastika banners dropped down, and the machine-gun toting Nazis came on stage, I was a little overwhelmed. These cast sinister shadows from my family history, even though my young kids (thankfully) don’t yet appreciate why.

Anyway, I’ve got to run. The phone is ringing, and the caller ID says it from New York City, some fashion design shop. Ah, the life of the nouveau fashion diva!

Until next week…

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